Oberon Zell Ravenheart wrote a story which changed my life.
A long, long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, I think I wrote once about how one of the earliest things I ever read that was of a Pagan nature was a little pamphlet made as a Pagan answer to the Chick Tracts that used to adorn car windshields in parking lots and pay phone booths everywhere where I grew up. What’s a “Chick Tract” you ask? I’m actually surprised by how many people I speak with who honestly don’t know. I used to see them everywhere. The Wikipedia entry for Jack T. Chick, the creator of them, begins thusly:
Jack Thomas Chick (born April 13, 1924) is an American publisher, writer, and comic book artist of evangelical fundamentalist Christian tracts and comic books. His comics have been described by Los Angeles magazine as “equal parts hate literature and fire-and-brimstone sermonizing”.
Most of them were elaborately illustrated with tales of “This Is Why You’re Going To Burn In Hell!” and usually filled with text about the evils of watching television, listening to rock music and playing Dungeons & Dragons or some such.
So, in answer, some enterprising individuals at the Aquarian Tabernacle Church printed up a bunch of similarly styled tracts with Oberon Zell Ravenheart’s article We Are The Other People printed in it. One day, I happened across one of these and read it. Having, up until that point, only been exposed to the concepts and philosophies offered by mainstream religion and predominantly in the region I grew up in that was fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity with a hefty dose of hellfire and brimstone, what I read between the pages actually made a lot of sense to me. Here was a counterpoint argument that laid out exactly why there wasn’t just one right way to live. At that point in my life it was what I needed to see but as I have gotten older I do find the tone a bit too caustic for my now more coexistent, live and let live point of view. I even recall Oberon saying in later years that he felt, if someone were to choose to include Jesus Christ in their personal pantheon and be both Pagan and Christian then, why not? If it works for them, who are we to judge? A lot of the objections I have previously had to such an arrangement stem from words that are prevalent in the modern interpretations of the bible. Words which I believe were put there by men, not gods. Most everything attributed to be the words of Jesus himself though, I generally have no issue with. Anyway, I have long wanted to take just the points made in the original article and separate them from the picturesque scenery of the visit by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, their reactions, the decor, etc. You know, just look at the facts. But before I dive into that, here’s a link to the original article so you can see where we’re starting from.
Church of All Worlds – We Are The Other People
Let’s start with the visitors, shall we? I, too, get the occasional visit from the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses or others going door to door to share their tales. Generally, if there is time, I try to share some tales of my own. Unfortunately, I often find they only want to speak, not listen. That happens a lot in verbal communication these days I’ve noticed which is why I have a preference for blogging or other formats that allow me to speak my full thoughts without interruption. I don’t mind listening to what others have to say and quite often do because I love learning new things. But, sadly, when my turn comes to speak I often don’t receive the same courtesy. Interesting conundrum that, isn’t it? Anyway, a great deal of getting people over to their way of thinking comes in the form of the concept of “Original Sin” and their idea of “Salvation” to escape the repercussions of this “sin”. As Oberon says in We Are The Other People Though:
“But none of that applies to us. We have no need for salvation because we don’t have original sin. We are the Other People.”
What? How is that possible? This story applies to everybody! Not so fast, let’s take a look at the first chapter of the book. Again, as Oberon puts it:
Genesis 1:26 – The [Elohim] said, “Let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.”
Elohim is a plural word, including male and female, and should properly be translated “Gods” or “Pantheon.”
I have a few Jewish friends who are very open minded and I’ve spoken with them about this. One, in particular is a Rabbi who explained to me that one thing people often don’t know about ancient writings is that, unlike today, there really weren’t any punctuation rules and even spaces between words. So, a lot of what has to be considered when interpreting these texts is the context the word is used in. Elohim is a word that can be interpreted as either Gods or Pantheon as stated here or can refer to a singular God which embodies both masculine and feminine form. But, whether Oberon’s interpretation is correct is irrelevant. As the story continues, many other points are made as to why there were clearly people who were outside the sphere of influence of this particular creation myth.
27 The Gods created humanity in the image of themselves, In the image of the Gods they created them, Male and Female they created them.
28 The Gods blessed them, saying to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.”
I would like to interject something here while we’re on the subject of “conquering” the earth and “mastering” all of the creatures within it. Daniel Quinn, in his book ‘Ishmael’, advances an interesting theory with regards to this concept by dividing the cultures of the world into ‘Taker’ and ‘Leaver’ cultures. The ‘Takers’ are those who have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and have taken it upon themselves to assume the role of gods; choosing what is to live and what is to die. Determining what is good and what is evil. The ‘Leavers’ leave such matters up to the gods and live in harmony with the world rather than seeking to dominate it. It is said that this story of Genesis was originally a ‘Leaver’ culture story which was adopted by the ‘Takers’ as their own. Anyway, Oberon had this to say regarding the above two passages.
Now clearly, here we are talking about the original creation of the human species: male and female. All the animals,plants, etc. have all been created in previous verses. This is before the Garden of Eden, and Yahweh is not mentioned as the creator of these people. The next chapter talks about how Yahweh, an individual member of the Pantheon, goes about assembling his own special little botanical and zoological Garden in Eden, and making his own little man to inhabit it:
Sure enough, if you look up various versions of the bible online this is what it appears to say. Take a look at this one for example: NIV Genesis 1 26-28
Then in Chapter 2…
Gen 2:7 – Yahweh God fashioned a man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus the man became a living being.
8 Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned.
9 Yahweh God caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.
15 Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it.
At this point Oberon said:
Now this next is crucial: note Yahweh’s precise words:
…and indeed it is crucial.
16 Then Yahweh God gave the man this admonition, “You may eat indeed of all the trees in the garden.
17 Nevertheless of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat, for on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die.”
As the original article states:
Fateful words, those. We will refer back to this admonition later.
So what happens next? As Oberon put it:
Then Yahweh decides to make a woman to go with the man. Now, don’t forget that the Pantheon had earlier created a whole population of people, “male and female,” who are presumably doing just fine somewhere “outside the gates of Eden.” But this setup in Eden is Yahweh’s own little experiment, and will unfold to its own separate destiny.
As Genesis states:
21 So Yahweh God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh.
22 Yahweh God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man.
Humorously, Oberon interjects here:
Right. Man gives birth to woman. Sure he does. But that’s the way the story is told here.
So, here they are, these newly formed individuals in the Garden Of Eden and the story goes:
25 Now both of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame in front of each other.
To which Oberon says, and I agree:
Well, of course not! Why should they? But take careful note of those words, as they also will prove to be significant . . .
In my opinion, significant indeed and it speaks to one of the many reasons that most traditional practitioners to this day still hold skyclad initiations and other rituals. But anyway, this post is getting long and I need to attend to some other things so I think I will continue with my review of ‘We Are The Other People’ in a later article. It is a rather lengthy article in it’s own right but well worth the read I think. It gives a great incite into our worldview versus mainstream thinking.
I’ll catch ya on the flip side with part 2 of this saga.
We Are Indeed, The Other People Part 2