Belief is a powerful tool in magic, and in spirituality in general. Belief is a funnel for attention and intention. Whether you believe in something because you genuinely believe in it or believe in it for the sake of something you are trying to achieve, belief has a purpose in magical work. I find the following passage to be illustrative of the importance of belief in magical work:
Be it noted that we do not have to believe or disbelieve in the actuality of such inner agencies per se. what we must believe in is the possibility they exist in their own state of being, yet are capable of interaction with ours by unspecified means or degrees...We need not believe in 'spirit' unless we want to, but we positively must believe in our capability of living and behaving as if the energies available to such entities might be employed on our behalf. From Exorcizing the Tree of Evil by William G. Gray
Happy Friday, Beagle-fans! Today we have a bouquet of religious stories starting out with one about not being religious. 7 varieties of unreligion; Hindu Goddess festival begins; teaching children values depends on politics and religion; selfies of Sikhs; Pagans on death and burial.
This story from Salon posits that there are seven kinds of unreligion (including pantheism, which is awfully close to many Pagan beliefs to my way of thinking, and maybe shouldn't be considered "unreligion" at all.)
In a fascinating post that examines the impact of free events on the economic viability of the Pagan community, Sable Aradia uses the tongue-in-cheek subheading of, "Pagans are . . . Thrifty" to drive home a point about one of the ways we struggle with financial issues. What she means is that we're cheap. While I won't take exception with that -- heck, I come from a long line of tight-fists which I could probably trace back to the invention of money itself -- I do wish she would take another look at what the word actually means.
I think she would find that thrift is a sincerely Pagan value.
As my readers know, this column frequently has a political orientation.Some people object a religious site should not have political content.But historically spirituality has never been purely private except when viewed from a secular perspective that relegates it to the purely subjective, like preferring chocolate ice cream over vanilla. Interestingly, this secular outlook imports powerful monotheistic assumptions under the surface.
However to say that religion has unavoidable political implications is not to make the next jump and say that religion leads to One Right Way politically. This totalitarian conclusion has roots in religions dominating societies and also claiming there is only One Right Way. Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism are tragic examples. By contrast, religions emphasizing sacred immanence, that divinity is within the world wherever else it might be, generally recognize many valid spiritual paths, and more easily live at peace with a diverse political landscape.
Before Ayn Rand became a household name or Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the movie, Wall Street, captivated the masses with his "greed is good" ideals, a license to callously cheat and exploit, we believed in the progressive values of Star Trek. Remember, in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (1982) when Spock's dying words to Kirk were "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Or a few years later, in Star Trek: First Contact (1996) Picard explains the world view of the future when he says "The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity." In fact, Star Trek's mission was one of exploration and humanitarianism rather than the Right Wing rejection of science or the Ayn Rand values to spurn collectivism and altruism.
That said, I wonder how many have considered how much more Trekkies and Goddess Advocates have in common? Let's see.