Why Don't Neo-Pagans Read New Age Books?

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I have to say, I do wish more Neo-Pagan folks would check out this book. I find a lot of them stick too closely within their defined path and don’t read or explore much beyond magick, the Gods, ritual, healing, divination, etc. I wonder if there’s a fear of being saddled with that much-maligned monolith: New Age…? Or maybe people just aren’t interested; I don’t know. I do know that there is a lot to learn here and in other non-Pagan, yet metaphysical, books. In fact, if there was more emphasis on “enlightenment” or consciousness raising among covens and groves, they may not experience all the egotism and power struggles which inevitably arise. Some groups, of course, are strong and surmount these challenges, but others are not. Just think what a better shot they’d have if their members were actively trying to better themselves spiritually, not just magickally.

I myself have recognized, finally, what it is about the traditional coven with which I’m studying that repels me. (I’m wrapping up the 2nd year of class–I am a Dedicate–but have decided not to initiate.) It is the egotism, used in the way Tolle uses it, and the hypocrisy this causes. I’ve heard certain ideals espoused and proclaimed, even, as why this tradition is unique, family-like, and long-lived. I’ve just as often seen pride, ignorance, and exclusivity take over.

I’m certainly not perfect, either, but I find it hard to submit to a tradition’s hierarchy and protocol when I feel to be on a peer-level with some of the “higher-ups.” Now there may be Elders who do deserve both their status and my absolute respect. But until I find myself studying under one, why should I feign the position of student? I have as much to teach as the rest. This just struck me as sounding prideful. What I really mean is–why can’t we all share our diverse knowledge and experience, instead of having an appointed teacher (i.e. High Priest/ess), who may or may not deserve the position?  

It sounds like I’m headed for a non-traditional group. If only there were some Feri people in my area…

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5 responses »

  1. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book; I might snag my sister’s copy when she’s done.

    Also, I’m only speaking for myself here, but I tend to avoid most New Age books because I get scared off by references to Atlantis, Indigo children, ‘vibrating on the level of Jesus,’ and the Pleiades (in a non-astronomical context). I’ve also found that many of the New Age books are have a fairly (if not overtly) Christian basis, which I find difficult to relate to.

    More generally, it may be because a lot of NewAge books are transcendental in nature, and many Neo-Pagans consider themselves to be firmly ‘rooted’ in more earthly aspirations?

    I dunno, maybe I’ve just always gotten stuck with the worst of the NewAge books…. :)

    Cheers

    Semjaza

  2. Hi, Semjaza,
    I can see what you mean when you say “transcendental” versus “rooted.” I think I’ve been trying to express just that opposition for years but couldn’t find the right way to put it. :-)

    That is a good point, too, about the typical Pagan orientation toward more earthly things. Nothing wrong with this, of course, but to me, each has something to learn from the other.

    It’s like the World Tree; there are three worlds, after all (if you jive with this path)–the Upper or Star/Celestial Realm, the Earthly or Human Realm, and the UnderWorld of Ancestors and Fae and other Beings. Integration of the three as much as possible isn’t a bad aspiration.

    In my view, Neo-Pagans could benefit from learning about higher vibrational stuff, and “New Agers” (I really don’t like this term, but here it is) could benefit from integrating natural magick, a more sex-positive attitude, herbalism, and other earth-oriented pursuits into their practice/belief system. But I can understand more now (from your comment) that maybe the interests are just different.

    I agreee that the New Agey Christian books are a bore and a little too, well, Christian for most Neo-Pagans’ tastes. There are plenty of non-Christiany, good ones out there, though. Definitely A New Earth is one of the best (although I would call it a more Buddhist-influenced metaphysical/self-help book).

  3. Please let me add my appreciation of your musings. Years ago, I addressed similar issues with my boss at the time – a practicing pagan. I did not communicate as skillfully as you the concerns I had. I come from a very “new age” background. I definitely believe we all have more in common than that which separates us. And of course, I recognize there is no shortage of ego in the “new age” world either. But, together, we can ll learn from each other and assist one another up the same mountain. Please allow me to share with you and others my current favorite teacher, Master Sha, author of “Soul Wisdom” among others. i hope you will find his teachings as helpful as I have. I wish you and all who read this many blessings on your spiritual journey. May we see each other on the way!

  4. Greetings,

    You raise several interesting and exciting points, and I find myself unsure where to begin my responses.

    First, let me say how strongly I feel that your level of wisdom and clarity transcends what it sounds like the others in your coven, especially the so-called “Elders,” are currently expressing. For either Neo-Pagan or “New Ager” alike to deny the mysteries taught by the other is to deny the duality that courses through All That Is in this Universe of polarities. This should be of special concern to Neo-Pagans, as we claim to hold the archetypal expressions of this duality – the God and the Goddess – above all else. If we avoid examining other ways of thinking because they don’t fit into our (often limited?) picture of the Universe, how are we different from Fundamentalist Christians?

    No, wisdom does not belong to a select few, and no one has a monopoly on truth. It’s disappointing that more Neo-Pagans and “New Agers” alike don’t seem to realize this.

  5. Thank you, Jerome, for your comment on this post. Through the other commenter’s ideas, I’ve come to understand that sometimes people’s interests just differ, and perhaps that is part of their identity of being a Neo-Pagan or a metaphysician. I would think there would be more out there like me and you, though, whose interests are more diverse and cross such lines eagerly. There is much to be gained, certainly. Perhaps they’re out there, and I just haven’t happened upon them too often yet.

    I also wanted to point out that, while I certainly do have my moments of wisdom and clarity, I’ve learned that a lot of the frustration I expressed previously about the coven and its Elders stemmed from my own insecurity. Doh! Not that the group has no issues–they certainly do have things to work on. My awareness of my own usual calm “knowing,” however, blocked me from seeing when I was actually having a reaction instead of a true perception. Ah well, happens to us all, I guess.

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