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Author Topic: Building a Religion From the Ground Up  (Read 14271 times)
Finn
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« Reply #15: April 10, 2007, 07:45:53 pm »

For those of you who are building your own path ::nudges Heartshadow:: where do you start? Do you start with core beliefs, or a framework to work within (from the inside out or the outside in if that makes sense?) or are your core beliefs your framework as well?

Are you looking to gain followers or are you really only concerned with practicing on your own path? If you are looking to gain followers what provisions have you made for teaching them, are you thinking of setting up classes/planning group rituals (or already running these things?) Do you have any plans for a church/temple to be built or are you content to practice within your own home(s).

Actually, I started pretty simply: with Brigid.  She, and the rest of my guides, began showing me things, making me think about things, and eventually, through the help of this board ( Grin) and by being inspired by folks like HeartShadow and Juni, who were actually writing out their paths, I eventually started a blog, which is really more for me than anyone else.

For it was Brigid who first made me think about what it was that was connecting all the pieces of my life, and the heart of my spirituality, and I realized it was writing, and more than that, it was story.  So... in essence, the Path of the Poet is a path about story and poetry.

But the Path of the Poet is very much my own path; I'm not looking for followers, and frankly, I don't think many would be interested.  Not many folks I know are as... erm... affected as I am by some of things I am trying to do with my path.  I use the blog, and write in it as though I am talking to others and teaching them because as the old saw says, "You never really know something until you try and teach it."  

No temples in sight here; maybe if I ever get my own outside space, altars will spring up out of the ground, but nothing like a temple.  
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« Reply #16: April 10, 2007, 07:48:55 pm »

Actually, I started pretty simply: with Brigid.  She, and the rest of my guides, began showing me things, making me think about things, and eventually, through the help of this board ( Grin) and by being inspired by folks like HeartShadow and Juni, who were actually writing out their paths, I eventually started a blog, which is really more for me than anyone else.

For it was Brigid who first made me think about what it was that was connecting all the pieces of my life, and the heart of my spirituality, and I realized it was writing, and more than that, it was story.  So... in essence, the Path of the Poet is a path about story and poetry.

But the Path of the Poet is very much my own path; I'm not looking for followers, and frankly, I don't think many would be interested.  Not many folks I know are as... erm... affected as I am by some of things I am trying to do with my path.  I use the blog, and write in it as though I am talking to others and teaching them because as the old saw says, "You never really know something until you try and teach it."  

No temples in sight here; maybe if I ever get my own outside space, altars will spring up out of the ground, but nothing like a temple.  

I too was inspired to this by Heartshadow and Juni. Guys, it's contaigeous!! LOL

I write my blog as a form of devotion. I write it for the gods, and I write it for myself. Sometimes, they want me to write something specific. Sometimes not, and I just write about whatever I've been thinking about at the time. Smiley
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« Reply #17: April 10, 2007, 07:53:25 pm »

I'm currently working on the calendar, which is a labyrinth in and of itself (there are three "branches" oh my path that are walked simultaneously, and each has its own set of special days).

 Shocked  That sounds eerily familiar.  My first major project (still not done!) in my path was devising a calendar system.  It was going well until I realized that I had about nine "paths"--a nine year cycle of (not necessarily too different) rituals every year.  *facepalm*  But my path also has three "branches" as it were, each of which have three years in them.  Three times three... three sets of three years that have a "theme", as it were.  Each set has its own theme, and each year has its own "story" to follow.  Does that make sense?  Looking back it seems strange to me.

I'm really interested to see how your calendar comes out.


I'm also working on compiling significant myths, writing essays on the various deities, writing essays on morals, ethics, oaths, etcetera. There's a really big to-do list, honestly. Conair an Cheo is pretty embryonic, as far as paths go.

Haha... just reading this reminds me of all the things I'm doing and still have to do...  Tongue
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« Reply #18: April 10, 2007, 07:54:36 pm »

I too was inspired to this by Heartshadow and Juni. Guys, it's contaigeous!! LOL

A plague of religion builders!   Cheesy 
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« Reply #19: April 10, 2007, 07:59:48 pm »

Shocked  That sounds eerily familiar.  My first major project (still not done!) in my path was devising a calendar system.  It was going well until I realized that I had about nine "paths"--a nine year cycle of (not necessarily too different) rituals every year.  *facepalm*  But my path also has three "branches" as it were, each of which have three years in them.  Three times three... three sets of three years that have a "theme", as it were.  Each set has its own theme, and each year has its own "story" to follow.  Does that make sense?  Looking back it seems strange to me.

I'm really interested to see how your calendar comes out.


Haha... just reading this reminds me of all the things I'm doing and still have to do...  Tongue

I'm not entirely sure I follow, but after my last post I decided to make a specific list of everything I need to do (that I can think of so far), so my head feels a little funny. (This list is way too long.)

To explain a little further on my three branches- it's called An Triscéil Beatha, the Triskele of Life, and it's broken down into three spirals: An Bhís Gealach, the Moon Spiral, which focuses on personal growth and development; An Bhís Grian, the Sun Spiral, which focuses mostly on the religious community; and lastly An Bhís Cloch, the Stone Spiral, which focuses on the world outside of Conair an Cheo. Each set has specific holidays- An Bhís Cloch, for example, celebrates the solstices and equinoxes, as well as locally relevant seasonal dates, where An Bhís Grian celebrates deity holidays. (Hopefully that all made sense.)
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« Reply #20: April 10, 2007, 08:06:44 pm »

I'm not entirely sure I follow, but after my last post I decided to make a specific list of everything I need to do (that I can think of so far), so my head feels a little funny. (This list is way too long.)

It didn't make much sense to me either; don't worry.  I'll just have to crack my head until something coherent comes out.   Tongue

To explain a little further on my three branches- it's called An Triscéil Beatha, the Triskele of Life, and it's broken down into three spirals: An Bhís Gealach, the Moon Spiral, which focuses on personal growth and development; An Bhís Grian, the Sun Spiral, which focuses mostly on the religious community; and lastly An Bhís Cloch, the Stone Spiral, which focuses on the world outside of Conair an Cheo. Each set has specific holidays- An Bhís Cloch, for example, celebrates the solstices and equinoxes, as well as locally relevant seasonal dates, where An Bhís Grian celebrates deity holidays. (Hopefully that all made sense.)

That sounds really interesting; for some reason it reminds me of the AODA curriculum: http://www.aoda.org/curric1.htm
Maybe just because they call it the Moon Path, the Sun Path, etc.

So, what do you mean by diety holidays--the fire festivals?  Or do some of the fire festivals fall into one spiral and others into another?

 
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« Reply #21: April 10, 2007, 08:23:51 pm »

It didn't make much sense to me either; don't worry.  I'll just have to crack my head until something coherent comes out.   Tongue

That sounds really interesting; for some reason it reminds me of the AODA curriculum: http://www.aoda.org/curric1.htm
Maybe just because they call it the Moon Path, the Sun Path, etc.

So, what do you mean by diety holidays--the fire festivals?  Or do some of the fire festivals fall into one spiral and others into another?

I've never come across that group before- that's really odd. I think I'll stop reading before I feel like I'm stealing!

The deity holidays are just that- festivals in honor of a specific deity. The traditional dates of the four fire festivals are used, but they aren't the same holidays they were before. (Well, "Imbolc" hasn't changed much, but the others have.)
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« Reply #22: April 10, 2007, 08:47:15 pm »

Shocked  That sounds eerily familiar.  My first major project (still not done!) in my path was devising a calendar system.  It was going well until I realized that I had about nine "paths"--a nine year cycle of (not necessarily too different) rituals every year.  *facepalm*  But my path also has three "branches" as it were, each of which have three years in them.  Three times three... three sets of three years that have a "theme", as it were.  Each set has its own theme, and each year has its own "story" to follow.  Does that make sense?  Looking back it seems strange to me.

I'm not sure why but that actually makes sense to me. It does seem a little over the top, or too complicated to be practical. But it makes sense. I could see doing three sets of three years as a sort of initiation thing. Three different three-year studies before becoming a "full member" of the religion.

I'm not entirely sure I follow, but after my last post I decided to make a specific list of everything I need to do (that I can think of so far), so my head feels a little funny. (This list is way too long.)

To explain a little further on my three branches- it's called An Triscéil Beatha, the Triskele of Life, and it's broken down into three spirals: An Bhís Gealach, the Moon Spiral, which focuses on personal growth and development; An Bhís Grian, the Sun Spiral, which focuses mostly on the religious community; and lastly An Bhís Cloch, the Stone Spiral, which focuses on the world outside of Conair an Cheo. Each set has specific holidays- An Bhís Cloch, for example, celebrates the solstices and equinoxes, as well as locally relevant seasonal dates, where An Bhís Grian celebrates deity holidays. (Hopefully that all made sense.)

I like your idea of three branches. I also like how you have Gaelic words for everything. I don't know Gaelic, but it's a very pretty language. My path is largely based in both Roman and Celtic pantheons, but I don't know either Gaelic or Latin.

Right now my work schedule is too unpredictable to celebrate the even standard well known holidays. Of course, you can celebrate holidays and work too (like wear special jewelery, or whatever) but already I had to work Christmas and Easter, I'm not about to throw in holidays of religious significance to me so I can be really upset about having to miss them. Kind of a silly reason, I know. LOL I am interested in having some holidays that I would celebrate, but I have no idea what they would be.
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« Reply #23: April 10, 2007, 10:03:08 pm »

For those of you who are building your own path ::nudges Heartshadow:: where do you start? Do you start with core beliefs, or a framework to work within (from the inside out or the outside in if that makes sense?) or are your core beliefs your framework as well?
I'm going to stick my two bits in here, even though I'm not doing my pathbuilding "from the ground up", because there's a certain amount of common ground between that, and building a distinct tradition/system - LibCraft - within an existing (broad, loose, and often vague) framework (to wit, Wiccanesque neoPagan religious witchcraft).

I didn't intend to found a trad, so in a way I did it bass-ackwards.  What started it was an abrupt and marked change in the sort of questions I was being asked by less-experienced people (which, by that time, included a couple of my earliest students).  Before that point, the questions I was fielding were quite adequately answered from my general Eclectic background, but suddenly, everyone seemed to have need of something from the specific perspective of my personal practice.  This was pronounced enough that I started to get tired of repeating myself - it wasn't all about the same stuff, but there were things that were coming up again and again.

So I had the bright idea of putting the basics of it into writing, so I'd have some kind of fact-sheet for the stuff that I was talking about a lot.  While I was at it, it seemed reasonable to address a few points on which I differed from many folks in the local community - f'ex, there was quite a bit of anti-intellectual sentiment around at the time, of the "Witchcraft is supposed to be intuitive, not logical!  Magic doesn't work in the presence of logic!" sort.  So I started jotting down items that I thought ought to be included - a mixed bag, ranging from details of praxis (yes, the athame can be associated with south/fire; I do it) to ethical philosophy ("hurt feelings" are a considerably lesser form of harm than dictating someone else's choices).  Then I started on things like crafting the exact words with which I wanted to express things, checking them for mutual consistency, deciding what order the points should be arranged in (what's major and sweeping?  what's fine detail?), considering the significance behind some of the points (if I'm associating athame/south/fire, what does it mean, why do I make that association?), and suchlike.

Somewhere about then, it dawned on me that the end result would be a written document by which other people could adopt and use my personal practice - and they probably would do so, as evidenced by the kind of answers folks had been asking me for.  I was "founding a trad", or at the very least, constructing a system.  I spent a few days having a "who, me?!?" crisis (I'm sure all you pathbuilders know about that one) and almost called off the project, but I realized that putting it in writing wasn't the key act; it had moved from "my practice" to "my system" when I started answering questions from that perspective.  As long as I kept giving those kind of answers - and I couldn't, with integrity, stop doing so - it'd happen anyway.  Putting it in writing had certain advantages, like better quality control (I got even more careful about significance and consistency!), and being able to name it myself rather than having it come to be named after me <gak!>.

The process, from when I decided I needed a factsheet and started making notes, to the point where the first version was printed out, took about ten months.  That, of course, hasn't been the end of the process; it continues to this day - I'm constantly refining, considering more deeply what some aspect means in context, discovering the Mysteries that arise naturally from LibCraft's premises, etc.

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Are you looking to gain followers or are you really only concerned with practicing on your own path? If you are looking to gain followers what provisions have you made for teaching them, are you thinking of setting up classes/planning group rituals (or already running these things?) Do you have any plans for a church/temple to be built or are you content to practice within your own home(s).
"Gain followers"?  Hell, no.  (Though there was a time when "minions" were a running gag - someone on the BBS most of us were on threw an entitlement-gnome fit and claimed I "and my minions" were trying to take over the BBS.  The Prometheans, and some close associates, found this irresistibly hilarious - most likely because of the implication that they were puppets to my will - and I was frequently adddressed as "Your Heinousness-ness-ness-ness-<snickerfit> for several months.)  But it is intended to be a system that others can use, and I'd like it to be available to those for whom it's a suitable path.

Since it is religious witchcraft of a Wiccanesque framework (the congregational model, IMO, has nothing to do with practicing witchcraft, even the religious variety), the closest thing to "temple plans" is that I might daydream about "my own home" including a dedicated ritual room indoors and enough land to allow the privacy for outdoor skyclad ritual when weather permitted.  I'd happily settle for having a covenstead again, though; my living circumstances for the forseeable future don't accommodate that.

<singing under breath>"If I had a million dollars (if I had a million dollars) I would buy you a house" - Bare Naked Ladies

The other questions, I don't think I could answer without including a lot of stuff extraneous to the topic at hand.  I was teaching religious witchcraft, and practicing in group format, before I constructed LibCraft; I've continued to do so, with LibCraft being a description of how I do that; I most likely would have been doing so all along even if I never had constructed a trad.

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« Reply #24: April 10, 2007, 10:17:57 pm »

I'm not sure why but that actually makes sense to me. It does seem a little over the top, or too complicated to be practical. But it makes sense. I could see doing three sets of three years as a sort of initiation thing. Three different three-year studies before becoming a "full member" of the religion.

Hee... it is a little over the top.  It's more in the "thought experiment" stages right now so it can be as zany as it wants to be.  I'm sure someone will step in from the heavens and give me a good conk on the head soon enough, and we'll get down to the real nitty gritty of the thing.  Wink
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« Reply #25: April 10, 2007, 10:27:07 pm »

Hee... it is a little over the top.  It's more in the "thought experiment" stages right now so it can be as zany as it wants to be.  I'm sure someone will step in from the heavens and give me a good conk on the head soon enough, and we'll get down to the real nitty gritty of the thing.  Wink

LOL I'm fond of somewhat zany ideas in religion. That is, I like studying them. I like coming up with them. If I were a fiction writer (and I just might be) I would work them in to all of my stories. They are fun to think up. However, I don't think they're practical IRL, and in practice. So I try not to include them, other than to say that they are welcome to be added to your personal practice if you so choose.
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« Reply #26: April 11, 2007, 12:31:59 am »

For those of you who are building your own path ::nudges Heartshadow:: where do you start? Do you start with core beliefs, or a framework to work within (from the inside out or the outside in if that makes sense?) or are your core beliefs your framework as well?

I am building my own path, but not in an intentional sort of way.  Well, not in the well-thought-out way that Shadow and Juni are doing it.  And I'm participating in the discussions around the Reformed Celtic Polytheism SIG.

It's a fascinating process -- and one I *never* expected to be involved in, either personally or in the SIG group.  For the SIG, I'm trying to think through some of what I believe are the core issues of foundational beliefs.  It's a bit different from building a religion from the ground up, though, since we're working on a moderate resonstruction of an ancient religion (or group of religions, really) about which very little is actually known.

I'm really enjoying thinking about the issues raised by the SIG threads, although I'm not sure I'll end up actually practising the path we develop.  For me, it seems to be all about Brighid, and I'm not sure yet whether that's compatible.

For me personally, I'm currently working through issues like my relationship with Brighid and what it means.  It's not anything like as structured as what Juni is working on.  Mostly, I'm running on intuition, research, and UPG.  And it's only for me.

The biggest thing I struggle with is my own...uncertainty.  That's not really the right word, but I can't think of a better one at the moment.  I find that, since I'm in this alone, I have days when my beliefs are unshakeable, and days when I'm skeptical, and other days when I'm downright cynical. 

For example, last night, when I was lighting my offering candle, I said my usual "I offer you flame".  But I heard inside my head a voice saying "I offer you myself".  And I got the absolute sense that I was suppose to be doing just that.  I've shied away from an actual full-on dedication.  But that felt like a definite prod.  Or maybe it was just my imagination...  So now I'm going back and forth, with no one to help me with what could be a huge decision.  Or not.

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« Reply #27: April 11, 2007, 08:50:29 am »

LOL I'm fond of somewhat zany ideas in religion. That is, I like studying them. I like coming up with them. If I were a fiction writer (and I just might be) I would work them in to all of my stories. They are fun to think up. However, I don't think they're practical IRL, and in practice. So I try not to include them, other than to say that they are welcome to be added to your personal practice if you so choose.

I agree completely.  My path has always taken the same way though--it starts out as a zany, strange, rather over the top system that is slowly, slowly winnowed down into the heart of the matter.  I don't start small with anything; big ideas are the beginning, and then all the "stuff" that just won't work is taken away over time.

So right now, I'm keeping all the complications of the calendrical system in my head, and on several pages of paper, in order to find the real "heart".  The more I add, the closer I get.  Once we find it, we'll see what happens to all the peripheral stuff.  Smiley
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« Reply #28: April 11, 2007, 09:47:29 am »

I could see doing three sets of three years as a sort of initiation thing. Three different three-year studies before becoming a "full member" of the religion.

By the way, I've been thinking a lot about this since you mentioned it.  Maybe that is what this calendar is meant to be: an initiation.  Hmmm.... Wink
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« Reply #29: April 11, 2007, 11:14:27 am »

I am building my own path, but not in an intentional sort of way.  Well, not in the well-thought-out way that Shadow and Juni are doing it.  And I'm participating in the discussions around the Reformed Celtic Polytheism SIG.

It's a fascinating process -- and one I *never* expected to be involved in, either personally or in the SIG group.  For the SIG, I'm trying to think through some of what I believe are the core issues of foundational beliefs.  It's a bit different from building a religion from the ground up, though, since we're working on a moderate resonstruction of an ancient religion (or group of religions, really) about which very little is actually known.

I'm really enjoying thinking about the issues raised by the SIG threads, although I'm not sure I'll end up actually practising the path we develop.  For me, it seems to be all about Brighid, and I'm not sure yet whether that's compatible.

For me personally, I'm currently working through issues like my relationship with Brighid and what it means.  It's not anything like as structured as what Juni is working on.  Mostly, I'm running on intuition, research, and UPG.  And it's only for me.

The biggest thing I struggle with is my own...uncertainty.  That's not really the right word, but I can't think of a better one at the moment.  I find that, since I'm in this alone, I have days when my beliefs are unshakeable, and days when I'm skeptical, and other days when I'm downright cynical. 

For example, last night, when I was lighting my offering candle, I said my usual "I offer you flame".  But I heard inside my head a voice saying "I offer you myself".  And I got the absolute sense that I was suppose to be doing just that.  I've shied away from an actual full-on dedication.  But that felt like a definite prod.  Or maybe it was just my imagination...  So now I'm going back and forth, with no one to help me with what could be a huge decision.  Or not.



That's what I started out doing, writing for myself instead of other people. I still write mostly for myself, but I've gotten to the point where I feel like if others want to come along with me on this path, I would enjoy the company. Smiley

As for dedication, well, there comes a time when I feel that all I have to give is myself. I mean, I can give sacrifices and offerings, but the greatest offering I have to give is myself. There is nothing greater or more meaningful.

I agree completely.  My path has always taken the same way though--it starts out as a zany, strange, rather over the top system that is slowly, slowly winnowed down into the heart of the matter.  I don't start small with anything; big ideas are the beginning, and then all the "stuff" that just won't work is taken away over time.

So right now, I'm keeping all the complications of the calendrical system in my head, and on several pages of paper, in order to find the real "heart".  The more I add, the closer I get.  Once we find it, we'll see what happens to all the peripheral stuff.  Smiley

You guys have really got my brain working with these calanders you are making. It seems like maybe it's time for that. I'm feeling a definite urge to have some actual holidays that are MINE to celebrate. I celebrate everyone else's, but dangit, I want my own!

By the way, I've been thinking a lot about this since you mentioned it.  Maybe that is what this calendar is meant to be: an initiation.  Hmmm.... Wink

I like the idea a lot. Smiley The thing is, is it something which is too long and would scare seekers away from your path? I mean, I believe that it is absolutely necessary to need to be patient and dedicate a lot of time into any path you are on. I mean, if three years is too long, how do you expect to stay on the path for the rest of your life?? But a nine year seeker's course seems a little extreme.

I think a lot of people would feel like they aren't getting anywhere if they have to be with the religion for nine years before becoming "full members". Perhaps each three year "set" should be a milestone, like a "step" so that members have a sense of accomplishment before they get to the nine year mark.
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