The Value of Heuristic Belief
Week 16 (H): the value of heuristic belief
adjective, from the Greek “find” or “discover”;
enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves;
a hands-on approach to learning
Learning is all about trial and error. So in learning what I believe in paganism, what works and what doesn’t, took some experimentation. My belief is firmly rooted in experience.
I learned early on that even the things you think are essential to your practice may not be so. Twelve years ago I burned incense for all my rituals, most of which were done indoors. I thought of incense as an indispensable witchy requirement. But then I discovered that the smoke made me develop a nasty cough that would hang around for months. As a result, I decided to forgo incense unless I’m outside. Calling out incantations sounding like a phlegm factory maybe isn’t as pleasing to the gods as having an acolyte that’s healthy.
There’s this great quote from Scrubs, where Turk grabs a gigantic needle and, showing no fear, plunges it into a patient. He then says “Learn by doing.” Learning by doing is exactly how I learn best. And with paganism, I think it’s really important to learn by trying it out. In the past, I’ve talked about how important practice and action are. Learning is a type of action. It’s a practice you should never think of as “beneath you”. There’s always more to learn.
Paganism, for me, has always been about discovery. It has allowed me to explore which beliefs work for me and which don’t. I have been able to learn about a huge variety of different traditions (thank you public library!). I’ve tried spells that didn’t work, which in turn inspired me to write better ones. If something doesn’t work, change it. Improve upon it. Do it better next time. Being a witch has allowed me to discover my own heart through an often-messy-but-never-boring continuous cycle.
An enduring sense of discovery is one of the reasons I chose an eclectic path. May you never stop being able to discover things in your own practice. Blessed Be.