Articles/Essays From Pagans
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
The Celtic Tree Calendar
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
September 8th. 2013 ...
Introduction to the Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage
The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre
The Holocaust Survivor (Part 1)
Giving and Helping
September 1st. 2013 ...
Use a Flyswatter for a Fly: More on the Dark Arts
How Spells Work
Is It Really 'Energy'?
August 25th. 2013 ...
Mother Nature’s Way: Forging a Distinctly American Path
Healing Moon Ritual
Unconditional Love: The Paradox of Perfect Love
Earth to Soul/Sole
August 18th. 2013 ...
How Not to Fall in the Bunny Trap
Why Are You Like That? Thoughts on Hoodoo and Appropriation
Finding the Right Coven
The Knowledge Found in Silence
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances, Hazelnuts and Magick Wands
August 11th. 2013 ...
“I Survived a Weekend with Galina Krasskova”
The Charges of the Goddess and God with Commentary
August 4th. 2013 ...
Fair Weather Witches
Pagan Studies II: Modern Paganism in the Americas
Pagan Abbeys - A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities
July 28th. 2013 ...
Crystals 101: A Helpful Guide For Beginners
The More the Merrier? It’s not Only an Inaccuracy; it’s an All Out Farce!
My Pagan Manifesto
July 21st. 2013 ...
I'm a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations
Rethinking Community for Solitaries
13 Keys: The Beauty of Tiphareth
July 14th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés We Use (Part II)
Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion
Moon/Planetary Musings: The Holly King and John Barleycorn
July 7th. 2013 ...
Coping With Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins
Shamanic Healing of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Humility and Community Service
H is for Hubris
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Intellectualism, Conformity, and Evolution
Article ID: 14434
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,042
Times Read: 2,677
RSS Views: 16,078
Posted: February 13th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,677
Last night I sat going over my plan for writing my essay-turned-book on Þórr with my husband, planning in what direction my research and notes are going to go in and pondering, among other things, the enormity of the task. After all, a deity as popular and widely-venerated as Þórr can hardly to be said to be lacking in information regarding not only himself but his cult, related folklore, and impact on society past and present. And naturally, no discussion of Þórr would be complete without discussing the concepts connected to him – innangarð versus útangarð; concepts of the holy and wihaz/sacred; mægen/megin; good and evil, that which is lawful, oaths and their importance not only in Germanic society but Germanic cosmology. Because in the end, what affects the one ultimately affects the whole.
I view work such as that which I am doing regarding Þórr as an offering – not just the finished product but the research as well – the entire process from start to finish is an act of devotion. Today being a Thursday (1/3/11) , as I begin to seriously delve into research and format the future form of my work, I intend to make offering to Þórr to ask him to bless my efforts. After all, as an offering, the last thing I want it to be is anything less than worthy, or half-assed. Just as it is best to not make too many offerings, so it is also best to make the offerings you do make good ones. However, it seems that being half-assed is a norm for some individuals and publications. And this is having a definite impact not only on Heathenry, but also on Paganism in general, and it’s ability to be taken seriously as a family of legitimate religions as opposed to a collection of walking media stereotypes.
The truth is that the market is flooded with a ridiculous number of “101” style books which despite a difference in covers and publishers ultimately contain much of the same information and even some of the same pat soundbites. And while there is a place for 101-style books and they do fulfill a function, you know there’s a problem when that’s what most people seem to keep writing. Would it not be better to focus on more in-depth material and counter the saturation of the market with 101s by bringing in some 202s, or 303s? Part of it simply has to do with the market – there is a ready market for 101s, no matter how many exist on one particular topic, because that is where there is a great deal of demand. However, I would argue that this is symptomatic of a larger problem, namely, people are ascribing to an anti-intellectual bandwagon whether they’re aware of it or not.
In order to best illustrate this point, it is necessary to examine the current state of affairs in our nation’s educational system briefly. In the past couple decades in the United States there has been an increased push by religiously-motivated bodies in this country to severely restrict the teaching of evolution (Kansas) , to actively rewrite history in order to fit in with current political ideology that is in no way reflective of historical political views and has more in common with modern punditry (Texas) , and to “teach tests” as opposed to instruct in a manner conducive to promoting retention. As a result, we have not only seen American students fall behind in math and sciences, but we have students applying to colleges using texting shorthand, students who can name the most recent contestants on reality shows like American Idol but can’t name the first ten Presidents of the United States, and students who think that the Earth is only 6, 000 years old, that dinosaurs are a hoax, and that science is “anti-religion”. On a wider scale, there is the growing acceptance of the idea that people who insist on research and scholarship are “elitist”, and that this “elitism” is somehow contrary to our values as a nation. In other words, conform to the norm, even if that norm is substandard. The problem with conformity, though, is that conformity stunts society. Conformity prevents innovation; it keeps things on a level that prevents improvement. Some of the greatest leaps in history, and most incredible victories and advances, were the result of non-conformity, of people going one step (or ten) beyond, proving that what was previously considered impossible is in fact possible, given that one is willing to put in the effort and hard work to make it a reality. This may be the reason that evolution is seen as such a bugbear by some – evolution is the antithesis of conformity.
In the Pagan and Heathen community you have people entering into both communities who are coming in with these mindsets, and don’t want to take the time necessary to crack out of them. Everyone starts with the 101s, but the idea is to grow past them, not remain on that level. And that takes time – for some folks, depending on background and where they are coming from religiously, it may take longer than others. I have met some Heathens who said it took them close to a decade to truly understand and see things through a Heathen worldview. A decade of careful study, interaction, and not being afraid to ask questions and expand their knowledge base. At its heart, it takes a willingness to evolve. Unfortunately, there seem to be at least two people for every one person who takes the time to truly know their religion who read a couple 101s and decide that that’s it, they’ve done it, they know it all. We’ve all had encounters with them – the “one book wonders” who have read just enough to sound like they know what they’re talking about to people who are less informed or new, and who make anyone else who’s put in time and effort want to take two bricks and smash them on the side of the head. They can recite what amounts to a laundry list of attributes and associations for any given deity but they can’t delve into why those associations exist, what their deeper meaning is, or how it connects to the larger cosmology of whatever religion it is that they profess. This is because most 101s will devote a section to deities, where they list the most common attributes and associations of a deity and then spend two or three paragraphs giving an overview. The idea is that the person reading the book will do their own research and might even bother to check the bibliography to see where they can find other resources. The problem is that people by and large don’t even look at the bibliography anymore – they get to the end of the final chapter/section and then they’re done and move on to the next 101. Or they go on to get a degree from Google University.
My good friend Miles Batty, a Wiccan priest and author as well as lecturer on modern Wicca, wrote an article which appeared on Witchvox in 2008 and which he has recently reposted to his blog, titled “Is Wicca Becoming A Plug-N-Play Religion?” Not only is this a valid question, it’s also an astute observation. Miles points out that in a plug-n-play mindset, not only is the deeper meaning and symbolism ignored, but it’s an offense to the deities as well as to the cultures they came from because it transforms them from beings worthy of respect, awe, and reverence to “employees”, to be clocked in and out as we need them. This plug-n-play mindset breeds anti-intellectualism: after all, doing any sort of deeper study and research would show that not only is plug-n-play a limiting and offensive paradigm, but it requires going beyond 101 levels.
One way in which plug-n-play mentality manifests within Heathenry is the rush for people new to Heathenry to “find their patron deity”. This manifests as the individual assuming that because they saw a raven while out walking on a Wednesday while wearing a blue coat and have an interest in runes, they must be chosen by Óðinn to be his devotee. After all, Óðinn’s colour is blue, ravens are his sacred animal, Wednesday is named for him, and you’ve got his interest because you looked at the runes and thought they were your bag, right? While this seems ludicrous (and rightfully should) , this is the mindset of some people, and this is on the level of some people’s claims. This is also what happens when people don’t move beyond the 101 level and construct their entire religious paradigm around soundbites.
This sort of mindset is also what is allowing certain hucksters and troublemakers to flourish and present themselves as credible sources. Unfortunately, to question anyone perceived as an authority figure, regardless of how incorrect or misinformed they are, is considered “judgmental”, tactless, “negative”, and even rude and so it is discouraged. Again, the issue of conformity raises its’ head, and conformity and anti-intellectualism is where these types of people operate best – in such environments there is likely to be more acceptance because it is based on enforced ignorance. People want to be accepted, it is a psychological fact – we all want to be liked, and we will do whatever is necessary to make sure we are liked. And this is why, for some people, regardless of their true feelings they would rather keep their mouths shut than be the one to speak out. After all, nobody wants to be seen as “negative”. Perhaps it would be to everyone’s benefit for newcomers to Paganism and Heathenry to study the psychology of influence, compliance, and persuasion (an excellent resource on the topic is Robert B. Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice) . In his discussion of authority symbols and their effects on the human mind, Cialdini makes the following observation:
The appearance of authourity was enough. This tells us something about unthinking reactions to authourity figures…we are often as vulnerable to the symbols of authourity as to the substance. Several of these symbols can reliably trigger our compliance in the absence of the genuine substance of authourity. Consequently, those compliance professionals who are short on substance employ these symbols extensively. Con artists…drape themselves with the titles, the clothes, and the trappings of authourity…They understand that when they are so adorned their chances for compliance are greatly increased. (Cialdini on Authourity, p. 180-1)
If enough people took the time to study and read this type of material, the troublemakers, con artists, hucksters, and one book wonders would have a harder time getting anywhere. Despite the plethora of websites, books, and articles devoted to avoided problems in communities and spotting troublemakers, and the number of people complaining and hand-wringing regarding what they can do to protect their communities, few people seem willing to want to actually do anything for fear of being seen as “the bad guy”. To take this step requires a desire for intellectualism – a desire to develop the ability to think and reason, and to use it. It requires a desire to not conform. It requires a desire to evolve beyond the 101 level. It requires a paradigm shift on a larger level.
Going back to my Þórr project. I could write something that essentially reiterates what others have already written; I could discuss his basic attributes, his general associations. I could analyze the relevant materials from the Eddas and folklore. I could throw in some information on symbolism and in the end, have a book, which gives you a lot of information on Þórr that results in some handy soundbites. I could tell you that Þórr is the Friend of Man who defends both Midgarð and Ásgarð and leave it there, without discussing what it is that defines either, or how it relates to larger cosmological constructs. Surface stuff. And then I could throw together a nice bibliography and recommended reading list that I know only a few folks will even bother to look at. I could get something like that done and published on Lulu in a matter of a couple months.
Or I could write something that not only examines and discusses all of the above but gives you a deeper understanding of Germanic cosmology, understandings of right/wrong, good/evil, what characterizes the sacred and how health and holiness are connected – all of which connects to Þórr – and gets you to think. Gets you to question not only what you know, but to question what I’ve written, and inspire you to go out and find information that either supports or refutes my conclusions. Maybe even something that angers you in a constructive kind of way, because it gores a sacred cow, and inspires you to go out and draw your own conclusions or defend your position. I think I’d rather write that, even if it takes me a while to do it, because in doing so, I’m challenging you to not conform, to question, to evolve, and to stimulate your intellect.
Óðinn gave us thought for a reason – it’s time to stop wasting the gift.
Batty, Miles. "Is Wicca Becoming A Plug-N-Play Religion?"
Copyright: Copyright Sunna/Jess Blalock 2011.
Location: Charleston, West Virginia
Other Articles: Mountainchick has posted 1 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Mountainchick... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2013 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).