There is an unfortunate problem in paganism today. Not the glaring problems we are used to but a deep down simmering problem. Most of us are westerners having grown up steeped within western culture. One of the core tenets of western culture is logic, it has been with us since the days of the Greeks. Basically, we abhor contradiction; we cannot have contradiction because it grates on our logical minds.
Yet this avoidance of contradiction is not something found in ancient pagan societies, just look at how many overlapping and contradictory myths survived from them. Furthermore, if you look eastward this prediliction against contradiction is not found in Asian societies during their development or even currently in many cases. Buddhism, for instance, actively embraces contradiction quite often. It is annerving from a logical western perspective to read too deeply into Hindu, Buddhist, or even Chinese philosophies because they each embrace contradictory ideas. When we come across these ideas we think “hypocritical!” Yet we shouldn’t because those societies actively embrace the concept that two contradictory thoughts can be equally true and valid.
The Germanic socieies were not always so rigidly logical, there was a time that acceptance of contradictory thoughts would have been quite ordiary. Logic and hate of contradiction had to spread to Germanic societies with Christianity. It was introduced with acceptable philosophers like Aristotle; picked up along the way via Rome. Iroically those lingering seeds of logic sown all the way back then would sprout again in the Renaissance. Until then you can see the Christian use of the hate for contradictions in how fully they kept a tight reign on orthodox thought. They went so far as to burn dissenting opinioned people.
Yet this was not a part of our ancestor’s heathen world view and it is becoming incresingly difficult to maintain belief of any kind in an incresingly logcal world if merely due to our advancements. Logic pains us because our rational minds have a very difficult time wrestling the complexities of belief in the divine and in the mystical while understanding science. They are seemingly impossible to balance without losing something from one side or the other along the way if you attempt to reconcile them.
Either we lose out on belief or we lose out on rationality and logic. But is it truly either or? It wasn’t always this way and even today isn’t this way in many eastern philosophies and religions.
The thing we have to realize as westerners is that the rules against contradictions were invented by the Greeks for use in debate and truly should not be applied to our religion. Believing only in the mystical is foolish in today’s world, believing only in the scientific is hollow and empty. Reconciliation of the mystical and the scientific deprives us of both. It is time to embrace contradictions for our own sake, for our sanity.
The logical mind wrestles the mystical mind in western philosophy. So can a person believe in the magical and the scientific? Yes. Without reconciliation of the two? Yes.
If we accept contradictory ideas we can hold them equally valid and true.
The gods can be mere cosmic forces AND be living breathing gods.
The universe can have come into existence in a big bang AND have been crafted by gods from the corpse of a primordial giant.
People can have evolved from other apes AND have been created from fallen trees.
The earth can be a lonely blue speck in space AND be a mystical realm among a host of others.
Magic can be superstitious mumbo jumbo AND be completely true.
Contradictions are not world shattering in ancient heathen philosophy. They can be figurative AND literal because there is the world we see with our eyes and the world we see in our sleep. The Buddhists for instance believe the world is an illusion but hold the illusion true for them in the moment. Both are true and contradictory and that is fine.
To see as one or the other would rob us of the missing one. We cannot live solely in the literal nor in the figurative, we must have both for us to be functional and productive members of modern society and for ourselves in pagan belief.
Basically there is no reason that we should deny the mystical or the scientific; when the world requires science then apply the science, when the world requires the mystical or metaphysical then apply that.
I live a contradiction because it is what must be for my mind to function, contradictions are acceptable and necessary and this is alright.