PBP Fridays: U is for UPG Stigma

PBP Fridays: U is for UPG Stigma

While I have already written about what UPG (unverified personal gnosis) is and how it might be employed in a personal path, I would like to take this opportunity to address a related issue: the negative stigma around living and sharing UPG, especially when it might be considered “woo.”

“Woo,” in this case, is shorthand for anything that’s not immediately able to be validated and legitimized with some form of data, be it historical research, practices from antiquity, or common consensus from a wide number of “authoritative” polytheists. If I say that Ma’ahes has skin like magma at sunset, pitch-black with rivers of ruddy light running like veins across His body, that’s my UPG; and because no one else (that I know of) sees Him like this, and because no ancient source cites Him as a magma-lion, this is woo.

I have seen a great many people, including some friends and some fellow bloggers, hesitate to share something because it might be considered “woo”—or share it with several defenses set in place, lined up like stakes in a moat. Part of this, I recognize, is in reaction to how the overall community treats those who share UPG experiences freely. I hear tell that some people can be quite aggressive in tearing down those who believe or practice differently from themselves, and being too “woo”—or, conversely, too factual and not “spiritual” enough—can attract public retort.

I am only one Kemetic, one voice in the clamor of this great wide internet with its varying populations and dazzling diversity, but if it will help, I will put this voice here to tell you that there is nothing to be ashamed of about UPG. Your experience is your own. Your path and your practice are your own. Your gods, spirits, and ancestors are your own. Whether or not someone on the internet thinks you’re doing it wrong does not matter. We are on spiritual paths because we want to be, not because some stranger tells us we should or must. Share what brings you joy, what inspires you, what strikes you as beautiful and significant and heart-moving.

And while I try not to engage in larger community drama, I would advise those who get riled up at others’ differences to take a deep breath and a step back. Engagement is not required. It does not hurt you or your gods for someone else to be dissimilar to you. So many are writing about the importance of community, and several are pointing out the broken bones and trying to splint them before the fractures continue—don’t tear down the scaffolding. Build more of it instead. Share your own experiences, your own beliefs, and not in a “my way is best” manner, please. Everyone’s way is only one possible way of all the ways in this world, and each has merit.

Remember: The internet is not your temple. If something someone does displeases you, you do not have to reach out to them. If it’s an inflammatory comment on your own blog or journal, delete it—it is your virtual house, and you don’t have to tolerate trolls. If it’s an experience that falls outside your own paradigm and realm of belief, shared on a blog or forum that is not yours, ignore it—your job is not to “fix” others, but to walk your own path as best you personally can. That’s all. Find peace and fulfillment in your own good work.

In other words: To each their own. Breathe deep, seek peace.*

*And ride dinosaurs where possible.

Mandatory Disclaimers: If someone is being genuinely harmful to themselves or others, I am not suggesting to let damage continue and accumulate where one might be able to stop it. Likewise, I am not suggesting to close one’s ears to every single disagreeing point of view, merely to be selective about what is constructive criticism or healthy debate, and what is destructive and unproductive. The internet is a big place. We don’t have to read everything or talk to everyone, but you can certainly try to do good where you realistically can and interact with others who are also trying to do good.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.