September 13, 2013

Religious Mysteries

I have been following several conversations in the Pagan and Druid communities regarding Religious Mysteries. Magickal Rites and the inclusion of Religious Mysteries in the Keltrian Druid initiation practice was one of the several key defining points in establishing Keltrian Druidism as a separate and unique path.
The Merriam-Webster On-line dictionary has as its first meaning, 
1. a :  a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand[1]
That meaning is close, but I think of it slightly differently. I see a Religious Mystery as “a religious truth that is known by revelation and cannot be logically explained.“
A religious Mystery, cannot be logically explained, but, rather it must be experienced.  Once embraced, the Mystery changes your entire being and the way you relate to the universe.  Once the Mystery is a part of your being you can do things you could never do before.
I like to explain how a religious Mystery works through an example of a secular Mystery – The square root of a negative one.  No real number multiplied times itself can give a negative number.  The idea that a number multiplied times itself and give a negative result doesn’t make sense.  But once you have embraced it, once it becomes a part of your being a whole new mathematical world opens up for you; you now have the world of imaginary numbers available to you.  For every real number there is an imaginary number. The mathematical world of numbers doubles with the addition of the square root of a negative one (called “I” in mathematics or “j” in electronics).
More than just the world opening up for you, you now have the tools to do mathematical problem solving you couldn’t solve before.  Your mind is open to new possibilities and capabilities because you have embraced the mystery. 
A religious Mystery operates in a similar manner. It is usually impossible to explain in a rational way.  But once it has been revealed to you in a manner in which you can absorb the concept you can have a new world open up for you.  You have the ability to do things you couldn’t do before. The Mystery provides a context for further actions and you get it, even those who haven’t embraced the Mystery don understand what you are doing.
I have long felt the revelation of a Mystery is one of the underpinnings of a religious initiation. Consequently, self initiation cannot have the ability to reveal a Mystery, something unknown.  Initiations into Mystery Traditions include a process for the candidate to learn and embrace something that does not make sense but opens their eyes to a new reality.