In the previous section, The Real Honi the Circle Maker, we got to know Honi Hama'gel (aka Khoni or Choni and also Onias as this is the Greek form of the name) lived in the first century BC (born circa 65 BC) and came to be known as the circle maker or circle drawer.
We now come to how who he was and what he did became a relevant portion of a consideration of pop-Churchianity. Herein, we will focus on Mark Batterson’s 2012 AD book The Circle Maker (which was followed by a video series, a curriculum, etc., etc., etc.).
See this link for Mark Batterson - Honi the Circle Maker images.
Further back, in 2003 AD the real life self-confessed and self-professed witch, Silver RavenWolf, wrote the book The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation Solitary Witch. Therein, she wrote:
“From cave paintings to crowns, halos, and Stonehenge, circles and spirals figure prominently in all walks of ancient life, spanning a multitude of cultures with religious and magickal significance. Magicians were casting magick circles in the Middle East during the Assyrian reign from 883-612 B.C.E. [this is an academic, and yet prejudicial, manner of saying Before Christ, see here], and a fellow by the name of Honi cast a circle and successfully called in rain during a drought to save the people around 65 B.C.E., as noted in Jewish rabbinical literature. The story of Honi the Circle Maker is interesting because it gives us several clues to your heritage of ancient magick, and how it is still taught today…Since Honi's story occurred more than 2,000 years ago, there is debate on what he actually represented in his society.”
Let us pause in order to note that she, a witch, recognizes in Honi’s actions the casting of a spell or the magickal invocation within a ritual circle. As to whether this was commensurate with his society; we know that Simeon b. Sheta'h dealt with witches right around Honi’s time (as was noted in the previous segment).
Moreover, and more to the point, Honi’s lifespan falls within the time when the Rabbinate came into being. It was during the exile to Babylon when the Hebrews came up with the concept of the Rabbinate as a replacement for the Priesthood. The Rabbinate is “Rabbinic Judaism’s” system of religious authority as administered by Rabbis. There are two Talmuds; the Bavli or Babylonian and the Yerushalmi or Jerusalem. These both claim to record ancient oral tradition, the Mishna, and add commentary upon those tradition, the Gemara. They were put into writing between circa 400-500 AD. The Babylonian Talmud is the more voluminous (circa 11 Bible sized books in some editions) and more authoritative.
Rabbinic Judaism’s claim is that upon Sinai; YHVH gave Moses the Torah which he was to write down and also gave him oral laws and mystical teachings which were all to be passed on orally (the Mishna and the mystical/magickal teachings/practices have come to be known as Kabbalah aka Cabala and Qabalah).
The Babylonian Talmud and thus, Rabbinic Judaism, appear to have mixed Babylonian thoughts and practices with those of the Torah or, perhaps, have hidden Babylonian thoughts and practices under the veneer of the Torah. They claim that the Talmud is more authoritative than the written Tanakh, the Old Testament, and that the Rabbis have ultimate authority. In fact, the Talmud contains a story of a Rabbi defeating YHVH in a debate with YHVH conceding defeat, “My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me” (Talmud, Baba Metzia 59a).
Kabbalah is a form of Jewish mysticism which some would, more boldly, refer to as Jewish witchcraft and/or magick. For example, there is the very well-known concept of the golem; a Rabbi could write a sacred name of YHVH such as Emmet (aleph, mem, tav) upon the forehead of a sculpture of a human form made of mud and could bring it to life to perform certain tasks. The Rabbi would then turn it back into lifeless mud by rubbing the aleph off. This is because Emmet means truth (written with the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet) and met means death. This is nothing more than a magkical conjuring and vanishing which any witch would recognize as such.
Let us get back to Silver RavenWolf’s statements:
“Was he just a plain old magician, or was he a part of the priesthood? Some feel that his miracle was remarkable enough to write down (which they did) but too dangerous to let the reader think he was operating outside of the current religious structure of the day, therefore Honi (in successive tellings of his story) became part of Jewish rabbinical society.
Honi's story gives us important clues as to how magick works and why, 2,000 years later, we continue to use the magick circle.”
Within the Honi story, she does not see, and emulate, appropriate prayer to the personal God of the Bible but rather, how witchcraft was done and thus, how her lineage of magick hearkens back to the magick of days gone by.
“…the people desperately needed rain, but it did not come. They approached Honi [who]…told the people to find sufficient cover for the mud and clay Passover ovens…In magick, this is the mental preparation needed to set the stage for the working. In making the people move the ovens, Honi was mentally encouraging them to believe in the magick. Once the ovens had been covered.”
Here comes a key point which impact’s upon Mark Batterson’s claims directly:
“Honi prayed, but it did not rain. He then realized that he had made an error: he forgot to cast the circle! No wonder the rains would not come—he had not created a stable platform for the work to manifest. Honi then cast a magick circle (possibly with a staff or rod in the dirt, though the text does not say), and stood within it.”
Recall that this was written in 2003 AD and Mark Batterson claimed that YHVH showed him a new way of praying, within a drawn circle, in his 2012 AD book. Did Batterson read RavenWolf’s witchcraft book and glean ideas from it? Who knows, but he has hit upon the exact same concept. He has even claimed that his, now successful, coffee house became a success after he drew a circle upon the roof.
Also, note that, indeed, the text does not say whether Honi used a staff or rod. Yet, in many of Batterson’s materials, including his “Praying Circles Around Your Children” materials, Honi is shown in, very modern, illustrations using a staff to draw the circle. Obviously, Silver RavenWolf notes this as witchcraft is keen on using wands and staffs of various sorts.
RavenWolf also notes that “What is interesting about this story is that Honi then talked to God as if he were talking to anyone…In essence, he gets a bit feisty.” As we already noted, he is referred to as being petulant and may have been considered for anathematization as “thou wouldst have merely desecrated the Holy Name.”
Mark Batterson actually makes this form of petulance a second point of focus, the first being the circle. He chooses to refer to it as “bold” prayer but the end is the same; demanding that YHVH answer your prayer, that He do your will.
This is not like Abraham who pleaded on behalf of any righteous within Sodom and Gomorra. He humbly approached YHVH, asked for His indulgence, asked for pardon for speaking again and being indulged again, time and time again. Rather, Batterson’s magickal system prescribed making a magick circle, standing therein and, as it were, holding your breath until YHVH does that which you demand—boldly. That “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16) does not amount to being a bully. If you tell YHVH what to do and He is, by ritualistic means, bound to do it then you are God’s god and thus, are god.
RavenWolf continues by focusing on aspects of magickal workings:
“So far, Honi has done four important things. He's moved the bake ovens to indicate his faith in his ability to make rain…He's cast a magick circle to purify the area because when he ‘just’ prayed, nothing happened…he wasn't centered and cast the circle to put himself in the correct frame of mind. The next thing he does is connect with deity. Then he tells Spirit his magickal intent, and very firmly too. Is he threatening God with that last statement? Actually, no. Again, looking at this from a magickal point of view, he's telling himself that he's going to succeed, no matter what.”
Understand that Magick 101 is causing change by means of one’s will. Listen to RavenWolf’s statement or that of the mystical alchemist, and actor, Will Smith and they all say the same thing. For example, Smith stated that when he sets his mind towards accomplishing a task, the universe literally bend to his will in order to bring it about (you can hear him say it in a video found here). He also stated that 2+2=4 only if you want it to and if he does not want it to then it will not. Is it any wonder that such personages end up believing that they are god(s)?
More focused still, Sliver RavenWolf notes:
“He's putting his conviction into the magickal mix and giving himself a verbal booster at the same time. He's being firm, like a Victorian lady who won't take no for an answer, yet it is not God he is pressing, but himself…believing in himself. Evidently, he needed the extra verbal push that day…Honi has just added visualization to the proceedings. Those who are unmagickal think that Honi is continuing to talk to God, but he isn't. His dialog is meant for himself. He's matching the word to the visualization…[finally] The rain fell precisely as he ordered it. Finally, Honi says, ‘I know you will do this for me,’ which magickally turns out to be the most important statement he can make. He is affirming his belief with utter conviction, removing all doubt from his mind with the force of the statement.”
Think about this statement in terms of Christianity’s health and wealth preachers; name it and claim it (or, blab it and grab it). It is precisely the same; witchcraft under the veneer of Christianity. Health and wealth preachers claim that you must prayerfully tap into the Spirit and exercise the force of your faith and speak, claim, your healing and wealth into being. Replace terms such as prayer, Spirit and faith with invoke, universal energy (or some such thing) and will, and you see that it is the very same concept.
“Did Honi order God to make it rain? No. In actuality, Honi was ordering rain from the collective unconscious like you order fries from McDonald's. He did, however, ask for God's involvement by stating the need and calling God by a title and thus touching upon what everyone inherently believes—the perfection and order of the universe. Therefore, divine energy was definitely in the mix because, to Honi, that divine energy was ‘all that is good’ and the basis for successful manifestation.”
He named it and claimed it. RavenWolf also makes a point about generational witchcraft, as I will term it based on her context:
“Honi's family, and his sons after him, were all rainmakers, which means that Honi's magick worked successfully on more than one occasion to become a family tradition…The story itself is enough to let us know that (a) real magickal people in history were not a figment of our imagination or characters in a fairy tale, they lived and breathed and practiced magick all the time; (b) they were not necessarily a part of any religious structure (though afterward they are sometimes claimed to be so, especially if, like Honi, they were at least sympathetic to the religious regime at the time); and (c) for Honi's magick to work that day, he had to have a magick circle. The story also shows that the universe has a sense of humor, and that when you ask for something, you better be specific and you darned well better not forget to cast that circle.
Does Honi's method work? Absolutely! In the Honi tradition, add this to any spell: 1. Ground and center. 2. Cast the circle. 3. Pronounce the Honi conjuration…4. Continue on with your working. 5. Release the circle. 6. Ground and center.”
She then offers a prescribed manner whereby to go about it which, by the way, is exactly what Mark Batterson does in his book.
Some other statements made by RavenWolf are as follows:
“Walking the circle occurs often in European folktales and religious ceremonies…to transform oneself or the area into something sacred, and to acquire power. This walking the circle was called circumambulation…in
magickal practice…The circlecasting is recommended for most magickal activities, rites, and rituals in the Craft. Yes, I've heard that a few individuals don't cast circles for folk magick applications, but it's sort of like gas. If you want the magickal engine to run pure, then cast a circle…Magick containing circular symbols is also prominent in modern Craft practice.”
Of course, she emphasizes that “Real science (case in point: new physics) can tell us a lot about how and why magick and related concepts, such as the magick circle, work.” And Mark Batterson will tell you the very same thing; his whole circle maker method is based on it. He does the same exact thing that the witches do but choses to claim that the results, that it “works,” is due to ones willful boldness or that YHVH did it. But this is tantamount to claiming to be a Christian idolater and saying that it is okay because whatever benefits you derive from idolatry are blessing from YHVH.
In Jeremiah chapter 7 we find that YHVH states:
“…children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes for the queen of heaven, while libations are poured to strange gods in order to hurt. Is it I whom they hurt, says the LORD; is it not rather themselves, to their own confusion?...They have defiled the house which bears my Name by setting up their abominable idols.”
Then in Jeremiah chapter 44, YHVH sends Jeremiah to preach against this evil and to command the people to stop worshipping that idol—the Queen of Heaven. Yet:
“all the people…said to Jeremiah, ‘We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD! We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.’ The women added, ‘When we burned incense to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did not our husbands know that we were making cakes like her image and pouring out drink offerings to her?”
Thus, they were worshipping an idolatrous abomination but hey, it works so it must be okay. Thus, Mark Batterson can claim all that he wants that YHVH bequeathed upon him a new revelation about a new way to pray but, of course, he is merely hearkening back to an ancient occult Kabbalah practice at best, Rabbinic Jewish tradition at the least and, most certainly, something which is non-, un- and even anti-Biblical.
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