Yesterday I was immersed in the music that influenced me. Even after the blogs were posted, I spent all day just listening. I relived, and in some cases rediscovered, a lot of memories. All in all, it was a gratifying experience.
Today, other memories resurfaced. Being a lazy Sunday morning, and being awake far too early as I tend to be, I decided to stay in bed for a while and let some low-volume tunes fill the darkness. That’s the best way to listen to music, when there are few visuals to distract you. I have one of those Amazon Echo devices near my bed. Usually it spends the night generating a white noise that mimics the interior of an airplane cabin. Combine that with high quality earplugs, a ceiling fan, and a high speed air filter that sits on the floor in one corner, I’m usually able to drown out enough outside noise to fall asleep. Helps to normalize the sound so that things like passing traffic, thumping bass, barking dogs, or random gunshots don’t wake me up. When I wake up in the small hours of the morning before dawn, it’s generally pretty quiet. The world hasn’t become obnoxious yet, and the troublemakers from the night before have generally passed out. I can put away the earplugs and turn off the air filter. I get the Echo to switch gears. Not really certain what I want to hear, so I open the Alexa app on my phone, thumb through the album list at high speed, and just pick something at random. If it turns out to be too obnoxious for the morning, that’s what the pause button is for.
This morning’s selection turned out to be a compilation album, Music From the Time of the Templars. As I say, I didn’t play any attention to what I landed on. I just flicked the scroll menu a few times and clicked. It’s an extraordinary album, the first one I bought of several that I’d eventually own that specifically date to the era of the Crusades. There’s a lot of Eastern and Middle Eastern influence, as one would expect in a world where the Catholics and Byzantines of various stripes clashed and sometimes co-mingled with Islam. There’s a mystical quality to many of the tracks.
While I was listening, the thought struck me: I’d have been killed if I lived back then. I’d have been beheaded as an infidel or burned as a heretic or a witch, depending upon who found me first. And that’s assuming someone didn’t try to “cure” me of being transgender by bleeding me or covering me in leeches or something. As fascinating as the Middle Ages can be, I’m most grateful I didn’t live back then. The modern world is hard enough. The past is an alien planet.
That got me to thinking about my spiritual trials growing up. I’ve talked about this sort of thing a few times in one on one conversation with people, but I rarely blog about it apart from an offhand comment here or there. I’m not religious by any stretch of imagination. I spent far too many years defending against the inquisition of my extended family to want anything to do with organized religion, but I couldn’t help but feel envious that I’d never know that kind of community. To this day, I wish I belonged somewhere. It’s what kept me trying again and again with various churches and such. Didn’t seem to matter where I’d go, I’d be patted on the back for giving it a try, and then from out of the blue, the “usually peaceful and well-intentioned” person delivering the sermon would start spouting all manner of fire and brimstone, and sometimes they could even single me out. It’s happened a time or two. I got the message loud and clear: I’m not supposed to be Christian. Fine and well, though I have to admit to having a soft spot for Gnosticism. I find it interesting. To be fair, I find pretty much every religion interesting. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole with various sects of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Gardnerian Wicca, old world witchcraft, a handful of various pagan / historical reconstructionist religions… you get the idea. I’ve tasted just about every flavor there is, apart from Luciferianism. I just don’t see a point to that, to be quite honest, but hey… to each their own. The point of all this is to say that, as endlessly fascinating as I find it all to be, I haven’t found my place in any of it. I walk an extremely solitary path because of my past experiences with religion, because of my past experiences with angelic encounters, and… well, trying to hide being trans adds another level to the idea of my karma running over my dogma.
As I say, I’m not religious. I don’t begrudge those who are if it brings them peace. I’m all about the pursuit of peace. To that end, I’m highly dedicated to my spiritual pursuits. You can’t experience the kinds of things I have and not be dedicated to that. Of course, you can’t readily discuss such things in open forum without being labeled a crackpot by most people either. I don’t really care about that so much as I despise the notion of having my experiences belittled by those who will choose to remain aggressively ignorant. I’ve seen what I’ve seen. I’ve felt what I’ve felt. I am who I am. I can change none of that, contrary to the popular belief of those who insist on making the attempt to convince me with rhetoric and dismiss my experiences out of hand. So many battles over the years with the self-righteous. Were any of them necessary? Or avoidable?
By the time I was done reliving some of the memories, there was some light in the room in spite of the blackout curtains. I’m not really certain what I was thinking when I did this, but I’ve got a Templar battle flag hanging on the wall of my bedroom opposite the bed. It’s in really stark contract to the Monet “Waterlilies” print I have above the bed. There are times I think I should take that flag down and put it away.
By the time I was showered, dressed, and enjoying my coffee, I was already deep into a renewal of spiritual studies. I’ve been so scattered on a great many things recently, this is one more thing that’s fallen by the wayside. Today’s topics included The Upanishads, some mystic poetry by Rumi, a brief look into St. Teresa of Avila, a refresher course on Enochian (angelic script), and this evening I began an introduction to an area of Christianity I’ve not really explored on its own in any kind of real depth, beyond historical context: Eastern Orthodoxy. I spent some time in meditation this afternoon, one of the things that’s really helped to center me and return me to some kind of civility. And before I started writing this post, I prayed. I don’t do that very often. I always feel awkward doing it. I feel like I never properly learned how. But since my concept of a Higher Authority is as nebulous and as multi-faceted as my studies have enlightened me, it feels more like calling out into nothing. I could cast a protective circle on the spot if the need arose. It’s a symptom of where I’ve been. I’ve spent my life defending against the negative, but I’ve never had an opportunity to really explore the positive, not in any way that truly mattered. I’ve not done any of this with my heart. Being conversant in a topic isn’t the same as entering into a spiritual understanding born in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. It’s why I’m still searching. I’ve found mental stimulation in the pursuit of a hodge podge of disciplines, but none of it has been fulfilling compared to the hug of an angel. Admittedly, that’s a high standard. It’s the sort of thing that transcends mortal experience.
Then again, maybe that’s the point.