Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichťs
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Age Is Just A Blunder
Article ID: 13870
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Fire Lyte
Posted: March 28th. 2010
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If I asked you to choose between asking a 19-year-old kid or a 40-year-old established adult to answer a question about politics, which would you choose? The quick and dirty answer is probably the 40-year-old. We naturally think that experience and age is accompanied by knowledge and wisdom. It has been proven in study after study after study that we view the superficial characteristics of a person to be a deciding factor in their trustworthiness.
We assume that wrinkles in the forehead and gray in the hair belie knowledge beyond our own. But, my dad always told me that assumptions make an ass out of you and me, and I learned that my father Ė whether I admit it to his face or not Ė is generally right. Now, I learned he was right not by looking at his forehead or hairline, but by asking him over 2 decades worth of questions and following up with his answers.
The same is true with books. When we look to ask the big questions in life, the books that have been around the longest are the ones we turn to when we want the answers. Obviously, if theyíve been around a while, theyíve got to have some answers. They have to be better than whatever shiny new thing is out there. Hundreds of years, thousands of years worth of trust in these texts must surely provide some sort of quantitative or qualitative proof that they hold more of the answers, the accurate answers, than other texts. Right?
Itís kind of obvious where that line of logic would lead. No, sir, just because somethingís old doesnít mean itís the truth. It doesnít mean itís gospel, except thatís sort of where the expression came from. We say something is gospel when it is the undisputed truth. And we get the word gospel from the four gospels in the Bible Ė Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This implies that the Bible, for example, is the undisputed truth. Except that the Bible and everything in it is one of the most disputed texts in history.
But, so are the Koran, the Torah, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Talmud, the Upanishads, the Veda, and all the rest of the holy and sacred texts of the world. We argue over scriptures we donít agree with and blindly accept the ones that sound good and just sort of ignore all the other ones. There are over 700 commandments in the Bible, but most of us canít accurately name the big 10.
The problem with old texts, especially ancient texts, is that specific peoples wrote them in specific periods and specific instances. Each one telling the story of a culture overcoming great obstacles and leaning on their god or gods for support, guidance, and justice. The even bigger problem with these texts, though, is that very perspective from which they are written. Because of this, cultures that are not part of the book writerís culture are typically deemed evil and against god.
For the Christians, the Greeks and Romans Ė and all of their gods and practices Ė were thought of as evil. So worshipping multiple gods, having homosexual sex, challenging the status quo, and a whole host of other ideals were considered evil. But, this can be the case repeated over and over again in each of the other Holy Texts.
But, the wisdom of these books cannot be denied. They have survived this long for a reason. There is beauty and depth and a path to the divine to be found within their pages. There is beautiful language and good advice and serious warnings against harming your fellow man. However, just looking at those beautiful parts is ignoring the harmful parts and the outdated parts and all the other parts in between. Remember the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, the pretty stuff will always be there, but you have to find a way to reconcile the not so pleasant parts.
On the flip side, there are the babies. The books and texts and ideas and spiritual guides that have been written in the last 10, 50, 100 years. These books have not had time to become a true holy text with hundreds of millions of followers and quotable scriptures disseminated amongst the masses. And, for that matter, it has not even been decided which of these dozens of books should be followed, if any were to be followed at all.
In paganism alone, we have Cunningham, Crowley, Morrison, Ravenwolf, the Farrars, Bone, Buckland, and dozens more. Each has their strengths, weaknesses, and ludicrous postulations. Are any of their texts singularly able to stand as gospel? I donít know of any pagan who would say yes. No, what book we would consider to be gospel is the one we make ourselves, right? Our grimoire, our book of shadows, our personal compendium of spells, rituals, rites, sabbats, esbats, laws, rules, and religious tenets. This book is put together page by page from the time we enter our path until the time the Goddess calls us home.
Unlike Charmed, these Books of Shadows have not been handed down for hundreds of years, but even if they had does a few hundred years give it any more credence than the book youíre writing yourself right now?
Of course it does! It has had more time to be tested, questioned, debated, tested again, rewritten, and finalized. The difference in a working Book of Shadows, though, is that it can be changed, whereas the more rigid classical texts are Ė pardon the phrase Ė set in stone. Another big difference is that our books are not typically seen as the exact word of the Divine, when the holy texts are considered revealed, meaning they are seen as messages sent by God. Which, in some way, is a comfort.
If these books are Divine, then they can simply be followed. There is no room for questioning or changing or updating, because there is Ďnothing new under the suní, as one text puts it. The date may change, the technology, and the manner in which we get in trouble might change, but the trouble never does Ė or so goes the thought. The Divine supposedly knows all of the ills and evils of mankind and set down laws and guidelines to prevent us from treading that path long ago.
Except, thereís the hitch. They didnít write the books. The gods did not set pen to paper, finger to keyboard, or metal to stone and etch out the books of past, present, or future. People did. Which is why the classical texts are littered with allegories and cultural misunderstandings, pitting people against people all due to a war or injustice that happened thousands of years ago. But, because itís a holy book and is older than dirt, there must be a really good reason why one particular group of people is better than the other.
I hope Iíve laid it out that this is both the boon and curse of ancient texts and practices. When we get lazy enough to blindly follow a text, we are doing our future generations and ourselves a disservice. But, young texts arenít any better. We write our Books of Shadows, our grimoires, our modern holy texts with our own beliefs, grudges, prejudices, injustices, and points of view.
Iíll guarantee that you have spells, rituals, rites, etc. that are tailored to meet your daily needs, but Iíll bet you also developed such a spell, ritual, or rite to take care of a specific situation. That time you wanted a better job or a new lover or wanted to get back at your old lover or thought youíd give worshipping Bast a go; itís all in there. And while you know the journey you took, your progeny might not. They might get a bit confused about why youíd be worshipping both Bast and Cerridwen and Coyote. They donít belong to the same pantheon, and unless youíve done a scholarly job explaining pantheism in your personal book, it could lead to a bit of a miscommunication.
Which, naturally, leads to later misunderstandings, and before you know it your words donít quite mean what they did when you first wrote them. Modern texts have just as many holes as old ones. The trick is to try and find them before they sink your ship.
19-year-olds could be geniuses who have already graduated with a Masterís Degree in political science, while a 40-year-old might be a bum who never got past grade 9. We know appearances can be deceiving, and yet we donít wholly embrace that when it comes to books. If the leather is cracked and the pages stained, itís assumed it might contain better knowledge. While the shiny new pagan publication, with its flashy title and gorgeous art, is treated as just another fluff piece. Iíve said it before, and Iíll continue to do so: they are both equally adequate and inadequate.
My dadís wrinkles donít make him right; my double, triple, and quadruple-checking his answers do. Then practically learning them in the real world cements them. But, he doesnít have all the answers. He still calls for questions about his new phone or for legal questions on occasion. And, of course, I relish in the chance to program his new tech toy, laughing the whole time about the day when he was the one with all the answers, and I was the silly kid who bought it all.
Each generation learns from one another. Do not shy away from the past, and, likewise, it should not shy away from the future.
Copyright: (c) 2010 - Fire Lyte - Inciting A Riot
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