Praxis: Pagans and Heathens and Responsibility

The catalyst for this post actually comes from something that was raised at the Druid Meet on Monday. Unlike the previous days this week where I’ve realised what time it is and not really had time to write something worthwhile about the things that I’ve scheduled, today I looked at the remaining topics (About Me, behind the name of Trees in the Train Station, Subscriber something and one yet to be determined Other) and I didn’t really… feel ready to write anything on them. As so many pagans and heathens say ‘it didn’t feel like the right time’.

Instead the idea of responsibility came to mind because of something the hostesses partner said at the Meet – His words were, in effect and not directly quoted, that pagans and heathens (note to all: there needs to be a less cumbersome way of saying ‘pagans and heathens’ so if you know one, let me know) more often than not avoid actions that require magical responsibility. It was an intriguing idea and one I wouldn’t have likely ever considered purely because of my lack of comparable experience. He has been practicing for many, many years whereas I have technically been practicing for 18 to 14 months.

It is something that I have really only a half-formed thought about, much like a lot of my Pagan/Heathen self, but my philosophy regarding magic (as usual, a term I use for the sake of convenience) is of a more pro-active slant than seems to be typical. When the subject came up in conversation at the Druid Meet there was a discussion about moral imperatives, which I proffered when people asked for a harder subject of discussion, and the hostess’ partner eventually expressed the various ways in which overall responsibility is avoided when it comes to using magic – by which he meant any of, but not only, the following: avoiding doing ‘too big things’, only doing things in such way so that karma was the ‘actual’ cause, asking the universe to ‘right itself’ etc.

Now, with these kinds of things its not really something where you can say X is right and Y is wrong or vice versa because, well the subjectivity involved prohibits such distinctions. However I do feel that there is a… self perpetuating something happening here (I don’t really know what word to choose instead of ‘something’). Certainly, things such as the ‘Rule of Three’ or Wiccan Rede (in whichever form) are not included in this ‘something’ because they don’t really prohibit actions, they simply apply a certain system of rules or consequences which people acquiesce to when practicing the relevant path. In contrast, what I got the impression people are doing is trying to explain why they don’t do things they aren’t fully committed to doing.

In some respects this ties back into my idea of… I guess, honesty in praxis (the term I use to mean a persons ENTIRE Pagan and/or Heathen faith, practices, skills ect.). Thats perhaps the closest term I’ll get this time around. What I mean by this is, if you are someone that feels the need to get back at someone for whatever reason but don’t have the personal conviction to either do what you think needs to be done (for simplicity’s sake lets say a person mugged you in the street and stole your wallet, then you might feel that hitting them with a hex or a jinx is adequate ‘getting back’-ness) and call it what it is or else find some other way of coping with that desire to get back at the person but not wanting to breach some personal code or risk not being able to get back at them with impunity. That is, some other way that doesn’t involve trying to wash yourself of all responsibility by saying ‘its karma’ or ‘the universe was balancing itself’.

To me saying those things, using them to try and absolve yourself of any guilt or responsibility (and therefore potential consequences) strikes me as being extremely… underhanded. Maybe its just me?

I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Addendum: In saying all that, I’m not denying karma’s existence or saying that people whose praxis includes karma (or indeed anything similar on both counts) are doing this. I’m not even saying that people who do do this are doing it maliciously. All I’m really concerned with is discussing the topic, exploring it and learning.

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