Education and Experimentation
The first thing I must say is that posting this essay and my personal experience is a part of my moon ritual. I am doing this in the honor of the wisdom found with in the Queen of Fate and the Queen of the Night (they are one and the same) as well as Goddess of the moon who teaches me the practice of magic and the mysteries that are the practice of magic. Yes I consider magic to hold it’s own mysteries. In that respect this is my esbat as I am honoring the Goddess and God of Wisdom and my religious witchcraft path through this post.
Originally I was going to talk about the importance of these two practices in two different blog posts, but after reading my outline I realized that they go very well together. The topics I am going to cover are education and experimentation. I see this post in some ways to be a continuation of my post on being an eclectic pagan, but in reality this post in general will apply to each and every Pagan out there. Due to my background being of being an eclectic witch I will be posting from that perspective. I just hope that traditionalist will find something of value here as well.
I am going to begin with the value of education. To be completely honest I am going to cover some non religious and spiritual aspects of education here (at least on the surface) but when I explain why they are here you’ll see why I find all education in the end to be essential.
Education for me in the religious and spiritual sense covers more than just religious and spiritual education. In fact for myself I consider any sort of education post high school to be extremely important. I have only experience College education so my comments will reflect that, but like I said in the end to me it does have spiritual ramifications.
Wait colleges education as spiritual education? You must be off your rocker right?
Honestly this has been only a recent development in my understanding of the importance of education towards spiritual development and advancement. This has actually influenced my idea about ascension (which I will cover in another post). I see college as important as it can really expand your mind to new ways of thinking. It can also teach you how to look critically at all the books you read for guidance on your path. However for me the real understanding came from the philosophy course.
Every major that I have come across in every college I have looked at requires one class in philosophy. For me I think that any one that has any interest in pursuing any religious path should take an introductory course in philosophy. I consider myself a true philosopher which is why I find taking at least one course in philosophy to be essential to your growth spiritually.
When people think of philosophy they typically think of deep in depepth thought and thinking. For many people philosophy is simply out of their comfort zone. It seems to be something that is only held with in the mind of the great thinkers like: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Bertrand Russel, and many others, but in reality philosophy when you get right down to it is essentially the way a person views the world.
The definition of philosophy is really based on the Greek roots of the word. The word Philosophy is made up of two Greek words, Philos and Sophia. Philos basically means love of. Sophia is translated as both knowledge and wisdom. So the subject of philosophy is essentially “the love of knowledge and wisdom”. That right there is one of the reasons I find college education ti be essential.
Through the various topics covered in college a college student is introduced to many ways of looking at the world (in other words philosophies). Once a student takes a philosophy course (the choice is typically either ethical dilemmas or a basic introduction to philosophy) they begin to start to question (or at least ideally if they got anything out of the course) how they actually understand and perceive the world from then on.
Once a philosophy course is taken (usually with in the first two semesters) a student will begin to question the worldviews offered by any text they encounter. This is the reason I have found a college education to be essential to spiritual development.
Aside from the class benefits, you typically have a chance to encounter many different cultures, religions, political, and spiritual beliefs on a college campus (even ones religious in nature tend to still have a diverse set of actual beliefs and spiritual concepts on campus). In college you are bound to have a vast amount of experiences and be allowed to experience many different things from various cultures. When you look at it that way here is yet another point why I see college as important.
The third reason I see college as important is one of the keys to ascension. This is the second time I have mentioned ascension in this post so a brief description of ascension is required here. Ascension for me is basically the process by which we reach the next stage of being. I believe that there are many stages of existence and that there are many mysteries and experiences that can only be learned in certain states. That is why I believe having a human life is essential. To be honest I think that there are actually many lives that need to be lived in human form before we learn all the lessons and experience all the mysteries that we need to in this life.
So where does college play in?
In college we have many choices to make. I believe that the choices we make in this life are those that we are fated to do (I’ll cover my concept of fate some point next week) as we chose the lessons we wanted to learn in this lifetime based on the lessons that we have already learned. I believe that career choice and vocational path all play a role in the lessons we learn.
This is where college comes in. The ultimate format of our college education is based on the career path that we have decided to pursue at that time. I say at that time because it is not uncommon these days to find people who spent years of their life in one field of work now looking for something else.
I believe that each different career path has its different set of mysteries. In many ways if you think about it there are various Gods that could be considered “Gods of X profession”. For example in financial jobs I would consider Hermes to be a God that you could gain insight from. The various jobs we have today like manufacturing might got to a god like Vulcan/Hephaestus or finances to gods like Hermes or trickster gods. That is why I think every job on earth possesses it’s own set of mysteries and lessons that can only be experienced in that setting.
That is where college comes in. In college you have to take courses based on your major or majors. Each course provides more insight into the information that you require for your job. These lessons may give you a different world look based on the career path you take. The mysteries you experience can be increased if you work with a deity related to your professions. That is how college fits in to the theme of spiritual education. Yet it goes further than that.
I mentioned briefly about how I see ascension to be reaching the next stage of existence. One of the ways we ascend is through obtaining as much knowledge as we can in this lifetime. College facilitates this by having courses in general on basically any subject that you can imagine. By attending college you have access to courses on basically any aspect of any given subject. That allows you to obtain as much knowledge as you can.
As a college student who has been in college off and on for the last 8 years and will finally have her associates (I have had many major issues with my mental health to overcome during my time in college) this year in liberal studies; I can firmly say that every course I have taken in my college career has given me something to think about, or has helped me develop a skill that would become necessary in future classes and in jobs (learning how to study and ask for help and learning boundaries as to what I can do and can’t do). I strongly support some sort of education after high school. It doesn’t matter if that education take the form be a trade specific training or a 2-7 year college/vocational training, or the format of apprenticeship, semi mater, master, and grad master format, I find that the skills learned here will help one succeed in all other areas of life.
Ok, so the rant on the aspect of college or post high school education ran much longer than I had originally thought it would be. I think I was able to provide a clear point as to why I see post high school education to be important. I think that the job path we choose can provide some mysteries of their own and I see those as being the mysteries we are meant to learn in this life.
There are however other forms of education that are important. The first thing is that you take personal responsibility for your spiritual education. No one is going to hand you the answers on a silver platter. If you have questions that you are seeking answers for you are the ones that really need to take responsible for your own spiritual education.
So what does spiritual education entail? Well there are many things that spiritual education can entail. There is research, reflection, participation, and discussion. Each of these are very important to developing personally. They are things that should not be skipped when a person comes to explore spirituality. If you remove one of them in the end the other aspects don’t have as much of an impact. This is where the second part of this post comes into play.
The very first thing I mentioned as a part of spiritual education is research. Research is an important part of learning about your path. Research can contain listening to podcasts, reading books, joining e-mail lists, historical documentaries, academic articles published in various magazines, and websites. In either way it takes note taking, paying attention and either reading or watching a lot of documentaries. In essence it is very time consuming. However if you don’t research you really never have any material to base your practice offf of.
As an eclectic I take the research a step further. I look into cultural, religious, and historical aspects and context for the practices. I then look to see how that piece fits into the whole of that subject and topic. If it is something I agree with spiritually (context into consideration) I will add it to my practice. This typically means using more than just that one concept.
Research also allows you to explore many different avenues of looking at the same topic. It can also allow you to work through concepts in culture not familiar to you. Hence this is why research is essential to both eclectics and traditionalist. It may be difficult, but in the end it takes a lot of time and is worth the effort.
The second thing I mentioned was reflection. I will cover reflection after I discuss the meaning of participation in the sense of spiritual and religious development. I am covering participation now as it coincides directly with research. That is why participation is the second part of exploration and reflection is the third.
After a person has done some research they are likely to have an idea of the path and maybe the Gods that they are interested in. This is what will guide how a person starts to participation aspect of spiritual development. I say the path determines how you participate as the Gods and development of your path becomes intently personal at this point.
There are many ways in which a person can participate in a religion or spiritual experience. There is personal ritual through prayer and offering as well as mediation or acts of worship. There are acts in communities that can be done in honor of various gods. That is an act of participation. The other type of participation is through groups and public rituals. I have found that the website Witches voice to very useful in finding groups. You may have to travel though.
The next part is spiritual reflection. In many ways I see this blog as an overall spiritual reflection for my years on my path. If you are not into blogs you can use a personal diary or as many witchcraft authors refer to it a Book of Shadows, This book basically entails any detail of any spiritual work that you do.
Reflection here entails writing down all of your thoughts and experiences. In some ways it also means looking at your experiences and develop the path you are on. It is very uncomfortable but it is important. Through reflection we are able to look at what we have read as well as our own experiences and find them working as a whole. This provides keys to mysteries and understanding.
The last thing I mentioned about education is discussion. Through discussion people can ask you questions about your path. By answering questions a person is forced to actively think about their beliefs and their practices. In many ways this forces a person to find ways to describe exactly what they believe and how they understand the universe.
There are some risks to experimentation though. When you experiment with a new ritual or worshiping new gods you end up working with a massive amount of power and entities beyond our full comprehension. You also risk the possibility of your entire universe being turned upside down. When ever you experiment with a belief and religious system all of you’re previous thoughts and notions about the world can be turned all around.
This is where you need to have courage. I mentioned in my previous post that eclectics really need to be courageous. Any one exploring a new religious path as a seeker needs to be courageous. You need to be able to try and fail and try again. That is the risk here.
The benefits of experimentation are vast. You gain self awareness and knowledge. You gain insight as to the various Gods out there. You get to explore different world views. You can learn a lot. You just have to be willing to question yourself and the other beliefs. In the end the search for a religious or philosophical path in life has a lot of risk and benefits.
Posted on March 8, 2012, in Pagan Blog Project, Philosophy, Religion, Spiritual development, Spirituality and tagged Pagan, personal revelation, Philosophy, Religion, Ritual, spiritual developement, Spirituality, traditional witchcraft, Witchcraft. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.