In yesterday’s post I mentioned briefly that I identified as an Eclectic Pagan, before going off into a tangent about my past with Christianity.
Today I would like to talk a little more about Eclectic Paganism because probably a lot of you don’t even know what that means.
Well, defining Eclectic Paganism is…tricky.
The root of it, Paganism, is present regardless of how the individual practices it. Paganism, as defined by the Pagan Federation International as “the ancestral religion of the whole of humanity.” There is some element of Paganism there, in the veneration of nature, worshiping specific deities, having a Goddess figure, etc.
The entire reason people pick up Eclectic Paganism is because it has no organization. It’s a spiritual practice that the individual tailors to themselves.
Eclectic Paganism has some perks, but it also has drawbacks. And these drawbacks…can be huge.
Let me talk about the drawbacks first.
The first one is: Eclectic Pagans tend to just pick and choose elements of other faiths and mash them together. This can be a problem because
- Depending on the element they like, it can lose significance when taken out of context. Example: Do you even know WHY people say OHM when they meditate? Or why the Navajo regard black, blue, white, and yellow as sacred? Or even the significance of the Hindu Gods?
- A lot of knowledge Eclectic Pagans seek may be taken from white people who took on the idea that the “noble savages” had sacred knowledge that they would be 110% willing to part with. In fact, many writings in the Pagan faith are written by white people, including books about chakras (and that’s a problem).
I want to share with you an anecdote…
When I was learning about African Art History, I learned about the Dogon people. Many people in the Pagan faith know about them because of a book in the 70s proclaiming the Dogon came in contact with aliens from the constellation of Sirius (I am dead serious).
Here’s a secret: The Dogon have two kinds of knowledge: the rough translations of the names for these concepts are “face truth” and “world truth.”
“Face truth” is what you tell strangers and the uninitiated about your faith. This is best exemplified when someone says “the world was created when the Great Bird ripped open his chest and two people walked out of his heart and onto the earth.” They are stories you tell children.
“World truth,” however, is the truth you learn in initiation. THIS is where true spiritual knowledge and growth lies.
And many of these spiritual books, unfortunately, have “face truth” knowledge that they try to pass off as “world truth.”
The goal of the Eclectic Pagan is twofold:
- To learn the world truth to the best of their ability, and
- To learn this truth from a place of respect rather than appropriation.
I am constantly learning when it comes to my spiritual practice. I don’t always get it right, but I do my best to learn from my mistakes.
I cannot speak for all Eclectic Pagans, because practitioners take on the faith for different reasons. However, I took up the path because I appreciated many aspects of Paganism but did not want to be confined to just one track or ritualistic practice (like, I love you, Wicca, but you’re just too weird and particular for me).
The other reason I took up Eclectic Paganism is because I distrust a lot of people who claim to be “spiritual teachers.” More often than not, these “spiritual teachers” are white people who learned the face truth of their chosen area of expertise and try to pass it off as world truth. These people don’t know what the worldly truth is (this is also why I dropped Christianity as a religion).
I would rather walk the long path and discover the truth on my own than follow a liar on the short path.
But that’s just me.
Thank you for reading.
You. Are. Awesome.