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August 22, 2005



Sigh. Yes. Trade-offs all the way down, but at a certain point it may just not be worth it. I've been close to some Pagans, but I've never in a Pagan community, so I speak under correction, but I've always had a notion that largely made-up traditions will tend to dead-end, for serious practitioners, because they spring up in response to a particular set of conditions, and haven't had a few centuries and a few cultures to stretch them out and push their limits. Of course they're more attractive at the outset for precisely that reason -- they seem to fit so well! But really well-fitting clothes are something only people who are done growing should go in for.

I'm sure that there are lots and lots of exceptions. Exceptional teachers, and exceptional communities. But of course you'd have to find them.

Cuore di Formaggio

"What is sacred in a human being is the impersonal in him. Everything which is impersonal in man is sacred, and nothing else.... Truth and beauty are impersonal.... Perfection is impersonal....

"Impersonality is only reached by the practice of a form of attention which is rare in itself and impossible except in solitude; and not only physical but mental solitude. This is never achieved by a man who thinks of himself as a member of a collectivity, as part of something which says 'We'....

"The collectivity is not only alien to the sacred, but it deludes us with a false imitation of it."

-- Simone Weil, 1942-3

Ms. P

Exceptional teachers. Ah, well. I have read their books, but I have yet to meet them in person, in a Pagan context. I long for teachers whose practice you can see, both its exercise and its fruits....teachers we can really respect....teachers we admire. I have encountered these people in other traditions, but not in the one in which we currently live and move and struggle and wrestle and breathe.


Ms P, I don't think I could go on practicing without a teacher to inspire me. A couple times a month I have to see someone who makes me realize (for the hundredth time) -- "oh yeah. It's because it might be possible to be in the world as he is. That's why I'm doing this."

How can I forget that over and over? I don't know, and it's embarassing to admit, but there it is, & I have to reckon with it.

Ms. P

When I was in formation with a Roman Catholic religious community, I had a wonderful teacher, the memory of whose eyes is part of what keeps me going in my practice now. Yes, I think having a teacher is a *huge* boon in Seeking After Holiness/Wisdom/Enlightenment. I am glad for you that you have one, and glad that you share some of what you learn.


I'm with Dale on this one. Newly poking about Buddhism at the moment, I'm finding myself happy to take on traditional rituals for no other reason that they're traditional, so long as they're obviously harmless. Why shouldn't I bow to Tibetan icons with all my heart even though Tibetan iconography strikes me as a little garish? It creates a kind of community across the centuries.

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