I’m thinking about how much I value the academics who put the science into my spiritual path and craftwork. Archaeologists, Anthropologists, Religious Studies academics, Gender Politics professionals, Historians, all the information gatherers and decipherers. This is a good and valuable thing.
Fashions change of course. What was accepted knowledge in these areas changes over time and evidence. The work of Margaret Murray was lauded for a time, then questioned, then debunked. Personally, I’m very interested in the writings of Joseph Campbell, across time and space.
I’m also thinking about the artists, practitioners, and pathworkers who put experience, feeling, and emotion into my spiritual path and craftwork. They lead me and stretch me in directions I may never have experienced if left to my own devices.
However, I am none of these. I am a common old hedgewitch with my own experience, which is informed and valid, and useful in my life and in those of the women in my Circle.
I am not an expert in anything. And I don’t actually seek to be.
However, if I am part of a group of like-minded fellows, I expect to be able to share that experience without being shamed. Perhaps I am not the most brilliant singer. Does that mean I should not be able to express my self through singing in my own house? Especially if I love to sing?
Within a group of women living their lives, if one member starts to criticise our practical spirituality with their academia, that is a shaming experience, from someone with superiority issues, who would like everybody to know that he once read a book. I’m sorry, sir. You may indeed be correct about everything you are saying, but this is not the place for it. Now, off you go and start your own little group where spirituality is only for weird anal sanctimonious intellectuals. This path may lead you to knowledge, but no-one will ever come to you for your wisdom.
There is reason behind my exclusion of you. It’s not just that I want to live my path without imposed value systems or negativity. Because I do. It’s my path, not yours. It’s because if I am constantly bombarded by the uninvited standards of others, projected from within their own frameworks, I will always fall short. And I need to be able to practise my path regardless of your judgement calls.
Back in the day, a visitor to my house tried to call me out for using a rubbish brand of toilet paper. (True story).
Why did he feel the need to do this? I feel sure he knew more about toilet paper than me, but it was unnecessary, irrelevant, and seriously – I wasn’t buying brillo pads to use on my arse – so his criticism was unnecessary. He could however have used whatever toilet paper he wanted to in his own house. Good for him in contributing to improved toilet paper for us all. But he was not invited back to my house. Ever.
Paganism contains many and varied beliefs, faery traditions, animist traditions, cultural traditions, astral traditions, even Christian traditions. I could argue and devalue any of them if I chose too. But I prefer not to act like a dick. If you are in my house, you are invited to keep your criteria and value judgements to yourself. You will not open your mouth and make my friends uncomfortable by applying your lens to something that not only works for us, but works for millions of others worldwide.
I value faces of the Goddess and names for her across time and culture, each one a lens to view and experience her from a different angle. A lot of us old Witches do. We’re not academics, but we’re not uninformed, and we’re certainly not dumb. And this is how religion works. Experts know the expert things. I use these frames to experience in a meaningful way. I do not know all the expert things. That’s what experts are for.