Friday, 15 February 2013

Unverifiable Personal Gnosis

Unverifiable Personal Gnosis -

"Unverified personal gnosis (often abbreviated UPG) is the phenomenological concept that an individual's spiritual insights (or gnosis) may be valid for them without being generalizable to the experience of others. It is primarily a neologism used in polytheistic reconstructionism, to differentiate it from ancient sources of spiritual practices."

Thanks Wikipedia. You summed it up better than I could.

Basically, stuff you know through spiritual experience is your truth and cannot be applied to anyone else.  Nor can you verify or validate this knowledge to/for others. It becomes an article of faith.

UPG is well known and somewhat accepted in Pagan circles, or rather, some Pagan circles.  But with some of what people are coming out with, there has been discussion regarding how much is UPG and how much is MUS (Made Up Shit) and how can we tell the difference.

For the most part, I have accepted UPG, although I have become fairly cynical about some of it.  A lot of whether I accept it or not has come from the rest of the behaviour of the person who is relating it.  One friend has chosen to not say anything negative at all.  She's stuck to that for over a year (that I've seen).  This doesn't mean that she's become one of those daft people who take everything at face value and spout so much "positive influence" crap all the time - that very quickly becomes nauseating - however, she expresses her positivity and rejection of negativity in a far healthier way.

But I do wonder, at what point do we call Bullshit?

I recently bought a book filled with prayers and incantations from an ancient culture.  That part is wonderful.  However, the book also contains a modern form of practise that has been changed to suit the author.  She says she knows that this is okay because she consulted the Gods concerned and received answers through divination and oracles.

I understand that this may have been the practise that created many of the traditions that we have today - oracles and divination I mean.  I understand that it is purely personal choice whether to follow this method of doing things too.  But this author is also the head of the modern form of this faith - her UPG is now the accepted method of doing things for thousands of followers.

Can you see my issue?

Can it still be called UPG when it has become something not so much personal as dogmatic?

What about when someone is teaching others things that are diametrically opposed to traditional knowledge?  Those things that have come from history, mythology and traditions.  Is this automatically bullshit or just a different view, could it be that this Divinity has chosen to show a completely different face or form of expression to that person?  Either way, should that person be teaching this to others?

This comes full circle back to the first example.  Can or should you teach your UPG to others?  Or rather, should you be presenting your UPG as fact?

I don't believe it's the right thing to do.  If it's what is happening, then a precursor of "This is my experience, it's not necessarily true for everyone else" is essential for complete honesty.  Mind you, that's at the start of many things I do anyway.


  1. I would question UPG being presented as fact.
    I suppose it is rather the teacher that can show one where the path is to find ones own truths than the teacher who teaches you their own, after all Gnosis is knowledge not learning it is something grown within/from/by experience.

    Teach people how one came to one's UPG and let them discover their own.
    And yes that can be taken too far in its own direction as well.

    1. I want a like button. I have nothing really to add, but want to express how much I love what you said.

      Thanks Blain :)