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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Eclecticism, Discipline, & Mastery

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C65989237/E20060629204932

Look before you leap

You know, I have been trying to write this entry since last Wednesday. Let me try again.

At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, there is a real problem in neopaganism today.

I believe that the problem is in the way we acquire information. I think some of us have lost discipline.

Pre-internet days, if you wanted to get information, it meant reading. There weren't search engines, hyperlinks didn't exist.

If you wanted to put out information, it meant typing. And that was before spell check or auto correct.

I went to the university in the early 1980s. That meant typed term papers. And if you made a typo, that often meant retyping an entire page. I was a lousy typist, I'm still only fair at it. And I had access to copiers. Some people I know used to put out newsletters by typing stencils.

Most of the same information about Paganism that exists today existed then, but there was no easy way to find it. One book might mention three others, but two of them may have been out of print and the third available only to research libraries. Just finding some sort of textual information about gods could take days of research time snatched from other things. Like your life.

If you weren't in a coven, you had a tough time finding out information. Some of what was out there was (and still is) of the "stick the screwdriver in the electric socket to see if the power is still on" variety.

if you were very stubborn and stuck with it, you began to develop your own filters that told you what was good and what was iffy. There is no way to do this other than getting burned a few times.

Enter the internet and millions of people determined to make information accessible. And millions end up borrowing knowledge at the cost of their own wisdom.

For example, I could tell you about an amusing Apollo story and in the time it takes me to finish typing this paragraph, someone who is fast on the search engines could not only find several hundred pages about Apollo, but also a dozen stores that sell Apollo statues of various sizes, art devoted to Apollo, thousands of pages about the American moon shots, and something about a real estate trust in Redmund, California. At the end of all that, would you understand my point in using the story? Do you know if Apollo would or wouldn't do something? And just in case you are curious, Apollo did do his sister. Also his brother.

Part of this is wrapped up in the "fluffy bunny" syndrome. The internet makes it easy to skim knowledge, or worse, to skim the skimmings. You can get four or five times removed from a decent reference and never know it. You loose the context and get into deep doo-doo.

Knowledge isn't mastery. Eclecticism depends on discipline.

A rule of three applies here. If you read it on the net, verify it with a good reference. Experiment with it BEFORE you depend on it.

Remember too that just because eclectics borrow doesn't mean they don't know the road signs. Birth and growth also carry the seeds of death and destruction.

Posted: Tue - July 4, 2006 at 05:19 AM

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A narrow slice of life, but now and again pondering American neopaganism, modern adult pagans & the World.

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