Twilight of the Idle Paganism: An Indo-European Science

Science has long appreciated the manner in which the mind responds to external stimuli. Our mind receives input throughout the day, from television and newspapers, radio, personal interactions, etc; these "bottom-up" events stimulate the neurons of the brain. However, only recently did brain research discover what Occult Science has taught for thousands of years—that "top-down" events also cause nerve cell reactions in the brain. "Top-down" events, or images, are those which originate in the mind, not the senses. These images are most often the result of memory, concentration, or new thoughts from deeper layers of consciousness. If these images are powerful enough, the mind interprets them as if actual events, and sends out messages throughout the body in a corresponding manner. Hence, mental thought becomes psychic reality.

The mind and brain include more than just commonly known states and programs; they are also malleable and constantly adjust according to life experience, and inner experience. The mind perpetually calls into activity new nerve cells and neuron patterns. The stimuli of our inner and outer lives are continually assimilated, and modify our brains. The mind is the brain's chemist and engineer, always remaking and reconstituting its tool. Scientists call this capacity for change "plasticity.: Each of us can take advantage of this capacity for change by selectively focusing on images—be they visual or vocal—that evoke psychic states. When we focus our minds this way, we get involved in a psychic version of a process which is called autopoiesis. Auto, of course, means "self" and poiesis, which has as its root the same Greek world as "poetry", means "making". So autopoiesis means "self-making."

For thousands of years people have improved themselves in autopoietic ways. By utilizing music, drama, ritual, ceremony, etc., in their lives—all psychotherapeutic practices—they were working toward a state of superconsciousness. The results of adding a true spiritual cause to these practices can prove remarkable. This is the true realm of Psycho-Spirituality, which has been utilized by our Pagan ancestors for millennia, though never before by that name. People who describe having had spiritual experiences while practicing psychical methods such as meditation and yoga also have been found to report better health than those who do not. Thus, the spiritual dimension enhances psychical work. Spiritual inspirations and/or life philosophy enhance the effects of psychical work in three ways: first, focusing on spiritual convictions makes people more apt to adhere to a therapeutic routine; second, affirmative beliefs bring forth intuitive power and the concomitant responses; and third, duty to a life-transcending force seems to make the biggest impact on the psyche because a spiritual perspective of life is powerful enough to overcome the direst negativity and fatalism.

There is even evidence of the positive effect of spirituality on physical health. Doctors at eastern Virginia medical school reviewed hundreds of epidemiological studies (studies of the incidence and distribution of disease in populations) and found that spirituality lowers death rates and increases health. More recently, doctors reported in The Faith Factor (John Templeton Foundation; 1994) that spiritual factors are associated with increased survival; reduced anxiety, depression, and anger; reduced blood pressure; and improved quality of life for patients with cancer and heart disease. Thus, understanding the spiritual aspects of our psychic life has tremendous power over all elements of our being.

It has been found that, on average, the greater a person's spiritual commitment, the fewer his psychological problems, the better his general health, the more vigorous the life, and the longer the survival. Across the board, spiritual understanding and practices bring with them a life full of benefits.

The various levels of the psyche sort, filter, and maintain information we receive from the ecosphere and the psychosphere. All of this can be activated in varied ways to empower and expand our being. Our capacity to do this depends on our belief system—the thoughts, feelings, and values that are unique to Paganism and our World-View. As negative as our environment is, we have the inner ability to reprogram our lives in order to manifest health, power, and an evolutionary imperative—if we know how.

Scientific research into the power of spirituality didn't begin with specific religions. Researchers were studying how persons were affected by various spirituality-related techniques and activities, such as mental focusing, meditation, and yoga practices. These have been proven to yield many positive and powerful results.

Of most significance, it was learned that mental focusing is an effective way to work toward a state of heightened awareness. This is a practice which, besides producing certain Psycho-Spiritual states, also allows one to elicit what has been called a "relaxation response." The relaxation response which can be achieved using, for example, a mantra, is opposite the fight-or-flight psychic response—that is, it is fully non-reactive to outer experience. Regular elicitation of the relaxation response—combined with proper ritual, ceremony, and other elements of Paganism—can bring about elevated psychic states and cause a person to have the spiritual experience which normally accompanies such expansions of consciousness.

Research has found that when people's deepest beliefs are incorporated into their psychic activities, a very dynamic synergism results. It was learned that when deeply held beliefs, are made a part of daily meditation and/or other mental focusing, it can literally reconfigure the brain's biology, triggering biochemical and neurological changes that are consciousness expanding.

Within Paganism, this reconfiguration of a person's brain biology could make a huge difference to the individual's overall well-being and abilities. Activists today are inundated by negative influences—negative media coverage, fixations of failure, worries about new Inquisitions and world conditions, etc. Just as researchers have found that positive beliefs can engender an elevated state of being, they also have found that negative beliefs and influences can induce psychic unhealth and failure. When fed with images of disability and despair, subconsciousness accepts these limits as truthful and our lives respond with impairment.

Various ancient Pagan practices can elicit elevated states which serve as an antidote to such negative impulses and the limitations they spawn. The steps involve mental focusing with a concentration on the goals of our Pagan Revival. In this case, the resurgence of the Culture Soul—the fertilization of the Folk-Egg, which evokes both a relaxation response and intuited well-being. If, instead of absorbing images of impairment or weakness, the mind is fed an image of activity, eternal power, and rebirth, the psyche will literally reconfigure the vision of Self. Scientific understanding of brain biology and psychology confirms this. This is truly autopoietic—or self-making—spirituality.

This we know.
All things are connected
Like the blood
Which unites one family...

Man did not weave the web of life;
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does to himself.
-- Ted Perry

The science of interpreting, understanding, and developing the esoteric* forces and processes by combining various forms of psychotherapy, including but not limited to: archetypal pathworking, meditation, exercise, ritual*, and music.

Designed for or understood by the specially initiated* alone.

Having the knowledge of the rudiments and principles of a specific experience and/or sphere of activity.

The intentional symbolic manipulation of psychological states and levels of awareness.