Conversomancy

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This is a fairly narrow form of divination. On your birthday, prepare a question in your mind. Prepare two rough-torn squares of brown paper and place each in a different color Chuck Taylor. Designate one shoe for yes and the other for no, and wear them throughout the day.

When you remove them, do a pencil rubbing on each piece of paper and interpret the results.

Polytheist Leadership Conference: it’s a wrap

After reading some of my disjointed thoughts about the first Polytheist Leadership Conference, I should not be surprised that Rhyd Wildermuth is also at a loss for words.  So much of what happens when people with a common interest come together in person is simply hard to express in writing.  Whether it’s this conference or any other excuse to get people who chat online together in person, the magic is in reminding us that human contact makes human community happen, not the internet.  Many people pointed out that this conference would not have happened were it not for the internet, but saying that online interaction has value is not the same is believing it’s a proxy for real contact.

It is not.

Online, self-identified polytheists circle the wagons against the perceived oppressions brought about by pantheist and monist despots, or squabble over points of theology so fine that in larger religions, they have caused long and bloody wars.  But in person?  People celebrated their similarities, and sought to learn from diversity.  Oh, there were a couple of times when I saw someone get a little hot under the collar when a speaker suggested that eir assertion was absolute rather than hypothesis, but that was not the norm.  Indeed, I was only very rarely even asked which gods I honor; people were more interested in the work I do in their service than in their identities.

The conversations I had will roll around in my head for some time before I think they will emerge as coherent writing, if at all.  Is it more moral to sacrifice the animals I eat to my gods than to buy bits of their carcasses in town?  Can someone in the United States today prosper and be wealthy without being culpable for all the evil that money is used to wreak?  Is it possible for people who have an unwavering belief in the concept of binary human gender worship the same gods alongside queer, asexual, and metagender p0lytheists?

My notes from the sessions are sparse, but my feelings of spiritual fullness are strong.  Those feelings will guide my interactions with these people in the months and years to come, because once there’s a personal connection formed, it changes the calculus of how we relate.  No matter how much to agree with or reject the writings of a particular individual online, eir persona is built at least as much in your own head as it is in eirs.  Once we talk in person, the judgments we form come from a different set of assumptions.  It’s not necessarily a better set of assumptions, but it’s at least based on several of the senses rather than channeling everything through our overworked eyes and then expect our brains to interpret the bits that make it through.

This is human connection.  This is how community is built.  This is what each person who was at the conference must carry forth, because so many more of us didn’t make it and there will always be people who can’t make the trip.  I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this conference in my own back yard; polytheism and Paganism alike being such small movements that long trips to such events are the norm.  My sense is that there may be a regional PLC movement that develops, and I hope that it happens that way, because for all the wonder the internet brings, there are not enough words in all the languages of humanity for it to bring understanding without human contact.

Stone soup

In his closing remarks at the Polytheist Leadership Conference Sannion compared it to that old tale of collaborative food. People contributing knowledge and wisdom and helping hands. The traditions represented were diverse but the conversations were largely about similarities rather than differences.

Ancestors, how we honor them and how the influence us, figured prominently into the entire conference. There is talk about other conferences of this sort being held I other regions and other times, and I’m curious of a similar thread will be present when it is.

Polytheist shock troops

Kenaz Filan had someone in his session here at the Polytheism Leadership Conference remark that it can be intimidating for someone to try to become a polytheist, because they read writings like his and Sannion’s and might be overwhelmed by how much is asked of them.

Not so, he said: those are the “polytheism shock troops” who allow the rest of us to mostly honor the gods by leading our own lives with excellence and in their honor.

I am so glad others are the shock troops so I don’t have to be.

Almostheria

I wind up this month with libations to Hekate and my ancestors, making a Deipnon feast as I have now for several years at the dark of the moon.  The cycle has come ’round again, and the suns sets tonight upon the first of the lilies blooming in my yard.  Indeed, it is nearly time again for me to celebrate the festival of the lilies.  And again this year, I can’t help but wonder how this festival is related to Anthesteria.

The easy answer is nothing.  Anthesteria is a Dionysian festival of life, death, and a bit of craziness.  Dionysos has 2014-06-24 11.59.59recently had an impact on me (I no longer make my libations with grape juice because of him, in fact), but we’re not tight.  In the two years I’ve done so, I have used this festival to honor all of the gods, not just the one or those close to him.  This might be a better time of year to celebrate Anthesteria in my region, though, since it shows up in the miserable part of February, long before those grape vines are a’bloomin.  And that old Athenian festival has a strong kthonic component, which my celebration doesn’t.

Well, maybe more about death than I think.  Since I’ve been pondering ancestor questions, I can’t help but notice the collection of events which occur in my life in the weeks leading up to the lilies blooming.  Memorial Day, my father’s birthday and death day, mrking the loss of my cat, anniversaries of other known ancestors.  It’s no wonder I feel close to my ancestors now, and it’s curious that it comes just before the blooming of the lilies.

Since I haven’t fixed the date of this festival, I am going to set aside the fifth of this Hellenic month for it.  That will be this coming Thursday.  By then I hope to have some insight:  is this just a leading towards more honoring of my ancestors, or a specific link between this festival and those ancestors?  Are there gods or spirits which I should, or should not, be honoring at this time?  Should I be hitting the grape juice again, or otherwise preparing special offerings?  Is this actually Anthesteria in a form which is regionally and culturally appropriate to my experience?  Or maybe some kind of Almostheria which inevitably ties the fleeting beauty of a flower with the fleeting essence of life itself?  Or does the timing of the blooms signal a rebirth after a period of honoring the blessed dead?  That suggests Persephone’s ascent to me, or the journey of a psychopompos.

These answers will come from knowledge of the past, awareness of myself, and discernment of the will of the gods.  Whether I unpack the nature of this festival in the next week or allow it to unfold over the next decade, the beauty will be as delicate as that of a tiger lily, which like other flowers can be appreciated up close or from afar, but is most beautiful when it is regarded in both ways at the same time.

It seems that the more I know, the more questions there are to ask — which is not a bad thing.

I’m a failure

TPWard:

A failure? Hardly. Sannion has been pumping out hymns, tales, and awesome research while acting as a one-man polytheist magnet. He can’t be the only one pulling, though.

Who among my sparse readership is willing to give five dollars to one of these people? Can you give ten? Even five cents matters, because I will work whatever prosperity magic I can to multiply it.

Tick tock, tick tock. Share far and wide tonight and perhaps something amazing will happen by tomorrow.

Originally posted on The House of Vines:

Hey guys, I have a confession to make. I know that I come off as talented, confident and driven, a master propagandist who is manipulating the course of the polytheist movement from behind the scenes …

… but the truth is I don’t have a fucking clue what I’m doing. There’s no grand conspiracy. I’ve been winging it the whole time and now I’m scared and out of my element and have no idea what’s going to come next.

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I didn’t like what I was seeing in our communities, particularly how polytheists are being treated by a lot of mainstream neopagans. So I said “Hey, why don’t we get a bunch of smart and talented people together in one place and maybe they could think up some cool solutions!” And then I started hyping the Polytheist Leadership Conference and a lot of folks got excited about it.

Really excited.

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