Author Archives: Irreverend Hugh
All about irreverand-hugh - who has written 21 posts on Erin's Journal.
Posts by irreverand-hugh:
Some Thoughts and Ideas
Scientists, Philosophers, and Theologians from the Abrahamic Faiths1 all tend to agree on one thing: Polytheism is an earlier, less advanced conception of religion. The idea has been and is so popular that today many people agree without reasoning why. From the theological perspective it goes something like this: Human beings began to engage with forces they did not understand and conceived of a world in which everything was alive with spirit (animism), then since human societies grew more complex people took animism to its logical extreme and posited a world inhabited by spiritual beings which were aspects of various life-forms and personalities (polytheism), then as people continued to search for ways to relate to the divine they discovered that there was one divine force underlying everything (pantheism), eventually leading humanity to discover the nature and reality of the God who created everything (monotheism). Unfortunately, this idea, and ideas like it are both false and ignore the fruits of recent research.
Much of the Neopagan community is woefully ignorant about magic and its terminology. I should point out the many in the occult or magical community also fall under this ignorance, but I haven’t run into many occultists who necessarily have problems with “black magic” unless they are pulling legs, or pretending to be infamous. This would normally not present any problem, since Neopagan religions are not necessarily magical systems, though they may use magical elements in ritual much as the majority of world religions do. The problem is that Wicca, and other Pagan religious variants under the Witchcraft rubric, consciously uses magical elements and practices and names them as such. This has led to the curious situation today where many Wiccans, self-professed Witches, and Wicca-influenced people will claim they do not practice “black magic.” Many older or more experienced people will often respond with the seemingly intelligent phrase “magic has no color.” But such a statement really says nothing new.
We know that magic has no color anymore than poetry or music has any color. So what? Many people, in using the terms “black” or “white” in reference to types of magic, are making a conscious value statement in clear lack of understanding where the terms come from and to what they really refer.
One thing that bothers me is the fact that Neo-Pagans, and those who call themselves Wiccan in particular, are virulently anti-Christian. Even the supposedly more moderate Neo-Pagan elders (who should know better) have made statements to the effect that Neo-Paganism is going to replace Christianity. (Not a very diplomatic expression. Not even an expression that shows any of Neo-Paganism’s supposed open-mindedness.) I must confess that such an event, if not coerced, would be fine by me. But frankly, despite the wishful thinking of many people who have probably themselves escaped or left the Christianity of their parents, I find no evidence that Christianity is going to be replaced by anything closely resembling Neo-Paganism. Christianity is not even disappearing, though its influence on several Western European nations has waned considerably in the last hundred years. Within American society, Christianity is stronger now than it has ever been since the founding of the nation.
Copyright © 2005; see bottom of page for full notice.
It is unfortunate that some people have mixed Neo-Pagan Witchcraft and Shamanism, because as much as shamanism can elucidate what Wicca was aiming for, it can deceive.
Shamanism, contrary to the market values of the New Age, is culturally specific and in order for one to receive shamanic training one must become adopted into a cultural group
which has shamanic roles. I know that “shamanism” is also the latest buzzword for those instinctual magical/spiritual practices that are in evidence around the world, but using the word in this way is very deceptive.
The word refers to practices of certain people in mostly hunter-gatherer cultures who went through ritual/psychic dismemberment and rebirth. This experience gave such people the ability to leave their bodies and travel to
other worlds and planes, commune with spirits and ancestors, and heal those who were sick, or find lost souls and bring them home. Some East Asian societies still have surviving forms of this sort of spiritual specialist, but the word shaman should not be used
as the blanket term for all sorts of these specialists.
An Irreverent Look at Ourselves and Our Supposed “Movement”
Which Degenerates into a Discussion of Theology.
The first rule is that you must bash the threefold rule and the Wiccan rede. This is essential in proving your anti-fluffy status. Once you can learn to parrot the correct words and cliches regarding the fluffiness of these two Wiccan concepts, you have proven to yourself and to others what a real serious Pagan you are, especially if you are an Asatruar or a Celtic Reconstructionist, but really especially if you consider yourself a Witch but not a Wiccan.
Secondly, you must, no matter how many times you have heard, seen, or read it before, believe that you are really the first person to point out that the word “witch” is not the exclusive monopoly of Wiccans. (Despite the fact that it seems that they are the majority of people who use the word as a title for themselves.) And then you must laugh at all those sorry souls who ignorantly protest the yearly Halloween imagery of green-skinned black hat wearing witches because it causes prejudice. (I must admit I find those people pretty funny too, but I listen to what they have to say anyway.)
Breaking Craft Stereotypes:
“Just because my religion gives me a cyclical view of life, doesn’t mean I’ll let you run me around in circles.”
The Wiccan “cosmology,” if you will, describing a twin axis between a double-aspected God and triple-aspected Goddess, and a deep yet seldom explored (at least by hordes of new and increasingly vocal Wiccans) four element schema cross-referenced by a yearly cyclical calendar based off of a creative interpretation of observable natural events is all a modern collective vision. Many of the things that make up this cosmology can be said to stretch back towards humanity’s self-consciously accepted “pre-history.” But this is nothing new in the history of religions. New religions often take up strands of older practices or viewpoints and synthesize them into new practices and meanings relevant for those doing task of weaving them together. Many of Wicca’s practices and certainly most of its belief structure can be correctly said to be modern developments. This is, in and of itself, the way things have always been with human spirituality and religion.
(Note from Daven: Please note, this is NOT my article, but it is THE best article I have ever seen dealing with who Eris is and why we should care. Do not make the mistake of dismissing this goddess just because she seems scary like other trickster/chaotic deities (like Loki, Coyote and Discordia) have been in the past. They are CRITICAL to our world. I made a comment when I read this article, and the author said it was one of the best summations of how a Discordian sees Chaos: “Creative Chaos. Without chaos, no inventions can happen, no progress can be made, for it is the spark of the Chaotic that prompts inspiration. Total Order is stagnation. ” So, keep that in mind.)
Eris, the Goddess of Confusion, Chaos, and Laughter
by “Irreverend Hugh (otherwise known as Triskell), KSC, of the Discordians for Softer Sandpaper Society”
“Eris doesn’t want your soul. She only wants to talk to you.”
A response to Keziah Thomas’ What Pagans Believe page.
When I originally wrote my response to Keziah Thomas’ “Ex-Pagan 4 Christ” site, I thought I had found nothing particularly offensive or wrong about her “What Pagans Believe” page. Upon revisiting, I have found many errors. The following are my responses to the entire article, here printed in full for ease of reference, in the hopes that Christians would stop being so sloppy with their research. As a practitioner of Neo-Paganism for several years, I feel it is important to counter such pages and publications as these with the facts. Enough is enough. Some of us Pagans are getting tired of the prejudices of those certain very vocal fundamentalist Christians who exhibit abject discomforts over the idea that other religions and ways of thought exist. To those types of Christian, I can only say that I hope you take your own moral injunctions seriously and stop bearing false witness against your neighbor.
Ex-Pagan 4 Christ
What Pagans BelievePagans subscribe to a vast number of different beliefs, and Christians should not assume that all pagans believe the same things. Pagans even argue among themselves about what the definition of “pagan” is so it is hard to catalogue what they all believe.
A Useful Framework to Help Understand Terminology Usage and Identity:
The following will go from the broadest to the most specific. Please read the whole article before you respond angrily or happily. In fact, please not only read the whole article, but also do some thinking about the points I raise. It is not as long of an article as I could have made it simply because I wanted to put the basic ideas out there now. (As opposed to waiting until I finally get around to writing that book about Neo-Paganism and such, if I ever do so.)
Some of you may object to my use of the parallel between Pagan and Abrahamic religions, but it is the most common way to elucidate the framework, since most people are familiar with Abrahamic faiths. Some of you may object because Neo-Pagans as a whole are still a minority whereas Abrahamic religions have billions of members and are dominant in societies across the world. Keep in mind that member numbers have nothing to do with this framework. It is about ideas and approach, not population statistics. (And who knows? Maybe in one-hundred or so years, Neo-Pagan religions may become dominant or at least on a par with the Abrahamic faiths in terms of numbers of members. It could happen, since the Neo-Pagan community seems to be doubling in size about every five or so years.)