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Author Topic: Difficulties with Eclecticism  (Read 3616 times)

EclecticWheel

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Difficulties with Eclecticism
« on: May 31, 2015, 02:53:33 am »
I've had some difficulties with eclecticism over the years but I'm starting to think that's the only way for me to go and really be true to my calling.

When I first had a yearning for it I really had no context to fall back on and could never even really get started, but after I was immersed in liturgical Christianity it became much easier to create ceremonies that were of substance and had a coherent theology.

But for a year or so there it kind of went bad.  I burned out because I created a new system in a short amount of time based on ideas that were intellectually appealing but probably not from a place of spirit, that part of me that can simply say, "Yes, this is truth as I am able to apprehend it."  (In other words, something I truly had faith in.)

So over time I continued with organized Christianity but some rites developed that I still do and that have worked and have a lot of depth and beauty.  But I feel more connected to that personal side of my spirituality than institutional religion and don't feel right about converting to any other religions no matter how much I admire about them.

So...I'm taking a break from all of that to explore this because I feel a lot of things coming up and am about to create more and might simply cut ties with formal religion/church except for maybe a visit here and there.  A lot of this has grown out of a spiritual encounter I had that is not easily classifiable.  But I'm hoping I'm not going to burn out again or get frustrated.  These are some guidelines I've developed for myself in the development of an eclectic practice.  Some elements wouldn't apply to all eclectics but this is what I've come up with:

1. Keep your ceremonies, theologies, and other practices related to the core tenets and goals of your path.
2.  If a practice seems appealing from my own religious background or one I thought of in passing do NOT adopt it unless there is a clear reason to do so.  The practice must be compatible with the core ceremonies I have developed or grow organically from them.  (I have a method for how new practices emerge or revisions are made.)
3.  Do not adopt deities or very specific religious practices from other religions you have no connection to or were never a member of.  Instead use something from your own religious background or eclectic practice and adapt it with new associations to fill a similar need.  (This one in particular is how I've discerned over the years that I should do it -- it's a disaster every time I do it differently.)
4.  Do not assume that because a theology you have created is coherent that it is actually your belief.
5.  If you are going to adopt a belief or new practice that will influence your ceremonies, do the intellectual homework, but do not burn out on this.  Pray about it and discern.  Then put it out of mind -- if it re-emerges and I can truly give assent to it from a prayerful place then adopt it.
6.  Do NOT rush!
7.  Let some beliefs be held in tension, even contradictory beliefs if need be -- something useful will come of it.  Do NOT over-think it!
8.  Let the path develop slowly on an as-needed basis: do not try to fill in gaps until you need to, especially if a practice from your religious background still fills that need and there is no need to re-invent the whole wheel.

As I said, some of these apply to me very specifically.  (I could explain but it wasn't really necessary right now.)  What do you think?  Do you have any similar guidelines or advice?  Thanks.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

RandallS

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Re: Difficulties with Eclecticism
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2015, 07:55:08 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;175604
As I said, some of these apply to me very specifically.  (I could explain but it wasn't really necessary right now.)  What do you think?  Do you have any similar guidelines or advice?  Thanks.

I do not practice an ecletic religion, but your "rules" seem very sound and quite useful for avoiding many of the problems I've seen with eclecticism over the years.
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Freesia

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Re: Difficulties with Eclecticism
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2015, 06:18:23 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;175604
I've had some difficulties with eclecticism over the years but I'm starting to think that's the only way for me to go and really be true to my calling.

...

As I said, some of these apply to me very specifically.  (I could explain but it wasn't really necessary right now.)  What do you think?  Do you have any similar guidelines or advice?  Thanks.

 
For the past year I have been winging it. I finally got the book "Paganism: a Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions" by Joyce and River Higginbotham and will do the exercises. I have already done many of the contemplation and introspection questions.

I saw a book overview on youtube of "Wicca A Year and a Day" by Timothy Roderick and I may do that book next. I wasn't even thinking about getting back into Wicca, but the woman showing the book did such an amazing job explaining that you do not need to believe everything about a book for it to be a good experience. The book is meant to advance a practitioner's understanding of the Craft whether the practitioner is a Wiccan, Hedge Witch (as the woman making the video is), or other type of Pagan curious with finding out how and why magic works.

Your specific guidelines may work to keep you from weaving all over the Pagan spectrum, but don't let them turn into blinders. Don't be afraid to study something that is out of your comfort zone. You never know what works for you unless you try it.

Sophia C

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Re: Difficulties with Eclecticism
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2015, 10:06:14 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;175604
As I said, some of these apply to me very specifically.  (I could explain but it wasn't really necessary right now.)  What do you think?  Do you have any similar guidelines or advice?  Thanks.

 
I don't think of myself as particularly eclectic, but I suppose lots of others would see me that way, and I do work within different religious systems (but usually one at a time). While I don't agree with all of these principles, there are some really useful guidelines here, that I could learn a lot from (especially at the moment, when I'm once again back in religious flux).

Quote
8. Let the path develop slowly on an as-needed basis: do not try to fill in gaps until you need to, especially if a practice from your religious background still fills that need and there is no need to re-invent the whole wheel.


This is eminently sensible and would really help me right now. I tend to be individualistic to the point of being a hermit, when it comes to my religion. It's not always the best way to be - especially when others have left behind a lot of wisdom to learn from.

Quote
4. Do not assume that because a theology you have created is coherent that it is actually your belief.


This has set off a lightbulb in my head. I'm keen on intellectualising my theology and ensuring that it's consistent and makes logical sense within the internal parameters I've set up. That doesn't actually mean that I always believe the logical theological conclusions I come to. Really thought-provoking - thank you!

Quote
7. Let some beliefs be held in tension, even contradictory beliefs if need be -- something useful will come of it.  Do NOT over-think it!


As with 8, this is especially good advice for me in particular. I'm sometimes afraid to do anything unless I've worked it all out in my head. This can lead to unhelpful paralysis. Not only that, but I believe that action begets belief, not the other way around. I need to work within frameworks before I'm sure if I believe them, or I never will... if that makes any sense. The cognitive dissonance that comes from beliefs in tension can actually be creative, I think - and so it's best not to rush into an attempt to bring things together too early.

Thanks for these good ideas!
"We're all stories, in the end. Make it a good one, eh?"
- Doctor Who

SunflowerP

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Re: Difficulties with Eclecticism
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2015, 10:49:48 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;175604
Do you have any similar guidelines or advice?  Thanks.

 
You'll likely be interested in Darkhawk's article On Eclecticism, from our articles archive. Some of its points, you've already figured out for yourself, but there's lots more useful advice there.

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anonymus

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Re: Difficulties with Eclecticism
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2015, 10:14:01 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;175604




Hope you have more luck than I've had.
 
My main problems I've  had with creating a spiritual system is my intense skepticism( I'd still be stuck in my own head along with Mr. Descartes if I hadn't chosen to accept the reality of the external world, mostly because I decided that when it comes to the whole thinking the external world is make believe thing,  that way madness lies.) and my tendency to go into nihilistic quasi-depressive moods, where the whole concept of giving a {insert expletive} is called into question. My second main problem is I also tend to be scattered brained and don't do well with longer term projects, I suspect the second is probably related to the last part of problem 1. Does any one else have this issue or is it just me?

EclecticWheel

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Re: Difficulties with Eclecticism
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2015, 11:37:51 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;175667
Hope you have more luck than I've had.
 
My main problems I've  had with creating a spiritual system is my intense skepticism( I'd still be stuck in my own head along with Mr. Descartes if I hadn't chosen to accept the reality of the external world, mostly because I decided that when it comes to the whole thinking the external world is make believe thing,  that way madness lies.) and my tendency to go into nihilistic quasi-depressive moods, where the whole concept of giving a {insert expletive} is called into question. My second main problem is I also tend to be scattered brained and don't do well with longer term projects, I suspect the second is probably related to the last part of problem 1. Does any one else have this issue or is it just me?

 
Yes, that has been part of my problem.  I am very skeptical.  I am essentially a philosophical materialist and had a hard time reconciling my religiosity with that for a long time.  I also have bouts of depression in which I feel like giving up on any path, but those times can also be periods of insight, creativity, and spiritual experiences and communications as well.

With the skepticism I've just had to accept some things and other things I've developed some solutions for:

I can never be absolutely certain of anything at all except this first point.

I find supernatural miracles and stories extremely unlikely if they are to be taken literally.  I highly doubt that there are literal heavens, hells, other spiritual planes, or reincarnation.

Nevertheless, my own rituals, prayers, and even daily thought processes (as I am a very, very religious person, always have been) are imbued with these ideas and symbols.  When it comes down to it, my whole life is a sort of story, a narrative.  It could have no meaning apart from that.  In fact, it is difficult to even determine what my "self" even is.  My thoughts and experiences seem to emerge from nothing.

So when it comes to myths, gods, saints, spirits, and the like found in writings, lore, and religion (or alternatively my own experiences thereof) for me these are a part of the narrative, my own as well as the collective narrative of humanity which is how I look at mythology and religion, even philosophy, history, and science.  In some respect these beings and myths are as real as I am, albeit in a different way, which makes sense if we're talking about a god or saint anyway.  But we still share our origins in this universe, at least in my way of seeing things.

When it comes to my spiritual realm the possibilities are endless.  I cannot know the truth objectively on these or other matters.  It is difficult to explain how I finally give assent to a religious belief but it involves my intellect and experiences, but I also tend to accept beliefs after I've had the opportunity to work with them and practice them in concrete ritual.  When they become stable and an important part of my prayer life, I simply come to believe and don't really worry too much about a competing philosophical belief.  When those beliefs give me not only comfort over a period of time, but also help me to live more fully and richly, when they give utterance to my deepest values and emotions, when they make my soul sing, they become a part of my psyche and my universe -- then it's not so much belief but knowledge, even if only a subjective kind of knowledge.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

juniper.

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Re: Difficulties with Eclecticism
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2015, 02:36:06 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;175604
What do you think?  Do you have any similar guidelines or advice?  Thanks.


There is a lot in these guidelines that apply to myself as well. I have added to my Book of Shadows. Thank-you for posting these.

juniper.

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Re: Difficulties with Eclecticism
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2015, 03:03:35 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;175667
My second main problem is I also tend to be scattered brained and don't do well with longer term projects, I suspect the second is probably related to the last part of problem 1. Does any one else have this issue or is it just me?


I can sympathise with the this issue, in fact I think it has contributed to my only paganism burnouts in the past. This time around, I am forcing myself to stick to a limited number of very specific goals (SMART goals; I hated doing them at work, but I have to admit it works), broken out into smaller SMART subgoals that I revisit every full and dark moon. If I find myself becoming interested in something outside of those goals, I quickly jot down my notes and put it on the back burner. If I am still interested in the new goal when I have completed one of the current goals, it gets added. So far, this is working very well for me. In case it is helpful for you, I have included an explanation of a SMART goal below.

SMART goals
A Specific goal will usually answer the five 'W' questions:
   • What: What do I want to accomplish?
   • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
   • Who: Who is involved?
   • Where: Identify a location.
   • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
A Measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
   • How much?
   • How many?
   • How will I know when it is accomplished?
   • Indicators should be quantifiable
An Achievable goal will usually answer the question How?
   • How can the goal be accomplished?
   • How realistic is the goal based on other constraints?
A Relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:
   • Does this seem worthwhile?
   • Is this the right time?
   • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
A Time-bound goal will usually answer the question
   • When?
   • What can I do six months from now?
   • What can I do six weeks from now?
   • What can I do today?

EclecticWheel

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Re: Difficulties with Eclecticism
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2015, 04:18:45 pm »
Quote from: juniper.;175740
I can sympathise with the this issue, in fact I think it has contributed to my only paganism burnouts in the past. This time around, I am forcing myself to stick to a limited number of very specific goals (SMART goals; I hated doing them at work, but I have to admit it works), broken out into smaller SMART subgoals that I revisit every full and dark moon. If I find myself becoming interested in something outside of those goals, I quickly jot down my notes and put it on the back burner. If I am still interested in the new goal when I have completed one of the current goals, it gets added. So far, this is working very well for me. In case it is helpful for you, I have included an explanation of a SMART goal below.

SMART goals
A Specific goal will usually answer the five 'W' questions:
   • What: What do I want to accomplish?
   • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
   • Who: Who is involved?
   • Where: Identify a location.
   • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
A Measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
   • How much?
   • How many?
   • How will I know when it is accomplished?
   • Indicators should be quantifiable
An Achievable goal will usually answer the question How?
   • How can the goal be accomplished?
   • How realistic is the goal based on other constraints?
A Relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:
   • Does this seem worthwhile?
   • Is this the right time?
   • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
A Time-bound goal will usually answer the question
   • When?
   • What can I do six months from now?
   • What can I do six weeks from now?
   • What can I do today?

 
That's a great structure.  I'm taking it down for my notes.

Is this a good method for a variety of spiritual pursuits?  For example, do you think this is useful for planning the construction of a certain ritual that could become a regular practice?  I usually don't think of my rituals in terms of concrete goals other than the very few I have performed for material needs but if I'm creating a new expression in my practices I can see why it is important to examine why I'm doing it and what I am looking for in it.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

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