A lot of this post-modern talk that is embedded in much of the neo-pagan movement is very tiresome. What do I mean when I say tiresome, and just what exactly am I referencing when I talk about post-modern talk in neo-paganism?
What I am referencing is this notion, most people exploring the…
See, there’s some very good points in here, but that’s a big, huge, broad brush that you paint eclectics and Chaos magicians with.
It occurs to me that you’re not really talking about me, but since you brought up eclecticism and Chaos magic, I felt a need to respond. You poked a stick at my labels based on some really incorrect assumptions, and I won’t just pass by that peacefully without saying my $.02.
We’re not all asshats. Not all of us go crazy like a kid in the candy store just grabbing whatever we feel like. No. Some of us look for a common thread between the differing paths that call to us and carefully weave our own way from that thread. Some of us try VERY hard to avoid cultural appropriation. Some of us are trail blazers and simply look to other paths as guideposts along the way.
I won’t apologize for making the Pagan community look bad, for anyone outside of the Pagan community not taking us seriously. You’ll want to blame the flufftards for that, but don’t blame those of us who work very hard.
Postmodernism might not be something that you understand, and quite frankly most of the people who practice it (and don’t even know it) don’t understand it. Most people who go this route are extremely shallow, but that’s not the fault of postmodernism. It’s a bad interpretation of postmodernism, which is really complex, touches on a lot of different areas, and that causes the problem.
All that Postmodernism says is that objective explanations are not adequate to explain all of reality, that nothing is really all that cut and dry. That’s it. The truth of it seems pretty obvious to me. No matter how you try to slice it, this truth will always be staring you in face. I guess some people can ignore that better than I can.
Some of us do view spirits as having less solid lines between them keeping them separate and different and in neat little boxes. From my personal point of view (speaking only for myself, here) there is very little separating anything in the Universe and I have experience, science, and philosophy to back that up. (See the Hermetic Laws and Quantum Mechanics for more info.) I don’t have all day to go into that, and it might not be relevant to your path, but it is relevant to mine.
Eclectics are not a homogenous group. We don’t all do things the same way. We don’t police each other. I certainly don’t want to be bogged down with the control mechanisms that most religions find so expedient. It’s not my responsibility and I don’t have it in my power to try. That means that there’s going to be a large number of asshats among us. I’m TOO BUSY following my own very rewarding, experiential spiritual path to be trying to hunt down every flufftard in all of Pagandom.
I want you to understand that your broad brush is really inaccurate for the serious practitioners that fall into the eclectic/chaos side of things. So you listed some things, and I thought I’d go over those…
-A.) A metric fuck-ton of appropriation from First Nations/my heritage with little regard for what you’re doing
I don’t mess with First Nations spirituality or any other customs of disenfranchised indigenous peoples. I don’t have a right to. And it’s my heritage, too. I have Apache and Cherokee blood. I’m just not a card-carrying member of a tribe.
Some flufftards borrow liberally without knowing what or why, but I don’t. I use chaos magick, hedge-riding, and all manner of folk magic and as many newage technologies I can learn from to Craft in my own style. I learn from Ceremonial Magick and various occult philosophies, and go further to learn from the cultures that influenced those. I dig deep into the latest scientific discoveries in quantum mechanics, and I’m finding more and more that the Universe is magical and everything is already there laid out to learn. I only have to dive into it. Strict traditionalists would like me to put on blinders and pretend that I don’t see what I see and know what I know from my experience of walking between paths. They want me to pick one. But I already have. MINE.
-B.) A large problem of people just stopping their seeking to just go play fantasy dress-up to escape their issues
I don’t do this either. Costume parties aside, of course. Again, you’re talking about flufftards, not serious practitioners.
-C.) A crap-ton of inaccurate books on the lores of the Gods that too many people take seriously and call any fact-based book “stuffy and not fun”
I have been known to swallow some inaccuracies on the way to finding the facts and good sources. It happened. I’m not proud of it, but I’m past it. It’s part of the nature of the current day and age to dole out a product without quality control.
I like facts, truth, and I like boring stuffy books. I’m an intellectual. I hardly ever read fiction, and when I do, I want it to have some real philosophical meat for me to enjoy it. I can spot a fluffy book a mile away, and that’s because I’ve been at this a while. I can still find something useful in most fluffy books, and don’t find it difficult to discard the fluff to get at the real meat and potatoes.
-D.) Using the gods as fashion accessories
My goddess is not a fashion accessory. She likes me to dress nicely, to grow my hair long in her honor, but I’m not exactly sure that’s what you mean. Do you mean like T-shirts with a bleeding Jesus on the Cross, or movie Thor on a Dr. Pepper Can? Anubis statue at an airport? Do you mean goth kids wearing pentagrams to the mall? Do you mean “warriors” who play video games? Elven princesses who are also lycanthropes with demon blood and also cosplay? I’m pretty sure eclectic spirituality and Chaos magic is not responsible for all that. Nope, that’s just commercialism, which has a HUGE effect on modern Neo-Paganism and the occult, and there’s no denying that. It’s the society we live in, though. Don’t think I haven’t noticed how popular Loki has become since he was in a movie. He’s dark and sexy and the kids love him. If that’s what you mean by fashion, then I suppose I’d have to agree with you. But that’s not me nor the eclectics and chaotes I correspond with.
-E.) Putting your ass in hot water when your ritual using garbled sumerian grabs the attention of an elder sumerian spirit who thinks raping you in every possible way in the definition of the word rape constitutes a just punishment for your half-ass ritual
You assume that just because a person isn’t apart of one path that they only have a shallow understanding of any given system they undertake. Smart people exist, and they don’t all follow stringent rules, but have figured out how to learn quickly, apply their knowledge with wisdom, and be good at seeing patterns and where things fit. Problem is, you only see the stupid people. You see what you want to see because it validates your viewpoint.
Magic is magic, in any context. Basic protection operations are pretty standard. A crucifix is as powerful as the Seal of Solomon, as “Firey Wall of Protection” oil, as a well-crafted energetic shield. Once you understand the broader category of “protection” after having looked at several different systems, you can pretty much adjust to any system. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only chaos practitioner that is cautious when approaching a system I don’t fully understand and unwilling to try something until I KNOW I can handle it.
-F.) Makes the rest of the neo-pagan community who puts the time and effort in look like a bunch of collective jackasses for daring to call the post-modernist drek when they see it.
Boo-effing-hoo. Poor you. All the flufftards make you look like a flufftard. Join the club. Now suck it up.
-and finally G.) Makes the whole of the neo-pagan movement unable to be taken seriously by our well meaning allies
Well-meaning allies of other paths seriously try to get to know people based on individual merit and align themselves with those that they have no objection to. And if they do have a problem, it is because they are doing the same thing that you are doing, painting everyone with a broad brush. Why on Earth would you want to befriend anyone who judges you based on what someone else is doing? That’s just stupid.
As far as standards are concerned, I have my own standards. You wouldn’t be able to cut it on my path. Neither would the flufftards. Various practioners from many different paths (both traditional and eclectic) probably could, but it would depend on if they were called to do what I do, and most of them are quite comfortable where they’re at.
So, there’s my take. It occurs to me that there needs to be a bit of separation between the occult community and the Pagan community, even at the points where they cross over. Those of us who are truly occult will never sit right with those who really like there to be boundaries, limitations, and boxes and plenty of light to see where those clear lines are to make everything nice, neat, and orderly. I suggest you get over it and ignore us if you can’t be bothered to try to understand us. Trust me, it is not folks like ME who are making YOU look bad.