Yoga Wicca Buddha

Exploring a personal, eclectic path by looking at the intersection of three great traditions.

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My Own Personal Jesus

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

On my beside table are a Loki action figure, a Goddess rosary…and a prayer card with an image of Jesus showing off his sacred heart.


Yes, I scavenge not only from “Yoga Wicca Buddha”, but also from my Christian past. My parents took me to church but left me to my own thoughts, sparing me any sense of compulsion. I struggled with the dogma, but fed on the imagery and emotion—the sound of the liturgy, the look of sacred art, the drama of Christ and Mary opening their hearts (literally!) to me.


“Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee and worthily magnify thy holy name.”  This prayer cast its spell on me early. To be not only noticed, but known completely? Intoxicating. I imagined desires and secrets opening within, as some holy, white-winged thing swept through me.


“We have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts….We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us.” I should have hated the call to sheep-like obedience. But the stately cadence of the words worked to express and release my deepest grief. I often did feel lost, driven to behaviour I deeply regretted. Laying it all bare offered relief.


If I looked to God to lift me out of myself, Mary was the mother I longed for — tender and beautiful, “full of grace”, and willing to pray for me “both now and at the hour of my death.” And of course Christ was my selfless lover, whom I asked to accept “the gift of all that I am and all that I have.” Life and death, sacrifice and surrender—there was an irresistible drama to it all.


The drama of Pagan gods was different. They called to me with their grandeur and beauty. Whatever they were—avatars of fire, storm, wisdom, or love— they were completely, freely, purely. They lived in nature and in me, their stories offering mystery rather than doctrine. But Christianity’s hook for me was that its divinities were also human: not only aspirational figures but intimate ones, who remained dear to me even after I’d left the faith. 


In fact, released from their dogma, they slipped easily into my growing forest of devotion, for subtle threads linked them to my other deities. Dionysos and Osiris were suffering gods like Jesus, and as his popularity rose in the early centuries of the common era, they were depicted more in his image, as personal saviours. Isis shaped the image of Mary, and Mary’s later preeminence coloured modern versions of the Goddess (as in Spretnak’s reimagining of Persephone). It has even been argued that the duotheism of Wicca (one main God and Goddess rather than the varied pantheons of older Paganism) derives from the focus on Jesus and Mary in medieval devotion, providing an earthier version of a familiar pairing. 


Such mutual influence over the centuries makes it natural for me to approach Mary as a Mother Goddess, Jesus as a Dying God, even “God” as one form of the mystery beyond (“Dryghten” in Wiccan practice). Paganism’s willingness to borrow and adapt gave me back the prayers of my youth and the divinities they invoked. I don’t bar them from my temple, for they are too deeply rooted in the same heart-soil where all my other gods grow.


Note: the prayers quoted are from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. For more on the relation between Mary and the Goddess, see “Holy Mother,” For more on the development of Dionysos, see Pangaia #38, “Dilemma of the Dying God.”  And of course, the blog title comes from the old Depeche Mode song.

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Archer has been trying to make sense of religion since her parents first abandoned her at Sunday School in the 60s. She’s a mom, yoga teacher and repository of useless bits of information on ancient religion, spiritual practices and English grammar. Check out her column “Connections” in Witches and Pagans.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 28 April 2015

    I've got recordings of that song "Your Own Personal Jesus" both by Depeche Mode and by Johnny Cash. I think it's a cool song.

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