Oracles of the New Covenant

Oracles of the New Covenant

A New-Covenant Ceremony for the
Ritual Bestowal of the Oracles of God

Donovan Bramwell

Copyright 2009 through 2012 by Donovan Bramwell. All rights reserved. (Permission for copying and use is given conditionally at the end of this document, in Appendix 1. You must read the agreement and comply with the conditions if you make or distribute paper or electronic copies.)

Note: This book is in draft form, a work in progress.

Preface

The time has come for the oracles of God to be administered and liberally distributed to all the world, free of the burdens, oppression, controls, and corruptions of organized religion and hierarchical authority; in other words, distributed under the terms of the New Covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

The oracles of God are tools for accessing the divine. The ceremony presented here centers on the bestowal of these oracles; it is designed to ritually and symbolically give the seeker a new beginning (baptism, re-birthing) and bring him or her through the process of purification (washing) into the experience of divine enlightenment and empowerment, making him or her first a priest or priestess (anointing), then a prophet or prophetess (bestowal of oracles). All of this occurs in the context of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34), where God offers forgiveness and enlightenment as a free gift of grace, without asking obedience, sacrifice, or anything else in exchange. The ceremony includes the option of a New-Covenant wedding ritual. I give you this ceremony free of charge, completely unencumbered by the burdens and corruptions of organized religion and hierarchical authority. I offer it as a free gift of the New Covenant, in the hope that we may all be counted among the household of God.

Welcome to my website. If you are reading a paper copy, please note the web address of what you are reading, as follows:

https://newcovenantoracles.wordpress.com/

I am Donovan. I present to you the oracles of God, along with a ceremony for bestowing them. I offer all this to you as a free gift under the terms of the New Covenant, that you may receive it without having to make promises or enter into obligations of obedience, sacrifice, consecration, loyalty, or secrecy. Along with the oracles, I present some really nice rituals, all designed to assist you in experiencing the purification, enlightenment, and benevolent empowerment that God our Father and Goddess our Mother want to give us.

These oracles work. They are ancient, universal, and divine. As nearly as I have been able to determine from my research, the oracles have been kept and used for thousands of years among the mystical traditions of virtually every culture on the planet. Generally they have been kept in secret, often controlled by authoritarian hierarchical organizations and churches; and often they have fallen into a state of corruption. Sometimes they have been misused. Nevertheless, the fact remains that they are of divine origin. These oracles are tools that God wants us to use to gain enlightenment. They are the keys by which the prophets of old accessed the Heavens.

The oracles, along with the rituals that prepare you for them and bestow them upon you, are not necessary for salvation or enlightenment or any such thing. But they are useful. You can receive salvation and enlightenment without them; but using the oracles, you will receive enlightenment more powerfully and intensely, and you will advance along on your mystical journey more rapidly. You will be more aware of mystical realities.

Using them will bring you dreams, visions, the ministering of angels, and the ministering of the spirits of just men and women made perfect. You will hear the voice of God. The Holy Spirit will be your constant companion. Like the prophets of old, you will seek the face of God your Father until you know that he is, and until you know who you are.

If you are skeptical, please read on. If after reading, you remain skeptical, if you still have objections, well, I encourage you to take the approach that I present here and give it a try, as an experiment. Try it and see if it works.

Questions? After reading the entire book twice, if you still have questions that you think I might be able to help you with, you may write me at my regular email address, or you may post your questions as blog comments. Please do not write to argue with me, and please do not write with questions until you have read the whole thing twice. My regular email address is:

donovanbramwell[at]gmail[dot]com

This book, Oracles of the New Covenant, is the second book in a series of three. The first book in the series is From the Belly of a Whale, a small book that contains a set of fifteen prophecies that I received and wrote back in the mid-1990s, along with a brief introduction and a short commentary. That book is available on the internet cost-free at:

http://whalebelly.wordpress.com/

The third book in the series is a booklet entitled A New Four-Part Model of the Human Psyche.  That booklet is actually at attachment to this book, but it serves fairly well as a stand-alone document. It describes the characteristics of the conscious component of the mind and the three subconscious components, and explains how those characteristics relate to the processes of divine purification and divine enlightenment. It also correlates those four components to the four characters in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, providing a fresh view of what the Garden Story is all about. That booklet is available on the internet, likewise cost-free, at:

https://newcovenantoracles.wordpress.com/model-of-the-human-psyche/

Why am I doing all this? you might ask.

I am donovan. I offer you my hand as a token of friendship and good will. I am a friend of God, a prophet. I am aware that I have a difficult destiny to work out in this particular lifetime. It remains to be seen whether I succeed or fail. God my Father has given me a task to perform, a commission to fulfill. This website is part of my effort to accomplish that task. Of all the prophets ever to walk upon this planet, I am the weakest, the most fragile: unreliable, a wayfarer, a rogue. From this position of great weakness, I offer you what I have to offer. I have come to the point where the word of the Lord is unto me as a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary of forbearing, and I can forbear no longer. Goddess my Mother is my inspiration, my Shekhinah, my shadow by day and my pillar of fire by night. She and certain of her angels are my Muses.

In short, I hope to change the world. It is my intention that all the people residing on this planet achieve enlightenment sufficient to become prophets and prophetesses. That is the intent of the promise of the New Covenant, as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament. Here is the text of the New Covenant promise:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34, KJV)

The prophet Joel gives the same promise, using different words:

And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:27-29, KJV)

This book presents the New-Covenant ceremony: Section One presents the text of the preparatory and affirmative rituals that either prepare the initiate to receive the oracles or confirm upon the initiate his or her reception of them. Section Two presents the core of the ceremony, the ritual for bestowing the oracles of God upon the initiate. Section Three provides background information and instructions, and specifies the form of the rituals. Section Four suggests other possible rituals. Section Five serves as a commentary. Appendix 1 presents the copyright agreement. And, as I mentioned earlier, Attachment 1 describes a new four-part model of the human psyche, presented as a separate booklet.

The text of the rituals invokes the name Yehshuah ha Meschiach instead of the name Jesus Christ. Yehshuah ha Meschiach is his his name in Aramaic, his own native language, the name by which he was known among his friends and associates during his ministry. Jesus Christ is not an especially good translation. Probably the best translation into English is Yeshua the Anointed One.

The text also makes reference to God the Father of our Spirits. In a strictly Old Testament context, the God of Israel, namely, the God of the tribe or family of ancient Israel, might be more appropriate. This is one of the names by which He was known among the ancient Israelites at the time that he gave the New Covenant promise through the prophet Jeremiah. He is sometimes also referred to as the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (it was Jacob whose name was changed to Israel), and in Hebrew, El Shaddai, usually (incorrectly) translated into English as God Almighty. (The Hebrew root of Shaddai connotes sufficiency, not almightiness.) Of all these and other possible names of God that I might have used in the text of the rituals, I finally settled on God the Father of our Spirits as the most appropriate for our own time, the most understandable, and the least ambiguous.

For a discussion on the use of substitute names in the the place of Yehshuah ha Meschiach and God the Father of our Spirits in the text of the rituals, see the introduction to Section Three of this book.

For clarity, I refer to the set of rituals as a ceremony, and I refer to the parts of the ceremony as rituals. The person receiving the rituals is the initiate. The person administering the rituals is the narrator. In addition, two witnesses may participate in the rituals. In general, the participation of the witnesses is preferable but not necessary. Anyone who wants to participate in the New Covenant may receive the rituals as the initiate. Here, for convenience, I use the names Mary and John to refer to the initiate. Anyone (male or female) with a little faith may serve as narrator. How much is a little faith? How much faith is enough? Enough to recite the text and perform the ritual. I repeat: anyone may serve as narrator and administer the rituals. It is not necessary to have received the rituals before administering them.

Here is a list of the seven rituals that constitute the ceremony:

1. baptism
2. re-birthing
3. bestowal of a prayer shawl
4. washing
5. anointing
6. bestowal of the oracles of God
7. confirmation of the New Covenant

Let me be clear. It is not my intention that you simply read this book. It is my intention that you receive the rituals described here. This is an instruction manual. I encourage you to follow the instructions presented here.

Section One: The Text of the Preparatory and Affirmative Rituals 

This section presents the text of six of the seven rituals that constitute the ceremony. The text of ritual number six (in the list above), the bestowal of the oracles, is presented separately, in Section Two.

Part One: Baptismal Ritual

The narrator calls the initiate by name (full name or first name, either is acceptable) and speaks the text of the baptimsal ritual, as follows, and then performs the baptism:

Mary, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I baptize you unto repentance for the remission of sins, that you be made a partaker of the New Covenant, that God the Father of our Spirits be your God, and that you be counted among His people, among His household. It is so.

Part Two: Re-birthing Ritual

The narrator calls the initiate by name and speaks the text of the re-birthing ritual, as follows, and then performs the re-birthing ritual:

John, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I deliver you unto a new perspective, for the absolution of your griefs and sorrows and for your redemption from the Law, that you be made a partaker of the New Covenant, that God the Father of our Spirits be your God, and that you be counted among His people, among His household. It is so.

Part Three: Bestowal of a Prayer Shawl

The initiate kneels on the floor, and the narrator places the prayer shawl around the shoulders of the initiate and recites the text of the ritual, calling the initiate by name and saying:

Mary, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I place this shawl upon your shoulders, that it serve you as an oracle of God as you offer praise and thanksgiving unto God, and as you present to God your petitions in prayer with your hands spread toward heaven, that you may receive answers to your prayers through intimations and promptings, through dreams and visions, and through the ministering of angels; and that it serve you as a shield and a protection against the adversary and against all enemies at all times, whether you are wearing it or not, for all the days of your life on this earth. It is so.

Part Four: Washing Ritual

The narrator calls the initiate by name and says (as he/she performs the ritual):

Mary, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I wash you preparatory to your receiving your anointing, that you may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation.

I wash the crown of your head, that you may be filled with light and truth; your forehead, that your intellect may be clear and your creativity active; your ears, that you may hear the voice of God; your eyes, that you may see clearly, to discern between illusion and reality; your nose, that you may smell danger; your lips, that you may never speak guile; your throat, that you may freely exercise your will, and that your voice be a clear clarion for true worship; your neck, that you may hold your head high in confidence of God’s benevolence; your shoulders, arms, and hands, that they may bear with strength the shield of justice and the sword of truth; your back, that you may stand erect; your breast, that it may be the receptacle of hope, and trust, and generosity, and compassion; your vitals and bowels, that you conduct your life with zeal, with courage, with determination, and with resolve; your loins (across the lower back) that you may be strong, and prosperous, and fruitful, that you may multiply and fill the earth with your posterity, your spinal root (down the lower spine), that you may live free of the false traditions of your ancestors, and your of your tribe, and of your culture; your legs and feet, that you may run and not be weary, walk and not faint.

The witness (or the narrator, if there is no witness) then pronounces a blessing upon the initiate, calling the initiate by name and saying:

Mary, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, we place our hands upon your head and seal upon you the blessings of this washing, that you be cleansed of the blood and sins of this generation by your participation in the New Covenant; and we pronounce you clean every whit. It is so.

Part Five: Anointing Ritual

Anointing Ritual for a Female Initiate

The narrator begins the anointing ritual by pouring oil on the initiate’s head, and then proceeds by brushing oil with his/her fingertips across the various parts of the initiate’s body, corresponding with the text of the ritual. She calls the initiate by name and says:

Mary, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I pour this holy anointing oil upon your head and anoint you a priestess in the New Covenant.

I anoint the crown of your head, that you may be filled with light and truth; your forehead, that your intellect may be clear and your creativity active; your ears, that you may hear the voice of God; your eyes, that you may see clearly, to discern between illusion and reality; your nose, that you may smell danger; your lips, that you may never speak guile; your throat, that you may freely exercise your will, and that your voice be a clear clarion for true worship; your neck, that you may hold your head high in confidence of God’s benevolence; your shoulders, arms, and hands, that they may bear with strength the shield of justice and the sword of truth; your back, that you may stand erect; your breast, that it may be the receptacle of hope, and trust, and generosity, and compassion; your vitals and bowels, that you conduct your life with zeal, with courage, with determination, and with resolve; your loins (across the lower back) that you may be strong, and prosperous, and fruitful, that you may multiply and fill the earth with your posterity, your spinal root (down the lower spine), that you may live free of the false traditions of your ancestors, and of your tribe, and of your culture; your legs and feet, that you may run and not be weary, walk and not faint.

The witness (or the narrator, if there is no witness) then pronounces a blessing upon the initiate, calling the initiate by name and saying:

Mary, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, we place our hands upon your head and confirm upon you the anointing wherewith you have been anointed today, and we say unto you, thou art a priestess forever after the ancient order of Melchizedek, king of peace; and we seal upon you all the blessings of the New Covenant, that God the Father of our Spirits be your God, and that you be counted among His people, among His household. It is so.

For a Male Initiate

The narrator calls the initiate by name and says (as he/she performs the ritual):

John, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I pour this holy anointing oil upon your head and anoint you a priest in the New Covenant.

I anoint the crown of your head, that you may be filled with light and truth; your forehead, that your intellect may be clear and your creativity active; your ears, that you may hear the voice of God; your eyes, that you may see clearly, to discern between illusion and reality; your nose, that you may smell danger; your lips, that you may never speak guile; your throat, that you may freely exercise your will, and that your voice be a clear clarion for true worship; your neck, that you may hold your head high in confidence of God’s benevolence; your shoulders, arms, and hands, that they may bear with strength the shield of justice and the sword of truth; your back, that you may stand erect; your breast, that it may be the receptacle of hope, and trust, and generosity, and compassion; your vitals and bowels, that you may conduct your life with zeal, with courage, with determination, and with resolve; your loins (across the lower back) that you may be strong, and prosperous, and fruitful, that you may multiply and fill the earth with your posterity, your spinal root (down the lower spine), that you may live free of the false traditions of your ancestors, and of your tribe, and of your culture; your legs and feet, that you may run and not be weary, walk and not faint.

The witness (or the narrator, if there is no witness) then pronounces a blessing upon the initiate, calling the initiate by name and saying:

John, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, we place our hands upon your head and confirm upon you the anointing wherewith you have been anointed today, and we say unto you, thou art a priest forever after the ancient order of Melchizedek, king of peace; and we seal upon you all the blessings the New Covenant, that God the Father of our Spirits be your God, and that you be counted among His people, among His household. It is so.

Part Six: Bestowal of the Oracles of God

The text for the ritual bestowing the oracles of God upon the initiate is presented in Section Two. I place this ritual in a Section of its own because (a) in form and style, this ritual is different from the others; (b) it is very long, compared to the other rituals; (c) the other rituals are either preparatory or affirmative to this one, this one being the core of the ceremony.

Let me say this much here and now about the oracles of God. There are fifteen oracles (I am working on whether or not there is a sixteenth one). They consist of four sacred handclasps, called tokens; each token has a sacred name, sometimes referred to as the key word (in one case sometimes referred to as the new name); associated with each of the four tokens is a sacred hand signal, called a sign; also associated with three of the four tokens is a sacred gesture, referred to in some of the corrupted traditions as a penalty. The word penalties refers to the various manners in which life can be taken if the initiate violates his/her vow of secrecy. I discovered this concept to be a gross corruption, as the sacred gestures (there are three of them) simply represent the opening of the three of the seven energy centers (chakras) of the spiritual body.

Thus, counted together, there are four tokens, four names, four signs, and three gestures. Each of them is an oracle, a key for accessing the divine.

Again, the text of the ritual for bestowing the oracles of God, along with a precise technical description of the oracles, is presented in Section Two.

If you are presently in the process of performing the seven rituals of the ceremony, you should now proceed to Part Two, Bestowal of the Oracles of God. After you have finished with that ritual, you should return to this point, and then proceed with Part One, Section Seven, immediately below.

Part Seven: Sealing of the Blessings of the New Covenant

The narrator places one or both hands on the crown of the initiate’s head and, calling the initiate by name, says (using male or/and female expressions, as appropriate):

Mary, in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I seal upon your head all the blessings of the New Covenant, that the terms of the New Covenant be written upon your heart, that they be inscribed upon your inward parts; and I pronounce you priestess and prophetess (or priest and prophet), and I say unto you, God the Father of our Spirits is your God, and you are counted among His people, among His household. It is so.

(End of ceremony.)

Section Two: Bestowal of the Oracles of God

The narrator speaks to the initiates:

You are about to receive the oracles of God in a formal ritual. You have been anointed priest and priestess in the New Covenant. You have received in ritual an oracular prayer shawl. The oracles that we bestow upon you now will serve as tools in your function as priest and prophet, priestess and prophetess.

The Creation

(The following presentation is based in a storytelling session. The form of the presentation is such that it can be easily adapted to a dramatic presentation, with the narrator continuing to narrate, but with actors to represent the characters of God, Adam, Eve, the reptile, and the other characters and to speak their lines. The initiates and the witness may participate as actors if they wish.)

The narrator continues:

Let me tell you a story, and let’s begin at the beginning, with the first verse of the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” . . . and already we are in difficulty. For one thing, we don’t know who God is.

In the original Hebrew text, the word for God is Elohim. Interestingly, it is a male noun, Eloi, with a feminine plural ending. Feminine and plural. So what we get, when we adjust the translation into English to accommodate the implications of the Hebrew word, is something like this: “In the beginning, the Gods, male and female, created the heaven and the earth.”

Of course, we still have other difficulties. In the beginning of what? Which beginning? This earth, clearly, but which heavens? Where are these heavens? Created them out of nothing? Formed them from existing material? If so, where did the material come from? We will let these questions go for now, counting them among the mysteries.

According to the Bible story, the Gods performed the creation is six days. We can speculate about whether these are 24-hour days or 1000-year days or indefinite episodes of time. We can speculate about a lot of things. We can ask ourselves whether or not the creation story presented in the Bible is a true story. But that would be the wrong question to ask. True or not, it is a myth. It is one of many creation myths. They differ. They can’t all be true. But it doesn’t matter much which one is true. Speaking specifically of the creation myth presented in the Bible, it doesn’t matter much whether it is true or not. What matters is whether or not it works.

The creation myth we are using today for our ritual is based largely on the one presented in the Bible, but we are adding a few things, omitting a few things, borrowing some from other versions, imposing some interpretations, and deliberately avoiding certain interpretations. All in all, the version we are using today works pretty well, and it works particularly for us, in that it accommodates our determination to participate in the New Covenant.

So here is our New Covenant creation myth. God, that is, the Gods male and female, created the heaven and the earth and everything in it in six days: first the earth was formed and the light separated from the darkness; then the heavens were established; then the land was separated from the sea, and plants created to grow on the land; then the times and seasons were established, as marked by the regularity of the apparent motion of the sun, moon, stars, and planets; then came fish and whales to live in the sea, and birds to fly in the air; then all kinds of animals to live on the land, including humans. Interestingly, to confirm our earlier interpretation on the identity of God, the Bible states that at the creation of humans, God said, “let us make humans in our image.’ Yes, it was a group effort.

So the Gods formed two humans – the man Adam and the woman Eve – and put them in a nice garden where they could live in peace and abundance. They lived there in a state of complete innocence; and though they were naked, they were not ashamed. The garden was a beautiful place, full of all kinds of animals and plants, and it produced all kinds of vegetables and fruits for Adam and Eve to eat. Of particular importance to the myth are two fruit-bearing trees: the tree of life, and the other one, the one referred to in the Bible as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For this, our New Covenant ceremony, we will refer to that tree as the tree of the knowledge of the Law. In the New Covenant perspective, the expression the Law refers not just to the Law of Moses, but to the whole concept of rule-keeping as a means for pleasing God and distinguishing good from evil.

God the Father of Adam and Eve visited them in the garden and gave them some instructions. He told them that by partaking of the tree of life, they would be exempt from death; they would live forever in God’s presence and favor. But He advised them strongly against eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of the Law, for if they were to eat of that fruit, they would be separated from His presence, and they would surely die, he said. Then he left, with the promise to come back later and check on them.

The Fall From Innocence

The narrator continues:

So, let us continue with our story. While God is away, a talking reptile comes along, and he speaks to Adam, encouraging him to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of the Law. But Adam fiercely declines, refusing to go against the advice his Father had given him.

Then the reptile speaks to Eve, in similar manner. Eve says, “No, I can’t partake of the fruit of that tree, for Father said that if I do, I will surely die.”

The reptile says, “No, you won’t die; you will become as the Gods; for you see, by the knowledge of the Law you will learn to distinguish the good from the evil. Your Father gained his knowledge in this manner, and you must do the same.”

Eve finds the argument compelling, not realizing that the reptile might be telling a lie, and she partakes of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of the Law.

Then she goes to Adam and offers some to him. He declines, but she explains, “I have already eaten of the fruit, so I will be cast out of the garden, and then I will die. If you do not also partake, you will be left in the garden alone, to live forever without me as your companion.” So Adam goes ahead and eats some of the fruit. The reptile is pleased with this outcome.

As promised, God the Father of Adam and Eve comes to check on them, walking in the garden in the cool of the evening, but when they hear his voice they run away and hide. God persists, calling them by name, and they come out of hiding and approach their Father. The conversation goes something like this:

God says, “Where have the two of you been?

Adam says, “When we heard your voice we hid ourselves, because we are naked.”

God says, “Since when is being naked something to be ashamed of? Did you eat the fruit of the tree I advised you to stay away from?”

Adam says, “The woman talked me into it.”

“What have you done?” God asks Eve.

Eve says, “The reptile talked me into it.”

God calls to the reptile, who happens to be nearby, observing. “Reptile, what have you been doing here?”

The reptile says, “I’ve been doing what suits my purposes.”

God says, “Because you have done this thing, you are now cursed worse than all the beasts of the earth. You will crawl on your belly and eat dust for all of your miserable existence.”

“You have made me your enemy,” says the reptile, “and now that these humans have knowledge of the Law, I will have power over them and all of their posterity forever.”

“You do not understand the love of a father for his children,” says God. “These two are my children, and I will not abandon them to your power. Their posterity also have a father, and you have made yourself His enemy as well. You might have power to bruise their heels, but He shall have power to crush your head.”

“Then I will use this enmity against the lot of you,” says the reptile. “I will gather the treasures of the earth, and with gold and silver I will buy up armies and navies, popes and priests, and rule with blood and horror on this earth.”

God replies, “You need to leave now.” So the reptile crawls away on his belly.

(The narrator pauses, then continues.)

Notice that God does not contradict the reptile’s claim to power. He lets it stand. Using military governments and organized religion, the reptile has been ruling with blood and horror on the earth ever since.

Well, to continue with our story . . .

Next, God turns to Eve. “My daughter, because of what you have done, you will experience sorrow in motherhood, great discomfort during pregnancy, and great pain during childbirth. The Law puts you under the power of your husband, and you must obey him.”

Then he turns to Adam. “My son, because of what you have done, you will have to work the soil to produce food, and the earth will yield her fruit to you reluctantly. In sorrow you will toil to support yourself and your family, and by the sweat of your face you will eat your bread all the days of your life. The dust of this same soil is what you are made of, and when you die, you will return to dust.”

Speaking to the two of them, he continues: “Adam, Eve, because you partook of the fruit of the three of the knowledge of the Law, you have lost your sense of innocence, and that loss separates you from my presence. Now you must depart from this beautiful garden, to make a home for yourselves in the lone and dreary world, where you will learn from your own experience the good from the evil. And inasmuch as you and your posterity will certainly err, I will send a Savior, to rescue you and your posterity from the Law, that the reptile not have power over you forever.

“I will not abandon you to languish always in the lone and dreary world. I will send messengers to check on you from time to time. And I promise to give you the further light and knowledge that you will need to find your way back into my presence.

“Adam, my son, give me your your hand. Like this . . that’s right.”

And with that, God his father gave Adam a sacred handclasp, the first of the four tokens. Then he gave it to Eve. Then the name, then the sign, then the sacred gesture. Then he gave them the second, the third, and the fourth.

And now I commend them to you, the oracles of God. I give them to you as free gifts, unencumbered by agreements, promises, oaths, covenants, or obligations of secrecy, obedience, sacrifice, consecration, loyalty, or discipleship. Remember, this is a ceremony of the New Covenant, a covenant of grace. We are free.

The Bestowal of the Oracles

The narrator continues:

The Oracles of God consist of are four sets, each set consisting of a token, which is a sacred handclasp; a name, which is a key word or phrase; a sign, which is posture assumed by the arms and hands; and for three of the four, a gesture, which in each case begins with the sign and represents the opening of a spiritual energy center of the body.

By definition, an oracle is a tool for accessing the divine. I give you these oracles so that you can use them in ritual, in meditation, and in prayer. You have been anointed priest and priestess in the New Covenant. By receiving and using these oracles, you fulfill your destiny as priest and priestess, and you become prophet and prophetess, here and now, on this earth, in this lifetime.

The First Token

We will now give each of you the first of the four tokens. The first token is given and received by grasping right hands with the joint of the thumb over the knuckle of the index finger of the other person, like this (demonstrating the handclasp with one of the witnesses). I give you the first token. It is an oracle. (The narrator takes one of the initiates by the right hand in the first token and addresses the initiate.) This is the first token. The name of this token is the new name. (The narrator takes the other initiate by the right hand.) This is the first token. The name of this token is the new name. (If there are more than two initiates, the narrator repeats the process, with the same words, with each of the initiates, namely, “This is the first token. The name of this token is the new name.“ If there are six or more initiates in the group, for practical purposes, the narrator gives the token to the two witnesses, then the three of them give the token to the initiates, repeating the same words.)

The name of this token is sometimes referred to as the key word. You receive the new name by revelation, inspiration, or intuition. If you have not already received it, ask for it, and God will give it to you. When you receive it, keep this new name close to your heart, and reveal it to no one except as will be explained momentarily. Use this new name as an oracle, along with the other oracles, as you seek to discover your own divine nature, to receive messengers from heaven, to discover the mind and will of God, to explore the infinite and eternal cosmos, and to discover the mysteries of heaven.

The sign of the first token is made by raising the right arm to the square, palm forward, fingers close together, thumb extended. (The narrator demonstrates while explaining.) This is the sign. Each of you will now make the first sign, like this. (The initiates imitate the narrator and make the first sign.) The first sign is an oracle.

Each of you will now follow me as I show you the first gesture. (The initiates, still in the first sign, imitate the narrator as he shows them the gesture.) The gesture is made by bringing the right hand toward the left shoulder, palm down, and touching the thumb to the base of the left ear; then drawing the thumb across the throat, then dropping the hand to a resting position. The gesture represents the opening of the fifth of the body’s seven spiritual energy centers. The energy center of the throat is the one where your voice and your will reside.

The gesture itself is an oracle. The stop position, with the right thumb under the left ear, is also an oracle.

As I said, the name of the first token is the new name. You should receive your new name by revelation or inspiration. You should share your new name only with your beloved, on the day that you marry, or at any time after you are married, or consider yourselves a couple as if married.

Thank you. That will do.

The Second Token

We will now give each of you the second of the four tokens. The second token is given and received by grasping right hands with the joint of the thumb between the knuckle of the index finger and the knuckle of the middle finger of the other person, like this (demonstrating the handclasp with one of the witnesses). I give you the second token. It is an oracle. (The narrator takes one of the initiates by the right hand in the second token.) This is the second token. The name of this token is your own first given name. (The narrator takes the other initiate by the right hand.) This is the second token. The name of this token is your own first given name. (If there are more than two initiates, the narrator repeats the process, with the same words, with each of the initiates, namely, “This is the second token. The name of this token is your own first given name.“ If there are six or more initiates in the group, for practical purposes, the narrator gives the token to the two witnesses, then the three of them give the token to the initiates, repeating the same words.)

The sign of the second token is made by bringing the right hand forward waist high, elbow at the hip, hand in cupping shape, and by raising the left arm to the square, palm forward, fingers and thumb close together. (The narrator demonstrates while explaining.) This is the sign. Each of you will now make the second sign, like this. (The initiates imitate the narrator and make the second sign.) The second sign is an oracle.

Each of you will now follow me as I show you the second gesture. (The initiates, still in the second sign, imitate the narrator as he shows them the gesture.) Remember, the gesture is always made with the right hand. The gesture is made by bringing the right hand to the left breast, the hand still in cupping shape; then drawing the right hand across the chest to the right breast, while simultaneously bringing the left hand to the edge of the left breast; then by dropping the hands to a resting position. The gesture represents the opening of the fourth of the body’s seven spiritual energy centers. The energy center of the heart is the one where hope, trust, and compassion reside. It is the central energy center of the seven.

The gesture itself is an oracle. The stop position, with the right hand over the left breast, with or without the left arm raised to the square, is also an oracle. Likewise, the left hand raised to the square is also an oracle.

The Third Token

We will now give each of you the third of the four tokens. The third token is given by grasping the right hand with the thumb in the center of the palm, and with the index finger opposite the thumb on the back side of the hand. The person receiving the token extends his right hand with the palm facing to the left, thumb extended, allowing the person giving the token to grasp his hand as described, like this (demonstrating the handclasp with one of the witnesses). The third token is sometimes referred to as the sign of the nail, referring to the crucifixion of Yehshuah ha Meschach. I give you the third token. It is an oracle. (The narrator takes one of the initiates by the right hand in the third token.) This is the third token. The name of this token is “the Son,” meaning the Son of God. (The narrator takes the other initiate by the right hand.) This is the third token. The name of this token is “the Son.” (If there are more than two initiates, the narrator repeats the process, with the same words, with each of the initiates, namely, “This is the third token. The name of this token is ‘the Son.’” If there are six or more initiates in the group, for practical purposes, the narrator gives the token to the two witnesses, then the three of them give the token to the initiates, repeating the same words.)

The sign of the third token is made by bringing the right hand forward waist high, elbow at the hip, palm down, thumb extended, and by bringing the left hand forward waist high, elbow at the hip, hand in cupping shape. (The narrator demonstrates while explaining.) This is the sign. Each of you will now make the third sign, like this. (The initiates imitate the narrator and make the third sign.) The third sign is an oracle.

Each of you will now follow me as I show you the third gesture. (The initiates, still in the third sign, imitate the narrator as he shows them the gesture.) Remember, the gesture is always made with the right hand. The gesture is made by bringing the right hand to the left hip, under the left elbow, thumb over the hip bone; then by drawing the right thumb across the upper abdomen to the right hip, while simultaneously bringing the left thumb the left hip; then by dropping the hands to a resting position. The gesture represents the opening of the third of the body’s seven spiritual energy centers. The energy center of the solar plexus is the one where zeal, courage, and resolve reside.

The gesture itself is an oracle. The stop position, with the right thumb over the left hip, with or without the left hand forward in cupping shape, is also an oracle. Likewise, the left hand forward in cupping shape is also an oracle. Similarly, the stop position, with the left thumb at the left hip and right thumb at the right hip, is also an oracle.

The Fourth Token

We will now give each of you the fourth of the four tokens. The fourth token is given and received by grasping the right hand with the index finger over the wrist, while interlocking the little fingers, like this (demonstrating the handclasp with one of the witnesses). The fourth token is sometimes referred to as the sure sign of the nail, or the nail in the sure place, referring again to the crucifixion of Yehshuah ha Meschach. I give you the fourth token. It is an oracle.

(The narrator takes one of the initiates by the right hand in the fourth token.) This is the fourth token. You will receive the name of this token momentarily. (The narrator takes the other initiate by the right hand.) This is the fourth token. You will receive the name of this token momentarily. (If there are more than two initiates, the narrator repeats the process, with the same words, with each of the initiates, namely, “This is the fourth token. You will receive the name of this token momentarily.” If there are six or more initiates in the group, for practical purposes, the narrator gives the token to the two witnesses, then the three of them give the token to the initiates, repeating the same words.)

The sign of the fourth token is made by raising both hands high above the head, and while lowering the arms to the square, then dropping the hands to the sides, speaking the words, “Oh God, hear the words of my mouth.” Then again, “Oh God, hear the words of my mouth.” Then again, “Oh God, hear the words of my mouth.” (The narrator demonstrates while explaining.) That is the sign. Each of you will now make the fourth sign as I showed you. Please follow along. “Oh God, hear the words of my mouth, Oh God, hear the words of my mouth, Oh God, hear the words of my mouth” (The initiates imitate the narrator and make the fourth sign while repeating the words of the sign.) The fourth sign is an oracle. The first pause position, with both hands high above the head, is also an oracle. Likewise, the second pause position, with both hands raised to the square, is an oracle.

There is no gesture to go along with the fourth sign.

We will now give you the name of the fourth token. Will one of the witnesses, or one of the parents of the bride or groom, please step forward to help me demonstrate how this is done? Thank you. Each of you will receive the name as we will now show you. I will give the name to this volunteer, and then the volunteer will repeat it back to me, as follows.

(The narrator gives the volunteer the fourth token. The narrator then speaks with the volunteer in the following dialogue, while maintaining the sacred handclasp.)

Narrator: This is the fourth token.

Volunteer: Does it have a name?

Narrator: Yes, it has.

Volunteer: Will you give it to me?

Narrator: Yes. This is the name of the token: “Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and in the sinews, the benevolent power of God be upon me and upon my posterity through all generations of time and throughout all eternity.” What is this?

Volunteer: The fourth token of the oracles of God.

Narrator: Does it have a name?

Volunteer: Yes, it has.

Narrator: Will you give it to me?

Volunteer: Yes. This is the name of the token: “Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and in the sinews, the benevolent power of God be upon me and upon my posterity through all generations of time and throughout all eternity.”

Narrator: That is correct.

(The narrator and the break the handclasp.) Thank you. Now the volunteer and I will give the name of the token to the initiates, in the manner just demonstrated. The volunteer and I will speak in unison, and the two initiates will likewise reply together, in unison. Once again we give you the fourth token.

(The narrator and the volunteer take the two initiates by the right hand in the fourth token and proceed with the following dialogue.)

Narrator and Volunteer (in unison): This is the fourth token.

Initiates (in unison): Does it have a name?

Narrator and Volunteer: Yes, it has.

Initiates: Will you give it to me?

Narrator and Volunteer: Yes. This is the name of the token: “Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and in the sinews, the benevolent power of God be upon me and upon my posterity through all generations of time and throughout all eternity.” What is this?

Initiates: The fourth token.

Narrator and Volunteer: Does it have a name?

Initiates: Yes, it has.

Narrator and Volunteer: Will you give it to me?

Initiates: Yes. This is the name of the token: “Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and in the sinews, the benevolent power of God be upon me and upon my posterity through all generations of time and throughout all eternity.”

Narrator and Volunteer: That is correct.

(The initiates and the volunteer return to their seats.)

You now possess the oracles of God. To you, as participants in the New Covenant, they are a free gift from God, unencumbered by attachments to the Law or to the institutions of the reptile. I encourage you to use them. I assure you that they work.

These are not the only oracles of God in existence. As you use these oracles in the advancement of your enlightenment, you will likely discover or create other oracles. God has not abandoned us to languish in the lone and dreary world. He has given us the tools we need to find our way back into his presence, and he has provided us a Savior.

The Lone and Dreary World

The narrator speaks:

Let us continue with our story.

So the man Adam and the woman Eve departed from the garden of abundance and innocence to make a life for themselves in the lone and dreary world. Adam tilled and watered the soil to produce grains, fruits, and vegetables, and he tended flocks of sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and oxen. He hunted the wild animals of the forests and the deserts. Eve bore children and cared for them, and tended the home and hearth. They experienced sorrow along with their joy, sickness along with their health, pain along with their pleasure, weariness along with their enthusiasm, frustration along with their jubilation. They began to learn from their own experience the good from the evil.

Not long after leaving the garden, Adam built an altar of uncut native stone, unmortared, and he knelt before the altar, facing eastward, and offered prayer unto God his Father. He raised his arms to the square, with his hands spread toward heaven, and spoke aloud, “Oh God, hear the words of my mouth.” He repeated it three times. Eve stood nearby, observing.

The talking reptile comes along, crawling on his belly like a snake, and speaks to Adam, saying, “Here I am.”

(On a stage, the reptile enters from the left. Since Adam is facing front, the reptile enters from Adam’s right.)

Who are you?” asks Adam.

“I am the god of this world.”

“The god of this world?”

“Yes, that is who I am. What is it that you want?”

“I am seeking messengers from my Father to give us the further light and knowledge he promised to send.”

By now Eve has approached to join the conversation, and she says, “Yes, that is what we seek.”

“Messengers?” The reptile paused. “Oh, you want religion! I can help you with that. I have plenty of preachers, ministers, missionaries, and professors of religion who can give you what you seek. They will be along momentarily.”

A middle-aged man in a gray suit comes along, carrying a Bible, and the reptile greets him, saying, “Hello. Are you a professor of religion?”

“Yes, I am,” says the man.

“What religion do you teach?”

“The philosophies and interpretations of men, mingled with scripture.”

“Here are a couple of people who want religion. They seem to be sincere. Take your religion to them and convert them.”

“I will do my best,” says the preacher. He approaches Adam and Eve and says, “I understand that you are looking for religion.”

“We are seeking the further light and knowledge our Father promised to send us,” replies Eve.

“What is that book you have in your hand?” asks Adam.

“This is the Bible. It contains the infallible word of God. Everything you need to know about Jesus Christ is in this book.”

“Jesus Christ?” asks Adam.

“Yes, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten in the flesh, born of a virgin, the Savior of the world.”

“Savior?” asks Eve, with real interest.

“Yes, our Savior,” replies the preacher. “He died on the cross to save us from our sins.”

Eve has a puzzled look on her face. “Our Father promised to send us a Savior to save us from the Law. He didn’t say anything about sins. What are sins, anyway?” asks Eve.

“Our misdeeds, when we break the commandments that God gave us in the Bible.”

“We are seeking messengers from our Father to teach us about God,” she says.

“Oh,” replies the preacher. “Good luck with that.” And he leaves.

An old man approaches, dressed in a priestly robe and carrying a scepter. The reptile gestures to him to proceed in conversation with Adam and Eve. “Hello,” he says. “You want religion?”

“We are seeking the further light and knowledge our Father promised to send us,” replies Adam.

“What is that staff you walk with?” asks Eve. “It is nothing like the shepherd’s staff we use to tend our flock.”

“It is a symbol of the authority of the universal church,” says the priest.

“Church?” asks Eve.

“Yes, the universal church, a great and powerful institution. The traditions and authority of the church provide salvation to the entire human family. We take this salvation to all the earth, for we don’t want the heathen nations to perish in the false traditions of their tribes. If they are not baptized, they will languish forever in hell after they die.”

“Hell?”

“Yes, hell. The place where the unbaptized wicked go when they die, as punishment for their unforgiven sins.”

“That can’t be right,” replies Eve. “When our Father spoke with us, he did not impress me as being so strict and cruel as that.”

“Well, you need not concern yourselves with that. Do you want to be baptized? It is a nice little ritual, really; I just sprinkle you with a little water, and recite the words of the ritual. Without this ritual, administered by the authority of the universal church, you cannot be saved from your sins.”

Adam replies, “Ah . . . well, we are waiting for messengers from our Father to come and teach us. Thanks anyway.”

“Very well,” says the priest. And he walks away.

Two young men approach, one taller than the other, dressed in dark suits, dark ties, and white shirts, each carrying two books of scripture. Once again the reptile gestures them toward Adam and Eve. Before they can introduce themselves, Eve says, “I suppose you want us to be baptized by your church.”

“Well, yes, that is exactly what we want,” replies the tall young man.

“What religion do you bring us?” asks Adam.

The short young man replies, “We bring you the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, contained in a new book of scripture to complement the Bible. By joining our church through baptism, you place yourselves on the path to God, for our church has the teachings, the ordinances, and the priesthood authority necessary for salvation and exaltation in the heavenly kingdom. It is the only true church on the earth. It is led by prophets who speak for God.”

“Your leaders are prophets?” asks Adam, with real interest.

“Yes, and the founder of our church was a prophet also. He died a martyr for his faith.”

“These prophets who lead your church,” says Adam. “What is God telling them?”

“Everything they need to know to lead the church,” says the tall one.

“Sure,” says Adam. “But specifically, what does God say?”

“Hmmm,” says the tall one. “Well, they don’t tell us what He tells them. They just tell us that God has promised us that he won’t let them lead us astray. Our founder wrote many prophecies and revelations, and those are published in a book of scripture. But our modern prophets, well, they work by inspiration, I guess, and maybe they have experiences with God that are too sacred to talk about, so they don’t tell us.”

“So what you are telling us is, you have prophets who do not prophesy,” says Adam, cynically.

“Well, I wouldn’t say that. They tell us what God wants us to do.”

“And according to them, what does God want us to do?” asks Eve.

“Be loyal to the Church, follow the leaders, receive the ordinances, and obey the commandments, so that you can be saved and exalted in the celestial Kingdom of God after you die.”

“Commandments?” asks Adam. “What are commandments?”

The short young man replies, “Commandments are the rules that we have to keep in order to gain God’s favor and be allowed to return to Heaven.”

“God did not give us commandments,” says Eve. “He gave us oracles.”

“Oracles?” asks the short young man. “What are oracles?” And the two of them turn and walk away.

An old man approaches, dressed in an old wrinkled suit without a tie. He does not notice the presence of the reptile, and he seems to hardly notice the presence of Adam and Eve.

Adam speaks first. “Do you want us to join your church?”

The old man stirs as if interrupted from deep thought. “What? Ah . . . no, I don’t think so.”

“Then what are you doing here?”

“I am waiting for the Messiah to come.”

“The Messiah?”

“Yes, the anointed one. God promised that he would send us a Messiah to restore our nation and to protect us against our enemies. We are waiting for him to come.”

“Then you don’t want us to join your church?”

“No, you just go ahead and keep the religion that you’ve got. I really don’t care what religion you have.”

“We don’t have a religion,” says Eve. “We are waiting for messengers from our Father.”

“I, too, am waiting,” replies the old man, and he turns and walks away, slowly.

The reptile says to himself, “Well, that didn’t go very well.” And he, too, turns and slithers away.

Eve kneels at the altar, where Adam knelt earlier. Adam kneels across from her, at the other side of the altar. Eve takes Adam by the right hand across the altar, in the fourth token. She raises her left arm to the square, in the second sign. Adam does likewise.

Eve speaks: “Father, Mother, I am Eve, and this man my husband is Adam (thus using the names of the second token), and we kneel at this altar in prayer of supplication, and we ask you to send us messengers to give us the further light and knowledge you promised us. Thank you.”

They rise to their feet and break the handclasp. Adam steps around the altar to stand next to Eve. A man approaches from their left (if on a stage, from the right of the stage), dressed casually in blue jeans and a flannel shirt.

Greetings,” he says. “My name is John. Your Father and Mother sent me to check on you. How are you doing?”

Adam replies, “We’ve had visitors from several of the reptile’s denominations, bringing religion. But we are waiting for the further light and knowledge Father promised to give us.”

“I am glad to hear it,” says John. He takes Adam by the right hand in a handclasp. It takes Adam a split moment to figure out what is going on, and then he reciprocates in the handclasp.

“What is this?” asks John.

“It is one of the oracles of God. The first token.” replies Adam.

“Has it a name.”

“Yes, it has.”

“Will you give it to me?”

“No, I won’t. It is the new name.” He breaks the handclasp and steps back. “But this is the sign,” he says, making the first sign, “and this is the sacred gesture,” he says as he makes the gesture.

And then John says, “Adam, Eve, come with me, please.” And he takes them each by the hand, Eve on his left, and Adam on his right, and he leads them to the bank of a river of flowing water, where by a baptismal/re-birthing ritual he delivers them into the New Covenant.

And thus began the enlightenment of Adam and Eve.

End of Section Two, the sixth ritual.

You should now proceed to the seventh ritual, presented in Section One, Part Seven.

Section Three: Instructions for Performing the Rituals

Whenever four people or more agree to receive the rituals, that is enough for this New-Covenant Oracles ceremony to be performed. One is the initiate, one serves as narrator, and two serve as witness. If only one of the four of you wants to receive the rituals, that person is the initiate. If two, then perform a ritual (baptism, for example), change roles (narrator and initiate) and perform it again. (In the ritual for bestowal of the oracles, simply switch roles for giving and receiving the oracles; it is not necessary to repeat the entire storytelling portion.) If all four participants want to receive the oracles, continue changing roles and performing the ritual until all four of you have been the initiate.

If you can’t find three other people beside yourself who want to participate, one will do; you may proceed without witnesses, improvising as necessary. However, it is better if you can get a couple people to serve as witnesses, even if they themselves don’t want or intend to receive the rituals by taking a turn participating as initiates. The witnesses need not agree with or believe in what you are doing. They need only serve as witnesses. I do not know why it is better to have witnesses present. I recently (September 2009) baptized myself in a ritual of cleansing and new beginning, and I intuitively felt that I needed to have a witness present. Again, I do not know why.

If you can’t find even one person willing to participate with you in the rituals, then go ahead and do the best you can alone. Improvise. Anything is better than nothing. You may easily baptize yourself. (I myself have done this many times.) Likewise, you may wash and anoint yourself. (Again, I have done abbreviated versions of such rituals myself, alone.) You get the idea. For Part Five, the oracles, I suggest that you simply read the text, including the storytelling part, do your best with the tokens and the names, and go ahead and play out the signs and the gestures.

Once you have received the rituals, you may easily serve as narrator at any time to administer the rituals to others, you yourself already being familiar with the oracles and the rituals. However (and let me be clear on this), it is not necessary to have received them in order to administer them as narrator. We will not tolerate the formation of a hierarchy or “line of authority” or any such thing, these being among the trappings of organized religion (and as you know by now, I personally find organized religion loathsome). Anyone with a little faith can serve as narrator and perform the rituals, including baptism. We are functioning here in a mode that is strictly opposed to religious organization, particularly hierarchical organization. What we have here, instead, is divinely guided religious anarchy.

In case there is any doubt about the validity of this approach, let me say this, now, ritualistically, for the sole purpose of satisfying anyone who thinks that such a thing is needful:

I am Donovan, friend of God, and in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I hereby authorize anyone with a little faith to perform and administer the rituals of the New Covenant described in this book, including baptism and including bestowal of the oracles, along with any other benevolent ritual he or she may feel inclined to perform. So be it.

(I say this even though I dislike the word authorize, and I use the word only to satisfy the reservations of those who need to hear it.)

And again I ask, How much is a little faith? How much is sufficient? If you have enough faith to recite the words of the ritual and perform the motions of the ritual, whichever ritual, that is sufficient.

Remember, a ritual, any ritual, is simply a symbolic representation of what is to come. It is not the thing itself. for example, the text of the re-birthing ritual declares that the initiate is delivered unto a new perspective, to become a participant in the New Covenant. The ritual does not make it so. The ritual serves only to set up the initiate’s mind and spirit (consciously and subconsciously) for the promised blessings to occur in the future, in their own time. The same is true of the ritual of anointing, where the initiate is anointed a priestess or priest in the New Covenant. The ritual does not make it so (even though the wording is strong). The ritual sets up the subconscious and conscious mind of the initiate, both spiritually and psychologically, to be a priestess or priest at the appropriate future time, when the time is right.

The fact that a ritual (any ritual) is simply a symbolic representation, and not an ordinance necessary for salvation, is on of the things that sets these rituals free from organized religion and hierarchical authority and removes the requirement for some kind of priestly authority to be the person to perform the ritual.

Most of the rituals invoke the name Yehshuah ha Meschiach and refer to God as God the Father of our Spirits. As explained earlier (in Section One), Yehshuah ha Meschiach is the name of the Savior in his own native language, Aramaic. You may substitute the English translation if you wish, Yeshua the Anointed One. Or, if you prefer, Yeshua the Messiah. Personally,I strongly discourage the use of the name Jesus Christ in these rituals, for a number of good reasons. The name Jesus is a name invented several hundred years after Yeshua’s ministry; it is a name with no real basis in the original Aramaic or even the original Hebrew name from which it was supposedly derived. Further, according to some scholars, the root words upon which the name Jesus is built actually carry a negative connotation, implying a false horse. The word Christ is a Greek word, neither English, Hebrew, Aramaic, nor Latin. The original meaning of christ in Greek is smeared. While it is true that smeared can mean smeared with oil, namely, anointed with oil, it is nevertheless also true that the word smeared (in English or old Greek) is ambiguous and carries negative connotations that you as reader can easily infer.

If your religious/spiritual/mystical background or orientation is not at all Christian, that is, if it is Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist or Islamic or Native American or Pantheistic or whatever, you can participate in the New Covenant and receive the rituals anyway. You may freely substitute the name of any benevolent prophet, angel, or deity in the place of the name Yehshuah ha Meschiach. Remember, however, that the copyright agreement explicitly forbids the substitution of the name of any malevolent entity.

Likewise, if for any reason you are uncomfortable with the name God the Father of our Spirits, you may similarly substitute some other name for God. Some possible examples are: the God of Israel, God the Creator, God the Creator of the Universe, or El Shaddai; or, if you are (for example) of the Islamic tradition, Allah; of the Hindu tradition, Brahman or one of the other benevolent deities; or, of the Buddhist tradition, whatever name best suits your personal view. The New-Covenant promise of divine purification and enlightenment is not merely a Biblical promise of the Judeo-Christian tradition: it is a universal promise. Likewise, the oracles are universal.

What follows is a description of the form and instructions for performing each of the seven rituals that constitute the New-Covenant ceremony. The seven rituals are:

Part One: Baptismal ritual
Part Two: Rebirthing ritual
Part Three: Bestowal of a Prayer Shawl
Part Four: Washing Ritual
Part Five: Anointing ritual
Part Six: Bestowal of the Oracles of God
Part Seven: New-Covenant Sealing Blessing

Part One: Baptismal Ritual

The baptismal ritual described here and the re-birthing ritual described next are similar in form and nearly identical in intent. This being the case, you do not need them both (though I recommend that you receive them both). If for any reason you are uncomfortable with the baptismal ritual, skip it and proceed to the re-birthing ritual. If for any reason you are uncomfortable with the re-birthing ritual, receive the baptismal ritual, skip the re-birthing ritual, and proceed to the washing ritual. As for the text of the rituals, I personally prefer the text of the re-birthing ritual over the text of the baptismal ritual, even though they both denote approximately the same thing, using different words.

Ideally, the baptismal ritual is performed in water deep enough for easy immersion, about waist deep or deeper, and water warm enough for comfort. Where that is not feasible, it is acceptable to improvise. For example, the narrator (the person performing the ritual) may recite the baptismal prayer, scoop a little water into his or her hand from a basin, and pour it from the hand onto the initiate’s head, Catholic-style, sprinkled. The form of the ritual is not as important as the intent and the symbolism.

I recommend that you begin the ritual with a reading of the New Covenant, as presented in Jeremiah 31:31-34, and a discussion of its significance. Reference to the New Covenant is found in all of these rituals, from the baptism to the New Covenant sealing ritual.

The baptism ritual is performed as follows. (Please forgive the excessively technical description.) In this description, the person being baptized is referred to as the initiate, and the person performing the baptism is referred to as the narrator. It is preferable (but not absolutely necessary) that two witnesses observe the ritual. Some of the mechanics of the baptism are necessary, as they make use of the oracles, and others are for convenience only, and are not necessarily part of the ritual.

The narrator and the initiate stand together in water waist- to chest-deep. The initiate stands with his right hand in front of him, palm up (as in the second sign). The narrator takes the initiate by the right wrist in his left hand and raises his right arm to the square in the first sign. The initiate rests his left hand on the narrator’s wrist. The narrator calls the initiate by name (full name or first name, either is acceptable) and speaks the text of the baptismal ritual, as presented in Part 1 Section 1.

After reciting the text of the ritual, the initiate moves his right hand to his face and holds his nose, with the narrator still holding the initiate’s right wrist in his left hand. The initiate’s left hand still holds the narrator’s left wrist. The narrator puts his right arm around the middle back of the initiate; the initiate bends his / her knees as if to sit, and the narrator tips the initiate backward into the water, so that the initiate is completely immersed, then raises the initiate back out of the water to return to the standing position. The witnesses nod their approval.

Part Two: Re-birthing Ritual

For reasons explained in Section Three Part One, I have intentionally designed the re-birthing ritual to not resemble an immersion baptism. I have done this to make it clear that this is not a convention baptismal ritual that makes the initiate a conventional Christian in a conventional Christian denomination. Instead of immersion, the re-birthing ritual is performed by dumping a half-gallon or so of water suddenly upon the initiate’s head, water about the temperature of a hot bath. (I urge you not to use cold water.) In all actuality, the re-birthing ritual can be whatever you want it to be: immersion in water, or sprinkling, pouring, or dumping the water on the initiate’s head, but for our purposes, dumping the water on the initiate’s head is best.

If you have not already done it, I recommend that you begin the ritual with a reading of the New Covenant, as presented in Jeremiah 31:31-34, and a brief discussion of its significance. Reference to the New Covenant is found in all of these rituals, from the baptismal ritual to the sealing ritual at the end.

The re-birthing ritual is performed as follows. In this description, the person receiving the ritual is referred to as the initiate, and the person performing the ritual is referred to as the narrator. It is preferable (but not absolutely necessary) that two witnesses observe the ritual. Other people may attend as guests at the ritual. Some of the mechanics of the re-birthing ritual make use of the oracles, and others are for convenience only, and are not necessarily part of the ritual.

The initiate kneels on the ground or on the floor, possibly upon a large towel, arms crossed across the sternum (left hand near the right shoulder, right hand near the left shoulder, forearms crossed across the chest near the wrist, left wrist over right wrist. The narrator stands in the first sign at the initiate’s right side, facing the initiate. In his or her left hand the narrator holds a basin or pitcher containing at least a half-gallon of bathwater-hot water, in such a way that the container is behind the initiate and out of his or her sight. The narrator calls the initiate by name (full name or first name, either is acceptable) and speaks the text of the re-birthing ritual, as presented in Part 1 Section 2.

After reciting the text of the ritual, the narrator then raises the container and suddenly dumps all the water upon the initiate’s head all at once, from behind (and out of sight).

The usual effect is that the initiate is surprised and refreshed. At the end of the ritual, the initiate uncrosses his or her arms and places the palms of the hands together in front of the chest.

Part Three: Bestowal of a Prayer Shawl

For the prayer shawl ritual, the company consists of a narrator, the two witnesses (if possible), the initiate or initiates, and any guests who might have been invited to attend. The narrator leads the ritual and bestows the prayer shawl. The narrator places the shawl upon the shoulders of the initiate as he or she recites the words of the ritual, as presented in Section One Part Three.

At the end of the ritual, the narrator instructs the initiate to pray with “hands spread toward heaven,” that is, to pray with the hands raised above the head, as in the fourth sign (as explained in Section Two). Praying thus in the fourth sign may be done standing, kneeling, or lying flat on one’s back.

Apart from an oracles ceremony, a person may informally receive a prayer shawl in ritual at any time. For the informal bestowal of a prayer shawl apart from the other rituals, it is not necessary that witnesses be present. Anyone with a little faith can bestow a prayer shawl upon another person with a little faith, at any time, in any place, in any context, with or without witnesses. How much faith is a little faith? How much is sufficient? As I have said before, enough to recite the words of the ritual, or to receive the oracular prayer shawl in the ritual, respectively.

Part Four: Washing Ritual

In this description, the person performing the washing is referred to as the narrator. The person receiving the washing is referred to as the initiate. It is preferable but not necessary that two additional people are present to serve as witnesses. If so, one of those witnesses also participates by pronouncing the blessing that seals the ritual. Generally, the washing of a male initiate should be administered by a male narrator, a female initiate by a female narrator, but it is not necessarily so. Likewise, is it generally better if the the witnesses are male and female, respectively, corresponding with a male or female initiate. The ritual should be performed in a private place. For convenience, the initiate should wear as little clothing as seems appropriate, providing some measure of modesty while still allowing access to the skin of the various parts of the body to be touched during the ritual.

Under some circumstances, it might be necessary or preferable to perform the washing ritual without a witness, in which case the narrator can pronounce the sealing blessings. For example, a husband and wife, or a pair of lovers, might want to ritually wash and (and later anoint) each other, in which case each would serve as both narrator and witness to the other. In this example, the couple may perform the rituals at any time, separate from any ceremony, and as many times as they wish, at their convenience and preference, and as privately and intimately as they want.

In the washing ritual, the form and the text are the same for a female initiate as for a male.

The initiate stands as he or she receives the ritual washing, arms resting at the sides, but with the palms forward. The narrator holds a bowl of water in his/her left hand (or the bowl rests on a table or some such) and performs the ritual washing by dipping the fingers of the right hand in the water and then brushing the wet fingers across the various parts of the initiate’s body, corresponding with the words of the ritual.

Here are the instructions for performing the washing ritual:

The narrator calls the initiate by name and begins to recite the text of the ritual. says (as he/she performs the ritual): As the narrator states, “I wash the crown of your head, that you may be filled with light and truth,” he or she brushes water upon the crown of the head of the initiate; likewise with the text, “your forehead, that your intellect may be clear and your creativity active,” the narrator brushes water upon the forehead of the initiate; and so on, for the other parts of the body. For the part of the text that speaks to washing the loins, the narrator brushes water across the lower back of the initiate. For the part that speaks to the spinal root, down the lower spine. The narrator then finishes by brushing water upon the legs and feet of the initiate as he or she recites the applicable part of the text.

The initiate then kneels on the floor, and the witness joins the narrator to pronounce the blessing that seals the ritual washing. One of the witnesses pronounces the blessing, the text of which is presented in Section One Part Four. The witness puts his/her hands on the initiate’s head, and the narrator puts his/her hands on top of those of the witness. Then the witness pronounces the blessing. If no witness is present, the narrator can administer the blessing alone.

Part Five: Anointing of a Female or Male Initiate

The initiate rises to his or her feet (after kneeling for the sealing blessing for the washing ritual), and the narrator and the initiate move (if possible) to a different location in the room (or to a different room). As before, the initiate stands with the arms resting at the sides, but with the palms forward. The narrator begins the anointing ritual by pouring a little oil on the initiate’s head, and then proceeds by brushing oil with his fingertips across the various parts of the initiate’s body, corresponding with the words of the ritual as he speaks them. This is done in the same manner as for the washing ritual, the instructions for which are given above (Part Four).

The initiate then kneels on the floor, and the witness joins the narrator to pronounce the blessing that seals the ritual anointing. They place their hands on his head as before, and the witness pronounces the blessing.

Part Six: Bestowal of the Oracles of God

This ritual consists of two components: storytelling, and the actual demonstration and bestowal of the oracles. It is important that the oracles be demonstrated, explained, and bestowed precisely as given in the text of the ritual as presented in Section Two. Thus, I suggest that you use the text of Section Two without revision. The oracles are as they are, and there is not much sense in revising the portion of the ritual that actually bestows them. If God reveals to you (or if you somehow discover) other benevolent oracles besides the four sets of oracles presented here, of course you may feel free to add them, provided that they are likewise given as free gifts, without requirements or agreements, covenants, obligations, etc.

The storytelling (or dramatic) portion of the ritual is valuable regardless of your particular mystical tradition; that is, you should use this version of the Garden story as part of the ritual, whether or not the Biblical Garden story featuring Adam and Eve is part of your particular tradition, because the story represents archetypal processes and characters that are frankly universal, and because the story as it is presented here represents the four components of the human psyche and the dichotomy of rule-keeping versus grace (as discussed further elsewhere in this book and in others of my books). If the representations of the corruptions of organized religion, as presented in the Lone and Dreary World portion of the story, do not apply to you and your cultural situation, you may substitute other representations.

Of course, you may pause and digress with questions and answers if the need arises, and frankly, you are free to improvise however you like; this is true of all the rituals. However, in no case shall the initiate be imposed upon to make any promises or enter into any agreements or covenants, and in no case shall the initiate be sworn, advised, or otherwise constrained to secrecy. Any modification that does any such thing constitutes a violation of the copyright, and is forbidden.

The storytelling portions consist of a brief narrative of the creation story, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, an account of their temptation by the Reptile and of their fall from the paradise represented by the Garden, and an account of their life outside the Garden, in the Lone and Dreary World, where Adam and Eve are given various offers of unreliable religious information.

The entire account, all the parts of the story, can be simply read by the narrator. However, whereas the creation story is indeed a simple narrative, the other parts actually consist mostly of dialogue among the various characters. In the Garden, the four characters are Adam, Eve, the Reptile, and God. Additional characters appear in the Lone and Dreary World. In these portions of the story, as an alternative to a simple reading the account, you might consider appointing actors to play the various roles and speak their lines.

In the conventional story of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden, the tempter is described as a serpent. For reasons that I explain later in this book (Discussion and Commentary), it is more appropriate to refer to the tempter as the Reptile, or simply, Reptile (as if it were his name).

Part Seven: Sealing of the Blessings of the New Covenant

The sealing ritual concludes the ceremony and pronounces the initiate a prophet or prophetess in the New Covenant. The narrator places one or both hands on the crown of the initiate’s head (or may pronounce the blessing upon two initiates at once, with one hand on the head of each initiate) and recites the text of the ritual, as presented in Section One Part Seven, using singular or plural, male or/and female expressions, as appropriate.

 Section Four: Other Possible Rituals

Part One: Ritual Bestowal of Other Oracular Objects

With appropriate changes to the form and the text, the prayer shawl ritual may be used as a model for the bestowal of other oracular objects.

Oracular Staff

For example, the bestowal of an oracular staff upon a prophet or prophetess might proceed something like this:

[Initiate’s name], in the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I place this staff in your hand, that it give steadiness, determination, and endurance to your pace, that it give you protection against all adversaries; and that it serve you as an oracle of divine benevolent power in your walk upon this earth. It is so.

Note that an oracular staff should be bestowed after the bestowal of the oracles, not before, and preferably after the recipient has had time to use the oracles and receive prophetic gifts and experiences.

Oracular Stone or Crystal

[text forthcoming]

Part Two: Group Prayer or Prayer Circle

[text forthcoming]

Part Three: Wedding Ritual

The wedding ritual can be used alone, or it can be used as an alternative to the confirmation ritual. that is, if two people want to get married in conjunction with their receiving the other rituals, they can receive the first five rituals as presented in Section One, the oracles ritual as presented in Section Two, and then this ritual in place of the confirmation ritual presented in Section One Part Seven.

For the wedding ritual, there ought to be an altar. If the altar is made of stone, it should be native stone (uncut). Three native flat stones stacked one upon the other is enough, no cement. An altar made of wood is a good option; a piano bench will suffice. One option is to build a nice portable altar out of wood for the occasion, and then the couple can keep it and use it in the future. If it is difficult or inconvenient to supply an altar, the couple may marry standing instead of kneeling at an altar, with changes to the text as needed.

The following text assumes the names John Michael Smith and Mary Elizabeth Brown for the groom and the bride. Of course, you should substitute as appropriate.

I recommend that the father of the groom serve as narrator, and thus be the one to administer the ritual and speak the text of the narration and pronounce the blessing at the end. If not the father of the groom, then the father of the bride, or the mother of the groom, or the mother of the bride, or a grandfather or a grandmother, or an uncle or an aunt, or a brother or a sister, or a son or a daughter, or a cousin, or a friend. Of course, the text should be improvised as necessary and appropriate. Likewise, a relative or friend may substitute in the role of father in giving the hand of the groom or bride.

The ritual begins with another reading of the New Covenant. The narrator reads, or calls upon a volunteer to read, the text.

The narrator says:

Once again, let us review the text of the New Covenant, from the prophet Jeremiah. Note that the blessings of the New Covenant are conditional only upon our willingness to receive them:

The narrator or the volunteer reads from Jeremiah 31:31-34:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34 KJV)

Mary and John (the bride and groom) stand in front of the altar, not touching, facing the company, Mary at John’s left, John at Mary’s right. Mary’s father (or mother or substitute) and John’s father (or mother or substitute) stand in front of Mary and John (respectively), likewise facing the company.

The narrator says:

Friends and family, we are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the wedding of John Michael Smith to Mary Elizabeth Brown. We thank you for your attendance here. Will the witnesses please come forward?

The witnesses take their places at the far side of the altar.

Giving away the bride and groom

The two fathers turn to face Mary and John. Mary’s father takes Mary by the right hand and places it in John’s left hand, and as he does so, he says:

John, I give you my daughter Mary to be your wife and your lover, your friend and your companion.

Mary and John are now standing side by side, John holding Mary’s right hand in his left. The groom’s father takes the groom by the right hand and places it in Mary’s left hand, and as he does so, he says:

Mary, I give you my son John to be your husband and your lover, your friend and your companion.

Mary and John stand for a moment in front of the altar, holding each other by both hands.

The New Name

The narrator continues:

As you will recall, the name of the first token is the new name. You should share your new name only with your beloved, on the day that you marry, or at any time after you are married, or consider yourselves a couple as if married.

Have you received your new names?

(The bride and the groom answer yes or no.)

(If the initiates have already received by revelation their new names, they perform the following ritual together at this point in the ceremony. If not, the narrator describes the ritual for them now, and they perform the ritual later, at their convenience, after they have received the new names.)

I will now describe the ritual by which a bride and the groom, or husband and wife, share their new names with each other.

(If they have not yet received their new names, the narrator adds, “When you both have received your new names, this is the ritual you should perform.”)

For this ritual, you take each other by the right hand in the first token, with the joint of the thumb over the knuckle of the index finger. Technically, the bride is giving the token to the groom, and the groom is receiving it, while the groom gives the bride his new name. Then the process is repeated, with the roles reversed. The groom gives his name to the bride first, signifying the final end of patriarchal tyranny over women.

The bride gives the first token to the groom, then leans forward and speaks aloud but softly into the right ear of the groom and asks, “What is this?”

The groom replies, aloud but softly into her right ear, “The first token.”

“Has it a name?”

“It has.”

“Will you give it to me?”

“You are my beloved.”

Without breaking the sacred handclasp, the groom then leans very close, putting his mouth to the bride’s right ear, and whispers, “The name is . . . ” and tells her his new name.

The groom leans back, they break the handclasp, and the bride nods to the groom, to indicate that she understood what he said.

The process is then repeated, with the roles reversed. The groom gives the first token to the bride and asks, “What is this?”

The bride replies, “The first token.”

“Has it a name?”

“It has.”

“Will you give it to me?”

“You are my beloved.”

Without breaking the sacred handclasp, the bride then leans very close, putting her mouth to the groom’s right ear, and whispers, “The name is . . . ” and tells him her new name.

The bride leans back, they break the handclasp, and the groom nods to the bride, to indicate that he understood what she said.

The bride and the groom will please step forward now to exchange new names. (A pause while they step forward a suitable distance from the company to converse privately.)

The two of you will now exchange new names. First, the bride offers her right hand to the groom, and he receives it in the first token. (Pause.) That’s right. Now go ahead. I will coach you if you need prompting.

(The bride and groom proceed with the ritual described above.)

Thank you. That will do.

Exchange of vows

The narrator faces the company and says:

We will now proceed with the exchange of vows.

The narrator turns to Mary and John and says:

John and Mary, please take your places kneeling at the altar.

John and Mary take their respective places at each side (or end) of the altar and kneel across from each other, resting their hands on the altar. (If it matters: the company sees John at the left (side (or end) or side of the altar, Mary at the right side (or end). From John and Mary’s perspective, John is on her right and Mary on his left. This makes sense.)

Facing John and Mary at the altar, with his back to the company, the narrator says:

Mary Elizabeth Brown, and John Michael Smith, you are about to be joined together in a sacred ceremony of holy matrimony. Are you ready to do so? John?

John says aloud: yes

The narrator says: Mary?

Mary says aloud: yes

The narrator says:

Do each of you do so of your own free will and choice? Mary?

Again, Mary says: yes

The narrator says: John?

Again, John says: yes.

The narrator turns to face the company and says:

Does anyone here in attendance know of any valid and compelling reason why these two should not be joined in marriage? (a pause while no one responds). Then let us proceed.

At some point along the way, John and Mary discretely take each the other by the right hand in the fourth token, a handclasp they fully know by this time.

Then the narrator says: John, Mary, have you prepared your vows?

John and Mary nod and say: yes.

The narrator says:

You may proceed with the exchange of vows.

John says:

Mary, I take you by the hand and receive you unto myself to be my wife and my lover, my friend and my companion, forever and for always, always to be with you, both in this life and in the life to come; and this I do in the company of this congregation of family and friends, and in the presence of God, angels, and these two witnesses, at this altar.

Then Mary says:

John, I take you by the hand and receive you unto myself to be my husband and my lover, my friend and my companion, forever and for always, always to be with you, both in this life and in the life to come; and this I do in the company of this congregation of family and friends, and in the presence of God, angels, and these two witnesses, at this altar.

The narrator says: very well.

[If there is to be a ring ceremony, this is where the ring ceremony is to be. A ring ceremony is optional, at the discretion and preference of the bride and groom.

The narrator says: Do you wish to exchange rings?

The couple proceeds a ring ceremony of their own design.

The narrator says: very well.]

The narrator says:

In the name of Yehshuah ha Meschiach, I pronounce the two of you, John Michael Smith and Mary Elizabeth Brown, husband and wife, and I seal you together for ever and for always, that no agent on earth nor in the heavens have the power to separate you nor tarnish your love one for the other; and I seal upon your heads the blessings of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that you and your posterity be a blessing to all the world, and that your posterity be as numerous as the sands of the sea and the stars of the heavens; and I declare the two of you one flesh, one mind, one heart, one spirit; and I seal upon your union all the blessings of the New Covenant, that the terms of the New Covenant be written upon your hearts, that it be inscribed upon your inward parts; and I pronounce you priest and priestess, prophet and prophetess, and I say unto you, God the Father of our Spirits is your God, and you are counted among His people, among His household. It is so.

Section Five: Commentary

[text forthcoming]

Appendix 1. Copyright Agreement

Copyright and conditional permission for copying, distribution, and use: The entire text of this book is copyrighted. (Copyright 2009, 2010 by Donovan Bramwell. All rights reserved.) As author and copyright owner, I hereby give you permission to make and distribute copies of this book, in whole or in part, in electronic or paper format, subject to the following conditions: a) you may not claim authorship; you must acknowledge my authorship and provide the source (this web address, for example, or for a bound book, the title, author, and publisher), even if you adapted, customized, or otherwise modified the text; b) any copy of this book or excerpt thereof, modified or not, must include this copyright statement in its entirety; c) you may not charge money or any value in exchange for copies you distribute, not even the cost of making paper copies; d) excerpts must include sufficient context to make clear my intent; e) you may modify, adapt, or customize the text of the rituals as you please, to accommodate considerations of the culture, tradition, upbringing, background, or belief system of the participants, except that you may not make modifications that invoke or otherwise use the names of malevolent deities, angels, beings, or entities, neither real ones nor imaginary, mythical, or archetypal ones; f) if you modify the text, you must include a statement to that effect, such as, “Adapted from [Title] by Donovan Bramwell, copyright 2009, 2010, etc., [this web address]; used with permission.”; g) if you publish or distribute unmodified excerpts from this book, whether or not such excerpts are included as part of your own published work, you must include a statement to that effect, such as, “Excerpted from [Title] by Donovan Bramwell, copyright 2009, 2010, etc., [this web address]; used with permission.”; h) you may not use or distribute this book, or modify the text of this book or any portion thereof, in such a manner as to require or impose, in any way, implicit or explicit, that the participants agree to, make promises of, or enter into covenants or obligations of secrecy, loyalty, discipleship, membership, fellowship, tithing, donation, contribution, obedience, rule-keeping, purity, sacrifice, hardship, asceticism, chastity, consecration, or abstinence from sex, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, or tea, or any other such agreement, promise, covenant, or obligation. This statement of copyright and conditional permission constitutes a legally binding agreement of permission for copying, distributing, and using such copies of this book and of unmodified or modified excerpts from this book. Making and/or distributing such copies or excerpts represents your agreement to abide by all of these terms, every single one of them. Failure to do so is a violation of copyright law.

I am completely serious about every provision in the preceding permission agreement. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that there was a thing or two there that gave you cause to smile  🙂     or chuckle  😉    or even laugh out loud  :-D.    Do you understand what I am up to? Can you see what I am up against?

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