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Author Topic: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?  (Read 2413 times)

Ghost235

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How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« on: October 15, 2014, 10:09:54 am »
Hey,

When dealing with Unverified Personal Gnosis(stuff about Pagan things that can't be found in the lore) how do you go about sorting it out as "most likely in your head" and "this might reflect external reality" when it is not super obvious.

Here is my situation.  After about 15 years of silence Freyja is talking to me again.  The message is simple and pretty clear.  The short short version goes like this.  

"I'm here.  You don't need to set up an altar.  Wearing a Thor's hammer would be a nice gesture.  If you need spiritual strength when you are tempted with unethical things(especially in the arena of romantic loyalty), call on me and I'll help you out without lien or obligation."

I see this as "grey area" because while it isn't obviously wrong Freyja as presented in the Eddas never seemed particularly interested in helping people keep their romantic commitments pure.  Also, as I have read here the Germanic deities don't seem to be interested in helping as much as wanting followers who don't need that type of help at all.  On the other hand the virtues in question are very much in line with keeping one's word which IS very much in line with the virtues that the Germanic deities overall seem to hold dear.

Disclaimer:  In this post I am not attempting to say what "is" as much as "what seems to be to me".  In no way am I stating or insinuating that any UPG on my end reflects what anyone else should or should not do.

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2014, 10:31:23 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;162334
Hey,

When dealing with Unverified Personal Gnosis(stuff about Pagan things that can't be found in the lore) how do you go about sorting it out as "most likely in your head" and "this might reflect external reality" when it is not super obvious.

Here is my situation.  After about 15 years of silence Freyja is talking to me again.  The message is simple and pretty clear.  The short short version goes like this.  

"I'm here.  You don't need to set up an altar.  Wearing a Thor's hammer would be a nice gesture.  If you need spiritual strength when you are tempted with unethical things(especially in the arena of romantic loyalty), call on me and I'll help you out without lien or obligation."

I see this as "grey area" because while it isn't obviously wrong Freyja as presented in the Eddas never seemed particularly interested in helping people keep their romantic commitments pure.  Also, as I have read here the Germanic deities don't seem to be interested in helping as much as wanting followers who don't need that type of help at all.  On the other hand the virtues in question are very much in line with keeping one's word which IS very much in line with the virtues that the Germanic deities overall seem to hold dear.

Disclaimer:  In this post I am not attempting to say what "is" as much as "what seems to be to me".  In no way am I stating or insinuating that any UPG on my end reflects what anyone else should or should not do.

 
Ultimately, I am more concerned with my own UPG than with how it fits into the greater lore.  I am more than happy to share my experiences, but I never think that they are going to be how other people experience things (P definitely stands for personal to me).  If it works for me, if I feel it deep within, then I go with it.

I view Lore as a great thing, and I love it, but I don't think of it as the be all end all.  Any story, when it gets written down, is in the voice of the author.  Even very scholarly works reflect the author's viewpoint in what they include, exclude and how they present the material (and the conclusions they draw).  Typically, I see the body of lore as the accepted stories that have stood the test of time, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other stories that were never written down.  I especially think about the phrase "history is written by the victors" and wonder what the conquered people would have said.
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Darkhawk

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2014, 10:32:10 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;162334
When dealing with Unverified Personal Gnosis(stuff about Pagan things that can't be found in the lore) how do you go about sorting it out as "most likely in your head" and "this might reflect external reality" when it is not super obvious.

 
You may find this thread useful:
http://ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?4262-Evaluating-Your-Gnosis
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Ghost235

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2014, 11:03:08 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;162336
You may find this thread useful:
http://ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?4262-Evaluating-Your-Gnosis


My search fu failed me.  This is extremely useful and is pretty much exactly what I was looking for.  Thanks for the link.  My apologies.

Jainarayan

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2014, 11:21:20 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;162334
Hey,

When dealing with Unverified Personal Gnosis(stuff about Pagan things that can't be found in the lore) how do you go about sorting it out as "most likely in your head" and "this might reflect external reality" when it is not super obvious.

 
Gut feeling, instinct, intuition. I believe that the gods can be very subtle about things. Sometimes they let you figure it out yourself; it looks like they're ignoring you. Considering there are gaps in the lore, and lore having been trampled on, and Christianity superimposed on it, I think that gut feeling, instinct, intuition, and/or listening closely to the gods i.e. upg is particularly important. I think if it feels right, it is; if it doesn't feel right, it isn't. This is my upg. ;)
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

Darkhawk

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2014, 11:25:37 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;162338
My search fu failed me.  This is extremely useful and is pretty much exactly what I was looking for.  Thanks for the link.  My apologies.

 
No worries, I'm glad I could throw you a pointer.  (The search function here is kind of pants.)
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

PetitAlbert

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2014, 02:39:21 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;162336
You may find this thread useful:
http://ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?4262-Evaluating-Your-Gnosis

 
Thank you so much for reposting this. I've been looking for that link for ages. It's excellent ^_^
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Sage

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2014, 09:46:36 pm »
Quote from: Ghost235;162334
Hey,

When dealing with Unverified Personal Gnosis(stuff about Pagan things that can't be found in the lore) how do you go about sorting it out as "most likely in your head" and "this might reflect external reality" when it is not super obvious.

 
Y'know, over the years I've become a lot less worried about whether something is "really" there and more concerned with how it can help me.

The majority of my religious life is based around UPG. As I mature in my faith(s) I just find myth and history less and less valid for judging my own experiences. Even as a co-founder of Clann Bhride, a devotional group centered around the goddess Brighid, I personally only see Ye Olde Irish Stories as so inspirational and relevant to my life. Brighid is in my life now, and I am not someone concerned with hearing or sensing the gods. I just try to make a good life for myself and those around me, and to leave the world a little less crappy than how I found it.

So, what do I do with the UPG that floats through my head? It depends on where I am spiritually at the moment and on the context of my overall life. Some things, to me, are not that important in the long run to waste brain energy on. Thinking suddenly, "Gee I bet Brighid would like X offering or Y action done in Her honor" is not going to get much analysis from me, especially if it doesn't majorly contradict with how I see Her. (For example, I associate Brighid with early mornings and thus coffee, so coffee is a good offering from me.)

If the UPG is about mystical stories or symbolism, then I consider it in the context of "new ways of understanding Brighid." We know now that our sun is just a star like all the others in the universe and that moonlight is reflected from the sun. So while I consider Brighid a solar goddess, Her purview is now automatically that of "all celestial light-bearing objects." That's partially because of how astronomy has changed over the centuries, partially because of a direct experience I had with Brighid with/as the Lady of the Stars, and partially cause I think celestial symbolism is pretty nifty and almost all my deities get some sooner or later. :)

I figure UPG is more helpful for myself understanding Brighid (and possibly for Her communicating to me) than it is "the one true way of interpreting a deity's nature."
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
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Scales

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2014, 02:41:42 pm »
Quote from: Ghost235;162334

I don't know much about Freya or many of the details you said, so I'm replying to the thread title.

- If the person is saying very extreme things and/or forcing it on people ('Deity said THIS, I am right, change the history books!' or worse, 'Deity says you have to listen to me,') I assume they're either lying or very confused, and give it no weight.

- If the person has reasonable claims ('Deity told me to offer chocolate') but expresses them badly ('Deity came down from the sky, and standing in my room, he told me he wanted me to offer him chocolate! When I gave him some, he washed me with bright light and now I'm blessed!'), I will also probably brush it off.

- If the person has more extreme claims ('Deity was in my house and we are equals now!'), but is reasonable and matter-of-fact in presenting it ('Last night, I saw Deity in my room, and after we spoke, there was a bright light and I felt as though I had been blessed'), I will at least consider it interesting, and an insight about that deity's potential ways of work, although I won't take it for gospel.

- If the person has reasonable claims and expression, I probably will generally accept it. I won't necessarily use that gnosis in my own practice, but I will generally believe that the person is probably not lying or confused, and in fact had an experience that may be useful in general understanding of the deity in question.

I am using UPG in the more colloquial sense, where people call any experience with spirits and deities UPG, not only the formal sense where one has been granted gnosis (knowledge, knowing) about a god, although I judge both in similar fashions.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2014, 02:42:05 pm by Scales »

Jack

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2014, 03:17:24 pm »
Quote from: Scales;163027
I am using UPG in the more colloquial sense, where people call any experience with spirits and deities UPG, not only the formal sense where one has been granted gnosis (knowledge, knowing) about a god, although I judge both in similar fashions.

 
You know, I tend to do the same thing, and I have started to wonder lately if that's not a little ... well, it's a kind of social conditioning, isn't it? We're saying that we value downplaying the majesty and intensity of personal experience in favor of making things sound "acceptable" and reasonable. There's no inherent difference between your second and third examples, and you didn't give an example for the fourth so I'm just picturing someone who had the same experience but leaves out the details of the bright light and ecstasy. And I'm not sure there's much to be gained in training people to leave out the ecstasy, you know?
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Scales

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2014, 03:44:19 pm »
Quote from: Jack;163034
You know, I tend to do the same thing, and I have started to wonder lately if that's not a little ... well, it's a kind of social conditioning, isn't it? We're saying that we value downplaying the majesty and intensity of personal experience in favor of making things sound "acceptable" and reasonable. There's no inherent difference between your second and third examples, and you didn't give an example for the fourth so I'm just picturing someone who had the same experience but leaves out the details of the bright light and ecstasy. And I'm not sure there's much to be gained in training people to leave out the ecstasy, you know?

 
This is part because I couldn't think of examples (and didn't want to use ones that pointed at specific people, if I looked examples up), but also part because it is largely the expression of what happened that I refer to. It was actually unintentional to leave the ecstasy and bright light out though, I intended for them to have it, but state it differently- though in completion.

It is, in a way although not entirely, the same as how if I were at the grocer, vaguely wondering what avocados were like as theoretical me had never eaten them, and someone said 'avocados are tasty, and also have a lot of vitamin k,' and perhaps even added 'I feel really healthy when I eat them!' I'd probably think 'okay, well let's try some.' If they said 'avocados are the next superfood! they cut my cholesterol right off and they are more delicious than anything you have ever eaten,' I'd probably think more along the lines of 'let's leave the produce section, and maybe next year I'll try avocados.'

Buzzwords, hyperbole, and certain kinds of statements* make me distrusting. Even if it includes opinion, plain speech usually does not.

*'They cut my cholesterol off!' and 'I was blessed,' vs 'I feel healthy' and 'I felt blessed,' (or even 'he told me I was blessed'). I don't know how to generalize this into a statement (if we weren't talking about UPG and magic and stuff, I'd say 'stating something as fact when you only know how you perceived it,' but in this setting, the line between fact and perception is more grey, which is why I specifically included 'he told me').

Jack

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2014, 04:06:17 pm »
Quote from: Scales;163035
Buzzwords, hyperbole, and certain kinds of statements* make me distrusting. Even if it includes opinion, plain speech usually does not.

 
Maybe we're not picturing the same thing, then, because I don't consider 'I saw a light and the god appeared to me and blessed me' to be hyperbole or a place where I need to weigh perception. I'm never going to be able to judge whether it's more or less likely they really had a vision of a god; there's no option to try it myself like there is with offering poundcake to Loki. It's not a repeatable experiment. So what's the point in making people try to be all blasé about their spiritual experiences?
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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2014, 04:11:42 pm »
Quote from: Jack;163037
Maybe we're not picturing the same thing, then, because I don't consider 'I saw a light and the god appeared to me and blessed me' to be hyperbole or a place where I need to weigh perception. I'm never going to be able to judge whether it's more or less likely they really had a vision of a god; there's no option to try it myself like there is with offering poundcake to Loki. It's not a repeatable experiment. So what's the point in making people try to be all blasé about their spiritual experiences?

 
I don't think the light and stuff is hyperbole, nor do I think mentioning it is (as I said, I had meant to include those in the 'believable' one too), and I'm not sure if I used an example of hyperbole in the magic ones (in the avocado one, the cholesterol part is). It's the attitude of 'I am completely and infallibly right, and not just about me,' along with obvious embellishment to the stories. Also, as I said, I personally prefer when they use 'I' statements rather than 'this happened,' because I feel that it implies acknowledgement that this is one's own experience, not an absolute end all, rewrite the prose edda thing, but that isn't the largest part of believability, it just helps.

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2014, 04:15:28 pm »
Quote from: Jack;163037
Maybe we're not picturing the same thing, then, because I don't consider 'I saw a light and the god appeared to me and blessed me' to be hyperbole or a place where I need to weigh perception. I'm never going to be able to judge whether it's more or less likely they really had a vision of a god; there's no option to try it myself like there is with offering poundcake to Loki. It's not a repeatable experiment. So what's the point in making people try to be all blasé about their spiritual experiences?

 
I don't want to edit and make this more confusing, so on the part I didn't reply to now:

This is why I defined my use of UPG. Although there's not always a reason to judge the more loosely defined parts of UPG, I felt that answering about those as well was how to answer the question. I'm not saying I should judge them, just that if/when I do, this is how

And I really didn't mean to say people should be blase, or even that they can't ever embellish, but I don't really know how to re word that in a way that will make sense.

Faemon

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Re: How do you judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2014, 06:21:59 pm »
Quote from: Jack;163034
You know, I tend to do the same thing, and I have started to wonder lately if that's not a little ... well, it's a kind of social conditioning, isn't it? We're saying that we value downplaying the majesty and intensity of personal experience in favor of making things sound "acceptable" and reasonable.

 
On the one hand, I get the objection to that because I've noticed that I can only sort of "progress" spiritually when I give second-thinking myself a rest. At the same time, if I'm communicating a personal experience, then I can't just presume that everybody reading/listening is at the "accept majesty and intensity" state of willingness to consider--just because I'm there myself. So it's either I keep it to myself, or I prove it; if it's not already shared, then it's not something I should share. (Although it never is completely with anyone else, but I do anyway--I've also gathered that spiritual beliefs can't even begin to be reasonable, so...)
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