Bible Verses By Heart

I received word about an iTunes app that I thought some of you might be interested in.

Penguin, creators of the popular “Poems by Heart” app, launches “Bible Verses by Heart”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Bible is the most important book for millions of Christians around the world, but it’s also a classic work of literature. Now, Penguin Random House is proud to launch “Bible Verses by Heart”, an app that will appeal not only to the faithful, but to those who view the Bible as literature and want to better understand the extent to which the “Good Book” permeates our culture and values.

Inspired by the successful” Poems by Heart from Penguin Classics” app—which has more than 30,000 active users a month, has been downloaded over 412,000 times, and is one of only six educational apps recognized as an “App Store Best of 2013”—“Bible Verses By Heart” is a beautiful, intuitive app designed to help readers memorize key passages from the Bible. Joel Fotinos, a licensed minister and the publisher of Tarcher Books, a Penguin Random House imprint, was hugely influential in determining the app’s 20 passages, which were gathered from the Old Testament, the New Testament, as well as Psalms and Proverbs.

“We wanted ‘Bible Verses by Heart’ to appeal not only to people who love the Bible and want to memorize key scriptures, but also to casual readers interested in knowing more about it—i.e., those who see the Bible referenced in literature, the news, and in popular culture, and would like a better understanding of the Bible’s verses, selections, and stories,” said Fotinos. “We narrowed down the selections to what I jokingly call “The Bible’s Greatest Hits” – meaning those passages that would have the greatest recognition and that fit within the guidelines we had set.”

Fotinos then ran the passages by a tough set of critics—a pair of nuns from a well-known Christian monastic community. The result: a collection that draws from five different translations and encompasses everything from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and Genesis 1:1-2:3 to Psalm 40:1-17 (A Prayer for Help) and Judges 5:1-31 (Song of Deborah).

“Since these are poetic selections, we weren’t trying to create a ‘Cliff’s Notes’ version. Nor did we want to choose only inspiring verses,” said Fotinos. “Rather, we picked selections that would add to a person’s Bible literacy. When someone memorizes these passages, they gain a greater appreciation of how pervasive these verses are in our culture. Eventually we hope to record and include more selections from the Bible to keep this project expanding and evolving.”

“Bible Verses by Heart” is free to download, and comes with three free passages, with 21 more available for in-app purchase. As users progress through five stages of difficulty, they are rewarded with high scores and Game Center Achievements. They also have the ability to record and share their own recitals via email and SoundCloud. The app was designed and developed by inkle, who also designed “Poems by Heart from Penguin Classics”.

“The Bible Verses by Heart” app is available for download for iPhone or iPad via iTunes. Click to read more about the “Bible Verses by Heart” app on iTunes:

Now because I’m like this, and I know a bunch of you would be curious too, I checked with the public relations person for this project to find out exactly which Bibles these verses were coming from. As many of us know, that can make a real difference. It turns out it’s pretty diverse. “Bible Verses by Heart” uses passages from the King James Version, New King James Version, New American Standard, New Revised Standard Version, and the Contemporary English Version.

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah

I learned of an interesting exhibit going on at the National Museum of Jewish American History that I thought was fun and interesting. Something that those of you in Philadelphia may want to check out this holiday season.

The history of Hanukkah and Christmas songs and the Jewish musicians, artists, and songwriters who wrote and performed them is the focus of the National Museum of American Jewish History’s newest installation, ‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah, opening November 4, 2014. The installation combines a cozy living room setting with modern technology to deliver a compelling story about the blending of the American and Jewish musical season, the soundtracks of religious holidays, and the musical standards we know today.

Featuring well-known artists such as Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman, Bob Dylan, the Ramones, and Lou Reed, as well as Christmas gems by the likes of Jewish salsa giant Larry Harlow, and Jewish stage and screen icons Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson, this multimedia installation will set to music American Jewish efforts to invent, re-invent, and celebrate a season marked by family, gift-giving, food traditions, and well-loved music—across multiple faiths.

“The Christmas music industry, as a quintessentially American enterprise, provided a way for Jewish songwriters, many of them immigrants or children of immigrants, to feel American. By showing how an outsider community can enter mainstream American culture, Christmas songs highlight a classic American Jewish narrative,” says Ivy Weingram, associate curator of NMAJH and co-curator of ‘Twas.

In a gallery styled as a cozy living room, visitors will be able to enjoy interactive song and video platforms, as well as images of holiday-related artifacts from the Museum’s collection of 30,000 objects, delivered on curated iPads accompanied by text and graphics of holiday celebrations. In addition to the audio visual component of the installation, visitors will have hands-on access to record albums, a wide selection of books on American popular music and Jewish history, and kids’ toys and books.

A ‘Twas-themed self-guided tour highlighting holiday-related objects in the permanent collection will also be available.

The installation is inspired by the critically-acclaimed 2012 music compilation produced by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, which draws on jazz, folk, rap, Latin, and Klezmer musical styles. “At the Idelsohn Society, our goal has always been re-examining the Jewish-American musical past in new contemporary contexts,” says Idelsohn co-founder, Josh Kun. “Collaborating with NMAJH offers a rare opportunity to do this in a premier Museum setting where these songs and their commentaries on Jewish life, identity, and ritual will take on new meanings with new publics.”

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah will build on the cutting-edge interactive media for which the Museum has been widely recognized. This family-friendly, seasonal installation will run through March 1 and is designed to be enjoyed by visitors of all backgrounds.

For those of you who are interested, I have the “‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah” musical compilation CD in the “I Recommend” widget on the site here. It’s also available for download through Amazon.

Meister Eckhart on Mindful Meditation

By Matthew Fox

Meister Eckhart was a late-thirteenth- and early-fourteenth-century preacher and mystic, yet like Rumi and Hafiz, he remains relevant today. He speaks to so many and touches people’s hearts. In this short excerpt from his new book “Meister Eckhart: A Mystic Warrior for Our Times”, bestselling author Matthew Fox shares his insights on letting go.

How do we get to that silence, to that Source of all things? Meister Eckhart calls on the story of Jacob in Genesis (28:20): “‘Jacob the patriarch came to a certain place and wanted to rest in the evening, when the sun had gone down.’…He says: ‘To a place’; he does not name it. The place is God. God has no name of His own, and is the place and position of all things and is the natural place of all creatures.” We commune with the Godhead, which is natural for us: “The Godhead alone is the place of the soul, and is nameless….‘Jacob rested in that place,’ which is nameless. By not being named, it is named. When the soul comes to the nameless place, it takes its rest. There, where all things have been God in God, the soul rests. That place of the soul which is God is nameless. I say God is unspoken.” It is in repose, at night, in silence, that God’s love burns the hottest. “In a God-loving soul it is evening. There is nothing there but repose, where a person is thoroughly penetrated and made illuminated with divine love….The soul remains in the light of God and in the silence of pure repose, and that is evening: then it is hottest in the divine love.” Darkness holds its special power and its special attraction. God likes a no-place, a no-where, and the soul wants to commune with God there as well. “As long as the soul is anywhere, it is not in the greatest of God which is nowhere.” After all, “God is nowhere….God is not here or there, neither in time or place.” Christ, too, is to be found there in a place of nothingness. “Where is Christ sitting? He is sitting nowhere. Whoever seeks him anywhere will not find him. His smallest part is everywhere, his highest part is nowhere.”

The journey is a journey inward, for that is where the human spirit is most at home and so too is God. Eckhart says, “God is a being who always lives in the innermost. Therefore the spirit is always searching within. But the will goes outward toward what it loves.”

How do we go about this journey inward to a nameless and unknown place? Eckhart says, “The Word lies hidden in the soul, unknown and unheard unless room is made for it in the ground of hearing, otherwise it is not heard. All voices and sounds must cease and there must be pure stillness within, a still silence.” To meditate is to collect ourselves. “The soul must be collected and drawn up straight and must be a spirit. There God works and there all works are pleasing to God. No work ever pleases God unless it is wrought there.” We learn to focus, for “the more the soul is collected, the narrower it is, and the narrower it is, the wider.” Great things happen in this place of silence, which is “the doorway of God’s house….In the silence and peace…there God speaks in the soul and utters Himself completely in the soul. There the Father begets His Son and has such delight in the Word and is so fond of it, that He never ceases to utter the Word all the time, that is to say beyond time.”

The journey inward into the dark and silence is a trip into simplicity, Eckhart says, a letting go of all things — all forms and images and memories — into the “essential mind of God, of which the pure and naked power is understanding, which the masters term receptive. Now mark my words! It is only above all this that the soul grasps the pure absoluteness of free being, which has no location, which neither receives nor gives: it is bare ‘beingness’ that has been stripped of all being and all beingness. There it takes hold of God as in the ground of His being, where He is beyond all being.” One lets go of all desire, which is so “far reaching” and measureless. “All that understanding can grasp, all that desire can desire, that is not God. Where understanding and desire end, there it is dark, and there God shines.” The Word of God is heard there, for “to hear this Word in the Father (where all is stillness), a person must be quite quiet and wholly free from all images and from all forms. Indeed, a person ought to be so true to God that nothing whatever can gladden or sadden him or her. She should take all things in God, just as they are there.” Then God will do the work and humans need only not resist. “If only the soul would stay within, all things would be present to it.” Solitude is tasted, for there the soul “must be alone as God is alone.”

About Matthew Fox:
Matthew Fox is the author of over 30 books including “The Hidden Spirituality of Men”, “Christian Mystics”, and most recently “Meister Eckhart”. A preeminent scholar and popularizer of Western mysticism, he became an Episcopal priest after being expelled from the Catholic Church by Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI. You can visit him at

Excerpted from the book “Meister Eckhart: A Mystic Warrior for Our Times” ©2014 by Matthew Fox. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.

Thou Art That

How sad is this? I honestly feel just awful. I seriously started this book review over 5 times. That’s right kids, OVER 5 TIMES! I was given a copy of “Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor” by Joseph Campbell. It’s collected from previously unpublished work. It does what Campbell does best, compares the Judeo-Christian faiths similarities and misrepresentations with scholarship that is authoritative, yet a dummy like me can understand.

What do I say about that besides I liked it? That I REALLY liked it! Here’s what I’d like to say, it comes from Eugene Kennedy, Ph.D., “Thou Art That’s” editor:

“Tat tvam asi” is a phrase that appears often in these collected spiritual reflections of the late Joseph Campbell. These words also inscribe a signature of celebration on his life and work. Translated from the Sanskrit as “thou art that,” this epigram captures Campbell’s generous spirit just as it does his scholarly focus. The great student of mythology not only understood the profound spiritual implications of the phrase but, quite unselfconsciously, lived by them as well.

Joseph Campbell was fond of asking Schopenhauer’s question, found in his essay “On the Foundation of Morality:” “How is it possible that suffering that is neither my own nor of my concern should immediately affect me as though it were my own, and with such force that it moves me to action?…This is something really mysterious, something for which Reason can provide no explanation, and for which no basis can be found in practical experience. It is not unknown even to the most hard-hearted and self-interested. Examples appear every day before our eyes of instant responses of the kind, without reflection, one person helping another, coming to his aid, even setting his own life in clear danger for someone whom he has seen for the first time, having nothing more in mind than that the other is in need and in peril of his life….”

Schopenhauer’s response, one Campbell delighted in making his own, was that the immediate reaction and response represented the breakthrough of a metaphysical realization best rendered as “thou art that.” This presupposes, as the German philosopher wrote, his identification with someone not himself, a penetration of the barrier between persons so that the other was no longer perceived as an indifferent stranger but as a person “in whom I suffer, in spite of the fact that his skin does not enfold my nerves.”

And I feel like that’s the real story this collection of previously unpublished works is trying to tell us. Christian, Jewish, whatever. You are a person that’s part of this crazy experiment called humanity. “Thou art that.”

10 Questions with John Mabry

1. What made you decide to write “Growing into God: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Mysticism”?

I’ve long been a student of Christian mysticism—and a practitioner, too, I might add! I was teaching a graduate course in Christian mysticism at a local university, when I realized that the only textbooks out there were either antiquated or hopelessly inept. I decided to write one myself. But because I’m me, it isn’t a textbook. I teach, but I don’t consider myself an academic. I’m a pastor—so I’m not writing for academics or even students necessarily, but for ordinary folks. My ideal reader is a Christian who wants to go deeper into her own tradition, or a non-Christian who wants to see what all the hoopla is about.

2. Readers know what I mean when I say Christianity, but what is Christian Mysticism? What is the difference?

In my mind there isn’t one. Mysticism is the very core of the Christian tradition, regardless of what denominational lens you’re viewing it through. The problem is, most Christians have either forgotten this, or they don’t recognize what they believe as being “mystical.” Mysticism is the pursuit of—or enjoyment of—union with the Divine. Since all Christians believe that they are united with God (or Christ or the Holy Spirit) in some fashion, all Christians are mystics. But unfortunately, we in the Christian tradition have done a pretty lousy job of communicating our tradition, even amongst ourselves. We’ve made it so sin-centric that we’ve sapped it of its joy—and that’s just not the way of Jesus at all. Christianity isn’t about sin or guilt or blame. It’s about life and transformation and making love to God. (There, that should get me on some Christian fuddy-duddy’s hit list.)

3. The path of the Christian Mystic has steps leading to Union. Could you describe each step to my readers

Sure. First, Evelyn Underhill describes a step zero, called “Awakening,” that kicks everything off. This is a mystical experience that just kind of comes out of nowhere and knocks you upside the head. You go, “WTF? What the hell was that?” This is kind of the “God as heroin dealer” model. The first taste is free, but you know you’ll want more, and soon you’re hooked. Which is good, because the next step is very hard. The mystics call it “Purgation” and it’s the first step in the classical model. Once you’ve had an Awakening experience, you see everything in a new light. You begin to sort through the things in your life, weighing them in light of the mystical revelation you received. You begin to let go of those things that are not congruent with your vision, and hold on to those that seem congruent. Basically, you’re sorting the illusory from the Real, based on the brief glimpse of the Real that you’ve received.

Once your done with this sorting, you can settle into a serious meditation practice, which the mystics call “Illumination.” In the Illuminated state, you see the Divine in all things. But as you go deeper, you realize that this is incomplete—that in fact, it is the other way around: all things are in God. I call this stage, “Enjoyment” because in it you really learn to enjoy the presence of God, and you sink deeper and deeper into an awareness of the Divine presence.

Finally, you sink so deep that the distance between you and the Divine disappears. The mystics often speak of this as “divine marriage” or “divinization,” but the result is the same—the illusory distinction between the Creator and the creation is dissolved, and the mystic enters into full and conscious union with the divine. But this is no sea of bliss. To be one with God means that what God wants, you want, and what God does, you do. And since God’s primary concern is to heal everything that is wounded or broken, mystics in full union are very busy people, spending most of their time with the poor and the oppressed.

(Question 4 was skipped because he pretty much answered it in question 3.)

5. In reading “Growing into God”, the path of the Christian Mystic doesn’t seem entirely safe. Could someone attempt this by themselves with just your book for guidance?

No form of mysticism is safe. People blow out their nervous systems doing Kundalini yoga all the time, when they try it out of a book. Christian mysticism isn’t as hard on the body’s electrical system, but you’re right—it’s not a safe endeavor, either. It’s best done within the context of a loving and supportive church community (there is no such thing as a “lone ranger” Christian, after all) and for best results, one should see a trained spiritual director once a month.

6. The Catholic Church features many mystics in their history, but I get the feeling if someone spoke to a bishop today and said, “I’m pursuing the path of the Christian Mystic,” the Bishop’s response would be to back away from you slowly. I guess my question is, what’s up with that?

Well, my guess would be such a reaction might have something to do with an overzealous ambition. It’s like the difference between saying “I’m thinking of going into politics” and announcing, “I’m going to be king of the world!” Going into politics is doable, being king of the world is less likely. And so it is with mysticism. The truth is that all Christians are called to be mystics, but few ever reach the “finish line” of full union in this lifetime, but the good news is, we don’t have to. As St. Therese of Lisieux of Liuseaux said, “All the way to heaven is heaven.”

On the other hand, if most Christians knew their own tradition better, we’d all own up to being “on the mystics’ path,” and there would be far fewer raised eyebrows. Still, your fictional bishop should know better. Instead of backing away, he should clap a hand to your shoulder and say, “That’s a wonderful thing. I’ll be praying for you.”

7. Can Union be compared to the Buddhist concept of enlightenment? Is this path just for Christians?

The stages of the mystical journey are roughly the same in most religious traditions. If you conceive of the Buddhist Noble Eightfold path as a linear model of spiritual development, and compare that to the model laid out in the Hindu Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, and compare that with the Christian model of Purgation, Illumination, and Union, you’ll find amazing similarities. The Hindu and Christian models are the closest. The Buddhist model does things in a slightly different order, but all the pieces are there. Of course, each tradition uses a different vocabulary, different metaphors and symbols to describe this journey, but the journey is basically the same. In my book I’m describing the journey as Christians have experienced and spoken about it. But when you strip away the symbols and language and cultural baggage what you find is the same journey of the soul—a human journey.

8. Can you tell us about one of your favorite mystics and why they’re a favorite?

I have so many favorites! I especially love Julian of Norwich, though, because her visions are so rich, so emotional and loving, and they also challenge the theological notions of her time, albeit in a cannily diplomatic way. But I also love the practical mysticism of Charles Williams. His “occult thriller” novels are masterpieces of both horror and theology. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if not for his influence.

9. What’s next for you? Any more books?

Yes, there are always more books! I have a new one coming out from Morehouse/Church Publishing titled Faithful Generations: Effective Ministry Across Generational Lines. I’m also polishing a Christmas novel, and hope to soon start work on a sequel to my horror/comedy/adventure novel, The Kingdom. Meanwhile, my progressive rock band, Mind Furniture, just did our first gig and we were blown away by the positive response we get, so we’ll probably put some energy into more live shows, even as we continue working on our next CD. Our last CD is called Hoop of Flame, and it’s on iTunes, so I hope you’ll check it out. It’s got a great hymn to Shiva, and a rock opera where we put God on trial for his crimes against humanity. It’s a kick!

10. Part shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Have you done any articles on Christo-pagan/Christo-Wiccan rituals or communities? I’d love to read that, if so.

I haven’t, but I’d love to. There are so many topics out there, so little time it seems. A great place that has discussed it from time to time along with a ton of other fascinating topics is The Wild Hunt website.

About John R. Mabry, PhD:
John R. Mabry is a United Church of Christ minister and pastors Grace North Church (Congregational) in Berkeley, CA. He teaches spiritual guidance and world religions at the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministry in Berkeley and at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto. Among his books are “The Way of Thomas”, “Faith Styles”, and “Noticing the Divine”.

Invisible Excursions: A Compass for the Journey

“Invisible Excursions: A Compass for the Journey” by James Conlon is a memoir of sorts. Conlon tells the story of his life as it unfolded during pivotal events like the Vietnam war and Vatican II but he also discusses his emerging love affair with creation spirituality. As the book progresses the memoir comes to the present day where Conlon talks about the Sophia Center where he is Director.

However, that truthful, but remarkably bland, descriptive paragraph does not do “Invisible Excursions” justice. It tells the story of a questing, compassionate Christianity that I wish we heard more about these days. One that knows matters of taking care of our planet and social justice are equal to, and work with, matters of theology.

Conlon doesn’t just share his personal journey, he tries to inspire you to look at your own journey and make the most of it. He shares a few of the journeys of those who came to the Sophia Center. Ultimately I feel that “Invisible Excursions” is meant to give us hope in a time when despair is pretty easy to find, and more importantly, Conlon wants you to take that hope and pass it along.

Old Sir Christmas

By John Matthews and Caitlin Matthews from their book The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas (used here with the Quest Books permission)

The Birth of Santa Claus

His story is a complex one. Many will know that Santa means saint, and is of modern usage. Others will tell us that the nearest point of origin for Santa Claus – in time, anyway – is St. Nicholas of Patara, a third-century Bishop of Myra, near the present-day village of Demre in Asia Minor. Born in Turkey to a wealthy family around A.D. 270 he became well known for his anonymous gifts to the poor. Tradition has it that he left these offerings in the houses of selected recipients, sneaking in during the night to leave money or food in the shoes or stockings of children – though it is doubtful whether they would have worn either in that hot land, assuming they could afford such luxuries anyway. However, such is the tradition, and it is from this that we derive the custom of hanging stockings by the fireplace, while in various countries such as Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland, December 6th, St. Nicholas’s official day, is also Children’s Day, and is considered just as important as Christmas Day itself. In fact, it is only in comparatively recent times that we have conflated the two dates – the 6th and the 25th – making the latter a general festival for the exchanging of gifts.

Good Old Saint Nick

If we go back to the Middle Ages, about 1,200 years after St. Nicholas actually lived, we can see how this might have begun. In the words of Naogeorgus, the author of the Latin Vita Sant Nicolai (Life of St. Nicholas):

The mothers all their children
on the eve do cause to fast,
And when they every one
at night in sense sleep are cast,
Both apples, nuts,
and prayers they bring,
and other things beside,
As caps, and shoes, and petticoats,
with kirtles they hide,
And in the morning found,
they say: “St. Nicholas
this brought.”

This has most of the ideas that we associate with the figure of Santa Claus, but there is another, stranger story told of St. Nicholas, which actually points the way to his true origin far more clearly:

An Asiatic gentleman, sending his two sons to Athens for education, ordered them to wait on the bishop for his benediction. On arriving at Myra with their baggage, theytook up their lodgings at an inn, proposing to defer their visit till the morrow; but, in the meantime, the innkeeper, to secure their effects to himself killed the young gentlemen, cut them into pieces, salted them, and intended to sell them for pickled pork. St. Nicholas, being favoured with a sight of their proceedings in a vision, went to the inn, and reproached the landlord with the crime, who, immediately confessing it, entreated the saint to pray to heaven for his pardon. The bishop, moved by his confession and contrition, besought forgiveness for him, and supplicated restoration of life to the children. Scarcely had he finished, when the pieces reunited, and the resuscitated youths threw themselves from the brine tub at the feet of the bishop; he raised them up, blessed them, and sent them to Athens, with great joy to prosecute their studies.

A.T. Hampson: Popular Customs and Superstitions of the Middle Ages

On one level this story may be regarded as nothing more than a pious anecdote illustrating the sanctity and goodness of the saint. But there is more to it than that. The notion of a person being dismembered and put back together, as portrayed in this tale, again derives from a far older time, and when it is placed in conjunction with certain other factors, a surprising new image begins to appear that has all the characteristics of the traditional Santa without any of its later overtones of bishops and Christianity.

The Gift Givers

In comes I, Old Father Christmas.
Welcome – or welcome not,
I hope Old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot.

The Longparish Mummers’ Play

Santa Claus is really only the latest of many figures which have come to be associated with bringing gifts on the night of December 25th. In France presents are given on New Year’s Day and called entrennes, a name that can be traced back to the strenae, green branches, exchanged between people at the Roman feast of the goddess Strenia. In Sicily it is an old woman named Strina who brings gifts at Christmas, continuing a tradition that began in the days of the Roman Empire.

The figure who stands behind the jolly old man of Christmas is older even than this, however. In fact, his story takes us back to the beginning of recorded history, when some other characters climbed up trees of a different kind, and returned with gifts for everyone. These were not toys or perfume or watches, but messages concerning the year to come, or the turning of the seasons, or the fate of the world. These people were the shamans, who performed the functions of priest, historian and record keeper, scientist, and magician. Of course there were shamans all over the world, and in most cases they performed the same or similar functions, but, for obvious reasons, it is those who originated in the far North – anywhere from Lapland to Siberia– that interest us most in this context. It is these people who often wore bells on their ritual costumes, who shinned up the central polesof their skin tents, and who returned with the gigts of prophecy and wonder from the Otherworlds. Its is to these people that we have to look for the first appearance of the figure who, thousands of years later, evolved into the jolly old man of Christmas himself, Santa Claus.

If we look for a moment at some of those similarities we can catch a glimpse of the evolution of one into the other. If we dip our hands into Santa’s sack – so like the shaman’s bag of tricks – the first thing we find are the bells that jingle on the harness of the eight magical reindeer. Contemporary accounts of northern shamans, including those of the Altaic and Buryat regions of Siberia and those of the Finns and Laplanders, again and again emphasize the importance of bells in their traditional costumes. These form a double function; as noise-makers to announce the presence of the shaman as he enters the spirit world, and to frighten off any unfriendly spirits who might be lying in wait for him. In addition, iron disks representing the sun or curved in the shape of the moon represent the importance solar and lunar rites among these Northern people– and important point in our consideration of the Solstice itself.

Red Robes and Firelight

Reaching into the sack again we find a red robe or cloak, trimmed with white. Many authorities on shamanic tradition have commented on the importance of the color red in the shaman’s costume. This is, on one level, significant of the sacred blood that links all human beings and that is also perceived as a link between humans and animals, and between the shaman and the earth. It is also, of course, a symbol of fire, that most powerful of magical weapons, as well as the gift of warmth and life to all, especially significant in such cold lands as those we are considering here.

Next in the sack we find a burning brand that signifies the eternal light and the warmth without which all life would perish. The shamans possessed this gift of fire, which initially perhaps they alone had the power to kindle (the number of flint fire-lighters found among shamans’ bundles alone is enough to suggest this) and which was a gift they brought to the tribal people they served. It was believed that these gifts were entrusted to them for the people by the gods and spirits of the land. Here, the symbolism of red fire in the white desert of Winter is a vital image. Is it stretching the point too far to see an echo of this in the red and white costume and white beard of a certain other figure? Certainly the importance of these colors throughout the northern world is beyond question.

Dipping into the sack again we find reindeer with bells on their harnesses, who can fly through the sky and cover vast distances in no time at all. This is yet another echo of the shaman’s journey into and through the heavens, in search of the gifts of fire and prophecy. In addition, there is the obvious importance of reindeer to the people of Lapland and Siberia is obvious. To these people the reindeer not only provided a source of food but also skins for clothing and tents, sinews for thread, bones for needles, and, when rendered down, fat for rush lights and
glue to mend pots and fix spearheads in place.

So Santa is an old man dressed in red who comes out of the dark forest of the North on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. It is significant then that the shamans hunted the reindeer, ran with them in spirit Corm, drew their shapes on rocks with red ochre as a means of capturing them, even saw them as a symbol of the newly born sun of Midwinter. A wonderful modern poem speaks of the hunting of spirit deer, who, impervious to the hunter’s arrows, were a symbolic reference point for hunting the real creatures:

A red deer comes over the hill,
Shoot your arrows as you will,
The deer will stand there still!

Alison Mcleay: Solstice

The Shaman in the Tree

Consider the image of the shaman climbing down through the smoke hole of a skin tent with bells jingling, bearing in his hands a red painted wooden reindeer. The shamans saw to it that the sun returned from that point when, at the very edge of the horizon, it dipped and, for a moment, was gone. Then, summoned by the ancient language of the elements, it returned. Sun images were hung on a tree, that also formed the central pole of the tent and represented the axis of the world, the connection which leads to the heavens the final destination of the shaman who was, indeed, the midwife of the sun.

Imagine some of the questions asked of the shaman. As Alison Mcleay put it in her wonderful evocation of the Solstice in a radio broadcast she made in 1985:

Shaman, will the sun be reborn?
Will we have a good harvest?
Will we catch enough fish, will
there be enough meat to eat,
will the reindeer drop enough
offspring to keep us through another year?
What will the new year
bring for us, for me?
Tell us, shaman, make your
journey and bring us the
gifts of your seeing?
You are the bringer of gifts,
the protector, the magician,
the future is yours to see, the
gifts of the future and the past
—tell, us shaman, tell us.

Sacrifices were hung on the living tree: animals, birds, perhaps once even humans, such as Odin hanging on the windy tree of Yggdrasil to bring back the gifts of the runes. Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnyr may also be linked with Santa’s sleigh and its eight reindeer. And that song – next out of the sack:

0 the rising of the sun, and the running of
the deer, The playing of the merry organ,
sweet singing in the choir

The Holly and The Ivy

These are old images, stolen by a later time, and reflect two aspects married under the Solstice tree: the running deer who were the totem creatures of many different Northern tribal groups, and the singing of carols in the stone forests of the Christian world. The old ways were not wholly forgotten, not even after the coming of the Christ child, who brought the gifts of light and eternal life to the world, and who received gifts from the wandering wise men – the Magi of biblical and pre-biblical tradition. They too contribute to the image of Santa the gift bringer, and, as we have seen, there is more to them than meets the eye.

About John Matthews:
John Matthews is an international authority on Celtic folklore, the Western mystery tradition, and the Grail legends, and is one of the great culture-bearers of our times. He has written over forty books on the Arthurian legends, esoteric wisdom, and the Grail. His Quest Book “The Winter Solstice” won the Benjamin Franklin Award in 1998. With his wife and frequent coauthor Caitlin, John established the Foundation of Inspirational and Oracular Studies. To visit the author’s website,

10 Questions with Megan Don

1. For readers who aren’t familiar with her, can you tell my readers a little bit about Teresa of Avila?

Teresa of Avila was a 16th century Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun, who was renowned for her astute insight into the workings of the human soul and who came into her realized self after many years of following her spiritual path. Do not be fooled by her outer nun role, she was a powerful woman who spoke her mind, and who engaged in the fullness of her passionate heart. She was guided to a vocation of reform, that is, reforming the Carmelite Order, for both women and men, returning it to the original intention of “tending to the garden of the soul.” She established seventeen new monasteries along the length and breadth of Spain, which included buying and selling real estate, fundraising to pay for the properties, and ensuring that each monastery had an income so they were self supporting. She was a dynamic powerhouse of energy and manifestation, and at the same time nurtured a deeply spiritual connection with her Inner Beloved. She says, that the only way she achieved so much was through the absolute reliance upon the divine. She is the perfect example for us today as we align ourselves with both our inner and outer world and all that needs to be tended to in order to live upon this earth in a wholesome way.

2. What made you decide to focus your research on her?

I did not decide. I think she or the Beloved did, or both. One evening being awoken from sleep, I was given a vision of Teresa’s life. I knew it was her, I knew the stones of the monastery walls I was seeing, and in the morning I knew I had to visit Avila, Spain and also to study her writings. Within six months I was in Avila, and while there I was making some notes about my experiences. It was then I realized that I would be writing a book on her. Not being a writer, this was a little perplexing, so I said if a book was to be written then the Spirit needed to write it, as I had no idea what to do. I therefore, see this book as a gift I was given and which I gift onwards and outwards to the world. It has been an extraordinary journey, for which I am very grateful.

3. Your book “Meditations with Teresa of Avila: A Journey into the Sacred” contains hundreds of quotes attributed to Teresa of Avila. Do you have a particular favorite?

I think I will need to extend this to two favorites:

I can find nothing to compare with the great beauty of a soul and its infinite capacity…the soul is nothing but a paradise in which the Beloved takes delight.

We have not been taught self-love in our culture, and here Teresa is pointing to an inner beauty so profound and so infinite that I think there are very few who can touch this or believe it. While meditating at her birthplace in Avila, I was given the experience of this quote, of knowing how infinitely we are loved, and that is, the whole of our being. There is no distinction between ego and the divine self, we are loved completely exactly as we are. After many years, it still touches my soul deeply when I revisit this experience, and it is something that I wish every soul on earth could know and experience.

Outside this castle neither security nor peace will be found…[the soul] should avoid going about to strange houses since its own is so filled with blessings.

Teresa described the soul as being like a luminous crystal castle, and here she reiterates the need for us all to draw deep within our own beings. It is within that we will find we have everything and more than what we need. We are so filled with blessings and yet we still seek to be blessed and loved from the outside of ourselves. It is interesting that our true source of happiness lies within and yet we prefer to experience unhappiness through a constant seeking without.

4. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

The book has been written so that it can be experienced, that is, there are quotes from Teresa’s work, then a short exposition relating her wisdom to our contemporary living, and then a meditation in order that we can experience and embody the teachings given. My hope is that the book will provide a transformational experience for the readers, that it will relate to, and open their lives to the greater reality that they are, and most of all, that they will come to know the Inner Beloved and the love of self.

5. In your book you discuss how it can be read for group study. Have you heard from readers who have done this? What were their experiences?

Yes, the response has been wonderful. Groups (and individuals) have been most grateful for the accessibility to Teresa’s teachings. Her original writings can be a little laborious at times, and they are also ensconced in 16th century terminology that is not so appealing to the modern mind. People were aware that Teresa held a key for their spiritual path but were previously unable to access her, so being able to enter her wisdom in a very practical way, relating it to their everyday living has been appreciated.

There has also been a lot of appreciation to know of Teresa’s struggles in her life, as these struggles are still ones we face today. Teresa fought her way through a quagmire of fear and self-doubt (for many years), and she struggled with belief in her self and her spiritual experiences. She had to release old friends who no longer supported her life and she had to stand up in the face of much criticism by colleagues and fellow spirit travelers. Many of us have also experienced these same challenges and to read of her story and her overcoming these things brings hope to us all. Teresa was a woman of great courage, though she is quick to say, it was the Spirit who gave her the courage. And this is what the readers have relayed, that they were given a newfound courage to step out on their pathway and to follow their inner guidance.

6. “Meditations with Teresa of Avila” is divided into seven “dwellings”. What is the significance of the “seven dwelling places”?

The seven dwellings are places in which the soul travels as it makes its journey back to the Beloved. As said above, Teresa saw the soul as a luminous crystal castle, and within this castle there are the seven dwellings and within the dwellings there are rooms upon rooms. As we enter each dwelling we come closer and closer to the Inner Beloved and the center of the soul. These dwellings are pathways or a spiritual map, if you like, taking you through different stages upon your journey. We enter the dwelling of Awakening, The Return, Self Knowledge, Interior Recollection, Surrender, Betrothal, and finally The Sacred Marriage. Though it is important to note that the journey is not linear. We enter different dwellings at different times according to the needs of our soul. For instance, the Awakening is not a one-time visit, but something that happens over and over again, and as our journey continues the experiences become more subtle and more refined. So it is more like a circular journey into the infinity of our being, a journey that never ends. As Teresa said, I think God too is on a journey.

7. On your website,, I see you have pilgrimages planned for Assisi, Italy in May, Ireland in June, Ireland again in July, and Avila, Spain in September! What kind of work goes into putting together all these trips?

A lot of work, and I love it. Of course, there are the very practical details to work out, such as schedules, where and when we will stay, eat, and take ferry rides and so on. Plus tending to everyone’s practical needs and questions before and during the pilgrimage. And then there is the very spiritual nature of the journey to attend to; being led to the places that are spiritually powerful and have a resonance that is alive and living; and opening to the wisdom contained therein and how it may relate to our own souls and journeys. There are also themes for every pilgrimage, for instance, the upcoming pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy, is “Remembering Your Sacred Work,” and one of the pilgrimages to Ireland is “Living as an Elder,” so I also do much preparation around these themes and recommend reading prior to journeying so everyone can have a full experience. Fortunately, I have been granted the gifts of administrator and the ability to tend to details, as well as the ability to open to the mystic wisdoms.

Something so magically potent occurs when on a pilgrimage. For me, it is the body connecting with the body of the land you are walking on, praying with, and listening to. I have many people return and participate in different pilgrimages with me each year. We form an inner bond that is very sacred. These same people are also often in Spiritual Direction with me, so the experiences together are exquisitely rich. There are no words to describe the deep transformations that people experience – it is deeply humbling to be a sacred witness.

8. You have another book called “Sacred Companions, Sacred Community: Reflections with Clare of Assisi”. Who was Clare of Assisi, and what can we learn from her?

Clare of Assisi was Francis of Assisi’s spiritual companion. Perhaps the most understated enlightened woman of our Christian heritage. As Richard Rohr speaks in the foreword of my book (and I paraphrase here), it is a travesty that she has been so overshadowed by Francis and the male order of Franciscans, and he calls for a return to the feminine wisdom of Clare and her sisters as a way to bring back a fragment of sanity and calm to our world.

Clare was extremely masterful at creating community, and if she had had her way, the Franciscan community would have been one of both women and men, and not segregated. Francis unfortunately bailed on this idea, as I believe, his attraction to Clare was so great that he didn’t know what to do with all his passion and feelings, and therefore, best to separate and be safe. Clare was not at all happy about this, but Francis was a stubborn and willful man and so a different history was created.

I speak of Clare as being the first propagator of Non-Violent Communication. For her, kindness of speech was imperative in creating a harmonious community, and also compassion of the heart. Her writings give great wisdom into community harmony and living. She also writes profoundly about her mystical world and her relationship with the divine love. She writes, Place your mind before the mirror of eternity, place your soul in the brilliance of glory, place your heart in the figure of the divine substance, and through contemplation, transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead itself. Her own commitment to her contemplative and prayer time raised her consciousness and image into the light body of love. This divine love affair and her great love for Francis I cannot separate – they were one and the same – yet she had a pathway of needing to release attachment to Francis over and over again, even to the point of his death.

I cannot emphasize enough the quiet power of this woman. It is my joy to bring her wisdom forward and to lead people to her home in Assisi – there she is readily felt and known, as is her companion and love, Francis.

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects my readers can look forward to?

Ah yes, it is indeed a wonderful journey. I have been studying the Gnostic Gospels and other related Gnostic texts, unveiling the great wisdom of the early Christian communities, along with the mysteries of Mary Magdalene and the feminine teachings. Joining with this, my Celtic heritage has re-emerged and my childhood gifts of working with the animal and tree spirits and elemental beings. I am finding these traditions so effortlessly join together, and when we remember Mary Magdalene’s many years of teaching and living in Southern France and the great Celtic and Druid presence throughout France, it makes sense for this re-emergence and re-union if you will. So I envision another book revealing this work and my experiences, and pilgrimages to these areas also.

I also have a great interest in community, and opening the way as a house of hospitality for people to come and enter into their sacred self even more deeply, for varying lengths of time, and drawing on the work and themes as reiterated above. So readers may watch for something of this nature being created in the future.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Buffet any one question.

The first question that came to me was, “Can we create a special Magical Buffet Pilgrimage, where readers can come and journey together into these sacred wisdoms?”

Just a thought. Can you imagine the logistics of that – even first off deciding the place? Next year I head to Glastonbury in May/June and then Chartres Cathedral and Mont St. Michel in France in September. Perhaps a Magical Buffet contingent can descend and then ascend together?

By the way, love what you are doing at Magical Buffet – brava!

See, I think you give me too much credit. I see The Magical Buffet Pilgrimage going to Puerto Rico for the religious for me experience of the Taste of Rum Festival, or maybe going across town to a friend’s house for an action movie marathon. I’m not a very exciting lady!

About Megan Don:
Megan Don is the author of “Meditations with Teresa of Avila”. She is a spiritual counselor and teacher of “The Pathway of the Mystic.” She leads pilgrimages to Avila, Spain and other sacred sites in Europe. Megan devotes herself to awakening the mystic within humanity and teaches an embodied spirituality that honors all traditions. She divides her time between the United States and Europe. Visit her online at

The Mystical Pathway to Peace

By Megan Don

“It is in your power to live and to die with this peace.” – Teresa of Avila

Our society is fraught with conflict, be it political, religious or personal. It might even be said that we, as a human race, thrive on conflict, as it seems to be a precursor to our growth and change. It provides a stimulus for disintegration of old thoughts and ways of being and regeneration for new modalities and paradigms. From the rebel teenager, to the warring couple, to international peacekeeping efforts or the political terrorist, their aim is the same – to overthrow, or keep at bay, what they perceive as a hindering force to their right to freedom (whatever that may be). But what is the real freedom we all seek? And can we not find another more peaceful method of change? First, we need to look at the nature of conflict and to see how and where it arises.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun, was very familiar with conflict. From a young age Teresa experienced a dichotomous inner relationship with herself. She developed a deep respect for the spiritual life through her father’s influence, but she also cultivated a great taste for the materialistic life through the nobility of her mother. She was ultimately split into two different modes of being and was unable to reconcile these two influences until late in her life, even while living in the monastery.

Conflict became as a personal paradigm for Teresa. She was incredibly strong-willed and began the battle with her own ego, which she clearly perceived as constantly rallying against the greater will of God. This caused her much internal pain and a sense of division, as she was unable to surrender her own thoughts and will. In her resistance, she felt the ego struggling to remain in control, and yet, she distinctly felt the pull of her inner spirit. This spirit was inviting her to another place – the place of freedom and peace. Separation from God was the cause of Teresa’s conflict, and only when she was able to join her soul with the divine spirit did she find peace. It was through surrendering the ego, not annihilating it, that enabled this to occur. It was not an immediate release however, but a gradual remembering and relearning by her soul.

As with Teresa, I believe that the paradigm of conflict is paramount in our society. The ego has been living a life of separation from the spirit, causing conflict to occur. On a personal developmental level change frequently occurs after a great inner tension and conflict has been felt and lived. On a political level that same tension and conflict causes a change in leadership and power, but unfortunately is often manifested and affected through violence and war. This framework and partnership of change and conflict now needs to be dismantled.

This regenerative process of change can be affected in a loving way. The great beauty about Jesus was that he brought the message of truth and love. Truth without love is harsh. Love without truth can become sentimental. The two together can bring about long-lasting and effective change, both in a personal and societal context. The truth can revolutionize the way we love and the way we love can revolutionize the way we live.

Acting in a loving and compassionate way was very important to Teresa and became the foundation for the success of her communal monasteries. Let us take this same concern into our workplace, into our homes, and into any situation that requires a breaking down of the old ways. Above all, let us be kind to one another and our selves. If we can affect a gentle process of change internally, then we can also manifest this in our external environment.

Teresa’s lifelong quest, though lived over four centuries ago, is still an example and inspiration for us to follow today. We can carry placards in the street demanding peace not war, but of what use is that if we are still warring within our own selves. We each have the responsibility to look deeply within and to be honest about the state of our own being. We each need to see how we are in conflict with the natural state of our soul. We need to look and see where we are split in our lives. Where we find conflict in our lives let us look deeply for the origin, and surrender it to God. Where we find places of unrest and lack of peace, let us surrender this too. In turning to our interior life we can lovingly heal any splits that may have occurred throughout our lifetime. We can release ourselves from the dichotomous relationship that so many of us have become accustomed to.

The definition then, of real freedom is inner peace, known through acceptance and surrender. And the way of truth and love is the way of change. Like Teresa, we can become examples of what it means to live a wholesome life, surrendered to the divine will, and living in peace on this planet.

Megan Don is the author of Meditations with Saint Teresa of Avila: A Journey into the Sacred.
Based on the book Meditations with Teresa of Avila © 2011 by Megan Don. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.

Liked what you saw? Then stay tuned! On Thursday May 12th we’ll be back with 10 Questions with Megan Don! We’ll talk about her book, Teresa of Avila, and her other work!

10 Questions with Miguel Conner: The Other Nine Questions

Hey! Wondering why there are only nine questions instead of ten? Did you miss question one? Click here to get caught up!

2. What made you decide to start a radio show devoted to discussing Gnosticism?

Ironically, I had just been excommunicated from a Gnostic church for something I hadn’t done (I’m not a 30th level magician…only in the World of Warcraft!). At the same time, I had started listening to an Internet station called, mainly an avenue for New Atheism and Humanistic issues. I was feeling isolated so I sent the owner of the station a proposal to produce a handful of shows on Gnosticism—a series of interviews that would educate as well as dispel many misunderstandings on the ancient heretics. He accepted, assuming that the enemy of his enemy was his friend. Before I knew it, I was falling down a deep rabbit hole with Alice and Sophia. And I’m still falling after four years!

3. Your book “Voices of Gnosticism” is a collection of transcripts of interviews from your show, and does a fantastic job of introducing all facets of Gnosticism to the reader. When did you realize, or what made you decide, there would be value in collecting these interviews into a book?

The idea surfaced in the vast expanse of my head and was proposed by several listeners throughout the years. A few stenographers even offered to transcribe the interviews. I never paid much attention, falling into the cynical yet neo-utopian view that less people were reading and cyberspace was the new and true Library of Alexandria. I finally took a small Red Pill when Andrew Phillip Smith approached me with a sound and lucid vision of an Aeon Byte book based my most prolific guests. Since Andrew had been a guest many times, author of several books that had influenced me, editor of The Gnostic Journal who I had written for, and owner of a publishing company, I knew he couldn’t be an Archon and was onto something. The rest is heresy.

4. As an old school music fan, who would sit and write down lyrics to songs by playing second after second on a tape player, starting and stopping, starting and stopping, I know that transcribing from audio to text can take an insanely long time. How long did it take for you to transcribe all these interviews?

It was agonizing! I hated having to think of poor Andrew spending hours transcribing each interview! I know he started with a voice recognition software, but then he got the usual ‘too’s’ instead of ‘to’s’ and so forth, while Greek words came out all Greek to him; so he eventually did it the hard way, but he did an august job. Even then, it took months of us working together to match the vocals of the interviews to the transcripts. It’s not easy getting 60+ thousand words from audio to print, let me inform you! And I would advise for anyone undertaking such a venture to make sure the publisher and author agree on whether to use UK or American English…it will save you a lot of time and headaches and bad jokes based what is considered dirty in each culture.

5. Your interviews contain a wealth of information and you do an excellent job of really getting to the heart of your interviewee’s research. How much independent research did you need to do for these interviews?

I invest large sums of time and effort with each guest, regardless of their status or how much I agree with their premises. For one, I am passionate about all subjects dealing with the occult and comparative religion. I want to learn along with my guests. Furthermore, I understand how much hard work each guest puts into their books, movies or doctrines, so why shouldn’t they get the same respect? Not only do I read their respective work for the interview, I study all of their other efforts and everything I can about the subject at hand (even if I’m comfortably familiar with it). By the time of the interview, I want to be their virtual stalker or single white female.

6. Out of all the interviews you’ve done, do you have a favorite? If so, why does it stand out for you?

Why, this is my favorite interview! Me…me…me!

7. Is it odd for you to now be interviewed? How is the transition from interviewer to interviewee working out for you?

Okay, I admit it! You’re killing me softly with your song! The hunter has become the hunted! I’ve always envisioned myself as a cyber-Socrates, except a million times dumber, midwifing truths from my guests and handing those babies to my listeners. It is my greatest hope that they can nurture these truths into viable spiritual systems that will induce higher states of consciousness.

Besides, what can I say that could ever surpass any of my astral guests who emanate themselves from their Pleromas down into Aeon Byte every week? Uh, I like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain?

8. If my readers want to learn more about Gnosticism, where do you suggest they start? I’d recommend your book “Voices of Gnosticism” and certainly the “Dictionary of Gnosticism” by Andrew Phillip Smith, who was kind enough to contribute to my website as well as write a wonderful forward for your book.

Good choice for books, I say, I say! That’s another difficult question, since ultimately Gnosticism is a very personal faith even when you do find those with the same Etch A Sketch mysticism as yours. Gnostics are always the perennial strangers in an estranged land. J. Krishnamurti once said truth is a pathless land. I like to say gnosis is a pathless labyrinth. You just don’t know exactly how the song of Sophia will strike you or what teaching of an Aeon wearing mammal skins will stimulate your Divine Spark. I certainly would suggest that if a person is interested in Gnosticism, they approach it for what it is and not for what it isn’t. Many people enter the Esoterica because they are rebelling against a former religion. They end up roleplaying instead of fully participating in the mystery, their hearts still so filled with negativity that it cannot be filled with light.

Having babbled that sermon, it goes without saying that one should either own Bentley Layton’s The Gnostic Scriptures or Marvin Meyer’s The Nag Hammadi Scriptures. Since modern Gnostics have their usual suspects they propose, I’m going to go ahead and throw a few curveballs: Elements of Gnosticism by Stuart Holroyd because it’s a concise and approachable history of the Gnostics in a little over a hundred pages; The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual & Diversity in Early Christianity by David Brakke because he takes one of the best snapshots of the rise and fall of the Gnostics; The Gnostic Religion by Hans Jonas because he reveals that the socio-political world of the Roman Empire that early Christians and Gnostics struggled in eerily parallels our modern times, and thus why the Gnostic spirit is very important today; Valis by Philip K. Dick because he captured the essence of Gnosticism and translated it into a modern context; and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll because the story of Alice is the story of Sophia is the story of each one of us.

And definitely watch The Matrix, The Truman Show, Inception, Total Recall, all at the same time and several times, while reading out loud the poetry of William Blake with a Jungian analyst sitting next to you on the couch.

Like I always say on Aeon Byte, you know you have taken the Red Pill when you start writing your own Gospel and living your own myth, as the Gnostics did throughout history even if history erased much of their wonders.

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects my readers should be aware of?

I have just released the second edition of my futuristic yet very Gnostic-themed vampire saga, Stargazer (available at Amazon!). I’m working on releasing the sequel sometime late this year or early next year. I have a couple of embryonic projects for a scholarly book on the Gnostics, and there is a good possibility Aeon Byte might go completely live soon with callers and 1-800 numbers commercials for Cialis (but I haven’t bitten completely yet). If you include the actual show, writing articles for different periodicals, and making battle plans with Sophia, I don’t even have time to look for where I put those $#%@ Red Pills.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Ah…that feels good! I can ask questions! How come you don’t have a “Gnosticism” category at the Magical Buffet? Is this some sort of prejudice? Hating on the Gnostics feels good but Yaldabaoth forbid we ruffle the feathers of Wiccans so we give them two categories, eh? Don’t think for a second that this sense of persecution is inflating my sense of self-importance! I’m pulling off my microphone and walking off the set! You’re out of order! This court is out of order! Wiccans are out of order! This whole buffet is outta order!

Alas you have caught me Miguel! The Magical Buffet has partnered up with the Wiccans in an effort to suppress information about Gnosticism ever reaching the public at large. Smart ass! You know what? I don’t feel like a jerk anymore for question number one! That’s right? I said it!

About Miguel Conner:
Miguel Conner is host of “Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio”, the only topical and guest radio show on Gnosticism and its brethren in mystical heresy, ancient and modern. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, popular, and Philip K. Dick-ish vampire epic, “The Queen of Darkness” (re-released as “Stargazer” in 2011). His articles, fiction, and reviews have appeared in such publication as “The Stygian Vortex”, “The Gnostic Journal”, “Houston Public News”, “The Extreme”, “The Cimmerian Journal”, “Examiner” and many others. He lives in the lawful dystopia of Chicago with his family, patiently waiting for the beginning of the world.

Miguel’s website is:

Where Aeon Byte broadcasts and blog:

Voices of Gnosticism Homepage:

Stargazer Novel homepage: