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Unverifiable personal gnosis

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Unverifiable personal gnosis (UPG)[1] is a neopagan concept. The general idea of UPG is that some insights into divinity and the universe come unbidden to a particular individual, and cannot be tested or verified by anyone else. This is most often the case with neopagans who feel "called" to a particular god or pantheon.

When someone's UPG is mild and irrelevant to anyone else, most neopagans are willing to go along with it. For instance, when someone with a strong interest in and knowledge of a particular pantheon feels called by a member of that pantheon, most neopagans will go along and moreso if the attributes given to the god(ddess) in question are the ones most people expect on him/her[2]. However, every neopagan has their personal limits. (Usually, when the UPG in question starts giving completely culturally inconsistent attributes to a deity, other neopagans start to avoid the person in question.)

Sometimes, however, a neopagan will attempt to push their particular UPG on a whole group. This usually becomes either a cult or a really lonely neopagan.

Of course, strict rationalists will consider the whole idea to be a pile of bunk. Even some of the more rational neopagans look askance at the whole idea (even while secretly accepting it), while others tend instead to subscribe to the Socratic saying, "I know that I know nothing."Wikipedia

Curiously, though, if you slap the label "Holy Spirit" on this insight, you get a pretty accurate parallel in the core pillar of the belief system of that bastion of Christian "reasonable faith", William Lane Craig:

The way in which I know Christianity is true is first and foremost on the basis of the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart. And this gives me a self-authenticating means of knowing Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence. And therefore, even if in some historically contingent circumstances the evidence that I have available to me should turn against Christianity, I do not think that this controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit.
— William Lane Craig, "professional philosopher"[3]

Verified personal gnosis[edit]

According to one pagan site, verifiable personal gnosis is an UPG "backed up by accurate historical sources" (i.e., the insight corresponds to how the god(dess) appears in such kind of sources and the Neopagan knows nothing beforehand.)[1] This is nonsensical because the example given is itself mythological ("Zeus is associated with lightning").[1] Rather, VPG is an appeal to ancient wisdom, where there is some documentation of what ancient people believed.

Shared Personal Gnosis[edit]

Shared Personal Gnosis (SPG) is the same as Unverifiable Personal Gnosis, but when such insights are shared by other Neopagans who do not know one to each other.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Personal gnosis
  2. Say, the goddess Hecate carrying one or two torch(es) and dressed in either Classical Greece fashion or the standard fantasy sorceress attire of a robe with a hood.
  3. Dealing with Doubt. In this (in)famous interview "professional philosopher" Craig also claims that the Devil is real and responsible for instilling doubt about the truth of Christianity and explains to his fellow believers how to deal with such doubts. Basically, the faithful should trust their private experience of the Holy Spirit and, eventually, evidence will turn up to vindicate their religious beliefs.