Monday, November 23, 2009
Pronunciation [ee-goh, eg-oh] Show IPA –noun, plural egos. 1.the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought. 2.Psychoanalysis. the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment. 3.egotism; conceit; self-importance: Her ego becomes more unbearable each day. 4.self-esteem or self-image; feelings: Your criticism wounded his ego. 5.(often initial capital letter ) Philosophy. a.the enduring and conscious element that knows experience. b.Scholasticism. the complete person comprising both body and soul. 6.Ethnology. a person who serves as the central reference point in the study of organizational and kinship relationships.Origin: 1780–90; < L: I; psychoanalytic term is trans. of G (das) Ich (the) I Ego…. Such a dirty word in Neopagan circles. Almost with out a doubt the negative connotations (meanings 3 and 4 mainly) are all that people consider. This is somewhat understandable. It like the word honor has been used and misused by people for a long time. But is ego really that bad? Is having an ego a flaw?? Egotism surely is bad at times. Someone who has a self inflated self image, and forces that upon others, or takes decisions upon themselves with out taking the time to think “what will this do to those besides me?”. That is a bad example of ego. Recently someone said to me “you have to remove ego from the situation”. He was dead serious. He thought he was coming at it from an “eastern philosophical” point of view. He also tired to imply the warrior should be with out ego. That there is the crux of the argument; this is where I shall concentrate this post. I will concentrate on my friend’s comments first. He has a valid point of view for his own personal gnosis. A personal gnosis is an individual's spiritual insights (or gnosis). A gnosis comes from a greek word for knowledge and refers to insight into the infinite, divine and uncreated, rather than mundane knowledge. For my friend, a “warrior” is with out ego, for him the Neopagan society needs to be with out ego. With out divulging to much of his past, he’s seen egotistical actions destroy the local pagan community several times. Egotistical attacks on him have caused him great stress and pain. His idea of the “warrior” much like mine is of one who serves and protects the community. So in a sense he is correct, the role of a warrior is not a place for very much egotistical action. Similarly the community really could benefit from a lack of over sized egos walking around like Dragons eating up all the lesser creatures in their way. I differ from his point of view past this however. Lets start with the Warrior. I don’t follow an eastern philosophy. My “martial art” (Combatives) is something that does not lend itself to “Zen”. My ancestors (the Cymric and Gaelic tribes of Britain and Ireland) certainly did not appreciate unthinking unfeeling warriors. Even my Cymric Ancestors foes, the Roman Legionnaires did not go all “Zen” about being soldiers. My own personal gnosis tells me the warriors needs to embrace their ego. They need the self-confidence to stand against the enemy, to attempt the impossible. Lack of Ego, will mean failure, which is unacceptable. However at the same time, to be egotistical is bad. To not take into account your fellow warriors, your tribe, the people you do service to, that is equally as bad! My ancestors embrace individuality on the battlefield. Single combat was the name of the game, or fast and dirty raids, over large set piece battles. It honestly lost them any chance they may have had against the Roman Legions (who embraced a more hive mind approach to battle). But as a reconstructionst pagan I am behooved to try and understand the thought patterns of my ancestors. Moving on to being a Neopagan. I am unclear where the hatred of ego comes from. The first Neopagan faith (Gardnerian Witchcraft/Wicca) had a great deal of input from one Alistair Crowley. Yes the great beast himself! Gerald Gardner was given a license (or so it’s said) to take over the work Crowley had begun with the OTO. Ceremonial magic has no such fear of ego (as a concept or in action), though again egotism is a problem. So for the first decade or two, the idea of having ego was not a bad idea. The very act of magic is an act of ego. Forcing ones own will on something else, to enact change. This still should hold in Neopaganism, yet again egotism is a terrible idea. It’s one of the reasons the “rede” is so important to Wiccans and eclectic pagans. “Do as tho wilt, an it harm none” could translate to “do it, but don’t be a jerk about it”. Or as a Welsh friend once said “Don’t be a douche”. What about community? This is where my friend was talking about “ego” having no place. Again you need to have a little bit of ego. You need to be able to stand up and say “hey I can do that” or “Hey that is not ok”. Both are acts of ego. It is ok for a Warrior to have ego. It is ok for a Neopagan to have ego. Indeed my preferred definition of ego is the fifth one. A complete person has an ego. A machine, an android, a soulless creation has no ego. But a human being does. Neopagans should not shy away from this idea.