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outgrowing paganism, 2

January 8, 2009

Below is my response to a post made over at Druid Journal regarding deo’s shadow and my commentary thereof.

Thanks for the link to my blog. I’m glad you stopped by.

I have to say that I agree and disagree with you in a number of ways. The primary one has to do with, believe it or not, personal experience. I have found over my life that if my personal experiences can’t be compared and related in terms of scientific words, they are to be set aside until there is a time that they can. This does not mean that I have to discard science because I had an image of a white lady walking behind me (which I did), that, at the time, i called the goddess.

Granted, this creates an interesting quandary, where my need for scientific experience is very personal, and therefore, in terms of this argument, doesn’t follow. Unless, of course, you already approach it all from a rational point of view, which you openly say you don’t, so I digress.

That said, I don’t think it’s fair to lump all pagans, even us atheistically inclined ones, into a category where suddenly our practices don’t fit our theologies or lack thereof. (I think that’s what I wanted to say). It would be more fair to claim that the entire pagan movement (wiccan or otherwise) is based on the idea that everyone is a shaman/wiseman/sorceror, all related to a reconstructionist point of view, which is false and erroneous if you are looking to the past to model the present.

More than anything, I think it is erroneous to say that “outgrowing paganism” is kin to saying “I’m beyond paganism.” While it may quite be that for some, I simply feel divergent from its current shape. The idea that we all should be magic workers makes no sense to me, and to many apparently. Therefore, I am outgrowing its current shape. Should it return to a more secular way of living life rather than a watered-down electrolyte of crystal worship and cross-pantheonic misinterpretation, I might look on it more favorably, but as it stands, there is little merit left in a culture that thinks that “magic” is prayer.

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4 comments

  1. As a pagan Naturalist, I can sense your frustration at the supernaturalist bent that Paganism has taken. I too am not so crazy about the crystals, and unbelievable claims of many of the adherents of Paganism. I blame alot of that on the fusion of new age mysticism with Neopaganism which happened in the 60’s and 70’s.

    Nonetheless, I think that if we allow others to define our words for us, then we give them some degree of power over us. There is strong evidence that magic was not seen as particularly supernatural until relatively modern times. Isaac Newton, the founder of physics, was also equally known for his explorations into alchemy. The fact is that at one point in time, there was effectively no difference between those practicing “magic” and those practicing “Science”. It wasn’t until much more modern times that Science sought to differentiate itself as a separate discipline, both as a means of weeding out unfounded superstitions, and to separate itself from religious practices. Trickster “magicians”, like David Copperfield, Harry Houdini, et al, further convinced the public that real magic was by definition supernatural and inherently unexplainable. Ancient magicians and alchemists made no such assumptions. In fact, there very practice was based on the idea that “magic” could indeed be explained and controlled.

    The supernatural itself is very much a western concept of theology, drawn from the Garden of Eden story. The idea being that the universe used to be one, but was fractured by god into two parts, one worldly, and the other unknowable, after the fall of mankind from eating the fruit of knowledge. Without this concept of a seperate unknowable universe superimposed over this one, Magic would then belong to this universe and as Gerald Garner put it be essentially no different than the art of growing potatoes.

    To me, use of the word magic has never been a claim for the existence of the supernatural, but rather a kind of activism which proclaims that it is actually the natural world itself which is “magical”, and thus a supernatural world view is unnecessary. I acknowledge too that my point of view is increasingly in the minority, but truth has nothing to do with the number of adherents (See argumentum ad populum). As long as there are still a handfull of others that share my perspective that magic is nothing more than “The the art of changing consciousness at will” then I’ll continue to both practice “magic” and call myself Pagan.


  2. Hi Derek! Thanks for your thoughtful reply to my post. I’ve replied in kind. I am not posting my full reply here, in the interest of saving space on your blog; this is the link: http://druidjournal.net/2009/01/08/irrational-paganism/#comment-131375. But I’m not sure what the best blogging etiquette is here — I’m happy to post the full text here, also; let me know. Thanks again!


  3. […] bugs. « outgrowing paganism, 2 picking on Lonnie January 10, 2009 On a previous post, commenter Lonnie detailed some […]


  4. *shakes head as she wanders by* Have you noticed how I keep my distance during these conversations?



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