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Author Topic: Earth based v.s other systems  (Read 15838 times)
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« Reply #15: December 31, 2008, 07:21:42 pm »

I guess what I am trying to get at is what is the actual aim of pagan systems considering that all of these systems do appear to consist of precepts, redes, over focus on symbols and maybe deity and the real intent, I assume there is one, seems to become hopelessly obscurred and lost.

That's one of the big reasons I ended up stepping off on my own, actually - what I was interested in, religiously, simply wasn't there.  So I went looking for it - and when I didn't find it, I self-created it.

There's a reason I describe FlameKeeping as a religion of proper mindset - it's very philosophy based.  If you see the world this way, the rest if it IS just trappings, and expressed as such.  If you see the world in a different way, no amount of following the rituals will make you a Keeper.  The mindset is everything.
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« Reply #16: December 31, 2008, 08:06:21 pm »

You could argue that it was meant to be originally, although there is the corollary of "subduing" the earth, so perhaps it's an earth-dominating religion?

Perhaps that's more like it. My JW mother-in-law always talks about the day when 'the meek shall inherit the earth' and I always seem to annoy her when I answer that I don't believe anyone owns the earth in order for it to be given as an inheritance  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #17: December 31, 2008, 08:22:29 pm »

Would you say, then, that Christianity is an earth-based religion?

What Randall said.

From what I've seen, there certainly are Christians who feel that stewardship of the earth is a religious duty.  And there are others who feel that humans have a god-given right to use and abuse any resources we find.
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« Reply #18: December 31, 2008, 08:26:16 pm »

I guess what I am trying to get at is what is the actual aim of pagan systems considering that all of these systems do appear to consist of precepts, redes, over focus on symbols and maybe deity and the real intent, I assume there is one, seems to become hopelessly obscurred and lost.

The real intent of my religion is to serve my Gods, and to honor the cycles of the world. The stuff I do (as I can't speak very well to what other people do) supports that.

But here's an example which is a different look at your cooking example.

Say you want to play a symphony. In order to play that symphony, you need people who have focused very heavily on things that don't look like they're related - someone made the instruments, the musicians learned to play their instruments, the conductor has learned how to conduct, a composer had to learn many things to write the music, other people had to make copies of it, someone had to build the hall they're playing in.

All of those things look sort of pointless until you actually hear the music, when everything comes together (and if you tried to describe it to someone who had not idea what it was, they'd probably think you were batty!). But when you *do* hear the music, it's easier to understand how all of those very specific tasks and actions and stuff that doesn't look related was actually important (and how that same symphony would sound different outside, or if you changed the orchestration somehow, or if you had different musicians involved.)

The thing with many Pagan paths is that because they're orthopraxic (they center on shared practices), we talk a lot less about beliefs than some religions. It isn't that I don't enjoy a good conversation about beliefs (get me and my covenmate going, and we'll go for hours - and we don't agree on a number of things including some stuff that's considered very 'basic' in belief-focused religions, like the basic nature of deity, and why we're going through the actions in the first place).

But it's not the beliefs I share with my groupmates - it's the practices. And so we can talk about the practices in a lot more detail and specific sometimes (and, in particular, we can talk about what *we* do, because as a tradition/path/etc. we share those things. With beliefs, where we often have different beliefs than the person next to us, the conversation's thoughtful and interesting, but it doesn't create a shared group experience and path in the same way.)

To go back to your cake example - different rituals also do different things. In your example, my religion is actually closer akin to *baking* - rather than "baking a chocolate cake". One ritual might be cake - but another might be bread, or scones, or cookies. It focuses more on the process than on the outcome, or rather, is looking at a number of different possible outcomes, depending on other factors. (In my path, that'd be the time of year, for example: the rituals of the winter are not the same as those of the summer in some ways: our goal from the ritual changes.)
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« Reply #19: December 31, 2008, 08:37:16 pm »

I think this is one of the reasons that "Earth-based religion" should not be assumed to mean "Pagan religion."  Just as not all Pagan religions are Earth-based, some non-Pagan religions are very much Earth-based.

The Celt's comment on this thread was something like "What religions aren't Earth-based?  Scientologists and other things with salvation by aliens?"
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« Reply #20: December 31, 2008, 08:40:11 pm »

I guess what I am trying to get at is what is the actual aim of pagan systems considering that all of these systems do appear to consist of precepts, redes, over focus on symbols and maybe deity and the real intent, I assume there is one, seems to become hopelessly obscurred and lost.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the "aim" of pagan systems.  Can you clarify?

Are you saying that religion, including the pagan religions you're familiar with, appear to be all about the rituals and trappings, and don't seem to have any spiritual or philosophical meaning?

Or are you looking for a reason for religion that is something other or deeper than devotion and service to deity or a mindset for living one's life?

I believe there are religions that focus on orthopraxy (correct actions) rather than orthodoxy (correct belief), and vice versa.  IOW, in some religions, it doesn't matter so much what you believe, as long as you perform the correct rituals, offerings, etc.  While in other religions, it doesn't matter whether you participate in any religious practices, as long as you hold the correct beliefs.  (I'm sure other people can explain that better than I can.   Undecided )

My particular spirituality, f'ex, is all about the beliefs (especially my belief about my connection with deity), and very little to do with practice.  Other people's paths might be the opposite.

It seems to me, from your posts, that you have mostly experienced what appears to you to be orthopraxic religions, but you're looking for something that focuses on an orthodoxy that you can believe in.

Or is it something else entirely?
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« Reply #21: January 01, 2009, 06:57:29 am »

From what I've seen, there certainly are Christians who feel that stewardship of the earth is a religious duty. 

*nods*  I can offer direct personal experience here:  the Lutheran church I was brought up in was teaching that we (i.e. humanity) were "stewards of God's creation" and needed to take care of the earth before being eco-aware was fashionable.
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« Reply #22: January 01, 2009, 12:42:50 pm »

Are you saying that religion, including the pagan religions you're familiar with, appear to be all about the rituals and trappings, and don't seem to have any spiritual or philosophical meaning?

To be honest..yes. It does SEEM that way to me. I mean no offense but since I was asked, this is how it appears to ME.

It seems to me, from your posts, that you have mostly experienced what appears to you to be orthopraxic religions, but you're looking for something that focuses on an orthodoxy that you can believe in.

I guess that is it. It simply SEEMS to me that wicca, witchcraft, etc APPEARS to heve fallen into this kind of cycle like you mentioned. So much emphasis on rituals, tools, symbols and the like that I do begin to wonder if there really is a deeper meaning/aim to it beyond that.

To be honest, I was not raised in a religious home, which was a blessing as I could see without being influenced by religious precepts. Problem was that so many systems seemed to focus on ritualistic behavior while ignoring personal development.

Sadly it appears that many pagan systems are seemingly the same in an attempt, so it seems, to make it more attractive to the younger set. I intened no offense but it seems it is easier for many younger ones to wave a knife or light a candle then it is to do inner introspection...but that is another issue.

Thank you Moon Ivy..you understand what I was trying to ask. Again I intend no harm..I am truly trying to understand things.
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« Reply #23: January 01, 2009, 01:37:35 pm »

I intened no offense but it seems it is easier for many younger ones to wave a knife or light a candle then it is to do inner introspection...but that is another issue.

Well, no offense back, but introspection isn't really the point of a lot of religions, and age has nothing to do with it.  My own religion is focused outwards, not inwards.  I am not the centre of the universe, even my own, and doing things solely for the purpose of personal development and attunement is more self-involvement than I can sustain for any length of time.

I think you are seeing gods as symbols of something else, possibly of their areas of control, and wondering why people worship the symbols (i.e. the gods) rather than the abstract concepts themselves.

Basically, my gods are not symbols, and they are not abstract.  They are Beings, and their concerns are larger than the internal development of individual humans.  When i enter into a bargain with Old Dog it is not to improve myself or to become more enlightened.  That can be a side effect, but the main purpose is to accomplish something physical in His area of control.  I ask for and get rewards for doing so, and the relationship between us is real-world and transactional.

I am part of the world.  My religion is not bound up in myself.  It is bound up in the world.  Whether I am enlightened or not is less important than what I accomplish in the world I live in.  My patron cannot make a speech asking for funding for wild animal relocation, at least not without causing a stir that would overshadow the cause and distract or scare the people with the cheque-books.  I can and I do.  It is a pragmatic arrangement, because I have a pragmatic relationship with deity.

It is not youth at fault here.  I am almost fifty.  I have no existential angst about the existence of gods or the purpose of humanity.  I have sufficient proof of the first for myself, and I don't care about the second.  At the end of this life I don't want to look back and say 'I thought about this, I examined the possibility of that, I meditated on the other.'  I want a list of concrete accomplishments, done for, with, and because of my gods.  I also want the ledger to balance.

When I do actual ritual, whether it is the Wiccish high theatre tingly and empowering stuff, or the family real and gritty stuff, there are things I intend to accomplish with it in real world terms.  It is not 'just' the tools and trappings, but those tools and trappings are part of it.  I don't want to do without the ribbons and candles anymore than I want to offer 'symbolic' tobacco.  I am real, the world is real, my gods are real, and my tools are real.  I could get by with any of those, including the first, existing solely in my imagination, but I see no need to.

Ecstatic, transformative, and enlightening events happen, but they are not the point or goal of my religion.  I do not do things for those three results - they are benes and side effects of what I do do.

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« Reply #24: January 01, 2009, 02:10:11 pm »

think you are seeing gods as symbols of something else, possibly of their areas of control, and wondering why people worship the symbols (i.e. the gods) rather than the abstract concepts themselves.

Mmm..not quite. I see deity as merely symbols that represent various natural forces..not so much control really.

I am not the centre of the universe, even my own, and doing things solely for the purpose of personal development and attunement is more self-involvement than I can sustain for any length of time.

I did not intend to imply that I felt the same way nor do I even see it as such. Is that what you seen in my comments? It was not what I meant.

Anyways..thanks for the responses..considering what I am personally after, I can clearly see that paganism cannot help me..at least not the way I need it to.

I appreciate the time you and everyone took to answer.
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« Reply #25: January 01, 2009, 02:11:17 pm »



Wow, you just put a lot of the things I feel about my path too in perfect words.
Thank you so much - I might need to steal a bit of this on occasion  Wink
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« Reply #26: January 01, 2009, 02:40:56 pm »

Wow, you just put a lot of the things I feel about my path too in perfect words.
Thank you so much - I might need to steal a bit of this on occasion  Wink


I agree with you, Tana, about what Marilyn said. That is how I also feel about my path!
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« Reply #27: January 01, 2009, 03:37:35 pm »

Well, no offense back, but introspection isn't really the point of a lot of religions, and age has nothing to do with it.  My own religion is focused outwards, not inwards. (...long and excellent post snipped)

(Just using your post as a springboard for my own musings, Marilyn!)

And yet, there are lots of pagan religions where introspection and self-development ARE the goal! That kind of diversity is why I enjoy the label 'pagan': it echoes the diversity that is apparent in my life. However, it's also the biggest problem when it comes to defining what is pagan, especially to non-pagans and/or seekers.

I personally have never experienced a god with my five senses. I haven't seen/smelt/touched/tasted/heard a god. Because of that, I have no evidence that an external deity is real.

However, I've definitely sensed a communion with some/thing/one sacred. I've felt it as a welling up of energy in my body and mind. That sacredness left impressions upon my mind, and then when I called that sacredness by name, it felt right. It is my hypothesis that this sacred energy was God Herself.

Whether it's actually a deity, a higher self, imagination, the life force etc doesn't matter to me. That communion with the sacred filled my life with a joy and purpose and meaning. You can't ask for more than that! And that is Truth.

The rituals I do, the symbols I use are ways to invoke that communion on a regular basis. I use them because they work, not because they look pretty, or because someone told me I have to, or because that makes me pagan.
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« Reply #28: January 01, 2009, 03:39:36 pm »

Anyways..thanks for the responses..considering what I am personally after, I can clearly see that paganism cannot help me..at least not the way I need it to.

I'm still unsure of exactly what help you're after, I must admit! Are you looking for information that will help you find a religion which "fits"? Are you attempting to compare and contrast religions? Are you trying to figure out what "earth-based" means? Tongue

If you're asking whether there are pagan religions which place an emphasis on inner work and the meanings behind ritual symbols and actions, then the answer is yes. Are you looking for more info on these?
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« Reply #29: January 01, 2009, 06:14:45 pm »

It simply SEEMS to me that wicca, witchcraft, etc APPEARS to heve fallen into this kind of cycle like you mentioned. So much emphasis on rituals, tools, symbols and the like that I do begin to wonder if there really is a deeper meaning/aim to it beyond that.

I think this is the root of the issue.  What you are seeing of Wicca, etc., SEEMS to you to be empty of meaning or focused solely on ritual.

But what you are not seeing -- because you can't see these things from the outside -- is the effect the ritual has on the individual.  And, more, you can't see what the religion means to the participant or how the participant puts his/her beliefs and/or duties into practice to accomplish various goals.

To me, you seem to be assuming that pagan religions are only surface deep because that's all you can see.

However, as Marilyn described so well and as I tried to describe in my post, at least some pagan paths are far more than just trappings.  Just because you can't hear my Goddess's voice or see how I feel when I hear Her, doesn't mean She isn't speaking to me.  And just because you aren't aware that my spirituality and my duties to Brighid are a huge part of my motivation to work in the area of social justice, doesn't mean that isn't why I'm doing it.

Did that make sense?

In a very real sense, you (general "you") simply can't understand what's going on beneath the surface "trappings" until you experience it for yourself.

And to add to that, some traditions of Wicca are oathbound, so an outsider really can't learn about the deeper mysteries of those paths.

Based on your last post, it sounds like you're looking for a religion that can help you and support your search for personal development.  You don't specify what kind of personal development. 

I think you have to look deeper than the surface to determine whether a particular path will fit your needs.  Wicca might not.  But there are many other pagan paths, including many that individuals are creating as they go along.  Perhaps you need to expand you exploration beyond Wicca.  Maybe one of the reconstructionist paths would suit you better.  Or maybe you would be more comfortable with another path, like Buddhism. 

Actually, it kind of sounds to me like you're looking for something like Shad's FlameKeeping path, which she is developing herself.  (Check into it -- you might be surprised.   Wink There's a link to her blog about it in her sig line.)

Whatever you decide to look into, though, I would encourage you to try to look past the surface trappings and examine the underlying foundational beliefs and teachings. 

You are much more than the clothes you wear and how you cut your hair.  You are the sum of your life experiences, your relationships with family and friends, your education, etc.  Same deal for spiritual paths.   Cheesy

And as Dem said, if you can clarify a bit more what you're looking for, maybe we can help you find it -- or at least point out some possibilities.  Everyone (or at least most people, I think) goes through times of doubt and questioning about their spiritual path.  I sure do.   Wink  It helps me to talk (post) it out and get some feedback from people with different perspectives.  Maybe that would help you to.
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