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Author Topic: Coven experience?  (Read 15579 times)
rodney
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Last Login:April 08, 2009, 10:41:31 pm
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Religion: Pagan Witch
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« Reply #8: October 01, 2007, 11:26:20 am »


Thank you, Jenett, for your thoughtful response to my comments. I want to be selective in my own comments, because this is really someone else's thread.

Let me first say that your previous post made me seriously question my stance on degree systems for the first time in years. The kind of achievements you spoke of parallel a progression I think can be found in the Major Arcana; and this progression *is* qualitative, not quantitative, in nature.

My position has rested in no small part on my conception of what Witchcraft means. I know everyone has their own opinions, and is entitled to them. But I start with the proposition that, like all authentic religion, Witchcraft is ultimately focused on objective spiritual reality. We may paint our subjective pictures of that reality however we like, so long as our hearts are pure -- i.e., so long as we sincerely seek to know it in truth, and aren't simply playing at religion.

In this context, then, it becomes possible to say, "Witchcraft means this," or, "Witchcraft means that" -- not in an attempt to be dogmatic or to shut anyone out, but in an attempt to get a handle on its actual objective orientation, where subjective experience meets objective reality. If Witchcraft is real, it must mean something.

My working hypothesis is that the purpose of Witchcraft is the realization of the essential unity that we share with all things.

For this reason, I am suspicious of lines drawn between people. Gardner imported the degree system from ceremonial magick, which I think is a very left-brained affair. I have the greatest respect for Dion Fortune, but Witchcraft seems to me a very different sort of enterprise -- more Pagancostal, less Episcopagan. Smiley

When I come into circle with others, I look for us to be little kids together, living in the magic, in the Presence of the Lady. We should be opening ourselves to merge with one another, in "perfect love and perfect trust"; and hierarchical distinctions militate against this.

With this as a background, let me address a couple of your comments.

Quote
For me, it seems like you're conflating a bunch of things - and saying that people who, say, want to show up for a few group rituals a year should be treated absolutely the same way as people who plan, arrange, and facilitate those same rituals.

I think ritual should facilitate the experience of Oneness. That ultimately means opening ourselves to one another without reserve. I guess that also means treating everyone the same.

I'm not really sure I'm getting your point, though. Is it appreciation you're talking about, or authority within the need for order? I'm of the view that, the more of a leader you are, the more of a servant you are; I think it's unavoidable.

Quote
In a group sense, though - there are some real benefits on a purely organisational level.

I appreciate that. I just wonder if the gain is worth the cost. It seems to me that the establishment of a degree system to facilitate organization is an example of the tail wagging the dog. "Always" is a big word; but I think organization, structure, is always in conflict with the kind of group experience I've described, above. Does tradition exist to serve the seeker, or vice versa?

Something else to think about: "tradition," the way it's used in this context, is an observer's word, not a participant's. It inherently suggests alternatives, thinking of itself as one among many. A participant doesn't look at what she does as one alternative among many, but simply as what she and her fellow travellers do. Being rational creatures, we alternate between being participants and observers; but I think the goal is to be fully present, fully participatory -- to become over time less and less observers and more and more fully engaged. Casting what is essentially an observer's point of view into stone does not seem helpful, if this is the goal.

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I also perceive some very significant ritual, energetic, and religious mystery related changes in my own experience of a degree system.

I believe you. You gave me a lot to think about. And I took a look at the Oak, Ash & Thorn degree program you cited.

As I mentioned, the progression you spoke of experiencing is a real, personal, spiritual progression, not some artificial checklist. You grew through the experience, and the degrees gave you benchmarks to gauge your progress. But why are the labels necessary? To borrow a concept from Starhawk, they exist to please Talking Self; but we want to get past pleasing Talking Self, don't we? In other words, the progression itself is necessary and will happen, with or without the labels. Why do we want them, when they only encourage Talking Self? The program can function without them.

Quote
Ah, but what when you're multiple of those things? (Our identifications go as follows. Dedicant: student of Wicca/witchcraft. 1st degree: initiate and witch. 2nd degree: priest/ess and witch. 3rd: technically high priest/ess and witch, though we rarely use that precise phrasing out loud.) These do rather closely mirror the layers of responsibility involved ...

This is something else I have a "working hypothesis" about: what it means to be a Priest/ess. I think the distinction between Priestess and Witch is that a Witch is someone who has consciously opened herself to building a relationship with Spirit, while a Priestess is someone who has consecrated herself to Spirit. A Priestess has given herself to be a tool in the hands of her deity, as that deity wills.

Thank you again for your thoughtful comments. Please don't think that because I have no use for degrees that I in any way minimize your achievements, which are very exciting. I am honored that you shared them with me.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2007, 09:19:52 pm by rodney » Logged

Just to the left, and not very far away, were the Triple Demons of Compromise--one tall and thin, one short and fat, and the third exactly like the other two....

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