All Beliefs are Welcome Here!
I belong to a Yahoo group of local pagans and this question was put up for discussion. I just wanted to get some other opinions on this question. So what do you think? Is there such a thing as being "too eclectic"? I would love to hear opinions on this. I myself consider myself to be an eclectic, mostly because I am new to the pagan path and feel that I haven't found the right path for me as of yet. I love taking bits and pieces of different traditions and make them my own, at least for now. I will be checking back for responses.
I Would like to share a text from Israel Regardie, which was quite "enlighting" for me. Let me just state before my personal belief. We do have three sphere of existence, the material one ("materia mundi"), the spiritual one ("anima mundi") that is called differntly by other tradition, and the spiritual one ("spiritus mundi) which is not the sphere of the spirits but simply the mental sphere. Magic is like building a bridge between what is above (the spiritual sphere or the astral world) and what is below (the material world). For that, one will use the mental sphere, meaning is own spirit, to create a link between both. In that sens, a mage is a medium between two sphere, and traditionally in the past, all spiritual practionner have been for their tribe or for their group this medium between what is above and what is below.
Now if the mage use the mental to build this bridge, he use particularly the quality of the element in the mental sphere, being the Will (quality of fire), the understanding (quality of Air), the feeling (quality of water) and this three element give to the practionner in the mental sphere the quality of earth, the consciousness. Practicing a ritual is "being conscient" of what one is doing, being conscient means you know what you will, you understand what you do, and you feel it. It should go in this order. And all together this give the real "faith" as being the sum of all elements, the quintessencia, the akasha, the soul, the gardian spirit, or how you want to call it in your own belief system (and I know you can argue that one is different from the other but that not the point).
I think a lot of people tend to follow an "inverse" path by practicing, or at least an incomplete one. They begin by halfy believing in something, then they persuade themself they realy want something (very often trivial things) and they begin practicing something that they neither understand nor feel.
Being eclectic is not the problem.
The problem would be first to know exacly what you will, and each of us should ask himself this question before any other. Then to ask yourself "what do I understand" ? And if this two questions are solved and that it "feels" right... then you can go and practice.
Now, by mixing several different tradition together, mixing different referential, one loose completly the understanding, focusing more on the "feeling" part, which is very important, but should come third in the descent of the energy, not first. Even if you follow a traditional path, with very clear association and references (that is metaphorical correspondance that does "in your mental" a link between something spiritual and something material), you still have the risk of "confusing" and "mixing-up" things together.
Now I come to the small text I wanted to share. For sure it make references to a specific esoteric teaching, this being the one of the Golden Dawn, and specifically the (i would call rather strange sometimes and arbitral) associations between elements, spiritual being, sephirot of the Kabbalistic three, planets, name of gods, etc.. etc... When trying to make all this association fit into one scheme, one will come inevitably to some "differences" or what appears to be "illogical association", for that Israel regardie is giving an explanation, which do make sens:
CONCERNING THE HIERARCHIES
A set of names and ideas which frequently seem to get mixed up and confused, relates
to the hierarchies of intelligent beings of the Sephiroth, Signs, Planets and Elements. It will
become evident, very early in one's study of the Qabalah and the Tree of Life as given in this
hook, there is a magical technique for invoking each constituent of these hierarchies. This being
the case, it is imperative that one's mind be absolutely clear as to the nature of the hierarchy being
dealt with, and where it belongs. For example, the first Scphirah is named Kether, the Crown
Its divine name is Eheieh, meaning I will be. This is the future tense in Hebrew grammar; its
Archangel is Metatron, and its Choir of Angels is the Chayoth ha-Qadosh, and its Palace in
Assiah is Rashith ha-Gilgaleem. Each one of these hierarchical names refers also to
one of the four Qabalistic worlds. The first to ATZILUTH -- the Archetypal World. The
second to BRIAH -- the Creative World. The third to YETZIRAH -- the Formative World --
and ASSIAH is the World of Action or Manifestation.
These names should certainly be committed to memory. One means of ensuring this
is to draw a good copy of the Tree of Life on a full sheet of typing paper, and run off a couple
of dozen or more xerox copies. Then each set of correspondences can simply be copied on
one of the duplicated Trees, enabling one to see at a glance the associations, inferences,
Now one of the attributions to Kether is Air, primal Air. The element Air has its
own hierarchy as follows: The divine Name is given as Shaddai El Chai, its Archangel is
Raphael, its Angel is Chassan, the Ruler is Ariel, and the King is Paralda. Actually this set of
attributions should belong lower down on the Tree than Kether, undoubtedly in Yesod. But I
will deal with that later.
For the time being, however, consider the fact that this hierarchical relation to Air is
also attributed to Kether, the Crown. It would be a gross misunderstanding of Qabalistic
principles to confuse the individual members of each hierarchy with the other, as is
commonly done. Metatron, the Archangel of Kether, has nothing whatsoever to do with the
element Air. Nor has the Archangel Raphael, who rules over the element Air, anything
whatsoever to do with K ether. Much the same is true of the remaining members of the
hierarchy. Each one must be considered separately and individually. There must be no
confusion. (This is clarified on one of our G.D. tapes).
Take Geburah, another example. It is the 5th Sephirah on the Tree, and to it is
referred the planet Mars and the element of Fire (reflected downwards from Chokmah. See
the chart which depicts the reflection of the three elements downwards and crosswise on
the Tree.) That means, apart from other more complicated features (if one considers them
as complications), there are three entirely separate hierarchies. One for Geburah. Another for
Mars, and yet a third for Fire. Each must be kept separate from the other.
The divine name for Geburah is Elohim Gibor. The Archangel is Kamael, and the
Choir of Angels is Seraphim, and its Assiatic Palace is Mars, Maadim.
Now the hierarchy for Mars is of course Elohim Gibor, but the Angel is Zamael, the
Intelligence is Graphiel, and its Spirit is Bartzabel. These two sets of hierarchical names
bear absolutely no relationship with one another. They must be kept in separate watertight
compartments in one's brain, so that any one name of any one hierarchy does not leak over
and create confusion in the other hierarchy. I repeat and am most emphatic on this score, for
even some of the better authorities fall into this booby-trap, which is dug for the unwary.
This warning could be reiterated frequently and should be printed on every few pages in the
student's own notebooks, so that it serves as an ever present reminder -- keep the hierarchies
separate! One may not say that Mars is Geburah. Mars has its own hierarchy which is separate from that of Geburah. We may say that among the many attributions given to Geburah, and they are manifold, one of them and only one is Mars. So since the part is not greater than the whole, Mars with its own particular kinds of attributions occupies a lesser space than the category of Geburah in which it is included.
The problem for the novice and the so-called advanced student is that there is another set of
attributions to Geburah with another hierarchy altogether. For example in common parlance the
student may say Geburah is Fire. This is not true! Fire is but another one of the attributions to Geburah in
the same category as is Mars. And just as Mars has its own hierarchy so also does the element of Fire.
The hierarchy of Fire again must not be confused with the hierarchy of Mars or that of Geburah.
The element of Fire diagonally reflected down the Tree from the Sephirah Chokmah, has its
own hierarchy which is totally distinct and separate from the preceding two. For instance its divine
name is Yhvh Tzabaoth (which more or less links it to Netzach), while the Archangel is Michael, the
King is Aral. (He must not be confused with the Ruler of Air Ariel, nor with Auriel who is the
Archangel of Earth). The King of Fire is Seraph (not to be confused with the Seraphim who are the
Choir of Angels of Geburah), and its Ruler is Djin.
I know of countless numbers of students throughout the years who have never mastered this
particular set of attributions and hopelessly confuse one with the other. The result is a hodge-podge of
attributions, none of which make sense and then to excuse their confusion and lack of true
understanding of semantic principles they begin to talk of "blinds" in the teaching.