A Pagan Aesthetic: Paganism Through Philosophy

A Pagan Aesthetic seeks to examine particular topics within Paganism through the various lenses of philosophy.

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Travis Crockett

Travis Crockett

An unpublished writer but a published poet, Travis Crockett writes in the hopes that he can actually use his philosophy degree for something other than grad school. He finds pleasure in working uncommon words into his lexiconic exchanges, discovering work cited lists in religious studies books, and in general pretending his life is not dissimilar that of a 50's Parisian beatnik (ennui: check). He practices what essentially boils down to Wicca with influences from his studies in Philosophy of Hermeneutics, Existentialism, and Mysticism. He maintains the website apaganaesthetic.com

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Shuffling the Deck, Part Two of Duality.

It would now be pertinent to address how a conceptual duality and a gendered duality could function simultaneously without one enveloping or overpowering the other. Regardless of how high an individual holds an intellectual concept, the individual is still bound to gender. How then can a conceptual duality that stresses balance of all things remain exclusively masculine in it’s metaphors? The short answer would be that the conceptual duality goes “beyond” gender, that the metaphors can potentially be applied to gendered concepts, but ultimately refer to concepts understood as antecedent to gendered concepts. While this answer is ambitious, as a reply to a question posed by a society that holds gender to be reverent and relevant, it falls flat and lacks the humanizing element so often craved in religious discourse. To maintain a conceptual duality that preserves gendered integrity, much like gender, a few different options are available.

 

Firstly, an individuals personal identification of gender and the appeals of other genders shape our perspective on deity. Though some might scoff at the idea of prescribing not only a gender but also a sexuality to deity, if one understands the world around them through the medium of a body and interprets their experiences with one's identity, elements of hetero and homonormativity will ultimately play a role in how one understands and connects with deity. Further, one might argue that a sexual duality is superfluous when considering deity, but for the audience of Neo Paganism (and more specifically the Wiccan demographic), the roles of pleasure and reproduction are interwoven into the broader metaphor of nature and the world.  

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Apollo, Dionysus: meet Nietzsche. Nietzsche: Apollo, Dionysus. Part 1

This entry is a little long so I'v split it into two segments. So don't worry if you feel theres something missing in the proposed philosophy. That gets covered in the second part. Here's part 1

 

Perhaps the central theme of Neo Paganism in terms of worship is the duality of God and Goddess. These forces, separately, represent all manifestations of human experience and cultivate realms of significance in terms of correspondence. Solar energy is typically understood as masculine and a part of the metaphors belonging to the God. Conversely, the Goddess offers lunar metaphors. The masculine concepts of deity are understood to be penetrative, the feminine, receptive. The list of correspondences extends toward literally everything in existence as all properties are believed to come from one of these opposing sources. Additionally, the Neo Pagan duality of worship stresses harmony and balance between the two gendered ideas. The one cannot survive without the other, the other invigorates the one. As the most intimate medium of understanding the world is indeed gender (within the context of western contemporary society), the metaphoric understanding of deity through gender provides an avenue of connection for worshipers and adherents of Neo Paganism. This essay is not to lambaste the gendered binary understanding of deity or the world, but to provide an alternative perspective on the duality of deity. Offered will be a short exploration of the Apollonian and Dionysian world views in context with previous examinations of said topic and a contemporary application of the worldviews within the context of Neo Paganism.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Travis Crockett
    Travis Crockett says #
    I think you both have made excellent points. Terrence: I agree the duality Im interpreting does lean very closely to the wicca ide
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I would agree with Terrance that Neo-Paganism is more multi-vocal than the assertion of duality of God and Goddess. Many Goddess f
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    "Perhaps the central theme of Neo Paganism in terms of worship is the duality of God and Goddess." If you replace "Neo Paganism"

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Perspectives on Deity

 

Perhaps central to Neo Pagan practices is the petition of Deity. The crudest of formulas for Neo Pagan ritual would be: create a sacred space, invoke deity, pay homage and/or petition, and dismiss. Though some petitions might be spontaneous and overlook some elements of space or decorum ( i.e. Penczack’s “instant magic”), the desires and force of will are almost always necessarily in conjunction with some form of request to a higher power. Linguistically, one could simply put it as; “to petition”, a subject must have an object to call upon.  Even in the instance of petitioning the self, drawing forth some sort of believed, hidden energy from the depths of the practitioners psyche, the petitioner is calling upon an “other” to change or work with the “self”.

 

What must be maintained through all of this is the concept of petitioning an “outside” identity, but just who do we call upon when we admit there is something beyond our scope of capability? The primary idea of this outside force is that of Deity or God. Familiar attributes we assign Deity are the three “omni” qualities: Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent. Abrahamic overtones aside, when one sets out to define Deity, the curious habit of assigning human characteristics also follows suit after our triformula of Deity. However, in our attempt to humanize Deity, what is often overlooked in favor of a more favorable god, is that to include human characteristics to an inherently transcendent idea is anathema to a logical definition of Deity. Put colloquially, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. This problem arises due to the limitations of human qualities; If we maintain Deity is all knowing, why do certain pagan deities have areas of expertise or realms of import? If the God in question is truly a God, would not specific realms of importance be superfluous?

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Call Me the Fool: This Is The Beginning or How Philosophy Ruined and Saved My Spirituality

Maybe ruined is a bit strong. In fact, my studies in philosophy only did exactly what was promised to me, they made me think critically. While this is typically understood as a positive attribute, in matters of faith the “dark night of the soul” gets a few shades darker when all you can see in the dark are logical fallacies. Maybe backing up could be helpful in understanding why I’m writing this blog and why my insistence on philosophy.

Like many contemporary Pagans, I converted from a religion that just wasn't working for me anymore. I grew up in a devoutly Mormon household where God was a very real, almost tangible, thing. As a family, every evening we read the King James version of the Bible and the Book Of Mormon. My earliest memories are of learning songs and stories about the intervention of God in everybodys life. My parents went as far as to say I was sent to them to save their marriage, and my father would tell me he and I were friends before this mortal existence. Growing up in an intensely spiritual environment, I thought it absolutely common to ask for help in mundane matters from spiritual energies.

Then, with the onslaught of hormones and independent thinking that arose from my adolescence, I was faced with a problem: as a gay teenager, do I suppress my identity in favor of my inherited spirituality, or do I leave my parents church for an embracing spirituality? In the years that followed I lived in libraries seeking out avenues of spiritual assistance that would embrace my sexual preference. Upon learning of Neo Paganism, tarot cards found their way under my bed and my journal entries started to include notes about meditation.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Welcome to PaganSquare! I love to meet fellow post-Mormon Neo-Pagans.
  • Travis Crockett
    Travis Crockett says #
    Christopher, You make some great points, and I have to say you hit the proverbial nail on the head in articulating the necessity f
  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    Well it helps to have young people shake things up once in awhile. It also helps if we older folk remember what it felt like to b

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