Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sciento-Paganism, Entry 2: In Between

It might have been the startling realizations generated by a chain of books beginning with Ronald Hutton's Triumph of the Moon, spiraling me through Aidan Kelly's Crafting the Art of Magic & landing me in the lap of Chas S. Clifton's Her Hidden Children, but I don't think so. Perhaps I was brainwashed into habitual skepticism by my astute, fact-checking Ásatrúar friends: envision baby-Pagan me enthusiastically waving a D. J. Conway book, hear the response, "Um... yeah... don't believe everything you read, especially in that." Perhaps it is my lack of formal training compounded with my scientific upbringing, or my obsession with reading source materials to the exclusion of anything recently published, or maybe it was the many years in isolation...  Whatever the reason, I have always been something of a Spiritual In-Between & unaware I was in such good company.

This is not for lack of want of a formal "path." I longed to have inherited a Fam-Trad, ala Elizabeth Pepper or Paul Huson. Theirs is the only brand of "formal" Pagan tradition (I use that loosely) that fully appeals to me. Alas, the grandmother story eludes me & perhaps that is just as well because if I had been raised in a Fam-Trad, I would probably would have been questioning it all along & still questioning it right now. There is no Pagan tradition/path of which I am aware, that works for me as a package deal. 

I thought I was alone in this because so many people assert their wholehearted allegiance to this-or-that & the voices of the irresolute eluded me. But then I re-discovered the internet. This In-Between-ness (a term I borrow from Teo Bishop) is rife: 
"But then, I’m standing in the kitchen with my friend, who’s not a Wiccan, thinking that Wiccan theology makes a lot of sense, just as parts of ADF Druidism make a lot of sense, and OBOD philosophy makes a lot of sense, and I come face to face with the awareness that it all makes sense, a little." -- from, Holy Crap… I think I may be a Wiccan
"I was talking to a friend about spiritual nomads... studying & trying to settle on one path vs. delving into multiple spiritual paths, creating your own, strictly following one or trying to mold one to fit into your ideal... How can I honor all sides of my spirituality?
...Druidry does satisfy me... mostly. The rituals, the Kindreds and 3 Realms, the community aspect....they all make sense. But where does my Goddess, that integral Divine Feminine energy in Nature, fit into my Druidry?"
-- from Amazon Druidry
"My witchery is more mine that it has ever been. I’ve defined it by adding to my knowledge, making changes to my magic, and at times excluding bits that don’t work for me... I am no longer the girl who listened in front of a library counter more than twenty years ago. I am a Witch who loves diversity, balance, growth…" -- from Bruja de Luz and Darkness, Too
"My biggest problem is that I seem to have a problem with walking multiple paths... I’m seeing path multiplicity becoming more the norm now anyway... In the end I still find little difference... What I want is a life lived in ritual, surrounded by the whisperings of the spirits who have always been there since time began, to bask in the comforting presence of my gods, and live a life suffused with spirit." -- from Becoming Whole: Reconciling Multiple Paths 
"Spirituality is an ever-evolving thing, and while some folk can do that within the structure of one religion... some of us always have a weather eye on the horizon.  We learn a bit here, and a bit there, and gather tools and souvenirs from every tradition we visit, but ultimately we prefer to keep on walking and do our own thing...  I found that, when I could no longer reasonably call myself Wiccan, I was sort of floating in the Sea of Muddled Eclecticism, and I had to tread water for quite a while." -- from Becoming a Spiritual Nomad
"Basically I was not happy with any one label, but when I would simplify it to Magician, or Witch, I would be met with questions about what lineage or Order I belong to... a large part of my calling in magic is based on my ability to see the common threads (and stark differences) between traditions, and also to see what lies behind them – that eternal stream from which all expressions of magic emerge as bubble from. Every time I tried to stick to one stream, I feel like I am betraying the deepest part of my soul." -- from Jealousy of the named path
If you take the time to read bloggers' profiles or "About Me" pages, you'll find a fascinating (& wonderful) hodge-podge of mix-&-match Paganism:
"...a spirit-worker on the margins of Hellenic polytheism, with ties to English, Germanic and Slavic folk traditions as well." -- from A Forest Door
"A Pacific Northwest spaewife practicing hedge witchery, animism, and ancestor worship... a folk magic practitioner with a focus in Scottish witchcraft and folk religion; which itself is a unique combination of Scoto-Scandinavian and Irish influences. As I live in the new world I also incorporate local traditions of ethnobotany and folklore into my practice." -- from The Witch of Forest Grove
" After studying British Trad Craft for a while, I realized what I wanted most was some kind of traditional witchcraft, but one more relevant to my actual home soil.  Currently, I work with several New World magical systems and I’m trying to understand how to be an American witch in the modern age." -- From New World Witchery
Of course, I could copy & paste until dawn, but you get the point. There is an abundance of "freestyle Pagans" (to borrow a term twice-borrowed already) out there who are just doing what works (for them) -- I just didn't know it. I find this comforting after experiencing a protracted pressure (whether real or imagined) to provide a label with "legitimacy." Somehow, I feel I just came home.

So fine then. Sciento-Pagan: labeled, legit.

I have a great deal to say about it.

Moma & Amanita muscaria. Just a couple of In-Betweens.
Moma & Amanita muscaria. Just a couple of In-Betweens.


Aine said...

Wow, what a thought provoking post, and great links too. Some of the writers I had encountered before, others not, so thank you for posting. For me, the beauty of the Pagan path is the freedom to explore and NOT be confined by a label. Labels are words, words that can be miscontrued. (Hence my post "Pagan is Not a Four Letter Word.") In the end, its the journey, and what you learn along the way, that counts more than any word.


Scribbledabble said...

Fantastic post. If it helps, I am an in-betweener (yet more company!) and have just gone freestyle. I have dipped in and out of a Pagan path for years and have had my mind boggled by the sheer range of beliefs. So I have gone back to basics and started blogging my thoughts, feelings and ideas so that it is all down in one place. I am opening myself up to many approaches and maybe one will be right for day.

Until then, Sciento-Pagan sounds good. I am a scientist myself - microbiologist, but please don't test me on mycology...I um, should have studied those modules a bit harder....

Moma Fauna said...

SO I had to take some time to conjure a reply to this. I am not sure why. I think perhaps my label issue arose because I have had a great deal of personal experience with people who are desperately trying to find a "label" for their "path. I have also spent time with a variety of reconstructionists & Wiccans-with-pedigrees. This is not to say there is a problem with that, it is just that if that is not your thing, it is easy to feel, well, oblique in contrast to their relative concrete-ness. Does that make sense?

...& I hear you on the journey. Agreed. Wholeheartedly.

Moma Fauna said...

Well, thank you. It's funny, I re-read the post after I published it & thought, "Well, it's not your best work..." I am happy to hear it has provoked some thought & found a kindred spirit. :)

If you return to this reply, Aine (see comment above) or The Hemlock Grove in my "Frequent Haunts" list is also a microbiologist. I happen to know I have at least one more reader of your teeny-tiny-watchers ilk. Hm... a pattern emerges. Gosh I love patterns.

Scribbledabble said...

Your mycelia spread far........

Scribbledabble said...

For your enjoyment ((Charlotte (Turner) Smith (1749-1806))- you probably know I like;

Queen of the silver bow! by thy pale beam,
Alone and pensive, I delight to stray,
And watch thy shadow trembling in the stream,
Or mark the floating clouds that cross thy way.
And while I gaze, thy mild and placid light
Sheds a soft calm upon my troubled breast;
And oft I think – fair planet of the night,
That in thy orb, the wretched may have rest:
The sufferers of the earth perhaps may go,
Released by death – to thy benignant sphere
And the sad children of Despair and Woe,
Forget, in thee, their cup of sorrow here.
Oh! that I soon may reach thy world serene,
Poor wearied pilgrim – in this toiling scene!

Moma Fauna said...

This is just beautiful. I may have some across it at some time, but I am not sure, so it is new to me either way. I do believe this just might be my next poem for the Esbat. Thank you! :)

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