Posts tagged ‘pagan’

February 8, 2012

Authenticity

An identity crisis has haunted modern witchcraft practitioners — a sudden instability turning into a search for validity. Surrounded by Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) that unfold from each other over thousands of years, there is a fear of inauthenticity.

While the history of modern witchcraft is still under discussion, practice as it is done today is not a direct descendant of the old religions. The early developers of Wicca created false histories to cover the newness, perhaps to intentionally garner a mysterious reputation depending on who we are talking about. While folk traditions preserved practices and imagery, and literature, myths, and art saved old ideas from extinction, we cannot escape it: an unbroken line is most likely not true. Contemporary manifestations have been influenced by cultural context and information access. At the current publication and distribution level, modern witchcraft is becoming something other than the ancient.

But this does not mean it is inauthentic.

The major religions, the Abrahamic, Buddhist, and Hindu ones, are also contemporary, co-created expressions. They have a more continuous and cohesive history, with sometimes a simpler range of influences. This does not award them an unchanged status; for example, Catholicism has adjusted for its audience and its generation, whether informally by absorbing local culture, or as formally as Vatican II.

Each worldview, religious outlook, or personal philosophy, is constructed; that is not a value judgement, only an observation. We are all inspired and affected by the external. The manifestation we take can be grounded in a particular faith tradition, we can even identify with a particular group or path. The danger is in suggesting that one is more “real” or “authentic” than another, that it exists objectively, externally from society and its practitioners.

I hope that the work can leave behind counting centuries for validation, and become seeking self-awareness and authenticity-from-within.

September 24, 2011

Random Discovery: Spiral Scouts!

This won’t be new to everyone, but I just learned that there is a Pagan-themed, but open to all faiths, version of the Boy/Girl scouts! Wish I could have done this when I was a kid, instead.

About.com’s article on Spiral Scouts

September 22, 2011

Responding to Troy Davis’ Death: Community Responsibility

The death of Troy Davis, a recently executed and very likely innocent man, has sparked discussion and writing from my friends in other faiths. But, as far as I can tell, no Pagans are writing about the situation.

Being un-organized is one of the Pagan community’s defining characteristics. Liberated from rigid perspectives, we can move intuitively, shaping a practice and our perspectives organically. With no system of transference, education and spiritual development must come from each of us – deeply personal by definition. We are responsible for ourselves.

So, what do we lose?

Although we are a diverse community, the importance of the Earth and the recognition that we are pieces of a whole – whether that whole is divine, biological, or some combination – is a common idea I find across modern earth religions. Theologically, the execution of a potentially innocent man (seven of the nine witnesses later recounted their testimony, and clemency was still denied) should spark outrage among furious Pagans everywhere.

And perhaps it did. Perhaps many of us, independently, signed petitions and challenged those around us to see the imminent injustice.

But what could we accomplish as a community? And is there anyone out there writing on the death penalty from an earth religious perspective?

So much of what I see online and in the average bookstore is focused on spells without much theo(a)logical grounding; and too often a false history. At best, you could make the case that most of that writing revolves around identity formation, which is a consequence of the lack of organization.

I won’t deny that I found the earthy path as a teenager. It took time to develop a religious understanding and identity, and that is important work. I don’t want everyone to think the same, or lose the potential and significance of the personally developed. But we cannot stop there. We need to move forward, grounded in our ideas and practices, towards social justice and community responsibility. We need to put our voices out there, calling for equality and humanity.

Because we are earthy. Because when you are a piece of the whole, a human on Earth, a soul in the Divine Nature, being responsible for yourself demands community engagement.

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