Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thoughts on Pagan Religion and Electicism

Thoughts on Pagan Religion and Electicism

As Neo Paganism continues to attempt to define itself, there are a number of trends that have surfaced that appear to be detrimental to the development of any true understanding of paganism and the magical arts. This article will look at two of the most obvious of these trends. I have stated numerous times that I personally believe that religion is a man-made device intended to control the hearts and minds of others. By the same token I also believe that it is the right of each person to choose the manner in which they are most comfortable when it comes to their personal beliefs. Having said this, as one who has been a pagan in general and a witch in particular, for the majority of my life, I find it to be a bit of a oxymoron to frame the magical arts within the parameters of a religion. Now before anyone starts lighting up the torches, allow me to explain my personal opinion. Religions, whether they be Abrahamic, Pagan or what have you are based upon specific tenets called dogma, which specifies how its members are to approach their beliefs within that particular religion. Such narrow parameters do not allow for freedom of exploration in regards to ones spirituality. A specific forum is set out and all members of that religion are expected to follow in step. The problem with such an approach is that the dogma that is put into place is generally the concepts of one man or small group of men (and on rare occasion’s women) that then inflict their way of thought upon the masses. However, the Craft cannot be defined in such a narrow manner. For the Craft which in large part is about discovering the Greater Mystery’s, and no one man or group of men has the answers to such discoveries. And so to take the Craft and try to define it within the parameters of religion is self-defeating. Such a narrow approach shuts the doors to self discovery and thus spiritual growth. For by its own nature, religion is very inhibiting in that it discourages the very same need to discover that is so necessary to the mystical arts. One cannot allow themselves to be defined by the constrictive thoughts of the few and still claim to follow the tenets of a spiritual path known as mysticism. Such folks are in essence deluding themselves. They want the individual freedom to follow the path of mysticism but then by defining their beliefs as a pagan religion, they are exhibiting a lack of will to do so. Thus they are in all reality engaging in an oxymoron.As far as those who call themselves eclectic, that is just a means to put up a fa├žade. Mysticism involves spiritual discipline. And often is made up of long years of study and experimentation by those who have gone before. To be an eclectic one is simply dabbling due to a spiritual laziness and a lack of desire to put in the long years of study and understanding of the issues before them. To simply take a piece of this belief and a piece of that belief and a piece of yet another belief system and creating an amalgamation of belief systems that took years upon years to develop is in short a display of a lackadaisical mind. Such folks claim that this approach works for them. But the question remains; how do they know since they have no real understanding of the bits and pieces they have assembled and presented as their beliefs? Such a shortcut may seem very convenient, but in all reality when dealing with the mystical arts, such a lazy attitude could lead to disastrous results. Such folks seem to fail to comprehend that they are engaging in a practice that often involved energies and other-world beings which do not always conform to the human way of thought and expectation. The mystical arts are not a discipline/path to be trifled with. And to take such a lackadaisical approach such as eclecticism leaves one without the knowledge and thus the tools to effectively deal with the perils of the mystic arts. Again this is not a religion where one just mouths the words; mysticism is a hand on approach to spiritualism which engages with real energies and beings. To go at such a individual pursuit without any real knowledge of what it is one is engaging in is simply foolish. And eclecticism with its piecemeal approach is hardly the vehicle of knowledge and wisdom necessary for such a venture. One would do better to remain a member of one of the organized religions…