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.