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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Theology (Part 3)

My previous articles on this subject considered both the origins and applications of theology in both pre and documented history. Pre-history theology was subject to the direct revelatory aspect with documented history being subject to the agenda driven committee approach.

So what of present and future definitions? When one considers the amount of information now (largely) freely available to anyone with access to todays technology, the result is that people are now starting to take some responsibility for their own spirituality by redefining theological aspects.

Documented historical theology was subject to both committee agendas, designed to both control populations and create personal power-bases, and limited sources of information with which to define personal theological viewpoints. The 21st century sees us with more potential sources of information than any other time and with greater numbers of humans living than any other time in recorded history, that information base literally grows by the minute.

This leads to some specific problems in itself with all sorts of theories, some well meaning and others nothing but scurrilous attempts at relieving the individual of their cash reserves. This ability to be able to express viewpoints, as evidenced by my own blog for example, increase this potential. There are various conclusions one could draw from the whys and hows of this explosion of personal expression but it is not my intention to delve into this in any depth at this present minute in time. I am more interested in the direction, as viewed from my primarily pagan perspective.

My experience of Paganism came about, viewed from the perspective of hindsight, by perceived physical interactions with and through my local environment. Unlike many others this did not come about through interactions with named deities but through what I came to later understand as genius loci or spirits of place. As far as theology goes, this places my experiences outside the common ground spoke about by the Abrahamic religions. My understanding of these experiences meant that I could not perceive of these interactions being the result of an all pervading God, but was convinced by rational discourse that the source, was a distinct and separate entity capable of independent thoughts and actions.

Due to the understanding of the consequences of these interactions, paganism was best placed to represent a framework with which to better interpret these interactions. So, I came to first read about and later interact with pagans and pagan ideas. Initial forays into pagan forums produced some interesting interactions but it soon became apparent that there was no common framework with which to place my experiences. Worst, was that a lot of the people were totally wrapped up in personal interpretations that mirrored the worst excesses of the Abrahamic religions, showing a complete lack of either understanding or questioning of perspectives they held to contradict their own “special” relationship with nature.

Paganism, much like lots of other areas of life, was just as prone to personality domination. Unfortunately, this has been self-defeating as any cohesive frameworks generally to date, have been shown to be lacking when faced with rigorous examinations by motivated individuals from outside pagan spheres. It has also been my experience that a good deal of the individuals I came to think held some sort of cohesive and better than average concept of the consequences of pagan thinking, either voluntarily or through negative experiences, withdrew from the pagan “scene”, which has contributed to a lack of common framework. The freedom offered by paganism through lack of theology or the dreaded “D” word, dogma, reduces most to an entirely individualistic viewpoint.

There are examples of exceptions however and it is my belief that there may well be others for whom their own frameworks, probably when individuality gives a little to accommodate others in the cause of a common understanding, demonstrate some interesting aspects and understanding of common shared experience. One of these is representted by my friend Lee with his definition of theology and although my own experiences are not strictly in keeping with his, this is as good a definition that I have come across to date and as such, am happy to use as a workable model.

This is a good example of structured thinking and for me, demonstrates the potential for development as we progress into the future.

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Posted by on April 25, 2010 in Speculative conjecture

 

“Bottom up” Consciousness

I have been considering the subject of consciousness in an animistic context. Most of the advocates of animism agree that consciousness pervades every thing in our known, and speculatively the unknown, cosmos. The mechanism is not understood but for many, this is an irrelevance as their experiences dictates their understanding. This is, I would contend, to be a reasonable position but leaves the individual open to claims of delusion if those same experiences appear to go against the norm. Being an engineer by trade, I tend to look at these things from a process perspective, if I can establish the means by which this process could take place, then the basis for the analysis for the results is on firmer foundations.

One thing I have recently realized is that a lot of the perceptions of the individuals who are brave enough to venture an opinion or share some of their perceptions, seem to consider consciousness as a “top down” process. That is to say, the reasoning assumes that consciousness is seated within the brain, with the brain processing the information resulting in sensory experiences. No doubt this has its roots in the modern disciplines of psychotherapy and the likes. The thought processes are deemed to be behind most of the experiences and if we do something to affect the brain, through the likes of different drugs or using different thought processes, the underlying principles accredit the change to these and other types of brain alterations.

So let us consider an alternative. If we examine the human cell, we find some remarkable facts. The human cell wall comprises of some 30,000 different types of proteins, configured as enzymes, organelles, DNA & the like. Each cell has more parts than people in a medium-sized city. It feeds itself, excretes waste, rebuilds internal parts, creates bio-electricity, reproduces and chooses when to die. When it replicates through division, it replicates all this including the 3 billion plus DNA base pairs of the double helix. This cell could share the head of a pin with about 10,000 of its comrades.

The potential for different courses of interactions are mind-blowing. The amount of suitable material considered suitable for food must make the a la carte menus of the best restaurants as somewhat inadequate. Then there are all the possible consequences of chemical reactions within that same environment, some beneficial, some positively hostile. And yet, the scientific community would have us believe that cells are nothing but automatons, who simply react to environmental stimuli. Close scrutiny however, shows this position to be both inaccurate and selective in its interpretations. If these cells were nothing but automatons, then the consequences of these cells interactions should be all uniform in the evidence, with little or no variance. Of course, factors such as cell makeup and the likes will account for a small deviation in results but overall, the actions of the cells should be uniform.

So, let us take a leap of faith here and grant these cells the capacity of “free will”. This free will would be provided by consciousness. It would be demonstrated by the individualistic choices of these cells, microbes & bacteria present in the biological body. The environment these cells (I’m going to use the term cell to cover all other capable and qualifying entities here) find themselves in may present far more challenges than what the “we” find in our own cultural environments. For example, in favourable environmental conditions, it would not be beyond reasonable conclusions to presume the potential foodstuffs may number into the hundreds, possibly the thousands (think of the sea, for example and the plankton present there). When looking at a typical menu in any well-known fast food outlet, if you group foodstuffs into their original constituent groups, I doubt it would number much above ten.

Then we look at the possible chemical reactions that may occur when cells enter differing environments. Some of these environments may result in physical damage which the cell, minus the supposed source of intellect, a brain, then repairs for optimal use again. The 3 billion plus pairs of DNA in the double helix give the cell the materials with which to equipment itself with the necessary tools for repair, but how does this process originate? The obvious answer is the autoimmune system, but that is dependent, to an extent, of being driven supposedly by the brain. I find it difficult to place all this activity being orchestrated by that same brain. Intuitively, for me, it makes more sense that the cells possess enough autonomy in their actions without directions from a distant organ. It also makes more sense that the information provided by these cells, if provided in great enough numbers, may be the spark that create a synaptic pathway with the resultant thought being created in the brain.

Consider the choices we encounter in everyday life. How many number beyond say six choices? When driving, for example, it’s usually just two. Is it possible that the autonomous workings of these cells actually provide the service of eliminating choices until the resultant number available to us is of a sufficient low enough denomination for the brain to be able to make a better informed choice? If this is the case and organisms without that most human characteristic, a brain, do possess the ability to use free will, and thus demonstrate both independence in action with the ability to relay these results to another organ then the purpose of the brain may now be viewed as the centre where all the information is correlated primarily, and its primary role may not be one that sends out information for cells to act on, as is thought to be the case in many circles at present, but one where the flow of information going into it may well far outweigh the information being sent out. Ironically, the brain may actually be responsible for “dumbing down” this information.

Of course, if this independence in actions is viewed in cells outside the human body, then the consequences for the perception of life may also be in need of a revision.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2010 in Scientific discussion

 

Theology (Part 2)

The main religions of the world, generally had their period of “enlightenment” via the prophets of their choice between 600 BC and 600 AD. Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Jesus and Mohammed, all are claimed to have lived and died between these dates.

Even a cursory glance at the writings of these religions reveals some profound insights into the nature of existence. And yet, when one starts to look further into them, one cannot help but realise that although there are aspects worthy of respect because of some universal truths, the method of both transmission and context are probably neither true or accurate to the original intention.

Little of the original ideas have remained unaltered by multiple translations, cultural appropriation or generations of “officials” rewriting or reinterpreting the material for personal or group advantage. Whereas the earlier Shamans used personal experience to define their interactions, the later religions gained spiritual insights through the experiences of others and bestowed upon those same individuals titles that were representative of the aspirations of the growing organizations dedicated to further their power bases in the general populations. As I have discussed elsewhere, the route offered to the supporters was one of preferential treatment in the afterlife.

The earliest major religion to appear was probably Hinduism which generally predated the other major religions by somewhere between 2 to 5000 years. The polytheistic nature of this leads to, viewed from a western perspective, a confusing and contradictory theology. Rites and rituals which would appear to be both contradictory and incompatible in both nature and meaning co-exist alongside each other with no major conflicts of interests. Unlike the other religions, there is no general prescribed course of entry into the afterlife or even into the realms of reincarnation. Instead this is defined by the local belief system prescribed to by the local populations.

The first example of a cultural shift from a polytheistic theology to one that maybe viewed as a monotheistic viewpoint would be one whose primary figure was Zarathustra Spitama. He is believed to have lived around the 18th century BC, though dating is very imprecise. His creed is Zoroastrianism, from the Greek translation of Zarathustra. At its height, it is believed that it was practiced in an area larger than the Roman empire. In an example that has been viewed throughout recorded history, most of the recorded early history was lost when many of its priests, who, like the later Druids acted as living libraries, were slaughtered during Alexander the Great’s invasion of the 4th century BC.

This course of action would be repeated many times in later times as an example of one of the favoured methods used to gain ascendency over rival theologies. Zoroastrianism also set a precedent which would be repeated by the later religions namely the nature of the discourse was one of direct revelation to a specific individual by a specific God. The earlier shamans experienced interactions with a variety of entities, but the nature of Zoroastrianism and the later monotheistic paths was one that claimed exclusivity through this interaction with a single entity. It is not my intention to go into depth into the theologies of these religions, as I’m sure any reader of this will have experienced this aspect for themselves. What I intend to do is study the probable consequences for adopting these theologies and their inherent, and in my opinion, fatal flaw.

Of the current mainstream religions, only Islam was initiated within the lifetime of the appointed prophet. It would therefore, be considered to be the candidate for the least amount of theological alteration. From a western perspective, it would appear this is not the case and therefore this raises the question, if a religion that had direct access to the individual concerned is subject to as many different interpretations as the rest of the evidenced religions, can the central tenets be reliable frames of reference?

If these works were subject to modern scientific rigours, it would probably result in a conclusion that stated that the evidence had been altered too much to place any credence in the resultant evidence. The primary evidence has been gained from a singular source of interaction from the appointed prophets, and it has not been confirmed by any other independent means. In fact, the whole area of theological conjecture which has arisen from the religions of this period, are pieces of conjecture written in the second ,third or more parties, parties who were not subject to, or were present at, the time of disclosure. They are works of interpretation written from the perspective of later times, sometimes hundreds of years later. This brings into perspective the reliability of these interpretations and also raises the question as to the motivations behind the reworking of the earlier material.

If this was a court of law, we would in a position of being be asked to believe the eyewitness account of an individual who was hundreds of miles away and several years later than the actual event. How much credence would the court give to such an individual? How much would you?

Interestingly, there is a shared ethos throughout most of these documented religions, which is supplied here:

Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. DADISTAN-I-DINIK, 94,5

Brahmanism: This is the sum of duty: Do nought unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. MAHABARATA, 51 1517

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. UDAN-VARGA, 5,18

Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. MATTHEW 7:12

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. SUNNAH

Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you. ANALECTS, 15.23

Taoism: Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss. T’AI SHANG KAN YING PIEN

Jainism: In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, regard all creatures as you would regard your own self. YOGA-SASTRA

and my own personal favourite….

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary. TALMUD, SHABBET, 31A

So there is a common theme, which is both appropriate and respectful. What a crime that this could not be accommodated without the need to qualify either a reward or a system run more for the benefit of the administrators.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2010 in Speculative conjecture

 

Theology ( Part 1)

The subject of theology and its many interpretations is both interesting, complexing and controversial. The amount of time and effort spent throughout recorded history in pursuit of theological truth must be one that probably, has few equals. The very term itself is subject to differing interpretations, usually through hidden (or not) agendas. Therefore, it would be useful to define what this particular term is representative of. Using one of the better online dictionaries, this definition is both concise and accurate enough for us to be dealing with…

Theology – 1. The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.  Source

I find this definition to be specifically accurate enough with which to base further disclosure / conjecture upon.

There is no doubt that this area has been important to humanity throughout the time that we, as a species, developed enough mental capacity and self-awareness to understand our place in the natural world. Our perceived individual isolation, built upon the experiences of living and the consequences of those very same living processes, result in a mental process that has the capability to consider beyond the “now” and to consider both past and future events and actions. Because of this ability, the area for consideration expands through the recognition that we can plan for many eventualities, thus increasing our chance for success.

This process has its “drawbacks” though in that these predetermined actions, if the situation is either a) desperate enough or b) motivating enough that the individual may consider actions that may not be in keeping with either cultural, moral or social guidelines. This could be viewed as in some way representative of The Selfish Gene hypothesis, with the actions being representative of the base instinct of increasing the survival odds of the individual or, in some cases, group of individuals.

However, evolution has provided a counter-mechanism, to a greater or lesser degree, to provide the individual with the ability to consider the ramifications of those very same courses of actions. This is commonly known as the human conscience. Note that I have defined conscience specifically with humans, there is evidence in some other primates to suggest a limited amount of self-awareness but I would contend not enough for them to be cognitive enough to be able to fully understand any and all consequences of their actions. Therefore, this ability, in its fullest sense at this minute in time, would appear to be confined to humanity.

How does this recognition of the consequences of any and all actions humans make, manifest itself in terms of mental processes? Well, one of the earliest examples is the differal to other world presences. Actions unforseen or out of the blue, using the limited frames of references available in earlier times, ended in said actions being placed in the realm of the other world and their comprehension of the other world, mainly took the shape of the Gods. This in itself presented these interactions into a context, at least partially understandable to the individuals at those times, with the possibility of creating a means by which to intercede with these other influences. To further make these actions at least partially understandable and accessible, these other world entities were endowed with human characteristics with a view to present a common ground for interactions to take place.

Different Gods were presented with different personalities representative of some viewed aspect of nature. Because of this, they were consequently linked to that particular aspect of nature. Interestingly though, this idea also gave rise to the belief in a static spirit of place, a spirit somehow tied to a particular location. Gods were allowed free passage amongst lands and peoples but it was believed that some other world entities did not possess this ability. These Genius Loci as they became known as using later Roman terms of reference, may have emerged as the human populations adopted agricultural lifestyles which dictated the establishment of static, location specific communities, engaged in food production at local locations.

So through a combination of many things including genetic predispositions, lifestyle changes and perceived interactions with other world entities, the need to form a framework with which to engage all these aspects was placed into the realm of theology.

The earliest recorded individuals for whom we may speculatively refer to as demonstrating some form of theology were the Shamans. Unlike later modern definitions of theology using a single source of information, these were subject to different methods of interactions with these interactions being defined by the individual concerned. Methods ranged from naturally self induced trances to drug induced trance (in the form of plant ingestion). Because of the nature of these interactions, their interpretations were left with the individual experiencing these interactions. This, one may reasonably assume, would have left the life of that same individual subject to successful interactions with the other world. It would be also reasonable to assume that for longevity of life for that individual, fear of that same individual and their perceived power must have been a prerequisite to survival.

This method of theology, based in the perceived power of the affected individual, may have taken precedence until the widespread adoption of the written word. It may be also reasonable to assume that this type of theology concerned itself with the immediate outcomes of everyday living for the communities engaging in this type of interaction. The power base for this theology, however, was to be displaced with the adoption of the written word.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2010 in Speculative conjecture

 

The What and Why of Brython

To most people, Brython will not be a familiar concept. Borne from the continuing rise in popularity of neo-pagan perspectives witnessed in the last two decades, fueled by the accessibility and widespread access to the internet, the members of Brython arrived there by a variety of methods.

The following, in conjunction with my Personal Brythonic Relationships sections, chart my arrival, interpretation and continuing perspective of my blossoming Brythonic relationship.

Arrival.

I have never been subject to strong religious interactions. My parents were C of E but not strongly. Therefore, my experience of religion was one through interactions with the church and was mainly related to the odd service, wedding or funeral with my religious education being sponsored through C of E schooling. This laid the foundations for my understanding of the theology of Christianity. The age of 16 saw me leaving school on the Friday and into paid employment in the form of an apprenticeship on the following Monday. Secondary education proved to be a disappointment and from passing what used to be known as the 11+ exams with the highest score in mathematics seen in a year sample of 80 in junior school, the resultant placement in a “higher” prestige school led to disillusion with both teaching methods, subjects and, to an extent, fellow pupils. It was therefore, with some relief I left the education system of the 70’s. It would be easy to place my failure at the feet of the secondary system of that period, especially when one considers the subsequent confirmation by MENSA of my well above average IQ, verified by independent testing at a later date. But that would be a somewhat simplistic attitude which would smack of the abdication of personal responsibility. When viewed now from a perspective of distance in time, it occurs to me that there were various interactions responsible for this outcome, and I must accept some of that responsibility. But as would prove to be the case in numerous examples in later life, the outcome would appear to be the over-riding necessity for the experience to occur and the subsequent changing of perspectives as life presented its challenges over the following decades.

Religion then “left the scene” so to speak as regular employment and personal relationships in the form of my now wife, took centre stage. And so it continued, with the arrival of my two kids and the responsibilities associated with the upbringing of those two, my experiences were probably restricted to one that was primarily one of a cultural aspect.

It wasn’t really until the youngest of my kids was about to enter secondary education that any form of interest emerged into the realms of the spiritual. It would be easy to speculate that this was merely a result of this change of circumstance with the immediate intense area of responsibility associated with young children being passed through. Therefore time and opportunity to consider personal perspectives thus presented themselves, but crucially, with the added benefit of that passing of time, I was equipped with more information and experiences with which to consider any and all implications.

Interpretation.

When I view my arrival at the neo-pagan scene, it occurs to me that my initial interest was sparked through my changing tastes in music. Music has always provided me with one constant in my life. My tastes were initialized by the albums of my parents and the likes of Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and the general music of the late 50’s through to the early 70’s comprised my earliest experiences. The late 70’s through to the mid nineties were dominated by the Rock opera type genre with the works of Jim Steinman and the various interpretations by different musicians being a particular favourite.

The mid nineties to the early part of the millenium saw a gradual decline in the appreciation of popular music and this prompted me to use the facilities of the local library and to sample some albums that I had not seen or heard before. Of course the beauty of this was the rental charge of 50p per week meant that any poor albums would not constitute a financial outlay. It was such an album, which was a compilation album comprising of various artists in the English Folk genre that guided me seek out what I know to represent a pagan perspective.

Again making use of the local public libraries, I began reading the basic guides as to what constituted paganism and especially neo-paganism perspectives. My interest was heightened by the guides that related to both neo-shamanism and neo-druidry. The one book that probably gave me a perspective that I realized fired both my imagination and interest was this one which I was happy to lend to another member of Brython recently. The cosmological viewpoint presented intrigued me for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the author originated in my immediate locality. Secondly, the material was based entirely in Britain and it was this realization, that the religions of the world held no connection for me because of their areas of origin, that led to a period of re-evaluation. I simply could not relate to the stories of life and deliverance in the context of other countries at different times in history. This did not mean that I couldn’t understand what they represented, but as mentioned in some of my other posts, I realized that the promise of salvation, the reward goal orientated religions, went against a lot of my beliefs built up through experience of both culture and interactions with the general public. I wasn’t interested in a reward, I was interested in how my actions may be directed to the greater good and this greater good could not be a greater good if the motivation behind it was one that ultimately was self-centred.

I cannot over-emphasize how important this realization impacted in my thinking. Sit at the right hand of God in heaven? No thank you. Enter paradise to “enjoy” the company of 72 virgins? definitely not! Why should the motivations behind our actions have to be defined by this base denominator? This demonstrated to me why these religions ultimately held no appeal for me. I prefer to take responsibility for my own actions. I fully understood how these religions may have represented, in theory, a restraining influence upon a more basic society, but, as with the majority of life, the theory doesn’t match the reality. Instead of restraining the actions to create a fairer culture, the figures of power associated with these religions used these same interpretations to suppress the general populations for the benefit of their personal power base. They assumed the mantle of gate-keeper, determining by personal favours, the qualifying factors needed for them to turn the key and allow entry into salvation.

Continuing perspectives.

I had determined that for me, the realms of the spiritual started with a grounding in my locality. The cosmological viewpoint encountered previously resonated strongly with me. I then moved into the study of Druidry and it’s later incarnation, neo-druidry. Druidry represents a direct example of a religious worldview grounded in Britain and Northern Europe. This held out the promise of a frame of reference that held no goal as its ultimate outcome and was rooted in the fabric of my locality. And so I entered the world of the neo-pagan forum and website.My initial forays and my general lack of understanding in the etiquette of internet interactions resulted immediately in what I later understood to be a “neo-pagan flame war”, which basically is the hysterical rantings of the spiritually “precious”, challenging anyone who possessed the nerve ( or in my case, the naivety) to question their “hard-won” spiritual perspectives. They do not appreciate people questioning their taste in imaginary clothing!

I was eventually fortunate enough to be pointed in the direction of Caer Feddwyd ( may I take this opportunity to say thank you publically, you know who I am referring to Bwitch!). It became immediately obvious to me that the unsubstantiated beliefs that demanded “respect” born of personality evidenced elsewhere were challenged using the references of the modern scientific areas, specifically archaeology and it’s associated practices. Any unsubstantiated claims were met by referral to attested facts, where possible, thus leaving a basis from which to start to build a foundation for the understanding and possible reconnection with frames of reference our ancestors would have understood. A practical approach that did not rely upon a personality led practice, again evidenced elsewhere, but was in the process of being built using foundations grounded in the reality of today’s cultural and scientific perspectives. For any potential spirituality to have relevance in todays technological culture and the subsequent sceptical scrutiny afforded to the general population by the availability of the mass of information provided by the internet, this has proved to be (in my opinion) the best way with which to move forward in attempting to create a workable spiritual practice.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2010 in Brythonic

 

The Celts – History and Civilization

This is the title of a book I recently brought from this establishment at this astounding price. The author is/was? the director of the centre for Celtic studies in Paris and has directed numerous international archaeological excavations, also writing over 200 scientific articles on historical subjects, with an emphasis on the Celtic Iron age.

The book itself is slightly larger than A4 in size and around 240 pages, all of them displaying either artifacts or scenaries from the described areas of Celtic history. Now, for £3.99, this book could be 50 pages long and if the material was sufficient in quality, that would represent good value for money. This is not the case though for this book. This is 240 pages of high quality images and high quality writing. The author being both located and working in mainland Europe, approaches the subject from a mainland European perspective. To his credit though, he does not neglect the influence and evidence from the British Isles and Ireland. The photos alone if removed from the book, would represent excellent value for money at this discounted price, but along with the high quality writing, this is, quite simply one of the best bargains of a book that I have been fortunate to have come across in the last 10 years. My only slight criticism would be that the text is split by descriptions of the corresponding pictures, some of which can be quite lengthy texts which tend to lead, for someone of my advancing years, to the situation of having lost the plot of what was being disclosed previously. That though, is probably more of an indication of my current state than that of the book. Highly recommended, especially at this price!

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2010 in Book Reviews

 

The Decline of Pagan Forums

I was reading the blog of a friend who was expressing that which I have been observing recently, the decline in both content and quality of various pagan forums. I have been giving this some thought as to why this should be. It seems that the peak in interest was probably arrived at around 3 to 5 years ago, I can’t say definitively as I have only frequented the internet for about this length of time and therefore didn’t participate before.

The rise in interest for these forums, it would seem to me, would be directly related with the increases in numbers of people who now have broadband internet connections. I am sure that before this rise in internet connectivity, the methods for people wishing to explore this potential avenue of spirituality was through either personal contacts or mail order type arrangements, potentially placing the material into the perceived “darker” side of society.

The initialization of these forums gave individuals the opportunity to peruse without commitment of either time (to a degree) or financial expenditure (to a lesser degree than the methods described earlier). So, with the corresponding rise in internet use, came a corresponding rise in forum activity. It is indeed my own experience that when I first started to frequent these forums myself, in an effort to both enhance my limited knowledge of the subject matter and to make tentative contact with others, the activity shown on these forums was quite high.

It has been my experience though, that the people who made a good deal of the posts in the earlier times are now, by and large, absent. They were responsible for a lot of the momentum in those times, and a lot of people empathized with their viewpoints (and it has to be stated, a lot of people were also alienated by those very same viewpoints), but it occurs to me, that the effort and possible conclusions of those same people, may have resulted in either burnout or withdrawal into a more secular or isolationist perspective.

It has been my experience that my own style of posting has moved away from the brief conversational type of exchange and I now require a much more in-depth type of interaction whereby the responses needed require more consideration and a better style and length of response. So, I too, find myself becoming more focussed on the content and intellectual quality of a site, as opposed to just a collective of superficially like minds.

The nature of Paganism is also changing, I would suggest. There will always be that initial attraction of a spirituality that promises to deliver an experience that moves away from a humancentric approach, but one may find that the very act of removing those alternative theologies actually leaves a vacuum which as yet to be defined in a universal method. We are finding that the language used to try to define that experience is somewhat lacking, yet, what alternative is there to language? For the creation of a universal empathy to the relationships trying to be defined by this method of communication, there are very little. So we find ourselves with the experience and the, presently, inadequate means by which to communicate such a thing.

In a society that wants and expects instant solutions, for many, this realization leads to the abandonment of such forums and the transient nature of life today and the sheer volume of internet sites offering that very same marketing led next “instant big thing” guides this superficial interest further on.

And yet, this type of action being witnessed actually reflects what actually happened to classical Paganism. Early Paganism was rooted in a tribal / agricultural model of society with individuals being tied to this way of life, leading to the establishment of area defined deities. As these tribes later adopted the oppida type of living, the roles changed and a percentage of these peoples adopted a more migratory style of life as they worked in the armies of the differing empires that had established themselves. Because these people no longer experienced the physicality of their local area, their method of divine interactions also changed. I suspect that this is, to an extent, being reflected in the decline of these Pagan forums at this time through both lifestyle limitations and superficial transitory attitudes.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2010 in General