…people get hung up in the endless circle-jerk debate of belief-vs-practice, and blah blah blah: mostly it’s a “cake and eat it, too!” scenario, where they want all the social perks of being a slick wizarding magico prince, without the burden of actual cultural and cognitive commitment. And/or claim to “worship nature” without the burden of having to actually do anything to help it in an ecologically responsible way.
To me it is far less about belief OR practice, but instead about commitment: if their commitment to these things does not go beyond wearing funny spirit-bling and having edgy shrines (sorry, they probably just have altars, because why would they ever denigrate* themselves enough to venerate?) or attending teachings (or leading teachings) at occult bookshops, no matter how much money they throw down on awesome initiations, they’re a godsdamned fraud. These are not just practices, and they are also not just ways of life: they are whole ways of being, of perceiving, of engaging, of relating, and of being engaged and of being related.
In my experience people who get hung up on the masturbatory debate of praxis vs doxa are just jerking off in the mirror and haven’t committed to anything beyond the length of their own shallow reflection. People who talk about Self, or make religion about themselves (or humanistically focused) are just trying to find a way to keep stroking it in the post-modern self-reflective mirror-gaze without needing to stagger out of their daze and engage the world they claim to hold at the center.
Protip: if you’re human centered, probably choosing a set of practices or beliefs or commitments actually focused around humans might be a good place to start, rather than trolling religious communities and websites with reprehensibly wrong-headed and callous-hearted antagonism just to try and justify continuing on, which is probably not the best approach. Psychology, counseling, social justice engagement, environmental pursuits: these are all fantastic avenues which are not religions (even if sponsored to action through a religious community or body) and they do not involve robbing people of meaning by polluting it with… vacant words.
Basically I’m sick to death of pseudo-intellectual imperialist “sorcerously inclined” occultists, or would-be Pagans professing purely atheistic agendas and reducing religious meaning to mere metaphor for some other end, who spend lots of digital ink space trying desperately to look a part — basically any part — with flip-flopping attitudes on things they think they are supposed to have an opinion on, with either no commitment, or a staggering OVER commitment to the idea of commitment (usually paired with the aforementioned flip-flopping, between traditions or between ideologies or between philosophies, all of which are asserted as genuine in the moment) without any actual genuine embodiment that comes from “doing one’s business” in an actually and actively “this-is-being” quality of cultural existence. In other words, a bunch of people trying to play a part because this is all theatrics for them, and too few actually embodying the roles they were actually cast into. (Which is, as an aside, also an affront to actual theater.)
So why are there people doing “magic” and “divination” and writing a lot about Paganism if they’re secular atheists or otherwise don’t believe in magic or spirits or gods?
Because “cake and eat it, too!” allows for this bullshit, in a culture of rampant unrestricted and unregulated “co-creation call-it-what-you-want” pseudo-relativity. People get to do what they want, with a Cartman voice, and everyone else scratches their balls and pats their back and attaboys them forward, because so long as everyone else is behaving fraudulently, any given person who opts not to call them on it gets to do the same. This would be the epitome of a culture of enabled entitlement.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is a sentiment applied to authenticity in magical and alternative/minority religious communities. So long as nobody rocks the boat by pointing out that the boat isn’t even a fucking boat and is being helmed by people who don’t even believe in the sea, everyone gets free membership and goodie-bag credentials at the door, with an Etsy shop soon to follow, and funny titles from exotic traditions they totally just found out about and are “destined” to waltz into because they heard about it last week or whatever.
…because atheopathic secular Playganism is way “in” right now, didn’t you know?
*Denigrate: Obviously I’m being sarcastic here, and mocking self-righteous and self-important humanist impiety. There is nothing denigrating about venerating the Holy Powers, you dumb shits.
Special thanks to Jesse Hathaway of Wolf & Goat for providing the initial space on social media for this conversation to unfold; the above are slightly refined/cleaned up accounts of my contributions to a thread begun by him.