Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Profane Sacredness: Sacred Profaneness

As our paradigm is one largely composed of orthopraxy there are at any given moment a vast array of theories relating to spirituality. This should be no surprise. Humanity is composed of the many, the legion, the multiple, and not the only. Sometimes these ideas are in conflict with one another and other times not. What I find important to my own ability to making critical decisions on the subject is to first be familiar with the variety of ideas and then to go out and allow experience of such to provide additional weight therein.

This morning I was thinking about the relationship between the sacred and the profane. From what I can tell there are two major points of view in this regards within Contemporary Paganism. On one hand there is the argument that everything is sacred, and on the other the argument that the sacred cannot exist without the profane. Let's scratch the top just a bit further and see what gold lay underneath.

In the latter dialogue there is the assertion that for there to be something sacred there must in turn be something against which to judge it as so. In short, there is the sacred and the not sacred. This 'other' is typically called the profane in religious circles. The logic can clearly be seen through a very quick comparison. Let us say the sacred is the color yellow. Why yellow? Cause the notepad on my desk is yellow and it was the first color, because of said notepad, that came to the fore of my mind. So... sacred equals yellow. If everything were in fact sacred, meaning yellow is the only color to exist, how would we be able to determine anything was in fact sacred (yellow)? There ya' go. There is the logic. If there is only one color than there is nothing to qualify it against.

The other ideology is slightly different. All is sacred... and all is profane. Both are true. It may seem like a logical impossibility that something can both be sacred and profane as the same time. What in fact makes either of these true at any given moment is the interaction of the Self with any such 'something' against anything else as a qualifier. For instance, my television is a very mundane thing that usually takes up a lot of space and sucks up time. In ordinary interaction it is profane. However; it is a marvelous symbol of communication and would directly relate into my cosmological worldview as associated with the eastern direction. It would take very little effort on my part for it to become an item of sacredness. Too farfetched? How about a knife? I use them every day to chop up vegetables and what not for dinner... and I use one every day to cut time and space in a ritual capacity. I even know that in some Craft circles the two are purposely interchanged. In this ideology the practice in part determines what is or is not sacred.

Oh look a third that is kind of them both but not. Why? Cause. The sacred no longer equals yellow but instead equals the abstraction and the manifestation of that abstraction of what is color. So anything that is a color is sacred on the archetypal level and anything that exists and has a color (or more) is a manifestation of that sacred and is sacred in of itself as a result, but as archetypes have no physicality besides the manifested item they must too be profane. Queue the endless circle of sacred and profane.

So all that seems like a whole lot of logical word play in which the argument can go on forever, right? Well, yes. That is the point. Kinda. What the Witch does is learn the manner of interaction with existence through their practice and then takes all these various different theological arguments and tries to make an informed decision for themselves based therefrom. If you ask me; they each hold truth.

All is sacred and nothing is sacred. The practice of the Craft tells us that both can and are true, simultaneously.


Boidh Se!


"Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path."


"Crossroads" Joe Carriker said...

I think for me, it is essential to have both. In addition to the explanations you include, part of the necessity (for myself, of course) is the understanding that witchcraft is by its essential nature transgressive.

In order to be transgressive, one must be able to transgress. I firmly believe that our nature is to step past the accepted boundaries and into forbidden territory, to metaphorically harvest the power that has been invested there by so many generations of people decrying and avoiding that which is profane.

Lee Shawnus said...

In my Zen training I was taught to wash the dishes with the same mindfulness as meditating in the temple, thus the sacred and profane are the same, the mind making all in Malkuth a reflection of Kether. I am also reminded of the great Buddhist Madyamika philosopher Nagarjuna who had four answers to every metaphysical question - "yes", "no", "neither yes nor no", and "both yes and no".