Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The danger of living in the past

For many or perhaps the majority of Pagans living in the developed world, our heritage and history remains an important influence on our contemporary lives. However, in some cases we may perhaps be guilty of viewing the past through rose tinted glasses.

Let me explain, I am a twenty-first century Pagan. I am I hope inspired by the past but I do not want to live in it. I like having a microwave oven and I do not want to live in a wattle hut, I would miss the convenience of a flushing toilet.

We need to recognise that change, although not always for the better is part of life. We as Contemporary Pagans know full well that our practice is not the same as that of our ancestors but that does not actually matter. By being inspired by our past we can develop new ways of expressing ourselves.

If we attempt to reconstruct an exact historical practice, instead of creating a living breathing spirituality. We run the risk of creating a museum piece, a spirituality and a spiritual practice that is in danger of stagnating.

There is a tendency in some circles to focus on writings of the past, as fixed and beyond further interpretation. Just because Moses, Jesus, Mohamed, Crowley, Gardner or Cochrane said or wrote something, does not automatically mean it was right then or necessarily appropriate now. To accept without question risks this stagnation.

Times change and while being inspired by the past, we should not give up our ability to think for ourselves. I do not seek to recreate a spirituality, I am already living one.

First published 2008