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Neo-Paganism and the Church of All Worlds, Some Questions and Answers, Part 2 of 2

Newsgroups: alt.religion.all-worlds
From: (Polyfi)
Subject: Church of All Worlds FAQ's/Part II/Repost
Date: 19 Mar 1999 22:04:50 GMT

Now that you are here, why not read Church of All World's FAQ's, Part II.  This
is reposted from CAW's webpage,

Neo-Paganism and the Church of All Worlds
Some Questions and Answers
(Part 2 of 2)

Is Neo-Pagan religion less dogmatic than others? 
What does the CAW teach about sin and atonement? 
What does the CAW teach about good and evil? 
What does the CAW teach about life after death? 
Neo-Paganism is close to the Earth. Does this include the rest of the cosmos?
Regardless of how good we    now treat the Earth, we must eventually leave for
other worlds, if the species is to survive. Will Pagan       religion follow us
from its root planet to other worlds? 
What is the political affiliation and structure of your community? Where does
CAW stand in regard to radical    environmentalism? 
Where does your community stand on sexuality issues? 
How does Neo-Paganism view the role of the male? 
What is the CAW position on birth control and abortion? 
Do you welcome children and allow them full freedom of expression? 
What is the CAW position on mind-altering drugs? 
What is the CAW position regarding war and conscientious objection? 
Where did the rituals used in this new religion originate? 
How do CAW Waterkin practice their religion? 
Simply, Why should I join CAW? What will it do for my spiritual well being?  

Is Neo-Pagan religion less dogmatic than others? 
   The dogmatic nature of the practitioners of any religion vary from person to
person. We have met dogmatic and non-dogmatic Christians from the same church.
The same goes for Pagans. Some may be dogmatic about the form of their
practice, while others are not. Some believe that magic is stronger when
actions are repeated the same way each time. Others make their rituals
completely new each time. The general structure of Neo-Paganism, however, is so
varied as to be impossible to dictate to any larger number of people. As the
saying goes, ask two Pagan a question and get three different answers. We
generally believe the world is to be discovered, not dictated. We are not
arrogant enough to think we have all the answers, and believe flexibility is
essential in reflecting an organic, Nature-based religion. Dogmatism stagnates.
Only flexibility allows evolution to occur. Neo-Paganism is no a "cult." We do
not have a messianic leader, follow prescribed patters of activity, nor stick
to closed communities. 

What does the CAW teach about sin and atonement? 
   Rather than focusing on "right" and "wrong," whose definitions will vary
from person to person, religion to religion, and from one cultural phase to
another, we look at the world in terms of cause and effect. If you hurt
someone, you have damaged a relationship that will not be as viable for you in
the future. If you abuse the planet, you will live in a damaged environment. We
are responsible for our actions. It is not our role to pass judgment on one
another. We believe that everything is interconnected and the events that occur
in one's life as a result of ignorant or harmful action are usually judgment or
"punishment" enough. If someone comes to bring harm into our own sphere, we
will do what we can to stop them and teach them something different. We do not
believe punishment has a lot of value in changing behavior, but teaching does.
The Wiccan Rede, "If it harm none, do what thou wilt," means that we are
responsible for our own wills, and our responsibility includes avoiding harm to
self and others. 

What does the CAW teach about good and evil? 
   We define "Good" in terms of Nature -- that which is pro-life, pro-choice,
pro-actualization, pro-evolutionary, pro-diversity, pro-enlightenment;
counter-entropy. "Evil" would be that which is anti-Nature, anti-life,
anti-choice, anti-actualization, anti-evolutionary, anti-diversity, ignorance;
entropy. Good is that which enhances and maximizes options; evil is that which
reduces them. We do not see these in terms of dualism, imagining that there are
two antagonistic forces in the universe, but rather we perceive a continuum
moving always in a direction towards greater manifestation of evolutionary
actualization and increasing consciousness; i.e. Divinity. 

What does the CAW teach about life after death? 
   We have no certain knowledge about life after death, and therefore, cannot
teach about it. We feel it is more appropriate to be concerned with life after
birth. Our orientation is towards living, not dying, and we hold no official
dogma regarding an afterlife. We do have many interesting speculations and
opinions on the matter, however, and the range of opinions held by our people
runs the gamut from nihilism to reincarnation, with many of us tending to feel
that whatever you personally believe in is possibly what you get. Overall, we
tend to view life, death and rebirth as a continuum in an infinite spiral
dance, recycling both matter and energy into every more complex forms in the
endless Circle of Life. In this view, those of us who are bound to this living
world by strong ties of love have returned time and time again to reunite with
our loved ones in the unfolding of our collective Destiny, and we will continue
doing so. 

   We do observe that "death" as experienced by human beings in Western culture
does not normally occur in Nature. That is, seldom does a plant or animal just
"die" and become inert for all time. Rather under normal circumstances, plants
and animals are killed and consumed as food by other plants, animals, or
bacteria while their component cells are still alive. Thus the life-energy
force becomes assimilated into whatever eats them, and is not actually
terminated or destroyed. Humans have attempted to remove themselves from the
Circle of Life by killing all the cells in our food through cooking, and by
embalming our dead and sealing the corpses in life-proof vaults. Thus people
are the only beings that do not normally partake of immortality! Some ancient
Pagans customarily buried their dead, coffinless and unembalmed, under a young
tree, or with the seed of a tree on their chest, so that their life-energy
would be recycled into the growing tree. Many CAW waterkin identify strongly
with this. 

Neo-Paganism is close to the Earth. Does this include the rest of the cosmos?
Regardless of how good we now treat the Earth, we must eventually leave for
other worlds, if the species is to survive. Will Pagan religion follow us from
its root planet to other worlds? 

   Paganism is a Nature-based religion, and Pagans revere the Earth as a living
Mother Goddess. The essential goal of any living organism is to reproduce;
indeed that is the prime criterion for defining "life." For a living planet,
such reproduction must necessarily manifest in the seeding of other worlds with
life to produce another planetary, biospheres as offspring. Our future
terraforming of sterile worlds such as Mars, Luna, Venus and the Jovian moons
will be, in effect, Gaea reproducing Herself. She can only do this through us,
as only we, as a technological species, can construct the space faring arks to
convey Her fragile protoplasm into the void beyond Her atmosphere, and hatch
Gaea's chicks out into the starry realm of the cosmos: 
    And we who reach for the stars in the heavens,
    Turning our eyes from the hedges and rows,
    Still live in the love of the Lord and the Lady;
    The greater the Circle, the more the love grows....
              ---Ann Cass, Circles

   Moreover, other planets will also have their seasonal cycles, from Solstices
to Equinoxes, and the cross-quarters between. Many have their own moons --
sometimes several -- and the stars in their skies bay be configured into
constellations, forming signs of an alien Zodiac. Mountains, valleys, seas, and
rivers of other worlds too will have their sacred places, and their spirits
thereof. And stories will come to be told of all this, and how it all came to
be, and where it is all going. Paganism is universal. 

What is the political affiliation and structure of your community? Where does
CAW stand in regard to racial environmentalism? 
   Politically, CAW is basically Green. Many of us tend toward some form of
Anarcho-Libertarianism, and some of us are actively involved in EarthFirst!
CAW's aim is to make connection to the Holy Biosphere of our Mother earth: to
protect Her and heal the rift between Wo/man and Nature. We do advocate
protecting that which we worship, in whatever way feels right to you. If that
means writing your Congressperson and signing petitions; is that means getting
involved in tree planting and picking up litter; if that means having a
sit-down at a nuclear power plant or chaining yourself to a tree; then do what
thou wilt. All of these things are effective. All have their place. You have to
take responsibility for your own actions. We support all levels of political
actions, and have an excellent relationship with our local Congressmen and
other government officials. 

Where does your community stand on sexuality issues? 
   The kind of sexuality that we support is the Goddess's charge: "All acts of
love and pleasure are my rituals." We sanction all loving a responsible
relationship between informed and mutually consenting adults, whatever their
gender, number, or practice. We have many diverse life- and love- styles in
CAW, with various folk gravitating towards their own preferred choices in such
matters as sacraments; sexual practice, preference and orientation; politics,
beliefs, etc. We are united by our love of our Mother, the Living Earth, of
each other as Waterkin, and of all living beings as brothers and sisters; all
children of the same Mother. We accept Robert Heinlein's definition of "love"
as stated in Stranger in a Strange Land: "That condition wherein another
person's happiness is essential to your own." 

   This means we honor and welcome all sexual orientations, genders and
practices into our nests and circles; we perform hand fastings (weddings) for
heterosexual, gay, bisexual, or transsexual couples, triads and group
marriages; and we support all aspects of personal and mutual choice. This
absolutely includes the choice to have an exclusive, monogamous nuclear family;
or even to be celibate; if that's what everybody concerned wants to do. We
absolutely do not expect or require that others should engage in practices,
sexual or otherwise, that they do not wish to, just because someone else does.
Our informal motto is: "If you don't like it, you can't have any!" 

   And in these days of AIDS, we fanatically advocate Safe Sex, whomever you do
it with! 

How does Neo-Paganism view the role of the male? 
   Female and male are the two partners in the cosmic Dance of Life. Both are
essential to the creation of new life, and neither should be denigrated or
subordinate to the other. There can be no Mother without a Father (at least
among mammals!), and there can be no Father without a Mother (even among Gods.
Female and male, Goddess and God, Priestess and Priest; partners and consorts,
our fates entwined like the double helix of the DNA molecule. 

   And incidentally, this view of equality between the sexes should not be
construed to preclude all-female or all-male working groups, or same-sex
lovers. These things too are part of the great Balance, and it is the Balance
itself which we honor, holding neither side above or below the other. 

What is the CAW position on birth control and abortion? 
   It is ecologically, psychologically, spiritually and politically
indefensible to bring unwanted children into the world. We are pro-life,
regarding the quality of life for all being to be of utmost importance. The CAW
unconditionally supports the right of every woman to make her own decisions
regarding her desire and ability to bear and responsibly raise a child. We
declare and defend a woman's right to safe, effective, affordable and
acceptable methods of fertility regulation of her choice, including a timely
abortion if and when she should deem it necessary. We support the right of all
women to access to appropriate health-care services that will enable them to
safely through pregnancy with the best chance of bearing and raising healthy
children. We work for the right so women to maintain and expand their own
reproductive options. 

Do you welcome children and allow them full freedom of expression? 
   We are nearly always delighted to have our wonderful children participate in
our rituals. The only exceptions to this are explicit sexual rites, such as the
Beltane May Games. While our children are encouraged to explore in a great
range of personal expression, we do teach them ethics and responsibilities of
freedom. Violent and destructive behavior, for instance is not tolerated. We
expect them to exercise considerable responsibility, and the older kids take a
good deal of responsibility towards the younger ones. All the adults in the
community pretty much relate parentally to the kids and vice versa. 

What is the CAW position on mind-altering drugs? 
    Various psychotropic chemicals have been used as sacraments in virtually
every culture on the planet: beer among the Sumerians and Egyptians, wine among
the Greeks and Romans, mead for the Northern Tribes of Europe, fly agaric
mushrooms for the Vikings and Tungusik shamans, tobacco for the North American
Natives, Coca for the Inca, betel nut for the Melanesians, Cannabis for the
Indo-Europeans, rye ergot for the Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece, "Flying
Ointment" (datura and other psychotropic plants) for the Witches of Medieval
Europe, peyote for the Huitchol and the Indians of the Mexican deserts, opium
for the Mediterranean and Chinese cultures, ayahuasca for the natives of
Brazil, magic mushrooms and toads for the Mayans and Aztecs...the list goes on
and on. These are all regarded as sacraments; that is sacred medicine
substances of great power. They are gifts of the Gods (some even say "flesh of
the Gods"), meant to be used only with reverence, and in a sacred manner. The
power of these sacraments lies in their ability to temporarily obliterate (or
at least radically alter) mundane consciousness and allow communion with, and
even divine possession by the Gods. In traditional Pagan cultures, "profaning
the sacraments" (using them in a non-sacred context) is considered blasphemy,
leading to the destruction of the soul and psyche of any who would be so stupid
as to do so. If such sacraments are to be used at all, it seems to be the
unanimous collective wisdom of the Ancient Elders that they should be used in a
sacred way. 

   Here at CAW, we try very carefully to avoid "advocating" anything other than
responsible freedom. We follow "The Prime Directive" of non-interference,
feeling that whatever a person wishes to do with their own body is nobody
else's business. 

What is the CAW position regarding war and conscientious objection? 
   The CAW categorically supports the right of all who honor Mother Earth to
non-violently oppose war in any and all forms. War is deacide, for it is
destructive of the Goddess embodied in all living beings. War results from
various human communities having forgotten their collective origin in the
sacred Earth, and managing to demonize each other. War is the basic tool by
which the patriarchal takeover and suppression of the Goddess was originally
achieved, and subsequently maintained. 

   We also support the right to choose the path of the Sacred Warrior, to
embody an ancient archetype who serves to protect the oppressed, the weak, the
innocent, and holy places. Sacred Warriors revere life, even the lives of their
adversaries, preferring non-violence to fighting. Martin Luther King and Gandhi
were Sacred Warriors. They did not demonize their opponents, but sought to
transform them by awakening the sacred within them. 

   We are all fragments of Gaia; to kill each other is to kill Her. Even our
enemies are sacred. 

Where did the rituals used in this new religion originate? 
   Some are reconstructed from scraps of history that have survived through
archaeological research, translations of texts and direct lineage through
families. Many are derived from the legends, songs, customs and folklore that
have been embedded so deeply in our cultural heritage that even centuries of
Christianity could not dislodge them. Most rituals in the CAW are created by
the participants for the purpose at hand. There are many, many rituals. They
are countless in their variety, and new ones are being created everyday. 

How do CAW Waterkin Practice their religion? 
   For Pagans, there is no demarcation between the sacred and the secular, and
every activity is essentially a religious activity. Unlike the many people who
practice their religion only for an hour on Sunday mornings, we Pagan live our
religion 24 hours a day, every day of our lives. For us, taking our cans and
bottles to the recycling center is as much a religious duty as prayer and
ritual. And so are composting our garbage, organic vegetables, practicing birth
control and safe sex, using bio-degradable materials, physical exercise,
psychic training, study and celebration of the seasons. In our Nests we hold
religious services, sensitivity session, council meetings, study discussion
seminars, camp outs, pot-luck dinners, salons, "magickal mystery tours," group
"field trips" to concerts, plays and movies, and just plain goof time parties.
We celebrate the eight seasonal Pagan festivals with feasting, sharing music
and sacred drama. We come together for work parties to plant trees, fix roofs,
maintain roads, work on the land, harvest our gardens and orchards, or whatever
is needed. Our families, clans and tribe constitute our best friends and
lovers, whom we would rather hand out with than anybody else. Many of us travel
around the country, speaking to other interested people and groups on request.
In all, we recognize that the essence of a religion is in the living of it. 

Simply, Why should I join CAW? What will it do for my spiritual well-being? 
   CAW is a network of individuals who share a concern for the Earth, a love
for the Gods in their many forms, a sense of community, an enjoyment for good
ritual and intellectual banter, and our common love and reverence for our
Mother, the Living Earth. We hang out together largely because this is our
favorite company, composed of our best friends, family and lovers, who have
more fun together than with anyone else. If CAW appeals to you, you are welcome
to join our company for as long as you wish. We exist as a tribe of people who
find kinship, support and inspiration with each other. As a group entity, we
hope to create an atmosphere that will inspire all of us in our growth and
evolution. Your spiritual well-being, however is your own responsibility.We do
not promise eternal salvation or an end to all your troubles. We are not cult
leaders, gurus, or mothers telling children what to do, but cohorts on an
exciting journey of discovery. "Enter freely and of your own will."  
 Replies to CAWeb Spinners
1999 Church of All Worlds, inc. All rights reserved.
Last modified 01/07/99 16:42:30    
reposted from webpage, 3/19/99

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POB 520291
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