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Author Topic: "Take what you like and leave the rest" paganism  (Read 28576 times)
Áine
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« Topic Start: November 25, 2007, 11:02:04 pm »

I don't want to spark an argument here.  I'm just too curious for my own good.

I know that people have issues with "take it and leave it" paganism.  I understand and agree that in doing this, we are stealing and disrespecting a culture. Absolutely, no argument there.

But, I'm thinking about ecclectic pagans.  Would you say the same about them?

Personally speaking (since I tend to be a "take it and leave it" pagan), I think that if you give proper respect to the culture, then it shouldn't be a problem. 

Aside from that, would you say it is better to take certain things from your own culture (say you are Native American, African, Irish, Italian, whatever) and incorporate that into your practice?

Your thoughts?

--edited for grammar--
« Last Edit: November 25, 2007, 11:03:49 pm by darkplume » Logged


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« Reply #1: November 25, 2007, 11:13:37 pm »

But, I'm thinking about ecclectic pagans.  Would you say the same about them?

Personally speaking (since I tend to be a "take it and leave it" pagan), I think that if you give proper respect to the culture, then it shouldn't be a problem. 

I have to add something here. I think respect is a definite plus, but I also think the person doing the borrowing can't misrepresent what they're doing as anything other than eclectic (IOW, don't take a piece from the Greeks, change it and then say it is Greek). The second thing is it has to make sense. Randall can tell you about a group he happened to visit when they were doing some sabbat and they pulled deities out of a hat...Kali and Zeus. Not only do I view that as horribly disrespectful, but it makes no sense at all.

Quote
Aside from that, would you say it is better to take certain things from your own culture (say you are Native American, African, Irish, Italian, whatever) and incorporate that into your practice?

My opinion is no. I'm a Greek Recon and I don't have a sliver of Greek in my pedigree. The gods called me when I was busy trying to connect with the deities that would be expected of my heritage (Northern European, British Isles). So I'm not at all interested in trying to combine cultures. I'm a Greek Recon for a reason and part of it is that I have personal issues with mix and match.
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« Reply #2: November 25, 2007, 11:15:58 pm »

I have to add something here. I think respect is a definite plus, but I also think the person doing the borrowing can't misrepresent what they're doing as anything other than eclectic (IOW, don't take a piece from the Greeks, change it and then say it is Greek). The second thing is it has to make sense. Randall can tell you about a group he happened to visit when they were doing some sabbat and they pulled deities out of a hat...Kali and Zeus. Not only do I view that as horribly disrespectful, but it makes no sense at all.

Absolutely.  I meant to say that  Grin

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« Reply #3: November 25, 2007, 11:19:25 pm »

Your thoughts?

You say you don't want to start a fight and then say that you agree that ecclecticism is akin to stealing and then you identify as an ecclectic. That's quite a mix of statements you got there!  Grin

But anyway. I can only speak as a recon, but there are some things that have to be "left". I'm pretty sure I'd be locked up if I tried to parade my gods around like in the olden days. I also don't think illnesses are caused by demons. But the stuff I do "take" is the stuff that counts (e.g. upholding ma'at, makign offerings) and, more importantly, has the divine seal of of approval as far as I can intuit.

None of its my heritage but hey, they called me not the other way around.

(Sorry. I think I used up all my eloquence on essays, but you get my point...I hope...)
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« Reply #4: November 25, 2007, 11:41:19 pm »

I have to add something here. I think respect is a definite plus, but I also think the person doing the borrowing can't misrepresent what they're doing as anything other than eclectic (IOW, don't take a piece from the Greeks, change it and then say it is Greek). The second thing is it has to make sense. Randall can tell you about a group he happened to visit when they were doing some sabbat and they pulled deities out of a hat...Kali and Zeus. Not only do I view that as horribly disrespectful, but it makes no sense at all.

I agree with this 100 percent. *nodnod*
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« Reply #5: November 25, 2007, 11:54:57 pm »

I don't want to spark an argument here.  I'm just too curious for my own good.

I know that people have issues with "take it and leave it" paganism.  I understand and agree that in doing this, we are stealing and disrespecting a culture. Absolutely, no argument there.

But, I'm thinking about ecclectic pagans.  Would you say the same about them?

Personally speaking (since I tend to be a "take it and leave it" pagan), I think that if you give proper respect to the culture, then it shouldn't be a problem. 

Aside from that, would you say it is better to take certain things from your own culture (say you are Native American, African, Irish, Italian, whatever) and incorporate that into your practice?

Your thoughts?

--edited for grammar--


Just to be clear, i think you misunderstand what "take what you like and leave the rest" means, at least in the context it was used earlier, as a 12 step slogan. In meetings, people share about all kinds of stuff, much of it bullshit (one of the reasons I don't go anymore). The idea is to listen for what you need and not take on other people's crap, b/c it just weakens your own experience of healing energy in the meeting. Is that what you are saying eclectics do? It's not what I do, at any rate not spiritually. I don't think what other people are doing is crap; I generally don't care what other people are doing, spiritually, one way or another. I don't consider it much my business or my place to judge.

I am eclectic b/c I am on my own path. I don't have a religion, although I am certainly a witch. I am super Irish, but the Celtic gods and goddesses have not called me. Are you saying you think they should, based on my ethnic background? Hindu, Greek and Mayan ones have. I did not go look for them, I don't think they are really cool and I want to be like them. They came and got me. I know how to do a Kali puja, and I am learning how to do other specific rituals for some of the other deities I serve b/c *they told me I should. And yes, I do get them together sometimes; I don't know why. If Athena and Kali both come down during a ritual and kick my ass, am I on crack? As someone else said, the gods come and get us-it doesn't work the other way round, ime. I am not appropriating anyone else's tradition, I am doing what seems to be the right thing for me-i am doing what I'm told, or trying to anyway. I don't think it dishonors anyone else.
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« Reply #6: November 26, 2007, 12:56:27 am »


 Randall can tell you about a group he happened to visit when they were doing some sabbat and they pulled deities out of a hat...Kali and Zeus.


I have a tough enough time getting my mind around my own eclectic practice,  but when folks start talking about playing musical pantheons in ritual I quickly become quite satisfied with walking a solitary path.
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« Reply #7: November 26, 2007, 02:04:58 am »

Your thoughts?

I'm not sure I have any that I didn't already express in http://www.ecauldron.com/eclecticism.php .

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« Reply #8: November 26, 2007, 07:27:02 am »


Well, I'm writing my own faith, which is similar to eclecticism in that I'm getting bits and pieces and ideas from other places.

The important thing, to me, is to not just take the /happy/ stuff.  It's easy to say that you want these three happy things over here, and that happy thing over there, and basically work out to absolutely no work and no meaning to yourself, and the universe being all about making you happy.  And that's just junk.

But if you're taking the concept of ma'at, for an example, and you take the ENTIRE concept - the upholding the universe through your actions, the idea that to act against ma'at is to bring down order everywhere, and all the things I'm sure I'm missing, that's respectful and reasonable, IMO.  If you take it to mean something else, like the universe needs to be upheld by making you happy, or you use ma'at and the moral code of "harm none" and come up with something that works out to uninvolvement with the world around you because anything else might cause harm, and you're completely missing the point.

So, I'd go with respectful and coherent, and INTELLIGENT, borrowing, and say that's how people do things.  But start mushing things together randomly because it sounds good, or taking all the happy parts and ignoring the work and the bad parts, and you've just got a mess.
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« Reply #9: November 26, 2007, 07:33:24 am »

Your thoughts?

I think you shouldn't take anything you don't understand.  Seeing divination performed in sand, or hearing about it, and deciding to try it yourself is one thing.  Knowing that it is actually a multi-day process and random animals are involved might give you pause. 

Deciding to take the sand concept and put your own significant bits into the grid is fine - a personal development of a concept.  It goes bad again when you use the original name for the technique when talking about it without making it clear that you have changed it.  Not only does it give people the wrong idea of what you're doing (and if you don't want them to get the right idea, why talk about it at all?) it is basically claiming a skill you do not have, i.e. the original multi-day, random animal involving, traditional practice.

I find I have almost no problem with borrowing, developing, incorporating, etc.  It is Naming that bothers me.  Names have a history, a meaning, and usually several textbooks worth of connotations that bring whole cultural histories into the thing named.  If all that is not there then it is not the thing named.  Call it something else, or add a pre-fix that makes it plain that you are not claiming the cultural weight of the practice, simply adopting the concept.

Including the original name of the original concept as part of your own name is fine by me, too.  It gives recognition to your original inspiration, without claiming that you are actually the same as the original people who did that.

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« Reply #10: November 26, 2007, 07:53:06 am »

I don't want to spark an argument here.  I'm just too curious for my own good.

I know that people have issues with "take it and leave it" paganism.  I understand and agree that in doing this, we are stealing and disrespecting a culture. Absolutely, no argument there.

But, I'm thinking about ecclectic pagans.  Would you say the same about them?

Personally speaking (since I tend to be a "take it and leave it" pagan), I think that if you give proper respect to the culture, then it shouldn't be a problem. 

Aside from that, would you say it is better to take certain things from your own culture (say you are Native American, African, Irish, Italian, whatever) and incorporate that into your practice?

Your thoughts?

--edited for grammar--

I think so long as you maintain context you can do a bit of picking and choosing, but say for example that you decide you like the word sun dance, and use it in the context of dancing nude in the first light of morning celebrating a return of light to the earth; and tell people that it is an ancient Native American ritual, still practiced in some places to this very day;

then you're lining yourself up for a train wreck when people put "Sun Dance" and Native American together in a way that it would have been used within that cultural frame, ans the either assume you are talking about legitimate practices, or they augment their perception of the literal practices with what you're doing. (eg. sun dancers dance naked, because plume dances naked)

It also sets you up to have to field questions that you aren't qualified to answer.

This would go the same way for eclectic paganism, and I was actually thinking about an odd term for a moment last night - Fluffy Christians. 

It is in a similar way related to the watering down and wholesaling of Wicca. 
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« Reply #11: November 26, 2007, 08:00:33 am »

Just to be clear, i think you misunderstand what "take what you like and leave the rest" means, at least in the context it was used earlier, as a 12 step slogan. In meetings, people share about all kinds of stuff, much of it bullshit (one of the reasons I don't go anymore). The idea is to listen for what you need and not take on other people's crap, b/c it just weakens your own experience of healing energy in the meeting. Is that what you are saying eclectics do? It's not what I do, at any rate not spiritually. I don't think what other people are doing is crap; I generally don't care what other people are doing, spiritually, one way or another. I don't consider it much my business or my place to judge.

I would imagine this would be a whole nother topic.  It raises questions like 'when dealing with someone in recovery who is being encouraged to apply a set of behaviors in an appropriate forum, but gets out their broad paintbrush and begins applying those behaviors in contexts where they are not useful or even particularly productive, is one supposed to pull their punches on the basis that the individual in question is damaged and isn't functioning at full capacity?

When someone is using a behavior that they are being encouraged towards, for the purpose of supporting a new lifestyle one asks, could it be damaging to them were it to be pointed out that this is not a key to fit all doors?
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And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #12: November 26, 2007, 08:12:19 am »

I know that people have issues with "take it and leave it" paganism.  I understand and agree that in doing this, we are stealing and disrespecting a culture. Absolutely, no argument there.

But, I'm thinking about ecclectic pagans.  Would you say the same about them?

I think it depends on how they are doing things. Borrowing from other religions and cultures is simply the way humans do things, there is nothing inherently wrong with it (despite the claims of some).  To me an eclectic Pagan is one who borrows from other religions in a thoughtful way so the result looks like a coherent belief system that on closer look is made of carefully selected (and over carefully modified) bits and pieces of other religions instead of a jumble of basically random bits and pieces of other religions selected because they were "pretty." A true eclectic Pagan doesn't true to hide what he's done either -- he doesn't claim borrowed bits are his invention nor does he claim them to be the original thing.
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« Reply #13: November 26, 2007, 09:46:57 am »

When someone is using a behavior that they are being encouraged towards, for the purpose of supporting a new lifestyle one asks, could it be damaging to them were it to be pointed out that this is not a key to fit all doors?

no, absolutely not. Another reason I left 12 step programs is that many people treat them as a sort of ancillary religion-and they work well that way, to a certain extent. There are lots of daily routines and rituals that are very supportive to the recovering person-I still use several of the prayers on an almost daily basis. The 12th step says that we are supposed to "practice these principals in all our affairs", and the principals are really sound; well worth anyone's time to check out, imo. But the program is loaded with rituals to support the recovery process, and sometimes people think this means "practice 12 step rituals in all our affairs" , and of course these folks get creamed sometimes out in the wide world. But it's an important and necessary ass-kickin'.
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #14: November 26, 2007, 10:53:57 am »

Absolutely.  I meant to say that  Grin

Kali and Zeus? Were they on crack?

I have NO idea. I do know it's one of the first "group experiences" Randall ever told me about. It's also one that, I suspect, went a long way towards convincing him he didn't want to join a local group. Smiley
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