Grace is not a reward, Sin is not a punishment
November 29, 2012 3 Comments
As part of a crafting project, and to help kick my lazy ass back into gear with conjurations that I’ve neglected for so long, I’m currently on day two of…a lot in which I’m conjuring a different angel of a different force each day (seven days for the seven planets, four days for the four elements, one day for my natal genius, etc.). Quite literally, I’m conjuring all the angels that I know of; the last time I did this was back when I had consecrated my planetary talismans for the first time, which got crazy and exhausting but ultimately worth it. I started yesterday, which was a fantastic day to catch up on meditation and rituals generally, and began with Raphael of Mercury yesterday and continued with Tzadqiel of Jupiter today. So, I got dressed up in a nice suit, got a fancy drink and cedar incense, set up the conjuration altar, and called down the angel of Jupiter to chat.
It was my plan to go through the seven Gate Rituals that Frater RO devised: a basic Trithemian-style conjuration for a specific planet plus a scry/meditation on that planet’s forces, so as to be initiated deeper into the forces and mystery of that heavenly sphere and better integrate one with those forces. The Gate of Mercury ritual yesterday went fantastically, and I got to see a nifty astral “port town in an archipelago of port towns”, gained access to a part of the astral that I really want to go to, and had a nice café-style chat with Raphael and Hermes. Mercury, after all, is a sphere I’m more than comfortable in, and absolutely love the place. On the other hand, Jupiter has never been a place or planet I’m all too comfortable with, despite the seemingly-endless praises RO and Jason Miller et al. sing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic place of fabulous feels, but I do feel out-of-place or awkward when interfacing with those energies. Call me crazy, but it’s just not a sphere I prefer compared to others. As a result, Tzadqiel didn’t let me pass through the Gate this time, but did take me on a walk around the sphere and taught me a few things.
The big thing about Jupiter, as RO will tell you, is grace. Grace is a gift freely given, a combination of love, forgiveness, and aid, and (if you’ll pardon the pun) the crux of the Christian religion: you don’t need to work for grace, since it’s already given to you. No matter how badly you fuck up, no matter how recalcitrant you are, you will always have grace available to you. Basically, consider the parable of the prodigal son; no matter how far the son wandered off or messed up, his father was always ready and eager to welcome him back and give him the best of everything. That’s grace: it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re loved and cherished and the cosmos will try to make things as awesome as it can for you.
That said, the prodigal son had to actually stop doing bad stuff and return to his father in order to make use of his father’s grace. He already basically had it, but he couldn’t make use of it without actually doing stuff to make use of it. He didn’t earn his father’s love, but he had to be there to experience it. He wasn’t punished by anything or anyone, except himself; it was his own mistakes that caused his own pain. That pain, in a Hermetic view, is sin. If it weren’t for RO’s recent post on sin (go read it), I probably wouldn’t have caught onto this idea as soon as I had, but basically:
People don’t understand that “sin keeps you away from god” is the total punishment itself. Being away from God sucks. You can only know that if you’ve been around him though, and it doesn’t make as much sense to folks who haven’t felt the presence of god personally loving them up as it tumbles around you, in you, through you to bounce laughing out your vocal chords.
Sin isn’t a punishment doled out, just like how grace isn’t a reward given for something. They’re not quite two sides of the same coin, but it’s close. This was the primary realization I had while talking with the angel of grace, Tzadqiel of Jupiter, tonight: grace is always present and always given in infinite quantities, but the ability to reap the rewards of it is determined only by my own action and responsibility. Taking up my responsibility, doing the right thing, and being in the presence of the Divine is the reward and yields other rewards; this is the way to enjoy and “make use of” grace. Being away from the Divine, focusing on the low, neglecting my responsibilities, and the like is my punishment for not taking up the gift that was given to me. Like the prodigal son, one has to be in the presence of grace in order to enjoy it; away from it, one will suffer.
For someone who’s raised in the modern world and isn’t in touch with deep Christian ethos and mythos, this point is entirely lost. It’s generally assumed that sin is the state of punishment from an action that results in divine wrath inflicted on someone, which is what it seems to be on the surface and what it definitely seems to be in Judaism (to me, at least). Grace, on the other hand, is kinda more understood, but is still seen as being a reward for something worked for. The whole point is that it’s not worked for, it’s just received freely because it was given freely. In a sense, I figure that it’s partially because God loves us, because we are part of God, and one cannot love without loving oneself.
Now, going back to my awkwardness with Jupiter, the whole kingship thing is weird for me. I’m no leader, as I’d consider myself; I may be a guide and teacher, but I consider myself a servant and assistant to those who need it. Being more Mercurial, I like to figure the world out in terms of transactions: you give me X, I give you Y. This is how our world works, and the universe on a grand scale seems to operate this way as well (no action without reaction). The cosmos as a whole, however, does not necessarily operate like this: yes, there are kinds of cosmic transactions that turn Ideas into manifested Reality, but there are also states of cosmic fluidity where there is no concept of ownership or exchange. From a qabbalistic point of view, the pillar of Boaz (spheres of Saturn, Mars, and Mercury) take things away or exchange things (Saturn defines limits, Mars decides on utility, Mercury reasons out rules); the pillar of Jachin (spheres of the fixed stars, Jupiter, and Venus) fill things and give things freely (the fixed stars gives unbridled creation, Jupiter fills things with desires, Venus fulfills purpose). Mercury is on the opposite side of the Sun, in terms of the Tree of Life, from Jupiter; while Mercury exchanges and sets out rules, Jupiter gives freely and lays out responsibility.
In the end, the goodness in life is derived from doing the right and proper thing for us, as individual humans and as part of Humanity, while the badness of it results from doing the wrong thing. The good things, which can be considered our True Will, bring us closer to the Will of the Divine and help carry out the cosmos’ machinations as it should; this is essentially the return to the father, or the Father, that helps us enjoy the grace given to us that we can only enjoy in our father’s, or our Father’s, presence. Sin isn’t something so much one does as it is one enters into by going against what we need to be doing, getting distracted with vain or low things that don’t help us on our path, and separating ourselves from the grace that actually makes things good. Life may not be glamorous or rock-star-style fabulous even when one is doing their True Will, but it sure is nicer and easier when one does the right thing and does the thing right. Even small gifts can still make you smile, after all.