Do I Really Have To Memorize This Stuff?

Back in the late 1980s, when I started my long journey down my Pagan Path, I was literally overwhelmed with all the information on the properties related to plants and animals.  There was literally tons of the information located in various books.  I was completely in awe of my High Priestess, who could literally name related properties and where each would be affixed within the Qabalistic system.  It was literally daunting – and something I was not capable of doing.

Not even now.  My memory is not the best thing in the world.  Ask anyone that I’ve met recently for the first time.  I do not remember names easily.  The same is true for associative concepts.  Literally, I have to have it shoved into my face time and time again – before something clicks and becomes something etched into my mind.  So, when I was presented with all of this information – I was literally frozen with fear.  There was no way in the Nine Hells I was going to remember all of THAT!  Not then…not even now.

However, I appreciate the words of a senior non-commissioned officer in the Air Force, who was helping me with my cryptography training when I was stationed in Germany.  “Remember, this has everything you need to know,” he said holding our training manual up in one hand, “all you need to remember is where the Hell you put this.  Everything else is already written, cataloged and indexed in here.  Why do the work twice?”  Thinking back on that moment, it set the scene for me to handle many situations.  Of course, over time, you remember things with repetition – so eventually you won’t need the manual to help with those particular things.  But it is there for when you need it.

For me, being a Pagan isn’t about memorizing all the correspondences and associative properties for all plants, animals, astrological positions, and all that.  There are folks who are good at that sort of memorization — and that’s great.  But memorization skills such as those don’t make anyone a “better” Pagan than anyone else.  Everyone has a place in this community.  I’m still in awe of those who can do the memorization stuff – but I lean more towards experiencing things.  That’s where I excel.

The feel of the cold mountain air at the top of Pikes Peak – a sensation I will never forget.  Coupled with the giddiness associated with the thinner air.  Its an experience I can recall instantly – and yet I have such difficulty explaining in words.  This is where my memory climbs and soars with me — and my vocabulary fails me.  I couldn’t tell you the associative properties of air or snow or the cold.  Nor could I give you any of the folklore associated with the mountain.  But that doesn’t lessen the experience that I associate with that location…its just a different perspective, that’s all.

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