I made the mistake of leaving a couple comments on that guest editorial at the Wild Hunt about pagan fundamentalism. I mentioned that I am a fundamentalist in that I believe that the gods exist and they are many and anyone who believes otherwise is wrong. End of debate. Predictably enough, it wasn’t. A person responded asking what I thought about a bunch of different theological views that might fall within the “many gods exist” category but could still be considered objectionable to some.
I don’t have thoughts on that.
Here’s the thing. This isn’t about philosophical debate and socializing for me.
It’s religion. Plain and simple.
My concern is worshiping my gods and other people factor into that only to the extent that I’m going to be doing ritual with them.
Now, I do my best to encourage folks to worship and have a pious and grateful mindset and in general to cultivate an awareness of the presence of the gods in their lives because I love the gods and I want good things for them and if I can be indirectly responsible for that through something I say here, well that’s cool. Real cool.
But it falls to those people to actually do that worship and at that point it’s out of my hands. They will or they won’t. They’ll think rightly or wrongly. And in the end it’s no concern of mine. All you can do is point the way.
Coming back to my own worship I am very particular about who I’ll do it with. And yes, while it matters that that person’s theological views are compatible with my own, in a lot of ways that’s one of the least important criteria.
There are plenty of folks who can talk about the gods in such a way that leaves me nodding my head in agreement. But will I stand with them before those gods and offer sacrifice?
Oh hell no.
Because doing ritual, at least the kind of ritual that I do, is a deeply personal and intimate act. There are parts of me that only come to the fore when I’m in that headspace and I’m not going to share that with just anyone. I have to be comfortable with that person, trust them implicitly, know that we’ve got compatible aesthetics and energy and values at the very least. That they’re not going to do something stupid in the midst of it and offend my gods or bring me out of that headspace. That they’re not going to walk in in a state of pollution that is contagious and will get all over me. That they understand what offerings mean and why we make them. And a ton of other things like that.
If I can’t be absolutely certain of these I won’t do ritual with that person. It’s just not worth it for me. I’ve done public ritual and it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as what I do alone or with a small group. I’ll gladly do it again if it will please my gods, but not because this is something I need.
And to be completely blunt if we’re not doing ritual together you don’t matter to me. What concern is it of mine how a stranger conducts themselves or happens to believe unless that somehow directly impacts me? Anything beyond that is purely theoretical and I just don’t have the time, energy or inclination to give a shit.
I admit I’m self-obsessed bordering on narcissistic. But I think the world could use a little more of that. I mean if folks only concerned themselves with those things that directly impacted them instead of getting all worked up over abstract concepts there’d be a hell of a lot less arguments and almost no wars.