Religion and Mythology
Generally speaking, humans tend to join a religion for several secondary reasons: fear, compassion, a need for mental health care, following the herd, curiosity, insanity or a combination of these. The primary reason is that you are born into a religion, and most religions mandate brainwashing your kids to become part of that religion before they have the ability to consent using their own free will, and this is extremely difficult to break free from in later years. Despite most religions having absolutely no verifiable evidence behind them or a good reason for existing, they perpetuate themselves and either incredible brutality and human rights violations, or loving and compassionate behavior, or insanity, or all three. The single greatest reason why religions can be harmful is probably that people who need mental health assistance may wind up never getting help because the culture of their religion views their particular mental problems as acceptable - schizophrenia, delusions, paranoia, and more can all be covered up too easily as 'passionate faith', and things like depression and anxiety are too often "treated" with religion as a crutch, although most if not all religions do promote mental well-being and have no prohibitions against getting therapy. In the scriptures, that is. It's the culture that is often toxic, claiming things like "faith over fear" and "faith healing will fix everything." * 5/11/2021 I added some experiences of mine with the cultures related to their religions. I'm just some random idiot who likes to travel so don't pay too much attention.
Monotheistic religions and polytheistic religions both have their weaknesses and flaws. Monotheism, currently the predominant way of thinking on much of the planet, declares that "this god is the best god and all the others are demons" or something like that. Polytheism has a tendency of declaring that the gods exist to serve the people who worship them, and can be anywhere on the morality map from highly virtuous and ethical to completely nuts. Both have the unfortunate tendency of declaring that "this way is best and all others must be killed." Both also have the tendency of stating that having lots and lots of children is excellent, which explains why the warmongering didn't leave our population at dangerously low levels. Other religions that are neither polytheistic nor monotheistic tend to be the most rare and frankly, the most interesting, because they haven't become memes like the others. Some say that religions and cults are different. The defining features of a cult say otherwise. 10 Signs You Are In A Cult 16 Signs You Are In A Cult - please ignore the bad/tonedeaf looping images; the content is correct Article of someone who grew up in a cult If you are questioning whether your religious or spiritual path is the right one for you, then chances are if you are part of a cult (and most religions are definitely cults) you should probably leave, get your head screwed on straight, and only then decide which one you should pursue, especially if you were too young to properly think it through when you first joined up. Otherwise, you could potentially really hurt someone, including yourself. Even if you decide to rejoin the religion or cult you left, it will be for the right reasons, and not out of blind dogma, fear, or habit - and if indeed the Deity of that religion is infinitely loving, then said Deity would want you to make the decision out of free will, not terror. Generally speaking if your religion discourages critical thinking aka thinking for yourself in order to get as close as possible to the truth, or if it encourages loyalty to any idea or deity which by human standards is evil, it is a cult. Especially - and this is a weird analogy but bear with me - if the religion doesn't follow the rules of sexual consent for conversion attempts, which must be freely given and enthusiastic instead of "no, no, well fine I guess" or worse, converting someone before they are old enough to reason things out for themselves. This is because allowing a religion to affect your mind, soul, and life is just as invasive as sex. Logically speaking a religion that would be moral would encourage humans to strive to be better and do better - if the deity or idea is actually worse, then we got a problem. If you terrorize or seriously harm innocent people or living creatures because your religion sanctions it, and if you are against terrorizing or harming innocent people or living creatures as a matter of principle, then by your own logic you are going against your own ethics. The end-all be-all argument here is that if the only real reason you're in your religion is out of terror, then your religion's foundation is terror. You could even say that your religion itself is terror. Is that desirable? Of course, there is the inevitable question: just how much better off are we with religion instead of without it? Questioning your own religion or spirituality is always, always, always a good idea. Critical examination of it either strengthens your faith with the ironclad strength of truth or helps you find one that is worthy of your efforts.
- Internet Sacred Texts Archive
- Talk to a clergyperson of the religion that you are learning about and ask many questions
- If you have been invited to any religious observance, learn at least a minimum baseline of things about it before you attend, so you aren't an ass
- Meet with people of other religions, don't assume anything, ask for permission to ask questions about the religion because you'd like to understand it better, keep an open mind, and gingerly ask questions that are as polite as possible
- Ideally, if you have any friends of other religions, have open and honest discussions with them, and the more politically incorrect the better! Or maybe that's just me and my friends. Dunno. It's more fun that way.
- Be aware that a lot of people's primary motivation for religion is to give them the greatest possible amount of comfort. That is why so many spin the religion they supposedly are a part of into something it's not in order to make it cater to their comfort. Try to stay away from those people and focus on the people who are in their religion out of a serious desire to make something real out of it while putting their egos aside.
- As you are learning, stay away from people with a toxic mindset towards their religion. Anyone who sees themselves as some kind of spiritual hero is generally either brainwashed or a terrible person or both, and could seriously hurt you in the name of "all that is holy," whatever that actually means to them. Ask yourself if their prevailing state of mind is loving and kind or hateful and fearful, and proceed with caution.
Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all state that the Supreme Deity commands you to bear children. Childbirth is one of the most painful things a human being can endure. Therefore, the Supreme Being of Christianity and Judaism either wants women to suffer, however momentarily, or the Holy Books are mistranslated. In the Bible, the Supreme Being actually curses all women to suffer pain while they give birth, so it is definitely intentional (or again, a mistranslation). I am not sure if Islam contains the same curse in the Quran; it actually has an herbal remedy for birth pains (eat dates). Overpopulation also creates difficulty in finding resources and resultant competition, possibly war, as well as diseases caused by living in a crowded environment. There are so many similarities between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism and yet they continually fight one another and sometimes kill each other and people in other religions, usually because something in their Holy Books told them it was right. This Supreme Being is also said to be infinitely merciful and loving. There is a contradiction here. This contradiction is neatly done away with by words to the effect of "don't think about this yourself but allow this Supreme Being to think for you, OR ELSE YOU'RE FOREVER DOOMED, but if you accept this Supreme Being and literally everything else written in this Holy Book, not only are you doing the right thing but you'll live forever in a good place and it is heavily implied you are a fantastically good person." Which is weird.
- Sacred Texts Hinduism Section The Bhaghavad Gita, the Mahabharata, the Rig Veda, and way more can all be found here
- The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Sanjay Patel
- Personal experience with Hindus: They take their vegetarianism really seriously. Other than that, it is worth noting that the stereotype that they engage in worshipping lifeless idols is wrong. The idols represent a Deity, which Him/Herself represents a specific Divine version of something, such as wisdom and learning (Saraswati), or total death of the ego and enlightenment (Shiva), or infinite mercy and love (Krishna). I am oversimplifying to make a point. That being said having met Hindus from India, it appears they take karma really serious, too seriously. Justification for a caste system and all kinds of human rights violations, although if you look really closely at the notion of karma, I'm not sure that makes sense. Also the treatment of women in India is absolutely terrible... infamous even. I am not familiar enough with the religion to determine if it comes from that.
- The Asatru Community
- Personal experience with Asatru folks: They're just living their lives. Not sure what else I can say. There is currently an enormous problem with Nazis and white supremacists trying to co-opt the Asatru ways and claiming that only those of Norse descent can join in, and a vocal minority of Asatru people are protesting. The Valknut and Thor's Hammer have been culturally appropriated by the scum who claim their ancestral blood, which they have not earned or had any part in obtaining, is more important than their own deeds, achievements, and efforts; in fact that it is even of much importance at all; and they claim that Odin and Thor are okay with this. Knowing what I do about the Norse Gods, I question their judgment.
- Ramadan just ended. For those of you who are Muslim I hope it was blessed.
- Some mad lad posted the entire Quran on Reddit
- Quran Online.net
- Reddit thread of Muslims answering how Ramadan is going for them
- Personal experience with people who practice Islam: I have never met people so honorable, hardworking, and charitable. Also being hosted by someone who is Muslim means you don't walk out the door. You roll. I always thought it was weird how Muslims have such a bad reputation when I have never, ever, in my life been mistreated by a Muslim. Not once. However, this is my experience in the United States. I would not be caught dead in a Muslim country. The religion is absolutely abhorrent in its treatment of women and when it's the state religion, things get bad fast. No jobs, no rights, human rights violations... pick a Muslim country, any Muslim country, and learn about it. Few things scare me but that absolutely terrifies me to the core.
- Bible Gateway
- Every pastor and good Christian I met has told me that Jesus is a being of infinite, unconditional love, and that he was/is the example people are supposed to follow the footsteps of.
- You might find it interesting to note that Jesus had some extremely Socialist ideas. He literally said, "Give up your wealth and follow Me" to a rich man, and there is also that story of a poor woman giving more, relatively speaking, in charity than that from richer people because she had less to begin with. And for the record, the likelihood that he was anything other than a really deeply tanned mahogany color or darker is basically nil. Have you even been to Israel? Cause I have. You will become so tanned there you'll look like you've been deep fried unless you're albino, the end.
- There are several things about Christianity that so-called Christians often get wrong. Firstly, they often don't know that Jesus and His family were Jewish and that their whole religion is based on Judaism. "I have come not to do away with the law but to fulfill it," said Jesus. Some translations of the Bible have His disciples refer to him as "Rabbi." Secondly, for some reason if someone is a professed Christian, it is supposedly important to always give them the benefit of the doubt and turn the other cheek to every last one of their misdeeds and forgive, forgive, forgive no matter how much they continue to run amok or how many crimes they commit, but if they aren't, or if they are something 'demonic' like Pagan, it is perfectly okay to mistreat them as much and as intensely as you want. Study Christianity enough and you'll see none of this makes sense but a lot of people still believe it's a part of the religion. It isn't. Christianity is all about love... but there is more than just one kind of love, and sometimes mercy is the least loving thing you could do. Thirdly, a whole lot of them claim to be Christian yet think it is okay to use Jesus as their excuse for all kinds of abominable behavior, and anyone telling them off is "of the dark forces" or something. I'm sorry, but if you really think that's okay, you clearly don't understand Jesus and your whole life is ruled by fear. Get a grip. Finally, a whole bunch of them think that by going to church every week it will teach them morality and guarantee them a spot in heaven, despite nothing in the Bible actually saying you have to go to church every Sunday. Literally nothing in there tells you to go. In fact there is at least one line in there against it. Matthew 6-1. There is also this common notion that if a whole bunch of Christians pray for something, that'll be more effective than just one person praying for it, even if it's absolutely necessary and ethical and justified. That is a Witches' idea, not a Christian one. It's why we have covens. And Christians are not trained to work Witchcraft, so they often get it wrong, and pray for something to happen really hard that shouldn't happen, and then sometimes it does, and things get all kinds of messed up. Again, there's a line in the Bible against it. Matthew 6-5 to 6-14 Y'all haven't been trained or initiated, what the heck are you doing?
- Of all the religions, Catholicism is the worst in terms of human rights, although you could make a pretty good case for Islam's extremist sects. It is an institution that has made millions of people absolutely miserable for millenia by condoning religious extremism and extreme amounts of discrimination to people of other religions (and lifestyles), committed genocide, committed child abuse, condoned rape and enforced births in arranged marriages, denied people medical care from the herbs that grew freely around them because it was “witchcraft,” demonized hygiene and owning cats because that too was “witchcraft” and the heck with the resultant plagues from rat and flea proliferation (clearly also witchcraft), condoned putting up with extreme spousal abuse despite damage to the children and even injury or death at the hands of one's spouse, demonized and even outlawed contraception and sex education and caused resultant outbreaks of HIV and other STDs, in some cases idolized creation of misery in nonconsenting others as a shorter path to God, hoarded extreme amounts of wealth and power and literally called wars and inquisitions “holy” while supposedly working for Jesus, and created a deadly stigma against everyone who wasn't exactly like them. They killed, tortured, and stole from so many people. I will mention none of this "accumulate riches for the Church" business is in the original Bible. It's all about marketing. The Catholic Church has created its own Holocausts for years. And they're still around, in their own tax haven, where they make their own laws. They've committed war crimes and there needs to be an international tribunal. It can possibly be saved, but it has to be cleaned up. My goodness, it's wasting all of its potential; with all of the support behind it you'd think it would have ended or significantly decreased world poverty, sickness, lack of education, environmental destruction, and misery by now. Where the hell is that money going? With that said, individual modern-day Catholics in my experience have tended to do amazing things, be amazing people, and generally be kind, so there's got to be a lot of good in the religion. It is fascinating and worth the look into, especially the legacy of Pope John Paul II and the stories of the Saints.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Catholic Online
- The Chronicles of Narnia series is actually a Biblical allegory meant to teach children about Christ. C.S. Lewis also wrote several other books, which might help explain the whole shebang to an outsider.
- Personal experiences with people who are Christian: It depends on if they say they're Christian or if they actually ARE Christian. For the former, the rap sheet just keeps growing. For the latter, they went the extra mile to feed me, clothe me, and save my life multiple times and they will always be dear to my heart. Christians are currently getting a bad rap thanks to the actions of the former, unfortunately. It appears there's an enormous difference between those who have the true goodness of Christianity in their hearts and those who merely want to get all the unearned benefits from the religion with none of the work.
- There is no hell, devil, or concept of sin in Judaism.
- Ten Commandments
- Bible Gateway
- Personal experiences with people who are Jewish: Well, I grew up Jewish in an Israeli family. It's a religion that promotes humility and above all truth - this culturally clashes with many things because truth often winds up being brutal honesty whether or not anyone wants to hear it. Culturally, it's very self-deprecating, arguments/debates are valued as a fantastic method of reaching the truth, and children are absolutely cherished. I have been called a Jewish grandma not because of my religion but because of my tendency to be a loving overly-protective worrywart and feed people. Food is a very valued part of the culture and the celebrations, and if you attend one of them, you'll come away from it full and happy. Generally speaking the Jews I've met tended to keep to themselves. Considering the current political climate, it's not hard to see why. However, there is a major difference between Reform Judaism and Orthodox flavors of it. I grew up Reform, which is a lot simpler and more modern in terms of ethics and tradition. Orthodox Judaism is where you run into human rights violations and weird stuff like mistreatment of women, not accepting LGBTQ+ anything, the archaic practice of still sacrificing animals as scapegoats, justification of unethical things because it's in the Bible, etc. in short it didn't modernize and takes a lot of stuff from the Bible verbatim. I might add that the Orthodox Jews in Israel are not well liked by much of the rest of Israel, in no small part because they rigged the system so they don't have to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. I can still remember my mom speaking of them with serious dislike, and she rarely disliked anyone. In the United States the Orthodox Jewish community has been nothing but good to me though. Israel? Not so much, had some unpleasant experiences there.
ECSTATIC SPIRITUALITY - FORMERLY CALLED SHAMANISM, BUT THAT IS A SIBERIAN TRADITION
- WITCHCRAFT IS NOT SATANISM. IT IS NOT. IT IS NOT. GET THAT THROUGH YOUR SKULL.
- Witchcraft seems like an open tradition, but I would say it is not. Dabbling in it is dangerous, because you don't know wtf you're doing. Unless you truly want to join the Craft after having studied it for a year and a day as per tradition and have a serious desire to make this your life's work and your life's path, you can't join. It's not a cool kids' club, it's a job, and it's hard work. Plus in most countries your life would be at risk for practicing the Craft so uh... it's not a good idea to try it as a trend or something
- Only two books properly introduce the subject that I am aware of, and I have been in this religion for 10 years. Embracing The Moon by Yasmine Galenorn and Dancing With the Sun by Yasmine Galenorn. I must emphasize: it is not for everyone, it is not easily accessible, and it is HARD. I wouldn't have put this in here if not for the fact that it's nearly impossible to find 101 books/other info on the Craft that isn't completely misleading. Such as TikTok. Please, PLEASE don't learn Witchcraft from TikTok. The vast majority of people who don't like most religion and think the Craft is 'just what I need to make a change' as opposed to 'this is my one and only calling in life and I want to commit to it forever because it's perfect for me' might benefit from Nondenominational spirituality instead.
- Three other books provide a thorough grounding in the morals and ethics of the Craft. I do not recommend dabbling with them in order to get whatever you want from magic. It is not how the Craft works. These books are: Positive Magick by Marion Weinstein, Power of the Witch by Laurie Cabot, and The Holy Book of Women's Mysteries by Z. Budapest. These are the lighter side of the Craft; there are edgelord books in the Craft that are all about gaining a shit ton of power, being a narcissistic sociopath, coercive "love" spells, turning ten foot tall and farting fire, etc. (kidding about the latter but not about the Ultimate Power And Glory Is All Yours!!! lie) but that crap can and will ruin your life with karma (also known as the consequences of your actions, for you shitlords who think you live in a vacuum) so I don't recommend it. Plus there's of course the insufferable edgelord 'I Am A Golden God And All Y'All Are Scum!!!' syndrome that would come with all that and that is kind of alienating; people claiming they're a badass bitch Witch and that they turn people into toads and have So Much Power And Darkness is the Witch version of being a fundie. Yuck. I wouldn't have shared these three books because people have this dumb tendency to dabble in the Craft, disrespect it, misuse it, and then blame it for their life going downhill, but if I hadn't, people would just continue spreading the libel about us so I had to share. Everyone who is scared of us Witches and thinks the Craft is some horrible Satanist conspiracy should really read these three books. We are not what the media portrays us as. But if you decide to ignore my advice about not dabbling, don't fucking blame me. I warned you.
- Personal experiences with Wiccans and Witches: Oh boy, they run the gamut. When they're good, they're really really good. And when they're bad, they're probably mentally ill. Most, but not all, put the treehugging hippies of the 60s to shame with their reverence of the Earth. Unfortunately, since it's so hard to find good information on it, there is a tendency in modern practitioners of the Craft to simply go along with whatever trend is most prevalent at the time. It used to be "join a Gardnerian Wiccan coven" or get into Wicca (or Satanism masquerading as Witchcraft - certain so-called "traditional witchcraft" practitioners often claim that this is the Right and Old Way, fuck them) despite not being fully comfortable with it, now it is "be politically correct and do everything everyone else is doing on TikTok, Twitter, and Tumblr." Not good.
- The difference between Witchcraft and Wicca is that Witchcraft does not have the "an it harm none, do as ye will" rule. It does, however, come under the scrutiny of the Powers That Be, meaning that those who attempt to misuse it pay, and pay through the nose, with karma and other sorts of unpleasant things. This sounds like a joke until you see it in person, which I have. The reasoning behind the justification of not 'harming none' is usually self-defense, justice, and causing harm in order to protect the innocent.
- A bajillion misconceptions of the Craft are here
- WICCA IS ALSO NOT SATANISM.
- All Wicca is Witchcraft, but Witchcraft is not Wicca. However, Wicca has a guideline that states, "An it harm none, do as ye will," meaning you can work magic, but you cannot do harm with it at all. And you can't harm yourself or anyone else unless you're looking to minimize inevitable harm. Tough rule if you think about it.
- The Celtic Connection Provides an introduction.
- Everything written by Scott Cunningham is a good introduction to Wicca.
- Tsubaki Grand Shrine
- Personal experiences with people practicing Shinto: it is so far out of my cultural awareness zone that I don't know what to make of this. One thing's for sure, anyone who practices Shinto will keep a house so clean you can eat off the floor.
- There are many, many, many Druid denominations, each of which do different things.
- The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer
- VOODOO IS ALSO NOT SATANISM. IT IS NOT DEMONIC EITHER. GET THAT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULL.
- Since this is a closed tradition, I could not find much information on it and I don't know if this source is good and proper or not. Take it with a grain of salt.
- Erzulie's Voodoo
- I have experience with people who practiced Voodoo and I still don't understand it, or them, and that is probably as it should be. Again, it is a closed tradition.
NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY
- Native American religions and spiritual beliefs are closed traditions, to the best of my knowledge, and each tribe has a different religion/spirituality/way of life. If you have ever learned anything about them from someone in such a tradition, consider yourself both honored and lucky. Fortunately the old stereotypes that Native American religion is somehow wrong or bad have mostly died out with older generations of White People. Unfortunately younger generations tend to idolize Native American everything and then do offensive things like wear feather headdresses as Halloween costumes. I may not know much about Native American anything but guys... the headdress is as sacred as a priest's vestments in at least one tribe. And yeah I learned this face-to-face. There are many, many books on the market claiming to explain Native American traditions but most of them were made by white people and are thus not reliable sources. If you don't grow up in a culture, much of the value of any religion in that culture is lost on you and you're kind of adrift. Also, as far as I'm aware most Native American religion, much like Druidry, comes from an oral tradition of storytelling and careful in-person teaching. One thing I know for certain: no, it's not Satanism, no, it's not demonic, people who claim those things see enemies everywhere and run from their own shadow side. To experience a little bit of Native American traditions attend a powwow. You will never forget it.
- Scientology is not a fucking religion, it's a scam. It also straight up kills people because it has similar issues to treating people for medical problems that certain evangelical groups do. Troll it.
* Guys, I hate to break it to you, but faith healing is magic and culturally appropriated from real folk magical practice, but without any of the religion any of that came from and completely devoid of the traditions created to make said healing ethical and spiritual (unless you're doing Hoodoo or maybe one of the flavors of Southern Baptist, in which case you already know what I mean about ethics). True faith healing takes years of work and humble devotion to the Powers That Be to get it right and to demand that God fix your problem because you have great enough "faith" and not enough willpower to take yourself to the doctor or learn the ropes of how to become a competent healer (anyone can be a crappy healer) - is that not extremely disrespectful to God when you were given the tools, the gifts, the ability to get it done? Believe it or not miracles do not come cheap and if they are too easy, we screw everything up because we ask for too much all at once or the wrong things; there's a reason we have to learn the ropes when asking for miracles/working magic/faith healing - it's to learn wisdom so we don't hurt ourselves and sometimes the wisdom gained is that we cannot ask for or work miracles; the gift/responsibility/duty/job is not for us to have because it's too much of a burden or would cause serious problems. Worse, sometimes untrained people, often so-called Christians, manage to work magic because they're naturally gifted but it is actually black magic, things like psychic attacks towards their enemies and malocchio (envy causing extreme physical symptoms in the target) for someone who has a job they want because they "prayed enough for it," or they healed from coronavirus because they "prayed and were granted a miracle" and then infected and killed dozens of other people, etc. "Willing yourself healthy" is one way of doing this. Wishing someone dead really really hard is another. The placebo effect is another. Uncontrolled emotions and madness add fuel to this fire, creating a monstrous energy that is sent to someone as bad vibes - otherwise known as black magic. Karma will return to you threefold at least for all of these if you target the innocent, whether you realize you're doing it or not. This is the reason I stuck Hoodoo in my nondemoninational spirituality section; for the self-defense stuff. These are the reasons that magic working is forbidden in most religions besides serious incompatibility with their practices and belief systems; if that is your path, you really shouldn't be doing magic and you'll be far happier without the extreme responsibility and high workload - so drop the faith healing and drop the 'If I pray hard enough for anything it will happen' bravado. If you pray for something and working magic is not your path, ask, do not demand, or will it to happen, or it may cost you dearly. The Divine knows better than you what you need. In fact, the Divine is the only one behind all good magic, whether the worker realizes it or not. Faith healing or any other kind of magic will either lead you down the path of willingly becoming as devoted and disciplined as clergy in your religion or it won't work at all and it will result in you treating God like your servant plus creating really bad vibes around you, which is a kind of bad magic, congratulations. There is always the logic of "Can't God work through a doctor as well?" which many doctors subscribe to because they see their work as a spiritual life's calling and a way to serve their Divine mission in life. And people who work magic don't even use magic on its own - they go to the damn doctor.