Monday, March 30, 2009

Holy Soda

I drink a lot of soda, so if there was a magical ritual I could perform to imbue it with magical energy that would speed my spiritual progress I would be all for it. The truth is that since water holds a magical charge just about any drink can be magically empowered by tracing a sigil over it while visualizing your desired goal, and soda should behave the same way in a ritual. Apparently one Norwegian Church thinks so too - thanks to recent freezing temperatures the Church's water taps were not working, so the priest substituted lemon soda for water in a baptismal ritual.

Priest Paal Dale, from the town of Stord, about 150 miles west of the capital Oslo, improvised during a recent cold-spell by dabbing the fizzy drink on the baby, daily newspaper Vaart Land said on Tuesday.

So does it work? From a magical perspective the situation is unfortunately rather muddled.

The Christian Church teaches that infant baptism is necessary to wash away original sin, but in my opinion the Augustinian doctrine of original sin is rooted in a mistranslation rather than any sort of genuine theological principle. In the Gospels, the Greek word metanoia was translated into the Latin paenitentia, the root of the usual English translation, "repentence." However, in Greek metanoia carries with it none of the connotations related to the redress of past wrongs that are associated with both the English term and its Latin root. To Augustine reading the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Gospels, it must have seemed clear that in order for one to "repent" some past wrong must already be present. Hence the doctrine of original sin, which is supposedly supported by the text of Genesis and yet is not found in Judaism.

At this point metanoia could probably be used in English with no real loss of meaning. We already have words like "paranoia" which have a similar structure and "meta" has moved from online forums into the general vernacular. "Meta" means above or beyond and "noia" is derived from nuos, mind. The word doesn't mean anything related to wrongdoing at all, but instead refers to awakened or expanded consciousness that changes your perspective on the world. When someone tells you "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" what they really should be saying is something like "awaken, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Returning to the original language puts a rather different spin on Christian spirituality, one centered on consciousness rather than bad behavior.

Furthermore, spiritual awakening is not something anyone else can do for you. Baptising an adult and baptising an infant are two completely different things, because in effect with an adult baptism whatever spiritual awakening that may occur is triggered by the participant's reaction to the ritual, not the ritual itself. For an infant unaware of his or her surroundings this is simply not possible and therefore the argument that there is any benefit to baptizing babies is not supported by a magical understanding of the universe. In Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica a child must be 11 years old before he or she can go through a baptismal ceremony, and in my opinion that is as it should be. Baptism has a different theological meaning in EGC than it does in Christianity, but I am of the opionion that in order to benefit from either form of the ritual one must be old enough to be aware of what is going on.

This leaves me with the conclusion that the baptism by soda could not have possibly worked in terms of creating any sort of spiritual benefit for the child, but to be fair the same would be true if water was used. For an adult baptism it would be harder to say whether the soda would be more or less efficacious.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

2 comments:

Robert-Joseph said...

It's true that soda does contain water, and so we should expect it to have some of the same metaphysical qualities, it's still not a good substitute. For one thing, water is a cleansing agent, it cleans things. It's part of the inherent symbolism of water which grants its powers, and a vital part to a baptism ritual. If you bathe in soda, you'll be all sticky. Also take into account the corrosive acidic qualities of soda which are non-existent in water.

Likewise if you talk to spiritual people who feel they have a very strong connection to water, I don't think very many of them will claim the same connection to soda.

Among practitioners, I've only seen soda used as a ritual tool as a post-ritual pick me up, or to help with longer workings, such as doing a series of tarot readings. It's full of sugar and caffine and those things help when you're drained from magickal workings, the body even craves such things.

Ananael Qaa said...

For one thing, water is a cleansing agent, it cleans things. It's part of the inherent symbolism of water which grants its powers, and a vital part to a baptism ritual.

That's most likely true. I mean, the fact that none of us purify our temples with Sprite says something right there. I'm not 100% sure that I buy the idea of "inherent symbolism" but I do agree that the association of water with cleanliness is a universal enough experience that it can reasonably be treated as such.

It's full of sugar and caffine and those things help when you're drained from magickal workings, the body even craves such things.

Absolutely, and they can help pre-ritual as well. Sucrose and fructose are transformed in a single step to glucose, which the fuel that the brain and nervous system run on. And most stimulants, including caffeine, will increase the probability shift you can create during a ritual by some percentage.