In all the 25 plus years I have spent studying religions, philosophy, foreign cultures, all the other humanities stuff both personally and academically, the term “Unverified Personal Gnosis” never came up. It was not until I actually joined an organization, ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin), that I came to understand the place it serves in the Pagan community as a growing tradition. Ancient religious practices and ideologies are finding new meaning for modern Druids, Heathens and other Pagany folk. The distinction between what is actually being reconstructed and what is filling the gaps from historical record in a wabi-sabi kind of way needed to be established in literature and conversation. What was being resurrected from the remnants of lore left from oral traditions such as the Celts, the Norse and other European traditions are considered verifiable, since it could be tested against records left by conquering nations like Imperial Rome and the Catholic Church.Gnosis is an umbrella term, coming from the Greek meaning ‘knowledge’: γνῶσις f . Information of the religious type comes in one of two ways: from an outside source, such as holy text or teachings, or from within as personal/spiritual insight. Gnosis was originally a term applied to all mystery cults, groups such as the Neoplatonic philosophers and some early Christian sects later were referenced this way. There is also a difference between a revelation and gnosis, which usually get confused with each other; a revelatory truth is disclosed to the supplicant via a deity or other being, outside oneself. There can be a gnosis brought about through a trans-personal experience with deity/higher self, but the information being downloaded is from some cosmic akashic record versus what is tangible in this realm.
So how does one verify a revelation or insight? Is the experience only considered approved if it is shared? If so, who decides this? All religious information has to starts out this way. The Gods did not punch a hole in the fabric of the universe, enter this world and announce to all within hearing distance of their existence and traditions. The ways of spirit were experienced by several individuals at first, with it being shared through story telling; the tales of heroic deeds embellished, deifying ancestors and eventually honorably remembering them through ritual-induced worship. It developed with the lore, carried to all parts of the earth through our humanity. Eventually the written word developed and the story of religion was recorded; the mythos changed over time, added and subtracted from until all that remained was hearsay and speculation.
There are some in the Pagan community who refuse to accept any modern UPG; this is not a new obstacle. I am sure there were PLENTY of people who thought John the Baptist was a nutcase and refused to write down or follow His radical, extreme teachings. The work of Dr. John Dee with Mr. Edward Kelly revolutionized magic with the revealed Enochian language of Angels and demons, including ways to invoke them… something new always frightens the establishment. Whilst a healthy dose of skepticism is good in ANY religious context, an openness to the experience of others and receiving information is a blessing too. So to those who would “poo-poo” at UPG I say unto you: Maybe you need to stop reading what the historians say and talk to the God/Self directly…because the moment you do, the chains of fear are released and you will be free to realize the full range of accessibility available out there. Seek out and grasp your OWN gnosis.