Let me take you on a tour through my mind for a moment, into the world of thought, theory, and philosophy.. I promise not to bore you too much :) and there is a good reason to give a bit of back ground here, it has to do with how we tend to behave on the Pagan pathway, and our ability to reach beyond the "known".
Lets take a simple example first. I have been called into question, more than once for my writing style, for lack of a better word. I tend to write down my points with a feeling of certitude.
Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin certitude, from Latin certus
Date: 15th century
1 : the state of being or feeling certain
2 : certainty of act or event
Now, since I do make declarative statements, lots of em in fact, what some people expect, is a long laundry list of footnotes, of where did all those "facts", my certitude, come from. Well, I might do that ... if it were a class project, the writing style guide lines for such works are well known.
But when I am putting forth my own reasoned and well researched personal opinion ? No, I think not, a person reading my writing can agree, or not, but I am not likely to reference a "call to authority" for every single statement I make.
It's all well and right, to give credit for a thought, where credit is due, but the plain fact of the matter is, if you live long enough, you may not remember where you got the ideas from, but this should not stop you from using what you know.
I recall once, in college, asking one of my professors, point blank " When do I get to say what I think ?" He looked me dead in the face and said, "you don't" which started a long discussion on the subject, which I won't even try to reiterate here, but the bottom line was, he felt that to recycle only referable "facts", was the only acceptable form of presenting anything, which in an academic setting, might well be right.
You can guess that I had issues with that idea. :)
The whole point of education is not only to learn what
others knew, but to learn how to think beyond that.
All of those who present the "facts", tend to do so in exactly the same way, they have read, they have learned, and have formulated their own opinions based on the information about the subject, that others put down before them, however, there comes a point of having brand new original thought, and it's OK to do that.
I mean, consider this for an undeniable fact, someone along the way had to have the ideas, we call "facts" to start with after all. If they had not, there would be nothing for us to reference from.
But what has happened to that spirit of taking the road less traveled ? It has all but been crushed out of us by and large, by an avalanche of the "facts." We are told, by inference, mainly by our educational system, that if we cannot reference it, we can't even say it, and taken to the furthest extreme, we are not even supposed to think it. So creative thought, is stifled, before it even begins.
Now, for me I go ... wait just a cotton picking minute here ... I have thoughts, I have ideas, where does invention happen ? Where do new ideas happen ? They happen when there are those who are willing to toss out the "rules" once in while, and take a chance. Go back far enough, and you could, theoretically, find the first person who thought up the original ideas of the things we consider our current day "facts" and they often thought them up, out of clear blue sky, and couldn't have given you a single reference on how they got there, but none the less, they were right.
The first person for example, to realize that if you rub two sticks together fast enough, you get fire. Now there is an invention we would be a lot poorer without. Prior to this event, the only time man had fire is if lighting stuck a tree, and he was lucky enough to go grab some and keep it going, until some long ago ancestor, discovered you could "make" fire. Our current day matchstick is the modern equivalent of this long ago new thought.
I've been asked, as a teacher of the
Pagan pathway, for example, how to do this, or that, or what herbs I must
have to do this work, or that spell, and I often tell them, the basics,
but not that many specifics, why ? Because I want them to think about it
is why, to reason it out that you use X herb for a protection spell, and
why? Often simply because it "feels" right, as that is exactly where our
forebears, who wrote it all down in their books of shadows, got
the idea to use X herb.
Certitude, as I said in the beginning, that feeling that X is right, even if it's just your personal hypothesis. " Any useful hypothesis will enable predictions by deductive reasoning." In other words, you have taken all you know of a thing, applied your own personal thoughts to it, and reasoned it out that your hypotheses, is the correct one.
Deductive reasoning was developed as an argument form, by people like, Aristotle, Thales, Pythagoras, and other Greek philosophers of the Classical Period (600 to 300 B.E.). As they stated, deductive reasoning is the act of "logically progressing from general evidence, to a particular truth or conclusion."
I figure this way, if that was good enough for the "great" minds, on which we base most of our thinking in the western world, it's ruddy well good enough for me ! :) Is it perfect ? No, as you cannot know all the variables, which is where Inductive reasoning comes into play.
Inductive reasoning, "examines many pieces of specific information, to produce a general principle. Given a set of evidence, however incomplete the knowledge is, the conclusion is likely to follow, but one gives up the guarantee that the conclusion follows. However, it does provide the ability to learn new things that are not obvious from the evidence." As you can see, this form is a bit more useful.
In either case, you have to assemble all the parts and pieces yourself, and work your way to your own thoughts. Now, do you need a good foundation of knowledge in order to do this ?
you do, and you also need a very good working logical premise to start
it all off, before you can even come to a conclusion, however it does not
mean you HAVE to come to the same
conclusion, that everybody else
has, even given the same "facts", you can ... if you are willing to risk
it, come up with something new.
For the simple reason, that a great deal of the thoughts, and ideas that we deal with, on a day to day basis, on the Pagan pathway, are understandable only by inductive reasoning, for the simple fact, a lot of it is not "testable" in the scientific meaning of the word. We are getting a lot closer to being able to "see" and therefore "prove" things, that we have known as a people, for millennia, but are not entirely there yet.
However, many people still think, if it cannot be touched, tested, analyzed or looked up in some book somewhere, it doesn't exist. Which, if you look at that idea logically, is patently ridiculous. There are billions of things, that we still don't know why they happen, it's the whole point of all the theories and research we do, to learn more, but the fact we do not know why, does not stop us from believing the thing has a useful reality.
Example: Read a few drug definitions, and you will come across a myriad of them that state that "this medication causes X effect, by an unknown agency" translation, they have NO idea why it works for its intended purpose, and they created it ! This, does not stop us from using them however, as they do work.
My point here is what works in reality, is not always "provable", but it makes it no less real. You do not have to have some moldy old tome, to reference for example, to decide to use verbena instead of rue, when casting a circle. Does the verbena feel right ? Then use it, as that feeling, is your inductive reasoning at work, your intuitive senses that will work perfectly well, and make great leaps of understanding, without going through all the intervening steps, if you let it.
It's why it's called a gestalt leap of intuition, as you cannot say you went from thought A then B and then C and so on, rather you got from A.. then B........... then jumped all the way to G, without the intervening steps, but none the less, you "know" it's right.
Whether that knowledge is due to long buried and forgotten to conscious recall information, that your read at some point, or it is some past life memory, or your just a certifiable genius :). It doesn't really matter where it comes from, if it works. One of the best lines I have ever heard on such leaps is "If you run with some stupid idea, and it works ... then it wasn't a stupid idea". Take a chance, try things out, test the waters for yourself.
We are meant to evolve, to grow, to change, not to endlessly recycle the past, but to think new thoughts, new ideas and use new ways.
Example: We make jokes in the current day, about thecno Pagans, that part of their Beltain rite, is to power down their computer :) and that is funny, but is it really a joke? If the metal box is a large part of the tools they use, to practice their religion, via cyber rites, used as a means to connect to others, to store their book of shadows, to send healing via the chat rooms, and so much more, things that just about anyone reading this page, has done or could do, as you are using a computer to read this page, are you not ? Meaning you have access to the same tools.
Now, there are those, who would say that since my own book of shadows for example, has been transcribed to a CD, rather than written it up on parchment paper, using a quill pen, in some arcane language, with a lock and key on the cover, that it's not valid, for my failure to write it out in my own hand.
However, have I failed ? It is my hand that has been on the keys to write it, the words are mine, the CD is passworded and encrypted, how is this any less of the same intention as our forebears, who didn't have access to the same means as I do ? Do you not think our fore mothers, would have used such tools as we now have ? Dang right they would ! Now, is there anything wrong with doing things in the "traditional" fashion ? No, of course not.
But realize this, those who came before us, used the means they had to hand, to record information, which has been handed down to us. Just as I use the current day means, to bring things to you.
I am certain the ways I may chose on the pathway, work, as inductive and deductive reasoning, tells me it works. I can look at all the "facts" of the matter and see for myself, it works. I even have, if one must have it, empirical proof that it works. Further, as mentioned before, with our strides in scientific means, I even have more proof that things that heretofore, have defied any "proof" are now, provable, even to the most die hard analyst, as I can point to repeatable testing, that it works.
Now, do I need all that ? No, as we have gone 1000s of years, without such proof, it's nice to have, but not required, if we are willing to trust ourselves and take the chance. Which we cannot do, if we stifle our own creative abilities. We owe it to those who came before us, who left us such a legacy of rich information, to build on what they labored to provide, and to leave an even larger legacy to our descendants, just as they did for us, and to reach beyond all the "facts" and step out into a larger world.