How many family and friends were introduced to the first line of Genesis (called Bereishit in Hebrew): “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth…” (King James Version) or “God created the heavens and the earth…” (New International Version) or some similar translation. However, something fun happens if you know a little Hebrew. Whoever wrote the first line in the original Hebrew, started it this way: “In the beginning, Gods created the heavens and the earth. . .” Gods? Yes, Gods. The person who wrote this clearly used the word: Elohim (אֱלֹהִ֑ים). That -im ending in Hebrew indicates plural. More than one. Gods. Line after line in the first chapter go like this: “And Gods said” this; “And Gods created” that; “And Gods blessed” the other thing; and my favorite, “in the image of Gods were created man AND woman.” Elohim were not sexist in this first creation story, thank Gods. Elohim also created the weekend – everyone needs a day off. Blessed be those Elohim !
These Gods continued their busy creating through the first chapter of Genesis/Bereishit and onward for four lines into chapter two of Genesis/Bereishit. Then something odd happened. In line five, the unpronounceable name YHVH (יִֽהְיֶ֣ה) showed up as the creator God. YHVH created man out of the dust. Wait a second – what happened to the man and woman that Elohim created in the first chapter? YHVH planted a garden with some trees between some rivers, then created some animals and birds for the man to name (what happened to the birds and animals created by Elohim in the first chapter?), and took a bone from the man’s side to create a woman, and later on got pissed at the woman and the man for munching on an apple. Clearly YHVH was one entity, not a plural number of entities. YHVH was also pretty angry (as we learn in later stories) and definitely not into equality of the sexes.
A rabbi who I know once explained it like this: when the Hebrews were compiling these stories twenty-five hundredish centuries or so ago, they recalled their oldest nomadic traditions when they worshipped many Gods from the Semitic culture: Baal, Asherah, Astarte, and El (the singular form of Elohim) among others. As the nomads settled into a kingdom, the national God, YHVH, began taking precedence; however, the worship of YHVH did not preclude the worship of the older Gods. After the exile to Babylon, the religious authorities began to further emphasize a monotheistic worship of YHVH; but those sweet, non-sexist Elohim remained in their tribal consciousness. May they never be forgotten.
Welcome to my contribution towards the Esoteric Musings blog! Hopefully you’ll continue to find food for thought here.
So let’s check in with an introduction. I’m a 50-something and I best describe myself these days as Interfaith. This is not quite the same as those who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious; it’s more like spiritual and religious. In honor of the spectrum of gender identity, my preferred pronouns are he/him. On both maternal and paternal family trees, my tribe of origin is best described as Ashkenazi Jewish and I entered into the covenant of Abraham at age eight days, followed years later by Bar Mitvah and Confirmation in the American Reform Jewish tradition.
My path lead me beyond the synagogue to study and to worship in different traditions: Unitarian-Universalism, Zen and Theravada Buddhism, Wicca and general New Age spirituality via the tarot, and Unity and Episcopalian Christianity. In our thirty-plus years together, Kurt and I have spent many years in bookstores: in person and virtually. The Spirit has drawn me in many directions – I’ve learned many things on the way. Yet I’m Interfaith or Spiritual & Religious since I appreciate the camaraderie, support and structure in a community. I can sit and sing Shema Yisrael (via Zoom, Youtube or Facebook in these COVID days) on Friday evening in my synagogue community then sit and sing A Mighty Fortress is Our God (whose tune I knew well from the end of each episode of the 1960s animated Davey & Goliath series) in an Episcopal service or Spirit of Life in the Unitarian Church.
My spiritual philosophy is best described by four points of Perennial Wisdom (see https://oneriverfoundation.org/perennial-wisdom/): that everything arises in & is an expression of the nondual Infinite Life that is called by many names, such as Great Spirit, Brahman, Tao, God, Adonai, Higher Power etc.; that there are two ways of knowing the world – the greater Self which knows each finite life is a manifestation of the infinite & the lesser Ego which mistakes uniqueness for separateness; a universal ethic calling for compassion and justice (the Golden Rule as each of us understands it); and a goal of Self-awakening & living the universal ethic.
So now, while Kurt honors Hella as well as Odin, I balance our family’s spiritual life in honor of Elohim/Adonai, Jesus, the Higher Power of the Spirit, or whatever label is calling to me within its own context: no matter what the label is, it does not accurately describe the concept. By following this Spirit, it has given me new insights into my Self and my relationships. I sincerely knew that there are many things I didn’t know. This provides so much more flavor to my spirituality with textures that I never knew existed. It’s true for me that the Spirit has a plan and if I open myself to it – good things can happen. May your journey be similarly enjoyable!
Hail! My husband Jon will be posting on this blog from time to time. He will add a different esoteric voice to these proceedings. Read him as you do me. With an open mind. Thanks!
We never truly know where our path will take us. Oh sure we can plan and be forward moving and all but we can’t never be sure of where or how things will work out. The gods have this habit of throwing stuff in our path that we need to deal with. Crud. Sometimes I’d just like to be left alone! But no. So I just keep on trudging…
I’m not complaining. I’ve dealt pretty well so far. Every challenge is really just a chance to grow. I definitely want to grow!
There is always a place we can grow. None of us are so far advanced that we can’t branch out and be even more. If I’m a tree I have a lot of branches! And that’s just the way I’d like it to be.
Remember we’re here to learn and grow. Staying stagnant is not a real option. At least not for me. I feel as if I am dying if I’m not doing or learning or trying something new. The world never ceases to provide opportunity for change. I try to make it my part to do a little poking around. Sometimes I find treasure! Sometimes I get into trouble. But I keep on poking. It’s the hallmark of a Contemporary Vitki to keep going. So I do.
I can always write a new book. I can write a blog post. I can make a video. I can make myself available online. I can call others on the same path. So much to do. I plan to make sure it’s not all done when I close my eyes the last time. I want my legacy to be a path well traveled but still ready for others to take up and blaze onward on. I keep walking…
I have dolls. Fashion dolls like Barbie. And Ken. I have around 45 total. I also have six drawers full of fashions and various accessories. This is so I can redress them. And I do redress them. I would say I redress a couple a day. And I love it. It brings me happiness and joy. For me playing dolls is a spiritual act.
The first way redressing and playing with dolls is spiritual is in the fact that this act is a form of meditation for me. I fall into a meditative state as I fasten little snaps and zip tiny zippers. The repetition of these movements help to calm me and settle my racing mind. Combing hair is a great action to still a frantic mind. The act of meditation is of course a spiritual act. It gives you the chance to clear your mind and allow messages from beyond to be received. I get some powerful spiritual messages during doll play. I look forward to that being a benefit of this type activity. Spiritual play brings spiritual peace.
The dolls have come to stand in for the many aspects of my mind. There’s the doll that means “love” because it was a gift from my hubby. A certain doll means “casualness” because his outfit is loose and easy. And so on. Every doll means a part of myself separated and examined as it’s own entity. This is a powerful spiritual activity. I can step outside of myself to gain a fresh look at my Self. I am allowed to view things anew in this manner. Dolls offer me a way to accomplish this.
These are ways that my dolls are my spiritual tools and allies. I find myself getting closer to my gods and my own truth through my play with them. Rather than outgrow these toys they have morphed in meaning to remain relevant. And I hope they will do so for years to come. Hail Barbie!