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Author Topic: The intersection of religion, magic, and well-being  (Read 2303 times)
Jenett
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« Reply #1: March 23, 2011, 05:01:23 pm »

Conversation else-thread made me think that a new thread focusing on the intersection of religion, magic, and well-being might be useful.

I follow a religious tradition that certainly includes some elements that some people would find (and have found) triggering, upsetting, and otherwise problematic. And yet, at the same time, I know people - including those who have extensive history of abuse - who have found going through those specific ritual experiences extremely healing and potent in allowing them to move forward, when they've had sufficient preparation and trust in the people and the process.

I have to believe that adults get to decide for themselves what they want to do. If someone chooses to seek out a tool rooted in shamanic practice, or BDSM practice, or ritual practice, or anything else, and if they understand that those things are not licensed (and really, how can some of them be?), then I think they get to make that choice.

In other words, I see ritual approaches as a technology like any other: even though it sometimes fails, it has a great deal of opportunity for benefit. Fire, a car, or surgery can all have major consequences - but they're also crucial tools that can save lives. BDSM is like that for some people: it's the thing that can make them (or does make them) whole. The fact that it's not the right tool for other people doesn't make that less meaningful - any more than surgery is bad because it doesn't solve having the flu. It's really a question of doing everything to make sure someone's using the best tool for the need.

I do think there are certain things incumbent on the practitioner in those cases: I think it's important to do the best possible job of getting as much informed consent as you can. (Understanding that some things, you don't really get what's going on until they happen: this is what a religious mystery is, after all.) I think the people involved need to do their utmost to have relevant skills and the ability to deal with problems (and that includes appropriate safety and first aid training), and it includes saying no to people you don't think can benefit from a particular action.

People are human, and humans do sometimes make mistakes - picking the wrong tool, taking on someone who turns out not to be able to benefit. Without a *lot* more detail (most of which is personal), I don't think there's a clear way for outsiders to tell what's going on in those failures a lot of the time, and I think it's important to be careful about what gets passed on. (Both because it's bad information management, but because the law actually does have something to say about inaccurate comments that harm someone's livelihood or reputation, namely that it's libel or slander depending on the format.)

What we can look at are things like "Do people learn from the mistake and do better next time?" and "What kinds of process are in place to help someone make an informed decision?" and stuff like "How can we help people figure out if this is a something they want to be part of/do/whatever."

(I've done a bunch of writing about this in the past: http://gleewood.org/threshold/care has some questions for people looking at groups or teachers that are also relevant for some kinds of other interactions, and I have a recent blog post thinking some more in part about what outsiders can and can't really judge about a particular situation.)

[One note on this thread: I'm around a fair bit between now and Friday morning, but after that may well not be around much over the weekend, due to that whole 'running large event' thing - there's 'Net access at the hotel, but I don't know how much time/energy I'll have. Likewise, it'll probably take me a few days to recover after. If I'm slow to reply, that's why, and I will get back to questions and comments to me, plus general comments not already covered by someone else.]
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Blog: Thoughts from a threshold: http://gleewood.org/threshold
Info for seekers: http://gleewood.org/seeking
Pagan books and resources: http://gleewood.org/books

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