Pagan/Polytheist Social Club

•06/21/2017 • 3 Comments

In years past, there have been many discussions regarding the idea of creating permanent space for Pagans. Often, the idea comes up that we should have our own temples like our ancient polytheistic predecessors. I know it’s something I’ve even mentioned that I wanted to see. 

 

For various reasons, I don’t see this working out currently. Many Pagans and polytheists have their shrine and practice their religion in the privacy of their own home. There’s not really a need for many folks to have permanent ritual space elsewhere.

 

Additionally, we’re just far too diverse of a community. The religion of a Heathen differs massively from the religion of a Celtic reconstructionist. Both differ massively from Wiccans.

How does one decide what a permanent ritual space should look like or function like?

 

What I think is a better model is the idea of a social club for Pagans or polytheists.

 

Social clubs seem a bit outdated now but they were immensely popular in my grandparents’ and parents’ generation. They’re clubs that are open to members only. Sometimes (as in the case of the Freemasons) they have their own rituals and culture.

 

Others are oriented towards ethnicities (the Ancient Order of the Hibernians) or religions (Knights of Columbus, Jaycees) or community service (Elks, Eagles, Moose, etc.) Some are for veterans (the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars). They often include a lot of charity work but also function as a place to meet and socialize with people of similar values.

 

So my idea is a social or service club for Pagans and polytheists of all varieties, regardless of political affiliation. Perhaps best started in major cities, these can function as meeting places around the country for people like us.

 

No need for rituals or passwords or secret handshakes or robes to be a member.  You pay a yearly membership fee and you’re a member, giving you rights to use the space and access the bar. Additionally, it gives you the right to visit all branches of the organization in various cities.

 

Each will have a hall which is available for rental by members for public rituals or parties. Or perhaps the hall can be rented by Pagan authors or musicians for touring. There can be space for classes for Pagan 101 type classes.

 

There can be a “Witches Ball” type celebration yearly around Samhain for the Wiccan types.

 

There can be programs for kids. There can and should be family-friendly events.

 

A library of books and resources for people.

 

If people want to run events celebrating a holiday either closed to the members or open to the public, they can do so.

 

If you’re a Heathen and you want to run Heathen rituals, you can do. Maybe some can even have some land out back for outdoor rituals.

 

If you’re a Hellenic polytheist (or any other type of polytheist) and you want to educate other Pagans or polytheists about Hellenic polytheism, you can do so. If you have enough people interested, you can do rituals for the various holidays.

 

The club can do various charity work in the area based on what members decide is important. Though I do think there should be an effort to be politically neutral. These clubs cannot be allowed to be whites-only or straights-only. Or even feminists only.

 

I think there should also be attempts to keep it from becoming Wiccan-centric as many Pagan communities are.

 

Each club should have a pub-type area where people can socialize. (Where legal, people can share their home-brewed mead. Maybe we can even have brewing classes.)


There can be monthly potlucks as well for people to eat together.

 

Due to our differences in religion, a temple itself seems like an unrealistic idea. But a social club can bring us together and allow us to have some sort of space where we can be ourselves and network with people like ourselves in a community.

 

Granted, this idea isn’t going to be for everyone. Some people really have no desire to interact with others. That’s OK. But as our religion grows and gets older and more mature, I think we need to focus on building some sort of community despite our differences.

 

So what’s wrong with this idea? Money, first of all. Convincing Pagans to spend money on any sort of infrastructure is difficult. Many Pagans do not have money to spare and those that do perhaps are not interested in such an idea.

 

Then, there’s the possibility of drama and gossip. This isn’t something specific to Pagans, of course, but it definitely occurs once Pagans get together in large groups. If a club becomes too Wiccan-centric, which is liable to happen due to Wiccans being the largest Pagan religion, then it’s likely that non-Wiccans won’t have much of an interest in joining. Particularly polytheists. If it becomes too much of any one thing (say, Heathen), it’s likely to not attract people outside of that in-group.

 

Having Pagans and polytheists get together without politics getting in the way is going to be a challenge, especially in today’s politically-charged climate. While the club will be open to both conservative Heathens and feminist Goddess-worshippers, what happens if the conservative Heathen is folkish and does not believe in allowing non-whites into their rituals? Or a TERF (trans-exclusive radical feminist) that does not believe in allowing trans women into female-only full-moon Dianic rituals?

How will it work to have individuals that believe in strict traditional gender roles (such as males being ‘manly’ mix with Feri types that believe strongly in flouting traditional gender and are often openly queer?

 

These are issues that will have to be dealt with.

 

Right now, it’s just an idea borne out of my frustration of not having a Pagan/polytheist community outside of the Internet. Perhaps it’s something others are interested in as well.

Aphrodite Ritual

•06/16/2017 • Leave a Comment

I haven’t been writing a lot about my worship lately. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing it.

I’ve been worshipping Aphrodite every Friday.

 

After I shower in the morning, I make khernips (lustral water) to rid myself of miasma. I wash my hands in it and sprinkle the khernips water on my face and body. I light candles (including a beeswax candle) and an olive oil lamp. I dab some holy anointing oil that smells of rose made by local Franciscan friars on my wrists and head.

 

I offer Her cold fresh water, mead, the lamp/candles and myrrh resin incense over charcoal. Sometimes I’ll play tracks from Layne Redmond’s album “Invoking Aphrodite”. Especially the title track (or the dance track version) and/or “The Call” (which is a repeated litany of Her names).

 

I’ll read the Orphic Hymns devoted to Her.

 

Then I talk plainly, thanking Her for Her presence, making requests, if any.

 

I sit and listen for a bit to see if I hear anything. Sometimes, I think I do.

 

I’m also looking to erect an altar to Dionysus and an ancestor altar. I’m currently reading Galina Krasskova’s book on ancestor worship for opening steps in that direction.

 

I know what to offer family members that I was especially close with but not older ones that I never knew well or only knew as a child.

Munchies: The Cider That Came From Beyond the Grave

•06/14/2017 • Leave a Comment

I really enjoyed this article on Munchies about cider.  It’s got nothing directly to do with polytheism.

But as a fermenter, it resonated with me.

 

Gods In Our Media

•06/12/2017 • Leave a Comment

Recently, Galina Krasskova posted about how movies like “Wonder Woman” and TV shows such as “American Gods” that tell stories of or depict our beloved deities were impious.

 

My comment was as follows:

 

I have complex feelings about “American Gods”, the TV show.

I loved the book when it came out but I was much more of a Neo-Pagan than a polytheist back then. (I had previously loved the author’s graphic novel series “Sandman” because it had excellent storytelling and featured gods and beings from ancient religions.)

I was very excited when they announced the show. I think the casting is excellent but there’s just something about the show that I’m not liking. It’s too ‘stylistic’. Rather than presenting the story in a straightforward manner, there’s all sorts of artistic embellishes which takes away from the series a bit for me.

Additionally, I think the blood and gore is over-the-top. It’s like an artsy Peckinpah. Knowing the story, I understand that blood and sacrifice are an essential aspect of the plot. So yeah, I expect some blood. I’m not offended by blood. I just think it’s treated in an almost pornographic way here, which takes me out of the reality of the show.

Having said that, I think the beginning of Episode 3 where we first see Anubis is probably one of the best depictions of polytheism in popular culture as of yet.

As far as whether or not these pieces of media are pollutive, I think American Gods..like Wonder Woman…are intended to be interpretations of popular pieces of media (Gaiman’s book and the Wonder Woman comics, respectively).

Does it impart a respectful polytheistic attitude towards the gods? No. But I think art such as these gets one’s foot in the door, so to speak, for people to potentially seek a relationship with the gods. From there, it’s possible that people will seek more information about the gods and find modern polytheistic religions and respectful information about how to have a pious relationship. Or perhaps they’ll open the wrong door and end up on tumblr.

How do most people born into this polluted monotheistic culture end up finding our way the gods? Yes, for many of us it was because we read mythology as a kid. Or saw the classic “Clash of the Titans”. But for some people, the entry point is going to things like the Thor movies. Or American Gods. Or Wonder Woman. Or comic books.

Though maybe these pop culture versions of our gods do not impart a healthy or respectful attitude…but if it gets people interested in polytheism in the long run, I support it.

I wrote that before I saw “Wonder Woman”. But then, when I saw the movie Saturday, I audibly made a noise of disapproval near the beginning when it was revealed that Ares killed off all the gods but Zeus.

Not only is that horrible from a religious perspective, but also from a comics fan perspective. I was hoping to see the gods be more involved in Diana’s heroism.

But even after watching the movie, I still stand by the belief that such media helps to function as an entry point into the gods, which is sorely needed. Especially if it inspires children to get into mythology.

That said, there’s an awful lot of bad depictions of the gods out there. Between “Wonder Woman” and “Thor” (which again, to be fair, are depictions of the comic book characters), “American Gods” (depiction of the book), the Percy Jackson books and movies, and “Clash of the Titans”, there aren’t any GOOD depictions of the gods.

I definitely appreciate Krasskova’s perspective. I have a deep respect for her writing on devotional polytheism and on ancestor work, but rather than criticize these depictions for being impious, I think it’s more constructive to focus on a well-done depiction. I would love to see an animated series (perhaps on YouTube) of the Hellenic mythos. To keep those stories going for the generations.

If I were an artist, I would work on this myself. I’m not.

One of the advantages of the Internet and online media is that anyone can create something and post it for the world to see. My prayer is that polytheists with a love of the ancient myths and the stories of our beloved gods that have talent in art are inspired to create such projects.

Ancestor Worship

•06/07/2017 • Leave a Comment

Lately, I have been feeling the pull of ancestor veneration. That’s probably pretty obvious considering my recent posts about my heritage.

 

I went down to NJ to help my father move out of his old house during his 70th birthday this weekend. He was going to get rid of all of our old photo albums and other personal effects that it hurt him too much to be reminded of. (My mother passed back in 1999 but it’s still painful for him to look at those photos.)

 

Naturally I took as much as I could, including photo albums, my mother’s old artwork, wall-hangings from the house I grew up in, a painting by my great-great-grandfather, and the afghan my great-grandmother knitted for my mother.

 

I wish I had had more time. I wanted to do some grave visitings. I feel like a bad descendant sometimes because I pretty much never get to Jersey. There are even some graves I’ve never visited.

 

I haven’t seen my paternal grandmother’s grave since she passed (though I saw it often as a kid after my grandfather passed). I haven’t seen either of the great-grandmothers that I knew. I’d like to change that.

 

The photos will help me start on this path. This, to me, seemed like an excellent omen. As if the gods were opening up this path for me.

Of Axe and Plough-The Realization of Polytheism

•06/02/2017 • Leave a Comment

Excellent post by thelettuceman over at Of Axe and Plough.

 

Heroes

•05/31/2017 • Leave a Comment

I admittedly have a hard time seeing soldiers as heroes. Days like Memorial Day are fraught with complicated feelings for me.

My father is a Vietnam Vet with severe PTSD. As a child, I watched him deal with flashbacks and mental illness. He is one of the lucky ones that came home.

Looking back, it looks like the American invasion of Vietnam was an absolute waste politically. It worked to tear this country apart…and for nothing. Our government sent these young men to die for their country over nothing. Pawns in their political game of chess.

Then when they returned, our government did not take care of them as was their responsibility. My father is fully disabled but had to fight another war, this time against bureaucracy, in order to get what he earned.

Even now, the Republicans are sponsoring a budget which not only decimates medical coverage for everyone but also veterans.

We did not learn our lesson after Vietnam either. Instead sending young men (and later including women) to die…or come back disabled (physically, mentally, or both) for little reason.

To be clear, I am not anti-military. I think it’s brave to be willing to die for something larger than yourself. However, I have trouble seeing people sent by our immoral government as invading forces as being heroes. Furthermore, I believe in honoring both sides who have died or who have suffered in unjust invasions such as Iraq or Vietnam.

My father is a hero because of how he gave up everything to take care of my mother when she was dying. Because when I was dying, he offered his house for me to live in, even though I was a selfish, incompetent, and terrible son.

Fred Rogers is a hero of mine because he embodied the virtues of love that his beloved Jesus taught. Likewise, as is Dorothy Day, for her emphasis on loving and caring for the “least of his brethren”.

I also think of heroes like Rick Best, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche who recently stood up against a man with a knife who harassed a Muslim woman and her friend on a train in Portland, Oregon. Two of these men gave their lives for the safety of innocent women.

May we all be as brave as these people when we need to be.