Recovering our History
Dust of time, by Pagan Art

I have written a few other pages on this issue, which I may refer to, but for this missive
I would like to address ... a problem if you will, with some peoples idea of how to handle Pagan history.

Pardon me while I clean off my soap box ( ) ok now ... :)

The trouble with "historical" references, which while very very needful, there is a limit to its application in the current day. For an odd example, in some very old books it's said that one "Must" wear certain clothes to do such and such a rite. 

Ok one big problem, the clothes in this case are supposed to be made of camel hair.

Now I don't know if anyone realizes how few camels there are in the world today, making this "requirement" difficult and massively expensive to obtain, if its even obtainable at all. Now to the ones who think that one must do "all" as our forebears did, according to our history, it would mean they couldn't do the rite

The ritual by the way is a healing rite, written during the time of Solomon, lots of camels then :)

My original training was in high ceremonial magick, in which such "requirements" were common place. I found it useful to know, but also found it often pointless as there was no reason given. Now for things where there is good and rational reason for doing so, such as color vibrations or the feng shui placement of objects, of course one can and should, if possible, observe the forms, but not to have slavish adherence to concepts that are no longer viable or reasonable for the current day, just because history says so.

Ok now, why did I bring this up ? Glad you asked :)

I bring this up because there is a very high tendency in the new come to the path to gather the lore and then try to adhere to the forms more than function. We have the lore, in tome and verse, lots and lots of it however, what tends to happen is there is so much information on the what ... that the how and the why tends to get lost in the shuffle. I cannot begin to count those who think that if they just have the right tools and special things from far away places, that their spells and rituals will be effective. 

Which is in a word


Wait a minute that's two words :) oh well, ya get the point .. anyway

Now, it's not just new comers either, I have seen folk who have been on the path a long time fall into the same trap.
Now why is it a problem you ask ? What difference does it make ?

The difference it makes is the very real danger of our faith becoming like so many others, a faith done by rote and repetition.
Without any real meaning or understanding of what one does or why.

When the form outweighs the real function and becomes the be all and end all of the matter. 
This is the danger of taking our "history" too literally, without a modicum of common sense thrown in.

An example: Seven day candles with payers and pictures on them. Make no mistake, I use them, but let me tell you why I use them.
Because unlike their plain brethren, they really do burn for seven days, as by and large they are made better. Not because of whatever picture happens to be on them or I believe them to be more blessed. I bless them myself, but I use them because they work as intended, where as the plain ones, often fail me.

There in lies the difference, plain and simple physics, they work well, the others often don't ... period.

Now what's the point here ? The point is I have seen folk send for candles from literally across oceans 
at great expense, because they thought that,
according to history, you have to have ones made by 
such and such folk to be effective. I have seen blessed candles, 
coming from far off places
sell for no less than 20 bucks a throw, plus shipping. 

I buy mine at the dollar store.

Now can you get good candles made by caring people who make them and imbibe them with
as much power as they can throw at them ?

Sure you can, but if you think that all you have to do is light the thing and wa la, wishes granted,
think again, we are not talking rub the magic lamp here !

Now why am I rattling on about something as mundane as candles ? To make a point of course :)

What do candles and their making have to do with history ? 
Let me give you a bit of history to prove the point.

At one time there were bales of candles sold
out of prime religious sites, and guess what ? There still are, and people today still buy them thinking 
that they are better than the ones they can get locally. The reason they think this ?

They believe the history that says that candles from such and such a place have more power. 
That if they just have the right candle,
blessed the right way, that it will make whatever it is they want to happen, happen.

Which is beyond unreasonable and is downright irrational. Without the will behind that candle flame, 
it means nothing, other than some money
in the pocket of whoever made them. 

Which is not to say the candle maker does not have the right to make money on them
or is trying to defraud people,
it means that the candle in of itself has no more power than the one who uses it.

Just firing one up that has a prayer wrapped around it, or has been dipped in some sacred well, 
with no will behind it, is doing things by rote, because years of history say your supposed to do it that way.

I have read a great deal of our history and many of our forebears, according to history, as it's written,
firmly believed in having things just thus and so was mandated,
and that any deviation would spell failure, 
or worse, disaster. And many of out current day guides are based on those old histories.

My personal opinion is, I believe they were a bit smarter than that.

The problem is recored history has one major flaw, being almost no historian writes down things, that everybody knows. 
Which, I will say again,
is the WHY you do it that way, why you have candles made and blessed in such a way, 
why you wear clothes of a given type for such a rite.
Such things were not often written down,
because everybody knew them already. So what got written ? The form, not the reasons behind it,

which well meaning folk then take up the form and follow it with a passion. 
Never realizing that the form alone, is hollow and empty, without the will and the reasons behind it all.

This is dangerous, as this doing things by rote, and from that can come the worst thing I can imagine,
that being, that the Pagan way becomes no more than many other faiths before it,
that have faded into oblivion, 
for the simple reason we will have forgotten why we are doing what we are doing.

 Read our history and understand it, but do not allow yourself to forget that not all they knew is written there. 
Not all they practiced made it to this day and age. Our forebears would not thank us if we allow the Pagan faith to die,

for our lack of understanding of the limits of written history.