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Who is the Mother of the Gods?

by Rev. Battakes Cathryn Platine

In 363 CE the Emperor Julian delivered an Oration at Pessinus on the Mother of the Gods (Cybele).  This remarkable document survives intact as a premiere example of neo-platonistic "pagan" theology.  Today, as a modern Battakes or Reverend Mother of Cybele I shall attempt to address the the Cybeline theology for modern Cybelines.  Unlike Julian, I shall not address our history, we are doing that elsewhere, but rather the very basis of our beliefs themselves.

As Cybelines we are not overly concerned with creation myths for we understand that the myths and stories are a means of passing lessons and teachings rather than to be taken literally.  We have our own rich history of mythologies, often many different versions of similar stories.  In Anatolian times we had written mysteries that survived into Roman times according to various accounts, some of which told by those who opposed us then and now.  But our "truth" is rather simple: Mother is All.  Our lives, our experiences, our very essence is Her learning about Herself.  A paradox of human nature is the simplest truths are the hardest to truly understand.  So who then is the Mother of Gods?  Who is Cybele?  She is all of us, all that surrounds us.  She is everyone you meet, every rock you see, every tree, every plant, the stars, planets, the sun, the moon, the earth you walk on and the air you breathe.  She is the oceans, the rivers, the streams, the fish.  She is us.  She cannot exclude parts of Herself.

Because we are human, we need to see Mother a form we can understand and so we create for ourselves a sort of "shorthand" in the form of a Goddess with a form and often experience Her in that manner.  That is a result of our own limitations, not Hers.  The mysteries are simply a way of going beyond that shorthand and experiencing a true connection with a greater part of Her.  Abraham Maslow called such moments of connection "peak experiences".  They are life altering for in those moments we understand who we are, why we are and our own small place in All.  In the simplest terms, all Cybeline ritual, mysteries, practices are but means to inducing this connection, this "peak experience".

Once you understand, truly understand through direct experience, that we are all part of Mother the "rules" of correct living and behaviour become unnecessary because harming others, harming the earth, harming any living thing is understood to be also harming yourself as part of Her.  You do not treat others as you wish to be treated because an outside force threatens you, you do so because in harming others you are harming yourself as a part of Her.  Sharing love and pleasure with others cannot be "sinful" or "contrary to Her will" for it is merely Her rejoicing in Herself in a smaller part.  For therein lies another mystery...........we cannot connect to all of Her, we connect to some lesser or greater part of Her.  To encompass all of Her at once is beyond human capacity.  To do so would cause you to cease to be human.

All of us are born separated from the All so that we might "learn" and experience with complete free will.  All of us are born with the ability to reconnect before we end our cycle.  If we do so, to whatever lesser or greater degree, we are no longer troubled by the "great questions".  Why are we here?  Do we survive after death?  What is the meaning of life?  These questions are answered and answered on a personal level, a level so deep that a special word was necessary to express it.  A word almost totally misunderstood today.  Gnosis.  It is misunderstood because without having experienced gnosis, it is impossible to understand it.  The mysteries weren't hidden to protect the secrets of the universe, they were hidden because they are meaningless to any who has not experienced them.  They are not powerful in and of themselves, they are keys, tools, a means of arriving at experiencing a greater part of Her than just ourselves.  Yes, it really is that simple and yet if you are not ready to understand what I am saying, these words will just be so much nonsense to you.  Similar words are thrown around by neo-pagans all the time with no understanding of the power of gnosis, connection, peak experiences.  They then become merely lovely sentiments repeated without understanding with only the vague feeling comfort they bring.

So if all this is this simple, why keep the mysteries a mystery?  The greatest obstacle to gnosis is dogma.  Over and over the simple lessons of the great religious leaders of the world have been lost within a generation or less to dogma.  Neo-paganism has only been around a short time and already has slipped into this trap of religions.  Have you ever seen a pagan priest or priestess solemnly invoke the "corners" or elements with total disregard for their actual surroundings?  Ask them why and they will tell you because they were taught that is element is in this direction and that one in that.  They will invoke earth while facing a lake!  If you are so out of touch with your environment, how can you possibly be practicing a nature religion?  If you are so separated from your surroundings, what chance do you have of connecting with even part of them?  The mysteries were kept mysteries in order to prevent dogma from making them meaningless.  The wisdom of this is demonstrated in that our own religion survived more than 10,000 years rather than self destructing in a mere thousand or so.  Dogma reduces gnosis to carrot and stick theology almost instantly. All meaning is lost when experience is replaced with revealed.  One does not live a "good" life because one understands why on the deepest level, but merely to avoid some punishment before or after death.  Already neo-paganism has fallen headlong into the same trap that has been the undoing of Judism, Christianity and Islam merely replacing hell with "karma" and three-fold return.

I have been asked recently why our priestesshood is female rather than mixed male and female?  Believe it or not, the answer actually lies within the question!  Framed within the question is an assumption of power of position and it is this very assumption holds the key.  Being a priestess of Mother Cybele is not a position of power but merely being a keeper of the mysteries, a source, a teacher, a guide.  Seeking power automatically separates one from the All.  Our priestesshood is limited to women because the feminine mind is less likely, although not immune, to seek "power" either over others or over their surroundings but rather work cooperatively with them.  Women tend to be much more socially oriented then men.  Less hiearchially oriented then men.  More in tune with the concept of connection to other life simply by biologically being placed in that position while with child.  The paradox of power on a spiritual level is that if you seek it, you will never find it.  If you achieve it, you almost never need to use it  Again, the wisdom in this is revealed in that Cybelines never made war on anyone.  That our faith endures after 10,000 years or more while those with male priests fall quickly into dogma used to control others.  Our priestesshood is limited to women, our FAITH is not.  All may partake of the mysteries, the priestesses merely guides.  History has many examples of the wisdom of our way.  During the Hellenistic period a brief attempt was made by men to replace the Sybils with male priests.  It immediately failed.  They sought the "power" of prophecy while failing to notice that no Sybil ruled anything.  In reinstating the female Sybils, they sought to remove the sexual element by limiting Sybils to only women over 50 years old.   During the later years of Rome similarly there was an attempt to thwart the "potential" power of the Cybeline priestesses by appointing a male archi-gallus over us.  Once again failing to notice that our "potential" power was never used in more than 500 years of roman history precisely because if we had, we would have immediately lost our own path.  Not realizing that such excerise of "power" is virtually impossible for one who has gnosis.

The mental trap for Cybelines is perceiving Mother as "outside" ourselves by virtue of concentrating on images and an anthropomorphic vision of Her.  This trap is easily avoided once one has experienced gnosis, but prior to that can ensnare those who are seeking.  The motto of all the ancient mysteries schools was "Know Thyself" because in diving deep within our own psyches we can see a reflections of Her and our part in Her.  Sounding simple, it is one of the most profoundly difficult tasks a human can undertake.

So who then is the Mother of the Gods?..........She is us, and all we encounter

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copyright 2004, Cathryn Platine.  All rights reserved.  This page may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any electronic or print media without the express written permission of the copyright holder.