Over at Patheos, Star Foster has divorced herself from Jesus Christ. While this is more of a public announcement by Star of what was a more private divorce that happened years ago, it got me thinking about my own divorce from Christianity.
I remember reading in The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels about a secret Gnostic sacrament called apolytrosis (release). The Gnostics believed that Christians worshiped the false god, the Demiurge, and by attaining gnosis they came to know their true spiritual parentage. According to Pagels, in the ritual, the Gnostic candidate addressed the Demiurge directly “declaring his independence, serving notice that he no longer belongs to the demiurge’s sphere of authority and judgment”.
When I read this, it inspired me to write my own apolytrosis sometime around 2004. I share part of it below. (I have omitted some of the cathartic Luciferian elements — that’s for another discussion.) Basically, it is just a collection of quotes from various authors who gave me courage to leave the religion of my birth. This was actually one of the first rituals I ever performed. Although I had long since divorced the Christian God in my heart, this formal ritual was a true apolytrosis (release).
Part 1: Exchange of Passwords
To the East*
Supplicant: I trust in my own might and main.
Guardian: Do you believe in God?
Supplicant: I believe in me. (1)
Guardian: Be bold and mighty forces will come to your
To the South
Supplicant: I trust what is deep is holy.
Guardian: What if these impulses are from below and not from above?
Supplicant: If I am the Devil’s child, I will live then from the Devil. (3)
Guardian: Treat your drives with love and respect and they will reveal their meaning to you. (4)
To the West
Supplicant: I absolve me to myself. (3)
Guardian: What is the seal of freedom attained?
Supplicant: No longer to be ashamed of oneself. (5)
Guardian: It is better to be whole than to be good. (6)
To the North
Supplicant: I have ceased to question stars and books, and begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers in me. (4)
Guardian: What is it that you wanted to learn from teachings and teachers that they could not teach you?
Supplicant: It was my self. I will learn from my self and be my own pupil. I will learn from myself the secret of John. (4)
Guardian: If that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. (7)
* I associated each of the cardinal directions with a virtue/vice that I wished to reclaim: Rebellion, Lust, Pride and Rage, and Earthliness.
Part 2: Declaration of Independence
I know you of old. (8) Yahweh I name you. Jupiter. Ahura Mazda. Dis Pater. Urizen. (9) Heavenly Father. Whom I did once worship, till in the sacramental act so burned by thee, I still bear the scar. The blind god, hermit immemorial. Husband of the silent wife. Whose whole awful essence sits in bearded state, an antique buried beneath antiquities and throned on torsos. (10)
I now know thee. No fearless fool now fronts thee. I own my power. And to the last gasp of my earthquake life I will dispute your unconditional, unintegral mastery of me. In the midst of the personified impersonal, a personality stands here. (10)
And I tell you this. My god is here. Wounded and bleeding, but here. And he has given shelter to me, and to all whom the world has bent and broken, all who yearn for a god’s love, all whom the world despise. He demands our loyalty, yes, but he allows us the freedom to question the order of the world, and to be who and what we are. Can you say the same? (11)
I have ceased to question stars and books, and begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers in me. (4) Know now, I appeal from your laws, your books, your customs, your idolatries. However long I have dwelt in lies, henceforward, I am truth’s. Nothing at last is sacred but the integrity of my own soul. (3)
I will not break myself for you any longer. I will bow no longer to the sanctities of obedience and faith. I will no longer sell my power and my liberty. (3) No longer will I crawl through the desert on my knees repenting. (12) I do not wish to expiate, but to live. (3)
I have my own stern claims and perfect circle. (3) I will give myself my own evil and my own good and will hang my own will over myself as a law. (5) I will trust in my own might and main. Few and mean as my gifts may be, I actually am. (3)
I absolve me to myself. I will so trust what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me and the heart appoints. I will live wholly from within. (3)
There is within me a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted. (12) And if I am the Devil’s child, and I will live then from the Devil. No law will be sacred to me but that of my own nature. I bid the invaders take the shoes from their feet, for I have looked within. (3) And where I had thought to find an abomination, I have found a god! (13)
Sources: (1) Joe Versus the Volcano, (2) Goethe, (3) Emerson, (4) Hermann Hesse, (5) Nietzsche, (6) John Middleton Murry, (7) Doreen Valiente, (8) Shakespeare, (9) William Blake, (10) Herman Melville, (11) Jacqueline Carey, (12) Mary Oliver, (13) Joseph Campbell