One of the first things I learned on walking the path, was how little I really knew, about the world, about faith, about myself. The more I delved into the tomes of religious works, the more I found that was the same. I began to ask myself, how did all these different faiths come up with the same idea ? Which I will expound on my theory of that later. :)
Luckily for me, I was never tempted, beyond short forays, to cleave to any one of the religions, of which I read about early on. I say lucky, because one of the first things I realized was the fact that most religious wars, for lack of a better word, were over dogmatic differences. But, that if one stripped away all the cultural differences, they all said the same thing. So the word wars were pointless. So why did I choose the pagan way, isn't it just another religion ? No, as the Pagan way does not do one thing all the rest I studied did. Limit me to just one way to see a thing.
Lack of limits on my potential for growth is what Pagandom gave me, as it is the only one I found that did not make the mistake, of trying to force me into a box of someone else's thinking. Nearly all the tomes and books I read ,on other faiths, made the same decree, that it's way and none other, was the way to go.
And each time I read that in other faiths, my mind rebelled, as it didn't make sense to me. If each way, was the right way, meaning they held some of the truth (which they do ), then they were all the right way, as they all said the same thing ,when you got right down to it. However, this is not how it's presented, in most cases.
We are almost all products of training at the hands of others who told us that theirs, was the ONLY way to the path of the faith. Therefore, we tend to cleave to whatever new information as a replacement for a "truth" we knew if that " truth" does not answer all of our needs and questions. Breaking that conditioning or habit if you will, becomes job one. Ok.. why is this so important. As it sounds for all the world like the so called, cult training we are all taught to fear, with good reason.
The main difference is a cults way ( and by cult I mean anyone that does this ), breaks that conditioning and replaces it with yet another conditioning, for it's own ends, that often has little regard for the needs of the person so trained.
No self respecting Pagan would accept,
or should accept, or expect such a thing of another. One must find ones
own way down the path, the only reason to train the mind ,is to free it
of self imposed limits, not graft on someone else's limits, to expand ones
own mind and reach as far as it's capable of going, which is as unlimited
as any other human potential.
Say for example: the term Magick, say that to most people and you get the thought of " watch me pull a rabbit outa my hat " kind of magick. Fine if your bullwinkle moose :), but not suitable for real magick, so what is magick ? Magick is the ability to effect change, real change, it's prayer, with the personal power to make the event real , by whatever means you choose to use to do so.
You will notice I use the word prayer without hesitation also, this word is not a concept limited to any one faith, nor does it mean a lessening of the self to pray. Magick is a form of prayer, in that for right action to flow through you , one must be open to the force of the divine, hence prayer. But again, we often rebel against both such words as one is an object of ridicule and the other is equated with begging.
So you see it starts with a matter of semantics, a re-learning if you will, the meaning of words just for starters, as we build in the mind a concept to go with them, based on what we have been told, which may or may not be accurate ,but is often self limiting in the very least, even if it's considered correct for the time and place. This list alone can be rather long, the base line is, each time we accept just one way to look at a thing and never consider another , even for a simple word, we limit the self and our potential in the process.
Another big one.. God.. this word is loaded with expectations and conditioning. To be a God means a job description for lack of a better term, a title, not a gender, not as belonging to only one faith, God or Goddess, is the divine, the force, the one, all the way back into namelessness, as the concept supersedes all names.
Some monks of Tibetan traditions, have a string of mediation beads that are tiny carved wooden skulls, with it they recite a rosary of sorts called, the 101 names of God. They do this, as they realize all gods are one God, we are talking about the same force, the same energy, the same entity if you will, no matter what we call it. However, again, we are taught to think of God as belonging to a given sect or faith, when in fact ,the word, meaning the concept, belongs to them all and none of them in particular.
Does this mean that we can never, and I mean never, be able to just take the meaning of even the words we speak on faith alone? If you answered yes to that, pat yourself on the back because you got it in one ! As it means just that. What a word means, can change, and more so, what we think it means, and what the one listening thinks it means, might well be two different things entirely. So even our vocabulary, has to be taken out and challenged, from time to time.
We humans like to have certainty, we
like to know where a thing starts and ends. We like to not have to think
about the " knowns" but this kind of behavior leads to massive problems.
" The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance of things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by the preconceived opinion of prejudice." ---- Schopenhauer "
We humans tend to shortcut the minds process, as it's easier, as we don't have to make choices all the time, in a word we don't have to really think.. Well, for as long as we allow these short cuts to " truth" we will have prejudice, which is always wrong, simply because any pre judgment can not cover all situations.
Now is this an easy way to live ? No. Is it a meaningful one? Most certainly. It's a balancing act, on the ball we call life, forever dancing this spiral dance, between certainty, which we need a certain amount of to function, and the unknown which is the driving force of our lives. This is the Pagan way and the way of the Witch.
More on this issue to follow lesson two