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

1 comment:

kijjet said...

Hi there! This post reminds me of things I wrote in Theology class in college! :) What really struck a chord though was this:

"We must continually assess within ourselves the veracity of what has been revealed to us throughout our mystic experiences."

How very true. I've never thought about this, but it is truly one of the main differences between Wicca and other religions. There are those who do not analyze their experiences in this manner, but those that do are very grounded individuals who are sure of what they believe and more importantly rarely threatened by what others believe. When one truly believes that mystic experiences can be unique to the individual, no mystic experience can be denied or looked down upon. I think this is were a great deal of the open-mindedness and respect for others that we see from serious practitioners comes from.