Sep. 14th, 2009 02:26 am
[identity profile] posting in [community profile] the_animist
I have prophecies on the brain. I blame it on the 2012 craze and the fact that every third movie coming out this summer is post-apocalyptic. It all feels like some sort of pre-millennial redux circa year 2000 where folks stocked up on canned goods and awaited a visit from Jesus, Satan, or UFOs. But sometimes I there something, even the teensiest bit of something, to this who prophecy business?
I think part of the appeal of prophecies is that many people are comforted by being told exactly How Things Are. To many, believing that the end is nigh is more tolerable than being totally uncertain about what the future holds. I also note that when Westerners turn to prophecy, they tend to favor very dogmatic interpretations. They prefer being told and believing that This, This, and then This will happen. While I'm sure there were prophets who laid things out like that, when I research the older sources of prophecy I am struck by the sense that things are more open to interpretation. Prophecy seems to be like divination on a mega-scale. As someone who practices divination, I know that it is very rare for the cards or the spirits or the runes to smack you in the face with exact information. In divination you learn the flow of the tools you work with and how to sense patterns to interpret the information given. That information can be surprisingly useful and accurate, but there is always a measure of guessing and room for subjectivity. Maybe prophecies are like that.
On the other hand Westerners (even Western occultists and pagans) place high value on free will. Even when we lay out the cards or cast the runes for someone, it is good form to remind them that this is the direction things are going at the moment but there is always the opportunity to change direction. Prophecies are kind of a different animal in that they tend to say "there WILL be war" or "God IS coming" or "the world IS ending". These events will happen no matter what we do. Though I do note that many prophecies seem to imply that choice is still very importantant, that how we react to these events will determine if we survive or not, or if the coming world cycle will be more like a heaven or a hell.
In my rather neutral study of prophecy I haven't found any single dogmatic set of predictions I feel like latching on to. However, I have found some things that make me go "hmmmm". There seems to be a some common issues that are nearly universal. The idea that Earth has ages and that all ages end. The idea that our current age has to dip into a sort of hellish state before it can swing back to a better state. The idea that people will be given a choice on how to react to it and that choice will determine if humanity survives or not. I also find it interesting that within a century's time (roughly starting in 1950's and ending around 2050) many different culture's age cycles are due to end or turn into the next one.

The reason I brought this topic up here is that many traditional shamanic cultures placed a high value on prophecy. In some cultures, shamans were expected to also be prophets. However, today it seems that neopagans aren't that interested in exploring the possibilities and study of prophecy. Perhaps this is because neopagans tend to value free will, or perhaps that want to distance themselves from a practice that has been taken up more strongly by New Age traditions.
So dear community, I am interested in any and all thoughts you may have on prophecy. Things I am particularly wondering are: Does ancient prophecy have any relevance to modern shamanists? Does modern prophecy exist and in what manner? Is prophecy (whether on a small scale or a large scale) a tradition that modern shamanists should look into and/or revive? If so, in what manner? And how the heck does prophecy work anyways?
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