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Contemporary Paganism: The Soul


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#1 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 04:02 PM

I've been pondering my spiritual orientation a lot lately. I have for many years embarrassed the Pagan label, but the term makes for such a large umbrella... I think the percentage of shared attitude and practice among my Pagan fellow is probably fairly small, and even where terminology seems to align, the underlying semantics may be deeply divided. While I don't think any of my ideas are completely novel, the collection of ideas may be somewhat unique, especially when digging into the implications that stem from them.

I consider my brand of Paganism to be an Earth-based/Nature-based spiritual orientation. While that's a common report among modern Pagans, after years [of] socializing and conversing with people online and off, it's clear to me that some of the implications I draw from that phrase are quite in the minority. Specifically, my thinking is that we (humans certainly but all living things on Earth) are of the Earth, each category of thing a type of byproduct resulting from the ongoing activity of the biosphere. So far so good.

Where I may differ is that for me, it's lock, stock, and barrel. I embrace the idea that all that I am is of the Earth: body, mind, personality and/or person-hood in all respects. The most immediate implication of that the sense of self I enjoy now is impermanent, and will die when my body dies. I think the more mainstream Pagan view is that the body is of the Earth and that the Earth sustains the body, but it's been my conversational experience that most Pagans assume an extra-body component, which does not depend on the Earth to exist, and is further assumed to be eternal.

My position, stated as the compliment of the above, is that there is nothing of me that is not of the Earth. So the attitude is inconsistent with the notion of a durable soul. I'll leave it there for now, and may engage in a discussion of the practical implications of that attitudinal stance later. In the meantime, comments and questions are welcome.

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 09 March 2015 - 04:26 PM.

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#2 Khezef

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 04:13 PM

A very interesting attitude, as someone who shares the label "Pagan" I want to thank you for the insight.

Khezef
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#3 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 04:35 PM

View PostKhezef, on 09 March 2015 - 04:13 PM, said:

A very interesting attitude, as someone who shares the label "Pagan" I want to thank you for the insight.

Do you find yourself at variance with the expressed attitude?
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#4 Shinichi

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 04:43 PM

Being primarily a student of the Norse and other Teutonic/Germanic traditions, I've found it important to note that on a grander macrocosmic scale, nature is both terrestrial and celestial. The Eddas make this distinction quite clearly, defining a difference between the Aesir and the Vanir - the sky gods and the earth gods, but also the giants that came before them and the many wights that came after them. The picture is big and it has many parts.

In this light, being of the Earth is indeed an important part of being of Nature; but being of Nature also implies that we are more than of the Earth alone. The macrocosm is huge and complex, and though the microcosm is much smaller, there is just as much complexity on the smaller scale.

It comes down to this: how do you define Nature? Is Nature limited to this tiny rock in the Sol system, or does it encompass the whole of everything else too?



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#5 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 05:23 PM

View PostShinichi, on 09 March 2015 - 04:43 PM, said:

It comes down to this: how do you define Nature? Is Nature limited to this tiny rock in the Sol system, or does it encompass the whole of everything else too?

My basic attitude is that Nature outside of our biosphere is fundamentally irrelevant to us. It's not a denial of more, but a practical focusing of attention. In something of a cost-benefit analysis, I posit that assumptions of extra-Earthly existence are at best a distraction to the individual, from more productive considerations. At worst, the notion may play a causal role in countless social ills that I think we'd all be better off without.
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#6 Sandalphon

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 05:49 PM

Why align your Neter with anything?  Take what you can co-exist with from all beliefs because ultimately they all point in the same direction. Could your philosophy be Nothing and become everything?

As Rumi says:

"... Move beyond any attachment to names." Every war and every conflict between human beings has happened because of some disagreement about
names. It's such an unnecessary foolishness, because just beyond the arguing there's a long table of companionship, set and waiting for us to sit down.

What is praised is one, so the praise is one too, many jugs being poured into a huge basin. All religions, all this singing, one song.

The differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight looks slightly different
on this wall than it does on that wall and a lot different on this other one, but it is still one light. We have  borrowed these clothes, these
time-and-space personalities, from a  light, and when we praise, we pour them back in."

#7 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 05:52 PM

View PostSandalphon, on 09 March 2015 - 05:49 PM, said:

All religions, all this singing, one song.

We can wish that were true. The evidence doesn't support it though.
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#8 Khezef

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 05:59 PM

View PostR. Eugene Laughlin, on 09 March 2015 - 04:35 PM, said:

Do you find yourself at variance with the expressed attitude?

In a way yes, I probably don't share the earth based focus to the extend that you emphasized. Does this answer your question?
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#9 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 06:11 PM

View PostKhezef, on 09 March 2015 - 05:59 PM, said:

In a way yes, I probably don't share the earth based focus to the extend that you emphasized. Does this answer your question?

Technically? Yes. In a manner that fosters deeper exploration of the variance? No.

You're not obligated to discuss the topic in more detail, but you are invited.
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#10 Sandalphon

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 06:17 PM

Rumi said "All religions, all this singing, one song."

And REL replied: "We can wish that were true. The evidence doesn't support it though."

But that is besides the point and what's more just weasel words.

Not many people have ever heard of Rumi and even fewer people WANT to understand the full import of his words and meaning.  


So?   :)

Edited by Sandalphon, 09 March 2015 - 06:17 PM.


#11 Shinichi

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 06:21 PM

View PostR. Eugene Laughlin, on 09 March 2015 - 05:23 PM, said:

My basic attitude is that Nature outside of our biosphere is fundamentally irrelevant to us. It's not a denial of more, but a practical focusing of attention. In something of a cost-benefit analysis, I posit that assumptions of extra-Earthly existence are at best a distraction to the individual, from more productive considerations. At worst, the notion may play a causal role in countless social ills that I think we'd all be better off without.

A cost-benefit analysis in this context is more dependent on the subjective nature of individual goals, however, and perhaps also the nature of the specific lineage or school of thought being considered. Your lineage and mine are quite different in some respects, as are their goals, and that can be said of most of us here.

Although I have yet to really delve into the practice of astrological magic (mainly because I'm working on prerequisites, but also because it takes a lot of work and currently makes my head spin), the celestial spirits of the planets and zodiac have been far more than a mere distraction in my occult career. In the perspective of Yggdrasil, one must also consider that many of the worlds outside of Midgard are, in and of themselves, extra-Earthly in nature. Perhaps not in the sense of being entirely from another planet or solar system, but certainly in the sense that Midgard is only one fruit of the proverbial tree.

There's nothing wrong with focusing on the native land, as it were. I certainly don't wish to suggest that, or that doing so is a denial of other things. But I do disagree that things outside of the planet Earth are entirely irrelevant magically or spiritually.



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#12 Khezef

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 06:36 PM

View PostR. Eugene Laughlin, on 09 March 2015 - 06:11 PM, said:

Technically? Yes. In a manner that fosters deeper exploration of the variance? No.

You're not obligated to discuss the topic in more detail, but you are invited.

Ah, I see. My one liner was not meant in an agressive manner, I just tend to try and go straight to the point.

Hmm, in more detail then, lets see...
I am not that focused on the genius gaia as mentioned above though it might not be so potent in my whole system as it seems in yours (judging from your OP at least). It is more of a being conscious about my origin and that all that makes me being me is in a way tied to it like being conscious of being born by a mother and knowing this mother as well, but not in the manner on focusing too much on this mother/origin figure.

Khezef
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#13 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 08:04 PM

View PostKhezef, on 09 March 2015 - 06:36 PM, said:


Hmm, in more detail then, lets see...
I am not that focused on the genius gaia as mentioned above though it might not be so potent in my whole system as it seems in yours (judging from your OP at least). It is more of a being conscious about my origin and that all that makes me being me is in a way tied to it like being conscious of being born by a mother and knowing this mother as well, but not in the manner on focusing too much on this mother/origin figure.

The bottom line idea of the thread is the notion of a durable soul. Are you durable? When the Earth is a dead rock, does something of you remain?
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#14 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 08:17 PM

View PostShinichi, on 09 March 2015 - 06:21 PM, said:

A cost-benefit analysis in this context is more dependent on the subjective nature of individual goals,

That's right.

View PostShinichi, on 09 March 2015 - 06:21 PM, said:


.... Perhaps not in the sense of being entirely from another planet or solar system, but certainly in the sense that Midgard is only one fruit of the proverbial tree.

The theme of the thread is the concept of a durable soul. Do you expect to exist when the Earth is gone?
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#15 san_sao

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 08:23 PM

View PostR. Eugene Laughlin, on 09 March 2015 - 05:23 PM, said:

My basic attitude is that Nature outside of our biosphere is fundamentally irrelevant to us. It's not a denial of more, but a practical focusing of attention. In something of a cost-benefit analysis, I posit that assumptions of extra-Earthly existence are at best a distraction to the individual, from more productive considerations. At worst, the notion may play a causal role in countless social ills that I think we'd all be better off without.

This is probably a semantic point, but do you consider the Sun irrelevant to us?

That aside, I'll come right out and say it, I'm at variance. I don't believe my human identity continues (e.g. buh-bye, san_sao), but I do believe that my "fundamental self-awareness unit" continues. This is purely faith, and I recognize this. What the afore-mentioned "FSAU" is composed of, and what is retained after death, is quite obviously up for debate among anyone who's living. Is that what you're curious about? Or just whether or not people subscribe to a similar idea?
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#16 Shinichi

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 08:53 PM

View PostR. Eugene Laughlin, on 09 March 2015 - 08:17 PM, said:

The theme of the thread is the concept of a durable soul. Do you expect to exist when the Earth is gone?

The system of esoteric anatomy that I use utilizes four main aspects of the self. Well, there's more, but for this I'll just say that there are four and that each of those have their own anatomy and parts. Makes things simpler.

The Odr, which is Consciousness or Spirit, is the most important part and may be what you are calling Soul. A lot of people use Spirit and Soul interchangably, or use the word Soul to describe what most schools of thought call the core immortal I. Our consciousness. I was taught, and I experience in my practice, a distinct difference between the two. Odr, or Consciousness/Spirit, is the part that is durable - the thing that actually experiences an after life and reincarnation. The thing that still exists inside people no matter how broken their mind, soul or body becomes.

The Hugr, which is the Mind or what most call the Psyche these days, consisting of ones volition and memory and personality and all the rest of that. This is the most important vehicle for Odr, which is why mental training is so important in so many esoteric traditions.

The Hamr, which is the Soul or what was labeled the "astral" body by the Modern era Hermetic schools. It is the training of this vehicle, which is between the higher and the lower, that determines the strength of many magical faculties as well as the various things to do with the physical body.

And Lich, which is the physical body itself. There are esoteric bits there too, but they aren't relevant to this discussion.

Labels aside, it would suffice to say that I experience myself as an immortal Spirit that is incarnate in a Mind, Soul, and Body simultaneously. When I die, this Body will decay, and then my Soul will return to the forces from which it came, and then the stuff that my Mind is made of will disperse as well. When all is said and done, I will exist only as Spirit in the cosmic pool of Spirit-Stuff until the rebirth process begins and the cycle starts over from the beginning.

So, do I expect to outlive the planet Earth? Most definitely. As a Soul? Perhaps not. Then again, those Hermeticists are big on the immortalization of their bodies.



~:Shin:~

Edited by Shinichi, 09 March 2015 - 08:54 PM.

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#17 Khezef

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 09:37 PM

Quote

Are you durable? When the Earth is a dead rock, does something of you remain?

Can't say if I have a durable soul, I am even not sure what defines the durability of the soul in the first place (you mean longlivity, right?). And if I remain even when our sun burned out and our planet lost its biosphere, well, I can't tell you that either, would be quite a bold forecast when looking on the global timescale of millions and millions of years. I will see when I die and after that. The idea is certainly interesting but it holds no practical value for me at the moment.

Khezef

Edited by Khezef, 09 March 2015 - 09:38 PM.

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#18 manofsands

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 10:17 PM

Do you believe in multiple lives? If so, would you be saying that your'soul' is part of the Gaia soul then? As would we all be.

Do you believe in astrological influences? If so, that along with (as said) our dependence on the sun makes the earth just one part of the web. Maybe there is an earth soul, of which all earthly life is a part of,... but then maybe the earth is part of a solar system soul,... which is a part of the galactic (milky way) soul,... which is a part of the universal soul.

You ARE

where your

Attention IS


#19 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 01:40 AM

View PostShinichi, on 09 March 2015 - 08:53 PM, said:

I will exist only as Spirit in the cosmic pool of Spirit-Stuff until the rebirth process begins and the cycle starts over from the beginning.

Do you expect that that will carry anything away from the life you're living right now? Effects of your deeds? What you've learned? Memory of any sort?
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#20 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 01:40 AM

View PostKhezef, on 09 March 2015 - 09:37 PM, said:


The idea is certainly interesting but it holds no practical value for me at the moment.

That's a sentiment I appreciate.
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