Yesterday I had the misfortune just before going to bed to read a post on a CR group in Facebook. Let me tell you that was no fun for me.
Let me clarify a few things before I start. I do not equate religion with mystical experiences (even though they are certainly a part of it). I do think belief is important in religion BUT WHAT that belief is, is entirely your own thing. UPG can mean mystical experiences that happens during practice BUT when I use it I actually mean practices that take place in say a ritual context that cannot be verified by our basic sources.
Now that all that is out of the way let us get on to the discussion I read. The original poster asked a very important question, why do conversations on CRP forums never go past the CR 101 stage? Very quickly you saw the “us vs. them” mentality come out. This is very personal to me, because if I were to apply the criteria that the person responding presented, then I could never become part of CRP, ever. So let us look at the points raised by this person and their group.
1. You must have a local community that you get feedback from. I agree with that up to a point. If you can find that community then more power to you, however, what do people like me do? I live in Kuwait, I’m never going to find a Pagan community let alone a CRP one, does that mean that I can’t be a CRP even though my practice fits with their basic worldview? What do people who live in remote areas of the US do? Or those who don’t have the money or time to make it to a community one or two hours away? Are they left out? Does an internet community count in those cases?
2. Things like practice cannot be discussed on “public” forums because some random person who is not grounded in reality can make it part of their fantasy, instead it should be kept to a private group of individuals… First of all, the source material that we all work from is the same, and each person or group can interpret it in anyway they see fit. So the idea of some random person taking something said and spinning it into fantasy can happen anyway. Second, who gets to decide who these private individuals are? What makes them more worthy exactly? I understand when a group decides not to share some private rituals, like how they incubate for divination or what they do if they do workings or magic or what have you but surely a basic ritual structure can be shared and discussed in a general sense. For example, I have the basic ritual structure that I use up on my site, I’ve given people an idea where it came from and what inspired it, and I’ve shared a few of my rituals, but what I get out of my rituals is something that I may or may not share, or I could choose to share partially…I came by it the hard way, and I chose to share it in hopes of getting some feedback from people I considered the Elders of my community (when I thought I was actually a part of one, things don’t seem to be clear right now) and for the next generation of CRP to get inspiration from. Apparently I’m doing this all wrong…since I don’t have a local community to share with, I shouldn’t really share.
3. People who identify as Pagans. What does that even mean? Polytheism and by extension CRP is part of the wider Pagan community whether people like it or not. Heck even the name says so, Celtic Recnstructionist Paganism. Yes, in your tradition you can choose Irish Polytheism, Gaelic Polytheism, Welsh Polytheism, Gaulish…You get the idea, but in the end you are a Pagan and a part of Paganism.
4. The CR FAQ as a basic guide. Until it is not. This poor document has been used by people to support their arguments, until it no longer supports their argument, then it is only a guide not to be taken as gosspel. This document, I have been told by three different people whose names are on it as co-authors, was written through compromise, and in the end didn’t resemble the intent of its original writers, BUT it is a great starting point that needs to be tailored to the individual culture that interests you. So parts of it can and probably will evolve as people practice more within their cultural structures, it was never intended to be a bible as someone told me yesterday. The thing is, this is all CRs who first come to the path see, and the only concrete document that speaks about this path in a general way. So if these people don’t find a community to interact with to further that knowledge how are they supposed to move along the path? Either they find a local community or they are out of luck apparently.
People like me who have no local community are supposed to go away, and not think they can be included in the selected few who do have a local community for support and feedback. They really shouldn’t think that they will get anything out of the internet community, as these discussions will never go beyond CR 101 or “this is Wicca we don’t do that” discussions.
In essence we are on our own, we need to do our own work (not that we don’t already) and make our own way in this path. I just hope that when this work is done we don’t decide not to share with others…Harsh? Yeah, I’m kind of a little p***ed right now…