bohemianeditor: an old-style typewriter (probably 1940s Remington Rand) (blue candles)
[personal profile] bohemianeditor posting in [community profile] spiritual_woo
This Witchvox article has been making the rounds:

The Pagan Secret

... it has been bothering me for a long time that pagans have this idea that nearly anything you can conceive of as being a pseudo-religious experience is real and irrefutable as long as the person claims they believe it happened.


I'm talking about the New Age, fantastical world in which every animal, rock, dragon, Otherkin, and anything else JRR Tolkien could come up with lives on some astral plane and they've all got super magical secrets to tell you and treasures to share. It's not true, and it's time we called people on it.

Me, I like some woo in my spirituality and some spirituality in my woo, but it does help to keep them separate. One doesn't necessarily follow the other.

I also think it's helpful to look critically at the woo-woo bits, rather than do what this writer is railing aganst: uncritically accepting the least sparkly thing as a Profound Religious Experience.

What do y'all think about the intersection of woo and [your spiritual path here]?

Date: 2009-12-02 02:49 am (UTC)
nebulosity: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nebulosity
I analyze everything, kind of how we analyzed everything in Philosophy of Religion class at the university using logic. I think an experience has to deeply resonate with me beyond words, even after I analyze it, in order to whole-heartedly accept it.

Date: 2009-12-02 03:52 am (UTC)
rainbow: image of the full moon and mist (Moon mist)
From: [personal profile] rainbow
most of my spirituality is pretty woo to most people, but your comment "I like some woo in my spirituality and some spirituality in my woo, but it does help to keep them separate. One doesn't necessarily follow the other." leaves me suspecting your meaning of woo is different than mine (mine is "all that spiritual stuff that is outside the experiece of most people").

the article annoys me in that the author uses alternatively pagan (which for me is secular [i identify as a non-religious pagan but know plenty of people who are religious pagans, too]) and neo-pagan (which, afaik is always a religious affiliation).

the article's statenent that paganism "fights for legitimacy alongside the big religions of the world, and while we're making some progress, we seem to constantly stunt ourselves by inability to find out where the boundaries are of our own religion" seems to assume that there's one way to be properly pagan and it's reasonable for one group to decide for everyone how to do it "right".

in general i take exception to those who feel that other people are following their own spiritual path "wrong"; if someone believes they channel santa or got the secrets of the universe but can't remember them, to me that's their business. if it helps them along the path of what they came here to accomplish, it's right for them.

Date: 2009-12-02 12:30 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
Curious, if you don't mind: when you identify as a non-religious pagan, what does that mean for you? (I've seen people use it before, but not anywhere I could ask them easily directly what that meant.) If you've got something somewhere already that I can read instead, feel free to point me, too.

Date: 2009-12-02 06:46 pm (UTC)
rainbow: drawing of a pink furred cat person with purple eyes and heart shaped glasses. their name is catastrfy. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rainbow
for me it encompasses a lot of things, including recognition that the moon, the earth (and everything on it) is alive, even if it's not the sort of "alive" we tend to think of; that everything contains a bit of the divine; honoring the seasons and the changes of the moon; recognising that physical reality and spiritual reality can be at odds with each other at times and yet both be "right" for what they are at that time; use of intention and energy to accomplish things; recognition that the energy i put out will come back to me multiplied, for good or bad.

what for me some of the things that make it non-religious are there isn't anything about belief or faith, only about what i experience myself; while i recognise that gods/goddesses can be entities, constructs, or ways to commune with the divine, for me they aren't things to worship; no rituals or tools; days that i celebrate as holidays aren't "holy days", they're days that are meaningful for me that i enjoy celebrating.

Date: 2009-12-02 12:35 pm (UTC)
the_escapist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_escapist
I agree with this comment. I mean, I might find the concept of faeries and the like a bit naff, but who am I to tell someone else their beliefs are wrong, and beyond that I find it self-defeating to let myself ever come to a finite conclusion on what I think is and is not, because once you stop asking questions, you stop learning.

(But then again, I am agnostic existentialist, so in my eyes everything is relative to perspective and the truth is therefore unknowable, so it kind of stands to reason that I'd think this way ...)

Date: 2009-12-02 12:28 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
I'm somewhere in the middle. I think everything on the planet has its own mysteries (in the religious sense) and wonders. But I also don't think they're super-secret-magical things, but differences of experience, perspective, approach, strengths, weaknesses, that are absolutely fascinating to take seriously and use as a way to look at actions and interactions from different perspectives.

But at the same time, it's 'This is a really cool library to draw on', not 'This is what decides how to run my life'. Because just like they all have experiences and perspectives, so do I, and I'm the one who lives in my body and lives with the consequences.

I'll give a really simple example: I'm a school librarian. People *think* they know what my job is like all the time, and they're almost always missing important pieces or just plain wrong about some significant part.

That's not a big deal - but it doesn't mean I'm going to decide what to do in my workday based on their perspective of my life, either. I may, however, take those conversations and understand a bit more about what I could explain better, demonstrate, focus on in my own choices, or use what they say about what *they* do and care about to better interact with them.

I see the woo the same way: I pay attention to it, because it can be useful input and I work better with data, but I don't run my life solely by it, either.

Date: 2009-12-02 02:33 pm (UTC)
wide_worlds_joy: (Dizzying Intellect)
From: [personal profile] wide_worlds_joy
I'll cop to skimming the article, so some of what I may say might have been covered in the article.

That being said, I have a major problem with the article.

Yes, we should examine our beliefs and our ways of thinking, but when you do find a source of education that works, then you use it. (I'm a Chaos Witch and a pragmatist if you couldn't tell.)

While I don't advocate believing everyone at face value and accepting that Gandalf came and taught you in your sleep, there are times when to the individual practitioner it can be said that they went through a spiritual awakening in which Gandalf did teach them.

One of the major problems with the multiple-universe theory is that, at its core, you HAVE to accept that there are multiple universes, and that things that are not possible in this universe are possible and even normal in another. You have to accept that in cases the fictional works of authors are not fictional at all, but real in all the details that were laid out. That it is possible to travel to one of those universes through mental/spiritual/magickal disciplines and see that world and learn from it.

Finally, in the end, does it matter a bit if the person learned how to astrally project from Natasha Kerensky, Ogma, Mordenkainen, the Dragon Fuji, or ones own spirit guides? Especially when those same Spirit Guides can take on the guise of anything that is conceived of to present their lessons or the person learning projects an aspect of what they know on that spirit guide to give it an "identity".

When reality is fluid, what does it matter who and what you interact with? Granted going out and telling everyone that you learned this lesson from Superman will get you looked at as a loon, but when the lesson moves people and causes them to rethink things, or when the lesson is proven to be right, what does it matter? The lesson is the Truth, not the source.

Personally I think the author wants to rail against the people who are schizophrenic and who have emotional disorders and have separated their consciousness from THIS reality in an attempt to cope, and thus they look like they are nuts. But calling the mentally deficient "crazy and loons" isn't politically correct anymore.

Truthfully? I've learned from the Dragons, the Cat spirits, from my Dungeons and Dragons characters, from fantasy books and from a host of other sources. I find Truth where I find it, and if someone has a problem with that, they don't have to listen to me. I'm sane and emotionally stable. If they don't like it, that dislike doesn't effect me at all.

Date: 2009-12-02 06:10 pm (UTC)
klgaffney: (Default)
From: [personal profile] klgaffney
my major issue is that the author appears to have conflated the entire pagan spectrum to = neo-agan, which i consider a specific religion that has absolutely nothing to do with me. this, in and of itself, may be the basis of her problem when it comes to feeling the need to define and defend a certain standard of "doen it rite."

to answer your question, though, i suspect what other people call "woo" is part of my recognized daily reality, which means it's open to the equivalent level of critical examination as everything else i see, hear and touch; my spirits are just as fallible as any one else, and guess what, sometimes i hear my corporeal family wrong, too, or misunderstand what a friend is saying, or mistake something i see for something else. why should anything on the spirit plane any different? "woo" is neither a trump card, nor considered something to be actively avoided--or even that big a deal, as far as i'm concerned.

Date: 2009-12-02 08:01 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
Ah! Thanks for the explanation!

That sounds similar to a friend (who's local to me) who describes her practices as pantheism. She's got the same focus on direct experience, and a feeling that while there's power and the spark of aliveness in everything, Gods are not the point.

(Me, I'm a pretty firm polytheist, due to personal experience, so I'm fascinated by the alternatives, but need help getting my head around how they work.)

Date: 2009-12-03 07:46 pm (UTC)
rainbow: drawing of a pink furred cat person with purple eyes and heart shaped glasses. their name is catastrfy. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rainbow
you're welcome!

Date: 2009-12-03 01:11 am (UTC)
white_aster: (scenic: candle and sea)
From: [personal profile] white_aster
Meh. I can see the article-writer's point, and it is something that I've thought about. The problem, really, is where do you draw the line that the author is professing needs to be drawn? In my mind, a human gave the gods names. We said, "This is Ra/Odin/Hera, and he/she has told me this". So, if all gods are constructs, then who cares, when we're supposed to be a path about personal spiritual growth and a bunch of nonconformists besides, what they're called? We use thoughtforms and symbols ALL THE TIME in just about every type of magick. Who cares where they've come from, if they work?

This is all coming from a purely personal-use standpoint: I mean, whatever you call your god/goddess is less important than that you gain peace and love and guidance and strength from him/her, in my opinion. However, I think that the article author wasn't just talking about it from that personal standpoint. They were talking about how paganism as an ORGANIZED RELIGION is held back by such beliefs.

...hold on, I'm trying to wrap my brain around paganism being ORGANIZED. Yeah, I got nothing...moving on anyway...

They do have a point, though. If we care (...and for me, this is a HUGE if, since I'm a solitary and personally don't give a shit about how anyone else views my religion so long as they're not discriminating against me), yes, really out-there beliefs hurt our credibility as a Serious Religion, because they let folks point at us and say, "they are obviously just crazy, I mean, they believe X and Y! No one in their right mind would believe that!" But then...we've got Christians who still believe in transubstantiation. I guess my point is that every religion's got its folks who believe some really out-there things, and all they show is that some people in every religion are gullible and not great at logical thought. But then...we're all believing in things that you can't prove exist (that's what faith means!), sooooo.... :shrugs:

Overall, I think that the fact that we don't have a lot of the "traditional" religious trappings (a unified set of teachings, a Holy Book, a supreme religious body) and basically were just cobbled together in the last 50 years hurts paganism's case for being a Serious Religion more than the Hobbit Brigade does.


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