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.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sciento-Paganism, Entry 3: Deep or Nominal?

Questions & Her deepest Mysteries. Isn't that what spiritual journey is all about? 

I wandered across a blog this past week wherein the author discussed her search for a "path." She had many questions. She was uncertain about what her "path" should be. Should she be a Druid? A Wiccan? A Heathen? What? She had concerns about "mixing paths," she was looking for the "ONE." So many questions... 

Good, I thought. 

But then I read the comments section & found a statement akin to (but not exactly, lest I offend), 'when you find peace of mind & are no longer asking questions you will know you have found the "ONE."' This made my skin crawl. But that was my skin, not the commenters. Perhaps her skin is ok with complacency. Perhaps her skin dislikes the noise of a mind filled with questions.

This morning the folks at Scarlet Imprint released part of an interview with Nemeton (I confess I am unfamiliar with this personage) which is to be released in the February edition of The Cauldron. This part of the interview is titled: Question 13 - The Future of Paganism. Scarlet Imprint's purpose for republishing this segment is because they are hopping mad about some redacted text, but I was more engrossed in their general message & the essence of Nemeton's answer to Question 13:
"Paganism and witchcraft should be seething with green fire in the face of the ecological collapse...  
We need to embrace a Deep Paganism, a Deep Witchcraft in the same way that we need to embrace a Deep Ecology...
This is something that we need to be united about, regardless of the other petty struggles that can dominate the Craft. It does not matter a damn who owns the real estate of what is or isn't traditional, or who initiated who, or what survived, if the planet itself is dead. We are in an ecological end game and it is time to take sides on this greater issue. 
Witchcraft needs to rediscover its radical heritage and with urgency."   
 Ooooh... good stuff. Really good stuff. But it gets better.

In his response, Nemeton references an article in The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies (a peer-reviewed journal of Pagan studies) in which the author Michael York describes two kinds of Paganism: "deep or natural paganism" & "nominal or blind Paganism." His description of Deep paganism is:
Humanity’s spontaneous response to Nature, the world around us and our unaffected sense of the animistic or numinous... this primordial paganism is atavistic and as such I am calling it root religion, the root of religion, the root of all religions.
I must infer then, that "nominal or blind Paganism" refers, at least in part, to the folks who find a how-to book or perhaps a guru & then settle in with the "one," walking it without question, without seeking for more, without going deep into the Mysteries -- the folks who seek a "path" so that they no longer have to be bothered with questions. 

I personally prefer to ask questions, grapple with doubt, get dirty digging for that precious root deep in the belly of Mama Nature.

I mentioned in Sciento-Paganism, Entry I: The Mystery of Relationship that I have been reading a peculiar book on dreamwork. This book mystifies me. Is Mr. Kaplan Williams really actually discussing dreamwork? I am suspecting as I read ever-onward that his subtext is significantly more existential. He expresses my recent thoughts on the nature of questions & the Mysteries so precisely, so succinctly:
"Give the person questions, not answers...
When we truly ask a question we are admitting we do not have an answer. How many of us are willing to get down off the throne of authority and humble ourselves before the mystery? 
My life is my answer. Your opinion is not the answer for anything. I will accept your questions if they evoke the search for truth in me..."  (emphasis mine)
In the spirit of Mr. William's words, I leave you with this, a question: Does your "path" provide you with questions? Questions that kindle the search for truth in you

Question Onward.


Carol said...

"It does not matter a damn who owns the real estate of what is or isn't traditional, or who initiated who, or what survived, if the planet itself is dead. We are in an ecological end game and it is time to take sides on this greater issue. " - oh Gods THIS! This is what drives me to do the things I do, to work on my projects and learn and study and read and....
Well, you get the picture.
My path is *consistently* driving me to questions...sometime it provides the answer and sometimes I swerve and find an answer off the path...and sometimes the questions lead to more questions...
I look at my own blog and journals and think about all the bouncing around I first I thought "well aren't I the flaky one!" But then I thought....but this is what makes me grow and expand....I doubt something, then it rolls around in my head, shifting and changing...and I go deeper.
And it apparently causes me to babble! *lol*
Thank you for your words - they are inspiring.

Moma Fauna said...

My dear friend,

I do hope you get a chance to read the full article, it is full of passion & erudite words. I am feeling the need to read more of his interview...

You may sometimes think you are having a 'midlife crisis' (I hear that often enough from you), but I think what is happening for you is just questions. Maybe some really big, deep, difficult ones. If you 'babble' (I don't see it that way -- I'd call it "sifting out loud") as part of your process, then so be it.

Sometimes it is difficult to be in the presence of people who *appear* so very *certain* when you are in a free-fall of question-asking, when you are open to changes in perspective. We both know some of those people who seem very, very certain with their purism, pedigrees & hierarchies. People who view those of us "In-Between" as not yet "mature" enough to have found or settled upon the "truth." I think in all this pomp they forget the most important point: "We are in an ecological end game and it is time to take sides on this greater issue."

I think In-Betweens have a great deal to offer. That clever rabbit told me something in a email once (when I was having reactions to certain 'pedigreed' folks) that the "Trad Hoppers" are some of the most valuable assets to a circle because they bring a mighty & well-rounded toolkit with them... & they share it.

By this I am not trying to devalue having a pedigree, tradition, etc. I think this is is a valuable asset (I had long hoped to find the right one), as long as you remain open, resist becoming rote, dogmatic, nominal... as long as you keep asking questions, as long as you keep growing & keeping your eye on the prize.

Aine said...

Like Carol, I wander all over the place. I liken my spiritual life to a trip that I took with a friend to Acadia National Park many years ago.

We picked out a trail we wanted to hike, it was an old logging road actually, which we followed for quite some time. And then we spied this smaller path, that diverged from the well defined road. We were inspired to follow it. It went along a steep sided embankment, looking down at an inlet. And then, the trail disappeared. We started to backtrack, but going in the opposite direction, the thin trail we had followed was not obvious. What to do?

Simply, make our own way. We looked at our maps, and figured if we went up and over the steep embankment, we had a good chance of connecting with a more established trail on the other side of the hill. And that's exactly what happened. We ventured out, explored undefined territory, and made it home our own way.

I understand the yearning to find the "one right way" or even that "one patron deity". I have had those yearnings myself, and actually there are several writers in the pagan blogosphere expressing this angst in one form or another recently. I understand it, but, over time, I have lost all need for label and definition. Labels and definitions confine, constrict, limit. Staying on a defined path precludes finding the answer to the questions "What if?" "What's over there?" "What does that really mean?"

I don't want to be certain, I want to be looking. I respect those who have happily found a niche - that is their destiny. But there are those of us out here who will probably never find an exact niche, who will always be wandering and seeking. And that's not a curse. It can be a real blessing.

Moma Fauna said...


I have been mulling this over for a day, working out a reply, but just never have the words to follow yours. Instead of trying to reply with comparable eloquence, I will just say, ditto sister.

I'm enjoying crossing your trail from time to time as I wander. ;)

derryth said...

I'd like to say ditto too! Wow!

There are days I think, yeh, this is my way...then time will pass and I'll see another "interesting trail" and I'll wander that direction. As for questions, I always have questions. Asking questions, seeking answers, it all helps me grow and I love it.

I am really enjoying your blog and blogs of others who comment here. It is nice to find kindred spirits. :)

Moma Fauna said...


You know, when I began this blog a handful of months ago, one of my (many) hopes for it was that it would be a place for friends. At the time, I had a very different group of friends in mind. For awhile, I was frustrated by the silence of friends I had thought would respond. In retrospect, it was foolish of me to have such expectations given our divergent paths.

But then there came these new, random & strange voices -- voices of others who trace along similar threads of the Pagan way, following their hearts, their instincts, their muses. I received messages & comments that told me I had kindreds. I realized that *this* was the purpose of my writing -- not to entertain a group of established friends, but to croon away in my little corner until I find the voices that understand my songs. This has been one of the most satisfying parts of this venture. Hearing your voices sing back.

When I find a kindred spirit, I listen for their song compulsively & I delight in them. Sharing is my aspiration. What joy it is to find we are birds of a feather. :)

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