The Church of All Worlds offers a religious position uniquely suited to the enlightened, inquiring modern mind. In harmony with the principles and conclusions of science, receptive to the values and wisdom of the ancients and the great religions of humanity, sensitive to the deep psychological and spiritual needs of all people, the Church of All Worlds aspires to be the kind of free, growing and unifying religion that today's and tomorrow's world so urgently needs.
The Church of All Worlds is Neo-Pagan : a modern Earth Religion - an orientation chosen because of its traditional associations with Life and the processes of Nature, which we consider an appropriate religious orientation for the emerging Aquarian Age. As Western civilization has been to a great degree the product of the past two thousand years of Piscean Age Christianity, so do we envision a new whole-Earth culture of transformative religious ecology to become the product of the next epoch of Aquarian Age Neo-Paganism. In common with many other Neo-Pagan religions, CAW presents a life-affirming religious philosophy for the joyous unification of eros, ethos and ecos; of cult, culture and cultivation.
We consider the Church of All Worlds to be radically evolutionary in concept, rather than revolutionary. We see the evolution of Life on Earth as moving towards a point of actualization whereby the entire planet will come to share a single vast global consciousness. We see humanity being instrumental in the course of that evolution. As humans seem to be the only creatures on the planet capable of disrupting entire ecosystems, it becomes our manifest responsibility through our unique freedom of choice to prevent such systems from being disrupted. We are not anti-technology or science, for we recognize that certain scientific and technological advances, such as ecology, geology, astronomy, psychology, archaeology, cybernetics, astrophysics, communications and the technology of the bio-renaissance can be positively evolutionary and in harmony with the accelerating advance of planetary consciousness. What we oppose is the senseless use of industrial technology to wreak havoc with the planetary ecosystem, often in the name of the Biblical injunction that Man is to have "dominion over the Earth." We perceive our not as dominion, but as responsible stewardship.
Applying evolutionary concepts to each individual, we agree with Erich Fromm that the purpose of life is "to become what we potentially are." We identify strongly with the concepts of human self-actualization identified by Abraham Maslow and found in transpersonal psychology and ethics. Rejecting utterly concepts of predestination and inherent sin, we affirm the ultimate freedom and responsibility appropriate to conscious entities, which we express in the phrase "Thou Art God/dess," derived from Robert Heinlein's novel, 'Stranger in a Strange Land.' This implies that each one of us must define our own specific purpose. There is no excuse; no shelter from the awesome responsibility of total freedom.
Recognizing that all Life on Earth comprises a single vast living Entity, which has been intuitively conceptualized as a feminine from time immemorial, we are in harmony with our Pagan ancestors who worshipped The Goddess: Mother Earth, Mother Nature. Thus we also affirm mystically and mythically the pantheistic conceptualization of immanent divinity inherent in all living entities, as synergetic living Nature, for we define divinity as the highest level of aware consciousness accessible to each living being, manifesting itself in the self-actualization of that being. Hence, "Thou Art God/dess" applies equally to a person, a tree, a grasshopper or a planet.
As Neo-Pagans, we are concerned, not with life after death, but with life after birth. We have no dogmas of immortality, considering that whatever one believes about an afterlife, may very well be what one gets. We view death as an evolutionary prerequisite for the emergence of new life, and so we return the dead to the Earth, from which the elements of their energy and matter will eventually be recycled and reconstituted into the energy and matter of other life forms. Other than our ecological responsibility of returning to the Earth that which we have taken from Her, we are not concerned with dying, but with living.
We are deeply concerned with improving the quality of that life, to which end we agree with population ecologists that its quantity (in sheer numbers of people) must be drastically reduced. Thus we are strongly supportive of the various measures of birth control advocated by such agencies as Planned Parenthood, including full legalization of abortion. We greatly fear that if humanity does not choose to limit its numbers by reducing births, Nature will do it for us by increasing deaths.
The word 'Religion' means "re-linking." The basic commitment of the Church of All Worlds is to the re-integration of people with themselves, their fellow humans, and with the whole of living Nature. In company with all other Pagan peoples, we create no artificial demarcations between the sacred and the secular, for we recognize that religion must ultimately be an entire way of life, not merely some ritual acts performed once a week. We are committed to developing an organic, vitalistic philosophy of life and its expression in an organic culture.
To this end, then, the Church of All Worlds devotes itself to those who need or want the help and understanding through the processes of unlearning and learning. It is our aim to offer assistance through any personal expansion programs found to be effective. Furthermore, we intend to remain open-minded and receptive to new ideas, interests and goals, and learn to live responsibly and responsively with each other.
We advocate involvement with every conceivable aspect of the emerging Gaian culture, from religious service and mythology to family relations and child rearing; from education to ecology; from psychic development to space travel; from the sensual to the sexual; from intentional communities to planetary government and world peace. "Nothing short of everything will ever really do." We are engaged in the eclectic reconstruction of ancient Nature religions, combining archetypes of many cultures with other mystic and spiritual disciplines. But we are not just trying to re-create a Paradise Lost; we are actively working to actualize a visionary future. With roots deep in the Earth and branches reaching towards the stars, we evoke and create myths not only of a Golden Age long past, but also of one yet to come...
Since we are concerned with the emergent evolution of a total new culture and lifestyle, and since we perceive no distinction between the sacred and the secular, we consider every activity to be essentially a religious activity. For us, taking our cans and bottles to the recycling center is as much a religious duty as prayer and meditation. And so are composting our garbage, growing organic vegetables, practicing birth control, using bio-degradable products, boycotting tuna, training and study, protecting animals and celebration of the seasons. We recognize that the essence of a religion is in the living of it.
The Church of All Worlds traces its history back to 1962, when a "water brotherhood" called "Atl" was formed by Tim Zell and Lance Christie at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. During the mid 60's the group was centered on the University of Oklahoma campus at Norman and operated under the name "Atlan Foundation". A periodical "The Atlan Torch" (later "The Atlan Annals") was published from 1962-1968. In 1968, following a move to St. Louis, the Church of All Worlds was incorporated, becoming the first of the Neo-Pagan/Earth Religions to obtain full federal recognition. In March of that year, the Green Egg appeared. From its inauspicious beginnings as a one page ditto sheet, it grew over 80 issues into a 60 page journal, evolving into the most significant periodical in the Pagan movement during the 1970's. After a 10 year hiatus while the original staff moved to northern California to experience a life of homesteading in the mountain wilderness, the Green Egg resumed publication in 1988 with its 81st edition.
The Church of All Worlds took much inspiration from the 1961 science fiction classic, 'Stranger in a Strange Land' by Robert Heinlein. In the novel, the stranger, Michael Valentine Smith, was an earthman born on Mars and raised by Martians. Among his other adventures upon being brought to earth was the formation of the "Church of All Worlds". The "Church" was built around "Nests," a combination of congregation and expanded family. A basic concept was "grokking" i.e. the ability to be fully empathic. It also emphasized the experience of co-equal love between sexes. The common greeting was "thou Art God;" as recognition of the immanent divinity in each person.
The basic theology of the real-life Church of All Worlds is a form of pantheism which focuses on immanent rather than transcendent divinity. The most important theological statement came in the form of revelatory writings by Tim (now Otter) Zell in 1970-1973, on the theory which later became known as the "Gaia Thesis". This concept is a biological validation of an ancient intuition: that the planet is a single living organism; Mother Earth (Gaia). Pantheists hold as divine the living spirit of Nature. Thus to CAW recognizes Gaia, Pan and other nature spirits as the Divine Pantheon. In this manner, the Church of All Worlds became a forerunner of the Deep Ecology movement.
Though the Church maintains an egalitarian rather than matriarchal social structure, nevertheless, through its focus on Mother Nature as Goddess, its recognition and ordination of women to the priesthood, and the important central policy making positions held by women in the Church, CAW can rightly be held to be the first Eco-Feminist Church. We are not a secret or members only organization, and we welcome participation by all who are sincerely interested in our path regardless of race, sex, national or cultural origins or sexual preference. We support unity through diversity. Our only creed states: "The Church of All Worlds is dedicated to the celebration of life, the maximum actualization of human potential and the realization of ultimate individual freedom and personal responsibility in harmonious eco-psychic relationship with the total Biosphere of Holy Mother Earth"
Worship in the Church involves weekly or monthly meeting which are held usually in the homes of nest members on a rotational basis. The basic liturgical form is a Circle where members take turns in sharing their creativity. A chalice of water is always shared around the Circle either as the opening or closing of the ceremony. Other events are celebrated at the Church retreat sanctuary, a 55 acre parcel of land called "Annwfn" in Northern California. It is maintained by a small residential community of caretakers. In addition to various campfire and ritual areas, the land has several hand-built buildings including a two-story temple, plus a garden, an orchard and a small pond. It has limited solar electricity, propane hot water and a radio telephone, but no TV. In addition to the eight Celtic seasonal festivals, we hold handfastings, vision quests, rites of passage, workshops, retreats, work parties, summer camps and staff meetings on the land.
As in "Stranger in a Strange Land", congregations of the Church of All Worlds are called nests, and quite a few are currently in existence around the world. See the latest issue of Green Egg for listings to find the nest nearest you.
Over the years, the Church has founded a number of subsidiary branch orders through which we practice and teach our religion. These include:
NEMETON - Founded in 1972 by Gwydion Pendderwen and Alison Harlow, this is the publishing arm. Tapes, records, songbooks, T-shirts, figurines, jewelry and philosophical tracts. Catalog $US 1.
FOREVER FORESTS - Founded in 1977 by Gwydion Pendderwen, this is the Churches ecology branch. Sponsors tree planting rituals and environmental actions. Has stewardship of Annwfn, the Church land.
ECOSOPHICAL RESEARCH ASSN - Founded in 1977 by Morning Glory Zell, the ERA is devoted to research and exploration in the fields of history, mythology, and natural sciences.
LIFEWAYS - Founded in 1983 by Anodea Judith, this is the teaching order. Offers workshops, classes, healing rituals and training for the priesthood.
PEACEFUL ORDER OF MOTHER EARTH - Founded 1n 1988 by Willowoak, POEM is dedicated to children and child nurturing. Provides enriching activities for children at gatherings, summer camps, and a quarterly children's magazine, 'How About Magic?'
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Director of Australian Operations,
PO Box 408,
Woden, ACT, 2606,
FAX (06) 299 4100
PHONE (06) 299 2432
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