What Does Monasticism Mean To Me?

I wrote this earlier today as a Facebook post in a group on Pagan and Polytheist Monasticism.

The question was “What does monasticism mean to you and why were/are you drawn to it?”


I’m not sure I can explain it fully. I think I first found beauty in Gregorian chant (first, via Enigma and then later on its own). But gradually, the idea of a life devoted to devotion began to really appeal to me.

When I became an initiate of OTO, there was an idea of us being “warrior monks” like the original Knights Templar. So I got into monasticism a little bit but I was bit too anti-Christian then to really be open to some of the concepts.

I especially latched on to Aleister Crowley’s “Liber Astarte” which involved devoting one’s self to the worship of a particular deity.

Oddly enough, I came back to it again when I began getting into beer in the late 90s. The best beers in the world were ales brewed by Trappist monks. I fell in love with these styles of beer that originated in monasteries. Then, of course, champagne was originally developed by monks. Some liqueurs (such as Chartreuse) still are. Cheeses, etc.

I began to really admire how monasteries often did things the old ways. The traditional ways. Taking time to do it right rather than being influenced by money and productivity. This seemed to transcend cultures and religions. You see Zen monks in Japan taking time to do things the traditional way as much as you do Trappist monks.

This corresponded with my growing interest in Hindu religion. Devotion, or bhakti, is..of course, a big part of Hindu religion.

I ended up going to a religious retreat to an absolutely incredible Abbey of Benedictine nuns. This really made me fall in love with the lifestyle.

So much so, that when I had a major health scare I considered becoming a monk or friar. I even interviewed at a friary. I declined to pursue it further when it gradually became more and more obvious to me that I cannot accept Catholicism.

Instead, I moved into a Quaker-based intentional community of 20 other people for 4 years to be around people that shared my values and were open to a Pagan living among them. It was great! (Though I still had to keep one foot in ‘the world’ in order to pay my rent.)

I know I’m overromanticizing monasticism and idealizing it, but I love the idea of focusing on prayer most of the day, then doing work which is not soul-crushing work but things like gardening or farming or beekeeping or cheesemaking. Yes, the physical labor is intense but it’s not for a ‘boss’. It’s more meaningful than that.

The women I met at the Abbey of nuns were not being judged by their appearance or ‘fuckability’. They were not objects. They were not there to support men. They were accomplished and whole human beings. (Though, it was almost a slap in the face in a sense, since though they were in complete control of themselves and the Abbey, they still needed a man to be their Priest in order to do Mass.)

Given today’s political climate, the word ‘traditional’ can sometimes have a negative connotation. But I do think that other than things like gender equality and LGBT rights, there is something to be said for ‘the way people did things for hundreds of years’. With our modern money-focused world, we’ve lost that sense.

The idea of devoting your life to Goddess and living a life of prayer outside of modern society seems so alien to most but it is so essential and desperately needed.

Monasticism is dying as people turn away from the Catholic Church to atheism, agnosticism, or other religions.

Look at the Beguines. They’re gone now. Look at the Shakers. They spent their lives in worship and crafting furniture that will last for a long time. People covet their plain but well-made furniture. But there are but one or two Shakers left.

I’ve always wanted to live in a Pagan monastery. I just wish I had the means to be able to start one. But this interest (in Pagan monasticism) is a very encouraging sign.

~ by sacredblasphemies on 12/28/2016.

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