Welcome to the discussion board for our first book of the Book Club, we're looking to start discussing the first chapter on the 24th of January 2014. Anyone who is interested in reading along and contributing to the discussion is more than welcome to do so.
So it's that time, time to discuss the introduction and first chapter of Talking to the Spirits. If there are a large number of those reading along that haven't been able to get a hold of the book to read this first section, let me know and we'll look at backing the discussion up a little. Otherwise I recommend that we discuss chapter two come next Friday...now, with that bit out of the way, back to the topic at hand.
To me the introduction is practically a call to action, or a dare, to reach for gnosis, to reach out for that two-way connection with the Gods and hopefully attain it (eventually). I happen to agree with the notion that to have real Gods is to at some point have that interaction or at least to be truly open to having that interaction, no matter what shape it ultimately comes in.
So why is gnosis important? I think the first chapter gives a decent coverage of that, and yes I think that a religion that shuts the door on any and all gnosis Is dead, or possibly worse it's play acting. Do any of you vehemently (or mildly) disagree that gnosis is important to personal spirituality, is gnosis just people making stuff up in their heads, or is it actually the beating heart that gives a body of tradition life?
What does everyone think about how the authors have gotten multiple voices from the polytheist community to contribute to the book? While I don't think any of the various speakers have yet clashed that heavily in their views, there are definite differences and I think on a subject like this it speaks well of the authors to have reached out as they have done. While I'm sure there was still a good bit of editing as to who got into the book (though I have no actual knowledge as to how that process went) showing views that differ from their own makes the book a healthier discussion, in my opinion.
While I don't see there being a whole lot of meat to the first section, since I essentially agree with it and found myself nodding along to the passages, I'm sure there are those (maybe not here) that would react to it with something like revelation, or be reviled by the very thought of gnosis.
So, what did everyone else think, anything that you all find particularly quotable that needs brought to the group's attention? (Can anyone tell that I've never tried to lead a discussion like this before?)
I very much like the fact that multiple voices from within the community have been used in this book. With something as personal as gnosis I feel that it's important not to present only one or two views which are then to be taken as 'the' view for the rest of the book, and I think that issue is something the authors have thus far managed to address rather well. I don't have a great deal to say about the first chapter, really. Like you, I essentially agree with it.
And on your last point - you seem to have a reasonable idea what you're doing, and isn't that about 80% of doing anything successfully anyway? Although I might not be the best qualified judge, never having taken part in a book club type discussion that wasn't carried out when I was at school and about Pride and Prejudice!
Talked about the history of spirits and the history of Pre Christian religions. I believe it had inaccuracies. For example, yes the world was considered more alive, and people gave offerings(hunter gatherer) but they had to in order to survive. The second part of the intro deals with that a bit more accurately.
The only Pagan religion that was really ok with other peoples religion would be Rome. I don't think you can universally apply that to the other Pagan religions. At one point, in Egypt,(see tutankhamuns father) the other Gods were declared bad and people were killed and when the Priests came back, they took out that Phaoroah. (the reality was the Priests had more power than the Pharoah) If you read Ronald Huttons Shamans, you see it wasn't just Christians who did this.
I think the intro could have been made better, without the usual bias of Christianity bad(see Judgemental father God part) and Pre Christian good. Also, the Pagan Gods should not be considered kinder and gentler. Different ethics. IN Judaism and Christianity you have forgiveness, do the other religions emphasize that?
Interesting take and quote on C.S Lewis that I will mail to Halstead to consider. Also interesting take on the botanist knows the trees genus and stuff, but the Shaman knows the tree more intimately. I also liked the different definitions of Shaman vs Neo Shaman, very thought provoking.
I also think a discussion should be had on whether we should worship the Gods as they once were, or make a new way to worship. We aren't our ancestors. We our us.
Chapter 1 More about definitions of UPG and how it is imp. Talks about book learning vs having interactions with Gods or spirits. I will disagree with Raenshadoe, I don't think having a guide is going to stop you from understanding delusion vs UPG. Just because someone is experienced doesn't mean they are a good guide.
This deals with UPG vs PCPG. I found it very thought provoking. I will disagree with Mordant Carnival that "competent" spirit workers agreeing with your UPG makes your UPG PCPG. I agree more with Elizabeth on the definitions.
THe bit about the Gnostics was interesting, though I believe had bias. I also think what they showed of the Gnostics is reminiscent of the Buddhists and getting off the Karmic wheel. While an interesting philosophy not something I want to do. I don't think that the material world is hell. This world is valid. I believe more in balance.
I like the bolded parts of what Gods say to mortals. It is thought provoking as well. I also found the modern thought on contact with Gods must be personally empowering to be a wake up call. The decluttering of your lives, is something that people should think about as well, and read well about.
moonwolf23 I think that your picking up on the bias of the authors is a good thing, and their tendency to point and go "Christians are bad" is indicative of a common problem within Polytheism and Paganism, though from what I've seen there is a tendency to be slightly less "Christians Bad, Pagan Good" in the ranks of the various Polytheist religions it's definitely still prevalent. History shows that the various branches of Christianity have been used for ill and for good pretty much since the beginning I'd say...but there has always and will always be (cynical note) violence in the name of religion, it's an element of humanity as old as the hills.
If you ever get the chance to (if you haven't) reading up on the Gnostics is, interesting, they definitely fall into the 'this world is evil' trap (or so I see it) but their take on things (as far as we know them) is worth browsing through at any rate. There is also a Neo-Gnostic movement which is far less about the world being evil and has it's own interesting takes on things...from what I've seen they tend to focus on their God in a way much more familiar to Polytheists that are open to Gnosis than to your typical Church on Sunday Christian.
As for Chapter 2: I find the definitions for UPG vs PCPG to be highly useful, though I think that it's important that PCPG be the same gnosis gained by different people separately from one another, as opposed to people just agreeing with someone's gnosis...which is brought up by the authors as an important distinction.
I too am rather fond of the bolded list of things the Gods might say to mortals, it gives a lot to think about and is possibly mind opening to those that may never have considered some of the items. Especially the bit where the Gods aren't here to hold up your ego. I think the fact that they aren't necessarily concerned with their worshippers consent is something that distinctly colors mythology and to some extent the morals of various Polytheistic religions.
Edit: I don't have my copy of the book handy, but I know I book marked several passages, I'll go back and see if there was something else I specifically wanted to bring up and put it in for discussion.
Last Edit: Feb 5, 2014 6:01:10 GMT -8 by Wynn Dark
One of the things I marked in my book, (I'm reading with a pen handy to argue rolls eyes at myself) is they said that God is distant to Christians. No. Many Christians I know don't feel that way(from liberal to Conservative Christians) and if you take a look at Tree of souls, book of Jewish mythology it gives an eye opening view on Yahweh.
Chapter three (short and sweet, is the fact that we're going by short chapters helping everyone keep up?) more or less sums up just how hard it is to actually describe personal gnosis. Having had a gut-level feel that 'this over here is right' before with the Gods (Priapus in this case) I can understand how hard it is to try to explain where this or that connection comes from, even if I don't have a lot of such experience.
I also relate to what Raenshadoe says about much of their gnosis being the '"adoption of ideas", though I've not nearly the confidence that Raenshadoe does in that exactly counting as a 'divine download'.
Still, it's what I've got for the most part...other than increadibly rare 'Great Dreams' that are more clue-by-four than subtle bread crumbs.
While I think they get it right in that some things the Gods just want us to experience, I'm sure if it had to happen the 'sky opening up, voice in the skull, leaves you curled in wheeping ball on the floor' sort of gnosis happens too.
moonwolf23 Aside from my better half, I don't know many Christians that Actually believe in their God...lots and lots of 'Default Christians' and Church-on-Sunday sorts around here. I do know that there is plenty of doctrine in the various churches that would agree with God being a distant figure in an individual's life though, perhaps that simply seems more prevelant because it is so established in the 'mainstream' doctrines...and there are so many non-believers that tout that they are Christians that would never consider God showing up for a personal conversation of any sort.
But of course, you Do have Christians (or Christ Followers as my better half often says) that do have that personal connection, that don't see their God as being distant, and I imagine that sort of belief could easily fall all along the Conservative-Liberal spectrum (or Liberal-Conservative if you prefer). Perhaps you are just in luck when it comes to those Christians you know? Thanks for the book reference by the way, I think it'll be joining our collection in the quasi-near future.
Personal Gnosis an interesting chapter. It is poking me to write a blog on how I discern my voice from theirs. WHat I have right now is I sound like a gibbering monkey when I am full of need, and they have a patience, a long view that they impose on me through their voice.