Personal Gnosis refers to personal experience that an individual may have with the Gods. This experience may be direct contact with the divine, or it may be the engagement of a personal relationship with a deity or other spiritual entity. Often, this experience brings about some form of understanding of the divine, whether established in lore (e.g., mythology and-so-forth) or otherwise. It is is our personal interactions with the divine, and it is integral to a living religion. It is the heart of personal practice and thus will be the fuel for public practice; though it isn’t precisely a sufficient base for outward facing ministry.
Unverified Personal Gnosis
Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG), also known as Subjective Personal Experience, refers to experience an individual has with the divine which brings about an understanding that isn’t backed up by the established traditional lore and understandings. For example, someone’s interactions with Aphrodite may lead them to believe that offerings of sparkling grapefruit juice are something that can be appropriate for the Goddess, or that contemporary sweets such as maple syrup make a fine offering to Janus. Through mystical personal spiritual experience one may have during ritual, meditation, prayer or some other practice, an individual has come to this conclusion. It’s personal gnosis in that it is spiritual knowledge understood to be attained from interaction with the Gods. It is specific to a particular individual’s worship. It is unverified because there’s no mention of these things in traditional lore and understandings of the divine, but rather it is personal.
UPG is an essential aspect of one’s personal spirituality; however, it should always be understood that the UPG is yours, and not everyone else is required to accept it. When one is engaged in a discussion regarding the divine and wishes to make a connection to their UPG, it’s always wise to alert people so they know what you’re saying and where they might stand in their interpretation of your religious experience (e.g., “This is merely my own UPG, but I’ve always felt that….”). While they might not agree with you, many people will respect that you don’t expect them to. It also helps prevent people from mistaking it for actual lore, which would stop them from spending unnecessary time searching for a piece of lore in vain, or even prevent them from performing practices that they would not engage in otherwise.
One may come across something in lore that directly contradicts their UPG. In this situation, they may want to consider re-evaluating their spiritual experiences. Hold up the two contradictory ideas and let them percolate for a while, as perhaps you might misunderstand your experience. An example of this is the conception of Hekate as a crone Goddess in much of contemporary witchcraft, while the proper understanding of Her in the true faith typically reveals Her as a maiden (Though it’s important to note that though classic depictions paint Her as a maiden, this doesn’t limit Her expression to a maiden. However, at the same time it would be inappropriate to call that a historical or traditional depiction). While lore is itself subject to interpretation and debate in understanding, one shouldn’t expect others to trust their interpretation of divine experience over the lore. Lore will always carry more weight than UPG. At the same time, however, that same person doesn’t have to accept anyone else’s UPG, either.
Shared Personal Gnosis
Shared Personal Gnosis (SPG), also called PVPG (Peer Verified Personal Gnosis), is a conclusion an individual arrives at through UPG that is shared by others. These common ideas have been reached by worshippers entirely independently of one another, and because so many people share them, they carry more weight than just your average UPG. Regardless, however, they do not carry as much weight as lore.
Verified Personal Gnosis
Verified Personal Gnosis (VPG) means that your UPG or SPG can be backed up with accurate historical sources. This happens when you experience a UPG, and you later discover in the very same idea in traditional lore and understandings of the divine. This means your experience is no longer SPG or UPG, but is instead verified and thus part of the lore. An example of this is how Zeus is associated with lightning. Historical sources verify this, and therefore if you have this connection, it is VPG.
Barbary, Ty. “Grave Moss and Stars: About Kemetic Orthodoxy.” Grave Moss and Stars RSS. Accessed January 01, 2018. http://unorthodoxcreativity.com/emky/about-kemetic-orthodoxy/.
Nasios, Angelo. “The Hearth of Hellenism: We Don’t have Relationships with the Gods, or Do We?” Agora. July 14, 2017. Accessed August 11, 2017. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2017/07/hearth-hellenism-2/
Thepaganstudygrouppage. “UPG, SPG, and VPG.” The Pagan Study Group. March 20, 2014. Accessed January 01, 2018. http://thepaganstudygrouppage.tumblr.com/post/80114627772/upg-spg-and-vpg.
“TIP: UPG.” The Informed Pagan. December 2, 2011. Accessed January 01, 2018. https://theinformedpagan.com/2011/12/02/weekly-tip-upg/.