Spirit-Quest

When I started this path I had a lifetime of lessons that helped lead me here. Becoming a Reiki Master and Teacher was just the beginning. I started meeting people and taking classes. I realized that I needed to learn more. This course offered me the knowledge and the tools I needed to help not only myself but others.
As you go through this course, their will be moments of realizations. Changes in your life, your thoughts, and your spirit. It makes your life lessons easier to understand and accomplish.
There are many important lessons in this course. One I found to be life-changing is when you look at things in your lifetime. Things that hurt or made you angry. Or maybe things you may have done. When you can learn to forgive yourself and others. It can be a very freeing experience. This tool is very important in these times and throughout your life.
I learned a new and fun way to meditate and to communicate on a more spiritual level. Creating roses to help communicate or get answers was interesting. Blowing them up was fun also. I can’t tell you how many roses I’ve created and destroyed.
Manifesting is an awesome tool to learn also. It didn’t take long before I realized things that I had manifested were happening. For example, I had asked to make more money, so I could pay bills and to be able to continue my education. I didn’t ask for money to drop into my lap. But for my job to have increased business, so I could earn the extra money. Business has increased and I now have the extra income I needed. Not only did I benefit but the owner and my fellow employees did too.
This course has allowed me to grow spiritually and personally. It also has given me the tools to help my children, friends, and on occasions people I just met. This is what I consider to be a wonderful blessing.
Another gift from this course is this statement. God loves you. You were created by perfection, in perfection, for perfection. Your success is guaranteed. It’s not just a catchy phrase. It’s a great affirmation. Saying to yourself feels great. But when you can feel it and really believe it anything is possible. This also means it goes for everyone else too.
This makes you think. Especially when you’ve been hurt or gotten angry at someone. You realize God loves them too. You become better person. You look at things in a different way.
I really have enjoyed this course. I recommend this course to anyone who wants to grow personally and spiritually. You receive the tools to help yourself and others. As for me I found this course to be life changing. In every aspect. It has enriched and enlightened my life.
Thank You
Many Blessings
Brenda Firestone
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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.


As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.



Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Paganism

Paganism Final Exam
Rev. Jean Pagano
The Paganism for A New Age class was truly an enjoyable undertaking. So many different facets of paganism were covered in the class because, I believe, paganism is multi-faceted. It is obvious to me that the author of this course was not merely an academic examining a discipline from a distance – this is a person who has intimate insights into the practice of paganism. There were many lessons which I found insightful. I will touch upon my favorite ones and describe what I liked best about each of them.
Lesson #9, entitled The Sacred Place, detailed the altar and mentioned three separate setups: standard, enhanced mage, and master/mistress. While the three different types suggested different levels of complexity, they all described functional altars, regardless of the elaborateness of design. In addition to the setups, a very thorough description of things one could have on the altar is included.
Lesson #10, entitled Creating the Sacred Place, describes various methodologies for dealing with the sacred space, from creating and cleansing the circle, to the calling of the guardians, the release of the guardians, and finally in the releasing of the circle. A series of different techniques, some traditional, some refreshingly non-traditional, are included and described.
Lesson #13, entitled Sacred Nature, has a wonderful list and description of many magical trees. As a student and teacher of the Ogham, many of the trees in this list are Ogham trees! There is also a very nice tree meditation included to help the student get in tune with a given tree. Herbs and stones are also listed and I found both lists very informative and enlightening.
Lesson #14, entitled The Mind and Spirit, has a great guide to meditation that is not only simple but it works. The manipulation of energy exercises are fantastic and will give any student a good luck at what one can do with intent and direction – truly amazing!
Lesson #18, entitled The Magick of the Mysteries, is by far my favorite. The idea of using stones in circle really resonates with me, and since it is such a natural tool, it seems particularly appropriate for a pagan circle. The best part of the whole course, in my mind, is to use the winds to perform ritual. In this way, one performs the ritual according to the winds, not in spite of them. The Gods choose the ritual to be performed in this manner.
The final lesson has a long list of links to web sites to further expand on topics touched upon by the course, or possible avenue for research and membership, if people so choose. This has been a most enlightening class and I would recommend it to anyone on the pagan path or those just interested.
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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Comparative Religion

Final Essay for Comparative Religion Masters
Rev. Katherine MacDowell
The Comparative Religion Masters course distilled a complex topic in a coherent and well-designed format with super adjunctive reading recommendations and website options.  One of the critical elements I gained through exploring the material of the course is not only an appreciation of the shared elements of faiths, but also their unique differences.  As I read through the opening lesson’s discussion of the philosophical interpretations of the nature of God, I could not help but also ask what is the nature of the differences between these faiths and how do these differences ultimately shape how we find our religion.  As a psychologist, I am deeply embedded in questions associated with how individuals come to make their choices, as well as issues of cultural difference.  Recently, I finished reading Chet Raymo’s When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy and he emphasizes the role of parents and our primary cultures determining our religious affiliation—in his own bias (he is largely against religion as something that is counterintuitive to the revelations of our contemporary sciences, but that is for another discussion all together!) he holds that such determination cannot truly reflect the development of an authentic religious self, which must be engaged with and consciously chosen.  I would hazard a guess that many faiths would take issue with the notion that one should “choose” their faith, as many hold that God “chooses” you.  Nevertheless, as I read through the lesson material, I wondered at the process unique to our contemporary time and increasing global culture of how we come to choose our faiths.  What are the subtle differences that draw our focus?  I asked myself, having grown up an Episcopalian and traversing through many religious paths before settling on religious naturalism and shamanism, what invites me in to these paths?  When I consider the elements of Catholicism that I feel drawn to—what stops me from considering myself a Catholic?  I found it amusing that the author of our material found a website that allows you to input answers to find which faith resonates most closely with you!  This of course added to my own questioning of how has our access to the Internet changed how we relate to religion and are we really the first generation who has choice and thus can embody a new kind of fervor in our faith?  I know that these are more questions than specific facts learned, but this is how I engage with material and likely is a reflection of my own background in the sciences.  I find more is gained when I retain an openness to being deepened by questions than by answers.
There were specific elements of the course that I thoroughly enjoyed, such as the ongoing use of recommended reading at the end of each lesson, thus allowing me to deepen my knowledge of a topic that struck me.  I thoroughly enjoyed discourse 19′s discussion of religious archetypes and found this a superb way of exploring the shared elements of religious roles in an organized fashion.  This also appeals to my psychological background in the possibility of how might individuals, not attaining a more professional role in a religion, engage with these roles on a personal level either through embodying them or through relating to others in these roles.  I also found discourse 11′s exploration of the fundamental questions religion seeks to answer (afterlife, painful experiences, suffering,  etc.) to be well organized and providing some areas for fascinating further examination.   I loved the definition of sacrament: “It has at its core the belief that taking into the body something that is divinely charged will unify the microcosm and the macrocosm” (Discourse 12).  I found this to be a profound statement that explores an underlying philosophical position of what is above, so it is below.  As such it highlights the notion of union with the Divine and speaks to our hopes of bringing this energy and the associated conceptions of the afterlife or the personality of the Divine into everyday human existence.  It does also suggest that human also hold a fundamental conception of themselves as somehow lacking and their surrounding world as that which is filled with suffering.  Indeed, the sacrament appears to be the solution to the issue of suffering and may provide a fascinating psychological benefit to allow individuals to experience a sense of resiliency and power through their capacity to engage in this specific behavior (likewise underlying ritual/ceremonial behavior whereby individuals provide an offering to a deity in the hopes of securing a different outcome in their physical, every-day life).  I absolutely loved the flow chart in the concluding chapter about the interconnective development of religion, although I would disagree with the notion that a Goddess tradition underlay all others—more on this in a moment.
I think what I least liked was the two discourses on hermeticism, alchemy, and secret societies.  I would not consider these religions per se as systems of magic or perhaps philosophy as they lack real theological clarity and other elements that define religion.  I think a chapter on philosophical influences would have been enough to explore hermeticism.  I would have liked to have seen greater exploration of the philosophical elements of religion that are introduced in discourse one and how religions seek to answer these philosophical positions.  I do think Neopaganism and its religious children (Wicca, Druidism, etc.) should have been more widely visible in the entirety of the lesson alongside older faiths.
My main point of contention with the course is the author’s supposition that a Goddess faith underlay all other traditions in the last discourse.  There is substantial archeological dispute about this view largely asserted first by Robert Graves in The White Goddess and later by Marja Gimbutas and a handful of feminist scholars—none of whom other than Gimbutas are in fact archaeologists.  All of which has been argued against by mainstream archaeology, including women within this field.  I would direct the author to Lotte Motz’s The Faces of the Goddess, which provides counter arguments to the underlying beliefs that God was initially a woman.  It’s worth the read to ensure that one’s assertions are accurately and not presented as “fact”.  What would be a more historical accuracy would be to discuss the Goddess traditions within the contemporary context, where they have a powerful life of their own as explored by Starhawk, Z Budapest, and Carol Christ for example.   Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the course.
Katherine MacDowell

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Spirit Quest

  SPIRIT QUEST

                                                         Final  Essay

 

     Thank you, Rev. Long, for this extensive discourse on finding and following my own quest for spirituality.  Throughout the last thirty weeks I have learned and used many new tools and reinforced tools I have used in the past.  Some I have forgotten and you brought them to the surface again.  My senses and awareness have opened up.  I see my surroundings differently, more vividly.  My choices have been refocused to include myself not just what can be done for others.  Taking care of the home spirituality first makes it easier to serve others.  So creating a life that I am comfortable with and willing to share others seeking their own paths.
 
 

     Meditation is a practice I have had for years.  Through these lessons, my technique has improved.  I can feel myself opening up to the greater possibilities of communication with the higher self.  I receive better answers, that are clearer.  The guidance is gentle yet obvious.  During the day , there is an openness of awareness to nature and the sense of being one with all.  This is very calming.  I have always been sensitivity to the moon cycles, now I feel this connection with greater conviction and a knowing of how I fit into the universe.
 

     I must say that the rose technique was not my favorite model.  During the course I modified these practices, which I changed to using different colored balloons.  Using Balloons to fill up with the negative thoughts or hurts and sending them into the sky to float out over the ocean and disintegrate.  The same in verse of the universe sending a colorful bouquet of balloons to me with a power of positive acts of loving, caring or whatever I need for that day or week.  The word ‘destroy’ has a strong inner reaction for me and maybe the idea of destroying a rose was not the feeling I need to invoke.  Also, since pink roses were my mom’s favorite flower, I can enhance them, just not destroy.  The concept of the practice was great, so I felt that a slight change in visualization was still appropriate and it worked for me!
 

     Thank you once again, Rev. Long, this was an informative and enlightening discourse.  
 
Highly recommended!

 

Rev. Constance
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Many people get ordained through the ULC as a means to become wedding officiants, but also to study through our online seminary. If you need minister supplies or online ceremonies, we have a wide selection to choose from, as well as a place for spiritual articles and spiritual bookmarks. Visit our FB Page at ULC Seminary.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Philosophy of Religion – Rev. Graham W Louden

Universal Life Church Seminary
Philosophy of Religion – Final Essay
Rev. Graham W Louden

This is an excellent course which is recommended as required reading for all those who seek to understand more fully the nature, provenance and  future prospects for  religious belief and faith groups in the modern world.   Past approaches and contemporary studies are outlined succinctly and effectively and the amount of useful information of offer is highly impressive.

Although, in essence, this is a fairly new field of academic research and interest,  it also draws together a wealth of approaches, sources and  content  that span the centuries and  provide an overview of a phenomenon that has influenced and moulded human affairs since first we sought to come to terms with the realities and challenges of our existence.

At the outset, in the nineteenth century,  studies tended to focus more on the shortcomings of other faiths rather than neutral appraisal,  in order to bolster the common perception that  monotheistic,  Christian practice was the ideal against which all other belief systems were to be assessed.    Nevertheless,  similarities were detected at the outset by researchers such as Feuerbach, noting the theophany in Hinduism, and these studies were soon overladen with  deeper psychological  explanations.  Sigmund Freud suggested that all belief systems emerged to combat the ’trauma of consciousness’  which evolved along with the realisation by early homo sapiens that the world about him was cruel, unforgiving and incomprehensible.   This harsh backdrop to existence could be made more bearable by attributing a god or spirit to every aspect of nature and developing rituals  of prostration and sacrifice to placate them and ward off calamitous natural events such as earthquakes and sacrifices.  This animistic prescription reached a highly developed form within the boundaries of the Roman Empire and much of this motivation was imported into early Christianity to accommodate the prevailing mindset and to aid recruitment to the new dispensation.  Studies of eastern religions indicate similar initial  approaches although divergence may have occurred later.

Various suggestions have been advanced to explain degrees of similarity between faiths which often developed in different eras  and geographical areas, seemingly without any discernible line of transmission or cultural contact.  The great American sociologist and  researcher into the power and nature of myth in religion and culture,  articulated the idea of the ‘Monomyth’  in his 1949 work, ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’.  The ‘Hero’  is an archetypal figure who seems to come to the fore in most cultures and literatures over time.  The myth can be summarised thus,

‘A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural
wonder;  fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won.  The
hero comes back from this adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow
man.’

As we look back, we can see many examples of this scenario which run true to the above screenplay:  Osiris, the Buddha, Moses,  Christ, even Harry Potter!  It is, indeed, a theme taken up in 2005 by B J Oropeza in his book,  The Gospel according to Superheroes, in which he relates characters such as Superman, Batman, X-men, Hulk, Wonder Woman and the Fantastic Four to gospel themes in a very plausible way.

Organised religions have tended to move on, however, from relatively primitive metaphor  to flesh out what is usually a rather spare outline or a set of aspirational promptings with layer after layer of convoluted doctrine and elaborate ceremonial.  This, then, is where we move into dangerous territory when  institutionalised  religions with claims to the monopoly of truth  replace reassurance and comfort grounded in attempts to appease nature.   Joseph Campbell expresses his view thus:

‘Every religion is true one way or another.  It is true when understood
metaphorically.  But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them
as facts,  then you are in trouble.

No longer are we projecting our fears and  uncertainties about belonging, sense of purpose, self-worth and the like onto a local  god or gods made in our image and rooted in nature, we are now serving the one true god, at least in Christianity and Islam, under pain of dire consequences if we fail to observe  strict  codes of conduct.  The stage is then set for rivalry and conflict as different sets of  values clash over  minute interpretations of holy texts or traditional practices,  a situation satirised by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels where  he  describes the decades of conflict between Lilliput   and  Blefescu over  the Big-end versus Little-end controversy.

An enduring question is why, in the realm of religious belief,  similarities are so often overlooked and differences magnified leading to events such as the Crusades,  conflict in Northern Ireland or the burgeoning schism in the Anglican communion.  If we examine the core beliefs of most religions such as the Golden Rule, we  identify clear agreement between major faiths such as Christianity, Judaism,  Buddhism,  Hinduism and Islam.  We encounter this, too,  with many of the iconic stories that occur in numerous religions, the story of the Flood being a good example;  we are all aware of the story of Noah’s Ark but this metaphor for fall and redemption seems to occur in so many cultures that it suggests a cast of mind common to all mankind when attempting to explain a relationship with the divine.  In Hinduism, Manu is warned by a grateful fish that he must build a boat to save himself from the coming annihilation;  this he does, and is enabled to repopulate the world.  In Assyrian myth,  Utnapishtim is urged by a benevolent god to gather his family and a pair of every animal to avoid the wrath of the gods and the imminent flood.  Similarly, Atrahasis in Babylonian mythology, is urged by Ekni to build a boat and sail away with his family and breeding stock to avoid inundation.  Almost identical legends are to be found in Sumerian, Chinese, Druidic and Zoroastrian sources as well as  amongst the African religions.

One interesting resonance is that in ancient Egypt, Osiris, the Saviour  God  was called Lord of Lords, King of Kings and God of Gods, the Resurrection and the Life, the Good Shepherd and it is said that his birth was witnessed by three wise men.  By the time of the emperor Aurelian, in fact, there were so many  saviour-gods in the pantheon that their celebration was combined into one festival on December 25th,  namely the birthday of the Unconquered Sun, a date that was imported into Christianity despite any  clear connection with the birth of Jesus.    The Bahai  teaching handles this rather well by stating:

‘The birth of every manifestation is the rebirth of the world.  In that simple fact lies
profundity and the glory of every day that is celebrated as the coming of God’s
messenger, be it the birth of Osiris, Buddha,  Jesus, Mohammed or the Bab.  May we all
find blessing within their light.’

Sadly, many other faiths are not so accommodating.

So, in terms of content and structure,  the exoteric and the esoteric,  the stress on fine buildings surging towards the heavens, the pomp and panoply of a priestly hierarchy and sacred spaces where  the importance of mystery and ritual is evident,  whether it be a cathedral, a mosque, a temple or a synagogue, the same  elements will be discernible.

According to Karl Marx,  ‘religion is the opium of the people’  distracting them from the harsh inequalities of their lives and helping to maintain the status quo in society.   Certainly, there is some truth in this but it is unlikely to be the explanation in all cases.
Dr. Huston Smith has suggested that religion is a set of criteria which helps believers to establish their relationship with nature, with others and with themselves.  For many, as in Jewish communities, the faith is valued for its role in  transmitting the law and culture from generation to generation,  for others it can be a bridge between  reality and an otherwise unattainable ideal.   For some, like Albert Schweitzer, it is tied in with a reverence for nature and creation which we should always regard as a priority in our lives.  Many rely on their religious beliefs to shape their attitudes towards others   and this can lead to various responses such as the need to proselytize and convert  or even the wholly unacceptable stance of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas,  based upon bigotry, hatred and an uncritical self-righteousness..  It is worth noting, however, that there are countries such as Japan, with a very small proportion of  believers, (around 3% are church goers,  which have a low level of crime and anti-social behaviour, compared for example with  the United States with around 50% church attendance  and a very high level of violent crime.  The suggestion is that the absence of religious precepts causes a self-interest factor to ‘kick in’  based upon the  notion of ‘do as you would be done by’ and a personal calculation as to what would be the right and prudent way to behave.

Of late, a school of thought has begun to emerge which indicates that human behaviour in the context of religious organisation,  tends to conform to a prescribed pattern,  possibly due to factors within the human psyche.  Professor Roger Twigg of the University of Oxford,  in answer to the question whether human beings are predisposed to believe in God, has written,  ‘Not quite, but it is all in the mind’.  Speaking last year, he said, ‘We have gathered a body of evidence that suggests that religion is a common fact of nature across different societies.  Attempts to suppress religion are likely to be short-lived as human thought seems to be rooted to religious concepts such as the existence of supernatural gods or agencies or of an after or pre-life…It isn’t just the quirky interest of the few, it’s a basic human nature.  You just can’t pretend it’s not there.’    Paul Bloom, of  Yale writes that some of the foundations for our religious beliefs are hard-wired, concluding that ‘all human beings possess the brain circuitry and it never goes away’.  Much research has also been done  by Dean Hamer who has speculated  on the possible existence of a ‘god gene’, and by scientists who are investigating the effect of serotonin and serotonin receptors upon our mental processes and our susceptibility to abstract ideas.  Clearly, the whole question of why, what and how people believe is being addressed from many different angles.

This certainly helps to address the basic question as to why people are drawn to religious beliefs and rituals and to systematise to a degree, the vast plethora of varying religious persuasions which are to be found world-wide.  Dr. AF Wallace suggested a scheme for classification based upon four sub-divisions,  namely  individualistic, communal,  shamanistic and ecclesiastical which  does enable us to establish parameters and norms as a prelude to further study.  Bertrand Russell  and Huston Smith  both added to the methodology by suggesting that religion helps with three basic problems:  those posed by nature,  by others and by one’s own nature,  otherwise designated as the natural, the social and the psychological problems.  If we then add to these possible approaches, other schema based upon  problems caused by political interaction and globalisation,  the way in which currently religious morality may conflict with a settled public morality especially on issues such as gay marriage,  gender equality,  women bishops, etc., we  can appreciate the complexity of this issue.  No longer is it simply a matter of recording and commenting upon doctrinal disputes or the differences between millenarian, eschatological and apocalyptic faiths,  it is now a matter of assessing religion against a wider backdrop of global ethical standards and progress.  In the past,  it was the churches that were regarded as the repository of moral guidance;   today, paradoxically, the churches are more and more judged against the  wider public morality and not infrequently, found wanting.  It is, perhaps, this element in the equation that will determine whether or not organised religion, in the developed world especially,  withers away or enjoys a revival.

Four Gospels

It took me a bit longer on this one. I had to reread a few of the lessons. I thought that I had known about the four gospels from going to church all my life. Boy, was I wrong. I guess with age your perception of things change also. It was like I was reading it for the first time.
They (each book) each have their own version of the life of Jesus. Reading each one separately you would think they were about different people with similarities. I feel that is how it is perceived today. Each separate religion has their own interpretation of the story of Jesus. They pick and choice what they feel that it should be about. I think that Jesus had that written on purpose to show that everyone has their own way of thinking, and that is OK as long as the same message comes across.
Matthews writings were more from the human feelings, describing his healings and miracles. There is no order to his writings. I think it touches more of our emotional side.
Mark had another way of his experiences. He wrote of the teaching and his works. He wanted people to have no doubt in their minds that He was the true messiah.
I think Luke had the most accurate of them all. He presented Jesus as the perfect savior. They were a more spiritual account of his writing.
John’s gospel spoke to all the people. Christians and non-christians alike. His teaching was pure and simple. Who ever believes in Jesus Christ shall and will have eternal life.
The gospels of these four men show their differences in relating to God’s works. These four men are just like we are today. Each has a need of believing in their own way. Some people need more of a human connection while other people need more of a spiritual, faith filled connection. There is no right or wrong way to believe. The final outcome is the same – One God, whom we have eternal life if only we believe.
I believe that all four book intertwine with each other, kind of like complimenting each other. I also believe that these books are not a step-by-step instruction manual but a way of making us stop and think about and continually ponder on the writings. We are people of constant learning even if we read the same sentence over and over. God gave us a great ability to think in many different ways.
Thank you for yet another great study. Looking forward to my next.
Rev. P. Sylvia
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To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for free, for life, right now, click on the Free Online Ordination link.

Rev. Long created the ULC seminary site to help ministers learn and grow their ministries. The Seminary offers a huge catalog of materials for ministers of the Universal Life Church, as well as an online seminary program and a chaplaincy program.


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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Comparative Religion

This course reaffirmed for me many long-held beliefs in the commonality of man, as well as helped me discover new connections across traditions and times that I had never known of before but always felt must exist.  I am much more confident in discussing various traditions with others than I was before taking this course, as I was at a loss for the words to describe my ideas. We are all wrapped in God’s everlasting grace, though in our limited human vision we can only seem to embrace one of God’s infinite versions at a time. 

Imagine my surprise, learning in my 40′s what I thought was true since I was a child: we are all children of God, by whatever names and forms we envision for our Higher Power.  Newly-empowered with the right terms and a thirst to learn about my human brothers and sisters, I have reached out to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists.  My rewards are immeasurable, and the friendships I’ve made are strong and true and based on shared love of the spirit of God that lives within us all.  In the case of my atheist friend, it is the love of humanity that we share.

I found nothing in the Comparative Religion course that needed improvement.  I’m pleased with the content and I refer to my printed discourses often for information and refreshers.  Occasionally I would run into a broken or outdated link, but not to be dismayed, I’d google my way to alternate sites for related information and allow the journey to circle me back to Kythera Ann’s material for the week.  Her writing style and presentation is exceptionally beautiful, professional, and of the quality that one finds in a hard bound book.  My expectations were not only met but exceeded and made me want to delve further into each subject when I was finished reading the discourse. 

I’m definitely going to continue learning with ULC courses as the format is perfect for me.  Living with MS (multiple sclerosis) means having to be flexible and always be prepared to go with Plan B should my true ambitions fall through for the day.  The unpredictable nature of the disease means rigid classroom schedules are an insurmountable obstacle.  ULC gives me back my Plan A and allows me to read and research on my time as my situation allows.  That translates for me into a fuller learning experience and not just an exercise in stressful deadlines and commutes.  My gratitude is immeasurable.  Finishing this course, my first course at ULC and the first class I’ve been able to finish since MS, means something incredibly special to me.  I am looking forward to working my way through another course and then another. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.  Peace be yours!
Joy Lynn Zen Rosenberg


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Mystical Christianity

LESSON 4 – ESSENES AND GNOSTICS;
 
QUESTIONS FOR THE HEART AND MIND;
 
 
1. What does it mean to ‘know yourself’? How well do you know your True Self? Who are you?
 
‘To know myself’ means to know the deepest thoughts, aspirations and fears that lie within me. I know myself better than I used to in earlier years. My knowledge came after a car accident left me time to reflect on my life, who I truly was and what God was saying to me in my life. Until the accident I did not know my true self. After the accident I found out by degrees who I really was, and Who God really was, as He supported me through the suffering and losses to a new life where I was confident in choosing what I believe He wants me to truly do with my life in His service. I have learned that I am essentially a lover of God. God’s love, my loving Him and my call to serve Him, together form the reason for which I was created.
 
2. Have you ever had a visionary or mystical experience? If so, describe how it affected you.
 
Yes, I had an experience of God. It affected me by changing every life decision I made. It eventually led me to seeking ordination as priest.
 
3. How do you define imagination and how do you experience it in your life?
 
I define imagination as the power of thought and the imagining of things unknown. I experience the power of imagination in my life, as I imagine how the new church minsitry and education ministry I am in the process of establishing will turn out, and this gives me the strength to go through all that needs to be done to achieve what I believe God is calling me to do. Imagination is a powerful force for good in my life, and a great gift I have always treasured since childhood.
 
4. What role does breath play in your life? Describe a moment when you were intensely aware of your breathing.
 
Breath plays a central role in my life. Without breath, I would be dead and unable to do all the creative activities I am still called by God to carry out before my journey to the next world is due. I was intensely aware of my breathing when I nearly drowned at the age of eleven years. I had dived and hit the water dead on. I don’t quite know what happened, but I found myself at the bottom of the pool a short while later, unable to move. My lungs were bursting, and I needed to take in breath. I knew that if I breathed, I would drown. All I could think of were my parents, and how they would feel if they heard I had drowned while they were nearby.
 
I called on God for strength, and somehow some strength came back into my limbs. I managed to swim back to surface. I lay next to the pool for a long time, before I could get motion back into my body. I have often remembered that moment, and how grateful I was to get that first breath back into my lungs. Breath has always been to me God’s gift. The one thing that always puzzled me was that I seemed to have blacked out for a few seconds, during which I had sunk to the bottom of the Olympic depth swimming pool. How come I had not taken in any water? That was always to me a mystery. Somehow God had protected me through His angels, as He still had a plan and purpose for me in my life that had to be carried out.

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Metaphysical Healing

Master of Metaphysical Healing Essay
In taking this course in Master of Metaphysical Healing I quickly realized that it put my own faith, knowledge and beliefs to the test. This course has asked some very compelling questions and demands of me and although my answers may be only my perception, I will try and answer them in my final essay to the best of my honesty, belief and my own personal experiences.
As I have been blessed with my own successful practice for that past two years as a Spiritualist, conducting Angelic Readings, providing Spiritual Guidance, Past Life Regression as well as performing as a proven medium, I could have never dreamed there was so much more to learn. I became curious to the realms of Metaphysical Healing a few years ago when my daughter became violently ill due to a surgery she had replacing parts of her knee with a cadaver donor part. As I was sitting in on the consultation between her and her doctor I became extremely uncomfortable with the idea of her allowing them to place a stranger’s body part inside of her own body. As she was 18 and legally able to make her own decisions I pleaded my concerns to her but she didn’t want them to take her own parts from the back of her knee to replace what she needed as the healing process would be longer and more painful.
I asked the doctor if I could clear and bless the cadaver body parts. He could not allow this so I projected my healing and clearing light on the day of her surgery to the actual surgery room. As she lay there, waiting for them to come and get her, I had a sudden need to place my hands over my daughters head and as I did, I realized I was asking for permission and protection through the divine light of God. She became very relaxed and peaceful. She accredited this simply to a mother’s touch. I accredited this to – I had no clue what was going on but I felt a surge of love and strength flow through my hands as I thanked God for allowing my hands to be the conductor of this peace and serenity.
Two days after her surgery she became violently ill. She was vomiting and had a fever of 104. I rushed her to the hospital and they said she could possibly be trying to reject the cadaver parts or had contacted an infection. I was fear stricken. She was so very sick and incoherent. When the nurses left the room I walked behind the head of her bed and stood over her. I spoke in a whisper and told her if she could hear me to relax. I then told her I was going to ask God for his grace to heal her. I placed my hands over the crown of her head and then I moved my right hand down to her chest with my left hand on her head.
(I am right handed.) I somehow had a knowing of this infection. I asked for this infection to leave her body.
I asked for healing light to surge through her body taking the infection through my right hand and then allowing it to flow through me to my left hand and out through the crown of her head. I acknowledged that I was aware that I was simply a tool being used for this healing and that I would trust and accept whatever the outcome. I placed my trust completely within the divine and healing light of God.
Within about 15 minutes, she became wide awake and wanted to sit up. I told her to relax as I needed to clear myself of this infection. With her eyes still closed she asked,”Mom, what did you do?”
“I’m not sure,” I said, but I think I just conducted a healing. Her fever broke and she had no more nausea. When the nurses came in they said she probably just had a reaction to the anesthesia. They offered her juice but she was craving water. We went home an hour later. That was lesson one for me.
I ordered this course to learn what had happened to us that day. I wanted to learn what I had done that day and how I had done it. And then – during this course – another opportunity presented itself. This time it was my 30 year old son.
I was on Lesson 17 when we got a call from my daughter in law telling us that our son who is a bread man could not drive home and that he was experiencing terrible dizziness and numbness in his arms. She was going to pick him up from work and take him directly to the hospital as he was having symptoms of a heart attack. We met her at the hospital to pick up our grandchildren and went home. After they examined him they sent him home with a diagnosis of vertigo. He simply needed rest.
We took the kids home that night and I walked into my son’s bedroom and lay down next to him on the bed. I placed my right hand on his chest as he was sleeping and had a knowing instantly that they had missed something. I knew it wasn’t his heart. I trusted my reading capabilities but now needed to put my class knowledge to the test. I asked for permission to come into his space and as I received that permission I instantly felt a vibration from his stomach. I felt it looked like a yellow starburst, like a small sunshine in his stomach. I asked him if he had a stomach ache. He said no. and then – just as if someone had taken me by the face and screamed at me I knew he had a block in his stomach. I could see it. It made no sense to me at all as to why this would cause vertigo but I made him promise to ask our family doctor the next day to check his stomach. Our family doctor has known me for over twenty years and he is aware of what I do for a living. He doesn’t understand it – but I knew he would listen.
So, the next day, I was reading over my lessons beginning with lesson one making sure I of what I should be doing as my son was at the doctor and our doctor gave him the old once over and told him that vertigo was quite common and to take some time off. That is when my daughter in law told him that I wanted him to check my son’s stomach. Our doctor asked if I said this specifically and my daughter in law told him yes. Reluctantly, he asked my son to lie down on the table and my son was a bit embarrassed as he said you are kidding right? Our doctor simply told him that if he didn’t check his stomach that he would never hear the end of it from me.
So as he listened with a stethoscope for about three minutes, he then pressed on my sons stomach and he about came off of the table. Our doctor then turned and slammed his hand on the wall and exclaimed, “How does she do that?!!! He has a hernia!”
My daughter in law then whispered to him that I have a knowing. He exclaimed that I was a crack pot – but that I was a correct crackpot.
My son had a hernia that was about to burst and yes this will cause vertigo. And this was lesson two of many for me.
I have gone over my lessons in this class many times. I can not possibly retain all of the terms I need to remember as I use this wonderful class as a tool. I have conducted healing sessions in my session’s room and they have been successful although they have been very light healing such as a broken heart etc. Baby steps, but I don’t mind at all. I have printed out all of my lessons and I use it as my text book. And each and every time I read it I learn and retain something new.
This is a fascinating course and although I can not recite all I have learned verbatim, my hopes are that some day I will. However, my knowing of what and how to heal is there. I have learned how to identify and ground myself to listen.
It is my belief that terminal conditions do in fact exist and I think that we do have to acknowledge these diagnoses as the proof is in the pudding so to speak – however – we do not have to accept it. In other words, this diagnosis is true in that tests have revealed it is so and if this is our spiritual path out of this existence then so be it – but what if it isn’t? What if this is simply a plight or lesson for us at this time in our life – perhaps a test of faith if you will? If this is so, then I truly do believe this is where spiritual healing comes in. What do we have to lose?
Spiritual Healing in my opinion is all in the eyes of the beholder. Yes, I am aware that some do believe it is the work of the devil – whoever he is? I do all of my work within the divine light of God therefore – the devil as he is called – has no existence in my realm of healing. I have no space for him. He too – is in the perception of the beholder. I call upon God and my angels for healing, guidance and wisdom.
When I am asked if this treatment will cause pain and how does it work, I simply say, it has been my experience that spiritual healing causes no physical pain. As I am a practicing spiritualist I have only had the experience of observing emotional pain. Lots of tears flow in my session’s room and I believe that to be the body’s way of clearing emotional toxins from within one’s self. Not to worry, most healers have lots of hugs and tissues.
I do not believe that any one person has to believe in any thing or any one that you do not want to believe in, in order to be healed. However, it is more than obvious that they do believe that an illness exists inside of them, therefore, they do have a belief in some thing. That is key. It doesn’t matter what you yourself believe as much as it matters that you believe in something. I, myself believe in the divine light of healing and I can call upon my own belief to heal through my knowledge of my lessons learned through this course, faith, love and the divine light of God. I, myself allow my client to choose the ambiance they prefer to conduct our sessions, therefore, if they want candles and a darker setting – so it will be – and if they don’t – then we wont. I created my session’s room for the privacy and comfort of my clients. I can read and heal in a garage if need be. Confidentiality and complete serenity has been beautifully created for my clients comfort and privacy and they, themselves, choose what that environment will be.
As I believe that we are all here for a reason, the healers who have prescribed other treatments have done so for a reason. That reason is based upon past experience and history of possible recovery. Therefore, I am not one to criticize another healer whether they be a surgeon or doctor or???? A client’s treatment is a personal decision that only they can make. Sadly, I can not guarantee a cure, however, what I can offer is my gift of the belief that I can call upon a higher power to allow me to help and try to heal along with other healers and my fee is based upon what they can afford. It has been my experience that when we make this about money, then we take away from the true gift. Someone else who can afford it – will pay it forward. This has always been my belief and the way I conduct my sessions. Through the healing energy I have called upon based upon my faith.
The most precious gift we are given here in this place is time. That is our only risk.
Thank you for this most enlightening class that I will be studying for many years to come.
Many Blessings in Light and Love,
Marti Tote
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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Druidism by Rev. Marc D. Graham

Master of Druidism

Thesis by
Rev. Marc D. Graham
Castle Rock, CO

THREE DRUIDS
While Druidism has been around for millennia, most of its adherents and practitioners are lost in the mists of time. Few of the ancient practices have been reliably transmitted, and our best records derive from invading forces and writers of folklore. Well‐meaning or otherwise, the tales, legends and histories that have survived to the present cast their subjects in the light of a Roman or Christianized culture, foreign to Druidic and Celtic society. Within the limitations of the available resources, this work will attempt to present an overview of the lives of three druids: one historical, one mythical and one speculative or apocryphal.


Taliesin
History records the works of the great bard, Taliesin, a British poet of the mid‐ to late 6th Century CE. Born near present‐day Caerleon, Wales, his home would have been near the Bristol Channel and the borders of Mercia and Wessex. Significantly, the period of his life corresponds with the time of consolidation of the Saxon conquest of Britain, when the Celtic Britons were pocketed in Wales (or Cymru) and Cornwall (Kernow) in the Southwest Peninsula.

Though belonging to the historical era, an account of Taliesin’s origins, recorded in the Mabinogion, places him in the company of the ancient gods, goddesses and heroes of Celtic mythology. In this version, the sage derives his wisdom from a magical concoction brewed by the witch Ceridwen, after which he embarks on a series of adventures similar to those of Fionn mac Cumhaill, the Welsh
Hercules. Outside of this fantastical account, little is known of the man called Taliesin.

The Book of Taliesin is a compilation of poems attributed to Taliesin, and dated to the 10th Century CE—three to four hundred years after the bard’s death. While there is some question as to the authorship of the poems (variations in style suggest multiple authors), historians agree that the bulk of the work could be that of one person. Taliesin may well have created the poems, which were handed down according to the oral tradition of the Britons, and finally compiled centuries after his death. Only slightly nearer in history to Taliesin, the History of the Britons is attributed to Nennius, the 9th Century Welsh monk. This pseudo‐historical work gives passing mention to Taliesin, along with several other British poets.

Beyond the legends, there is little to link Taliesin directly with Druidry. Indeed, by his time Rome (in the form of the recently‐departed Legions and the Church centered there) had effectively ended the age of the Druids. There are records as late as the 7th Century, however, that tell of the survival of some Druids in Ireland to that time. It is not a great stretch of imagination to suggest similar hold‐outs in remote Wales a hundred years earlier. What better position for a surviving Druid—in terms of both influence and protection—than as poet in the king’s court? Given the little that is known of the historical Taliesin, it is reasonable to place him among the Druidic class of Bards.


Merlin
Perhaps the best‐known Druid in the popular imagination is Merlin, famed magician and advisor to the mythical King Arthur. First popularized as Merlin Ambrosius in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, the wizard is considered by scholars to be a composite character based on Myrddin Wylit, a 6th Century Welsh hermit, prophet and acknowledged madman; and Ambrosius Aurelianus, a 5th Century Romano‐British warlord who successfully fought the invading Anglo‐Saxons. Each of these figures dates from after the period of Arthur—now reckoned by historians as being contemporaneous
with the Roman withdrawal from Britain in 410CE—which would preclude either as being the great Sage of Camelot. In Gildas’s work On the Ruin of Britain, however, Ambrosius is identified as the victorious leader of the Britons against the Saxons at the battle of Mons Badonicus (Badon Hill). This has led some scholars to believe that Ambrosius may have been a model for Arthur himself, rather than his court magician.

Mythical stories of Merlin abound. In one account (borrowed from Nennius), King Vortigern is advised to sprinkle the foundation of a tower with the blood of a “child born without a father”, to stop the on‐going collapse of the tower during construction. The child Merlin fits the bill but, before he can be sacrificed, he reveals to the king the true reason for the tower’s collapse: a lake of battling dragons located directly beneath the foundation. Other legends tell of Merlin’s great wisdom and of his powers of prophecy, shape‐shifting, remote viewing and projection—all abilities attributable to a master Druid.

The legendary accounts imbue Merlin with a preternatural wisdom, derived from his being sired by a demon or incubus, but sanctified by baptism immediately following his birth. His wisdom and knowledge range from the natural world of plants, herbs and animals; to the very human world of politics, war and diplomacy; to the other‐worldly pursuits of divination, spells and prophecy. Though mythical, the Merlin thus described fits within the highest class of Druidry, the Druid himself.


Yeshua bar Yusuf
Better known to the world as Jesus of Nazareth, Yeshua bar Yusuf has been identified by some as a member of the order of Druids. Though the religion attributed to him was largely responsible for the demise of the ancient Druids, there is much in the history, legend and teaching of the Great Master to suggest an affiliation with the Celtic wise men.

Tradition holds that Yeshua’s uncle (possibly, great‐uncle), Joseph of Arimathea, was a trader in tin who made frequent trips to Cornwall on Britain’s Southwest Peninsula. Though generally considered
a rather common element—think “tin cans” and “tin foil”—tin is actually a precious metal, being the fourth in common usage behind platinum, gold and silver. (For comparison, Tin comprises 2.3ppm of the earth’s crust, whereas Uranium is found at 2.7ppm and Lead makes up 14ppm.)

The alloying of tin with copper to form bronze has been known since about 3500BCE. Its discovery gave the name to the Bronze Age—mankind’s first venture into metallurgy—and gave any society with knowledge of its secrets a great advantage over neighbors with only wood, stone or copper tools and weapons. During the Roman Era, Cornwall had been mining tin for more than 2000 years, and its importance to the Roman military machine (for the production of weapons, armor and statuary) cannot be exaggerated. Any merchant with a hold over the importing of tin would be a person of great wealth and influence. The scriptures and tradition suggest that Joseph of Arimathea was such a man.

Scripturally, there are two great gaps in the life of Yeshua—from birth (or infancy) to roughly twelve years of age; and from that time to his mid‐ to late thirties, when his ministry began. Much speculation has gone into what occurred during these years. The less imaginative (though not necessarily less accurate) suggest that the years were spent humbly serving in his father’s carpentry shop. Others suggest that the time was spent learning the great Secrets at the Library of Alexandria or among the Buddhist monks ofIndia and Tibet. Still others have hinted at the Druidic connection, via Joseph of Arimathea’s journeys of trade.

As an apprentice, young Yeshua might have accompanied his uncle from the age of seven. From the age of fourteen, he might have been capable of distant travel on his own. Regardless of the time frame, tradition and local lore place Yeshua in Cornwall at some point prior to his ministry in Palestine. In Did Our Lord Visit Britain? CC Dobson suggests that Yeshua did travel with Joseph of Arimathea to Glastonbury in Cornwall as a youth, later returning on his own “for the purpose of quiet study, prayer and meditation.” He quotes Gildas (see Merlin, above) as stating that Yeshua’s “light and precepts [were] afforded…to this island during the…last year of the reign of Tiberius.” This could refer to 37CE,
the year of Tiberius’s death, or—more likely—26CE, when Tiberius retired from public life.

Legend and tradition aside, the most compelling link between Yeshua and the Druids is in his teaching. Yeshua’s teachings resonated (and echo yet today) with the common people, yet confounded contemporary scholars of the Torah. Those learned men who pored over every nuance, strained every gnat in their study of the Law, choked on the camels so obvious to those with eyes to see. While the scholars debated whether or not it was legal to clap one’s hands on the Sabbath, Yeshua summed up the entirety of the Law in two sentences: Love God with your whole being; and love others as you love yourself. The Druids said, “Lord, thou art everywhere”; Yeshua said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” The Druids said, “Thou hast no need of prayer and sacrifices”; Yeshua said, “The Lord desires mercy, not sacrifice.”

Highly significant is Yeshua’s association with the Tree. The very name, Druid, is derived from the word for “oak tree”, and trees of all kinds were sacred to the Druids. Yeshua’s most obvious connection with the Tree is that of his crucifixion, but does the association go deeper? Though Yeshua is commonly portrayed as the son of a carpenter, the word used to describe Yeshua’s father is tekton (τεκτον). The Greek word can be used to denote a builder, architect or even Master Mason. That wood has been specifically linked with this generic term is meaningful. Additional ties are the Garden, or Grove, of Gethsemane and the crown of thorns. The hawthorn is a plant of significant import to the Druids, representing the month of April (the time of Yeshua’s crucifixion) and the color purple (the same as the robe with which the Roman soldiers mocked him). The hawthorn is also considered to be among the class of “peasant” plants, so its use in fashioning a crown carries an even greater insult.

While the evidence is speculative, connections can be made between Yeshua, his teachings and ministry, and those of the Druids. While his political and mystical leanings may relate to the order of Druid, his role as teacher, healer and counselor link him at least to the order of Ovate.


Conclusion
The three Druids presented here represent a cross section of historicity and likely role within the Druidic orders. While historical references are taken from many sources, much of the speculation is that of the author. It is hoped, however, that—whatever the reader’s personal beliefs and opinions—the thoughts presented here may lead toward new avenues of thought relative to the role of Druidry in the past and yet today.