a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Honorable Eclecticism

To: alt.native,alt.magick.chaos,alt.pagan,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.magick.tyagi
From: Herne 
Subject: Re: Honorable Eclecticism (was Hermeticism and Indigenous Spirituality (was Re: Chaos magick ...)
Date: Mon, 02 Mar 1998 14:12:08 -0600

white-slug wrote:
> Herne :
> > By rejecting the substance, one rejects the spirituality.
> how can one tell when a person rejects the substance/spirituality?
> what are the signs of so doing?  it is helpful to see these so
> that we don't make the overly-easy association between those
> who grow up in a tradition and reject the substance as 'respectful'
> and those who come from outside it, perhaps like bees only partly
> connected as 'disrespectful'.  what attitudes, behaviors and
> overall problems have you seen among those who reject the substance?

It seems to me that the question is one of sincerity and commitment, and
ultimately more important to the one who is borrowing from the tradition
than anyone else. Others might be interested for the purpose of deciding
whether to associate with or learn from the borrower, or for the purpose
of advising someone else who is considering doing the same.

Ultimately, again, discernment is a spiritual function. Certain signs,
such as sacrifice in order to remain true to one's goals, and the fruits
of spiritual maturity, can be indicative. I am not a Christian; but I
think the catalog of "fruits of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22-23 is a
pretty good guide: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I think these are generally
signs that someone is on the path of Spirit, in any genuine tradition
(i.e. one that works).

Regarding Native Americans who complain of those who borrow bits and
pieces from their traditions: I think they have a valid concern. As
creatures with room to grow, we humans have a tendency to take what is
comfortable, and leave what is not; and growth is not always
comfortable. Irresponsible eclecticism is that which decides what to
take and what to leave behind on the basis of what simply feels good,
without true regard for what is actually conducive to spiritual growth.
Now, there is, I think, a time for this; when we are spiritual children,
relatively speaking, I think it is appropriate to satisfy one's safety
needs first. But hopefully childhood passes, once safety is established,
and it is time to grow; and growth is demanding and challenging.

Another valid reason for their concern, to my mind, is the preservation
of the integrity of their tradition. Form is not more important than
function; but spiritual children are almost never in a position to
decide what is and is not vital to a tradition. By widely disseminating
the elements of Native American tradition, these elements are subjected
to being diluted and split apart from one another in a manner which
renders them much less meaningful and potent. It is true that,
ultimately, meaning should not be sacrificed for mere form; but that is
not to say that form is worthless -- far from it. It is the proven power
of a form to provide a spiritual pathway that gives it value.

The Christian church once faced the same problem, which led to the
centralization of ecclesiastical authority; and wild, crazy Bible cults
would not have been possible without the Reformation. This is not to say
that putting the Bible in the hands of the common people was a bad
thing; but it is to point out the dangers that attend the ... dare I say
"vulgarization" ... of a proven spiritual form.

We are all aware of the dangers that attend a power-over religious
authority structure. However, it is not merely pride or a lust for
domination that motivates the creation of such structures; they can also
arise in an effort to preserve the integrity of a proven spiritual path.
There are dangers in the wide dissemination of these things. That
doesn't necessarily mean such dissemination should not occur; but it is
to say that the concern is valid, and the danger is real.

Lastly, Native Americans who are concerned about the wide dissemination
of the elements of their spiritual paths may have insight as to those
paths that others do not -- in fact, we should expect that to be true.
If they say that it is inappropriate to take this but not that, to do
this but not that, when applying these elements, they may well be right.
It is conceivable that such people are motivated by pride, stubbornness,
ethnocentrism or blindness -- and I would be surprised if there were not
-- but nevertheless I think that their voices should be heard and their
words carefully considered. After all, they are more likely to have
walked in their own ways to a more profound extent than most of the rest
of us are, and are more likely to understand them.

The ultimate criterion is, of course, one's own heart. One can only
follow the leading of one's own heart; and for some people this
borrowing seems necessary. Whether it truly is or not, remember, is
never a question of guilt, but rather of wisdom. Each person must decide
for himself.

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races