My second installment in a series of posts for International Pagan Values Blogging Month.
As a Kemetic polytheist, I have many reasons why I will not choose to join a temple or related group. Petty politicking, cults of personality, differences in Egyptological interpretation or approaches in practice. In addition, I am a being that walks always on the edge and the outskirts of things. It is part of my path. I find holiness in the taboo, in the borderlines. Like my Patron, I seek ever to be the Edgewalker, between worlds, bridging gaps, passing between boundaries, pushing limits, encouraging others to do the same.
At the same time, I can also be an opinionated person, with passions and a temper that could only be described as Setian in nature. Trying to balance this is a constant feat of self-control, a balance in it’s own right. To find balance between striking down the falsehoods, and respecting differences of opinion, is not always a clear-cut task for me.
Through the course of my travels I have encountered people who claim to interact with the same deities I claim. Sometimes I find this indeed a hard thing to wrap my mind around–their descriptions of them, and interactions thereof, seem to fly in the face of my understandings of them, and even mythological and archeological records of them. I begin to wonder if we are both speaking to the same deity. How does one draw the line between striking down falsehood, and promoting peace and unity, if such a thing can honestly be attained? For the most part, I’ve never engaged in some of the serious, but yet petty, arguments and discussions relating to paganism and polytheism on the internet. Part of this is my avoidance of group settings, another is that I am a private person, I am for the most part, as my name states “solo” in much of my habits and actions. A hermit, in every mythological sense of the word.
That won’t, however, stop me from witnessing certain arguments, or holding a strong disagreement against a certain thing. And you know, when I hear mention of occult-type gatherings where “cuddle piles” are occurring, or some perky and bubbly Kemetic proclaiming “Squee! Seth is my daddy, I’m so much like him, and he loves me soooo much!” it’s going to be very hard to relate to them, or to take them very seriously. This goes beyond the simple fact that I am a very hands-off person when it comes to physical contact or affection, and am not one prone to bubbly, fannish behavior. Then again, I never was one to treat my spirituality as a fandom, but as a way of being, incorporated in all areas of my life.
That would be where I’d define “fluffy”. On the other hand, there are many areas occultists and other pagans would think me a bit fluffy: I identify as an otherkin/therianthrope, I believe in reincarnation, just to name a couple examples. To use the term to strike down a belief structure is, I feel, limiting and closeminded. On the other hand, one should not be so openminded that their head falls completely out of their skull, that commonsense is chucked out the window. No one questions, no one encourages further learning. People take what they are given by self-proclaimed gurus handing them out on silver spoons, or try to warp the deity to fit their own paradigms, until it reaches a point to where they no longer resemble the deity of myth, or the deity of my understanding.
This kind of reminds me of earlier discussions on UPG. My view on this is that it very much has a place in one’s spiritual practice–to strike down UPG as “fluffy” is to deny the creative and individual experience of the sacred. If one adheres slavishly only to what is written in mythology and archeology texts, it grows stale, soulless. Spirituality is an organic experience, and even back in the old days, it grew and evolved and transmuted itself, even on the individual level. Again, as a borderline person, I strongly recommend a balance be struck: the UPG and the VPG (Verified Personal Gnosis), or the CPG (Confirmed Personal Gnosis). Walking this middle line isn’t being wishy-washy, to me it’s only personal balance.
I don’t think that the uneducated, the willfully ignorant, or the otherwise “fluffy” should be suffered. But one has to wonder what is there to be gained by needlessly waging war with such people. While one is out “fluffy buny hunting” as I’ve heard the term used, couldn’t that time be spent in other areas, maybe educating yourself, or otherwise developing important metaphysical skills, occult knowledge, spiritual union with the divine? How much of it are you spending in actually learning? Although I’m not what one would call a pacifist, I’ve lately taken the approach of combating the cotton candy through example, through writings, through research. I can’t be bothered to engage in long debate, or to constantly correct people, no matter how much I think they’re right and they wrong, or what the books tell me otherwise. It’s not to say that I won’t do it, but what I suppose I’m trying to say is that I’m beginning to pick my battles more and more, especially since there are things in my life that carry greater weight than what some person who I feel is a fool is spouting off about on the internet.
On top of all that, maybe I just don’t know enough about a person, especially on the internet, to tell if they’re going through a moment in their life–did they involve themselves with the wrong person or group of people disseminating the wrong information, are they just starting out, or other factors? I had experiences walking out of an abusive, cult-like situation. I also had my early start like everyone else, and said and did some dumbfuck things in the past. I still do. Shit happens.
My point, I guess to boil it all down is: are people willing to learn from their mistakes, or not? I’m not anyone’s daddy, I’m not going to wipe anyone’s asses. I’m still going to write, and share my experiences, or those I am able to share. The rest is up to whatever persons in question, or whatever gods or spirits out there watching over them.
This month is International Pagan Values Blogging Month. A nifty idea, and one I plan on weighing in on as the month goes on.
My values are deeply defined by my own personal life experiences. This is deeply important to me. As a Kemetic polytheist, I seek to uphold Ma’at, which is truth, and rightness. It should be something to note that Ma’at is both a concept as well as a deity, whereas the polar opposite, isfet, is simply an insidious and faceless force, though sometimes represented by the serpent Apophis. Perhaps, to put a face on something is to give it more power. Perhaps that is why I’ve been known to shut down my emotions when it comes to dealing with certain things. Emotions seek to put faces to things, and when something is trying to drag you down or hurt you, sometimes it is better to not give it a face, or look it in it’s face. Better to look straight through it, straight to your goals.
But, I digress a bit, I think.
During the month of June I’ll be addressing the 42 Negative Confessions. These are deeply important to the Egyptian pagan/polytheist. Or they should be. Despite the cryptic verse and the sheer age of these words, the concepts therein are timeless and can easily be applied to postmodern living. I may not be able to address them all, but I will try to hit on some key ones, and discuss those, at least how they mean to me.
Earlier I had this discussion with my fiancee about religion. For those of you who read me or keep tabs on things, my fiancee is a Christian (Lutheran). I’m sure there are some out there who genuinely wonder how a conservative German Lutheran and an American Pagan could possibly hit it off. Sometimes it saddens me when people talk like this. My question would be, why not? Our religions may be different, but our values are fundamentally the same, if not similar. Anyone who tries to boil down my own personal values as being throwbacks to, or just influences of, my former Catholic upbringing, would be to insult me. I am not a drone, nor would I dare to insult myself and my gods gods by assuming that we would have no moral standard by which we should all be accounted for. Sannion hit on some very great points in this area in his post Unity Through Diversity.
In any case, in our discussion, one of many, on the topic of religion and related, he explained to me that he is glad that we share the same values, and happy still that because of my strongly-held beliefs, I would not convert to his or any other religion. This shows that I am strong in my beliefs, that I, as he puts it, have a strong backbone. This is important, deeply important. You would think sticking by one’s beliefs and values to be easy, but it is so much harder when put to the test. One of our greatest tests was to stand before each other, exposed in our spiritual nakedness, and yet to still love each other deeply despite our differences in religion and choice of god or gods. His god and my gods dwell under one roof, if only metaphorically at the moment. This requires a mutual respect and honor. I am not, nor will I ever be, a Christian. But I will respect the god that watches over my lover, because he means more than the world to me. Even the ancient Egyptians acknowledged the gods of other peoples, even if they did not take their gods as their own (though obviously, in the Ptolemaic eras, that’s clearly what they did, and vice versa!).
Separatism can never exist for a healthy relationship. And the more we discuss these values together, the stronger we grow, both within, and with each other. This is deeply important. The willingness to be strong, to hold fast and to not, as one of the 42 state, to transgress. From our beliefs, from our values, or one another. If only I could see this more amongst other pagans. We speak of equality and fairness, but we have to be willing to give it to others, too.
More on this, and related as time rolls on.