Delay happened with this week’s Pagan Blog Project. I was at a conference, and thus was unable to get online. So there’s the first “D” word this week. (Damn.) (there’s another!)
Secondly, I was going to write about discernment this week. Anything I would’ve said could not have been said as eloquently as it’s already been expressed by Tess in her post on discernment this week, so I will encourage you to go read it right here.
Disappointment is a big D word for me right now. Big things in terms of my personal growth were supposed to happen this weekend, and due to unforeseen circumstances, they didn’t. It’s hard not to read between the lines and wonder if there are bigger things at work, but I just have to disengage (more D words!) and let things go. My job now is to accept and trust that there were larger reasons at work, and that when things are ready to happen, they will. Not an easy thing to do, when you were really looking forward to the experience. But it’s all there is.
Things have been rough for me offline, with a family death followed on instantaneously by starting a new program at my new grad school, and now preparations for a weekend of lecturing and conference/work. I am sorry to have been behind, and hope to get caught up with all of you soon.
Since my brain has no space left for a new topic, I’ll catch up by sharing links to some interesting things I’ve been reading lately, that you might want to read too. I’ll be back next week with something far better for topics beginning in “D.”
1. People are starting to meet each other in person (gasp!) with this Pagan Tea Time thing. Back in the day I was one of the progenitors of a “Pagan Tea House” on the AOL network. Loving both that people are using a similar name for the idea, AND that they’re getting to know each other as human beings and not just words on screens. Keep it up.
In relation to my recent posts concerning polytheism, monotheism, and the influence of the latter on the former lurking like a black hole around the periphery of contemporary polytheism and Paganism (here and also here), this came up in my reading for a class this evening, and I decided to share.
“It may be stressed that neither the number of deities worshiped, nor the absence or presence of definite (and carefully worded) answers to the eternal and unanswerable questions of man separate decisively a polytheistic from a monotheistic religion. Rather, it seems to be the criterion of a plurality of intellectual and spiritual dimensions that sets off most of the higher polytheistic religions from the narrowness, the one-dimensional pressure of revealed religions. Instead of the symbol of the path and the gate, which may be taken to be the ‘kenning’ of monotheism, a primeval, inevitable, and unchanging design or order (dharma, rta, shimtu) organizes the multifaceted structures of polytheistic religions. They are characterized by the absence of any centrality and by a deep-seated tolerance to shifting stresses, making possible the adaptability that such religions need to achieve their millennial lifespan. It is open to serious doubt whether we will ever be able to cross the gap caused by the difference in ‘dimensions.’ … Western man seems to be both unable and, ultimately, unwilling to understand such religions except from the distorting angle of antiquarian interest and apologetic pretenses. For nearly a century he has tried to fathom these alien dimensions with the yardsticks of animistic theories, nature worship, stellar mythologies, vegetation cycles, pre-logical thought, and kindred panaceas, to conjure them by means of the abracadabra of mana, taboo, and orenda. And the results have been, at best, lifeless and bookish syntheses and smoothly written systematizations decked out in a mass of all-too-ingenious comparisons and parallels obtained by zigzagging all over the globe and through the known history of man.”
From Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization, by A. Leo Oppenheim (pages 182-3).
First of all I am sorry not to be posting my Friday prompt for the Pagan Blog Project until Monday. My family needed me offline, and while I am enjoying my participation in this project, human beings > my weekly Egypto-Samothracian chat session with the computer.
It was also difficult to come up with something I wanted to talk about for the second in the “B” series. I was considering talking about Bithynia, or the various important women (and a town!) named Berenike, but then I got back to the computer after the family business and read a lot of posts from my colleagues and contemporaries about this blogger or that group or this religious leader saying this or that or the other about each other’s practices. It seems that a few bloggers feel the need to tell everybody else what they believe (or don’t), and naturally, this has raised some eyebrows for some, and some tempers for others.
Perhaps it’s ironic that my response to this blanket statement definition, this strange desire to go forth and tell everybody else what to do is to suggest something that is going to sound very much like I’m telling everyone what to do. Oh well. So be it.
My advice: butt out.
Unless your life (or someone else’s) is literally threatened, unless your deities demand that you intervene, and unless there is a clear and compelling reason that someone else’s personal religious experience or lack thereof is your personal business? Butt out. Nobody appointed anybody the pagan police. For people who wail so loudly about how terrible it is to have to submit to religious authority there sure is a lot of authority being thrown around.
Sometimes spirit tells you to go away. Because you need to be standing somewhere else, doing something else, not gawking at spirit.
Which is personal, but in the sense of tailored and not in the sense of rejection. No hurt feelings necessary, and in fact hurt feelings will simply become a new way to not do the thing you should be doing.
Even when spirit loves us, it knows that we have many things to do.