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IMAGINATION AND FAITH


We are a religion with very little dogma, no authoritative sacred texts, and precious little published liturgy. Each Wiccan is responsible for his or her own “faith”—each individual will come to form a unique way of internalizing and interpreting the universe at large, and a way of communicating with, worshiping, and honoring Deity.The individuality and the freedom that we aregranted within our religion is exhilarating, but itdoes not come without a price. We are rarely givenany explicit depictions of the gods that we interact with unless they come from an established pantheon with an established history, culture, and mythology. Yet one of the goals is to encourage each individual to seek out the nature of the gods for him- or herself, and to form an image of God not necessarily based on the images and experiences of others, but rather based on our own revelations, and nestled within our own culture and practices.In order to avail ourselves to an image of the gods,or to allow ourselves to craft out a faith borne of our culture, heritage, and personal gnosis, we have to be able to draw upon one of our richest, most precious resources—our imagination. Without a sacred mythology, without an authoritative text base, we are essentially forming our faith as we live. We do not have to rely upon the wisdom of sages, yet at the same time we cannot merely sit and wait for the gods to reveal themselves to us.While mystical experiences certainly can and do happen, for the average person, faith is heavily co-creative. We reach into the depths of ourselves,into the fountain of our imaginations and fantasies,and from there we begin to image what our gods should be. Once we establish in our own minds what our gods should be, then we are more receptive to the revelations of the Divine, and Deity can reach into us and open our hearts and minds to its influence.The faith building process begins with experience.We are born into a world that is seemingly inconsistent, meaningless and haphazard. But within that larger world, we are born into communities, and from those communities we inherit certain values and mythologies. Not all of these myths are religious in nature. But what those mythologies allow us to do for usis to form a method of looking at the world.

Secular mythology and world view are often the same thing. But as religious people, the next step we must take is to extrapolate from our immediate worldview and determine what the universe is like, what the gods are like, and what they would have us do.
We arerequired to imagine for ourselves a proper model for life—a model for faith.But the formation of faith is not always an easy process. Most of us do not sit down one morning and decide to build a model of faith. We do not merely “decide” to have faith in an ultimate environment—we have to be inspired to make connections in our minds, to extrapolate ideas from experiences we have had. And those experiences are not always external. Sometimes the experiences that we have are decidedly internal,formed from the most primal, most unrefined parts of ourselves—our rich imagination.Inspiration and imagination go hand in hand. All of us have experienced the daydream, the moment when we disconnect ourselves from the moment to explore some inner world that for us has great meaning or value. Perhaps the daydream is broughtout by boredom, but also it can be brought about by a moving piece of music,a particular scent,an interesting piece of artwork . Engrossed in any of our favorite artistic ventures, our imaginations take hold and lead us to places deep inside ourselves that are not curbed by the mundane world. In our imaginations we are free to explore that which is otherwise impossible. And because we are not restricted to convention and logic, we are able to create for ourselves meaningful, touching images with which we relate to the sacred.One of the primary ways in which we are able to explore the inner and outer worlds and find ways in which they relate is through mythology. Mythic imagery, whether classically portrayed or cloaked in modern symbolism and language, is borne not only from the imagination of the individual but from the collective imaginations of entire communities. Carl Jung asserted that myths and mythic imagery where inherited at birth—that the symbols and themes of mythology were not merely creations of the individual but actually integral parts of the human subconscious (what Jung called the “unconscious”) that we glean from each other and from the communities that we are born into.All of humanity is linked via the “collective unconscious”, and all of our memories, dreams, and deep seated images are stored some how within that unconscious. This was how Jung accounted for the similarities of mythologies all over the world. The basic themes of death and rebirth, victory through adversity, familiar love and tragedy are all fundamental human themes explored through mythology, and they speak to us because they are already pieces of who we are.Established mythologies provide us with a concrete structure within which to organize our own ideas and experiences. They also allow us to relate our experiences with those of others, for the motifs and symbols of mythology are universal—they speak to us in a primordial language that we seldom need to translate. Myth allows us to feel that which we already know.

This is in part why myth does not have to be logical—the intention of the myth is to convey feeling and experience, not logic or form.What myth must do is awaken the imagination, that singing part of us that is eternally youthful and easily awed. When we open ourselves to myth, we are awakened to the splendor of the outer world,and our inner worlds, the deepest parts of ourselves,are enriched because of it.Getting in touch with our deepest selves and relating what we find there with the outer world that we share with all humanity is part of the faith building process. Having faith means having an intimate relationship with the world, the gods, the community. Having faith means imaging a working model of the universe that determines how we live. Without imagery, without imagination,without inspiration, our view of the universe and the gods is necessarily limited. There are aspects of life that we cannot understand or explain logically—but we can imagine them Perhaps we cannot explain concepts like omnipotence, or the collective unconscious, or karma, or reincarnation.We haven’t the logical or scientific tools to examine these concepts, but our imaginations allow us to deal with these ideas is highly detailed and thought-provoking ways. And through imaginative exegesis of concepts that have no logical roots, we allow ourselves to build faith.

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