The Wandering Galilean Returns

Who is the Wandering Galilean?

Here is my proposal: Jesus is a Galilean Shaman whose main work was and is to
return humans to the cycle of life.

Let’s see how I reached this hypothesis—contrary to the mainstream as it is– since it could have very important ramifications for planet Earth.

Nearly everyone in mainstream culture confronts this question on one scale or another: Who is Jesus, anyway? For me that question came early, just after I completed my first indigenous vision quest as an adolescent. Profound connections with the Sacred Web (what I would later explore as a system of eco-fields) occurred in that quest, and I moved for weeks in a sense of wonderment, of being loved, and accepted by the Circle of Life itself. Every aspect of the natural world around me seemed not only alive but animated and reaching out to impart quanta of information to me, some intelligence about where life itself was going like an arrow. And, most important to an adolescent, information about who was I as a person.

A boyhood friend at the time was Danny Solomon, and we talked far into soft summer nights about subjects testosterone laden males find interesting. When I hesitantly told him about my consciousness awakenings in the red slick rock canyons of Northwest Texas, he immediately suggested that I attend a small Methodist college in Abilene, Texas–where he was a student–and go deeper into the Jesus questions by studying theology. Danny believed that Jesus could help me in my nature-based spiritual path, though he himself had little connection with Nature. He didn’t mention if such would assist me in my issues with testosterone. These lively conversations launched me into a decade of serious effort in linking Jesus with spiritual resources arising out of the untamed in Nature.
Eventually, that search lead to a cul de sac, or, more accurately, a box canyon surrounded by high walls of orthodoxy.

Allow me to cut to the chase: the more thoroughly I searched in various religious institutions, the more obscure this unusual man, Jesus, became. You might say I went on an archeological journey where I dug through the layers of Western Civilization’s responses to the question. I found quickly that the “Jesus” taught in mainline Christianity was a creation of the organized church dating back to 325 C.E.when Constantine made Christianity the dominant religion of the Roman Empire at the Council of Nicea, known as the first ecumenical council.

The main thrust of this council raised the very question I address with you today—who was/is Jesus? My take on this council? It fabricated the Jesus of mainline Christianity three centuries after the Jesus who lived in Galilee died. The Jesus Christ presented to us as historic is—for good or, in my estimation, ill– actually a creation of this council.

Historians can’t agree on what happened at this tumultuous gathering of 300 or more followers of Jesus. But, as you might guess, I am not bashful about my take. Constantine, the emperor of the Roman Empire, was faced with a nation deeply split. In the midst of increasing rancor and chaos with the hoi polloi, he needed a unifying factor to hold together liberal and conservative factions, a condition we in the USA can currently appreciate. He concocted the cockamamie idea that a previously illegal and little known religion, the followers of Jesus, could be that unifying force and save the Empire from civil war. The trouble with that notion consisted in the fact that there were hundreds of different spiritual practices among these followers, and many of them sported their own narratives about the life of Jesus, or “gospels” as they came to be known. These tiny spiritual communities were vital, intensely intimate, full of life, highly idiosyncratic, and not given to a central authority.

What to do with this pluralism? Like many organized religious gatherings, the Council of Nicea began by throwing out the most troublesome perspectives. For example, they tossed onto the trash heap reincarnation, a spiritual perspective a vocal minority at the Council believed Jesus taught. The stories that portrayed Jesus as deeply embedded in ancient shamanism were not entirely edited as we shall see, but more explicit versions likely didn’t make the orthodox cut. The council likely obscured or minimized a tribal Jesus. We do not know how they decided on the four stories that came to be the synoptic gospels. One entertaining version of the selection process came to me through William R. Cannon,a prominent Church historian, in a graduate course I took at Emory University. According to Cannon the leaders of the council placed the finalists for the normative Jesus stories on a sacred table and asked the Holy Spirit to intervene by removing from the ceremonial table the accounts that were in error.

During the night the most conservative of the delegates sneaked in and removed all but four gospels they favored. When the 300 delegates gathered the next day, they entered the large hall to see that all the books but four had been removed from the table and scattered around the floor. The leaders proclaimed a miracle. Caught up in the fervor of the moment, the delegates ceremonially burned the scrolls that the “spirit” didn’t like. Whether this account is entirely historical or not, this burning of the opposition’s accounts became a consistent, historical practice of the institution that grew out of this congress.

But not to worry about the orthodox cause! Constantine had his four authoritative gospels that now constitute the opening and most important thrust of the New Testament. When I questioned Professor Cannon about the dubious and politically inspired nature of how we came to have holy cannon, he said he still believed in the basic authority of the gospels and the Nicean creed, the accepted orthodoxy of Christianity to this day. Shocked! I told him that the creed, while highly imaginative, seemed distant from the wandering Galilean. He smiled indulgently and told me I should go to these gospels in the original Greek if I really wanted to know who Jesus really was.

I wondered about Cannon’s advice since he had just told me the dubious way the standard stories about Jesus came to the mainline, but I harbored a deep and mostly intuitive sense that Jesus was a nature-based figure. Spurred by an abiding hunger for linkage between indigenous spirituality and cultural religion, I plunged into the accepted renditions of his life. I had concluded that the organized religion we call Christianity presents us with a Christ of creed, and I respect that presentation. It is meaningful to many, but the Christ created by the church is, in my view, disturbingly disconnected from the man, Jesus.

Could this disturbing disconnection from the tribal Jesus be at the heart of the upsetting unhinge from Nature and a primary source of our planet’s problems?

By now I was in a second graduate school and shifted my emphasis from theology to psychology and gave up on organized religion as a reliable source to address the question of Jesus.

But I had not given up on the quest for the Jesus link. What, I continued to query, did the first sources say about him? And were there any sources that survived the burning at Nicea? If so, what picture did they paint of him? That will be the direction of my next blog.

13 thoughts on “The Wandering Galilean Returns”

  1. My Grandmother read the Bible to me when I was a young child. She told me to read the words in red which were the words of Jesus. Her favorite words of his were “i am the way, the truth and the Light.” The words I heard were wise words of oneness, unconditional love, and forgiveness. “I and my father are one” “the Kingdom of heaven is within you” “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and with all thy heart and all thy strength.” “Love thy neighbor as oneself” I hear great truth in these words. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul.” “Do unto others as you would have others do into you.” His words on the cross were profound “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” “Thy will be done”. The Lords prayer is most certainly a wonderful prayer.

    But what impressed me most about Jesus was that more than 2000 years after his death, he continues to change the world. Still he inspires a spirit of generosity, love and hope. My church adopts many families and feeds, clothes and provides gifts for them–our company adopted four. When I worked at MD Anderson, every inch of the hospital was decorated by good hearted volunteers and more presents were delivered for children with cancer than we could distribute. The food banks were and still are filled with food for the homeless. The streets are filled with light and the churches with song. Can the actual date of his birth really matter if 2000 years later his memory inspires this generosity of spirit and goodness.

    To me Jesus was a humble man , a wise man who demonstrated the Christ– divine connection between God and Man and showed us the eternality of Life. I aspire to a level of consciousness that embraces the miracles, love and wisdom of the Christ. The Jesus that I know is wonderful, counselor, the prince of peace, Emmanuel–God with us. He is one of the great Avatars who has showed us a better way to live–loving unconditionally and the highest level of consciousness.

  2. Over the last several months, I have been stirred by the question, “Who is Jesus?” There are the various aspects of Jesus the tribal man, the historical Jesus, Jesus the Christ and that portrayed by mainstream Christianity. The Jesus I have come to know embodies love. He, like the Buddha, ventured into Nature for an expanded awareness. You pose the question, “Could this disturbing disconnection from the tribal Jesus be at the heart of the upsetting unhinge from Nature and a primary source of our planet’s problems?” Indeed! It is the separation and suffering experienced in cultures throughout the planet when the humans moves from being a part of Sacred Nature to a tattered fragment of the universal fabric.

  3. Back to Jesus as a shaman. The shaman is a teacher, healer, priest and mystic moving back and forth between the implicate and explicate orders. The shaman connects humans to both nature and Spirit. There are many examples of Jesus teaching from nature: mustard seed, fallow and stony ground, a fisherman casting nets. Jesus was well aware of the inner world of humans (the inner council and the “shadow.”) He was reputed to drive out demons from the soul and asked that we not try to remove the mote from another’s eye, when we have a log in our own, so to speak. As a priest, Jesus teaches love, compassion and connection to the One, a connection so intimate it can be called “Abba.” Shamans are reputed to perform miracles. Several of these are reported in scripture. This “Way Shower” taught so well that his teachings have lasted over two thousand years. That is quite a shaman.

  4. Sometimes I feel so endoctrinated in my beliefs of who Jesus was. It still lingers deep inside me. The fear of going to hell. There seemed to be so much manipulation and judgement. It became hippocratic to me. In my 20s I turned to a more honest place of worship, Nature. The beauty and honesty there continues to teach me my own truths and choices.
    But, then I get away from the question. Who was Jesus? I believe him to be a being who was able to find a path to conscious living and connection. He wanted to share it. I don’t believe that he wanted us to worship him, the man, but to remember our own path of divine connection. Or in Will’s words the ”Sacred Web of Life.” I think he was really trying to offer his path. Yes, “Way Shower” is a great term. Thank you Alison.
    Sometimes I feel so endoctrinated in my beliefs of who Jesus was. It still lingers deep inside me. The fear of going to hell. There seemed to be so much manipulation and judgement. It became hippocratic to me. In my 20s I turned to a more honest place of worship, Nature. The beauty and honesty there continues to teach me my own truths and choices.
    But, then I get away from the question. Who was Jesus? I believe him to be a being who was able to find a path to conscious living and connection. He wanted to share it. I don’t believe that he wanted us to worship him, the man, but to remember our own path of divine connection. Or in Will’s words the ”Sacred Web of Life.” I think he was really trying to offer his path. Yes, “Way Shower” is a great term. Thank you Alison.

    1. I can relate to your “going to hell” statement, Rmaya. When I began to ask questions, a priest friend of mine called me an atheist. That was the farthest thing from my being. For me, to ask questions led to the possibility of an “owned faith,” one of Fowler’s levels of faith development. Also, there is what is called Franciscan faith that is a glimpse of nature-based spirituality. It is strange to me that the church honors and teaches this facet, but seems to rarely fully embrace it with a tendency to build great edifices. There appears to be a pulling inward and upward rather than outward and engaged with creation. However, that’s another thread of thought.

    2. I don’t have much to say here….but I welcome the discussion on Jesus. …I have personally never resonated with the Jesus with which I was presented throughout my childhood. …too many associations with traditional church doctrine, e.g. you must accept Jesus as your personal savior or go to hell. I recently received a Christmas card in which the writer stated she hoped I was relying on Jesus to get me through my current challenges, and my immediate thoughts was “what bullshit.” On further reflection, I thought about how I am indeed relying on good friends, and perhaps their generosity and kindness is one way of defining Jesus that would work for me anyway… I think like many folks I like the teachings of Jesus in the Bible, but it’s so intertwined with dogma ,one has to work at rescuing the teachings…I appreciate the opportunity to ponder Jesus as shaman and Nature in which “he” seems to have immersed himself. Perhaps there is something of value to be gained in that endeavor as Will has suggested.

  5. There is a lot to explore about Jesus both historically and spiritually. There is no question that the existence of Jesus, whether you believe him to be the son of God or not… whether Christian or not, has impacted many peoples lives. There are the missing years that I often wonder about and wonder how they impacted his life and teachings. As I let go of the teachings from the Methodist church of my youth more questions have arisen and fewer answers. I still ponder these questions today especially this time of yr. My primary image of Jesus is a a Rebel of sorts. He disrupted the mainstay of religion and shook things up. Made people question their beliefs. Gave them something to wrestle with. All of those things are still on-going today. On the other hand Jesus, or maybe Constantine and the council, brought together many people in the religion we call Christianity and gave them something to believe in. No matter how you look at or what you believe about Jesus I think we have to agree that he has made an impact on our species. As we continue these discussions I would like to explore those missing years and the impact they could have had on Jesus the man and the teacher.

  6. Who is the historical Jesus? In Mark 8:29 Peter claims he is the “Messiah”. Most of what Christians believe to be about Jesus is written by Paul. Paul seems to have become an authority on “who Jesus is” and what his life means to us who come after. This is based on a mystical experience he has on the road to damascus when Jesus/Christ visits him. Much has been written. This is what I know today based on my experience with the Bible and life. It all started with a willingness to enter into the mystery of the sacred with a “Let it be” from Mary. Jesus himself reveled who he was to a woman at the well. It was woman who first claimed to have saw him after his death. What of their “voices” ,to they say, who Jesus is?

    I understand from the “Christmas Story” according to Luke that Jesus was born in a manger. More than likely more animals witnessed his birth then humans. The foretelling of his birth was announced by the “North Star”. This manger setting is very primitive in nature suggesting a certain “wildness” about it. It is set apart from the dominant culture which is a metaphor for Jesus’s life to come. I would invite you to consider that the North and the East energies are present along with the South and the West. Their is a certain vulnerability being born in a manger and this boy named Jesus is certainly going to upset the applecart in Jewish traditional sense.

    It seems to me the “holy spirit” was involved in driving Jesus through a woman’s birth canal as well as driving him to the dessert. It seems to me Jesus’s early teachers were feminine and nature based. That said, the Bible language andChristian theology is dominated by the father tongue. It seems so much is lost in translation…or not?

  7. I appreciate this inquiry into the man Jesus. I was raised Jewish, and even in that tradition, it is not clearly stated that Jesus was first and foremost a Jew. What resonates with me is that the sacred practices and holy day of the pagans and indigenous peoples, Winter Solstice and Beltane and other sacred days, were usurped by the Church and turned into Christmas, Halloween, and other holidays. It served as a way to convert people. How did Jesus fit into this scheme? I want to know. I look forward to reading the next blog and future explorations as they evolve. Thank you for this lively discussion!

  8. This question of who is the man Jesus is a good one to explore. When I was a child I was fascinated with Jesus. Every Christmas I would watch the “Jesus movies.” Are the Jesus movies on tonight mom? Jesus of Nazareth, King of Kings, all of those old Jesus movies. Now I have most of them and I still love to watch them at this time of year. To me Jesus was the “way shower”. He showed us how to live in recognition of our oneness with God and he showed us a different consciousness and reality. The one thing that fascinated me most about Jesus when I was a child and still fascinates me was his healing capacities. He said and “greater things than these shall you do.” I always wondered how we never incorporated these healing capacities into church. The one church that I found in my life that did heal was the Christian Science Church. I think of Jesus as showing us a new way to live and a new consciousness-the Christ consciousness–where after dealing with our own devils in the desert we recognize and live out of a consciousness of our oneness with the father /mother God. We are not Gods but we reflect God’s goodness, truth, purity, health and harmony– our true identity–eternally one with the Father/Mother like the sunrays are extensions of the sun. That concept of the Christ consciousness available to us all gives me hope and great joy. He is still the most fascinating person ever to me.

    1. When I was two years old, I began to learn “Jesus loves me this I know…cause the Bible tells me so!” When I was 42 years old, I began to see the discrepancies in the stories. Then I began to wonder, like Will. Then I began to feel the loss of nature in the church process. It began a journey to find the Jesus under the stories and songs, to find the connection to All That Is, the One, to find the “way” of the “way shower” you speak of Allison. I like that term, “way shower.”

  9. In answer to the question of the planet’s major issues, I found the years of traditional religious attendance void of connection to nature. Once a year, we had the blessing of the animals, but the rest of the year was within four walls with the view outside seen through stained glass windows. This major disconnect found me squirming in my seat and longing for fresh air and the scent of the rain and grass. Rarely were sermons, or teachings, related to the environmental needs. Usually they were related to human needs, only.

  10. This 2000 year old mystery of Jesus is filled with discrepancies in its telling. That’s the veil that is hard to remove – all of the “tellings.” For me, the beginning of the story of this shaman is his journey into the desert to quest and find his connection to Spirit and his life’s purpose. Scripture tells us he was ministered to by the angels. In my mind those angels were the Mother Tongue spoken in the desert eco-field by the creatures, wind, plants, earth, sand and rock that brought Jesus to intimate connection with life/death, love/healing and what is truly important.

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