Oh, boy. I typed a very long introduction post, and then needed to sit on it, finished but un-posted, for about a week. I’ve wanted to start a blog to track my spiritual journey for ohhh a long time, but I’m always reluctant to share something so personal and private.I end up second-guessing it and getting uncomfortable and end up taking the safer path of privacy.
However I recently read a blog post by a polytheist blogger who thinks that we early members of the “polytheist revival” should be sharing our trials and tribulations for future people, so I am hesitantly trying to blog again. There is a really big struggle in my heart against boxes and labels though, and in a lot of ways that makes this post the hardest one of all. I am worried that if I try to describe myself and what I’m doing, it will lock me down into a category the readership preconceived, starting me off with a load of baggage instead of starting fresh. Unfortunately that isn’t inaccurate, I suppose, since nothing happens in a vacuum. It’s frustrating that people don’t read in “good faith” any more (if they ever did).
So this post is a boring post which will give some indication of what I’m doing, sort of. I’m going to be somewhat vague on details, because I’m going to explore topics more in-depth in future posts. As I mentioned above, I haven’t quite decided on the balance of important-detail versus invasive-detail.
First, a bit about the blog. A lot of this stuff will be moved to the “about” page shortly. I am not currently part of any pagan/heathen group, at all, and I’m not even really friends with any pagans except distant acquaintances. I don’t want to imply I am directly part of any group, even if there are groups of people I respect or follow. There is a loose network of people who are trying to revive and reconstruct pre-Christian polytheistic practices of European peoples. (And some from other areas and cultures.) I am basically a part of this unofficial “group”. I want to share my personal religious experiences as “research” to help others who are part of this “project”.
Next, about my religious practice. Please note the use of lower-case terms: I don’t really have a Capital Letter name for my religion. Here are some aspects:
- nature worship: One aspect of “animism”, which is recognizing and worshiping the spirit in non-human beings like plants and animals and the sacred in natural phenomenon.
- spirit interaction: Respect for and communication with non-corporeal beings. This includes “faeries” and their ilk, ghosts, and so on. Sometimes also called “animism”.
- veneration of the dead: Honoring and communicating with one’s ancestors.
- polytheism: The worship of many (literal) deities. For me, my polytheism extends from my animism, and I believe the Gods are not “creator gods”, but are enlightened spirit-beings who share the Earth with us. (If you view them differently that is totally acceptable and you’re welcome here.) Like all beings, human, animal, plant, and spirit, I want the Gods to live in harmony as our kith and kin. (More on the Gods later.)
- witchcraft: I take a secular view on most “magic”. However, it can be used as a great tool in worship and communication with Gods and spirits. Some of this falls under the “traditional European witchcraft” header (as opposed to something more like “Western esoteric occult”), but there are lots of labels you could apply I’m sure. Sacred herbs are also important to me, along with “wildcraft”.
- historically-inspired: My ancestors hailed from several areas of Europe and Scandinavia. I have tried to use a fairly logical process for my research and incorporation into my practice over the years, similar to “reconstructionist” and “revivalist” methods. Firstly, I go directly to the specific cultures from which my ancestors came from and use the lore and archeological record. I start with the most recent places my family came from (France, Norway, and the UK), and if there are elements missing in practice (heavily true for Gaul for example) then I branch out to farther-distant European practices (I have ancestry from groups as far as Greece, the Baltics, and the Iberian peninsula. It is basically all of Europe.) Please note I am not “folkish”, I do not care about your ancestry, only your sincerity.
- personal experience: UPG is very much sneered at*, but if “shopping” through religions is a shallow and insincere behavior, then what is the sincere way to develop our own? In established religions there is a personal development one achieves with regular practice, and my religion is no different.
- devotional practice: I have a high respect for regular, active, personal practice. Celebrating just the festivals and going to cons isn’t a religion, it’s a community activity. Dabbling in magic spells isn’t a religion, it’s a hobby. Writing endless blogs on your theological hypotheses isn’t religion either, it’s philosophizing (or mental masturbation). For me, there’s a greater element of living one’s religion which is deeper, and which is the key to religion. You aren’t what you say you are; you are what you do.
I’m sure I’ll be touching on a lot of the details of those topics, but I really hope I won’t have to go into boring explanations of all of them. Some of that shit is 101.
Right now, and what I’ll be blogging about in the near future, I’m working on a few different projects.
- I’ve been setting up a personal calendar of devotional practice, which rotates on a lunar cycle. I’ve been trying to develop a more regular habit of worship, and specific practice, as opposed to just daily-but-random prayers and offerings to gods and spirits. This also involves writing very skeleton rituals for each devotion – I prefer to do mine from scratch. Yes, it’s reinventing the wheel a bit, but it feels more genuine. I hope to share some interesting results of this.
- I’m also working on a bigger, somewhat private ritual, involving a particular Goddess. Not a dedication per se, but it is very personal and private and I haven’t decided how much I want to share yet beyond a vague report. Sooo this is a cryptic teaser!
- I’m working on several devotional creative projects, mostly paintings of Deity iconography. I’m very slow at them though because my free time for long sit-downs is limited. I’ll try to share them whenever I’m finished.
- I’m taking a class on Divination. It is the first pagan/magic/whatever class I’ve ever participated in. I have always done a “secular” form of divination, mostly with tarot, and I’d like to start using it as a tool of communication and clarification with my Gods. We started this week, so I’ll be reporting on my progress as it develops (or rather, the positive outcome of my newly learned skills, I hope).
I’m sure I’m doing a million other things too. I’m growing several sacred herbs, but gardening is sort of a non-stop year-round activity.
So that’s a not-so-brief introduction. In one of my next posts I’ll maybe get more into what my actual religion looks like. There’s also a couple of “blog policy” and “community” things that I want to touch on immediately (in the hopes that I’ll never have to address them ever again). This blog’s future is kind of a grab-bag for now.
* (I think some of the anti-UPG attitude stems from a fear of a lack of an authority figure. We are very used to having authority figures to point to in our religious culture. Even if you don’t believe the Gods are real and consider them “archetypes”, are you just going to sit there and believe whatever a book by Jung tells you, or are you going to try to experience how they relate to you as an individual? Come on.)