2/25/12

Pagan Blog Project: D - Dynamics

Waxing Sap Moon (Age: 3 days)
Sign: Aries
Weather: Cold, windy, & light lake effect snow
~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I've decided to participate in the Pagan Blog Project. They're working their way through the alphabet two weeks at a time. Currently, this is the second week for the letter 'D'. I'm going to be discussing dynamics.

The word 'dynamic' often brings to mind vitality, activity, and effervescent personalities. It also can be used other fashions. It has also been used colloquially to denote relationship paradigms. It is this colloquial usage that I am referencing. There are many dynamics of this sense in the world. Three big ones that we consider in metaphysics are:
  1. Cosmological
  2. Theological
  3. Interpersonal
Cosmological dynamics revolve around the relationship between man1 and the universe at large. The questions that arise in consideration of cosmological relationships are myriad. They range from the questions as to the origin and nature of the universe to the questions of moral consideration regarding man's actions in relation to the multifaceted elements that comprise the known universe. Indeed these questions are so plentiful that I can not begin to condense them in a single post, let alone as part of one. For cosmology is a complex philosophical topic of inquiry in its own right in addition to being a serious subject of pursuit in theoretical physics.

Now, one may wonder why I give consideration to cosmological dynamics. This is a very important part of the worldview of any given belief system. Humanity has questioned the nature of existence for as long as we have had the capacity. As such, we have created stories, theories, and cultural mythos to quantify, define, and explain what we observed. It is from this primeval urge to understand what we interpret from our senses that the foundational elements of religion are formed.

As Joseph Campbell so brilliantly illustrated in his work The Masks of God and as J. G. Frazer detailed in his The Golden Bough, religion arose from stories accepted by a people, then enacted as ritual dramas and shared with other people. These stories defined for the culture they originated in the answers to the philosophical quandaries that fall under the heading of cosmology. In Wicca, we have a patchwork cosmology. Our stories are varied and highly eclectic. Nowhere else is this more visible then in how we delineate our relationship with the divine.

Theology and divinity2 are twin academic pursuits that attempt to describe that relationship. Experiential knowledge of the godhead3 shapes subsequent theology. There are two ways that this knowledge can be accessed. One is by way of personal revelation. The second is by way of analysis and reason.

The major religions of the world are predominantly based in revelatory experiences that happen to a given person (commonly referred to as a prophet) and then disseminated amongst the population of a culture. In the Abrahmic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), the revelatory experience happens to a patriarch who then shares this with his children. This eventually extends to others who have adopted the belief system. Authenticity of the revelations are based upon comparison to established canon. Disputes as to the veracity of a given revelation are what has given rise to conflict between these related faiths and within each respective belief system4.

Wicca lacks a body of work to be upheld as canon. For some individuals, this is argued to be a weakness of the religion. Quite frequently, these people argue that Wicca as a comparatively young5 religion lacks the validity of history. This argument fails to consider the influence of historical religions upon modern Wicca. Additionally, the cellular6 nature of Wicca places greater emphasis upon the individual's experience versus that of the community. It is this highly individualize nature that makes it difficult to collate and assess the collective knowledge with respect to the nature of the godhead and how man relates to it.

This forces a neonate to adhere to the maxim7 from the perennially popular Charge of the Goddess because they can not rely upon other sources. Covens assist neonates in exploring their relationship with the godhead, but they can not provide full revelation of it. This is a stark difference from religions such as the Abrhamic ones. There, the community at large has defined the collective and individual relationships one has with the godhead. There is a body of work upheld that one can compare their experiences to and thereby attest to the veracity of what they have had revealed to them.

For Wiccans, they must deal with the murky waters between mystical revelation and possible madness. We must continually ask ourselves if we are being genuine in our activities towards the godhead. We must continually assess within ourselves the veracity of what has been revealed to us throughout our mystic experiences. This requires a mature understanding of ourselves and our limitations. It also requires that we be ever honest in our dealings on the theological front. Duplicity serves no good and can quite possibly hinder our efforts to deepen our person gnosis.

This brings me to my third point of consideration, this evening. Interpersonal relationships are tricky things. Throw religion into the mix and they become volatile at times. This is where the other popular maxim8 upheld becomes a useful consideration. Individual freedom is highly prized by Wiccans. This cherished quality does often get a bit of humor when one attempts to organize a group of Wiccans to do something (the phrase 'herding cats' comes to mind). Individual freedom is essential to Wicca. While some would wish to establish some sense of orthodoxy for Wicca, this would deprive this religion of its appeal for a great many of its followers.

The fludity of Wicca allows for this faith to embrace all types of people and all types of worldviews. It is a strength of this faith for it to be so accessible to individuals. For each 'fluffy bunny' that one encounters who seems to espouse random platitudes with a beatific, yet empty smile, there are countless serious practitioners who strive each day to deepen their knowledge of themselves and the world. Paramount to this faith is respect for that individuality that gives Wicca its strength. As such, many Wiccans strive to conduct themselves with utmost respect for each other and all life about them. As a religion that is frequently panenthistic and pantheistic, this is only a natural outgrowth of such worldviews.

At the core of all the dynamics we witness at play in Wicca is this respect. We honor each other, the world, and the godhead. With this, we ensure our continued liberty and growth.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
1. I am using the term 'man' in the classical sense of referring to all of humanity. This is simply a matter of convention. No implication of patrifocal leanings are intended.

2. I am using the term 'divinity' to pertain to the study of the applied theology of a given religion. This is a minor departure from the typical usage, which to discuss this academic exercise with strict respect to Christianity.

3. I am using the term 'godhead' as a gender neutral term for the genderless paradoxical All commonly understood as God or Goddess. Aristotle defined this as the Prime Mover.

4. I recognize that there are many other major factors that are at play in the state of affairs between the Abrahamic faiths. For the sake of simplicity, I am focusing only upon this particular aspect.

5. Wicca, from an anthropological perspective, is argued to have arisen in its contemporary format with Gerald Gardner. The existence of the New Forest Coven which the late Mr. Gardner was initiated by has been the subject of some academic debate. This blog's position upon the debate is to withhold supporting either side until evidence is presented to conclusively prove one or the other.

6. Autonomous individual groups (covens) of practitioners operating with only loose social connection to each other.

7. "And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without." (from Reclaiming's website)

8. "An ye harm none, do what thou wilt" ~ proverb

2/13/12

Progressing forward on my path.

Waning Hunger Moon (Age: 20 days)
Sign: Scorpio
Weather: Fair, light breeze, seasonably cold
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I had a conversation with my Aunt, Rev. Wolf this evening. She's a very wise woman and I respect her highly. Like most of our conversations, I came away having learned something new. I also, in the midst of the conversation, had more of the things that I am being called to do clarified.

I am not sure if I am technically a member of the Church of the Ancient Paths. I believe I am, but it is something that will be clarified in the near future over the course of conversations with my Aunt, who is clergy. She's fairly certain that I am considered a member. This is actually an important thing because I have felt called to minister to the needs of the community, thereby serving the Goddess.

It is much easier to do so with the backing of a church. This can be accomplished either as part of an outreach program done by the church or in seeking ordination. It is the latter that I have felt called to for many years. Like in the case of my wearing a veil, I was fearful of doing so because I feared recriminations from my extended family. This, however, is a child's fear and I have put it aside.

In wearing the veil and making the changes to my dress that are in accordance with my genuine nature, I have continued the commitment I made about a month ago. That commitment was to be fully myself. This means not only expressing my personal sense of style and tastes in everything from music to the accessories I wear, but heeding the nature of my spirit and the direction that the Goddess propels me in.

It has been a big step internally. Externally, it has only a small number of changes that can be observed right now. As time passes, I know that more details will be revealed. I am in a state of transition. As I shed the outmoded forms of the past and reveal the brilliant light at the core, I expect some people will be delighted and others will be disturbed. This, however, is not why I am doing this. It is essential to the health of my psyche and spirit.

I'm tired of holding myself back because of what others might think or say. I'm tired of denying these parts of myself because it is not convenient for others. I'm tired of continually holding back my self expression because it is not 'normal' in the eyes of the family I grew up in. It is long past time for me to say "This is who I am. And I am wonderful because of it."

All I ask is that the Goddess grant me strength to continue forward and to break the barriers between myself and what is healthy for me. I've lived in fear for long enough. It is time for a new chapter in my life.

2/6/12

Fall & Redemption Theology: My Opinions

Full Hunger Moon (Age: 13 days)
Sign: Leo
Weather: Unseasonably warm, clear
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I've been reading about the modern Collriydian Filianic churches. I figured out what about their theology that doesn't sit right with me. It is their espousal of a fall & redemption theology. It is my understanding that humans are not born with a fatal flaw, which one would argue is the most accurate description of the infamous Original Sin doctrine. Original Sin holds absolutely no place in my understanding of humanity's relationship with the divine.

It is my understanding that we are all born innocent of any crime against nature or the gods. There is no criminality in drawing breath or being born of a given lineage. Arguments that we are all some how criminals (because sin is defined as crimes against god) by virtue of our birth are nonsense because it utterly fails the moral culpability test.

I prefer the idea that we are born in a state of innocence and as we grow, we become capable of establishing a relationship with the divine that is more complex . It is with this increased complexity that rules are laid out for the relationship and sin, the act of breaking said rules, becomes part of the picture.

It would as foolish as someone declaring that a newborn child is guilty of theft because they are breathing 'someone else's air'. No one can claim ownership of the air. It simply is there. It is our nature to breathe. It is a monstrous act of inhumanity to declare that the act of existing is criminal. And it is my understanding that the doctrine of original sin, where ever it is espoused, is criminalizing the act of being alive. I find this disgusting, demeaning, deceptive, and detrimental to establishing a genuine relationship with one's deity of choice.

2/2/12

Synchronicity or Sign?

Waxing Gibbous Hunger Moon (Age: 9 days)
Sign: Gemini
Weather: cloudy, cool but still unseasonably warm
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
My depression is making a comeback. A part of me says I should just chalk this up as a bad day or possibly some sort of premenstrual hormonal fun. Looking at my mood for the last several days, however, I'm finding my temper is growing shorter and my outlook on life is progressively turning bleaker. It is something that bears watching, though I still can't shake the feeling of apprehension that something ... unpleasant is waiting me on the other side of my counseling session tomorrow.

Now, one may wonder why I'm rambling about my psychological health. Two reasons for that, actually, one is because it's part of the constellation of things on my mind right now. Secondly, I am firmly convinced that our psychological health can directly influence our spiritual health. As I was confronted multiple times today with a sense of despair, I found myself questioning the authenticity of my spiritual experiences. It... It is distressing have sudden bouts of despair just descend upon me with out any real warning. It colors my view of just about everything in my life.

Strive as I may to counteract this, it is at times a relatively futile thing to attempt to do. So, I was sitting in the car, waiting to pick up the food that I ordered for Beloved and I to have for dinner when a fortuitous thing happened. Recently, I've taken to listening to the born-again Christian radio station. It's not out of any passionate love for Christ as much as it is less static then other stations and occasionally entertaining. As it happened, this was the radio station that the car was tuned to. I wasn't paying it much mind when the pastor speaking began talking about discouragement.

It was surprising. His teaching on discouragement was quite coincidental and focused upon an entirely different audience. At the same time, I found it to be helpful. I realized that in the midst of my efforts over the last several weeks, I had been becoming discouraged in several areas. Partly due to a measure of psychological/emotional exhaustion and partly due to my difficulty seeing where I was making progress in much of anything in my life.

The admonishment to pray when confronted with these feelings was like a light bulb turning on in a darkened room. Such a simple thing to do and yet... I hadn't even considered it an option.

Now, I know there are some who would argue this is merely synchronicity. Others would state that it was a sign that I should consider conversion to some flavor of Christianity. I contend that just as the Christian god is likely to use events with non-Christians to get a message across to Christians, so too is it likely that the goddess will send a message via unexpected sources to her people.

Is it a sign? Yes, I think so, but not that I should cast aside my religion. But rather, a sign that my goddess is keeping me in her thoughts and wants me to turn to her no matter how small and insignificant I feel that I am.