Differentiation and Identity and a Better Tomorrow, bitches

Posted: October 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

“Moreover, until the coming of Christianity, there was no need for people to use any type of name or word for their religious traditions. This was what people did. It was what their parents did, their grandparents, their great grandparents. It was the natural way of being within one’s community and tribe. Differentiation of one’s sacred identity from one’s tribal identity happened only at the hands of the enemy.”

From Galina‘s latest at Polytheist.com, this sentiment expresses very well a thing that I often return to in discussions of religious language, societal identity, and differentiations.

People often point out when I am discussing differentiations — for example, differentiation of magic and religion — that these “divisions” are ahistoric and not reflective of “the way things used to be”, referring to an ambiguously ancient day of “then” when things were more integrated and less problematic*. While I agree that these differentiations are ahistoric, and that “stuff and things” were less distinguished from one another on an out-loud spoken level at ambiguous points in various times that happened already, I want to clarify a thing.

The point of all my maniacal differentiations — for example, modern Paganism as differentiated from Polytheist religious development — is neither to divide these things as wholly unrelated, or to suggest that they were entirely separated in some idealistic ancient time with bunny-slippers and such, but instead to actually get us back to a point of integration.

I am of the mind that religious restorations at an identity level, spiritual restorations at a paradigmic level, and cultural restorations at a lived level, are radical ideas that are both necessary and also requiring of an essential affirmation that the world we are currently living in is broken, in at least some way. Therefore, “restoration of polytheist religion” is also a form of “social and religious reform”, not just some new cliquey religious fad to get one’s kicky rocks off with/at/on/in. We are calling for reform because it is necessary; because the social, civic, and conceptual disregard of Polytheist and “lived animism” and “lived regard for the spirits” are the norm. Because we are attacked by atheists, monotheists, and a large swath of psych-or-human-centere Paganisms as well. So, reform, is sort of what needs to happen.

But in that ambiguous day of “then” in the vaguely defined ancient world(s), there were no words for one’s differentiated religion; one either did religion well, or did religion poorly, but nobody “had” or “did not have” religion. Therefore religion, an etheric quality of culture, could be easily integrated as needed with ideas and structures of magic, or indeed completely synonymized at the folk level. Similarly, in this “ancient Before”, linguistic expressions of one’s own culture or people generally translated simply to “the People” in some variation or another; folks were named by others at least as often as by themselves.

Language was used to navigate life, rather than to necessarily *define* it, back in the great and mythic Before. It was used to relate to a thing, rather than to sear a name or title or category into its flesh.

It was easier for this to be the case, then, because there were no railroads, airplanes, or broadband lines of constant global communication and instantaneous contact; the differentiations were less important to name, because there was more emphasis on “doing” than “defining”.

All of my differentiations are ultimately geared toward not a return to the past, but instead a reformation of the present, for the purpose of forging a future where things can be integrated in practice and still understood as unique in identity; magic and/from religion, Polytheism and/from Paganism, Practice and/from Theory, and so forth.

In fewer words, this is all part of a greater scheme of mine to bring about, in part through these lived differentiations, an exploration of and indeed recasting of societal identity.

Because, for all of the good that our current age has achieved — and it has achieved much — I believe that we can do better, and I believe that the future of that mythic Better involves the return to our gods, who never left, and to our religions, which for a hundred thousand years never required defining names in order to exist.

*Also, I don’t think that anything was less problematic in the past, ancient or otherwise. I think humans are inherently problematic, sort of as a defining quality of species.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. henadology says:

    religious restorations at an identity level, spiritual restorations at a paradigmic level, and cultural restorations at a lived level

    I love the way you declined this triad. I just want to be in it for a while. I swear, you’d make a fine Platonist.

  2. Rose says:

    Reblogged this on Weaving Among The Stars and commented:
    This is explained SO well…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s