Saturday 26 October 2013

I need to sort out my routine better

In life I need to get my routine sorted out better.  I want to regulate my life better this shanatu qadishti.  I'm going to get into a routine of getting up earlier on the morning and regulating my sleep better, as well as practicing better exercises.  This is physical health, but the body is linked both to the mind and to the spirit.

I also want to begin working harder on my writing and really putting my mind to it, to get it all finished.

Finally, I want to start practicing some meditation or a daily ritual each day for spiritual growth.  As a Neoplatonist, it's important for me because of the idea of theurgy to bring about the ecstatic union with the Deity.  Only with regular rituals can I do this.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Some words about my blog and pages

It's very sad that I feel this has to be said, but I think I've been more than reasonable and patient at this point.  So, without further ado:

- This blog and my pages focus on ethnic Canaanite religion, culture, and history.  I feel that we are a people like any other, be they Egyptians, Hellenes, Romans, Celts, Persians, Hindus, Chinese etc.

- I am NOT interested in discussing anti-semitic conspiracy theories,

- I am NOT interested in racism or hate speech, of any kind,

- I am NOT interested in preaching.  I do not want to be told that I'm evil, my gods are demons, and that God will punish everyone for my sins.  Please respect my religion like you would any other religion,

- I am NOT interested in discussing 'race', or whether Jews or Palestinians are 'closer' to being 'pure' Canaanites,

- I am NOT interested in discussing nationalistic politics in the Middle East.  As a rule, we traditional Canaanites, like the ethnic Hellenes such as YSEE, do not attach ourselves to modern fringe political groups or ultra-nationalistic political movements- as we feel very strongly that these run contrary to traditional Canaanite ethics and culture.  Many such movements also tend to associated themselves with either Judaism, Christianity, or Islam anyway, and so are not in our interests,

- I am NOT interested in discussing 'alternative history' theories such as human civilizations being created by aliens.  Our gods are not aliens/reptilians,

-  I am NOT interested in discussing biblical literalism either.  Some of the material that I post may run contrary to a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible,

- I intend for my blogs, pages, and groups to be peaceful and spiritual places to come and learn and experience.  Please, respect my wishes and keep them that way.

Saturday 5 October 2013

The path that I follow

Today I want to take the opportunity to talk about the religion that I follow.  I realize that not all Canaanites are going to agree with me, but I would ask people to be respectful of the path I follow.  I realize that it is not the same as the path that other Canaanites may follow, but I believe that mine is just as valid and that it's wrong to outright dismiss another person's religion as merely being a false religion or a 'made-up religion' (at least without thinking on it first).

- My path does not consider one era or type of Canaanism as the 'true' form.  What I mean by this, is that I believe that labels like 'Late Bronze Age Canaanite religion', 'Israelite religion', 'Phoenician religion', 'Punic religion' etc. are merely human constructs.  I don't believe that they are different religions or that they are not compatible.  I believe Canaanite religion is eternal and divine; human-constructed limits do not matter.  I certainly don't think that the religions from those categories are completely unlike one another.  While Canaanite religion does change, I don't view (for example) Middle Bronze Age Canaanite religion as being somehow more pure or more true than religion in Late Antiquity in- for example- Tyre.  I don't think that any deviation from one city-state's system automatically disqualifies them from following the same religion as another.  A good comparison would be the various city-states in Greece (Sparta, Athens etc.) at different time periods.  Another comparison is India with the various philosophical schools of thought and religious sects which exist within Hinduism.  In Egypt there is a change from Middle Kingdom, to New Kingdom, to Hellenistic Egypt.  I just don't see Canaan as any different.  Furthermore, the ancients themselves, even right until St. Augustine's time, saw themselves as following the same religion as their ancestors going back until the beginning of time, and always understood it to be this way.  Otherwise just seems- to me at least- to be imposing human constraints on something as divine as pure religion.  (Getting onto the theory of time as proposed by Ya-milku of Qinnashrin talks of Shapash as changing yet remaining eternal, signifying two types of time: one which changes (cyclical), and one which always stays the same (linear), and that these do not contradict one another.  I think this aptly describes my view of religion).

- Similarly, I hold that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam derive ultimately from the same source, but that they are not as 'complete' as our own.  I don't consider them outright false, merely misled.  I'm open to mystical Christian and Jewish practices, though I'm not a Christian or Jew.

- I am not a reconstructionist.  In all honesty, this goes with what I've outlined above.  I think it's healthy for religion to experience changes.  It's not just going to stay the same as it was in the Bronze Age for ever.  I think it's stifling and backward to a living religion to try and relegate it to something which 'belongs in the past' and shouldn't change from that point.  However:

- I don't just believe in changing the religion to whatever it is that you want it to be.  Religion does change, but at it's core it should remain the same.  What I mean by this is that religion itself is an eternal way.  I don't believe in simply changing Canaanite religion to whatever you want it to be.  It is tradition- a living tradition, yes- but still a tradition.

- I hold that there is a One, a Monad, as I belong to the Neoplatonist school of thought.  I don't see a contradiction between religion and philosophy (and historically this wasn't the case either).  I believe that there is an ultimate reality, and that this does not contradict the gods.

- I believe that people should be allowed to come up with new ideas provided they can rationally propose philosophical arguments to justify them.  I don't just want somebody telling me what I am and am not allowed to believe in.

- While I'm not a 'soft polytheist', I'm not a strict 'hard polytheist' either.  For example, I don't believe that the god Resheph worshiped in Canaan is a different god from the one worshiped in Egypt.  The ancients clearly understood them to be the same god, just slightly different due to being worshiped in different contexts.  I also don't go as far as to claim, as some hard polytheists do, that a god worshiped in later times whose role may have changed slightly to be a different one from earlier times.  For example, though Ashtart by late antiquity has acquired different characteristics from in the late Bronze Age, I don't view her as being a different goddess than the earlier one who just happens to share the same name.

Overall, this just strikes me as being the way (at least for me personally) that religion should be.  There are differences between different city-states and different time periods, but I don't believe that this constitutes different religions.  Differences in religion, yes.  Canaanite religion is tradition, and does have a traditional 'way'.  There is a point when something ceases to become Canaanite religion.  Egyptian and Greek religions, despite many similarities, are not Canaanite religion.  But at the same time, I view Canaanite religion as a flexible and living tradition.  Things may have changed from the Early Bronze Age to the Middle Bronze Age to the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age to the Post-Alexander world.  But change is healthy.  You may age and grow, but you are still in essence the same person now as you were when you were 7 years old.  I view religion the same way.  That doesn't mean that I think that everyone should share my opinions though.  I also think it's personally fine for people's religion to be city-state specific or era specific.  But I view all of them as being part of the same religion rather than different religions. 

In closing, I'm going to point out that I accept differences.  This is after all my path and not anybody else's, even though I may happen to share the same religion as them.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

A brief history of philosophy and theology in the Levantine world

The schools of thought within Western philosophy which appear in the land of the Canaan are mostly Atomism, Neoplatonism, Neopythagoreanism, Stoicism, and Epicureanism. 

Atomism is interesting because it actually predates the Hellenistic period.  As early as the time of Moses, a prophet called Mosheh the Sidonian was writing a creation myth which gives an early Atomist cosmology, contrasting matter with void.  He also starts the introduce the theory of time as found in Canaanite theology for the first time in recorded history.  This all was later picked up from the Greeks, and philosophers like Democritus and Pythagoras are said to have learned from either his own writings or from those of his descendents.  Still, his 'philosophy' is in a way mixed in with mythology, as philosophy as a specific intellectual discipline has not yet really emerged properly in the Bronze Age.

Philosophy proper in itself develops among the Greeks.  They were the first to come up with the ideas, though the first philosopher Thales based many of his ideas on Canaanite, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian ideas.  This happens in the Iron Age, during the Persian period.  At this time, the great Persian Empire rules over most of the known world.  Within this empire, ideas begin to develop and spread among the people.

Among the Babylonians, astronomy begins to develop.  The Babylonians by the Persian period have mapped the constellations of the heaven and can accurately predict eclipses and weather phenomenon.  This knowledge spreads throughout the empire.

Babylonian astrologers mapped the heavens, stars and planets
Among the Egyptians, medicine begins to develop.  The Egyptians perfect medical science and use it to treat their patients.  Hospitals are set up.  Again, this knowledge is very valuable and so spreads throughout the entire Persian Empire, of which Egypt is a part.

Egyptian doctors use their healing methods in medicine
The Canaanites meanwhile develop the alphabet and perfect mathematics for use in trade and commerce.  Canaanite scribes pass knowledge of the alphabet throughout the empire, and this knowledge is quickly picked up by others.

Canaanite scribes and traders use the alphabet and mathematics
It's at this time- while the Babylonians develop astronomy, the Egyptians medicine, and the Canaanites letters and numbers- that the Greeks first develop philosophy.  This begins with Thales and with the pre-Socratics, and then passes down through to the famous Socrates, Platon, and Aristotles.

Greek philosophers set up academies to teach their students
This is mostly happening among the intellectuals in Athens, though it also occurs in the colony of Ionia as well. 

So what brings philosophy from the Greeks to the rest of the world?

Firstly, Pythagoras went abroad to study the mysteries from other people.  He studied among Mosheh's descendents in Sidon, and in the mystery schools of the Canaanites in Tyre.  He ascended the holy mountain, Mount Carmel, and spent much time there.  He also went to Egypt and to Babylon where he encountered the Babylonians and the Zoroastrian priests called the Magi. 

Then Alexander's conquests happen.  Alexander, himself a student of the philosopher Aristotles, travels east and conquers the old Persian Empire.  When this happens, the Hellenistic period begins, and the whole world changes.  Koine Greek becomes the main language of all people.  Philosophical academies are set up in major cities such as the cities of Sidon and Tyre, the Decapolis cities like Rabbath-Ammon, and in Babylon and Egyptian Alexandria. 

The founder of the Stoic school, Zenon, was not a Greek but a Canaanite from Tyre who lived during the time of Alexander's invasion.  He left his mother city and his family moved to the city of Kittim on Cyprus, which was also a Canaanite city.  His family are merchants, and his travels take him to Athens in Greece, where he learns the teachings of Socrates from a book and begins to study philosophy.  He then goes on and founds the Stoic school of thought.

Zenon of Kittim
Stoicism spreads to Mesopotamia, where it becomes very popular.  Meanwhile, Epicureanism is flourishing under the Hellenistic empires which succeed Alexander in the Near East.  Several kings adhere to this school of thought, and so it finds a lot of supporters and a strong intellectual tradition among the Canaanite elite.

By the late Hellenistic period, Platonism and Aristotleanism are largely harmonized together and taught in schools throughout Canaan and in colonies such as Qart-Hadasht in the west.  Philosophers like Hasdrubaal emerge.  Other Platonic philosophers develop among the Jews, who develop their own ideas and traditions.  Platonism and Pythagoreanism are largely harmonized together, and by Roman times have become extremely popular.  Neopythagoreanism finds support in the east and in the western states like Maktar.  Neoplatonism develops in Egypt in this time, and it spreads to Canaan.  Th most famous philosophers of this tradition who are Canaanites are Melek of Tyre and his student Ya-milku of Qinnashrin.  They become famous throughout the Mediterranean world in late antiquity.  Their teachings are a blend of Neoplatonism with Neopythagoreanism.

In late antiquity, Neoplatonism becomes very popular among the Christians, and spreads throughout Canaan with them.  Later the Muslims would also adopt it to a large extent.

This concludes a very brief history of philosophy and theology and their role in the Levantine world.