Enough of Because: The Nature of Pagan Authority
In ritual, your beliefs don't impact me, so long as you participate. And unless you tell me, how would I know? But I do have views, formed by my experience and study, and I will be sharing them in this blog. I don't need you to agree. I just want you to think about these perspectives, and sometimes, to think about your reaction to them. Thus will we advance the discourse.
But what of Because? It is a dangerous, but a common act to say, "I will do this thing because this 'text' says I should." How many ways can that text be interpreted? At what point exactly are we handing over our responsibility to a bunch of words? There is a line in the Book of the Law that warns those who would use the text to rationalize abuse [AL 2.27-32]. Treating the text as though it enjoins Thelemites to maltreat and dominate others is an easy but erroneous read of this line. Love is the law, is it not? [AL 1.57] The Book of the Law, particularly the third chapter, is poetic, liturgical, and iconographic. Quoting it as a reason to do something, to say that because the Book says so, I should do this harmful thing, is surely to fall into the pit called "Because," and one who does so should rightfully perish with the dogs of Reason. Is this not the case for all text?
Do not obey because it is written, or even think you are being asked to obey. Rather contemplate, judge, and do your best. The responsibility for our actions of body, speech, or mind cannot be abdicated. When one such as I propounds some assertion that contradicts your present position, understand this: the "authority" is making a choice, stating their view of affairs. They stand in a long and honorable line of those who choose differently, who go against prevailing opinion. They are heretics, "choosers" as the word simply means. In Hellenic Greece, this meant you were the founder of a school of thought. I will stand with my view, and stand with all those who stood for their own perspective, even when they have to lean into the wind. Stand for your own, I say, and choose wisely.
Sam Webster is a Mage, Mason, Sorcerer, Seminarian, and Pagan Priest, restoring the way of the Gods.
Webster's column, "Pagan Restoration," is published the 3rd Wednesday every month on the Pagan Channel. It is now being offered in a new format! Don't forget to update your RSS links and e-mail subscriptions.