Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Purity of Pagan Paths

This article is based on one of my youtube videos. To see more of my videos go to my youtube channel.

In my video I state that modern pagan paths cannot be 'pure', meaning you can't totally ressurect the ancient traditions they are based on. You may ask why, well I made a wonderful comparison in the video about the evolution of a cheeseburger to illustrate my point, but aside from that there are so many cultural factors that play into this.
When cultures intermingle, whether that be by trading with outside villages, lands being conquered by wars, or even when marriages between couples of different locales, this stuff tends to happen. My point I was trying to make in the video (within the alotted amount of time) was that traditions today are merely based on what has already been tainted by time. Time brings change. So many paths claim to be the "ancient way" but in truth, there isn't any way they can be. Sure you can base modern traditions on older ones, but they still won't be a carbon copy of the originals. Even the orginals that were once oral traditions were later written down by others, and were subject to the author's (often monks who were some of the first scribes) renditions, which is what many modern paths tend to base their current traditions on. Beowulf is a pretty good example here. Beowulf was written by "Anonymous" (wow he seems to write a lot of stuff.. or she.. lol), so before "Anonymous" got ahold of the story, how had it changed? Well many speculate that by the time it WAS written down, many Christian elements were then attached to the ancient story.

Back to modern paganism. Well, as we have seen already, the ancient paths are already corrupt by time, and the oral traditions which were probably the most 'pure' no longer exist because they were written down by others who possibly, only speculation, had no real interest in their sacred values. Much has been lost to the years, and modern scholars only have bits and bobs to put together to hopefully make a full fledged tradition.
Isaac Bonewits, for example (to keep this related to druid subject matter), had the vision to found a modern path based on the history and myth etc of what we do know about ancient cultures to make a solid path, and the ADF was born.

So, in all, we can only strive to create new paths from the historical, archaeological, and mythological knowledge that still exists. I'm very leary of those who claim their way is directly descended from the old and ancient ways, because it hardly seems feasible. Modern times call for different traditions, some of the rites that were practiced then would be frowned on by today's standards, or at the very least test our comfort levels. Not everyone wants to be suspended by hooks in their nipples, and true human sacrifice is a thing of the past (some modern pagans use drops of their own blood as a personal preference in ritual, hence the phrasing 'true human sacrifice'). We can only fill in the gaps with UPG's (unverified personal gnosis) and what feels right to us. So far it looks like the Gods are pleased.

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