What i believe
Γνῶθι σεαυτόν — “know thyself.” So goes the first of the maxims inscribed at the Delphic temple of Apollon, and in that spirit, i have put together this page to serve as an ever-changing document of my religious and spiritual beliefs. This will change over time, but that’s okay. Nothing is forever.
The logical place to start, then, is the argument for polytheism. Let’s say, for the sake of the argument, that you’re religious. Doesn’t particularly matter what — Christian, Muslim, Hindu, whatever — just that you believe in a higher power, and that this higher power can be in some way interacted with by those of us down on this temporal earth. You probably know of a few people who claim to have done just that; in fact, there’s a decent chance they wrote a book you have with you in this very room.
How can you know that those experiences are any more valid than those of others? There’s a litany of arguments one could pull out — word counts, improbable poetry, the book being rather explicit that it’s the only correct one — but people have made them all for faiths before yours, and will make them all for faiths thereafter. The only conclusion is either that none of them are true — which makes for a very sad existence, really — or that almost all of them are true.☞︎
With the vagueties of polytheism out of the way, we can move on to the specifics. One might well ask — Xanthe, why Greece? Don’t you live all the way up by Hadrian’s wall? Well. From birth, practically everyone in the western world has been soaked in Classical history and culture. Our halls of government are decorated with anachronistically titanium-white marble statues of Athena and Dicë. We describe our parties as “Bacchanalian”, and, despite the Church’s best efforts, we continue to enter the new year in January and lap up the summer in June. From the day Cæsar stepped onto Britain’s shores, this island has worn its classical influence proudly, from top to bottom — it’s only an hour’s drive for me to an authentic Roman temple, built by my ancestors’ hands, much as it is for so many all the way from Britain to Bactria.
One’s mind and soul, in my view, is where the veil between material and spiritual is at its weakest. It’s no surprise that many people use psychedelics or drugs to achieve a higher consciousness — a bit of a nudge is often all one needs to put one’s ear up against the veil. (I’ve also found there’s something of a transcendent effect in harmonising your voice with that of someone else — perhaps that’s why choirs are so popular, and why even the most stringent Islamists will permit singing a capella.) This is why we meditate, and try to clear our heads, or focus all our will on one particular thing — some would call that magic; i call it prayer with attitude.
I believe in reincarnation. Something is experiencing the state of being me, as it were, and i have a fairly good hunch that that something will keep on experiencing things after “i’m” gone. (I’m not 100% on this, but it would be nice to have a breather before the next go around: time to console relatives, answer prayers, and generally prepare oneself for round eight-billion-and-two.)
As for what happens to my body back on this side of the veil, i’d like to just be taken out to the nearest forest and let the wolves and maggots have at me.☞︎ If it was good enough for the first thirty billion or so humans, it’s good enough for me.