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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

September 8th, 2004

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10:11 am - Eliade and Jung will destroy your mind!
I realized recently that we scholarly people like to do something strange.

Fluff-Bunny Newbie: What's a good book on Paganism? How do I learn about my religion?

Scholarly Pagan with Ego: Read Eliade's Myth of Eternal Return. You'll understand things better. Or Joeseph Campbell's Hero with 1,000 Faces. Or get yourself some Jung. And don't call him Jung, call him Young.

FBN: This will make me a better Pagan?

SPE: Of course! You'll know about the collective unconscious! You'll understand how myth is an expression of primordial time. You'll see how there are no original myths.

FBN: Oh. Is that what Paganism is about?

SPE: Well, no. It's about personal experience.

FBN: But why am I reading this then?

SPE: Because they're important. It gives you tools to talk about your religion.

FBN: But I don't know what my religion is about! How will I talk about things I don't have an experience of? It'd be like having a hammer and no nails!

SPE: I use my hammer all the time. In fact, I'm using it now to make my point to you.

FBN: Oh, I see. I'm going to go back to being Christian. Thanks anyway.

SPE: [muttering under breath] Obviously, FBN wasn't cut out to be Pagan anyway.

Why do we do this? Shouldn't our first recommendation be: Go out into the woods, sit there, and wait for something to happen. If nothing happens, pretend it did, because that's just as valid as anything else out there. ?

I think we're messed up, and we need to re-think things.

Besides, pointing people to Jung and Eliade is just going to mess them up.
Current Mood: bitchybitchy
Current Music: "Burn That Bridge", -JB

(31 comments Leave a comment)


Date:September 8th, 2004 07:29 am (UTC)
You're quirky. I like that.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 09:58 am (UTC)
I try. It's a tough job, but someone in ADF has to keep things interesting.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 07:38 am (UTC)
Well, it depends.

If FBN is interested in learning about the difference between Paganism and Christianity (or rather the similarities in Myth) then Campbell is a good start.

I was talking with Sjaantze last night about this very question "What do you say to the new pagan who is still afraid of hell?"

Her answer was Shamanism. Start them on Shamanism, just like you said. Send them out into the woods, or make them go on dream quests. I like that idea.

It scares me that you and she came up with the same idea ... must be Jung's Collective Unconscious.

[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 09:59 am (UTC)
must be Jung's Collective Unconscious.

Noooo! Anything but that!
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 08:53 am (UTC)
Of course, the other question is:

If the Fluffy runs back to the waiting tentacles, err I mean arms of the Church, after meeting a haughty pagan... were they really supposed to be outside their safe little world anyway?

As much as I'd love for humanity as a whole to wake up... I'm afraid thats a long way off.
[User Picture]
Date:September 12th, 2004 03:44 am (UTC)
Perhaps they were.

Sometimes people gain the courage to take the first step but if they are met with a seemingly overwhelming obstacle once 'outside the box' they cannot manage the next step. So they retreat. If they were met with support & understanding, they can manage to go further.

Example, I have a friend who is/was Christian ... and a Catholic convert, no less. But he was growing disenchanted with his adopted Catholicism and began to investigate witchcraft/wicca. At first he was extremely concerned about going to hell ... after all, they had pounded that into him, that following any other religion would result in eternal damnation.

I spent many a conversation with him pointing out the similarities between Wicca and Catholicism, telling him that learning about other religions surely wasn't sinful, and that he could always 'go back' if he decided it didn't work for him. I even told him about Christopaganism. Fast forward a couple months, his progress is slow but I don't hear the fear anymore. He's reading, learning, discussing, growing.

I know pagans don't proselytize. But we should welcome new seekers with gentleness and support ... for some, merely asking for information is a huge leap of courage.
Date:September 8th, 2004 09:04 am (UTC)
Haha! I remember my first attempts at Paganism, I read up on it a lot, learnt the various terms, found what ideas I liked and what I didn't and I was very aware I was missing an importance piece. Why couldn't you have written that eight months ago?
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 10:00 am (UTC)
Why couldn't you have written that eight months ago?

Because that would have been too easy, and you know Eris. She's a bitch like that.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 09:42 am (UTC)
Is it wrong to loathe the "nonfluffly pagan" mindset? The pompous, better-than-thou ones that smirk at everything that is even remotely Ravenwolf-esque? In the smorgasboard of spirituality, if a technique or belief works for someone, why should they be belittled for it? Simply because it's viewed as "too mainstream, weird, impossible, or silly."

For that matter, what makes regular reiki so much better than uberrod's runic reiki? Or have you finally seen the bullshit as good fertilizer?
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 09:53 am (UTC)
Well, I believe that all Reiki is all pretty much bunk, no matter what you're doing with it or how you do it. But then, people say the same thing about Cthulhu, so I call them even.

And no, it's not wrong to loathe it.

I just hope I stop myself before I go from, "Dude, that's not historically accurate," to, "Dude, that's completely invalid."


I'd be very unhappy with myself if I ever told someone that their belief system was invalid.

You're right, though: what works is what is important. Even if I think it's kinda funny (like the Teen Witch Kit, which is terribly funny, but completely valid, and still completely historically inaccurate).
Date:September 8th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC)

you know

I think I find that i'm having a problem calling people fluffy bunny pagans.

mainly because i'm begining to seriously wonder if i fall into such a category.

not that i'm a fan of conway or cunningham, but if people find something in their works that's good for them, why not you know?

anyhow, when does your adf have it's meets?
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 09:55 am (UTC)

Re: you know

I found one of Conways books to be very useful. It's really bad when it comes to accuracy, but it's perfectly valid.

Three Cranes next rite is Sept. 19 (move-in day).
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 04:49 pm (UTC)

Bravo and kudos

Please, please, please post this to ADF-Discuss!!!!! I think it's something we 'scholarly' (blech) folks could use a rousing discussion about:D
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 05:10 pm (UTC)
You are so absolutely right. But, you knew that.

I swear to Gods some of these people who do things like recommend Eliade (!!?!!) and his ilk to random newbie Pagans are operating on sheer superiority complex. But, you knew that, too.

What I used to do after the radio shows, when someone asked for book recommendations, was mail them a list of 7 or 8 books from beginner to advanced, and a short description of each, so the person could take the plunge at whichever level sounded appealing.

I mean for pete's sake, we are diverse; we approach/become attracted to Paganism differently; we are NOT all at the same reading/educational level. And to scoff at people and pretend they're "not ready to be Pagan" who are bewildered by Eliade et al., well, grrrr. Most people are, or would be, bewildered by Eliade et al. Do the Ego/Scholar types believe Paganism is only for liberal arts academics?!

I have a friend who sums up his religion/spirituality thusly: "Shut up, go sit in the woods, and breathe." I think it would make a good bumpersticker (not to mention an excellent practice).

I believe Reiki is pretty much bunk too.

-Tess, Nth Degree HPS in the Skeptickal Trad
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 10:31 pm (UTC)
Most important recommendation to a fluffy-bunny newbie: "Use your own methods of discernment. Do not believe everything anyone (including me) tells you, nor everything you read. Do read everything and talk to everyone, and then make up your own mind."

Beyond that, Jung and Eliade as introductory texts for Paganism 101? I've never heard of that. The authors, to my knowledge, aren't even Pagan. I think both are interesting and valuable in their own right, but not to define my faith.

I do think Scott Cunningham is a good author (I wouldn't recommend Silver Ravenwolf or DJ Conway, however. :-) ) His history may not be the best, but then his faith isn't grounded in history. His approach is mystical, that is, personal experience with Deity. That is to me as valid as anything else.
If someone is citing false history as a foundation of faith (ie, don't trust Christians. Look what they did to us during the Burning Times), then and only then does it become necessary to offer up an alternate view, citing sources. If, however, some people choose to worship the Great Goddess because they saw her in a vision, historical documentation becomes irrelevant. Historical studies can be a valuable source of information about the Gods, (and is for me), but is not the only available paradigm.

Your advice about going into the woods is excellent, and absolutely vital.
[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2004 12:25 am (UTC)
Personal Note-- Never read Eliade.

What you're most likely to get from reading Jung is a nice, long nap. The guy was a seriously dry writer. I had a Jungian Analyst tell me back in College-the First Time that you're much better off reading books about Jung's Theories than reading Jung himself if you want to get a good grasp of what the man was on about. And this was because I'd mentioned that I was considering becoming a Jungian Analyst. So the idea of recommending the man for a good grasp on Paganism seems really silly to me.

It's funny. Jung's thoeries are really interesting & the man himself was really interesting but his writing's terrible. Freud on the other hand was a major wack job whose theories focused on sex so much because he wasn't getting any but he's a really good writer. So guess who gets to be more popular?

It's a funny, funny world. :)

[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2004 08:31 am (UTC)

Find the path together

Perhaps a useful dialogue between the two should take the form of ..

FNB: What's a good book on Paganism? How do I learn about my religion?

SPE: Well, there are lots of books to choose from but maybe _we_ should start with something a little less academic. I'm going hiking on Saturday around 10am, why don't you come along and _we_ can discuss your interest in Paganism while enjoying the outdoors.

From my perspective, as academic as I am, putting a person's fingers in the soil and their face to the sun rarely fails as an opportunity to educate.

Of course, I am also a nature freak that tries to get people to sniff beetles pulled from pond muck in order to demonstrate the beetles emit a gas that smells like pineapples. -- So my views may be skewed --

[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2004 12:21 pm (UTC)
Ha, I see a few other fluffies showing their faces here. Bravo. :)

The first thing I did when I began to wonder about my religion, what am I, etc., was go to a quiet place with water, sit, think, and write. I learned a lot that way. A week or two later, purely by chance, I came across Drawing Down the Moon at a bookstore. It was expensive for me, a poor high school student, but I had a gift certificate. I'm certain if I didn't have that certificate, I wouldn't have bought it. Also bought my first Tarot deck that day. Turns out I lucked out majorly in my choice of books to introduce myself to paganism; I picked mostly the "right" ones. I'm an interesting case in that I started as a scholarly pagan, and seem to become fluffier the more I practice. Well, to each their own, right? :)
[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2004 09:26 pm (UTC)
I consider myself a fluffy bunny scholar. ;-)

Cool Pagan origin story, by the way.

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