UPG stands for Unverified Personal Gnosis. Catherine Beyer, a religion professor, defines UPG as Unverifiable personal gnosis, or UPG, concerns knowledge that holds importance to an individual, usually in a spiritual or metaphysical sense, even if no objective, corroborating evidence can be produced to support it.. In simpler terms, it occurs when a person holds certain spiritual insights that, while they may apply and work for them and their practice may not necessarily apply or work for everyone. This first-hand religious experience happens when a God/dess speaks directly to a person. It happens when a person experiences a vision or feeling between themselves and a wight. It happens when someone is filled up with the spirit of a wight. Through those experiences, a person accumulates an understanding of the wight that may not be found in any other sources, and thus isnt verifiable.
For instance, I work closely with Loki. In my UPG, Loki is a big fan of fireworks and things that go BOOM! You wont find that anywhere in the lore. But it works for me and my work with Loki. Someone else might come along and try it, and find that it doesnt work for them. When a person works closely with a wight of any kind, they are likely to learn a lot about the wight and it is possible that in doing so they learn more than can be verified by any source (such as lore, literature, and general knowledge). Thus, that person then has learned a truth about the divine that is shared only by them through their personal experiences-truth being subjective to the person who experienced it. It becomes true for them, though not necessarily anyone else.
PCPG stands for Peer-Corroborated Personal Gnosis. This is just shared personal gnosis. To simplify that: If Bob has an experience with a deity and determines deity likes X, and then Bill (who doesnt know Bob or his experience) has the same experience with the same deity and concludes also that the deity likes X- they have formed peer-corroborated personal gnosis.
These two things are commonly found in reconstructed religions and neopagan movements. Modern religions that attempt to recreate older religions based off available resources and materials (such as literature) often end up describing views of the deities they work with that are different from what is historically found within the surviving lore. The views based on UPG come from an accumulation of experience with the wight, working in junction with the wight and study/worship of the wight.
As written by Amber Drake If you believe in the gods, and your gods have a certain amount of history or lore written about Them, then what you might be doing with UPG is making educated, sometimes inspired guesses. Either that, or youre being spoken to directly by a god or goddess, ancestors, vaettir, or other spirits concerning that history or lore. This can also happen when there is a paucity of material about a pantheon and its cosmology, or a specific way of worship or spiritual practice. Either way, there is likely no way for you to prove your conclusions to anybody else. Thats why its personal and unverified . It can become verified, if enough people share it two people with the same conclusions may be a matter of coincidence, but three people sharing the same bit of previously unknown information, independently of each other, makes it verified personal gnosis, or sometimes peer-corroborated personal gnosis. Unfortunately, as brilliant as it can be to find out that others with whom youve never discussed a certain issue have come to the same conclusion, this is often the exception rather than the rule.
UPG/PCPG can cause a lot of problems when it comes to discussing personal truths about the divine within the community. For one, its unverifiable.The most common argument against it is that is cannot be proven. If you cant find it in a source, or in some literature, than there isnt technically any evidence to support it. People often give UPG/PCPG a negative connotation and attribute it to over active imagination or mental conditions. However, its hard to discredit UPG at the same time. Discrediting UPG is essentially saying this wight/deity is limited to the available sources and literature we have on them, and if your experience with them falls outside those boundaries than it must not be true.
An important thing to remember, for those who use UPG/PCPG in their practices, is that it is between yourself and the wight you are working with. Just because something works for you doesnt mean it works for everyone else, and you shouldnt dictate it as truth to others because it is subjective. A healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to UPG is fine, and reasonable. But so is a healthy dose of open-mindedness and faith. UPG should be judged based off your own experiences, the experiences of others, the lore/resources concerning the specific wight, and how reasonable/ethical it is.
So for those that use UPG/PCPG, consider to yourself the following:
- Understand that UPG is a personal truth, not a universal one.
- Ask yourself: Is the UPG useful and worth sharing?
- Look for a way to verify or validate the UPG with available resources and experience.
- Dont try to force your UPG as belief or dictate it to others as truth.
- Accept that some people will flat out not accept your UPG and may even ridicule it.
- Accept that other people may have UPG different from your own.