Thursday, June 26, 2014

Polytheism and Devotionalism.

I continue to ponder the current issues surrounding polytheism. The primary controversy seems to be between those who view the gods and spirits as objective beings with personal wills and agency and those who take a more Jungian or symbolist approach, viewing the spirits as aspects or persons of the human psyche, whether individual or collective.

In general let me say that I find little merit in trying to measure people’s Pagan sincerity or piety by their ideas. In my opinion it matters hardly a grain of salt to the gods and spirits what you might think they ‘really’ are. If you behold their images, call their names, make their offerings you are a worshipper, whatever one’s own small opinion about their nature might be.

Likewise, there is no prescribed or measurably insufficient amount of worship required to be a ‘good Pagan’. Not everyone is devout in religious practice, nor needs to be. The sources are there, public rites are available, and offerings can always be made at a home fire. Each of us decides what sufficient piety is.

All that grumbled, I’ll say that I choose to act as if the gods and spirits are objective persons. That remains a thought-experiment, to some degree, but the results so far are encouraging. I deal with both the High Ones and with smaller local spirits in this way – I must say there’s a marked difference in my perceived conversations.

One place where I diverge from current polytheistic fashion is in my attitude toward devotionalism. My polytheism is more theurgic than devotional. If I must meet a new deity for some new work I approach through meditation, ritual and study. The ritual will involve correspondences, proper times and seasons, proper invocations, proper visualizations. It will not require any offer of submission or obedience, but rather an offer of a seat of honor at a noble table. During the presence I seek to have conversation with the god, let her behold me as I behold her, etc. This is not a courtship, but a diplomatic dinner.

I don’t do surrender mysticism in relation to the gods; “not my will but thine” does not pass my lips, nor have I ever felt as if a god wanted that from me. I am an ally of the gods, their priest and magician, doing my bit in the work of bringing their presence into the world. They receive my honor and welcome, but not, by habit, my obedience. The primary divine person that I 'trust' (as in expect to have my best interest at heart and know what I need) is my own agathosdaemon - the interior spark of the divine that makes me be me, and links my spirit directly with the web of spirits.

To say "the gods" (as a class) is rather like saying "the universe". I certainly don't trust in the universe to look out for me - I look out for myself. So, my piety is formal, respectful and mostly indirect. I offer to the gods generally, to my short-list gods frequently, and to the gods of my house and hearth more frequently. Those latter I do rather trust the way one trusts a long-time friend. Divine Brigid, and the Great Good God have always looked out for us here, bless their names.

I’m not a human who lives by the passions. My inclination is to watch and manage myself, not to ride waves of feeling. Thus while love and devotion are part of the emotional set surrounding Invocation and the presence, they are not my primary mode of approaching deity. Rather I work magic, making the formal introductions, developing a relationship, making a deal. I find myself satisfied when all is steady. Thus I seek to drive the ship of my life with my own hand at the rudder, even if the spirits are the noble passengers. It is always good to have powerful friends.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Raising the Pillar

As readers will know, we're building a new nemeton here at Tredara. We've chosen a meadow in our new space. built the central porch for the Fire Altar, and over Summer Solstice weekend we built the central 'altar' at the eastern edge, to hold the other two hallows - the Well and Tree. Here's the schematic again:

We had a great crew on Saturday - we are blessed to be part of a vibrant Pagan scene in the area. 
the Nemeton meadow, empty
Gathering all the building supplies was in itself a chore, and we hardly were able to begin the build until the afternoon heat was on us. Combined with a bumper season for skeeters it got challenging to do the work. Thanks to the ancient mothers for beer, and modern tech for ice-chests and personal bug-shield generators.

Sketch for the central Well and Tree thing.

At first I was going to build this object entirely of brick, but then decided that making a big 'planter' in which we would put ivy or herbs, etc, was a better idea...

stage one
The Fire Altar and its porch in the center are very geometrical - we thought this piece could be more organic.
The cinder-block sitting down left in the left-hand pic covers the offering shaft, which will be built in to the porch.

Crew at work, just a small part of our volunteer force.
stage two

The shaft - approx five feet deep. Incidentally we devised
A plan for when it becomes un-emptiable (they all have
eventually) and instructed the children.
The construct as we finished it on Saturday evening,,
with the shaft covered with that cinder-block.
Not bad so far.
So, we must finish the 9x9 porch around the Well and Tree. In our climate mud prevention is the major goal of outdoor ritual-site building. We'll have some gates and pillars to erect, and hopefully we'll be ready to hallow the new temple on the Friday of our Lughnassadh gathering later this summer.
On we go!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rustling in the Bushes - Last Call for Leabhar Beg

Yes, it's goin' on around here. We're about to do the masonry on the Fire-altar and the Well and Tree not-altar-thingy... pics after the weekend. Here's a diagram of our proposed basic hardscaping - we're still thinking about how to pretty it up.
Proposed nemeton layout - we're on the way.

In the meantime, this is the last weekend for this season's offer of my collected works, this time called The Leabhar Beg.
This solstice weekend (until 6/23) Lulu is offering a 20% discount with the code JFS20 (probably case sensitive).
Offer has been extended until 6/30.

Surely your best price for this huge collection of lore and ritual. Buy it here.
More to come this weekend, as we burn the wheel and raise the pillar.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Proof of Life

OK, this is what I'm doing:

and a little delight:

I am also writing, finally... so, more to come...