Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Unverified Personal Gnosis

Interestingly enough, I had already written half of this post when Anne commented on yesterday's post, mentioning that practicing by UPG, to her, is more important than practicing by the ancient sources. I've been thinking about UPG a lot lately, in the same thought stream that produced yesterday's post of standardizing Hellenismos.

I have a love/hate relationship with Unverified Personal Gnosis (or UPG, for short). On the one hand, I believe, with every fiber of my being, in the knowledge I have been made privy of by the Gods. I believe in my experiences and they are sacred to me. They run anywhere from synchronicious events to detailed biographies and some of them I will never share with anyone, they were that special. Throughout my practice, I have allowed UGP to push me forward in my path. Much of what I know, have done or now practice is directly related to a UPG event, this blog and Little Witch magazine included.

On the other hand, there is UPG out there that contradicts mine, that I personally think is completely incorrect or that questions everything I believe in. Needless to say, this is UPG I struggle with. I can't view it as invalid; I respect everyone's path too much for that, but where does it fit in with my believes? We are talking about the same Gods, right?

One of my major struggles with UPG is that the mere mention of it often seems to cut short any form of discussion about the subject or, and I find this more worrying, UPG gets used to prove a standpoint. The problem with UPG is that it, by its very nature and definition, can't be verified. It can therefor never be used to give credit to or discredit a viewpoint or hypothesis. I can't rightfully say: 'Athena's eyes are blue'. What I can say is 'I believe Athena's eyes are blue'.

Within the Hellenic community, UPG is almost completely ignored. It may play a role in individual household worship but does not enter into the religion at large. Only UPG from the ancient Hellens is used to base the religion on. I think it's valid to say that anything the ancient Hellens did, was based upon UPG, too. Oracles made predictions, rulers made declarations and myths came into being to explain why certain days were special or how major spheres of influence came to be. That stream that sustains the community? That's Arethusa, who got transformed into the steam in order to escape from Alpheus. Why are there seasons? Because Demeter makes it so in her grief over Persephone.

These myths are either completely made up or revealed through UPG to those who dealt with these phenomenon. I prefer to believe the latter. Once into existence, these UPG events became part of daily life, of mythos and of Deity. Shrines were erected, rituals were decided upon. UPG upon UPG until doctrine formed and the belief spread. Some rituals never traveled further than a village or two because the UPG applied only to a very specific event or phenomenon. Others traveled the whole of Hellas.

I wrote about my wish for UPG to be included in modern day Hellenismos a couple of months ago. While the sentiment still holds true, I realize that my viewpoint has changed since then. I think it's fair that UPG doesn't play a part in Hellenismos. It's incredibly sad for these lines to end but as a pure Recon faith, modern UPG can not be included because it would muddle the lines between old and new.

That having been said, I can see a denomination of Hellenismos forming where UPG is allowed, where myth builders and oracles come together to stretch out the Divine genealogy lines and get revealed the name of the grand daughter of Hēphaistos who rules over modern technology or the name of the son of Hermes who guards those who travel by plane. I would love to know if Hēphaistos is still married to Aphrodite and if Persephone has driven her husband nuts yet.

There is a time and place for UPG and, as long as everyone is clear that this is (modern) UPG, there is absolutely nothing against using it in your practice, even in a Recon faith. I think we all do that, just by having a certain idea about a Deity and interacting with Them. We get to know Them, and sometimes we see a different side of Them than described in mythology or experienced by others. Sharing this with others is a good thing but, especially within Recon Traditions, it's important to know that others may--and most likely will--disagree. And that's alright, because they have received their fair share of UPG events too.

1 comment:

Maya M said...

Hephaestus divorced Aphrodite long ago. By the time of the Trojan War, he had remarried one of the Kharites and was happy with her. In the Iliad, she is called just "Kharis". An Orphic source identifies her as Aglaia, and names 4 daughters of the couple. Aphrodite, meanwhile, married to Ares after all, they also had more children together and presumably lived happily ever after.
Persephone is also happy with her husband. Despite the agreement to stay with her mother 6 or 8 months, whenever a hero descends to the Underworld, she hangs there.