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Author Topic: Theology, Method, and Authors  (Read 2060 times)

Riothamus12

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Theology, Method, and Authors
« on: January 13, 2016, 05:39:45 pm »
I've noticed a particular trend in many modern pagan writings. It seems that the bulk of pagan authors are focused primarily on the methodology of spell work or creating grimoires that can be sold to others or utilizing particular practices or elements within the context thereof. However, it seems there are very few books discussing the spiritual philosophies connected thereto.

Frankly this has been a point of great disappointment for me many times. I buy or look into something not for a list of spells or rituals but for insights, for ideas that may not have occurred to me or new angles, not something that is focused on the methods and specific spells. Granted, these things do have a place, but after a certain point, unless one can provide a truly groundbreaking insight on method, it grows irritating when two thirds of a text are devoted to how to practice and not cosmology, ethics, metaphysics, and other such ideas.  

You see, these the various pagan paths, no matter how closely connected to the great and sacred art of magick are religions and yet we seem to be lacking in theologians.  There is a great deal of depth to these occult philosophies and yet it seems far less is said about these aspects than the working of spells. While these texts do help us assemble meaningful rites and spells, it does not always address the underlying philosophy of it all.  These methods are intimately connected to these philosophies yet so little seems to be written about it by comparison.

This is troubling to me. Considering how vast and diverse the traditions are, you'd imagine that the pagan world would be swimming in theologians and spiritual philosophers. Yet, it seems that most focus on practice in their writings while saying little about metaphysics. The practice is important, but it is the philosophy of it that drives the practice and informs it. A guide to practice has it's uses, but how can one truly understand or resonate with what they do if they do not know the concepts, the ideas, and ethics attached to it.

Magick may be a part of what so many of us do, but it is not the ultimate goal or purpose of pagan religions no matter how decentralized. It is through the discussion of these underlying theological notions that new realizations and concepts become known.

So i must ask, are there any real theologians out there? Are there any authors out there who write extensively on the philosophy of these spiritual paths? If not, what would it take for more of them to emerge?
« Last Edit: January 13, 2016, 07:04:14 pm by Darkhawk »

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Allaya

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Re: Theology, Method, and Authors
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2016, 06:48:35 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;185117
I've noticed a particular trend in many modern pagan writings. It seems that the bulk of pagan authors are focused primarily on the methodology of spell work or creating grimoires that can be sold to others or utilizing particular practices or elements within the context thereof. However, it seems there are very few books discussing the spiritual philosophies connected thereto. Frankly this has been a point of great disappointment for me many times. I buy or look into something not for a list of spells or rituals but for insights, for ideas that may not have occurred to me or new angles, not something that is focused on the methods and specific spells. Granted, these things do have a place, but after a certain point, unless one can provide a truly groundbreaking insight on method, it grows irritating when two thirds of a text are devoted to how to practice and not cosmology, ethics, metaphysics, and other such ideas.  You see, these the various pagan paths, no matter how closely connected to the great and sacred art of magick are religions and yet we seem to be lacking in theologians.  There is a great deal of depth to these occult philosophies and yet it seems far less is said about these aspects than the working of spells. While these texts do help us assemble meaningful rites and spells, it does not always address the underlying philosophy of it all.  These methods are intimately connected to these philosophies yet so little seems to be written about it by comparison. This is troubling to me. Considering how vast and diverse the traditions are, you'd imagine that the pagan world would be swimming in theologians and spiritual philosophers. Yet, it seems that most focus on practice in their writings while saying little about metaphysics. The practice is important, but it is the philosophy of it that drives the practice and informs it. A guide to practice has it's uses, but how can one truly understand or resonate with what they do if they do not know the concepts, the ideas, and ethics attached to it. Magick may be a part of what so many of us do, but it is not the ultimate goal or purpose of pagan religions no matter how decentralized. It is through the discussion of these underlying theological notions that new realizations and concepts become known. So i must ask, are there any real theologians out there? Are there any authors out there who write extensively on the philosophy of these spiritual paths? If not, what would it take for more of them to emerge?

I suspect that a lot of the things you are wishing for are considered to be 'inner court' type stuff and thus is not the kind of thing an individual tradition would want published.

Next time, perhaps you could toss in some line breaks? Text walls are hard to read and generally frowned upon.
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Gaudior

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Re: Theology, Method, and Authors
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2016, 08:02:15 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;185117
I've noticed a particular trend in many modern pagan writings. It seems that the bulk of pagan authors are focused primarily on the methodology of spell work or creating grimoires that can be sold to others or utilizing particular practices or elements within the context thereof. However, it seems there are very few books discussing the spiritual philosophies connected thereto.

Frankly this has been a point of great disappointment for me many times. I buy or look into something not for a list of spells or rituals but for insights, for ideas that may not have occurred to me or new angles, not something that is focused on the methods and specific spells. Granted, these things do have a place, but after a certain point, unless one can provide a truly groundbreaking insight on method, it grows irritating when two thirds of a text are devoted to how to practice and not cosmology, ethics, metaphysics, and other such ideas.  

You see, these the various pagan paths, no matter how closely connected to the great and sacred art of magick are religions and yet we seem to be lacking in theologians.  There is a great deal of depth to these occult philosophies and yet it seems far less is said about these aspects than the working of spells. While these texts do help us assemble meaningful rites and spells, it does not always address the underlying philosophy of it all.  These methods are intimately connected to these philosophies yet so little seems to be written about it by comparison.

This is troubling to me. Considering how vast and diverse the traditions are, you'd imagine that the pagan world would be swimming in theologians and spiritual philosophers. Yet, it seems that most focus on practice in their writings while saying little about metaphysics. The practice is important, but it is the philosophy of it that drives the practice and informs it. A guide to practice has it's uses, but how can one truly understand or resonate with what they do if they do not know the concepts, the ideas, and ethics attached to it.

Magick may be a part of what so many of us do, but it is not the ultimate goal or purpose of pagan religions no matter how decentralized. It is through the discussion of these underlying theological notions that new realizations and concepts become known.

So i must ask, are there any real theologians out there? Are there any authors out there who write extensively on the philosophy of these spiritual paths? If not, what would it take for more of them to emerge?


I think it just depends on the tradition. I see a lot of spiritual concepts of the Gods and universe in Recon/Revival religions. That doesn't mean paths like Wicca and Feri don't have them but, like the previous poster said, it might be more secret knowledge that is not available to people not initiated.

There are a couple books that deal with theological concepts:

1. A World Full of Gods by John Michael Greer
2. The Deities are Many: A Polytheistic Theology by Jordan Paper
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Darkhawk

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Re: Theology, Method, and Authors
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2016, 09:28:04 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;185117
This is troubling to me. Considering how vast and diverse the traditions are, you'd imagine that the pagan world would be swimming in theologians and spiritual philosophers.

 
Why?

I mean, seriously, why?

Look at world religions in general.  How many people practice those religions?  How many of them are theologians?  Most people, including most religious people, are busy having their actual lives, not engaging in philsosophy; philosophy is lagniappe.

The first texts we have of Christian theology come about something like a hundred years after the crucifixion.  Origen, sometimes referred to as the father of theology or the first Christian theologian, died in 253 or 254 CE.  And that's operating in a religious tradition where it is commonly held that right belief and right thought are essential, which isn't exactly the default pagan position - two hundred years before the first one.  Codified theology kicks in with Nicea in 325.

(Aside from that, I think it fairly unlikely to find a lot of religious content in anything that might be a reference work for an occult philosophy.  Entirely different modes of approach.)
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HarpingHawke

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Re: Theology, Method, and Authors
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2016, 11:59:52 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;185117

Magick may be a part of what so many of us do, but it is not the ultimate goal or purpose of pagan religions no matter how decentralized. It is through the discussion of these underlying theological notions that new realizations and concepts become known.

 
We-ell, magic, when considered by itself, is generally a secular practice, and while it's compatible with most forms of religion, that doesn't necessarily make it a religious thing. Yes, there are forms of magic which evolved to be a part of (or even most of) a religious philosophy, but to make my point clear: a lot of people who practice magic aren't pagan. Some practitioners are even atheists, or agnostics.

Therefore, it's separate from religion, and therefore, it's, IME, discussed as a separate thing, by different groups of people.
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Riothamus12

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Re: Theology, Method, and Authors
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2016, 12:19:52 am »
Quote from: HarpingHawke;185131
We-ell, magic, when considered by itself, is generally a secular practice, and while it's compatible with most forms of religion, that doesn't necessarily make it a religious thing. Yes, there are forms of magic which evolved to be a part of (or even most of) a religious philosophy, but to make my point clear: a lot of people who practice magic aren't pagan. Some practitioners are even atheists, or agnostics.

Therefore, it's separate from religion, and therefore, it's, IME, discussed as a separate thing, by different groups of people.

 
I would beg to differ. Every path of magic has it's roots in metaphysics therefore lending itself to having a spiritual element regardless of how "new" or "ancient" it may be. This supposed separation is a relatively new thing.

As for those who claim to practice it without having any such convictions I find the notion intensely baffling and frankly it will never make any sense to me.

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Jack

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Re: Theology, Method, and Authors
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2016, 12:34:41 am »
Quote from: Riothamus12;185132
I would beg to differ. Every path of magic has it's roots in metaphysics therefore lending itself to having a spiritual element regardless of how "new" or "ancient" it may be. This supposed separation is a relatively new thing.

 
Even if one were to concede that point completely (and I don't), that's like saying modern chemistry doesn't discuss alchemy enough. Despite a connection in the past, alchemy is not particularly relevant to studying acid-base reactions in a Chemistry 101 class or something.
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RecycledBenedict

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Re: Theology, Method, and Authors
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2016, 12:45:06 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;185117
So i must ask, are there any real theologians out there? Are there any authors out there who write extensively on the philosophy of these spiritual paths? If not, what would it take for more of them to emerge?

Reconstructionists read the classics. I would suggest these:

Cicero: The nature of the gods (Walsh's translation)
Sallustius: On the gods and the world
Proclus: Elements of theology

A short overview of the fragments from Varro's Divine Antiquities is found here:

http://www.academia.edu/6701538/2010._Varro_s_Divine_Antiquities_Roman_Religion_as_an_Image_of_Truth_Classical_Philology_105_2010_162-88

Pieter Willem van der Horst edited and translated Chaeremon of Alexandria in 1984.

Robin Waterfield translated Theology of Arithmetic, attributed to Iamblichus, back in 1988.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2016, 12:50:57 pm by RecycledBenedict »

HarpingHawke

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Re: Theology, Method, and Authors
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2016, 04:41:54 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;185132

As for those who claim to practice it without having any such convictions I find the notion intensely baffling and frankly it will never make any sense to me.

 
While it may be baffling to you, it still happens, and people who do have a secular practice do it well. I can get a few articles on secular magic together for you if you want, though it may take a while for me to get to it (busy busy busy!).

Also, I would continue, but Jack summed up what I was going to say quite nicely.
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Gilbride

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Re: Theology, Method, and Authors
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2016, 08:06:46 am »
Quote from: Riothamus12;185117
However, it seems there are very few books discussing the spiritual philosophies connected thereto.


"Gods and Radicals" has theology and philosophy. This one is by a philosophy professor:

http://godsandradicals.org/2015/12/22/the-other-gods/

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