Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Bits You Don't Like

There are a lot of people who want to walk a pagan path, and want it to be a 'historical' path, but basically disapprove of parts of it and simply discard them. They are usually advised to do this, in fact, with phrases like 'take what you like and leave the rest', 'if it makes you uncomfortable it's not for you', and, basically, 'if it feels good, do it'.

This leaves a lot of paths looking unbalanced, usually towards the 'white light' side, but also occasionally towards the 'dark fluff' end of things. There are Wiccans who reject binding and scourging in initiations, 'shamans' who rail against the use of entheogens, practitioners of sacrificial religions who disapprove of sacrifice. They seldom change the name of what they do, but if one assumes that a person using the name of a religion actually embraces all the parts of it, one is often wrong.

My question is, what have you rejected in your chosen path, and why? Did you spend any time trying to follow the practices you don't like? Do you feel that if you had, you would have understood them as integral and embraced them, or would have ended up excising them anyway? Do you seek to understand the 'uncomfortable' bits before rejecting them, and do you feel your religion is missing that elusive 'something' due to sanitization?

I often find modern religions to be superficial when described by their pratitioners, but I can't figure out if that is because those practitioners have discarded half their humanity (and half of their gods' reality), or because those practitioners simply don't talk about those aspects in public.

F'ex, I read a post on another forum where the person wanted to try augery and wondered if her local butcher shop would be willing to sell her 'a mess of entrails to read'. To me this seemed worse than useless, but suggesting that she ritually slaughter her own bird or beast, with appropriate ceremony and dedication, and read its entrails in the context of the ritual itself, was met with a superior/condescending version of 'ewww, gross!'. As if wanting to read entrails was uber-pagan and impressive, but doing the prep-work oneself was simply barbaric.

How much do you discard as barbaric or uncivilised, and do you feel that it undermines or enhances your authenticity as a modern day pagan?

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