Your Mileage Will Vary….

I am an individual that handles Life more as an experience than as a theory. Its a really simple formula for me. I do not really understand or comprehend until I can experience what is being discussed or brought up in conversation. For instance, a friend of mine started to discuss how she loves to skydive. Apparently thinking that me – as an individual who is terrified of heights – had not done such a task, she started telling me that I would not understand the feeling of hurtling through the emptiness of thousands of feet. Her assumption was wrong, the United States military provided me with the opportunities (six total) of doing just that. I hated all six of those jumps. However, her point was right on target. Without experiencing those jumps, I certainly would not understand her feeling of joyful experience that she gets from those jumps – though my experience was far different: absolute terror. I’ll come to this in a short bit.

For the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of banter in the Pagan blogosphere over the manner in which one may/may not or should/should not experience the Gods. There have been plenty of comments, points, counter-points, and even (sadly) insults fired around the virtual room of the internet, sometimes coming in swarms resembling the attack of bowmen on the Scottish forces in a few of the battle scenes in the movie Braveheart. I have plenty of thoughts on the commentary, none of which would be helpful or insightful, so I will keep those in my pocket. However, there was plenty of hay made over the difference of experiencing the Gods.

Some viewed them as archetypes – essentially constructs for the mind to comprehend a subject that may be unknowable. I can understand that. And I even embrace it to some degree. On the other side of the coin, there were those that held that the Gods were singular, knowable entities that could be experienced, and to some extent communicated with. And I totally get this point, and warmly embrace it. I have had plenty of personal experiences with Crow and Coyote to have a large handful of this concept. But I also believe that the archetype belief has some merit to it as well. To bring that into focus, perhaps its best for me to explain a bit of theory on my part…

I believe that the Gods are singular entities that we can experience, and to some degree, communicate with. However, their existence is completely different than our own. Our understanding and experience is wrapped up in concepts that we already have readily embraced. We get the idea of physical bodies, so we map that understanding on to what the Gods can be. We somewhat understand the concept of non-physical bodies in the form of ghosts and spirits, so we also map this understanding on to the Gods as well. However, the Gods can also exist in other formats, that we may not be able to readily comprehend at this time in our minds. Those particular existences may not be something we perceive correctly, so we turn to the archetypal models we have already created for corporeal and non-corporeal understandings. This is where I believe that we use the archetypes to help us comprehend and understand an entity that may be unknowable to us in its current manifestation.

OdometerNow, that’s just my own personal theory, I am quite sure that many other people out there will have far different explanations, theories, understandings and experiences. Some of these may be doubtful to me. Some I may readily agree with. Either way, I personally cannot fathom how someone can take a difference in experience and/or opinion as a personal insult – or to respond over those differences with a personal insult. Everyone one of us is a unique individual – we experience differently, we analyze differently. As Pagans, we should understand the desire to allow for individual expression and experience – and that the differences are what make this wide-arching perspective to be more encompassing and inviting to the Seeker. Coming down with harshness over what is this or what is not that, in my opinion, places us on the Path towards rigid dogma. And no offense intended towards those of the Christian faith, but it was that rigid, unbending, intolerant perspective that drove me away from what is the beautiful experience of the Christian faith.

I know, I can literally hear Pagans cringing over that last statement. But that’s my experience and my perception of the Christian faith. Once the dogma is stripped away, and the teachings of Jesus ben Joseph are looked at without adding the political nature of human beings – I find a religion of peace, love, understanding, tolerance, and a desire to help others regardless of their faith. of course, there are those who will differ with my statement there – and I will not discourage their perspective. I merely will not agree with it. Arguing over the “rightness” or “wrongness” – in my opinion – is a waste of time and energy that I could spend far more wisely and usefully elsewhere.  Your mileage will vary…

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