Pagan, Paganism, Religion, The Promise

The Scholar and the Mystic

I had a realization a few days ago.

My realization is that I’m just not that into scholarship.

I can scholar, don’t mistake me on that, I can do the scholarly thing, I can read the books, and write the things, and cite everything under the sun. I like the reading part, and sometimes I even like the writing part. I like the acts of being scholarly. But it’s more like a religious hobby than anything else. It’s not what I want to dedicate my life or my practice to, the way other people have done.

I’m really more of a mystic.

And that’s okay.

I think many people are afraid of this side of whatever camp of Paganism they claim, because there’s this push to make us sound “acceptable.” No, no, don’t worry, we don’t all think we’re “witches,” we don’t all believe in that magic stuff, we don’t all believe in spirits. We’re okay to be in the world, because we’re not actually all that weird.

Well… forget that.

I was called to this path by a deep and abiding sense that there was (and is) more to the world than what I was told, than what I could see with my physical eyes. I remember being a young child in the house of a family friend, being absolutely fascinated by the collection of crystals of all sizes–some of them quite large!–around her fireplace. Even then, I thought of them as magical things, and I played with them more than anything else at her house. I’ve always been a Witch, and magic has always called to me.

These days, I concentrate most of my magic on divination, specifically on Tarot. I’d like to eventually learned other divinatory systems, but Tarot in itself seems to me like a lifelong commitment to a path of learning. Each new deck has its own personality, tricks, and surprises. And yes, I am absolutely one of those people who can never have enough Tarot decks.

However, while my divinatory energy is devoted to Tarot, when it comes to wider magical practice, I’m currently reading about and considering Chaos Magic. Which is strange because I’ve always said I like structure and ritual, and Chaos Magic is very much about breaking down any rules that might lead to structure and ritual, or at least any type of them that might be shared with others. It’s very personal and mutable. I’m really excited by it, though, by its utter lack of care about the so-called “rules” of magic. If, you know, you’ve never really connected with “blue” as a color of healing (like I haven’t), then you don’t have to! What color means healing to you? Does any color? Maybe you could insert a sound, instead, or a vibration. Maybe you could do something with healing that doesn’t involve color at all, or a candle. Maybe your healing ritual takes place in a white room and involves dance, drums, and My Little Pony dolls.

Chaos Magic is very much about finding out what you can do when you truly believe there are no rules, except “do what works for you.” This lack of restraints, and emphasis on the personal, really appeals to me despite my love of structured rituals. I suppose I’m just a contradiction, then. I can live with that.

I just wish I had the privacy to really delve in and start messing around on my own. Well. Hopefully soon.

I am not ashamed of being a Witch, of working magic, of casting spells. I am not ashamed to speak to my deities, to spirits, to other entities. I am not ashamed to say that I read Tarot, and tell stories from the results. We’re all telling stories; some are just more interesting than others. 😉



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4 thoughts on “The Scholar and the Mystic”

  1. I really love this. I find that in my work with plants that I feel like I have to overcompensate on botany, plant ID and other serious science-y stuff (although all of that is 100% necessary and I love it too) in order to legitimize myself talking to people about plants when all that I want to do sometimes is just make the people choose a plant to sit down with and listen to. And then I realize that it’s MY judgement preventing that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I totally understand. Studying psychology has me going into a place where I often use palatable terms for others; but it’s also really cool that psychology and Paganism work really well together!

      Either is okay; it’s really okay if you have to sometimes use terms and terminology others can grasp if they’re just really not down with the more mystical side. Scholarship is valid, too! It’s *important.*

      But so is mysticism. And I feel that too many Pagans of various flavors want to deny the importance of mysticism, of feeling and intuition.


  2. Though I really like the scholarly stuff myself, I agree with you about denying the mystic side of paganism. That’s where the deep inner work is done, for me. Books and groups can only teach so much. And as a side point, I’ve also been considering trying out at least some Chaos Magick concepts. I like the focus on mental training and creativity (as well as results), and how it is open to integration with one or more paradigms. Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, and welcome! In its way, I find Chaos Magic to be scholarly… in an archival sense. The sources I’m learning from very much emphasize recording absolutely everything you do, so you’ll know IF something works, and if it did, WHAT it was that worked.

      Liked by 1 person

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