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Pagan Portals - Spirituality Without Structure: The Power of Finding Your Own Path Kindle Edition
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Highly recommended reading for all free thinking individuals who have decided to follow their own path.
Firstly, this is not a book about how to converse with God, the gods or nature. There are plenty of other books that do that. It is about discovering a spiritual path on your own terms. `This is not a structure. It's not a map. This is a method for making your own map, building your own compass and ascertaining your direction.'
The style is conversational and engaging. It's pitched at a level whereby the general public, students and academics alike could all understand it and gain fresh insights. I would have been inspired by it whilst studying philosophy and religion at college.
The core argument is that spirituality without structure is rooted in discovering what moves and inspires us in the real world- the spark of the numinous in nature and the treasure troves of myth and story- and honouring it by right action. Experience of the numinous has real effects, influencing us to change our lives and the world around us. I think many people would find this view enlivening and empowering.
Nimue deals with existential crisis in admirable manner. Admitting doubt goes hand in hand with the quest for personal truth, she shows that doubt and the act of questioning constitute the essence of the spiritual journey. They provoke us to create our own meaning day by day, living life to the full with no other authority than the questioning self. This kind of affirmation requires a lot of courage and isn't something I can relate to fully as I put a certain amount of trust in the land and my gods.
On a critical level I thought the importance of the real world was stressed at the expense of non-cognitive / imaginal perception, leaving the possibilities of other realities unexplored. Also, positing the self and its desires as the central source of meaning seemed limiting. I would have liked to see more discussion of the potential of finding and developing meaning through interaction with others outside of formal structures. However I feel these criticisms stem from a difference in standpoint.
Overall Spirituality Without Structure is a resonant rewarding book with much to teach about the art of questioning and authentic living. It's led me to consider how living one's own path from an existential perspective contrasts with my polytheism. I think it would be of value to anybody interested in learning more about how to do spirituality their own way.
Sadly this could have set the tone, and to be truthful it was hard to get past, to let go of the sigh of resignation and open the book and continue to read on with a serious heart and mind. However perseverance paid off and the book offers the opportunity to challenge many a long-held assumption about the whys and wherefores of faith and Belief.
Spending time considering just why we follow doctrine and dogma has to be the way forward if we wish to give serious thought to how we live our lives with other human beings and creatures on this planet. The existential questions that seem to usually attract only rhetoric and thoughtless repetition of well-worn directives - the 'should do's', 'ought to's', and 'must' doctrines are clarified in this text and we are encouraged to actually stop and think "What am I doing? What do I believe?" and "Why?"
Recommended to assist folks engaging in soul-searching quests.
She clarifies this ‘own path’ practice from the word go and continues to confidently explain to the reader throughout the book, about the inevitable questions that arise out of it… This is done with the skill of one who has learned by experience and understanding that the path we walk is one of our own choice and that ultimately we create it for ourselves, as a reflection and expression of the soul.
Why Paganism isn’t really a religion is thoroughly explained in the first chapter, with further unravelling leading to an insight into formalised religion and its limitations. Again, the author demonstrates a sound knowledge of a well - researched subject and the wisdom earned through experiencing it. She goes on to explore spirituality as an emotional experience, building a personal philosophy, community without dogma and the chapter on ethics; I found extremely helpful on many levels. In fact, I learned much from the book as a whole and am all the wiser for it.
Dissecting spirituality is no easy feat in words. It requires a higher perspective as its very nature demands it. To boldly proclaim ~ I believe the desire for power is driven by fear and that it is inherently destructive ~ is to move towards reclaiming that power both personally and collectively.
But this writer does it. She does it with grounded reasoning, a self-enquiring honesty that endears and a level of spiritual awareness which will inform and inspire all who delve into this invaluable work.
Very well done to Nimue Brown. A fascinating read for the free spirit.
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