Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthling assumptions) as color means to a blind man.
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlen
Perhaps one of my favorite made-up words, grok was coined by science fiction writer Robert Heinlen in Stranger in a Strange Land. If you haven’t ever read the book, you should pick up a copy next time you hit up the library. I won’t promise that you will love it (it was okay), but its a (modern) classic, and you should give it a go. Anyhoo…when you grok something, it means that you intuitively understand it so deeply, so profoundly, that you become part of it and it becomes part of you on both a figurative and a literal level. The ultimate end result of “grokking” is to become something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Paganisms are mostly experiential religions. Orthopraxy (right practice) is generally emphasized over orthodoxy (right belief). We Pagans vary a bit in whom or what we choose to worship, though the vast majority of Pagans seem to view deity as polytheistic, and/or earth-based, and/or Goddess-centric. There is also a bit of variety in how we connect in our individual Paganisms–with the self, and/or with the earth, and/or with deity, and how that connection informs our experiences.
Ultimately, what we believe informs what experiences we seek to have, and the outcome of those experiences further inform our beliefs. But this isn’t a closed, stagnant circle–I talked before about how I think that each of us are ‘cauldrons of consciousness‘, and that “I think it is here, in the place between the firing of neurons, the flow of electrons, the transmission of neurotransmitters, and the conceptualization of the experience that our experiences with the Divine occur, whether it be in the making of magic or the encountering of deity.”
How and what we grok is a product of this bit of mystery. Our preconceptions, our ideas, our logic, is changed by what happens between the firing of our neurons, what happens between the transmission and reception of neurotransmitters, between the experience itself and our internalization and conceptualization of that experience. Those experiences become part of our Paganism and part of ourselves and our souls. They embed themselves in our psyche, in our consciousness, and ultimately, becomes how we grok the self, the earth, the divine. What each of us groks (or not, and how) is highly individualized…and equally valid and authentic of an experience, whether we are polytheists, dirt worshippers, Goddess devotees, or something else all together.