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Author Topic: "Take what you like and leave the rest" paganism  (Read 28575 times)
Reona
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« Reply #45: November 27, 2007, 12:31:38 pm »

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.
-snip-
Your thoughts?

I think everyone does a little bit of the “take what you like and leave the rest” just because of the nature of our religious and spiritual matters. Even for a Reconstructionist, some things may not be practical or even possible in modern terms. They may have to adapt or even disregard something by mere necessity. I don’t think it’s possible to not adapt or change some things about your religion for any Pagan.

However, I do think there is a right and a wrong way to go about that. A religion needs to have all of its parts to work, not just the /happy/ sparkly parts that you like. A coin always has a flip side to it. You have to respect the spirit of the tradition you are taking from and always recognize that you are changing it into something different. I agree that naming is an important key here. Don’t call something by a name that no longer fits. I think that there is a wide difference between being ‘eclectic’ and being ‘fluffy’ in your practices.
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« Reply #46: November 27, 2007, 04:10:28 pm »

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.

That's why I don't like talking about what I do why - because much of it has developed from other things/ideas that I really don't want to name because they aren't (necessarily) what the name might imply. And in no way would I want to imply they were. *blinks* That was as clear as mud!

F'ex everything on my staff has a meaning, there's a reason I created it the way I did it - and taken back to basics it's based on a germ of an idea from somewhere else BUT no way would I say it WAS that something else or call it the name used there because there'd need to be at least a book full of stuff attached to it that there isn't.

Whereas mine is simply based on the basic idea then warped twisted and adjusted - and it's still a staff Wink
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« Reply #47: November 27, 2007, 05:05:25 pm »

That was as clear as mud!

*laughs* I understood it.

I feel largely the same way. I will not call my practices Ancient Celtic, or Ancient Roman, or the like. I will say that they are influenced by ancient practices, but they are not ancient at all.
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« Reply #48: November 27, 2007, 05:12:36 pm »

*laughs* I understood it.

I feel largely the same way. I will not call my practices Ancient Celtic, or Ancient Roman, or the like. I will say that they are influenced by ancient practices, but they are not ancient at all.

I'm glad someone did lol

It just gets too frustrating sometimes to try and explain where something came from and then explain that it's nothing like the original and you know that - it was just inspired by it. Some people just stop listening at the 'label'  Undecided
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« Reply #49: November 27, 2007, 05:33:33 pm »

I'm glad someone did lol

I actually understood yer comment, too, Squish.  Wink

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It just gets too frustrating sometimes to try and explain where something came from and then explain that it's nothing like the original and you know that - it was just inspired by it. Some people just stop listening at the 'label'  Undecided

I hear that. I think that's most of the reason why I don't talk about my path much outside of here.  While *I* know what I am, and most of the people here understand my path name, most "outsiders" wouldn't...even if they were/arePagan.  Wink
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« Reply #50: November 27, 2007, 06:19:06 pm »

I will not call my practices Ancient Celtic, or Ancient Roman, or the like. I will say that they are influenced by ancient practices, but they are not ancient at all.

And see? I think when someone says their path/religion is influenced by or informed by something, that's the absolutely perfect way to label it.
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« Reply #51: November 27, 2007, 09:44:16 pm »

That's why I don't like talking about what I do why - because much of it has developed from other things/ideas that I really don't want to name because they aren't (necessarily) what the name might imply. And in no way would I want to imply they were. *blinks* That was as clear as mud!

Clear enough to me and couldn't agree more!  My spirituality is cobbled together from a variety of influences, but I wouldn't have the audacity to call what I do by the names of the original source religions.  Because my path is shaped by so many influences, I haven't yet come up with a better term than eclectic for what I do.

(Not necessarily aimed at Purple, but to all)  The borrowing and reshaping of ideas is at the heart of human culture and has been since the dawn of humankind.  As a species, we learn what we can from each other, borrow and reshape ideas as necessary, and discard the bits that don't work for us.  Spiritual beliefs and practices aren't exempt from this and never have been (f'ex, is anyone under the impression the Romans created their pantheon and religion from scratch?). 

Yes, some people do steal from other groups and claim ideas as their own.   Most people who are honestly interested in developing their spirituality aren't going to do this (and those who would are terribly misguided IMO).

Taking elements and ideas that are useful/educational/inspirational and incorporating them into one's own practice is not theft.  It's an acknowledgement that while a particular path may not be the appropriate one for us, it still has value to us and elements of that path can still teach, inspire, and guide us. 
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« Reply #52: November 28, 2007, 01:04:22 am »

That's why I don't like talking about what I do why - because much of it has developed from other things/ideas that I really don't want to name because they aren't (necessarily) what the name might imply. And in no way would I want to imply they were. *blinks* That was as clear as mud!
I'll join the "it was clear to me" chorus.  (Big surprise there... not.)

I don't mind talking about what I do and why, in terms of my practice and/or trad.  I don't mind talking about where I got this or that idea from (though I may have trouble remembering - I've been picking up interesting ideas for over 30 years).  But those are two separate things.

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« Reply #53: November 28, 2007, 01:09:40 am »

I appear to be a labour-saving device? :}
Cheesy
I prefer "colleague".  Y'know, other people who do something sufficiently similar/related, so that no single one of us has to try to do all of it.

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« Reply #54: November 28, 2007, 02:48:55 pm »

Cheesy
I prefer "colleague".  Y'know, other people who do something sufficiently similar/related, so that no single one of us has to try to do all of it.

Which is hard to find with eclectic/syncretic stuff ...
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« Reply #55: November 29, 2007, 12:14:31 am »

Because my path is shaped by so many influences, I haven't yet come up with a better term than eclectic for what I do.

*snip*

Yes, some people do steal from other groups and claim ideas as their own.   Most people who are honestly interested in developing their spirituality aren't going to do this (and those who would are terribly misguided IMO).  

Absolutely. Stealing and claiming ideas as my own is something I would never do. I classify myself sometimes as a "take it and leave it" pagan because I take a little of this and a little of that and just ignore the parts that makes me feel uncomfortable.  Which is something I really shouldn't do.  Like someone said in another post (forgive me, I can't remember who it was), I need to know why this does not work for me.  And honestly, like you said, my path is shaped by so many influences that I just gave up and called myself 'pagan'.  I have grand ideas (and some urgings) to make my own 'religion' or trad, but that's a long way off. 

Thank you all for your thoughts...I am sorry for the confusing first post.  I reread it and was like "Wha???"  I'm glad that you all knew better  Grin
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« Reply #56: December 01, 2007, 06:35:18 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 completely agree with you there. That, among other reasons, is why I tend to stay away from covens. (especially in my area). I follow my own tradition, but I love history and culture, and I respect it.  I don't really see a problem with eclectic paganism as long as a person understands where they got the information or practice and why it was practiced or believed. I have seen a recent movement where some pagans just take a name of a deity and then make up everything else about it. They don't care about respect for the culture and don't understand what they are doing. This bothers me only because it could possibly spread to other new pagans that really want to learn and slow down or completely confuse their progress.
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« Reply #57: December 02, 2007, 12:16:13 am »

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

Gods, this is always a difficult one, especially since I am a Celtic Revivalist - with a streak of the pedantic - and the worldview that creates has led to me pissing off more Eclectic Pagans than I can even begin to count.

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?

Honestly, I think it depends on what you mix, how you mix it, and how open you are about what you're doing.  (You used in the generic sense throughout, in case that wasn't clear.)

To give a few examples . . .
  • "Celtic Wicca" is one of the things that used to - and still does, if I'm to be honest - make me cringe so hard my scalp would almost crawl off of my skull.  Not only do the cosmological systems and the basics of ritual practice not gel well, they are in direct opposition.  To give a couple of elementary examples:  sacred space in Celtic milieus is square, not circular; the directional system is fivefold, not fourfold; you have to deal with the Three Realms, not Four Towers; triple goddesses are defined in functional terms rather than on the basis of life stages.   And the list goes on.
  • Deities do not always mix and match well.  I once had a chat (okay, a rather fiery debate, if truth be told) with a young person who was planning on invoking Kali and The Morrigan in the same ritual.  Not a good idea, even for experienced practitioners, and as something to do on the fly . . . well, I would rank it right up there with driving at 80 mph in the middle of a blizzard.
  • The notion of "an harm it none" (even in the most nuanced of its applications) has absolutely no place in a Celtic context.

I could keep going, but I think you get the picture.

At the same time, however, I cannot say that different systems do not have something to learn from each other.  Nor can I say that I have never gained insight or inspiration from practices that are not Celtic.  For example, I have found that examinations of Ceremonial Magic and BTW magical systems have been invaluable in my continuing (and likely lifelong) effort to design a system of magic that can be said to be truly Celtic.  The trick, I have found, is to be up front about when I am borrowing, when I am basing something on substantiated research, and when I am going on UPG.

At the end of the day, I think you're right in identifying respect as the key component.  The difficult thing is accurately defining what respect actually means.  And how it must be adjusted and adapted to circumstances in which one is dealing with a living tradition as compared to a Reconstructed or Revived one.

These are not easy questions.  And, gods know, I don't even begin to have all of the answers.

Where I start having real problems with Eclectic Pagans is when it appears that they haven't even considered these issues.
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« Reply #58: December 02, 2007, 12:19:34 am »

I'm pretty sure I'd be locked up if I tried to parade my gods around like in the olden days.

:::chuckle:::

Yeah, I would probably have some interesting issues to deal with if I tried to go out an start taking heads.
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« Reply #59: December 02, 2007, 12:50:16 am »

Why is the Celtic goddess the Morrighan a goddess of war?

:::picking a nit:::

A Celtic goddess, not the Celtic goddess.

Sorry, folks, but Brigid wouldn't have let me get a night's sleep if I would have let that pass without correction.
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