The HPedia: “Whatever works”

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This common Neopagan maxim affirms a pragmatic approach to spirituality.  Whatever produces the desired result is worth consideration.

In a sense, science operates by the same dictum.  There is no arguing with empirical results, only with the explanations that attempt to account for those results.

Where science and Neopagan ritual may diverge is in the specificity of what it means for an approach to “work.”  Scientific experiments are painstakingly devised to produce a clear delineation between the success or failure of a hypothesis, which is itself carefully formulated to be falsifiable.  On the whole, Neopagan rituals tend to be far more ambiguous.  They nearly always involve ritual intentions or goals, sometimes quite specific, but rarely is attention paid to falsifiability (though not without exception), and the range of events which may indicate success is often extraordinarily wide.  This may give the impression that magico-religious ideas are being “tested” in ritual, but it is important to bear in mind the difference between this and scientific testing.

See also “All paths are valid.”

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