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Thread: About my path and journey

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    About my path and journey

    Hello, everyone!

    I just wanted a safe place to talk about my path and journey. I've been lurking on the forum for a few days to make sure it is a safe space. Some years ago I registered on a neo-pagan forum and was ripped to shreds in my introduction post because I was dabbling in Celtic Reconstructionism and also associated with a Christian church, so that really put a bad taste in my mouth, and although the thread was closed down no one came to my defense.

    So I'll explain the Christian part. Culturally speaking I am Episcopalian, but my interpretation of the theology is esoteric in the sense of searching for metaphorical meanings and correspondences "beneath" the "outer" doctrines. There is a sense in which I believe God is humanity writ large, especially as portrayed in the Bible in which Yahweh is depicted as having both a light and dark side to his nature.

    One quote that was thrown at me on that forum was "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," (all in caps loc of course) which is true in a sense in that the Isrealites were not to worship any gods before Yahweh, but it doesn't mean that they didn't acknowledge other gods at one point in their history. It's just that Yahweh came first as the "god of gods."

    Esoterically I interpret this commandment in light of the idea that God is a projection of our humanity: thou shalt have no other gods before thine own wellbeing. That doesn't mean we don't look out for the well being of other people or serve our gods. We are a social and religious species after all. To love others and own a moral compass is part of looking out for my own well being. I need others to thrive. And many of us need our religions and our gods in order to flourish.

    One definition of neo-pagan I've heard is that a neo-pagan is someone who is not a Christian, a (religious) Jews, or a Muslim and who also self-identifies as a neo-pagan. I'm unsure how to identify when it comes to Christianity. As far as the Episcopal Church is concerned I am a Christian by virtue of my baptism, and nothing can change that. Now whether I am theologically a Christian is another matter. If we're going to go with traditional orthodox Nicene Christianity then I am not. On the other hand the Episcopal Church includes the likes of Katharine Jefferts Schori and John Spong as bishops, official custodians and defenders of the faith. Katharine was even our presiding bishop.

    As far as I am concerned, though there are schisms and disputes within the Episcopal Church, the liberals won the day, and it is a community that includes people who are willing to worship in common with other members of the church as was made clear by Schori who tended to focus on divinity as Jesus' heroic mission and morality and claims that the creed is not merely a propositional checklist, and Spong goes even further.

    Individual Episcopalians vary in the extreme in how they actually interpret the basic doctrines and rituals, and as far as I am concerned, who the community seeks to include is our business and not that of outsiders to dictate. There are non-theist Episcopalians and pagan Episcopalians and New Age and liberals, moderates, and conservatives and I'm sure more variations in between. Some focus on the Protestant aspect of the faith and some on the Catholic aspect, and in reality I think there is a very real sense in which Anglicanism is merely its own category beyond the Catholic and Protestant divide.

    I apologize if this sounds like a rant -- it's not meant to be. I'm just trying to explain how I justify myself as a member of this community. Though I am identifying more as a cultural Episcopalian these days I have taken time to interpret the doctrines in a way that is fitting to me. I am a member at this time primarily for the community and communal ritual.

    But it is not the only aspect of my path. I am coming to identify as a neo-pagan these days. I have constructed rites based on a mystical experience I had some eight years ago. I don't call them "Christopagan" for a few reasons, but some would put that label on it I suppose. They involve the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but they are esoteric in the sense I defined before. They are pantheistic in nature, and the persons of the Trinity could also be referred to as the All-Ama-Father, the Star, and Love, Love being not a mere emotion, but a philosophical concept I have developed influenced by Thelema, and Love is connected to my own concept of Will -- thus my username.

    Parts of the Star Rite change day to day in a weekly cycle and from liturgical season to liturgical season, and there are some holy days as well with their own readings. Although the rites are pantheistic they accommodate relating to God in anthropomorphic forms as well as polytheistic practices.

    I am agnostic about many things -- the precise nature of the gods, the afterlife, miracles, and so on. Nevertheless in practice I am a very religious and prayerful person. I would like to post other threads on my musings about the nature of the gods and other topics, but I will not include that here as the thread is getting long enough as it is.

    While it has taken some time for my rites to take on a fully neo-pagan flavor (albeit imbued with Christian symbols, imagery, and Powers) I have dabbled in neo-paganism for about ten years. I was a part of a student led Pagan Student Alliance and celebrated some of the Sabbats with my friends. I was delighted to take part in a Kemetic Reconstructionist offering as well. But I did all these things as a guest mostly.

    I was never particularly drawn to Wicca, neo-Wicca, or the usual Wheel of the Year, though I dabbled in that as well. For a long time now though I've been drawn to some form of polytheistic practice. To some extent I've been able to accommodate this by gravitating toward the Anglo-Catholic traditions within the Episcopal Church of venerating Mary and the other saints, and I was able to accommodate it even further in my personal rites (the Star Rite and the Marian Rite). But for some purposes of self and other-exploration I've found this incomplete. It's not that these things don't hold an important place in my spirituality -- they do. But pantheons of gods embody a richness that is hard to find anywhere else.

    I have been specifically drawn to the Greek gods. I have been studying the mythology, and I find it absolutely fascinating. I've wanted to incorporate the Hellenic Powers in my worship. But how to do it? I don't feel drawn to a Reconstructionist calendar based on Athens, and as I said before I'm not attracted by the Wheel of the Year. I can follow a basic Hellenic Reconstructionist sacrificial rite or something close to it, and I find that perfectly fitting and useful and have been planning out how to do it and which hymns to use and so forth.

    But what about the calendar? I am currently constructing my own calendar and seasons, something relevant to me and my culture and that will hopefully be a fitting context in which to worship the Hellenic powers. I will post what I've developed so far in another thread and my thoughts on the matter. I hope others more experienced than me in such matters can help me flesh out my ideas and calendar further! So with this next step on my journey I think it's official: in some way or another I belong to the neo-pagan community.

    If you've read this far -- thank you! I really felt the need to write and share this.

    Love&Will

  2. #2
    God in the baking Sean R. R.'s Avatar
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    Re: About my path and journey

    Quote Originally Posted by Will View Post
    Hello, everyone!

    I just wanted a safe place to talk about my path and journey. I've been lurking on the forum for a few days to make sure it is a safe space. Some years ago I registered on a neo-pagan forum and was ripped to shreds in my introduction post because I was dabbling in Celtic Reconstructionism and also associated with a Christian church, so that really put a bad taste in my mouth, and although the thread was closed down no one came to my defense.
    Hello and welcome to the forum!

    I'd like to point out something very important - a piece of information that will serve you pretty much everywhere, not only here: Forums and online communities are virtual spaces of discussion and presentation of ideas. As such, it is to be expected that any piece of information or idea will provoke a counter-idea, or a response. You cannot expect anyone to take in the information your present upon them and just nod in acknowledgement.

    Your ideas will be challenged, sometimes quite bluntly. In the S.A.F.E. Zone we make extra efforts to be as understanding as we can, for we know exposing our ideas, specially in regards to spirituality, can be a very personal intrusion we are willing to risk for the sake of intellectual development. Even then, getting your ideas to be challenged is the best way to develop them, and learn how to defend them.

    Also remember that your perception of things is what constructs your own subjective reality. This means that by saying that your ideas got "shredded", you're acknowledging (and accepting) their effect on you. If you believe strongly in yourself, and you understand yourself and your own beliefs, you will never again fear "retaliation" against your ideas. Don't let it discourage you. Use it to grow. People strongly and bluntly disagreeing with you doesn't mean they're shredding your ideas, it's just that your ideas undermine in one way or another the coherence of their ideas and beliefs. Them being blunt and insensitive doesn't make the experience necessarily pleasant, of course. Celtic and Hellenistic Reconstructionists are often very driven by historical, hard evidence. Anything that you say you believe in these paths will immediately put you in the dissection table for this community, and merging Celtic, Hellenistic and Christian based beliefs is definitely going to raise some eyebrows. Eccentric and seemingly disparate beliefs will probably require a good amount of good information and argumentation to be taken seriously at all in those two communities.

    From my point of view, what you consider yourself to be doesn't need any approval from anyone. They're your beliefs. Yours. Don't let anyone tell you what you should believe in. However, if you're able to dig through the information, pleasant and unpleasant, that you're receiving from feedback, you're almost sure to find something that will allow you to grow and mature your beliefs.

    If you feel drawn to the Greek gods, you don't really need to follow a Reconstructionist praxis, you can just figure out by yourself a way of worshiping that fits your needs and is coherent inside your already existing belief system. Create your own path.

    Check out my blog! The Daily Satanist

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    Re: About my path and journey

    On the flip side of Sean's post (which is very good advice), there is challenging ideas and then there's being a general ***hat. The former is to be expected on discussion forums. If you feel that you are dealing with the latter then report the post in question.

    After all, the rules exist for me to oppress all of you. If members have moved from challenging ideas to general ***hattery then I have clearly been lax in delivering oppression and I will need to make up for lost time by making examples of people.
    "It is not simply enough to know the light…a Jedi must feel the tension between the two sides of the Force…in himself and in the universe."
    ―Thon

    "When to the Force you truly give yourself, all you do expresses the truth of who you are,"

    Yoda

    Yoda told stories, and ate, and cried, and laughed: and the Padawans saw that life itself was a lightsaber in his hands; even in the face of treachery and death and hopes gone cold, he burned like a candle in the darkness. Like a star shining in the black eternity of space.

    Yoda: Dark Rendezvous

    "But those men who know anything at all about the Light also know that there is a fierceness to its power, like the bare sword of the law, or the white burning of the sun." Suddenly his voice sounded to Will very strong, and very Welsh. "At the very heart, that is. Other things, like humanity, and mercy, and charity, that most good men hold more precious than all else, they do not come first for the Light. Oh, sometimes they are there; often, indeed. But in the very long run the concern of you people is with the absolute good, ahead of all else..."

    John Rowlands, The Grey King by Susan Cooper

    "You come from the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve", said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth; be content."

    Aslan, Prince Caspian by CS Lewis



  4. #4
    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: About my path and journey

    Quote Originally Posted by Will View Post
    .. I have been specifically drawn to the Greek gods. I have been studying the mythology, and I find it absolutely fascinating. I've wanted to incorporate the Hellenic Powers in my worship. But how to do it? I don't feel drawn to a Reconstructionist calendar based on Athens, and as I said before I'm not attracted by the Wheel of the Year. I can follow a basic Hellenic Reconstructionist sacrificial rite or something close to it, and I find that perfectly fitting and useful and have been planning out how to do it and which hymns to use and so forth.

    But what about the calendar? I am currently constructing my own calendar and seasons, something relevant to me and my culture and that will hopefully be a fitting context in which to worship the Hellenic powers. I will post what I've developed so far in another thread and my thoughts on the matter. I hope others more experienced than me in such matters can help me flesh out my ideas and calendar further! So with this next step on my journey I think it's official: in some way or another I belong to the neo-pagan community.

    If you've read this far -- thank you! I really felt the need to write and share this.

    Love&Will
    When it comes to the Hellene cosmos you really have to consider there is basically a public face and a private face. There are public rituals & events and there are private rituals & events that were done in the home. To some degree you might even take it to the degree that there is a separation between male and female practices. One could go even further in that there is also some separation between social strata and what was allowed and expected regarding what, how and even where things were done.

    The Attic (Athenian) calendar is the most familiar calendar but it is not the only calendar know to exist. Even then there were possibly 3 or 4 calendar's running at the same time. Basically a planting calendar, a festival calendar, a political calendar (10 months if I recall correctly) and that was just in Attica. Each influencing the other's with each being "Doctored", especially the festival calendar as many of the dates were based upon celestial movements so could slide a few days either way. Figure at one point the calendar was based upon lunar cycles vice solar cycles. That doesn't even touch upon the Med basin is basically built upon a three season planting cycle which influences their wheel of the year. Different from a four season planting cycle like northern Europe which Wicca is built upon.

    Either way welcome to the site.
    I'm Only Responsible For What I Say Not For What Or How You Understand!

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    Re: About my path and journey

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean R. R. View Post
    Your ideas will be challenged, sometimes quite bluntly. In the S.A.F.E. Zone we make extra efforts to be as understanding as we can, for we know exposing our ideas, specially in regards to spirituality, can be a very personal intrusion we are willing to risk for the sake of intellectual development. Even then, getting your ideas to be challenged is the best way to develop them, and learn how to defend them.
    Oh, I'm definitely fine with being challenged intellectually. That's not an issue, and I do learn in this manner. I'm a member of yet another discussion forum that is very research-based, and that has taught me to be careful about making assumptions even privately! But it's one thing to challenge and then quite another to go on the attack, especially when using the "no other gods before me" argument which is actually one of the common verses in defense of accommodations of polytheism in Abrahamic contexts.

    I do agree with you though that I can be sensitive, and I really shouldn't let this have such an effect on me since I don't even know these people and it was a long time ago, and I want to thank you for an insightful post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean R. R. View Post
    If you feel drawn to the Greek gods, you don't really need to follow a Reconstructionist praxis, you can just figure out by yourself a way of worshiping that fits your needs and is coherent inside your already existing belief system. Create your own path.
    I agree. I'd like to talk about the calendar I'm creating elsewhere as it might be fun and get some more ideas flowing.

  6. #6
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: About my path and journey

    Explore! Exploring is fun. Some people are afraid of unmapped places, though, and they may try to stop you from going there.

    Don't let 'em - pack some metaphorical bug spray, and some metaphorical warm undies, and hit the metaphorical wilderness!
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

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    Re: About my path and journey

    It sounds like you've got a nice handle on your path.
    Last edited by faye_cat; 03 Apr 2019 at 17:51.
    “I am Cat and I walk alone and all ways are the same to me.” ~Rudyard Kipling, The Cat Who Walks By Himself

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    Re: About my path and journey

    I was very interested to read of your experiences. We have both moved in a similar direction: I too started as a member of the Church of England and went through a phase of actually identifying as a Christopagan. But my journey was basically an intellectual one and the religious experiences didn't arrive until after I'd committed to the Greek Gods.

    As for calendars, the only common elements are those based on agricultural activities, and they'd be wrong for both of us. Not only did different states have different festivals, but so did different districts within a state: what happened in Marathon and Eleusis was not quite the same as in Athens. Different states also prioritised different gods, or worshiped them in a different context. So, do your own thing!

    Personally, I parcel out the months among the Olympians for annual festivals, with Zeus and Hera doubling up to make room for Hades and Persephone. I feel that I should try to connect to everyone; as I say, Ares is quite not my sort of god and I'm not his sort of human, but I feel that I'm the better for keeping in touch and recognising his role in the cosmos. Helios gets the solstices and Gaia the equinoxes — quite un-Hellenic! Then there are the monthly festivals for my household gods: Hestia, Asklepios, Tyche, and Hekate.

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    Re: About my path and journey

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
    I was very interested to read of your experiences. We have both moved in a similar direction: I too started as a member of the Church of England and went through a phase of actually identifying as a Christopagan. But my journey was basically an intellectual one and the religious experiences didn't arrive until after I'd committed to the Greek Gods.

    As for calendars, the only common elements are those based on agricultural activities, and they'd be wrong for both of us. Not only did different states have different festivals, but so did different districts within a state: what happened in Marathon and Eleusis was not quite the same as in Athens. Different states also prioritised different gods, or worshiped them in a different context. So, do your own thing!

    Personally, I parcel out the months among the Olympians for annual festivals, with Zeus and Hera doubling up to make room for Hades and Persephone. I feel that I should try to connect to everyone; as I say, Ares is quite not my sort of god and I'm not his sort of human, but I feel that I'm the better for keeping in touch and recognising his role in the cosmos. Helios gets the solstices and Gaia the equinoxes — quite un-Hellenic! Then there are the monthly festivals for my household gods: Hestia, Asklepios, Tyche, and Hekate.
    That's interesting! To honor each Olympian I plan to do a short devotion to one each month, but I'm working on a different main calendar. But I will take this into consideration.

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