Observations of the light and the dark of what is, was, and might be in the Pagan community's expansion and evolution.
I am back to writing my blog after taking a break to take care of myself and the many lovely people in my life. My blog should be back on a weekly schedule, barring times when the priorities of my life are more pressing than an online presence. My heartfelt thanks to those that reached out to me and also to those who gave me space. I was also away at PantheaCon and will write about how it touched me next week.
In words we find how fleeting and changeable is the boundary between the sacred and secular. When we speak of sacred texts, the exalted utterances of prophets and seers, and the invocations of priestesses and priests, we have the expectation and the hope of sacred communication and communion. I think that in part it is the expectation of sacredness that evokes and in some cases creates the sacredness of the words we hear and read. Of themselves, I'm not sure that many sacred texts are actually sacred. The books, the scrolls, the carvings upon stone that are called holy and sacred were not written nor carved by the God/dess/es. All that we have has all been recorded by humans. Moreover, what we have is all written or spoken in human languages. The finite and granular nature of our languages can only capture a small portion of the vastness that is Divinity. To say that any written passage, any book, or collection of books can show us the Divine or higher truths is unsatisfactory. It is as unsatisfactory as showing someone a photo that you took of the Grand Canyon and using your smart phone as a way of transmitting your experience of walking in a place of beauty. If the beauty, the grandeur, is experienced by gazing upon the photo, it is because you have experienced the beauty before and have called it forth within yourself. Like the photo, the words in sacred texts only act as the trigger for the remembrance of the sacred.
As a clarification, I should point out that there are differences in what individuals or communities categorize as sacred communication or as sacred texts. For some, anything that is purported to represent the stories, the myths, the words, or the teachings of God/dess/es or divine emissaries constitutes sacred text. Does this also include books on Astrology, the Qabala, or perhaps even an inspirational novel? I personally don't have a need for a definitive description on what constitutes sacred text. What matters to me is how words have the power to call forth the sacred, or perhaps more accurately, how words can act as the medium to conduct divine emanations. The receiver is equally important; just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder so is sacredness in the heart and the mind of the listener or the reader.
The value in having a nuanced understanding of the mutable and shifting nature of what constitutes sacred words and sacred texts can help to encourage more flexibility in how we approach what others consider sacred. Because of who I am, when I hear the Charge of the Goddess I feel a shiver that announces the sacred presence more clearly than the words of the Charge itself. I have friends that respond in a similar way to the Hávamál, I do not feel it in myself. However because I am looking for the sacred response in them, I am assured that these words are sacred to them.There are myths, sagas, scriptures, stories, and the like that I respond to immediately and others that after study then will awaken the sacred within me.There are also some writings that may become more interesting with study or meditation, but never become hallowed for me. The experience of the sacred may be a universal human trait, but the numinous and the mystical are not inherent and integral to the words that we use to describe those encounters.
I believe that to a great degree, it is our personal history, our education, and our expectations that determine whether or not we are open to receive the mysteries encoded within sacred words. Bearing that in mind, when I encounter something new I make an effort to bring those expectations to the fore. I also strive to resist my urge to exclude those things that are not already part of the collection or the category of sacred in my heart and mind. This is even more important when I am in a ritual or a ceremony and the words are being uttered by someone who is speaking for the God/des/ses. I try even harder to listen for the sacred when it is someone who is speaking while in trance or engaging in divine embodiment.
The difference between an enlivened statute of a God/dess and a lifeless idol is what we have imbued into the statue and what powers it anchors into this world. The same is true for words. Words can be as silent as a dead idol, or they can sing, shine and pulse with the power behind all things. I encourage you to listen fully and deeply, with more than your ears. I encourage you to read deeply and to look for layers of meaning with more than your rational mind. This may deepen your practice and your connection to your spiritual work. This may also benefit all of us. These efforts allow us to make note of what is holy for others and why, even if it is not for us.Then through our efforts, perhaps sacred texts will become enlivened with the power to unify us rather than divide us.
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