“Eastern Currents for Western Magicians: Taoism and the Five Elements”
A Talk I Gave at the 19th Annual Fellowship of Isis Annual Gathering, Chicago,
September 29, 2012, at the Latvian Cultural Center of Chicago
Hello and welcome to this year’s annual Goddess Festival sponsored by the Lyceum of Alexandria. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Katakhánas and I’ve been involved with the Lyceum of Alexandria rather intensively for the past 6 years, though I joined the Fellowship of Isis 4 years prior to that. Earlier this month, on September 9, I became an ordained priestess in the lineage of Lady Loreon Vigné of the Temple of Isis and Le’ema Kathleen Graham of the Lyceum of Isis Serpentarium in California; if you’re curious, I’ve pledged myself to lifelong service of the Goddesses Nebet-Het (Nephthys to the Greeks), Bast-Sekhmet, and Hekate. I’m also a Theosophist, which means I really enjoy comparative religious studies, which is why I wanted to give this talk today.
So, thank you for coming and making the decision to spend your weekend creating conscious spiritual community, honoring the Goddess Nu Kua and learning more about the metaphysical aspects of China’s rich cultural heritage to get us attuned to the energies of this evening’s ritual.
Given that theme, what I’d like to talk about with you for the next 20 or so minutes is the amazing series of ancient Chinese teachings that fall under the religious, philosophical, and magical rubric of what we call Taoism, or “the Understanding of THE WAY and its Virtue” as the underlying force that governs the workings of the Universe.
My agenda is threefold: (1) give an overview of the belief system, discussing its historical context in what’s been called the “Axis Age” of the 6th century Before Common Era, looking at Taoism’s parallels and sharp differences with the philosophy of the ancient Greek philosophers of that time period; (2) outline Taoism’s contrast to Confucianism, and, (3) critical for our purposes, examine Taoism’s tremendous appeal for modern Western Pagans and practitioners of Western magical traditions, given its “Mother Goddess” overtones and the intriguing application of the Chinese notion of the Five Elements or Five Phases, especially when we look at astrology. Continue reading