"They have not forgotten the Mysteries," she said, "they have found them too difficult. They want a God who will care for them, who will not demand that they struggle for enlightenment, but who will accept them just as they are, with all their sins, and take away their sins with repentance. It is not so, it will never be so, but perhaps it is the only way the unenlightened can bear to think of their Gods." Morgaine of the Fairies
Ain't that the truth.
One of my great joys is the annual reading of The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I read it once a year, need it or not, and it never fails to delight, fascinate, comfort and challenge. One of the themes that grabs me every time is the philosophical struggle between the Christians and the Pagans. Personally, I jive with the idea that we are born again and again with lessons to learn and karma to repay each time. And that there are people in our soul group who we find over and over. Am I sure? Of course not. But there's no reason I can't be fascinated with the idea of it and hope for the best, is there?
The same way one character at a time in my beloved Buffy takes hold of my mind for weeks at a time (Giles, leave me alone already!), at each reading of this book, there's a character who jumps out at me and holds me hostage until I agree to do some thinking. This time it's Kevin Harper, the second Merlin of Britain to show up in the story. Is he a traitor or only doing what he was ordained to do? What is treachery anyway? When do we hold on for dear life to a tradition, an old-fashioned way, a dear belief? And when do we realize the thing we love and thing we hate are at their roots the very same? Did he deserve his fate? What is the definition of loyalty? Is he a better person for having suffered all his life, and if he'd grown up to be an everyday shopkeeper type, or even a regular Druid priest instead of Merlin, would he have been much more simple-minded and shallow? Note to self: appreciate the biggest bummers from the past - where do you think your life smarts came from anyway?
"For all the Gods are one God," she said to me then, as she had said many times before, and as I have said to my own novices many times, and as every priestess who comes after me will say again, "and all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and there is only one Initiator. And to every man his own truth, and the God within." Morgaine of the Fairies