I’m grooving on Frater Acher’s recent post on closing down his current temple work and releasing it into the earth (thanks, Simon, for linking to it). It reminds me of something quite important that I don’t often see discussed in the current lovefest around necromancy. While there has been a good bit of talk about cultivating your ancestors, it doesn’t seem to have blossomed into a full ancestral reverence. More often than not, that care for the ancestors is put in quite practical terms like “having your ancestors happy means you can call on them more readily for help” or “if your ancestors are unhappy, they can interfere with what you want.”
I’ve been thinking about the back and forth with Andrew on my last post. I realize that I prefer to use binaries in a quite specific way that may not be obvious. It’s easy to see a binary and think dualistic, but that is a habit I would like to subvert, both in myself and others. I’m going to take a stab at describing that better.
Binary thinking can be quite powerful and deep. We seem to think fairly easily with binary structures and that seems to rest in part on our evolution, suggesting that there is some aspects to the world itself that are binary. Binary thinking is not the same thing as dualistic thinking. Binary thinking identifies poles as a means of navigating between them, establishes a plane across which we can arc. To identify two binaries is not the same thing as saying that there are only two sorts of things.
Please indulge me as I wax philosophical. If we define religious experience as experience of the spiritual plane, then it makes sense to explore it on its own terms. While our attitudes, expectations, and behaviors shape how we approach it, there is something distinctive to it that resists our expectations. That resistance demands some sort of response such that the understanding we develop about the spiritual world and how we behave toward it tell us something both about ourselves (individually and socially) and the spiritual world. Because the spiritual world isn’t just any way we want, but has its own substance, we can discern its reality ‘beneath’ the descriptions and rites. This makes it both possible and reasonable to compare one form of religious expression with another. The way in which we make that comparison, though, needs to keep those variables in mind and try to make sense of the different forms of religious expression ecologically rather than getting carried away with superficial similarities.
[For those who are fans of technical philosophical vocabulary, we might call this strategy critical, phenomenological, and pragmatic. If you don’t care about those terms, don’t worry. You don’t have to be connosieur to enjoy the wine.]