There is no knowledge that is not power

(or) Learning and the Quest for Wisdom as Pagan Values

If the Abrahamic Faiths are the Religions of the Book,

then the Pagan Faiths must be Religions of the Library…

~An old, old joke about Paganism

It is not just that in order to become a Pagan many of us have had to amass, and/or read, a library of books or sites in addition to what other forms of learning we have had the privilege of having on our life journeys.  It is also the fact that in all of the Pagan cultures out of history we can see knowledge and wisdom and learning were much valued.

Of course, I am a bit biased on the matter of the value of learning.  I grew up in a house that, while not Pagan, was similarly devoted to learning.

“Ignorance means there are things you haven’t learned yet,

Stupidity means you aren’t able to learn.”

I grew up in a house whose walls were almost literally lined with words.  The house I grew up in was a split-level Ranch style house with the lower level being a sort of daylight-basement where it was half-underground so at about chest level to your average adult there was a shelf along several of the walls.  Above that shelf on many of the walls that would support them, were book shelves.  Books of all sorts, reference works and classics and various treasured novels both intellectual and popular in hardcover and paperback.

I grew up with a mother who had originally planned on being a school teacher and who had double-majored and double-minored in College… only to marry at a time when most respectable married women did not work outside the home.   I could ask that classic child’s question “Why….” all the live long day and my mom would either answer,  or if she wasn’t sure aim me at a dictionary or encyclopedia… often both because of course a child’s stock of “Why…”‘s is often much larger than even 5 average adults schedules can allow…

Once the Internet started getting navigable and usefully informative (to those of us in the general populace) sometime in the 90’s it was a boon to me… especially as informational and educational sites blossomed at the turn of the 21st Century.  While I am aware of its limitations, I consider the Wikipedia project to be one of the noblest endeavors of the 21st Century. I find it invigorating and exciting to live in a time where society is changing because of a new information technology… a time of change and transformation as big as Writing, or The Printing Press, or Radio.

I am sometimes surprised when, at local Pagan events or in online chats, I will bring up ideas from Psychology or (my own admittedly limited understanding of) Physics, or History, or any of a number of other subjects where my interests and reading and willingness to look stuff up have cross-polinated…. and then finding myself having to explain ideas like Entrainment, or Venn Diagrams, or Transference and Counter-Transferance, or the blossoming of the Spiritualist movement in the late 19th Century and the 20th Century Occult revival starting in the 1960’s as a continuation of The Great Awakening, or… well stuff that I am surprised not everybody knows about.

“Well, maybe my frame of reference is a little obscure…”

~Pax

The ancient societies featured Bards, and Skalds, and Law-speakers, and Philosopher’s and traveling Poets; all of whom had to memorize hundreds of books worth of material.  Our Pagan ancestors created great Temples and Store-Houses of Learning in the Philosophical Schools and the Mouseaum/Mousaion (a Temple to the Muses/University of which the Library of Alexandria was but one part) was a wonder of the Ancient World that has continued to inspire humanity down through to the present day.  Never mind the surprising technical sophistication of even the near Stone Age monuments, much less Greece and Roman technology.  Pagan Culture’s have always valued learning and wisdom, and I feel our Contemporary Paganism’s are striving in our own ways to do the same, this is why you see a LOT of Pagan content online and why we seem to be early and eager adapter’s of technology.

Unfortunately, Pagans have not always had a firm line between the categories of History and Folklore…  and between honoring and being inspired by our ancestral cultures and slavishly trying to recreate a world-view that is better adapted to the world of the 9th Century BCE than for the 21st CE…. and of mediating between our metaphysical beliefs and our understandings of the Hard and Soft Sciences.   We live in a world where it is becoming more and more common to be isolated from ideas and information that challenges our world-view as we ‘like’ and select certain articles and sites which results in your various media sites aiming only certain types of information in your direction; we also live in a world where discussion and cooperation and compromise are being replaced by screaming and rhetoric and ideology.  What can we do to balance these issues?

Listen.  Learn.  Read.  Be open to conversation and knowledge and ideas.

When I was thinking about writing a piece for Pagan Values Month, I was originally thinking of either Hospitality or Community as my topic and I was reminded of the folk-tales of Gods or Culture Heroes who go abroad in the world disguised as mortals/regular folk, how they go amongst the humans and reward or punish their hosts depending upon their treatment.   The Gods (Divine, or The Good) are, or can be, present in any person … or book, or idea, that we encounter so why not be open to them.

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For the first time in all too long, I ~feel~ like “we” are a part of “We The People” too.

 

Hail Herne,

Hail Libertas, Hail Justica,

Hail Holy Antinous,

Hail all The Holy Powers,

Hail to My Queer Forefathers and Formothers back unto the Begining,

Thank you, thank you, Ten Thousand Thank Yous!

 

 

 

Dear Friends,

I am ecstatically happy to see New York having added itself to the roster of States that support Marriage Equality.  I am joyous for my Queer Brothers and Sisters and Siblings of All Sorts who are experiencing one of the most celebratory Prides of their lifetimes.

The population of New York is greater than the COMBINED populations of the other 5 States where Marriage Equality exists… well, you can search for background information…

But I just feel this overwhelming sense of joy and a tear-filled hopefulness that I as a Gay man might see true legal and social equality in my lifetime.  I am also tearful because it has struck home for me how long I had simply accepted that on some level I might not live long enough to  see that full equality.

I shall wrestle with that, and with some of the other thoughts and feelings that this victory is awakening in my Soul, then I shall look for ways to stand up to Invoke my Rights and seek what I can do to lay hands on the Moral Arc and give it a push in the direction of Justice and Equality…

Peace,

Pax

Greetings: Notes on the Journey 6/10/11

Dear Friends,

Sometime after my 2nd or third cup of coffee after catching a bit of news and stumbling towards full consciousness, I breathe. …  In through the nose and out through the mouth.  Drinking in the air, seeking to be as aware of it as a drink of cold water on a hot day.  I draw in breath and send some of that energy and life-force to the back of the crown of my skull… where I feel my connection to The WitchFather…

“I give greetings to the Holy Horned Hunter, to Herne, to The WitchFather, to the Lord of Life, to the Guardian of The Gates…”

I spend a moment or two enjoying a sense of connection with Him.

Then I draw a purposeful and mindful breath again, sending the energy and life-force down through my body and through my feet into the ground.  Grounding myself in Mother Earth, if feels (even when I am seated) as if I am standing on my feet correctly for the first time – in proper balance and stance; it also feels as if I am drawing ‘breath’ of the life energy of the Earth and reconnecting myself to Her as my energies and Hers blend together for a time.

After a moment I draw mindful breath again.  I spend some time breathing through each of my Chakra’s in turn from Base to Crown.

Some form of the above, each day at some point, is a part of my regular practices these days.  I am sticking to them despite having fallen out of keeping my log-book/journal… although I am working on rebuilding that practice…

It is interesting, but lately in a few moments of drama and upset, I found myself breathing and drawing upon those connections and feeling them wrapping themselves together within me… being sources of strength and perseverance in the face of BS….  this happens in the realms of spirit and faith as well as in our everyday…

The move to the new home, the ups and downs of grief and mourning and work and life, assorted drama’s at work and the new home…  I feel as if I have been weathering some sort of storm lately.  I have pulled back from the involvements and activities that do not nourish my spirit or sanity.   Sadly this has meant giving up on two of the local Pagan community groups that I had repeatedly tried to give my time and energy to, neither of which really fed spirit or built much community beyond the narrow self-satisfied cliques running them.

On the other hand I have given myself over to writing and to the Pagan Values event and to the Pagan Values Blogject.  I am also continuing to give of my time and energy to my U.U. Church (note to self-renew annual membership) where I have found a lot of spiritual community, a lot more than I ever found in either of the two local Pagan groups… which is ironic given that they both have close ties to the Church.   But, I am trying to move forward and to focus on the things I can do for myself, for my loved ones, for my beloved community, and for The Holy Powers.

I am also trying to balance time with friends with time in service, and had a nice time hanging out with my friend Gene on his birthday…went to dinner with him and his partner and then to their house for a rousing game of Middle Earth Risk and a movie, The Green Hornet.

Peace,

Pax