| up a level
from the what-you-mean-"we"-white-man? dept.
I'm tossing around some ideas in my head. I think there's an issue buried in there somewhere, but it involves concepts I haven't thought about much before, so I'm having trouble sifting it out. Maybe if I share some of my inner threads, the subject will become clearer. (Of course, I also have to be open to the possibility that there really isn't anything there after all.)
It started with a conversation over the word "Pagan." In abstract conversation, I have no objection to the formula that "magician" is a subset of "Pagan." But do I consider myself a Pagan? Not really. And there are a number of reasons why I don't, that I've noticed so far.
But then I noticed something else, something that draws me into a wider field than just the "Pagan vs. Magician" conflict. I think it's called "Identity Politics," but I'm not certain, as social theory has never been my field. What I mean is, I cringe slightly at the idea of declaring, "I'm a person of type so-and-so," particularly in the context of the so-and-so's needing to unite in order to pursue their agenda in the larger world. And of course, this applies to the label "Thelemite" every bit as much as it does the label "Pagan."
(And it's also true that I generally use the word "Thelemite" only in certain circumstances, as among other Thelemic practitioners as a synonym for "us," or when needing to answer a question on a form. I'll ignore for the moment the definition of Thelemite as one who is doing his or her will, whether a Thelemic practitioner or not.)
Do I have a problem with uniting towards a common cause? Not in general. But I would prefer to see action around a principle rather than to promote an "ism" for its own sake. Maybe that's why, in "Three Pillars of Thelema", I wrote of the three principles of Social Justice, Sex Worship, and Self Realization. If we promote Social Justice, we work with the socially conscientious. If we promote Sex Worship, we work with (say) the Neo-Tantra practitioners. If we promote Self Realization, we work with the Transpersonal and Integral communities, the shamans, and all the other Mystery Schools. (Oh -- and the Pagans!)
At the same time, I can appreciate the idea of the tribe. When people gather together because of shared convictions, values, or aesthetics, and bond together over time with caring and respect -- I can see a lot of value in there being an "us."
Maybe I'm just tired of formulating a "them"?
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