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Author Topic: The core of Flamekeeping  (Read 8284 times)
HeartShadow - Cutethulhu
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« Topic Start: July 18, 2010, 01:28:50 pm »

I've been getting questions again about "what is Flamekeeping", so I figure since I just wrote an essay that I hope does a good job of putting it together semi-succinctly, I'm going to post that.  Questions/thoughts/dancing chickens?

Flamekeeping as foundation

Flamekeeping, in and of itself, is not exactly a religion.  It is a philosophy, a mindset, a framework.  A foundation to build the rest of a religious house upon.

As such, there are many topics which will not be mentioned.  I am quiet on the nature and existence of gods not because of my own personal beliefs, but because for Flamekeeping, belief in gods is irrelevant.  Not true, not false – irrelevant.  What matters is the connections we all have and the structures that are built on top.

Why is this so important?  Because I truly believe this foundation can help people.  I think that it can improve people, and therefore the universe, if they truly incorporate it into their lives.  And since no one else is writing it, I am.  I believe that articulating these things, that shining the bright flame into the dark, can help other people put their own beliefs together.

Spirituality is inherently a thing of dark flame.  It is personal, hidden, amorphous.  No matter what our professed faith, spirituality itself happens in the hidden reaches of our own souls.  The words, the labels help us understand it, but it does not define it.  Definitions are of the bright flame, pinned down, specific.  Spirituality is inherently dark, hidden, mysterious.  It exists in the places where words fail.

Knowing this, I do not attempt to use words for those things where I simply cannot.  I have tried in the past, and come up with incoherent mental flailing.  There are others that have tried to lesser or greater degrees, but even where success is good, it is still less than the whole.  Words cannot define that which is inherently beyond definition.  Spirituality is a land of metaphor, of ideas, of goals that fall short of reality.  I do not try to explain that which cannot be explained.  I simply try to offer a framework to approach it if that is desired, and to live by if there is no desire to go further.

I do not believe that religious seeking is necessary for all people.  We are not all priests.  We are all of the Divine, but that does not mean we have to give over everything to trying to serve.  Living our lives well, making things better, is service.

It's easy to say that one must do this, or one must not do that.  Rules are easy.  I could come up with a grand list of rules without even trying, and most people would probably agree that in theory they were good rules.  But rules are another box.  They limit the space of the dark flame, of what can be and what is and what might be.  They set boundaries that make people stop thinking.

There's nothing wrong with rules inherently.  I'm rather fond of some rules.  Civil rules, the ones that punish people for breaking the law of the land – these are good things.  I am very much not in favor of anarchy.  Ever.

By that same token, though, I am not in favor of rules handed down from On High.  I don't believe that rules come from the Divine – I think they come from other people.  When we claim rules are from On High, we lose the ability to think about them.  They are rules, not to be touched, not to be changed.  There are no rules that cannot be thought about, examined, altered.  Sometimes they need to be more strict.  Sometimes less.  Sometimes they need to be scrapped entirely.  Rules and laws need to work for the people they apply to, they need to be enforced, and they need to be accepted.  If they are not enforced, they do not exist.  If they are not accepted, there will be rebellion.  And if they do not work, then what's the point?

That said, of course, there are things that make what you're doing not part of Flamekeeping anymore.  If your life goals do not strive to make the world better around you, that is not Flamekeeping.  If you do not attempt to keep yourself in something resembling a balance between bright flame and dark, you're at least not succeeding in Flamekeeping.  If you ever believe the ends justify the means and that you therefore have the right to trample upon people in the search for your envisioned future, you are a monster.

Other religions may build upon Flamekeeping.  I encourage this.  Flamekeeping is a foundation, not a building.  For some it may be enough.  For others they may want more.  I myself have more to my religious life than Flamekeeping itself.  But that part of my life is not part of Flamekeeping, and so I do not include it here.  The distinction is important.  One builds upon the other – but without a foundation, religion is nothing but a house of cards that blows over at the nearest wind.

Build your foundations strong.
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« Reply #1: July 18, 2010, 04:53:59 pm »

I've been getting questions again about "what is Flamekeeping", so I figure since I just wrote an essay that I hope does a good job of putting it together semi-succinctly, I'm going to post that.  Questions/thoughts/dancing chickens?

Build your foundations strong.

No dancing chickens (unless you really want them!); just very emphatic nodding and pointing and saying, "Yes!"
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« Reply #2: August 10, 2010, 10:50:55 pm »

Flamekeeping as foundation

Um, yes. Foundation is what I've been lacking. Mostly because every religion I've encountered is built on the foundation of getting in touch with god/goddess(es), and I'm quite agnostic.

So now I'm wondering, when are you going to start a Flamekeeping SIG?
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« Reply #3: August 11, 2010, 06:24:11 am »



Bravo! An excellent read and think Smiley

It really works for me, I think that it's one of your best and that it achieves the outcomes you've been saying you're after really well. The again, it's the sort of presentation I'm prone to like (as I'm sure you could have surmised Smiley ) I suspect that your more narrative efforts also do a great job for a lot of other people. I've got questions about this one, but they can wait. Mostly I jsut wanted to say - Yay! Great work!
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« Reply #4: August 11, 2010, 10:11:13 am »

Um, yes. Foundation is what I've been lacking. Mostly because every religion I've encountered is built on the foundation of getting in touch with god/goddess(es), and I'm quite agnostic.

So now I'm wondering, when are you going to start a Flamekeeping SIG?

er .. is there enough interest for that?

and I've always felt that getting in touch with gods really isn't a good foundation - it's a SPIRIT goal, but it doesn't do a damn thing for daily life and how we interact and all the other stuff.  It's .... it's a lot like starting with dessert for me.  Yes, I love dessert (too much!) but it doesn't give me what I NEED.
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« Reply #5: August 11, 2010, 10:12:10 am »

Bravo! An excellent read and think Smiley

It really works for me, I think that it's one of your best and that it achieves the outcomes you've been saying you're after really well. The again, it's the sort of presentation I'm prone to like (as I'm sure you could have surmised Smiley ) I suspect that your more narrative efforts also do a great job for a lot of other people. I've got questions about this one, but they can wait. Mostly I jsut wanted to say - Yay! Great work!

Thank you!  That means a lot to me!

And I *think* this is the sort of thing I've been circling around for some time.  It just took me going the long way to get here. Cheesy
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« Reply #6: August 11, 2010, 12:06:53 pm »

Um, yes. Foundation is what I've been lacking. Mostly because every religion I've encountered is built on the foundation of getting in touch with god/goddess(es), and I'm quite agnostic.

This is actually something I have been ranting about lately, so I'ma pull this quote and start a thread.
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« Reply #7: August 11, 2010, 02:31:56 pm »

and I've always felt that getting in touch with gods really isn't a good foundation - it's a SPIRIT goal, but it doesn't do a damn thing for daily life and how we interact and all the other stuff.  It's .... it's a lot like starting with dessert for me.  Yes, I love dessert (too much!) but it doesn't give me what I NEED.

That's a good analogy, actually. But I agree -- and part of the problem is how religion is broadcasted. Newbies (and in relative terms, like myself) read about how other people give offerings to the Gods and do this and this and how their relationships are strong and full of mutual love etc. & That's great! It really is. I want to have all this with my Gods. But by starting with the whats and the hows, instead of the whys I'm getting nowhere. I think it's important to take what you believe and not jump straight to the 'great, I can start leaving offerings now and dedicating myself to this deity etc' but step back and think 'now, what does this mean in terms of my place in the world? how are my beliefs relevant? Let's strip everything right back to the core.' And if part of my belief is that nature is divine, then why don't I appreciate nature on a day-to-day basis? Notice the beauty in the sky. In the tides. In the trees and the grass and the flowers. And if this is the case, then my ethics are going to include the importance of protecting nature, conserving it. Hell, I might go and volunteer with my local beach-litter-picking group, because I believe this and therefore I want that to make an impact in my life. It isn't meaningless ritual and flamboyancy - I could do all this regardless of whether I believe nature is divine. It would have an impact regardless of whether I believe nature is divine. But because I believe nature is divine, I am going to behave in this way. Your beliefs should influence how you behave in any given situation. Your beliefs should influence how you portray the world around you. If my beliefs mean that I think leaving offerings is important, then fine. But I believe it is important that your beliefs affect your life outside of a ritual atmosphere first, and then if you have this integration, go right ahead and leave those offerings!

I hope that makes sense; it came out as a bit of a jumble of ideas. But of course, YMMV. Cheesy

er .. is there enough interest for that?

YES! DO IT!
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« Reply #8: August 11, 2010, 03:56:30 pm »

er .. is there enough interest for that?

Maybe we can take a vote? Start a poll?

The thing with Flamekeeping is that the individual pieces can appeal to a lot of people, even if they don't self-identify as FlameKeepers. So we could potentially have enough people for good discussions. Plus, if the ideas were out there and being discussed, you might wrangle up a few more minions. Wink
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« Reply #9: August 11, 2010, 03:57:29 pm »

This is actually something I have been ranting about lately, so I'ma pull this quote and start a thread.

I actually said something coherent enough to start a whole thread? Wow!  Cheesy
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« Reply #10: August 11, 2010, 04:12:23 pm »

But by starting with the whats and the hows, instead of the whys I'm getting nowhere. I think it's important to take what you believe and not jump straight to the 'great, I can start leaving offerings now and dedicating myself to this deity etc' but step back and think 'now, what does this mean in terms of my place in the world? how are my beliefs relevant? Let's strip everything right back to the core.'

Yes, yes, nod, nod.

In my 10 ( Shocked) years of seeking, I've come across a lot of individual practices that speak to me, and still do after a number of years. When it comes to actually putting them to practice, however, I've had a hard time.  I just couldn't say WHY I was doing them, or what the point was. I had no foundation to place the practices upon.

Flamekeeping allows me to adopt those practices into my path as structures and avenues toward particular goals, and that is nifty.

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« Reply #11: August 11, 2010, 05:19:47 pm »

Maybe we can take a vote? Start a poll?

The thing with Flamekeeping is that the individual pieces can appeal to a lot of people, even if they don't self-identify as FlameKeepers. So we could potentially have enough people for good discussions. Plus, if the ideas were out there and being discussed, you might wrangle up a few more minions. Wink

I'd say that on a sliding scale between rigidly dogmatic, orthopractic and orthopraxic at one end and (something like)rampant, irregular personal mysticism at the other, Flamekeeping is an orthodoxic adjunct to other belief systems. I suspect that its ability to timeshare its humans with so many other belief systems, but (importantly) not others, will also generate a lot of exploratory and collaboratively creative discussion as people try and figure out if it plays well with their existing beliefs.
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« Reply #12: August 11, 2010, 08:05:10 pm »

er .. is there enough interest for that?
Counting those who - as Fierflye mentions - may not be drawn to becoming FlameKeepers, but who are interested in other ways, possibly, though it's hard to tell.

What you could do right away that doesn't require the same level of interest as a SIG, is start a TCN group.

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« Reply #13: August 11, 2010, 10:31:42 pm »

Counting those who - as Fierflye mentions - may not be drawn to becoming FlameKeepers, but who are interested in other ways, possibly, though it's hard to tell.

What you could do right away that doesn't require the same level of interest as a SIG, is start a TCN group.

Sunflower

Yes, but then I'd have to remember to log the heck in. Cheesy

And really, while I talk about minions a lot - what I want is for this to be useful.  To spark thought, regardless of whether you agree or not.  To provide an option.

If someone hates everything I wrote and creates their own Pagan philosophy thing to counter the whole shebang, I will STILL count it as a success. Wink
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« Reply #14: August 24, 2010, 10:52:04 pm »


I offer dancing chickens of appreciation. Smiley I loved this post, and would be interested in a SIG if that's something that comes about. Or just other threads and ideas on the topic, if it doesn't!
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