I want to take a moment to discuss paganism, occultism, spirituality and authenticity. People LOVE debating and questioning the authenticity of anyone who doesn’t believe, practice, or grow spiritually in the same way they do. I think anyone who thinks their way is the only way or the only one-true way of anything (with regard to spirituality) and believes that their particular way is the only way for everyone – is delusional. Personal spiritual paths may be right for individuals, but spirituality is not one-size-fits-all. Sorry. It isn’t.
One of my friends posted on Facebook her frustration with, in particular, reconstructionist pagans who look down their noses at polytheists who don’t practice their religion with any historical accuracy. My view on that is this: I’ve always viewed the Daemonic (and Gods) as progressive and not static. So in my not-so-humble opinion the Daemons (or Gods and Goddesses) don’t require we work with them (or worship them as the case may be) in the same way our ancestors might have. They require us to work with them in the way most beneficial to us NOW so that they can impart the wisdom and lessons they have for us NOW. I think this is where the whole Hellenistic, Khemetic, Canaanite, Celtic and Sumerian reconstructionist movement(s) and the modern Demonolatry movement differ a great deal.
I think getting lost in the details and snubbing those who don’t is just an excuse to not face the fact that one’s religion/spirituality is really between themselves and the divine. The details don’t necessarily matter (not in the grand scheme of things anyway). You either use your spirituality to grow, face your physical and mental self, and find your place among all that is – or you do everything you can to run away from that kind of intimacy and self- knowledge. Getting lost in details is a great way to run from self-work. Just my opinion.
One of my biggest issues with the modern occultist and pagan movements in general is that in a lot of ways it reminds me of the SCA (to which I used to belong many years ago), but for people with alternative beliefs and practices. It’s like a part-time fantasy world people escape to on the weekend where their fancy titles and snubbing those who don’t acknowledge their fancy titles is how they make themselves feel better about their dreary, boring twenty-first century lives. It makes them feel important – like they’re doing something or making a difference.
Now contrary to how it might sound – I am not against this – not at all! Life can be boring. We all need hobbies. A little fantasy can be healthy (in moderation). I also think people should toot their own horns, pat themselves on the back, and try to boost their own self-esteem by declaring they are, too, divine. I just have no intention of willingly allowing myself to be fodder for someone else’s low self-esteem, and far too many pagans, occultists etc… do allow it IMO. When you engage in arguments of who’s authentic and who isn’t – it’s all about egos. It’s counterproductive to self growth and it serves no genuine purpose except to temporarily boost a low self-esteem.
I also don’t begrudge anyone’s love for history, just know that people like that remind many of us of civil war reconstructionists (thanks to Sharon for that analogy). Yeah – they may be reconstructing the civil war (based on a biased 21st century viewpoint and modern sensibility) but no one’s dying (i.e. – still not realistic because the participants don’t hold the same worldview or come at the events from the same emotional place). Just remember that. ::wink:: If you really want to reconstruct a temple to Artemis – you better be practicing blood sacrifice (of deer I believe it was, correct me if I’m wrong) if you want me to take that seriously and not laugh at you when you lament how other pagans are not as “authentic” as you. If you’re a magician who can recite Agrippa forward and backward but you’ve never performed a ritual because you lacked the “authentic” ingredients – don’t expect me to not laugh at you when you lament how other magicians and occultists are not as authentic as you.
To me – authenticity is about what you believe and what you do when you’re not talking about reconstructing the religion (or theorizing about the magick). How you live life OUTSIDE your weekend social gatherings with other reconstructionists, occultists, pagans or whatever. Do you just talk the talk – or do you walk the walk? Are you just a weekend occultist/pagan or whatever? Is it just a social clique or an image you’re trying to portray? Authenticity is about living your spiritual beliefs 24/7 or practicing magick without an audience. Not just lamenting about your beliefs or practices online on forums, Facebook, or whatever social networking site or blog you post ideas to. Do you have a relationship with your deities when no one else is around? Do you give offerings without having to announce it to someone every time you do? Are you embarking on the Great Work without needing a human cheer-leading squad and audience?
If the answer is yes, then in my opinion you’re authentic no matter what your beliefs or spiritual path is. Everything else is moot.
I have a lot of opinions about labels , more labels and modern paganism, too. If you want – share the link to this article with others and feel free to discuss.
This is the best definition of authenticity in practice I have ever read.