When I was at the fifth or sixth grade of the secondary school, I’ve learned that there are other religions apart from christianity. This discovery shocked me in the core and in retrospect made me into what I am today regarding the religious phenomena.
Up to that time, I knew only of the christian god in whom I believed in and whom I worshipped – of course in a childish but nevertheless sincere manner. The delicate implications of the doctrine of the holy trinity were not a concern back then; and neither are a concern now.
I knew all about the greek gods, but in my naive mind I somehow didn’t consider them as ‘gods.’ And now that I am thinking about it I cannot answer the question “and what did you think they were?”
Zeus, Hades, Poseidon and the rest of the Pantheon and the heroes of Ancient Greece were a great source of fascination, inspiration and personal cultivation and development, but not religion.
During a lesson of history, then, I was informed that there is another ‘monotheistic’ religion: Islam; that a man has founded that religion, during a specific time in history, in a specific region of Earth; that this religion was created out of nothing (let’s not complicate things).
The same day, when I returned home, I made a decision.
Since anyone can found a religion, why not me?
As master Yoda exclaimed: truly wonderful the mind of a child is!
So, I took a notebook and started sketching my own pantheon.
The fact that I chose to found a pantheon and not just one god is quite indicative of the subconscious confusion that monotheistic religions inflict upon the human psyche and how un-natural they really are.
There I was, a christian, believing in one god, knowing all about greek gods that somehow weren’t quite gods, worshipping a ton of saints and martyrs and angels and other hierarchies in the christian doctrine, and above all else possessing a healthy intellect and genuine fascination with the world, creating my own gods.
Their names, forms, manners are now irrelevant – and forgotten. Apparently, being at the time rather introverted, I didn’t want to go public with it.
I vividly remember, though, that I used to worship these gods of mine regularly every day after school. I put a small round red pillow on the floor, opened my ‘holy sketchbook’ and chanted prayers and eulogies of my own design.
After a while, I got over the whole new personal religion thing and for the next years I returned to the good old christianity.
Later, much later, I delved into buddhism, daoism and shintoism, but in a much more ‘open’ and syncretic fashion.
Nowadays the trend of atheism is quite strong. And, if we want to be honest about it, not without good reasons, although – as is customary with every reaction to an oppressive action – sometimes it goes too far and starts to resemble another ideology or even (gods forbid) a religion. But this is a topic for another article.
What is an undeniable fact is that the need to express the inexplicable, to give shape and familiar form to the great mystery – and burden – of existence are a human necessity, deeply rooted in our inner fabric.
The great Carl Jung had carved the following latin inscription above the door of his house in Kusnacht, Switzerland:
VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT.
In plain english, the inscription reads: “Called or not called, the god will be there.”
This is the answer the Delphic Oracle gave to the Lacedemonians when they were planning a war against Athens.
What’s the true meaning of the answer? It’s not for me to try to interpret the great Oracle, but it should be apparent from the above short discussion…