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Experience, Practice, and the Mysteries

By P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

[Snip] One of the things that I constantly try to emphasize to anyone and everyone who might be listening is that modern paganism, and almost every form of polytheism that has ever existed and that still exists, are not creedal religions, they are religions of experience and of practice. If someone understands what the difference is between these things–and, don’t mistake me, there are creedal elements to every religion, just as there are likewise experiential and practical elements to the creedal religions–generally, most agree that such is the case, and yet a great many pagans still phrase their understandings of their religion as a whole in creedal terms, and emphasize “belief” and “faith” (with explanations that follow which aren’t always enlightening, succinct, useful, or even viable) more than they emphasize the doing, the ritual, the participation, and the personal and even gnostic (in the widest possible sense) dimensions of what it is that we do.

And yet, when it comes to certain matters that we might call “mysteries,” and that may involve initiation (and, remember, in the ancient world “initiation” was simply the Latin equivalent of the Greek “mysteries”…I’m using the English terms here because my brain can’t recall the exact form of the Latin and Greek terms), the practical and experiential elements of our religion often get foregone, purposefully and intentionally, by some people who wish to engage in those traditions.

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