UPG and “woo”

I am not a reconstructionist. I am a devotional polytheist. There has been a lot of UGP and “woo” in my practise.

UPG means “unverified personal gnosis” where “gnosis” means “knowlege”. I have seen that some people have begun to use UPD, which means “unverified personal doxa” where “doxa” means “belief”. “Woo” means paranormal/spiritual experiences, such as communicating with deities and spirits, spirit working and astral travelling.

There is another term used by some about UPG and woo, and that is MSU, which means “making shit up”, which I find to be a rather rude and hostile attitude.

UPG can be problematic. Should one believe all UPG? Is it a case of everyone has their own reality and gnosis, and it’s all valid? Is it enough to say, this is my UPG but YMMV (your mileage may vary)? This is where discernment comes in. You can’t believe everything everyone says on the internet, but at the same time, you can’t just dismiss all new UPG out of hand. I will, however, be very sceptical if someone describes one of the Gods as acting out of character.

Some Heathens (and Pagans) have a big problem with UPG and woo, though, and tend to label all as MSU. even when its SPG (shared personal gnosis) or PCPG (peer corroborated personal gnosis). They participate in UPG shaming, and mock those who have UPG and woo in their practise.
They think that if it isn’t in “The Lore”, it’s not valid. I believe that the lore was once someone’s UPG, which became, in time, PCPG. It’s PCPG with tradition behind it.

There are some who seem to think that the Gods are frozen in time, and haven’t changed in 1000 years. I believe that the Gods are Persons, and that They are dynamic, not static, and that They gather new knowledge and experience, and can change, especially in how They interact with, and relate to, each other. Their basic personalities and “jobs” might stay the same, but They might gain new aspects. I believe that the Gods are at least as multifaceted as we mortals are, if not more, having existed for thousands of years.

Some think that you should always clearly label your experiences with UPG and YMMV.
I don’t, when I write about my experiences. After all, this is my personal journal about my personal experiences and opinions.

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About Amber Drake

AKA Darkamber.
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14 Responses to UPG and “woo”

  1. moonfire2012 says:

    Too many people getting hung up on labels these days. There dosent have to ba a title for everything. There’s a fine line between being discerning and upg shaming, I agree. I hate lore thumpers.

  2. Just another eccentric says:

    This is a great post!

    Discernment is important not just when dealing with the spiritual world but also with dealing with other people as you say.

    My own practice is heavily based in UPG too so while I’m open, I don’t instantly accept all and any UPG. If as you say the gods are described very much out of character, I’ll be skeptical. There are a few things that make me skeptical.

    It makes me laugh too that people think the lore which was written by a christian is like a bible. Far from it. People evolve. Gods and goddesses do too.

    • Amber Drake says:

      Yeah, it’s one thing to be open, but one shouldn’t just accept all UPG.
      As Dawn say in her comment below, one can’t expect one’s UPG to be taken as fact by everyone else.

  3. As a rather loose reconstructionist… UPG is perfectly acceptable and occurs even in some of the more rigid circles. Though, perhaps not in the Heathen communities? I dunno, I know strict Asatru that use their UPG in their personal practice a great deal. However, here’s the thing with Unverified Personal Gnosis and that is the ‘Personal’ part of it. At no point can anyone who has these experiences expect anyone else to just accept them as fact because they are your personal experiences and knowledge about your relationship with your path. It is Unverified because it cannot be factualized in either a scientific manner or in primary source material.

    That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it at all. To an extent, I find God-Spousery to be a type of UPG. I can’t verify someone is a God-Spouse with Apollon or Loki or Set… whichever. That is their personal experience or knowledge. I’m not going to say it is wrong, I just can’t verify it because it is personal to them. If I choose to accept it into my belief, that is my choice, but I don’t have to.

    What everyone doesn’t have a right to do, though, is judge open the UPG of others. I think, however, a distinction does need to be made between UPG and making deities something other than what they are. Because morphing Aphrodite or Eros/Cupid into overly sweet saccharine love gods to suit a sweet Valentinian Hallmark image of love… is doing a disservice to thousands of years of written history on very complicated deities. There’s a difference between UPG and sticking fingers in ears to ignore complex things.

    • Amber Drake says:

      At no point can anyone who has these experiences expect anyone else to just accept them as fact because they are your personal experiences and knowledge about your relationship with your path.

      Exactly! I didn’t make that clear enough in my post.

      I think, however, a distinction does need to be made between UPG and making deities something other than what they are. […] is doing a disservice to thousands of years of written history on very complicated deities. There’s a difference between UPG and sticking fingers in ears to ignore complex things.

      I must admit I find it puzzling when someone constantly describes Loki as their sweet, magical, fluff bunny boyfriend. I honestly don’t know what to believe. Maybe they get the aspect they currently need? Or maybe it’s a honeymoon period?

      • Corannhena says:

        aw jeez I hope I don’t fall into the latter category? He does tease/troll me a lot, but for the most part he really is mostly very kind to me.

        • Corannhena says:

          …although he has done some things that have infuriated me–usually for tests–and I’ve written about most if not all of those (either on here or my Tumblr), so… *shrug*

          • Amber Drake says:

            Loki has made me angry, too, with some of His tests. It seems to be typical for Him to test us. Tests are how we learn and grow. I have learned a few things about myself via His tests.

  4. Moon Rouge says:

    Great post! What I am thankful for is that Amber Drake explains what the capital letters stand for. It never hurts. We all may know what UPG is but I would never figure out MSU!
    It is understandable that those who never experienced UPG, or didn’t recognize it as a such, will turn the heads hearing about it. Yet, it is very ignorant (and rude), to say someone is making the shit up.
    I feel much more comfortable when given a solid proof, mathematical formula attached and a few witnesses preferred, but it always doesn’t happen this way.

    • Amber Drake says:

      Woo and mysticism is very much personal, and we don’t all experience the same.
      But sometimes something is experienced by more than one person, and that’s when we get shared personal gnosis or peer corroborated personal gnosis.

  5. SuzyLL says:

    Well said! I continue to be amazed at the “lore” thumpers willingness to take a christian monks word as divine with no questions asked to the point of being hostile to those of us who question the validity of said writings. That these thumpers proudly go to the point as to exclude others from attendance or hailing certain Heathen Gods within an Heathen organization are either really really idiotic or simply christians wearing a Heathen hat.

    • Amber Drake says:

      It does seem like some Heathens are still stuck in a Christian dichotomy of good vs evil. But there are no completely good or completely evil gods in the old Norse religion. The gods are many-faceted.
      Some even argue that Loki isn’t a god, but Snorri lists Him among the Æsir in his Edda. If you’re going to be a lore thumper, you can’t just pick and choose what you like from the lore, IMO.

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