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Author Topic: How do you study?  (Read 13986 times)
Mithril
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« Topic Start: December 21, 2007, 10:55:58 pm »

How do you other teens go about studying paganism? Do you read every book you can get your hands on, or do you read books about specific things? Are any of you lucky enough to be able to take classes somewhere or have pagan friends to study with? Especially for people who's parents either don't know or don't approve, how do you practice and actually *be* pagan?

I'm asking because I'm feeling stuck. Since I'm not really part of an actual *religion* (Wicca's the closest, minus the deities and a few other things), so I don't really know how to continue researching. My parents know, but aren't really that supportive, so I can't get any help there, and I'm the only one I know who's pagan. How do you guys deal with it?
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« Reply #1: December 21, 2007, 11:36:23 pm »


Myself? I generally read tons of mythology( though admittedly I'm a myth lover, well more insane fan boy) and then I will read something else as well, though I shy away from most modern pagan books.
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« Reply #2: December 21, 2007, 11:45:17 pm »

Myself? I generally read tons of mythology( though admittedly I'm a myth lover, well more insane fan boy) and then I will read something else as well, though I shy away from most modern pagan books.

Why do you shy away from most modern pagan books?
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« Reply #3: December 21, 2007, 11:51:24 pm »


Because most of them are crap, there are a few good ones, but the rest? the rest should be burned (and I don't usually advocate book burning)
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« Reply #4: December 21, 2007, 11:58:32 pm »

Because most of them are crap, there are a few good ones, but the rest? the rest should be burned (and I don't usually advocate book burning)

Yeah, I know most are bad. I won't buy a book unless several people on TC have recommended it. Still, for the ones that *aren't* bad, what do you read. Just mythology?
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« Reply #5: December 22, 2007, 12:04:58 am »


I'll read the ones that aren't bad, like Raymond Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, I've even read the Odyssey and the Iliad for religious information. Right now I'm trying to dig up some of Aleister Crowley's works, and possibly some of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, early 20th century mysticism is a fascinating thing to me.
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« Reply #6: December 23, 2007, 10:51:21 am »

How do you other teens go about studying paganism? Do you read every book you can get your hands on, or do you read books about specific things? Are any of you lucky enough to be able to take classes somewhere or have pagan friends to study with? Especially for people who's parents either don't know or don't approve, how do you practice and actually *be* pagan?

I'm asking because I'm feeling stuck. Since I'm not really part of an actual *religion* (Wicca's the closest, minus the deities and a few other things), so I don't really know how to continue researching. My parents know, but aren't really that supportive, so I can't get any help there, and I'm the only one I know who's pagan. How do you guys deal with it?

I read whatever I can find about whichever topic I am currently interested in, my college library is a pretty good preliminary resource. I also find I can get a lot of info here. Another good resource is to look for pagan pride or other pagan get togethers in your area which don't focus on one religion (or even gatherings of a particular religion which are open to guests attending their gatherings). I am also very lucky in that I have been accepted to audit (attend but not get credit for as I am already taking far too many credits) a course on Daoism this semester. When I first started out I also used to hang out a lot at my local pagan store, I got to learn a bit just by being around there, but it closed soon after and I haven't had a pagan store near me since then. That's pretty much all I can think of at the moment.
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« Reply #7: December 23, 2007, 01:59:11 pm »

How do you other teens go about studying paganism? Do you read every book you can get your hands on, or do you read books about specific things? Are any of you lucky enough to be able to take classes somewhere or have pagan friends to study with? Especially for people who's parents either don't know or don't approve, how do you practice and actually *be* pagan?

When I wasn't able to drive that was the *worst*. It was a lot harder ( in so much as I never even tried) to sneak books into the house. So basically until I could drive, I was a cyber pagan. haha. I got all my information off the internet and made notes in my B.o.S. I actually learned a lot this way, and if you listen in English about how to do research online, it's not terribly difficult to discern those sites that are legitimate versus those that are bogus. In those times though, I probably learned more about simply meditating and, like, the wheel of the year than anything more "interesting." I knew I wasn't Wiccan, but it was pretty hard to find sufficient information on anything but that.

Now that I do drive, it's nice to be able to go to a bookstore or my local pagan shop for things. I really don't have time to devote to a group, but I've discovered a few promising looking study groves in my area. And now that I'm older, I'm less fearful of having to hide anything from my parents. I knew they never would have really cared much, but I'm secretive by nature and you always think of the worst thing that could happen if anyone found out.

I never had any pagan friends in those days either. The only thing I can offer is just to get outside as much as you can! Get away from the everyday. Meditating is great too. Another way I practiced when I was younger was to cook. Cheesy I'd make deserts or even whole meals for my family on the Sabbats. lol. My mom was just happy I was showing any interest in being domestic, and had no reason to "suspect anything." Cooking for holidays is the major area where my slight kitchen witch tendencies come out.

I started out doing more formal rituals, and one thing I liked about Wicca was the way the circle was set out. So I walked down to the park and got some stones from the river there, and drew little personal symbols in permanent marker for the four elements to put around my circle in the four directions, since candles and incense and the like were rare to come by. I had gotten a few votives as a gift one year that I used for scrying in ritual.

To practice in secret isn't the worst thing in the world. You just can't blast music and dance around screaming, unfortunately. Smiley Just use your imagination. Hopefully this helps a little bit.
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« Reply #8: December 23, 2007, 09:07:37 pm »

To practice in secret isn't the worst thing in the world. You just can't blast music and dance around screaming, unfortunately. Smiley Just use your imagination. Hopefully this helps a little bit.

Yeah, sorta. I'm just sorta down in the dumps, I guess, because nothing I do ever seems to work. Meditating is hard for me for some reason. Pendulums don't work for me. I manage to raise energy while playing the violin sometimes, but then when I do I can't control it. No spell I've done has ever worked. I can't feel the energy of the moonlight or the wind or anything else. I've been trying to blame it on not studying enough. "I guess I just don't know enough yet for this to work," type thing, but I'm to the point where a) magic isn't real or b) I have no ability whatsoever, which is just as depressing.

Does anyone else feel this way?
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« Reply #9: December 23, 2007, 09:17:05 pm »


I think your trying to hard, find something you enjoy, that you can get lost in doing and use that to meditate. As you get comfortable with energy coming in that state, try to bring it earlier and earlier, until you don't need the thing you enjoy to meditate and raise energy. Then try casting spells, the problem with spells are you can never really be sure they worked or not, much like prayer. I mean, if you cast a rain spell and expect it to rain right after you need to step away from the Craft movie, and possibly the Charmed DVD's (much as I love Charmed).
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« Reply #10: December 23, 2007, 09:24:30 pm »

I think your trying to hard, find something you enjoy, that you can get lost in doing and use that to meditate. As you get comfortable with energy coming in that state, try to bring it earlier and earlier, until you don't need the thing you enjoy to meditate and raise energy. Then try casting spells, the problem with spells are you can never really be sure they worked or not, much like prayer. I mean, if you cast a rain spell and expect it to rain right after you need to step away from the Craft movie, and possibly the Charmed DVD's (much as I love Charmed).

Losing myself is part of the problem. I just *can't* do it. I can't. Playing violin is when I come closest, but I can never actually lose myself because I have to be aware to remember what I'm playing and to not drop my expensive instrument. When I start to notice myself drifting, it freaks me out and I snap back to attention.
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« Reply #11: December 23, 2007, 09:28:20 pm »


Then find another activity, or ride with it, sometimes loosing yourself doesn't mean loosing all motor control, it just means your conscious mind is somewhere else, you would be amazed at the amount of things we actually process and do without us ever being aware that we do it. I also think it's telling that you freak out about loosing yourself, this might mean you've set a mental block to stop you from doing this, something you will have to work though, though I am not entirely certain how.
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« Reply #12: December 23, 2007, 11:26:18 pm »

"I guess I just don't know enough yet for this to work," type thing, but I'm to the point where a) magic isn't real or b) I have no ability whatsoever, which is just as depressing.
This doesn't contradict what Nigel's saying, but goes along with it.

You're a rationalist, a skeptic (in the real meaning, of deeming nothing true or false without solid evidence, not the all-too-common "scoffer" usage).  That seems like a handicap where you're at now, but in the long run it's an advantage.  It may take you longer than a lot of folks to get a sense of "something real happening", but when you do, you're a lot less likely to be deceiving yourself.

I think Nigel is onto something about your expectations - I doubt you're going quite so far as to expect Hollywoodesque special effects, but I think you may be expecting results to be more clear-cut, more obvious, than they usually are.  In your case that could be part and parcel of the rationalism - you want something that looks like clear and unmistakable evidence.  The reality is more subtle; one can rarely tell for certain in any given case.  Rather than objective proof, one acquires over time a body of personally-convincing evidential weight.

I'll add, too, that it's not about studying in the "more books!" sense, about knowledge; it's about practice - not just having a practice, but, well, like what you do on the violin.  Can't feel the energy of the moonlight?  Don't strain to "feel energy", just hang out in the moonlight and enjoy what you do feel - perhaps it's just that what you feel doesn't connect with what the word "energy" conveys to you (I'm inclined to think the word may be a useful analogy rather than a literal truth).  Having trouble meditating?  Find out what works for you - myself, I need to distract my ever-busy rational mind, so I get the best results playing Freecell and Mahjongg solitaire on the computer - rather than reading about how it's "supposed" to be done.

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« Reply #13: December 24, 2007, 01:35:50 pm »

Losing myself is part of the problem. I just *can't* do it. I can't. Playing violin is when I come closest, but I can never actually lose myself because I have to be aware to remember what I'm playing and to not drop my expensive instrument. When I start to notice myself drifting, it freaks me out and I snap back to attention.

I suppose my response to that is "well don't try to lose yourself then". My meditation does not tend to be so much about losing myself and not focusing on anything (I found out a good while ago that I am not very good at that) so much as focusing on everything.

Go out somewhere like a park or a library and sit or lie down (I find this preferable) and try to focus on the details of what you can see rather than the entirety, blades of grass, textures of book spines, textures of clouds, etc. Once you feel like you have soaked in all the details of the surroundings that you can close your eyes.

Then focus on what you can hear, each and every little sound. If your in a park, can you hear any people? are there any birds? kids playing? is it windy? If you are in a library is can you hear someone's pages turning as they read, the beep of the machine as people check out books? etc.? Soak in all the sounds right down to the very quietest and most indistinct.

Then move on to what you can feel. If you are sitting outside what are you sitting on? is it smooth? etc.? Feel every aspect of the surface beneath you. Then do you feel a wind brushing past you? is it warm or cold? humid or dry? etc.?

Then can you smell anything? are there flowers? can you smell that old book musty smell?

As I have moved through each of the senses so far I have continued to feel and register the other senses, but they are no longer important while I focus on the sense at hand. Now I move on to focusing on within myself instead of without. Instead of how does the surface below me feel it is how do my legs feel on the surface, are they cramped from where they are sitting, are they cold, etc. Starting at my toes and working up I soak in how my body feels, giving each part particular attention and then moving onto the next. Sometimes it helps to tense the muscle in question, it really depends on my mood. Focusing on toes, feet, calf, thigh, hips, fingers, hands, lower arm, upper arm, stomach, lungs and breathing, neck, head, and face.

Once I am done focusing on each section of my body I cease to focus on any particular part of myself or my surroundings and simply allow each of the senses and feelings I have so far focused on to be registered, passively acknowledged but not focused on. And I usually stay like this until my mind starts to want to focus on things again and begins to wander. Then I move each part of me starting at my toes to remind myself they are there, stretch a little and I am done.

I always had problems with meditation until I gave up on 'losing myself' and focused on registering and accepting all of the things that 'myself' wanted me to notice.

Sorry for making this such a long and somewhat manual-like post, I sort of got started and couldn't stop Smiley .
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« Reply #14: December 24, 2007, 09:38:42 pm »

Sorry for making this such a long and somewhat manual-like post, I sort of got started and couldn't stop Smiley .

Thanks for doing such a good job explaining it. That's what I did during the Christmas Eve service my parents dragged me to. I'm feeling a little better about it today, so I'm hoping it'll pass.
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