While I was trying to decide what to write on for this weeks post, I kept thinking about Luna's post from last week, about her Grimiore, or Book of Shadows. She mentioned that it might be more practical for us to keep our Book of Shadows as a file on the computer, "But still," she says, "I like having something pretty that can be passed on." I can get behind that idea - I love feeling my own book in my hand, I love the immediacy of it, and I am deeply in love with the idea that I am doing something that people have done for centuries - writing down my thoughts, discoveries and observations onto paper with ink.
I ponder this link to the past a lot. As modern Pagans, we are trying to walk an ancient path, but this is complicated by the modern world. We can keep our journey book on the PC; several pagan themed apps are available for the iPhone, including a Voodoo doll app, a tarot app, a Wiccan Ritual Calendar app; we can take classes in Witchcraft, Magical Herbalism, Sorcery, over the internet. Where is our ancient past among all of the shiny new tech of the future?
Not to mention that so much ancient wisdom has been lost over the centuries, we are forced to reexamine and extrapolate so much in order to fill in the blanks. We read and study and google, and yet, so much is still left to our own imaginations. I can't help but wonder what we are creating for the future, these amalgamations of old and new. I think, though, that this is also why Paganism, in it's different flavors, appeals to so many people now: We are watching the ancient past evolve into a bright future. Our link to ritual, magic, other worlds, folklore... these things give the cold, tech filled void of the present and future a meaning. Our rituals, our recipes, our methods of gathering herbs or building ritual tools - the things passed from one of us down to another. These things may seem impractical, and yet they bind us to one another, as well as to our past and our future, as a culture. I find that idea really beautiful, and it helps me understand better my own motives for somewhat esoteric way that I have chosen to exercise my faith.
Does it matter if we keep our spells in the computer? Or that we use our iPhones as a script prompt for our rituals? I'm not certain. In terms of spirituality, we may be living in our own Brave New World on a certain level, and perhaps we must make some things up as we go. A few centuries ago, Christians feared that science undermined the value and teachings of their God. The ancient Celts wrote almost nothing down, though they had a written language - was this because it was a dishonor to the knowledge that was being passed down? Or because keeping something in writing meant that you didn't actually have to learn it? I don't think anyone can really say. It does seem possible, however, that both of these cultures stood at a threshold of the future and felt the need to protect, strengthen and preserve a sense of spirituality. Maybe keeping our leather bound grimiores and other methods of maintaining or ancient collective spiritual histories in the face of these other, more 'practical' methods is our own way of preserving the spirit, the sacred link that connects us all to the Creative Forces of the Universe.