Thoughts on Religious Progress

Recently, I was listening to someone talk about the Wiccan Rede and go on to talk about their perceived set of rules and regulations regarding the religion of Wicca. A few thoughts came up...

It used to be common knowledge that African Americans were not people. Or, at least, they were not complete people. It was a fact. Furthermore, depending on the country, Jews, eastern Indians, and a whole host of races and groups of people were considered bad, evil, or otherwise worthy of exclusion and extinction. This knowledge was proven by scientists, written into textbooks, legislated, and implemented. It wasn't until decades, if not hundreds of years later, that the ideas finally evolved.

We used to think that if you were ill, you were possessed or otherwise afflicted with a supernatural malady. Over the centuries medical practitioners have known a host of incorrect and actually dangerous information to be unequivocally true. We used to give kids heroin/morphine/opium to sooth their mild illnesses. We used to perform lobotomies with long needles to cure depression, actually severing the frontal lobe of your brain from the rest of it. We used to drill holes into your skull to cure headaches and migraines. And it used to be common knowledge that a woman's vagina traveled around her body causing her to be a trouble maker. These things were facts. They were "medically proven" truths that the whole world took for granted. Until they weren't. Until they evolved.

I just wonder why religions and spiritual paths the world over are supposed to be the exception. Why is it religion that is immune to the needs of evolution? And why do we each think that our respective religions or spiritual traditions are the exception to the non-evolving rule?

I know that I'm going to get a host of people saying how Paganism, and its various umbrella traditions, is the most evolved tradition on the market. It's so open and understanding and forward thinking. But I can say two words that will knock all that forward thinking mentality right down: Harm. None. Or, if that doesn't do it for you, how about these: Black. Magic.

Our community is not immune to the dogmatic ideations of every other spiritual tradition on the planet. We are rife with our self-imposed rules and regulations and finger pointing and our own versions of absolute knowledge. There are so many people in so many traditions that feel they know the absolute truth. They can verify it! They have books and lineage and decades of tradition and work to tell you exactly why they know what they're talking about.

Where is the challenge in that? Where is the evolution? Must we take hundreds of years to finally admit that a woman's vagina doesn't travel around her body at night? Or, can we just call bullshit on it now and move on to figuring out the bigger questions in life?

I suppose that's what the Riot is. It is my challenge, my questioning. My search for evolution.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte


  1. What an interesting question! And I don't have an answer except to say you're right in asking why. It is odd how we tend to evolve in all aspects except to look back on our ancestors for wisdom in our beliefs in religion. I'd like to say we are forward thinking by being so accepting of everyone and their beliefs... But really we do look backwards to the ancient Gods. Is the evolution of religion science and atheism?

  2. I think this is exclusive to certain individuals. Some among us can read the rede (does that sound funny to anyone else?) and know it is a guide, not to be taken literally. Just like biblical stories. Did Jesus actually make a few fish feed thousands, or is that symbolic of the fact that he could provide the spiritual fulfillment the multitudes required even though he appeared to be one man of limited means? There are evolved Christians, evolved Pagans, evolved Athiests. I have the rede hanging in my home, that doesn't I won't kill a mosquito if it tries to bite me though!

  3. Forgot the word mean in that last sentence there... That doesn't mean I won't kill a mosquito...

  4. I think Katrina is right on--it's about the individual. I personally don't subscribe to "harm none," and am not squeamish about "Black. Magic." I like to judge things by their own merits. Most of my pagan friends don't regard the Rede as something to be followed to the letter, but choose to think for themselves.

    In the group I'm in at school, the biggest divide I saw between forward-thinking and ossified individuals was between the "old guard" and the "new guard." The old guard didn't want controversy. At all. Everything had to be light and love. Was someone being bad? Don't tell them their behaviour was unacceptable, just put up with it and gossip about him later (because, you know, "I honour you,/and I empower you/to be who you aaaaaaaaare"). Copy of the Goetia in the club library? Oo, that's nasty stuff we don't want anyone seeing. Let's get rid of it.
    Eventually they graduated, and the new kids immediately implemented an acceptable behaviour policy with very real repercussions for such common indecencies as insulting guest speakers and groping young ladies (which were problems until certain individuals were dealt with). We greatly expanded our library not only in the area of ceremonial magick, but also eastern philosophy and herbalism--we even have books dedicated to sex magick now. The biggest irony (is it irony?) of our current state is that occasionally old guard members who are on our discussion list will throw huge, big, and amazing hissy fits when we do something they don't agree with (like invoking Seth along with Isis and Osiris at the fall equinox--dark gods? How terrible!), and the controversy-phobics have ended up igniting some pretty big controversies.

  5. O gods wall of text I'm so sorry~

  6. Perhaps the evolution we should work for lies in saying "I find these things to be true for me," rather than, "I KNOW these things are true for everyone."

  7. This is the reason why I don't follow one set religion over another. I believe all religions have some aspect of truth. Just gotta muck through the garbage and figure out whats feels right and what works for you individually. Personally I believe in the old gods, but in a different sense than people take them for. I don't believe the old Gods are really the most powerful being out there. I believe there is one primal source of all creation, and that this primal source created other beings like him/her and other entities similar to him/her such as angels, saints, or even powerful beings such as other gods. Therefore I don't believe they should be worshiped or prayed to like they do in many old religions. I don't even think the primal source of all creation wants as much praise and worship that Monotheistic religions tend to clam the primal source wants. I think spirituality is supposed to come with in and that is how we religion is evolving, and how the paths are still so very individualistic even within the set religion. For example, Christians are always debating other Christians, that is how Christianity has so many denominations. Some of the newer denominations are even more friendly/ revolutionizing and reinterpreting the bible to be accepting towards GLBT and other paths. And I don't think Christianity is the only religion out there that is evolving. For example Wicca started in the 1950's and 1960's. It is new religion based/ inspired by old religion. Wicca in itself is Neopagan as in new wisdom. Many pagan paths from before Christainity such as druidism have mainly been whiped out until recently when archeologists and Philosophers started digging up old texts that some pagans had hidden so that their path may possibly be extended to the future someday. How do you think the Gnostic Gospels came about. I think Religion is evolving, but its evolving slowly. So slowly that we may not realize it is evolving until 500 years into the future.

  8. This is the problem of reliance on "Authority" for what is "true."

    When Galen wrote his volume on doctoring, mankind's scientifically-obtained knowledge of human biology and anatomy were minuscule. Yet when those who claimed to be "doctors" began to actually research these things, their discoveries took decades-to-centuries to displace the Authority of Galen's writ.

    Right up to the passing of the USA's "Pure Food and Drug Act" (what? 1905? dunno for sure) a great many of the prescriptions issued by the Allopathic physicians included middlin' to large amounts of mercury, as well as other poisons and toxins.

    There's also the further complication of the viewpoint of something being "Tested By Time and True," but the question, is it true to reality -- or merely true to age-old prejudices, must be asked.

    As ever, I consider anything I post to Inciting A Riot to be fair game for use in the podcast.


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