Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cautions for religious exploration

Twenty years ago, when I was first researching Wicca and the neo-pagan movement, it seemed as though every site had articles about how to find a teacher, and cautions about what to avoid in a group.

Somewhere between then and now, the conversations suggested that all the warnings were doing more harm than good. Most neo-pagan groups are doing well to "herd cats," they aren't attempting to forge a group-thinking cult.

However, I've read some articles recently regarding ISIS recruiting, that suggest a few cautions are in fact in order.

One of the classic neo-pagan resources was developed by Isaac Bonewits. He calls it the "Advanced Bonewits' Cult Danger Evaluation Form," or ABCDEF. Here's one link to the form, many copies exist on the interwebz.

Also on the more new-agey side of the house, there is a very old book, Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life. In particular, they quote Ram Dass' "How to Keep Perspective Along the Path," and Daniel Goleman's "Things to be Wary of when Shopping the Spiritual Supermarket."

Cult tactics often take a page from the same #AbuserDynamics, isolating people from their friends, discouraging them from talking with other people, asking you to keep secrets. Know the red flags of people who do not have your best interests at heart.