Have you noticed that there are people who just want to bury themselves in books and learn even the most esoteric piece of information in order to better themselves? Have you also noticed that some people would rather just get out there and muck about, willy nilly? Rarely do these twain meet, you gotta agree.
I see, running through the Pagan community, a certain concern on some parts that people who call themselves Pagan aren't really very well-versed in the scholarly underpinnings of their praise and worship teams. The notion, which I hesitantly call prevailing, is that if you don't study up on the proper practices, you shouldn't tout yourself as a particular type of Pagan.
A year or two ago I paid my dues and joined ADF. I embarked on their rigorous course of study, founded by Isaac Bonewits. This course of study included college-level reading and a reflection journal in which I was supposed to record my feelings and thoughts about meditation and rituals.
I attended a few ADF rites and read one very interesting book. But then I saw the list of "don't read" books. And I had trouble setting down in writing (believe it or not) my thoughts and feelings after rituals and meditations. (It doesn't help that I rarely meditate in any conventional manner.)
I can see where some people would just revel in this kind of scholarly thing, but not me. I revel in the smell of wet leaves, a riotous New Year's parade, toy monkeys, vultures on the wing. All of my magick is intuitive and unstructured. It doesn't come from any tradition. I made my wand at a hippie shop. My infamous mother-in-law made my robe. I told her I wanted to look like Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Yes, here I am, that dreadful fluffy bunny, tree-hugging, shortcut-taking, clueless bad example that every good Pagan tries to avoid.
Guilty as charged.
There are ancient Bards who are well worth studying. But my Bard is more recent, and he inveighed heavily against by-the-book folks. When posing for a lithograph for his own book, he took care to shove his hat askew and unbutton his shirt around the neck. He cocked his hip and seemed to taunt the very idea of scholarship.
His name was Walt Whitman.
Under the subversive tutelage of Walt Whitman, I've become skeptical of esoteric learned practices. Therefore I'm probably not worthy of the term Pagan. Perhaps, sounding a few YAWPs, I should just shrug and be satisfied to be a barbarian.
I, too, am not a bit tamed
I, too, am untranslatable
Study as you will, learn all you can, and may the Gods find favor with you. As for me, it's all in the feeling and the flesh. It's all in the smiles and the sunset. It's all good.