Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Authenticity and the modern neopagan

The irony of arguments amongst reconstructionist pagans that come down to whether someone's authentic or not has been driven home to me lately. I'm not talking about the perfectly valid attempts to get people to stop claiming a tradition they've only practiced for ten weeks is the way the ancestors did it when we have no proof of it. I'm referring to how, once you get to where people are working with the lore, the culture, and their own inspiration, some people seem to think they can decide if you're doing it wrong and they're doing it right. When you don't know how X was done, being sure someone else's method of approach is faulty because it disagrees with your own interpretations is the best way to be considered didactic and dogmatic.

I don't know if it's possible for any CR to say they practice a truly authentic Celtic spirituality, especially not one that's true to the pre-Christian Celts. We're all bringing in outside influences, learning the cultural norms, figuring it out as we go along, and are never going to get to the heart of what it was like before the Christians showed up. We can't. We don't speak that form of the appropriate language. We don't live in that environment. Can we get something useful to modern times out of our struggle to understand? Of course. If it wasn't useful at the start, we'd all go do something else. But don't be fooled into thinking any of us will ever have a lock on what's accurate past the cold facts in a book. We can only work the ways the gods move us to follow and keep faith in the rightness of our own path for ourselves. We don't have to agree with others who use the same methods if our facts coincide. Where our paths overlap, we have common purpose and community. Where they do not, we have diversity.

Those who would attempt to sow dissension in the ranks because of disagreements over approach or the individual voices of the gods, ancestors and spirits who speak to each of us will have their works treated with the due and proper respect they deserve. Those who reach for a balanced sense of priorities and speak truth will receive their right reward as well. So I pray to the gods, so I ask it be. So shall it be done.


Anonymous said...

Too true. It is hard to remain a pagan and walk an individual path when you are faced with people telling you that you are wrong. However, it must be remembered that the human species generally has a group mentality. This means that unless they validate what they are doing by forcing it onto others it may make them insecure about their own practice. (I personally believe that this was a key feature in religious persecution.) Just let it wash over you and remember that we each walk our own path and our own path alone. Blessed be!! :)

Iritar said...

I fully agree with what you are saying. Squabbling over dogma causes blindness to the fundamental truths that exist. Thank you for this post!