Monday, August 23, 2010

Enhancements or Fluff??

NOTE: This is my opinion, not the way it should be. If you get offended, this is an opinion only.

I've been on this Pagan journey for the better part of 18 yrs, while actively practicing for the past 4. Back when I was in college & exploring this path, I became enthralled with it. The mythologies, Deities, pantheons resonated with me on a level I never knew in my strict Anglican upbringing. I eagerly gobbled up what I could find on the Old Ways. In my naivete, I read books by less-than-stellar authors ($RW, for example) and in those early days of the internet, whatever I could find on the slow dial-up at the library.

There was a few things that I couldn't grasp in Paganism. Why was everyone so eager to jump on the crystal bandwagon?? When I look back to history and how the cunningfolk did things, they used what was around them: plants, kitchen implements, etc I don't think that they had access to crystals, like we do today and the means to extract crystals from the Earth is a harmful method. Why should we do harm to the Earth in order to aide on our path? Seems pointless to me. During the 20th century it has crept into Paganism from the New Agers. I do understand that there is a fine line between Neo-Paganism & the New Age movement, even books on Paganism are found in the New Age section in bookstores. Even in the Pagan bookstores, there is a huge crystal section. I try to honor the Deities with how I live, I am not be a person who has to do a ritual for everything or for every Esbat & Sabbat, but I do things that I feel are right for me.

I've tried to read books on crystals & their properties, what their correspondences are, which Diety they go with, but I never "got it" It never made sense to me. I know that to a lot of you, having a quartz or a piece of selenite as part of your workings works for you and that's great if it does. To me, they look pretty on an altar. I have tried working with crystals, but there was no spiritual connection there for me. So are crystals an enhancement to your practice, or something that was read in a book suggesting that you use them?

Ok, if that didn't squish your toes enough, how about Reiki. I see a lot of people using this form of Japanese healing to go along with their Pagan path. Reiki is great, I've tried it, very relaxing and refreshing to the energy field. But, along with crystals, it became popular with the whole New Age movement, where bodily energy fields became the "thing" to work with. I do know that in the Craft, we work with energy fields, but did the cunningwoman use a form of "laying on of hands" (to borrow a Christian term) to help those in need of her wisdom? I see that she may have used the herbs & plants around her to help with her workings/healings. Magic is working with the energies around us for a multitude of things. Reiki is a relaxation technique that also promotes healing. It was developed in 1922 by a Japanese Buddhist and is used by a multitude of Pagans, but is not Pagan in origin, nor is it an ancient practice. So, I ask my question again, is this an enhancement to the Craft or just more New Age fluff that is making its way into Paganism? I find a lot of Pagans using things to enhance their path, but I wonder if this due to the large influence the New Age movement of the past century had on modern Paganism. Besides crystals, I have heard of the use of pyramids to keep one centered, the idea of people being defined as Indigo, Crystal & Rainbow, to use as some examples.

I was asked why I am against Paganism & Wicca. I'm not against Paganism, just the fact that it has gotten away from its roots. I'm also not against Wicca, just I have issues with Gardner & his thievery of other Hermetic orders to come up with a religion that is as rigid as some Christian faiths. As I stated at the start of this posting, this is my opinion and not the way it has to be, I may have stepped on toes, I may even have offended some, but I see no use for New Age things in my beliefs. I come to honor the Deities, live in harmony with Mother Gaia and I don't need pretty colored rocks to aid me or someone to place their hands in my energy to heal me. Does that make me cynical? Perhaps, but I like to think of it as getting back to the good old days of being Pagan, which a lot of us have forgotten to do.


Changing Girl said...

I truly loved this post. I actually agree with your opinion. I too feel if it works for you, fine. But does it really need to be treated as if it is a necessity for a path that really should be using what is around you. I think a rock or shell found in your own backyard or on the beach in your state should have a better vibe to it than anything store bought because it supposedly holds this and that for correspondences (and again, using the store-bought may work for some). Basically, I feel what is native to your area (animal, vegetable, mineral, et al) should hold better vibes as a rule. I think your opinions were well put.

Intuitive Goddess said...

I respectfully Disagree, lol...
Crytals & stones, Stone people as called by Native Americans are NOT new age fluff. They may not reasonate for you, but they have been around & used long before "Wicca".
I'm not Wiccan, although I am a practicing Witch. You are correct that Reiki is of Japanese origin & personally don't practice it but for those who do, I respectfully wouldn't call it fluff...
Mybe it's in the naming or labeling that the problem lies. Yes, putting a crystal on one's altar does not connect us with deity, but then that is not the purpose for using a crystal or stone. Reiki in itself may be new to this culture but then most of paganism today is also... My Grandmothers' were healers. They worked with Roots, Stones, they used their "hands" to feel energy.
Yes, I agree there is way too much Fluff out there. However most real Pagan traditions are veiled in mystery, not openly shared with the public. The truth is often hidden in plain site.

Moon Daughter said...

Hmmm... I don't know how I feel about this. I guess I had realized awhile back that I don't resonate with every single "tool" out there for practicing one's own pagan path. I guess, especially early on, I bought things that I thought were going to help me raise certain energies... but found along the way that stones, shells, sticks, etc that I pick up are WAY more important in my workings. I have a few plants that I work with, all plants that I grow myself. I think all that stuff is out there because paganism and connecting to nature is going to happen through different objects and different ways for each person. One person's fluff is anothers connection in my mind.

Diandra said...

As you say, we should use what is around. And everyone needs to find out what works for himself. I like using semiprecious stones if I create spell bags because they talk to me. (Right now I have a smokey quartz in my bag to get along with the colleague I am sharing an office with, and there are stories about blood-thirsty opals... *g*)

In several ancient cultures who had access to semiprecious stones (e.g. Romans, Greeks, Egyptians) some stones were considered to have healing qualities or represent deities. Some Germanic tribes considered amber a gift from the sun - it mostly depends on if they had these "stones" (I know that amber is not really a stone) available, I guess.

These days, we have many more opportunities when it comes to working with traditions and resources from all over the world. We also have a greater responsibility to protect the earth and not use her gifts carelessly.

On one point you are absolutely right - I see Pagans and Witches buying all kinds of stuff, always jumping on the latest bandwaggon when it comes to workshops and theories, instead of using what surrounds them and what they have been given.

Carolina Gonzalez said...

You are so right! I agree with every word you have written. Though, as Intuitive Goddess has pointed, there is a huge problem with labels, I think a Witch should always start with what comes naturally from her/his environment and culture.

Anonymous said...

The ancient Egyptians used a lot of precious and semi-precious stones for magical ritual purposes. It isn't new - it is very old! I do agree that one should only use ethically sourced gems, and ideally ones you have found yourself locally - pieces of quartz aren't too hard to find.

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