CURRENT MOON

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dogma Is Not Particularly Important, Compared To Ritual And Experience.


Last night, I was talking w two dear friends about the interesting thing going on within Wicca.

Maybe it IS our Saturn Return as a religion. But whatever it is, there are certainly a number of people out there questioning their identity as witches, wondering where they go from here, asking hard kewshtuns. One of the things we noted is that, almost as a reaction to this questioning, there's a seeming movement on the part of some (and, no, this is nothing new; they call them "witch wars" for a reason) to insist that their way is the right way.

And, come on, we're talking about Paganism and witches.

I find her almost insufferable on some topics, but one thing that Ellen Evert Hopman said to me years ago makes perfect sense. Druids may be those people who study and know the laws so that society can go on. They work within the system, advising and teaching kings and preserving knowledge. But witches are those wily, wild, unpredictable, women who live outside the village proper and who ignore the laws that they don't like. They handle poisons and they consort with familiars and they fly around at night when it's windy and dark and proper women are all abed.

It's what makes them powerful. And it's what makes them dangerous. And it's what makes it impossible to "herd" them -- worse than cats.

And, it's what makes me love them, as well. My pipple.

And, here's Gus diZerega celebrating the out-of-control diversity of the Paganii:

Tomorrow I head off to Pantheacon, the largest Pagan gathering on the West Coast. It is always a treat to go and immerse myself in our larger community, the (statistically) 'normal', the granola, the techno, the weird, the geeky, the fey, and every other possible type of human being who can gather together in mutual respect and harmony, for with all the superficial differences among us, and some that I grant are deeper, we are still, all of us, Pagans. And that matters. A lot.
. . .

It is wonderful to see British Traditionalists (like me), Celtic, Asatru, African Diasporic folks, Druids, Erisians, and many more come together to celebrate the many ways human beings have to honor the Divine. (I have tried to provide reliable links here. If I error regarding YOUR tradition, please inform me.) The Sacred spins out its beautiful abundance and we respond in kind, Many old friends practice these other paths, and it is always a joy to see them again as we gather from all over the west, and sometimes even farther away.


In a separate post, diZerega also explains what witches have, in place of the "sacred texts" of other religions:

So what do we Pagans have as an alternative [to sacred texts]?

Fundamentally we are an oral and experiential tradition. We Wiccans have Books of Shadows, but they are more like ritual cookbooks tha[n] sacred texts along Biblical or even theological lines. Similar texts dominate in Brazil among the African Diasporic traditions. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. This also appears to have been the case in Rome.

Wiccans and Pagans in general do not look to revelations of other people's experiences with the sacred, especially revelations of long ago, we look primarily to our own experience in ritual, on vision quests, or through other practices. We also depend on the accumulated knowledge of our own spiritual communities to help us put what we have experienced into context. This means that we can never be completely confident of our understanding. What we know is ALWAYS provisional, it is ALWAYS open to revision. Pagan practice, wherever and whenever it has existed, changes, and that is OK.

She changes everything She touches
And everything She touches, changes.

This is a feature, not a flaw.


Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't think that can be said enough. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience.

I don't care what you believe. Did you find ecstasy in the ritual? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Did your hair stand on end and did the unknowable touch the buckle of your spine when that witch cast the circle? I don't care which "trad" you follow. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Did you meet the Goddess during the guided visualization? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't care if you're a festival pagan or a solitary. Was there a moment when you really became a tree, rooted in the Earth, strong, in touch with the minerals and water and fire at the core? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't care who initiated you. Did the Great Rite happen, did seeming opposites become one, did the orgasm make your boundaries dissolve and did you know, really know, for a few minutes that you're just Goddess pouring Goddess into Goddess? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't care that you came to the Craft via Buffy. Did the magic change things? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't care whether you wear a pentacle, which direction you call first, whether your practice is reconstructionist, or syncretic (hint: it is), or culled from the African Diaspora. Did you help to turn the Wheel of the Year? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience.

Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience.

I am a witch. I was born a witch and I will die a witch. What that means has changed for me over the decades and will, so mote it be, change with me as long as I live. But I'm happy for those who spend time as witches and then find something else more meaningful. I don't need the confirmation that would come from others also affirming this path. It's mine and it works for me. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience.


Art found here.

5 comments:

Celestite said...

Excellent, thank you.

Nettle said...

(cheering wildly)

Marya said...

Excellent quote from Gus. My grimoire is my garden in Africa and I have never known how to say that without it sounding loopy!

Marya

Sia said...

Outstanding post. Thank you.

Sia

Ron said...

Wonderful post! and thank you for the links, too!