There’s a reason why Zeus is king of the gods and Hermes isn’t

My piece on how the over-emphasis on writers within Paganism is harming the community has apparently hit a nerve with a lot of people. Good. It was meant to.

Just to be clear, I’m not faulting writers here. Writing is what writers are supposed to do, so you can’t really get upset at them for being successful at it. You can think that they should be using their gifts in a different way — instead of constantly addressing the controversy du jour they could be exploring the intricacies of a deeply engaged religious practice or creating beautiful works of art to honor the gods and spirits. But here’s the thing, a lot of writers are producing that kind of content even if it doesn’t get as much attention as when they weigh in on the hot button issues. And anyway a writer should write only what they feel moved to write. They have no obligation to please you, to meet your expectations, to say the things you think they should. If you want something said, say it yourself! If you don’t like what a writer says, don’t read them!

So writers clearly aren’t the problem here — it’s a community that pays attention to them pretty much to exclusion of everyone else.

What about other kinds of artists and musicians? What about the community organizers and activists? The priests and mystics? The small business owners, the teachers, the parents, all the regular people who make up the bulk of the community? But we never hear from these people unless they also happen to be writers.

This isn’t good.

And it’s not good for a lot of reasons.

I’ve heard from a bunch of people who are doing amazing shit, stuff I couldn’t even dream of doing myself like metal-smithing or hosting a conference or getting their coven to make and wear masks in sacred drama on the street corner — and these people feel like their accomplishments are meaningless because the wider Pagan community has no idea they’re out there doing anything. And they feel left behind because all the major decisions seem to be made by a handful of folks, all of them writers. This has driven some of them to start up blogs of their own so that they can be more directly involved in the Pagan community. And then what?

Mostly nothing.

These blogs sit empty for months or years before they’re finally scrapped or else the person fumbles around, mostly regurgitating what others have said and never really content with what they produce.

Because they’re not writers.

There’s nothing wrong with that. They have other gifts, ones that are just as important and necessary for the health of their communities, even if they aren’t as valued.

Look, I think writing is cool. Obviously, since I’ve devoted a large part of my life to doing it. And I’m always encouraging people to speak up and a big part of why I do the round-ups is to draw attention to voices in the community you might not otherwise hear.

But you should only write if you’ve got something that’s aching to be said, something that will actually hurt you if you don’t get it out. And you should only write if you can’t express it through some other means.

We don’t need a bunch of people writing because they think that’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re a Pagan. All you end up with then is a bunch of shitty writing and nothing else happening in the community. We need people with big, pressing things to say. People who write because they can’t walk away from it, people who would still be writing if there was no one there to read their words.

And if there’s any future for Paganism we need to start listening to more than just the writers.

A perfect example of what happens when you don’t do this is the Hellenic community.

Just like the various forms of Heathenry, Hellenismos got its start back in the 1970s though almost no one called it that at the time. Through the 80s and early 90s these communities were following very similar courses. There were a bunch of small local Hellenic groups spread out across the country, with larger concentrations in California and the East Coast. These groups networked to share information and resources and plan gatherings. It’s fun to go back through old newsletters like The Scroll of Oplontis and watch all of this developing in the ads and letter columns. Then the internet happened and for a while that momentum actually increased. Ranks swelled as more people found their way to Hellenismos through websites and e-mail forums. Several large national organizations formed and a bunch of us made efforts to meet up with other Hellenics by attending big pan-Pagan events.

Then it all came to a crashing halt.

Most of the groups are dead today or limping along without having done anything significant or so much as updated their websites in years. You rarely hear about anyone teaching classes or workshops or attending conventions. When was the last time you heard anyone serious propose a Hellenic gathering? And when was the last time you thought they actually had a chance in hell of pulling that off if they did? If it wasn’t for the handful of Hellenic bloggers that are still out there doing their thing — and sadly, most of these people are arguing the same tired shit we were nearly a decade ago, with no progress in their rhetoric or ideas — why, you’d think there was no such thing as modern Hellenismos.

How did this sad situation come about?

Lack of balance.

With the internet we saw a rise to prominence of writers within the community. Before then if you were going to make a name for yourself you had to be good at carrying out priestly duties or organizing community events. That is what brought you to the attention of folks on the other side of the continent. But when exchanging e-mails became the primary means of interaction, then suddenly people who could write well were the ones getting all the attention and making all the decisions.

I saw groups appoint to leadership positions people who had only been Hellenic polytheists for a couple of months before they were tapped for these positions. Experience and dedication didn’t matter. Read a couple books, make a pretty website or a couple forceful and engaging blog posts and they’ll put you in charge, no questions asked. Unsurprisingly most of these people weren’t really cut out for that kind of work. They either bailed as soon as things got tough or made a series of shitty, stupid decisions and ran their groups into the ground.

Another thing that happened around this time — and I have no doubt that the two are related — is that the tone of the conversations drastically changed. If it’s still around (and I haven’t checked in years) go back through the archives of the Hellenic_pagan group on Yahoo for the first couple years of its existence. Yeah, there’s plenty of arguing over trivial shit, the sort of ideological nit-picking that you find when any group of fairly intelligent people get together — but what you’ll also find there, which you don’t see as much these days, are conversations about the nuts and bolts of religious practice, concern for the spiritual well-being of one’s co-religionists, a desire to collaborate on projects and get together in person for fellowship and ritual. It was a small community, but at least it was one in more than just name.

Incessant flame-wars and dick-wagging destroyed all of that. It stopped being about what people did and became about what people believed. Controversy flourished because it was a quick and easy way to make a name for yourself in the community. The controversies got larger and more abstract, more divorced from actual practice and the realities of our communal existence until there was no common ground left for anyone. You chose your sides — or had them chosen for you — and dared only associate with people who thought the same way you did on these issues. Instigators on both sides were so extreme in their words and actions (and painted their opponents as even more extreme) that you ended up associating with people you might not actually like very much because the other side was so fucking nuts you didn’t want to be damned by association with them. Worse yet, there was no room for nuance in the discussion. Both sides often had some pretty valid points to make but heaven help you if you should be seen actually agreeing with something the enemy had said. Your “friends” would turn on you in an instant!

So a bunch of us just got fed up and left the community behind because it was getting in the way of actually worshiping the gods.

Unfortunately most of the people who left were the ones actually doing stuff in the community, which is why there’s hasn’t been a whole lot of progress within Hellenismos over the last six or seven years. What’s left are the controversialists, too busy rattling their rusty sabers over the same tired issues to notice that no one’s listening to them anymore, converts who are too busy figuring out how to get started themselves to take over the reins of leadership, a few quiet, gentle, hard-working souls still trudging along and doing what they can even though most people never notice their efforts and it never seems to amount to much anyway and a bunch of apathetic shits who want it all handed to them on a silver platter without having to lift a finger to foster the community they believe they have every right to just by existing.

If anything is ever going to change people need to learn to see past their differences and work together towards a common goal. Let me tell you, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than writers to make that happen.

I can tell you that because I’m a writer. A stranger, an outsider, a trickster and trouble-maker. I belong on the periphery questioning norms and values, pushing against boundaries, challenging people and getting them to reevaluate and think deeply about things. That’s my job, that’s what I’m here to do. I’ve tried the whole leader thing and I suck at it. Oh so bad, I suck at it. And so do 90% of other writers.

And you know what? I’m going to be over here scribbling away no matter what, whether there’s a Pagan or Hellenic community or all that vanishes tomorrow. Because I’m a writer and that’s what we do. I don’t need or care about community. I fucking hate people. But you guys don’t, and I hear all the time about how much you want this to happen. Well, if you want it to happen you’ve got to make it happen. Yup, that’s right. You. The person reading these words right now. You. Using the gifts the gods have seen fit to give you. The gods have given you these and not other gifts for a reason. Use them, the way only you can. And if enough of you do that, then you’ll have the community you’ve been dreaming about. And if you don’t, you won’t. Simple as that.

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71 thoughts on “There’s a reason why Zeus is king of the gods and Hermes isn’t

  1. heh. baby, you ringing my chimes right and left these days!
    i’m the worst of all worlds. i can write, but i don’t very much. i’ve got a boxful of excuses as to why i don’t, but the bottom line is that i tuned the muse out for so long that she got bored with me. it’s hard to coax her back. i’m involved in online communities because i’m so grateful to them for being there when i needed help and inspiration, and i can’t stand to see them die. but i have very little in the way of leadership or organizational skills, so mostly i’m frustrated by them. i used to jump into the verbal vomitus, but it wore me out. i’m just not interested in the debates any more.
    i’ve moved away from what i am good at, which is ritual, either intense ones in small groups, or integrative ones in big groups. how sad is it that i’ve let what i don’t love and am not good at sap my energy for what calls to me more?
    i’m too much of a loner to want to create ‘community’, and what that means to me keeps changing. but i know that in order to serve Them, being there for people in this world is what i need to do. i’d better Work harder at figuring out how to do that better.
    khairete
    suz

    • That’s the frustrating thing. You shouldn’t have to be a leader or organizer. You have so much to contribute (to the point that I still value our time collaborating on stuff together) but that isn’t it. And if you or others like you try to wedge yourselves into those positions, you end up squandering the gifts you do have and nothing good comes of it. I don’t know what the solution is, obviously, or I’d be proposing it. But I hear this kind of thing from so many people, and it breaks my heart.

  2. “Incessant flame-wars and dick-wagging destroyed all of that. It stopped being about what people did and became about what people believed. Controversy flourished because it was a quick and easy way to make a name for yourself in the community. The controversies got larger and more abstract, more divorced from actual practice and the realities of our communal existence until there was no common ground left for anyone. You chose your sides — or had them chosen for you — and dared only associate with people who thought the same way you did on these issues. Instigators on both sides were so extreme in their words and actions (and painted their opponents as even more extreme) that you ended up associating with people you might not actually like very much because the other side was so fucking nuts you didn’t want to be damned by association with them. Worse yet, there was no room for nuance in the discussion. Both sides often had some pretty valid points to make but heaven help you if you should be seen actually agreeing with something the enemy had said. Your “friends” would turn on you in an instant!”

    ^ You have grabbed all my feels, and accurately summarized all of Modern Paganism and Polytheism, in one paragraph.

    I’m a History major, so naturally I get hung up on weird details, just not in a way that’s hugely personal. I’ll write little articles about them and just leave them around for people who are also curious about weird details. Sometimes I’ll throw my two cents in on a prominent community issue, but generally try to stay out of the mess of personality conflicts.

    Why others can’t separate dialogue from ego, I have a very hard time understanding. Why does everything have to be so incredibly personal?

    In the Kemetic community, all of what you’ve discussed is a huge, huge problem. Now, I don’t agree with the Kemetic Orthodox Temple 100%, not even remotely. My interpretation of Egyptian Theology and Tamara L. Siuda’s interpretation diverge significantly in a lot of areas. But I support what she has accomplished, and when it comes to her projects, I do my best to support them. She’s *actually doing something worthwhile for the community.* Meanwhile, a shit-ton of Kemetic writers try to assassinate her character every time she opens her mouth or lifts a finger on any issue or project. Now, I understand not contributing to something or someone you don’t believe in supporting . . . but really? Slander and character assassination and generally trying to convince others not to contribute to her efforts? That is incredibly lowly and stupid. And not a one of them steps forward with better/alternative projects or more effective strategies for the community. It’s as though these people live to take pot shots at her. It’s revolting.

    We need to not compete with each other so hard. This isn’t a race, this is a group effort. We either sink together or we swim together.

    I haven’t been involved in Polytheism as long as you and many other writers I communicate with, I’m sure, but I’ve been involved long enough to have grown sick and tired of the high schoolery and popularity contest llama-drama and . . . aaauuugggghhhhh.

    • I know exactly what you mean, and it’s frankly a big part of why I never got more involved in the Kemetic community. (That and the whole honoring Greek gods on the side thing, which was really frowned on at the time.) I don’t agree with everything Tamara says and I honestly don’t know anyone who does. But the woman is sincere and dedicated and has done a hell of a lot more for her gods than I ever will. I respect that. And if all I see is someone trash-talking her without offering valid alternatives or accomplishing anything of their own – that lets me know immediately what sort of person they are.

    • Kemetic Duder

      So I am going sound really ignorant but I guess I stay in my protective Kemetic Orthodoxy bubble. Is there actually that much drama about KO? Honestly I haven’t noticed it, ya people disagree but are generally Ok with her (and us) from my observations. I always envisioned the Kemetic community as being a little bit tighter (as the ignored recon group nobody seems to notice) and relatively less dramatic than other polytheistic/pagan groups. *shrugs*

      I guess I just don’t see the Kemetic drama as being all that bad compared to other groups! Especially compared what I seen when I was also trying to do some Hellenic stuff on the side.

      • It really is that bad. It’s just a matter of being on the wrong message boards at the wrong time. There’s plenty of vitriol of that sort on eCauldron, to name one of several. I don’t participate in any discussions there, but some of my fellow Kemetics have linked me to the shifests, and hooo lawdy, am I glad I don’t waste time and energy there.

        • Kemetic Duder

          Ok. wow. eCauldron still exists? Who knew? I thought it died out years ago… Thanks for the info though!

          • eCauldron is still one of the most active general pagan fora, and honestly, for all the issues some people there have, they’re still worlds better than flies-to-shit on MysticWicks; *much* higher ratio of knowledge to nonsense, in my experiences, and I still log in and take a read once or twice a month.

            • In my mind, poor form is poor form. Comparing shitty behavior is like choosing between having either leprosy or tuberculosis. Both of them suck, and we’d all be much healthier without either of those mycobacterial nuisances floating around.

              Because the pot-shot-taking and faction entrenchment on TC is more veiled (albeit poorly), does not make it somehow “better.”

              • You know, in light of Nykti’s comment, I gotta say that I really don’t see what you’re saying about eCauldron. I’m logged in right now and reading, and I don’t see what you’re saying, at all. Maybe I was confused with my previous comment, or maybe I was remembering much older posts –oh well, that’s irrelevant to what I see now.

                Could you please source what you believe are some of these thinly veiled attacks? I’ve only ead posts from as far back as 2011 so far, and only from doing a search of “kemetic orthodoxy” on the forum, so I might not be seeing everything, but as best as I can tell, giving you the benefit of the doubt, that veil might be thin, but it’s still pretty damned opaque. I can’t find these attacks you speak of. At all.

              • Because, at the end of the day, all faction entrenchment accomplishes is the widening of gaps between parties that should be cooperating toward common goals, not kicking the legs out from beneath community figures whose only real “crime” is not being the religious figurehead one has chosen to cast one’s lot with. Which is a fake choice and a stupid one. WE’RE IN THE SHIT TOGETHER, FOLKS.

                (Another reason why I think more people should join the military — you learn to work in shitty conditions with people you absolutely despise, because you’re beaten over the head with the necessity of it. You don’t get to choose favorites, especially if you’re a boot. You can try, but best of luck to you. You either work together and do your job correctly, or you’re all semper fucked. And in a warzone, probably very literally dead if you don’t cooperate and cohesively perform the necessary duties and tasks required to accomplish any given mission.)

                The current fashion in Kemeticism, and indeed, in Polytheism overall, is self-sabotaging, and though many prefer to remain blind to it, it’s strangling the religion. I honestly doubt that most Kemetics (or any strain of Polytheist) who lament the state of the community *actually want* community. They just like to bitch and piss and moan like children over how terrible a job [insert Big Name Pagan here] is doing. And why should that be obvious to all of us? Because the whiners don’t bother to get off their asses and be the change they want to see. They enjoy their entitled perch from which they sit and constantly criticize, but really don’t do anything of value for the community itself. Anything at all.

                I don’t know what people are smoking that they believe the community will be around no matter what — it won’t, not if we don’t give our blood, sweat, and tears to continually improve it and make the changes that need to be made, and strive to overcome our own pettiness by bridging divides to get shit done.

                I don’t go on any of those message boards, TC or otherwise, because it’s an exercise in futility and petty “cult of personality” politics. It’s a waste of time, and I have yet to see any real change develop out of any message board threads. It’s all ego-masturbation and hot air — ego-masturbation and hot air that sacrifices the strength and potential success of a community for fifteen minutes of fame and contrived “status.”

                I have my blog, and I do intrafaith and interfaith networking online. I support community projects monetarily when I can, and spread the word about them when I catch wind of them. But I know that’s not enough. We need boots on the ground. We need to stop being overgrown, glorified children and actually be there for each other.

                As for an example, and one of recent memory, Siuda’s Kickstarter project for “The Egyptian Daybook.” Now, like I said before, I can understand people saying “I don’t like the look of it, and no thank you, I won’t be contributing money to it.” That’s fine. No one put a gun to anyone’s head over contributions.

                I come from a modest background in Classical Studies (formerly — changed majors suicidally) and Medieval Studies and Art History (currently). I don’t have a PhD or anything, but I’ve been in the shit for the better part of a decade and have enough experience delivering papers and have sat in on enough shark tan — I mean, conferences, to know the difference between intelligent criticism and polite attempts at undermining someone’s efforts. In “the field,” when you call someone’s work “disingenuous” or “misrepresenting,” those are career-unmaking words right there. You’re attacking someone’s personal credibility. I don’t expect TC to understand, much less meet, those nuanced standards, particularly when so few involved in Polytheism have been exposed to that particular academic culture, but you’d have to be blind not to notice that whenever Siuda comes out with something, *anything*, people dog-pile it. Not benign criticism or simple disagreement, I mean dog-pile it. Her work isn’t going to be credible because she’s the leader of KO, or she’s being misleading by not mentioning that she’s the leader of KO so that her academic integrity can remain intact (because — and I can personally attest to Devo’s statements on the following thread — if you’re a Polytheist in “the field” and people know it, your reputation/credibility is toast within academia).

                I have yet to hear/read such criticisms of Reidy’s or Nicholls’ work, much less their personal credibility, on TC.

                http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?6043-The-Ancient-Egyptian-Daybook-Finally-a-calendar-for-Kemetics!

                • And off TC but involving TC members, there was a notable instance of HOLY SHIT VITRIOL in the case of “Responses to Satsekhem’s ‘Kemeticism is Orthopraxic,’ ” both on WordPress and Tumblr (dear Gods, I haaaate Tumblr. It’s the worst of them all). The “shopping cart ma’at” thing Nicholls put forth a while back didn’t work for Ms. Satsekhem, and she explained how she felt it didn’t make sense for her, and how she personally tries to rationalize ma’at. Instead? Full fucking blow-out, ad hominem attacks, whiny “vaguebooking,” the whole nine.

                  We’re human. We all lose our tempers from time to time. I’m certainly no exception. But could we try not throwing tantrums and laying into people and ripping their guts out when they disagree with the articles/books and interpretations of any BNP? ‘Cause that’s pretty counter-community right there. That’s a big chunk of the problem, and it’s why we can’t have nice things.

                • I really don’t see what you’re talking about going on in that thread.

                  I also don’t see why the rest of that was all that necessary.

                  • It was a continued thought from my comment prior to that one, and then I made an abrupt segue once I got a notification that you made another response and asked for examples. I apologize if it started out looking tangential and was disjointed in my presentation of it.

                    And to be frank, I feel the words I said are beyond necessary. If you don’t, that’s your mileage and I’m not going to attempt to strip you of your right to your thoughts and feels.

                    If you don’t see what’s going on there, with respect, I honestly don’t know what else to tell you. Or rather, I don’t know how else to put it into language that translates.

                    If you haven’t yet, try looking up the “Kemeticism is Orthopraxic” Waterloo which I mentioned in a separate comment (the thought came to me after and I don’t know if you saw it) and the subsequent messes linked to and related to it, if the flamewars were not deleted out of pure shame and backpedalry. It happened a few months ago, so, I wouldn’t be surprised.

        • I’m a regular on TC, and I haven’t actually seen anything that could be labelled as “vitirol” against the Kemetic Orthodoxy since … I think the change over to the new forum? (Considering we have a policy in place that prohibits actually attacking religions or having personal attacks against people in particular religions, and people have had warnings or bans for purposely starting drama) I know there have been posts in the past on places off of TC which like to claim we are actively encouraging hate or are attacking KO or Tamara Siuda, but tbh I haven’t seen it.

        • I’ve been a Kemetic member of the Cauldron for years now and have yet to see anything posted about Siuda in a vein of slander or character assassination. What I have seen, though, is overreaction and assumption by some that any comment about Siuda’s work that isn’t immediately glowing is vitriol.

      • I don’t know about currently – it’s been about 4-5 years since I was involved in the wider Kemetic community – but there used to be a lot of shit-talking, often with little to substantiate it. Mostly it had to do with Tamara allegedly borrowing stuff from African traditions and passing it off as Kemetic. Thing is, there’s a lot of continuity between Egyptian and African stuff, so that never really bothered me.

        • Really? That’s all you heard from around then? about 4-5years ago, i encountered someone on LJ who felt compelled to PM me (in spite lacking any apparent interest in Kemeticism, but like I’ve said, people always talk to me, I guess I just have that kind of face) to warn me that KO/Tamara was a power cult / cult leader, and she has an “inner circle” of people who’ve essentially signed away their autonomy and possessions to her, made her beneficiary in life insurance policies, etc… I humoured them and took a look at what seemed to be their public forum at the time, and i saw a lot of yes-manning, so I said “ah, yeah, i see what you mean”, then shrugged and stopped responding to them. I think LJ has long since deleted the message, or maybe i did, but seriously dude, BIG difference between what i saw (relatively harmless head-bobbing, at least from what i had access to) and what they were claiming.

          I guess maybe you’ve either managed to avoid those claims, or erased them from memory as a minor sanity preservation.

      • (as the ignored recon group nobody seems to notice)

        I think a big reason it seems that way is cos few white people want to get into any more discussion / debate about how Black the ancient Aegyptians “really were”, in spite of all archaeological anthro-genetic studies that support the notion that the current population of Egypt reflects a relative constant of ethnic group and skin tones that has maintained itself through thousands of years.

        Thus the joke of apologising for the Afrocentrists.

        Of course, I’ve actually been in a conversation with someone who insisted that Colin Farrel, Irish, yes, but clearly of a dominant “black Irish” stock, was “too white” to play the Makedonian Alexander the Great (who, being of Northern Hellenic stock, would’ve likely been at least a little paler than someone from the southern tip of the peninsula); even though he was chose by Stone for the role cos, with sun lightener in his hair and a touch of spray-tanner, he looked a *lot* like the famous Roman fresco (or was it a mosaic?) of Alexander.

  3. Teka Lynn

    And that’s not even getting into Heathen sectarianism! There are people I respect greatly and whose blogs I read daily, but some of the groups out there…yowza. I keep my head down, do my own practices, read my lore and others’ UPG, take what sounds sensible to use, consider other ideas, and keep my mouth shut.

    • That’s the only thing one can do, really. And yeah, the shit going on in the Heathen community makes all the Hellenic drama pale in comparison. Tim Alexander may have been a contentious twat, but I’ll say this much for him: he never sent death threats to people he didn’t like, whereas that seems de rigueur in Heathenry.

  4. Thank you for writing this. I’m a people person, I love people, I like having them around, I like talking with them (face to face) and I like worshiping with them. Having some people over, honoring the Gods, then eating and talking (about our lives, issues, whatever) is wonderful to me. As I’ve expressed elsewhere, it is frustrating to me to have to listen to the squabbles constantly, and to watch the community just flounder and limp along.

    Your post gives me a certain hope for the future though, and has made me think heavily about how I’m contributing to my community. I want the mystics back. I want people to know we exist, and I want us to have ways and means. For example, we have all these damn writers, but we don’t even have a newsletter. At least not that I can find. Neokoroi seems to be dead. Maybe that is a place to start. Why not hold workshops at Pagan Pride Day events? Attendance be damned, make an appearance at least. Presentations, rituals. Things can be done, and I know, one of these days they will be.

    I will do what I can do, and I’m going to stop letting my youth and insecurity hold myself back. If the older, more experienced folks won’t do things than I will, and if they get mad because I make a mistake, well fuck ‘em. If they want it to be pitch perfect they oughta be doing it. I’ve made an effort to draw DFW Hellenists together, and I feel that is a good start, and I’ve got a nice group going. The 3 people who currently attend are wonderful folks.

    I’m chasing the carrot.

    • Fucking brilliant! That’s exactly what needs to happen if there’s going to be any vitality and future for Hellenismos. It needs some new blood, new perspectives and new passion.

      A couple bits of unsolicited advice: I wouldn’t try to do this through any of the established groups. Most of them are decayed and moribund so a lot of your time and energy is going to go into livening them up instead of doing things that will bring honor to the gods. More importantly, there are some old, bitter and insurmountable divides in the community. If you try and do this through Neokoroi or Elaion you’re going to find a bunch of people that won’t have anything to do with you just because you’re associated with those groups. You’ve got to come at them fresh, offering something different – then you’ll get folks on board. That’s the number one reason I can’t be involved in the whole polytheist radio round table discussion thing or this broader endeavor. I’m dirty and controversial. I’ve pissed off a ton of people in my time and burned more than my share of bridges. Folks catch my name associated with a project and they’re going to (justifiably) run in the other direction. You guys need something clean. Even if that means reinventing the wheel.

      Secondly, and even more importantly, don’t make that wheel the same way they did originally! Resist the urge to make a big group and get all the bylaws, internal structure and hierarchy, etc. ironed out first. This stuff will develop organically as need arises. But it must come from the needs of the community. You can’t set that in place and then expect a community to grow up around it. It won’t. All it will do is distract people at a crucial time, give them something to argue over instead of actually doing the work, and impede growth and vitality. I warned people in the Hellenic community about this over and over and over again, with every group I was stupid enough to get involved in. And every time they rushed right ahead with that shit and then wondered why their little creation was sitting there like a broken toy, not doing anything.

      • fathergia

        Well, currently I’m a member of Hellenion, and have my group registered with them. Though, I will readily admit that I don’t know the whole situation with them, or the politics surrounding them, to me they seemed like a decent group, so I joined and got some resources I needed. The local group is associated with them, but I invite everyone, especially the lovely folks at the local UU Church. I’m not sure if this will be a boon or a bane, but if it becomes a burden then I’ll deal with it in its course. The group existed before I decided to associate it with Hellenion, and will exist independent of Hellenion.

        Thankfully, we aren’t chartered so we don’t even have to think about by-laws at the moment, and chartering is only going to happen if the handful of people who attend agree it is the right course of action. I see advantages and disadvantages. If we do, I will certainly keep in mind to make things simple,and adaptable. The tree which bends does not break in the wind, that which doesn’t does.

        I really appreciate the advice. I kind of stumble around with stuff due to being ‘fresh’ so earnest advice from folks who have been around the block means something to me. Especially when it makes complete sense.

        • There are a lot of good folks in Hellenion, trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got so I won’t talk trash about the group for their sake.

          And something to keep in mind – you may be new to all of this but so was everyone else at one point. Seriously, none of us knew what the hell we were doing in the beginning (which is evident by how royally we screwed up all the time) we either figured it out along the way or gave up. (Or did neither and keep butting our heads against the wall expecting it to give any moment now.) So you’re entitled to your screw-ups (how else are you going to learn?) and honestly? I don’t think there’s any way for you to fuck this up worse than people already have. So do what you feel called to by the gods, do it with everything you’ve got, and be sure you have fun along the way.

          • fathergia

            Ha! Well, that is reassuring. I’m aiming a bit above that though. And I will. Having a bit of fun is vital, you can’t do what you need to if your fire burns out, after all.

            Thanks for all the advice.

    • Neokoroi seems to be dead.

      Which angers me. That was a group that was really headed somewhere at around the time Dver felt called to pass the reins. She passed the reigns on to several people, assuming that it would be more efficient for the direction things were headed, but unfortunately, most of the people who volunteered their efforts turned out to be little more than histrionic tiara-chasers, some of whom very quickly passed on the duties *they signed up for* to even bigger histrionic tiara-chasers.

      He Epistole, the Neokoroi newsletter, was *seriously* going in a direction where expansion to small-press magazine with adspace to support its existence was feasible within three or four years (I was one of a few people who saw this, the only one suggesting a realistic plan for it -what, with my previous experience as right-hand-man to the editor of a small-press mag, including access to distro contacts that would get it in pagan bookstores without the need for a streetteam- and guess what? I ended up blacklisted for seeing the promise of growth because the lulu left in charge of it got his feelings hurt) —it instead quickly crumbled from a quarterly publication of quality pieces every issue to a biannual of tripe, then an annual, and now I think there’s only talk about “reviving” it.

      I don’t fault Dver for doing what she did at the time —if I were in the same position, I might’ve thought it was a good idea, too, especially considering the direction things seemed headed in. I place all blame squarely on the people left in charge; they wanted all the assumed prestige of being “in charge”, but they couldn’t be bothered with the work that was necessary. All that collective accomplished in the four or five years since was they changed the website design —whoop-de-shit. That group meant something to me, and they killed it. They deserve whatever Kirke wants to feed them.

      • fathergia

        That really is a shame. Neokoroi seemed to have a lot of promise, and they seemed (from my outside perspective) to seem like a group of good and humble folk. Sad that fame-chasers had to go and ruin it.

        I hope that another magazine goes up some day. He Epistole seemed good, from the back issues I found.

      • Believe me, if there had been a single person (or maybe a couple) who (a) wanted to take over the reins fully from me and (b) could actually handle it, I would have much preferred to do it that way, because I think a group like that needs a leader or two with real vision and energy to get everyone else on board. But sadly, as you said, those who volunteered couldn’t even manage their tiny portions of what I used to do single-handedly. I tried to be optimistic, but inside I was pretty sure it would just fizzle and sadly it did. Over and over the Hellenic community has shown that while they might say they want things (in-person gatherings, newsletters, etc.) no one actually wants to put the time, energy and money into them. I am honestly glad I separated myself emotionally from it all when I did, because it would have been a much bigger disappointment otherwise. (Also, I was proven right that it was time for me to leave when – after handing over all my work to at least a dozen people, thereby showing what a huge job it had been – I received barely a word of thanks for my service – certainly not on the list itself, though some people made comments to me off-list. Doesn’t really engender warm fuzzy feelings, you know? And then don’t get me started on the time when they tried to claim ownership over my writings that were still on the site….)

        • And then don’t get me started on the time when they tried to claim ownership over my writings that were still on the site….

          Damn, i don’t even remember that, but considering that at least one of those people was ringleader of a similar drama at NA I heard about from Sannion, it doesn’t surprise me. I basically had to wait out until a new webmaster was appointed to get credit for the Eros page I’d written, cos of that whole “it was written for the group / you gave it to the whole group” mentality. Well, no shit, I just wanted my byline present, that doesn’t make it any less a contribution “to the group” to have a tiny recognition for a contribution.

          I do apologise, if i’ve failed to thank you for the hard work you put in on Neokoroi, when you did. I don’t know how you held that all together the way you did, for as long as you did, but you made it work.

          • Oh, not only that, some of them actually accused me of *rescinding my offerings to the gods* because there were devotional pieces in there I was removing from the site. As if the Neokoroi website was the only possible receptacle for such an offering, and removing it there was blasphemy. Wow.

            And thank you for that last comment. :)

            • Hey, we’ve had our differences, but I’ve always respected the work you’ve done —credit where credit’s due.

              “Rescinding your offerings” cos you’ve moved web content? Oi theoi… I’m sure the ancient smashing statues as an act of devotion would make certain people’s heads explode is simply transferring content from one site to another is some great blasphemy.

  5. Modern pagans seem to be fools that are unravelling a tapestry that has been fucked on for over three thousand years, they are too focused on every thread, munching at the gold parts while neglecting to restore the rest. We can write and write but nothing can heal the lamentations of what has been lost.

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  7. It takes small works built up over time and big efforts pushed through with fervor to get to where I’d like to see the communities I am part of. One of the hardest realizations I had to hit was ‘I cannot do it all’. I do my community work, do my writing, and keep on keeping on, and sometimes, actually more often than many like to admit, just keeping on and doing what we can is some of the most powerful Work we can do. Honoring the Gods when no one else is listening, speaking with the Ancestors when everyone else goes home.

    It seems that Paganism is in the throes of the same youthful fervor that brought me to it; we’re so fresh and new, relatively speaking, that a lot of things are being sussed out as we move along. Gods knows that my own religious transformation of a Wiccan-esque sort-of-polytheist into a hard polytheist alone was a process, and almost a decade in. I think that a lot of people are quietly and not-so-quietly working on longer-term structures, on places of strength where people can rest their feet and get to know their body, so to speak, again.

    • It takes small works built up over time and big efforts pushed through with fervor to get to where I’d like to see the communities I am part of.

      You said it all right there, man.

  8. Bless this post and conversation.

  9. I agree with all that you’re suggesting here…

    …Except the subject line.

    Apparently, you’ve never been to Gaul (or to Ireland). The “Gaulish Mercury” is the greatest of the gods in Gaul; and, even though kings were the theoretical pinnacle of the social ladder in Ireland, it was the poets who held equal honor and status with them, and who ran the society in almost every major cultural respect. (No wonder I like those cultures so much, eh?) Sure, the kings made sure the trains ran on time–even though they never had trains and now that they do, they never run on time (!?!)–but the poets made sure the god-juice flowed into the things that were praiseworthy and flowed out of the things which were blame-worthy, and all by their gods-given powers with words.

    This is one of the reasons that CR will never be what it could be: no matter how much people talk about loving the “old ways” of Ireland and all of their various “ancient Celtic ancestors,” no one takes words as seriously as the ancestors did.

    I’m not bringing this up to say “You’re wrong, loser!” or anything of the sort; I’m simply offering a different social context in which Hermes was the king even if Zeus seemed to be, and was most certainly the power behind the throne. No, Ireland didn’t end up prospering as much as one might have wished it would have; but, where it failed politically, it ended up influencing the literary culture of the entirety of Western Europe in ways that people are still reluctant to give them credit for.

    • The reason Zeus is king and Hermes isn’t is because Hermes is smarter! Being king fucking sucks, man. It’s all about duty and getting people to do shit they don’t want to and getting blamed when things inevitably go wrong. When the Titans devoured baby Zagreus Zeus’ first thought was, “Fuck, I liked that boy,” followed immediately by, “Double fuck, I have to be king again.”

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  11. “Controversy flourished because it was a quick and easy way to make a name for yourself in the community. The controversies got larger and more abstract, more divorced from actual practice and the realities of our communal existence until there was no common ground left for anyone. You chose your sides — or had them chosen for you — and dared only associate with people who thought the same way you did on these issues.”

    I am often asked to pick sides. Why cannot I be on my own damned side? I like to hang out with people who think totally different from myself. Why debate with someone you only agree with? What would you have to talk about really? Controversies are still not as bad as putting out a simple statement no-one can disagree with just to fish for other people’s improvement. And this I see a lot in the Pagan community. It is like my sister-in-law trying to start a conversation with: “I am so against child abuse”. And then there is either n awkward silence, or a monologue of 30 minutes. It seems an online discussion has to be either a raging controversy or (and this I see more often) people agreeing on statements that are just plain common-sense.

    • Amen! The people I enjoy talking with most here at The House of Vines aren’t necessarily people I’d call friend or choose to hang out with. But they’re intelligent, passionate, dedicated people (which goes a long way with me) and we have interesting conversations — often because we disagree so much with each other. As long as you can do that with civility and respect, you’re good in my book.

      It is like my sister-in-law trying to start a conversation with: “I am so against child abuse”. And then there is either n awkward silence, or a monologue of 30 minutes.

      Ah, see, with an opening like that I couldn’t resist and would take the pro-child abuse stance just to get a rise out of her.

      • Hahaha. I’ll remember that one. I have already harassed her on every other assumption (such as ‘everyone beliefs in good and evil) so I had let this one fly, but I very much appreciate the sentiment.

    • thelettuceman

      Take a look at some of the most frequently posted-on topics on the Wild Hunt. The bevy of new authors that JPW has brought in garner a few comments, perhaps, but rarely more than a dozen. Meanwhile, a shocker or a controversial topic generates several dozen, if not over a hundred, comments. It’s human nature, especially Western/American culture to respond more passionately to controversy.

      Because it requires less intelligence to think about. Everyone has an opinion on some bullshit to do with Christianity, or some scandalous new development with Whoeverthefuck, or whatever. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty of practice, and on personal belief? “NO WAY, MAN, WE CAN’T CRITIQUE THAT, ELSE WE’RE AS BAD AS THOSE PAPISTS.” Ugh.

      • But when it comes down to the nitty gritty of practice, and on personal belief? “NO WAY, MAN, WE CAN’T CRITIQUE THAT, ELSE WE’RE AS BAD AS THOSE PAPISTS.” Ugh.

        Which is why the word “pagan” is doomed to become devoid of all meaning. When people can’t even define what they do to unite them, that’s a problem. It says nothing about what a community stands for, other than a useless word that’s little more than the Abrahamic equivalent of “muggle”, meaning “not one of us”. That says fuck all about what paganism IS, though.

        • Drekfletch

          Now I want a comic in which Tenniel’s Humpty Dumpty is saying “When I use the word pagan.”

  12. I haven’t blogged since September because I don’t have anything that’s just aching to be said.

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  15. *raises a toast*

  16. Thank you for this post.

    It touches on several points of something I struggled with for a looong time. Until I just said fuck it, I’m following the Mousai and hanging with my Eudaimon, and y’all can have fun running everything else.

    I’m an artist, over here doing my art thing. The Ladies have PLENTY of tasks to keep me busy. At some point I hope to reconnect with community, but I refuse to be made to shout to carve out a place and be heard.

    Come closer, have some tea, hold this figure in the palm of your hand, tell me about your life with the Gods. Maybe let’s address/praise/thank them together, formally. Maybe. That’s about my speed :)

  17. You know, it makes me sad because I DO like people, and I love community. I think the Internet itself is part of the issue…it’s a blessing, of course, because hey, it’s awesome that we even have the means to connect with people all over the world…but it’s also an issue because of the subsequent proliferation of anonymity that comes with that means of instant communication and, with that anonymity, comes disconnect, and with disconnect comes the inevitable freedom from responsibility that I think so many people (both consciously and unconsciously) end up feeling. Usernames, blogs, forum threads – this stuff connects, but it also disconnects. It makes it easier to reach out, but also easier to become de-humanized, in an attempt to, like you said, only discuss controversy. I’m a writer myself, and I am fully in favor of blogging as a form of self-expression and communication with others. But it definitely needs to be combined WITH action: in-real-life-action. But how do people act when all they know is how to be a username commenting on a forum? How do people make lasting communities when all they know is how to reblog posts on tumblr?

    I’m not against technology helping us and bringing us together. Like I said, I have a blog, I even have a tumblr. But the Internet should be the BEGINNING of our communities, not the be-all-end-all of them. An issue, I know, is our lack of solid numbers (and organization) – and the fact that Pagans/Polytheists are so spread out throughout not just America, but the world at large. There aren’t as many places for us to meet as there are churches and synagogues and mosques out there. I can’t just join in on any public ritual or ceremony I want, if one is even being held. But it’s just as you say: none are even *being* held, or if they are, we don’t hear as much as we should about them in the first place – because that’s not what anybody is talking about on their blogs and forums and tumblrs.

    We need to get OFF the internet, plan events and plan get-togethers, and then use the Internet as a form of jump-starting communication about those events – “hey, this is happening here, at this time, let’s try to get as many people as we can, even if it’s only five people!” That’s a start. That’s a beginning. Sure, it takes leaps of faith, because you don’t know who will show. But communities, like religion itself, start with faith. You have to have faith that the people on the forums and the blogs and the tumblrs are real people. And I know some events do already exist, and I honestly hope to be able to attend them more often (when I have money for travel. I also admit – I’m new in general to the Pagan/Polytheism world, just two years in).

    I’m honestly not a leader, I’m really not. But I try very hard to practice MOST of my religion – the real, nitty-gritty, ritualistic, Gods-connecting part of it – away from the Internet. And the rest of the time, I try to have faith in people…and I work piece by piece to encourage as much community building activities as possible…right now, I’ve accepted that most of it IS online. We DO have to start there. But maybe someday, if we work hard, more of that will also take place off the Internet, and in person. And with in-person comes responsibility, and the strength to approach real, living, breathing people and, at the very least, shake hands.

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  19. I was thinking about this and the other post, and although I have absolutely nothing to add about Hellismos, not having much to do with Those Guys (except Haides, but that’s a post for a different day), I did have a thought about the concept that we need more than writers in order to have any sort of successful Pagan organizations outside of cyberspace. (Does anyone call it that anymore?)

    As a disability advocate, to me it started to form into an accessibility issue. First of all, in organizations I am a part of, I am frequently the one to remind folks that not everyone has immediate, constant, reliable access to the Internet. And whether we like it or not, many public internet terminals (like at libraries) have Net-Nanny type blocks on websites for a plethora of reasons you and I would both be pretty angry about, including Paganism and Witchcraft. So even if all you’re posting is the time and location of your local munch, if it’s on a site that mentions those sorts of things, chances are high someone who relies on free Internet sources can’t or won’t be able to know about it. Depending on the size of the group, sometimes they’ll offer a service where people can sign up to be a “notification buddy”, and call or visit someone who needs the info being posted on the Internet, but obviously this becomes burdensome when you’re talking about a group of sixty or a hundred people. Having a postal newsletter is costly, which is why so many more groups are proliferating in a time where things like that can be created and maintained for free or very little on the Internet.

    You also have to figure that especially as the Internet has become so ubiquitous that people carry it around in their pocket, and conversationally people assume one has the ability and resource to read emails within the same day they’re sent, or even receive text messages; it can be humiliating and embarrassing to admit that you do not have ready access to such things. Or even more simply, because one does not have access to the Internet, one has no way of knowing your group (or you, as a Pagan teacher/guide/what have you) exists. We have to remain conscious of this, and make sure we think about how to address this (or if we want or need to) when creating and maintaining presences that exist only on the Internet.

    Secondarily, when we make being a cogent, much less interesting, writer a prerequisite to both interacting with the Pagan demographic, as well as being taken seriously as a known quantity, we are excluding people who have developmental, learning, or physical disabilities that make tasks like that difficult or impossible. I have a dear friend, a devoted Odin’s man, who has given his blood/sweat/tears to the Pagan demographic locally. He also has severe dyslexia and a limited education, which means reading anything he writes on the Internet either requires a decoder ring or a shit ton of patience. People exclude him from leadership positions or limit his realm of influence based solely on this factor; in fact, he ran for the presidency of a local Pagan organization for five or six years before he was finally elected. The only reason he won? Because his only opponent was an outgoing pres who was disliked by most of the Powers That Be, so it was a true case of voting for the lesser of two evils. It also bears mentioning that because of what had happened in the previous presidency, any schmoe who volunteered to be next would be scrutinized, attacked, belittled, and openly criticized, no matter what he or she did. He took it on because it was a position he dearly wanted, and made some incredibly good changes to how the organization’s money was spent. However, all people saw was that he sent public communications representing the organization that were barely legible (for really important stuff, he would frequently ask one of his wives or friends to proofread his work, or take dictation; but as we know, sometimes the speed of the Internet demands a timely response that doesn’t take things like that into consideration). He is a bit of a bully and a hardhead to boot, and that didn’t help, either.

    But another thing I saw about his turn at the helm is that people openly commented on the fact that he wasn’t an intellectual. He has no gift for creating and implementing new ways of thinking or perceiving. He was better at figuring out how to save money by cutting some pretty simple things from the budget (the group’s big gathering went from paying $4k in insurance for a one-week event, to $400, solely by eliminating any official programming that took place in the pool.) He maintains all of the group’s infrastructure, and makes sure it is inventoried every year and things that need replacing are done for the least amount of money. He spends hours researching vendors for things we rent, making sure we’re getting the best deal possible. These things were vital for an organization that was dipping dangerously into the red; and yet what he’s remembered for in his term is not being able to write an email and/or being kinda bossy.

    I know that when clients ask for pastoral care sessions via some sort of chat, they frequently don’t understand when I inform them that I use dictation software to type about 40% of the time, and chat is one of those things the software sucks at. (Basically, I have to click and mouse and edit so much, it’s just easier to type, except that it isn’t.) When I explain, very patiently, that if they want predictable sessions that have any meaning, I need to do it via the phone or video chat, they freak out and run away.

    So now I’m definitely pondering this idea of Pagan elderhood and accessibility. It’s sexy how you make me think about things in ways I hadn’t before. ;)

    • You also have to figure that especially as the Internet has become so ubiquitous that people carry it around in their pocket, and conversationally people assume one has the ability and resource to read emails within the same day they’re sent, or even receive text messages; it can be humiliating and embarrassing to admit that you do not have ready access to such things.

      I don’t think it should be humiliating and embarassing. It should be a point of pride.

      • It should be a point of pride.

        Yes!

        • I’m just saying, we have all gone down a cultural crazyhole really fast with the internet.

          • we have all gone down a cultural crazyhole really fast with the internet.

            And with constant communication of any sort (texting, etc.). Perhaps some people feel embarrassed that they don’t have a smartphone, but I just feel sad for people when they express shock at my lack of one. That they can’t remember how well we all managed before these things, just a few years ago. That they are so beholden to the cultural imperatives that they don’t even question spending huge amounts of money on this thing they don’t even need. That they have less time and focus than they would if they just chucked it, but they’ll never consider doing it.

            But Del is right, it is an assumption that can be exclusive. Whether by circumstance or choice, if you don’t have a car or a cell phone, but everyone assumes you do, you can get left out of certain events and organizing – say, when you can’t receive the texts they all use to communicate, or you can’t get to the ritual space because no one even checked if there was public transportation there.

            • Amen on all accounts.

              The two-edged sword of getting rid of things like facebook and smartphones is that, regardless of how alarming it is that our culture has adopted these things as essential (when we were really just fine without them twenty or even ten years ago), our culture has nevertheless adopted these things as essential. So you certainly can get left out, and that’s a thing to consider.

              I’m pretty quick to be flip about it and say “just keep in touch the way you used to!” But in reality, you almost can’t, because nobody else does.

              For awhile I was a regular contributor to a group blog where all the organization and central communication happened via Facebook, so I just, never got the message. It was funny and frustrating at the same time.

              • Fortunately for me, I am pretty damn anti-social. So if someone isn’t willing to communicate with me via perfectly good methods like phone, email, etc., then I don’t really care that much about communicating with them (since they clearly feel the same way, if it’s too much trouble to call or write rather than text or FB). I also tend to be dismissive of people who are so wrapped up in the zeitgeist they can’t think for themselves. But, I can afford to be, because it won’t really impact me to be left out.

                I might be more inclined to adopt some of these new things if I thought they were going to be permanent. But no, there will just be a new social network to learn or a new kind of device to buy in a year or two. Not nearly worth the time, effort and money it all requires.

  20. Syna

    Honestly, this sort of thing is why I’ve thrown up my hands and kept my religious involvement to the O.T.O., which — though it has drama in equal amounts, believe you me — *actually manages to get things done in ye olde meatspace*. (Insert bad innuendo about Sannion’s cock and ‘meatspace’ here.) Part of that is because Mr. The Beast 666 laid everything out for them, but fuck, it works, and the requirements are (at least at my level) ingeniously laid out such that I can treat the O.T.O. the way it works best for me — as a church, and not as a religious or magickal lodestar.

    I am a Thelemite, but no Crowleyite. I consider him a prophet, but as *my* prophet he is behind a long list of other people. On top of that, I explicitly *cannot* follow the Thelemic magickal system, and have obligations to the gods, and more than all of that I am a motherfucking writer before anything and everything else. I don’t have a huge amount of time to devote to the O.T.O. But they’re okay with that, and I contribute and get a lot out of what they do, and it’s all peachy keen for the most part.

    This despite the fact that most Thelemites, like most pagans, have organizational capacities that put cats in burlap sacks to shame.

    To be honest, I think Hellenismos et al could take a page from that book. Asatru has, in many quarters, cultural cohesion because it arose out of a specific set of circumstances. Hellenismos isn’t going to have that. They are going to get their membership through people on the internet, period– like O.T.O. *However*, if the internet can *point them to* a group that is doing good work– good work that is porous enough that it won’t intrude on people with idiosyncratic practices and beliefs, but which has *conviction* behind it that won’t bend at the first maelstrom of drama — I’m sure they can be very resonant. They’ll just have to figure out a clear picture of what purpose the group will serve.

    To be honest, I think this will require vision along the lines of Tamara Siuda. As it’s been pointed out — tons of people don’t agree with her, but her personal vision & drive has at least created *cohesion*. Without the Pharonic aspect of KO, the Hellenismos visionaries will probably have a bit less pull, but it’s still possible.

  21. For the record, I don’t do what I do because I am “pharaoh,” with whatever baggage anyone cares to tack on to that word. I do what I do because I promised my gods I would. They asked me to, because it needed doing and nobody else was doing it. But pretty much it is exactly like Sannion says above. I might be a king, but I guarantee it doesn’t mean what most people think it means.

    Anybody can do what I have done with Kemetic Orthodoxy. Anybody can do better than I have done, as well. All it requires is wanting to do it and then actually doing so. It’s not just that we’ve got too many writers. We’ve got too many people who never go further than the thinking and the speaking. Heka (ancient Egyptian magic) had three components: thinking, speaking, AND doing. The doing is just as important as the first two.

    Thank you for posting this, and for this conversation. It is long overdue and important. No group of humans, religious or otherwise, survives if people aren’t willing to work at it. It’s like anything else – it requires constant vigilance. It can be done, but it will not happen if the masses keep leaving the work to a few – eventually the few will burn out and the only ones left to work will be the ones who can’t or shouldn’t be doing it. There’s a tremendous amount of promise in the new generations behind me. I want to see you succeed. Don’t you dare give up and retreat to your blogs! :D

    • because it needed doing and nobody else was doing it

      Sometimes I think it always comes down to this – some of us just get stuck with this stuff because we can hear the gods ask for (or demand) it, and eventually realize that no one else is going to do it, so we shrug and throw ourselves in. I’m about to embark on yet another project that I would much rather be a participant in, not the leader/organizer, but clearly this is the only way it’s going to happen.

  22. The replies are as good here as the original post.

    Personal experience; I was part of a group of pagans studying together. The high priestess got a group of folks through to the final initiation stage in the Tradition under which we were all studying. Okay, done, we had two groups of initiates and some others, maybe around 20 people or so in a nebulous grouping. The older initiates were sort of on their own (I was in that group) but the newer ones and the others wanted to continue a study group. The high priestess continued that for about two months, and then suddenly left.

    I took over. Not because anyone handed it to me, but because there was a sudden vacuum and there was still a desire to meet and study and such. After a couple of months I got the budget, worked out meeting space, etc. The place where we met closed, so I moved it to my house. Then a new place opened and I moved it there. A few months into the study group I started my divorce proceedings, so I was having group meetings at my house, where my wife was, in a really nasty environment.

    I asked for suggestions on what to do, and got some, but I also got “suggestions” on how I wasn’t doing things right. After nearly a year the divorce stuff got so bad that I asked for help. Could I get rotating assistants please, between high holidays? Sure sure, that would be great! So I got one person who helped between Yule and Imbolc, and then it was time for someone else. I got a second person, who then dropped away halfway through; too busy you see. No one else wanted to assist. So I let the group die. I was too overwhelmed with my own life issues to keep it going.

    When you lead, I’ve learned, two things happen. One, there are plenty of voices that speak up about how “you’re doing it wrong.” Two, when you ask for help, few are willing to step up, even a little bit.

    I am still involved with Neos Alexandria and I think that the group is doing good work. I mostly do support work, as well as the festival calendar. At least we’re a functioning group doing things like the devotionals. As has been mentioned there are many groups that just died. However, for those who were leading such groups, I can’t blame them for moving on. It’s a thankless job.

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