The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek here.
I leave these entries to the last-minute because then I have a deadline and while I normally ignore deadlines, I actually enjoy this blogging project so I meet the deadline. The problem with this particular post, thus far, is the fact that we’re using the word doxa. Outside of a very limited community, I really don’t see this word used and I definitely do not use it. Point of fact, I had to look up the definition of the word – herm, not on Wikipedia – to figure out if it meant what I’ve always thought it to mean. According to Grammar About, the meaning is, “in classical rhetoric, the domain of opinion, belief, or probable knowledge–in contrast to episteme, the domain of certainty or true knowledge.” Honestly, I think this word is pretentious. We could just use “belief,” right? And we would say the same thing?
But, this particular post isn’t just about belief. It is also about our commonly thrown about acronym, UPG. This acronym means “unverified personal gnosis.” This term means that we have been given knowledge, or smidges of intuition, that we have incorporated into our practices. These bits of knowledge can just be things that we feel or items that the gods themselves have told us. For example, I start getting really powerful cardinal imagery when Hekate joined my household. It was later that I learned she actually is associated with cardinals in some way, but before I knew that, I considered it a bit of knowledge gleaned from communication with this particular deity.
Now, the thing is that in some circles, you will find that the term doxa is synonymous with UPG. However, I have to disagree with this. I feel that the two of them are not mutually exclusive. To me, one is based solely on believing in something while the other is based solely on knowledge gleaned from various arenas. While I can see the similarities between the two – with the various consensus among many polytheists being that the start of doxa was someone else’s UPG – I find myself incredibly leery of this frame of mind. Call me an outsider, or a weirdo, or just plain strange, but this isn’t how I go about my practice at all. I believe in what I do, but I also have outside knowledge gleaned from the gods that I have incorporated into my practice.
I suppose I’m just lucky that I don’t have to really start at the beginning to create a religion.
The thing about either of these terms, though, is that quite often in the Kemetic community, you get laughed out of a discussion if you use UPG or even begin to discuss beliefs. We can get down and dirty with our communal discussions about various items and nothing gets laughed out harder than even thinking about heading toward the “woo-woo” with said discussions. The problem here is that, all jokes aside, mysticism and “woo-woo” are part and parcel to reconstructed religions. Mysteries are often discussed, dissected, and discussed again in different polytheist circles. However, for some odd reason, aside from a few random comments about the Mysteries of Osiris, there doesn’t seem to be as much discussion on them in Kemetic circles… Huh. Maybe I’m just not around for those discussions.
In either case, Kemetics seem to be very dead-set against having “woo-woo” in their practices. I don’t see why this is the case. I’ve met up with quite a few Kemetics, who make up my community as it turns out, who do have “woo-woo” going on. They’ve mentioned that discussing it outside of our community is definitely “not a good idea” as they’ll get laughed at. They’ve either watched it happen or they’ve heard about it from other people. It doesn’t really matter who did what when or even why; the problem is that this frame of mind is exceedingly prevalent in the recon world of Kemeticism. And it really has no justification if we’re practicing a reconstructed ancient religion, which included “woo-woo” back then and should probably include “woo-woo” right now. Just because we can’t find what that “woo-woo” happened to be back in the day doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist or that the “woo-woo” being practiced today is any less valid than what was practiced thousands of years ago.
Now, I can understand walking into someone’s blog and reading a passage like,
I entered the Cave of Snot with a horse hide upon my back, a mace of frog legs in my hands, and ruby red slippers plus ten on my feet. I knelt before the god and said, “I am your servant.” Blah-di-blah. A bunch of “woo-woo” stuff enters here. Things so crazy and weird that you are just like, what the fuck am I reading? And you’re just like, what the hell man?
So you enter someone’s blog and you read a bunch of weird shit that just makes your rational brain sit up and say, Cut the shit. The thing is that whatever that entry is talking about, as crazy and weird sounding as it may be, it really doesn’t mean that what they’re doing is any less valid that what you may be doing. They’re practicing their “woo-woo” and you just happened to get to read about it. Does that mean we should laugh at them? No. Does that mean we should leave mean, snarky messages on their blog making fun of them? No. Am I saying that everyone with blog entries even remotely like anything wrote about in that quote is telling the truth? No. I believe there are con-artists in polytheism just as much as there are outside of it. However, until you can tell me that you have powers that let you know a con-artist upon meeting them, either in person or online, then you really shouldn’t say a fucking thing.
By making those snarky comments, you could be completely destroying an entire mystical practice in one fell swoop and possibly angering the god whose mystical practice that was.
Now, as far as allowing others’ “woo-woo” to influence your own, I think that’s kind of up to each particular practitioner. I really can’t say one way or another if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I know that when I read about others’ “woo-woo,” I think something like, Wow. They have a fulfilling practice, but it doesn’t have much bearing on what I do or don’t do. Mysteries aside, my “woo-woo” is incredibly fledgling and while I’d like to say that I have a rounded out and beautiful practice across all boards, I’m still learning.
And can’t say that in any context.