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Christ in the Cauldron

Inside the circle of empty chairs I began to set up my altars on the floor.  I have been invited to speak with The Sonoma County Pagan Network on how I live as both a Witch (very active in the Reclaiming Tradition) and a Christian (ordained as a minister and serving within the United Church of Christ). 

In the East/Air, I lay a white cloth and on it an Icon of Sophia/Wisdom, who in the Judeo/Christian mythology was there “...before the beginning of the Earth...”  Next to the Icon of Sophia I lay books full of wisdom that I have found fill my lungs with sacred breath and free my breathing of oppressive dogma.  I lay books full of words that entered my mind and helped my thoughts and intellect fly and wonder, piqued my curiosity and spun webs of connections.  I lay books like Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Parker’s “Proverbs of Ashes” which gave me permission to remain Christian even though I do not subscribe to substitutionary atonement theology, and Cynthia Bourgeault’s “The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three” which helped me see the Christian Trinity as a fluid and dynamic dance of all genders and forms. 

In the South/Fire, I lay a red cloth and on it an Icon of The Holy Spirit, a fiery Dove as gender fluid as Fire itself.  Around the Icon I lay flickering candles recalling the Pentecost story of power rushing into a tiny room giving frightened humans courage and strength in their fear.  I lay flickering candles recalling power rushing into fragile and frightened humans over millennia, giving them strength to stand up to injustice:  riot in Stonewall, march in Selma, demand equal pay for equal work, stop the power of profit from destroying the health of The Earth.

In the West/Water, I lay a blue cloth and on it an Icon of Mary Magdalene, the companion and partner of the human Jesus, and a pitcher with an image of Mary, The Divine Mother.  In the pitcher there is Water to recall the sacredness of their tears, amnionic fluid, sweat, blood, vaginal secretions, spit.  In the pitcher is holy Water to recall how their fluids are the fluids of life itself: Oceans, rivers, aquifers, rain.  Holy Water to recall the flow of their tears of compassion, their sweat and blood in the wild torrents washing away injustice, and their amnionic fluid as the sweet sap nourishing and feeding beings of all kind.

In the North/Earth, I lay a green and brown cloth and on it an Icon of Jesus, the human who laughed and wept, danced and worked, ate with friends, taught and healed, got angry at injustice, and rejoiced in generosity.  I place a wooden cup and plate of bread as a symbol of Jesus, the one who was born, grew, loved, and died only to emerge radiant to remind me that even death itself is part of the ancient cycle of life where energy concentrates into matter, and then bursts out again to reconfigure with a dizzy kaleidoscopic pleasure in the shape shifting itself.  I lay a red heart shaped candle to recall the compassionate heart of the Christ, the energy into which the human Jesus shape shifted.

Finally, in the The Center/Spirit I lay a cloth of many hues, and a vase with a profusion of colorful flowers recalling The Divine From Whom All Blessings Flow.  Next to the vase I lay a photo of our spiraling galaxy which, for me, is an Icon of The Star Goddess of the Feri creation myth, and the same Being  I experience singing everything from energy into matter and delighting in its goodness found in the Judeo/Christian creation myth told in Genesis chapter one.

When the group of Pagans, Witches, and Heathens from many traditions finally come and sit in the chairs around my five altars, I invite them to share their names, their traditions, and any brush they may have had with Christianity.  They speak their stories slowly, from person to person, casting a shimmering Circle around the room.  The Circle holds the strong and dynamic energy of their current spiritual practices and traditions and, for many, pain from past experiences with Christians that left them bruised and excluded from family and childhood community. 

I share parts of my own story, how I knew I was a witch from my earliest memories. I tell them of growing up as a wild child in California’s Trinity Mountains, experiencing the life and being of The Earth and The Elements, claimed early by the The Moon in all her phases, and befriended by the trickster, Loki, as a playmate.   Then I walk from altar to altar and share my relationship with each of the aspects of The Divine from the Christian pantheon laid before them within the Circle we had cast.  When I finish speaking I invite them to walk through the altars if they wish.  Afterward, some share it felt like visiting old friends, others tell of feeling some healing of old wounds.

I thank and bid farewell to the Directions/Elements and aspects of Christian deity that I had invoked during the evening.  Finally, together with  all those present, Pagans, Witches, and Heathens of many traditions, we open the Circle.

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Lizann Bassham was both an active Reclaiming Witch and an Ordained Christian Minister in the United Church of Christ. She served as Campus Pastor at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley working with a multi-faith student community. She was a columnist for SageWoman magazine, a novelist, playwright, and musician. Once, quite by accident, she won a salsa dance contest in East L.A. Lizann died on May 27, 2018.

Comments

  • Piper
    Piper Thursday, 28 May 2015

    Thank you, as a Gnostic Christian Priest, magician, husband to a Witch and father to two Asaturar I found this moving and beautiful, a welcome interlude in my morning and a reminder that my family's workings may be odd to some, but are right for us.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Thursday, 28 May 2015

    Thanks Piper - blessings on your Gnostic Christian Witch Asaturar family!

  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan Thursday, 28 May 2015

    That sounds amazingly beautiful. I really wish I could have been there in person, but thank you for sharing it here!

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Thursday, 28 May 2015

    Thanks Annika! We should create and co-lead a Christ in the Cauldron retreat sometime, maybe with Gina Pond as well....

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 28 May 2015

    I read a book called "The Samurai from Outer Space" about anime and it mentioned a shrine in Japan where Jesus is married to Otohime the daughter of the Sea Dragon King, and Yahweh is identified with Susa-no-o and represented by a bible. I tried looking it up on the internet a few times and it just might really exist. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Thursday, 28 May 2015

    Your welcome Anthony - let me know if you come up with more on that shrine….

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Friday, 29 May 2015

    The best I've been able to do is an article "Messianic Expectations in the Eastern Religions" on the www.bibleguidance.co.za website. From there I looked up Fujita Himiko the founding priestess of the sect on Google and arrived at an article "The Goddess Emerges from her cave: Fujita Himiko and her Dragon Palace Family". That's as far as I got. Perhaps you might do better with a different search engine.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Friday, 29 May 2015

    Thanks Anthony.

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