does my religion make my ass look fat?   15 comments

don’t tell me. i know it does.

dammit. and i was just getting into a size that felt comfy and looked good.

i just never seem to stay there long. just as i’m getting lean and mean and recon trim, i’ll have a breakthrough in my cm practice or get caught up in some traditional witchcrafty Work, and bam! i get all poofy and puffy and fluffy, and move way too far down the ceremonial and neopagan end of the spectrum to get to hang out with the hardcore recon crowd any more. or i’ll tip over into berkertland, and get so enamored with recreating minutiae of obscure cult practices that no one but the odd recluse, or terminal pedant, or eyeball-rattling insane person would find remotely interesting let alone understand. and my neopagan friends don’t wanna play with me no more.

one of the things i love about the kyklos apollon, and the reason i’ve been a quiet member for years, is how beautifully simple it is. you worship apollon? got a minute at a particular time once a week? bam. you’re in. doesn’t matter if you’re wiccan or recon or associate him with lugh or jesus, or if you do one of the many lovely elaborate templates, or just light a match at the right time.

the debates go on, of course, and i’m not a part of them. but i stay in the kyklos, because i love apollon, and therefore i’m welcome there.

hellenismos makes occasional burps about being a big tent, but if it is, it’s holey and leaking and unwelcoming as hell.

there are a lot of people under that tent whom i do not love. there are a lot of people whose practices make me do a double-take, clutch handfuls of hair, roll my eyes. when i hear that someone is regularly offering their own blood to the erinyes, i can’t help but wonder ‘have you really thought this through?’ but maybe they have. maybe they know something i don’t. i have my own personal bugaboos, generally involving people who insist that there is NO RAPE in greek mythology, it’s all just feminist reworking of what were once touching love stories. (see? couldn’t resist the tiny whiff of sarcasm, could i?) but they belong under that frayed and flapping tent too. the gods apparently have use for what seems fluff to me, in the great balance of things. and since my own beliefs and comprehensions constantly evolve and morph, i sure can’t be making any absolutist statements.

it’s silly to get caught up in wanting a community, really. i’ve known for quite some time that i am pretty much relegated to solitary work, and most of the time i’m fine with it. there are maybe half a dozen folks in a 100 mile radius who will try to show up if i’m hankering to offer my theoi some public kleos with co-religionists. but if that happens a couple of times a year, it’s a good year. there’s just no way that schedules and personalities and proximity are going to allow for more than that. and it’s okay, really. i’m a solitary person, and have my own odd eclectic round of daily, lunar monthly, and annual observances. it’s very satisfying, and is constantly evolving enough to stay fresh and exciting. and when i want to do deeper Work with someone else, or observe the much-derided Wheel of the Year sabbats that i still love, or just enjoy the company of other people who are pagan and pleasant, i’ve got a very few witch friends i can go to, and a really nice big inclusive cheerful neopagan world to romp through.

it ain’t so bad.

but for most of the neopagan world i’m WAY too recon to be a regular participant in anything else. if you’re hanging out with wiccans, it’s just stupid to piss and moan about the god and goddess, or demand that kthonic libations be poured out into a trench, or try to get everyone to learn epithets. i go to wiccan rituals to enjoy standing in circle with cool people and feeling the energy raise, focus and lower (assuming it does, which is another post, isn’t it?) not to try and foist recon practices on disinterested people. and maybe, if i’m fortunate and not pushy, toss in some hellenic nuggets here and there. just in case there’s a theoi-worshipper-in-the-making lurking out there. but my wiccan and neopagan friends aren’t going to come with me on daily prayers and libations, on a 5th century athens calendar of religious observations, on learning some greek epithets and their meanings, on laboriously trying to work out and intuit just when it IS okay to offer Demeter wine, if ever. i don’t think it’s a matter of it being hard work at all. i think most folks just ain’t interested, any more than i am in learning islam. just doesn’t ring the chimes.

and yet for the recon crowd, i’m unbearably fluffy and light-minded and not nearly serious and committed enough. i skip festivals. sometimes my daily devotions are thrumming with sincerity and connection, and sometimes they’re pretty rote. sometimes i recite epithets in english. if i use them at all. sometimes i spend hours crafting and preparing a ritual, and cleansing and preparing myself for it. sometimes i wash my hands and face and trudge out with a cup of raw milk.

sometimes my ‘festivals’ are that cup of raw milk and a prayer that is festival-themed.

my practice is gods-centered (i’m always shocked when i see purported pagans saying stuff like ‘if the gods disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn’t have any effect on my practice.’) but it’s also me-centered. the gods are, apparently, much gentler with me than with some other folks, which makes sense because everyone’s religion is subjective. and in my practice, it involves me, how it makes me feel, how it encourages me to grow, how it sustains me in hard times, and teaches me in times of disconnection and dark nights of the soul. in the relationship i have with my gods, it’s okay for me to be important too. because i am so amazingly, shockingly, incredibly, unbelievably loved.

i don’t know all the different incarnations of even the gods to whom i’m most devoted, and all the myriad differences in how they should be honored. and (heresy according to the latest outrage) my hero cultus, such as it is, has absolutely nothing to do with graves or cenotaphs or any consideration whatsoever as to the final resting spot, putative or created or actual, of the bones of the hero in question.

i don’t care if odysseus was historical or not. his importance to me goes so far beyond his actuality, or bones.

i’m a bad recon.

sometimes- often- gods reveal themselves to me through fictional characters. or a person on the street. or an animal. i don’t feel the need to parse that into smithereens. i assume it’s the same for some folks, maybe never for others. i just know how it happens for me.

i so wish we could talk about this stuff in the few fora that are active. i’d love to hear people thoughtfully share information on how they move through relationships with different beings and spirits, mortal ones like dryads and immortal ones like heroes and created ones like egregores and elementals. i’d love for people to feel safe enough to discuss instances where they weren’t sure if they were communicating with a god or not, and how to bumble through encounters that are frightening or confusing. i wish we had a few places where superiority and sarcasm weren’t the vehicles for suppressing, rather than exchanging, ideas.

i suppose human nature is what it is. i’m guilty too. i recently got sucked into a forum (damn you, fern!) where an admin was holding forth on how it was her opinion that wicca was ancient, far older than any other religion on earth, and that gardner was just the guy who happened to write it down for the first time EVER, and no evidence could persuade her otherwise because it was her opinion, and dammit, she’s entitled to it. and despite all my high-minded ideas, i found myself snarking away.

but i realized, when i bitchslapped myself back outa there, that all i did was garner some high-fives and adrenaline-fueled applause from already like-minded people. i didn’t give any useful information to anyone who might have been searching. i didn’t persuade anyone who was open-minded enough to hear other povs, because i was nasty. and all nasty gets you is an ugly echo chamber.

i think i can do better. i think the gods deserve better from me.

i do think there are wrong ways to do things, and some stuff that’s frankly stupid. but i think most of us could be a lot more judicious- and courteous- before we slam an idea that doesn’t jive with us into the ‘stupid’ and ‘wrong’ column. having been a n00b at one point, i know i learned far more from discussion than i ever did from scornful dismissal. and it’s not all about noobs anyway, near as i can see. if the gods want someone, they get ’em. we all had to figure it out for ourselves at some point.

so, here i stand, with my religion stretched uncomfortably over my big inclusive let’s-all-sing-kumbayah ass.

of course, i’m really not as inclusive as all that. if i were, i wouldn’t be so obsessively solitary.

really, i just want to not be an asshole, and to have some real conversations with folks who love the same gods i do, and aren’t assholes.

khairete

suz

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Posted May 29, 2013 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

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15 responses to “does my religion make my ass look fat?

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  1. as always, suz, you are a voice of reason and moderation in a world gone completely bonkers. i would consider the fact that you don’t feel like you fit in a point of pride.

  2. As someone who refuses to accept a label in this, I find the whole controversy and melodrama over it wearying. I used to read certain websites to try and learn things. Now, I just see more blather about how this or that makes someone this or that label. I am not sure it matters, and I sure as hell don’t care. Every individual could write their own unique essay about their beliefs and practices, and that would be great, except…I don’t care. I find it all very boring. I want to learn history, music, see some cool altars, learn a new recipe for offerings, see a picture of a neat hike someone took while out honoring, or whatever. I want to be inspired and embraced. I think the need to endlessly parse and label is a masturbation of sorts, don’t you? For those of us just learning to reach out to community, it is a gross sight to behold, I must say.
    xoxo to you. I miss you.

  3. good words! I can relate in some respects. I shun modern paganism like the plague, or do they shun me? lol

    chevaliermalfait
  4. This:
    “i’d love to hear people thoughtfully share information on how they move through relationships with different beings and spirits, mortal ones like dryads and immortal ones like heroes and created ones like egregores and elementals. i’d love for people to feel safe enough to discuss instances where they weren’t sure if they were communicating with a god or not, and how to bumble through encounters that are frightening or confusing.”

    This is what I struggle with too. As a solitary who meanders between mysticism and reconstruction, there is always the hope that somewhere there is the community where that kind of safe space is held, where people can practice together and apart, share what is different, and support each other while being able to also compassionately question when that’s what’s needed.

  5. sannion, love you, babe.
    julie, yes! i bliss when i hear about someone’s numinous encounter on a mountain pathway, or a moonlit ocean. or see what neat personal creative touch they’ve brought to a home shrine. i have to say, i do also enjoy the source material discussions, because when my head is in the right spot i love poring over the dusty tomes, but often need help unpacking it. but i think the ancient hellenic religion should be available to people who NEVER want to wander through the dusty tomes.
    grace, that’s what i’m looking for too.
    khairete
    suz

  6. “but i realized, when i bitchslapped myself back outa there, that all i did was garner some high-fives and adrenaline-fueled applause from already like-minded people. i didn’t give any useful information to anyone who might have been searching. i didn’t persuade anyone who was open-minded enough to hear other povs, because i was nasty. and all nasty gets you is an ugly echo chamber.”

    This. There is a lot of deconstruction in the “Pagan community/ies”. There’s little in the way of construction, and constructive dialogue doesn’t happen much because it is difficult for people to talk about the subjective nature of one’s theological praxis. You see this excessively when someone makes a controversial post, or massively opinionated critique and the responses to their posts are insanely high. Compare that to a theological commentary or methodology, there will be crickets.

    When I relaunched my blog, I made a dedicated attempt to avoid ranting and excessive criticizing with no constructive commentary and provide a forum for my personal approach to my not-reconstructionist, not-romantic polytheistic Paganism. Even if NOBODY comments excessively on my blog (or I see little to no traffic) if I’ve helped one person on their own way to self-understanding, then I’ll consider what I want to do a success.

    It is difficult to try to be constructive, especially in this environment. That alone makes it worth doing.

  7. Reblogged this on 4 of Wands and commented:
    Wonderfully said.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this, and you know that I can truly relate. I am also too fluffy for the recons, and too recon for the fluffs. I stopped being either. Embracing modern Druidry helped… I am happy and proud of that decision.

    I think you are absolutely wonderful and amazing and I am happy that I know you. You are one of my go-to folks when I need a sanity check. And it is nice to know that at least one other person is out there, struggling with the same issues that I am. Misery loves company. Nah, not that. How about… great minds think alike 🙂

  9. Reblogged this on The Quill Is Mightier and commented:
    So much this. I struggle these days with even calling myself a shred of a Hellenic recon because they are do terribly unwelcoming. I’ve tried to engage them, to share my research and knowledge, but unless it fits perfectly in their bubble… you are not a Hellene. Whatever.

  10. “hellenismos makes occasional burps about being a big tent, but if it is, it’s holey and leaking and unwelcoming as hell.”

    So much truth in that sentence I’m not even sure how to express it in words. As someone who tried to reach out to Hellenes numerous times over many long years (later while leading a Wiccan coven that didn’t “fit” but I liked the community aspect of it and to hell with the rest it as it was just fluff to me), I was either ignored or rudely told to piss off by most of them. Thanks to finding some books over the past few years I was able to learn on my own, get a “jumping off point” for my own research and now am just frustrated by the larger pagan community -recons, wiccans and fluffies alike.

    Some recons are a joke. I attended a Hellenic workshop at a festival where, I kid you not, the woman leading it brushed off the topic (when asked) of how Athenians treated their women as “the men were protecting them since that was the basis of the home.” Right. Sure. Deny the truth all you want, but there is documentation of what Athenians thought of their women (empty vessels to be filled by men until a child was formed and even then she was not considered a parent, just the housing for the unborn child…. ridiculous) and I cannot sit and watch this crap go on. I’m on mailing lists and I have to bite my tongue when it comes to typing retorts to people who talk to newbies who are looking a little guidance in a manner that is not only rude, it borders on abusive.

    I’ve gotten to the point where I’m doing a lot of Hellenic practice but clearly not enough for many to even remotely consider me to be part of the “community.” That and well, just mention Ares to your average Hellene and see how long it takes for you to get the sink-eye. Nevermind that he is one of the dodekatheon, nevermind that he very much WAS worshiped in Greece and nevermind that there is far more to him than what Homer wrote about, but he doesn’t fit into most of their “bubbles” of what is acceptable practice.

    Bah. I’ve had enough. After running a pagan non-profit for 10 years I stepped down and out completely, I don’t go to festivals anymore and outside my private practice have become jaded and bitter about pagans in general. It was not one person who ruined it for me, it was hundreds.

    • I am a recon; but, I am approachable (I think) and I do not have the weirdnesses of which you wrote, Damn it, when I was stationed in South Korea in 1976 both Athena and Ares received honor from me. Living about an hour away from the border tends to keep your priorities in order. I was also a history major (Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society). The thing about Greek religion that is quite different from Abrahamic religion is that there is no centralized “book” written by a god, putting into written form all the current sociology of the day as the “way it will be.” There is an all over general ignorance of history in this country. This is sometimes due to the fact that most of the Tanach is not historically true and people “do not want to go there.”

  11. Pingback: Prepare your Foreheads « Aspis of Ares

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