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The Priest Triad of Virtues: Wisdom

I tried to tighten this up a bit, but it´s still my longest Virtue essay (700 words).

Wisdom seems to be a tough Virtue for us Neopagans, because while it is relatively common to say that somebody is courageous, hospitable or moderate, one rarely hears about wise men and women. Which is sort of weird, because we all reclaim the Craft of the Wise, the wisdom of the Druids and such.

We are on a treasure hunt. The search for books that are said to contain genuine lore, Books of Shadows handed down in families for hundreds of years, mystery-surrounded teachers who are said to possess the key, over-priced seminars promising to open the door for you and famed foreign countries where the teachings are said to be still alive...
A treasure-hunt which ends at the moment you realize there are no such sources – the moment when you suddenly become Wise. Perhaps, upon the moment of realizating how much vain the hunt has cost you, you come to fully appreciate the sayings that connect Wisdom with monetary value, such as Czech “A good advice is priceless.”

It´s a great temptation to locate the sources of wisdom somewhere outside, be it in cultures that are lost for ages, some mythical book – they had stories about those in Ancient Egypt, too! – a person that has been now long-dead or his very existence is half-mythical, an initiatory order or occult society, you name it.

I grew up literally fed by these ideas. As I grew older, I became less trustful and less willing to spend my bucks on dubious promises and more grew critical. I even started Religious Studies on a university – definite grounds to confront all one´s fluffy ideas concerning spirituality and history of religion.

Did I find wisdom, and where does it lie, ultimately?

Well, the answers are less straightforward than the beliefs of my adolescence. It seems rigorous mental effort, training in logical thinking, and doing the hard job of making one´s own opinion based on solid grounds make up a great part of the Virtue. It has become fashionable to point out that formal education (“the paper”) doesn´t imply wisdom, or that no amount of reading will give you wisdom etc. Neopagans are generally suspicious about institutions and formalities of any kind and the whole movement is very experience-oriented. While the argument against “papers” is something everybody is able to relate to (take, for example, all the people who obtain diplomas by obscure means), it doesn´t actually say anything on how to strive for Wisdom.

I must generally object to the way the topic of knowledge/wisdom is treated among Pagans. I find the habit of locating Wisdom (True Wisdom or Genuine Lore if you wish) somewhere outside, better yet on a practically unreachable place, to be incredibly rooted in our communities. I also find it remarkably stupid, because it tends to belittle, undervalue and put aside all relevant efforts, especially getting a sound educational background. To be just, I think it serves the undernourished egos of the seekers who, perhaps instinctively, avoid the real challenge by indulging in a circular argument, thus wasting all the energy in a vain search for some hidden knowledge... which is only available to few, thus not available at the moment, round and round.

The plant of esoterism is growing strong yet again, with all the conspiracy theories and secret teachings that are sought desperately, in the age where information is abundant. This is also the case for Paganism, and the need to sit down for a good session of facts critique & evaluation is even more urgent. The process is akin to producing oil or any precious substance (the Philosopher´s Stone!) – a great part of the default material is seemingly wasted in order to harvest a tiny bit of the precious substance (Wisdom).

A good idea, of course, is to locate a source of “quality material” (e.g. a tradition) which makes the alchemical process more efficient. By the time the esoteric seeker has come to the conclusion that he has been deluded, the more pragmatic student will gave grown strong in the traditions he sank his teeth into.

And that is, condensed, my take on how to strive for Wisdom and why am I pursuing the Dedicant´s Path.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 25th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
I really like this one. It rejects the purely external esoteric seeker's approach, but without necessarily advocating a purely internal "listen to your heart" approach, which is common state-side these days. I get the impression of being open to mystery but firmly grounded in solid scientific and humanistic education, which is music to my ears. But that's just me. ;-)

Sep. 25th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
Well then we have the same musical taste :-]
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )