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Ritual, Monotheism, and Again with the Piety

 Seriously, folks, argue and disagree with me all you want, but do so based on what i say, not the misinterpretations you project onto what I say. I find it particularly interesting that in the course of the comments to my two articles on ritual (both those posted and those I received privately), quite often I'm being accused of everything BUT promoting piety and respect in ritual. Why is that such a difficult and challenging concept? It certainly wasn't for our ancestors. Piety was a central concept to the majority of ancient polytheisms, though of course the words used to describe this behavior varied from culture to culture. Plato, for instance, wrote an entire dialogue ("Euthyphro") in which the definition of piety was the central issue under discussion. The ancient Romans considered it a necessary and sacred virtue and one simply cannot read writers like Cicero, Pliny, or Seneca (to name but a few) without finding exhortation after exhortation to pious behavior both within one's temples and without. Why is it so difficult for us moderns? Because it is. I don't quite know why, though I have my suspicions, but it really is.(1) 

Unlike Plato, who had his character Euthyphro define piety in part as 'what is dear to the gods,' i would, in addition, define it as 'right behavior toward the Gods.' Piety is a curb and a guide to our behavior.  Of course, right behavior implies precisely that: that there is a right and wrong way of behaving, that there are standards. Standards do not imply tyrannical theocracy. They imply behaving properly and mindfully as the occasion and interaction demands. Now I've written about the opposite of piety here: http://krasskova.weebly.com/1/post/2012/05/pagan-blog-project-i-is-for-impiety.html for those who might want to take a peek. I'm going to let that stand and speak for itself, because there actually is a right way of doing things and it's not that difficult to figure out.  You know what else? The Gods and ancestors are more than capable of telling us what it is if we do the work and listen. Of course that might lead us to a reordering of our priorities but c'est la vie.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • helmsman of inepu
    helmsman of inepu says #
    I think you're right about "the filter." You even see it operating with "Evangelical" atheists- it's not enough for them not to be
  • Ainslie
    Ainslie says #
    Paganisms of the world are diverse. Galina's a particular person doing particular work in a particular context. Some of that conte
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Oh dear. I really wasn't gonna jump back into this, but feel I've been pulled in by reference. So I'll speak up and say, "me, me!
  • sannion
    sannion says #
    The amateur sociologist of religion in me looks at this kerfuffle and says, "Oh, this is just the community moving into a new stag
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    Ok. I'm confused, where was the part about 'piety' questioned? You're preaching to the choir when it comes to the Romans being ve

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Over the last few weeks, some of the bloggers at the Pagan Channel on Patheos have been posting short explanations as to how and why they became Pagan. I'll tackle that question, too, but in a manner more appropriate to this column: as a life-long bibliophile, books have had a huge influence on my spiritual development. The genres, target audience, and quality of those books have varied widely; the majority were not even aimed specifically at Pagans. Nonetheless, during my formative years (say, childhood through mid-adolesence), these books contributed to thoroughly corrupting me.

Augustus Caesar's World by Genevieve Foster, for instance, which I first found at the public library as a child, lost track of, then rediscovered in the tiny children's section in my college library. I adore the artwork, and I love how Foster interweaves the personal histories of ordinary people with those of major personages and important events. It was this book which first made me a fan of Cleopatra, and led me to further explore women's history and the religions of the ancient world.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Transcendental Hogwash

Or, How Transcendentalism and Panentheism are theological notions unworthy of contemporary Pagans.

The view I take in these matters is Pantheist, which simply stated is the intuition that All is God (from Pan = All, Theos = God), for whatever value of ‘God’ you care to apply. Many Pagans today hold to some variation on this perceptive. The Pantheist view makes ideas like Transcendentalism and Panentheism logically untenable, and they have some further consequences for Pagans that make it worthwhile to remove them from our thinking.

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  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Addendum: This is Whitehead and Hartshorne's view too. They describe a God in "dipolar" terms, having two natures: eternal and te
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    I don't think you can dismiss panentheism by reducing it to the logical fallacy you described. I'm not as smart as Spinoza or Har
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks! That was quite interesting and thought-provoking.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
News and Updates

 

I'm currently working on a new article (after way too long a hiatus, I know) and if all goes well, I'll have that for you next week. There are a number of issues and topics that have caught my attention, I have a few projects in the works,  plus I still owe the final article in my 'honoring city spirits' series.  That's all in progress and i'm hoping to post weekly  now that my school term is nearly finished,  but in the meantime, i wanted to make a brief announcement.

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This post started as a discussion of whether some Pagan traditions are more “privileged” than others.  It rapidly became deeper than this.

When I first became a Pagan and began thinking about the deeper implications of my spiritual path, my first major insight was that since Spirit is everywhere, every spiritual tradition, including those made up from whole cloth, have the potential of carrying someone closer to harmony with the Sacred. For example, even if Gerald Gardner simply made up Gardnerian Wicca (which I do NOT believe), that the Gods come in our workings is all the proof I need that it is a valid path – at least for me.

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  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    Thanks. I try to tread very carefully, because I do NOT want to add fuel to the "culture wars" that seem to be brewing between ecc
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Thank you D.R. We all carry what we once were with us when we change on anything, and many either try to stuff what is new into o
  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    Lovely post, as usual. As one who has learned and lived an ecclectic path for almost 30 years, it has always been my experience (n

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 How might our Paganism influence our politics? A post I wrote before the election, was recently rebuked because I supposedly had no respect for nearly half the American people. Supposedly my views were alien to the Wiccan rede. I disagree as will be obvious, but my basic issue is not with the author, who I assume was sincere, but with a style of thought and the confusions it breeds.  While this post begins with a political question to answer it I will take a journey through some theology and some philosophy.

How big a tent?

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    There is a growing number of Americans, including many Pagan Americans who are Libertarian/conservative, who want the government o
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    As if the universe wants to back up my basic point, today I came across this connection between a prominent Tea party leader in Te
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Mr. Bloch juts closed off discussion of his attack on this column in his blog on Witches and Pagans. The discussion over there is
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    You know, I think you honestly don't see in yourself the denigration, name-calling, and hypocrisy you practice when dealing with c
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Vague charges are very easy to make, and are characteristic of the right wing. Perhaps we would have something to talk about if yo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I love a good mystery. Gore I can do without, but good old fashioned suspense, intriguing puzzles, deep dark secrets. Heck, yeah. Even better if the sleuth who stars in said mystery is Pagan; or, at the very least, magically-inclined.*

The latter is easy enough to find. Study the shelves at your neighborhood library or bookstore, or browse the Amazon or B&N sites, and you will find plenty of mysteries which feature magically-gifted protagonists. Most fall in to the "cozy/amateur sleuth" category; meaning, no gore, no sex, and no hard-core swearing. Just to name a few such examples: the Magical Dressmaking Mystery series by Melissa Bourbon; the Magical Bakery series by Bailey Cates; the Magical Cats series by Sofie Kelly; Annette Blair's Vintage Magic series; the Magical Cures series by Tonya Kappes; and Ellery Adams' brand new Charmed Pie Shoppe series.

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  • Caleen Canady
    Caleen Canady says #
    I am writing away on just this topic. My novel involves a fea/human race who follow the path of the Goddess. My main character's f

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