Thoughts come from people, people don’t come from thoughts.
Religion is from the Latin world religio, which was their word for practice of any kind. Legal is also a word that comes from the same root. It’s hard to name one body of beliefs (well, it’s really impossible), and say “There … what that is, is religion.” In fact, for as long as humanity has had any memory of its past, and certainly as long as it has kept any records of ideas, it’s had religion.
We all live a life where we are faced with things we don’t really understand, and we have an all consuming question that even the least reflective people still think of to some degree. The question can be shortened down to, “Why?” Insert anything after that you like, they all fit, and we have had one of two relationships to the question. In the one, we try to see the answers from the point of view of an outsider, look at how things seem to be and interact without adding our person into it. They call this approach metaphysics, in more general terms it gets called magick, where you try to understand the world as an independent entity that you can learn about.
Today’s topic though, is religion. How magick differs from religion is it brings the added element of, “What about me?” Any insights into the meaning of life and the world, that includes that question, are religion. For some, magick and religion go hand in hand. For others, they aren’t so fully linked even to the point of some religions shunning the magical view all together.
To isolate one trait of religion, it would be “What is the meaning of life?”? No, that is philosophy, and maybe theology if you focus on contemplations of God/the divine. Religion is more immediate.
“Why me?” Yes. Why? What about me? All cultures have come up with answers to these two questions, some being natural and some being more philosophical in an abstract sense.
Paradoxical in a sense. That religion is all about sacrifice or giving over to other / God, yet the roots of religion rest directly on the self? On the personal, not necessarily ones specific self, but the context of religion is always the ground of the personal and by extension the interpersonal.
I will attempt to explain by using one religion. No offence meant if I define something in a way you don’t agree with. The modern religion of Wicca is classified in the broader category of neo-paganism. One of its core values lay with esteeming nature and communing with it. Now, if these were just intellectual arguments, it would remain in the realm of philosophy, and a lot of Wiccan insights do resemble a lot of the conclusions of early science which was at the time called “natural philosophy”, but they don’t leave it there. A Wiccan lives with nature in all its forms. They revere natural places and hold celebrations at various times of year, and make decisions based on their personal experiences of their faith and how it has effected their life. They don’t revere a single divine figure, nor do they rigidly adhere to a single set of divinities. They are more concerned with the insight than with specific names.
There is a school of magick that branched off from the same sort of insight as Wicca, but is not a religion. Hermetic Philosophy includes Arab astrology and alchemy alongside early medicine and natural science. A lot of the terms it used are even now still used in modern science.
That is a whole different candle! It is, yes, because unlike Wicca it had no personal element, no values guiding exactly what you should do with this understanding of nature and the cosmos. Its pursuit tended to resemble modern technology more than any form of religion.
Does this explain what is meant by the saying “Don’t make a religion out of it”? They’re saying don’t take it personal? Exactly what they are saying.
But some people do that. Make a religion out of a not religious thing/idea. They can and do.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.