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Author Topic: Hi, Intro &c., sorry this is so long  (Read 1449 times)
Lucretius
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« Topic Start: July 10, 2009, 04:20:24 pm »

Hello everyone, this started as a reply to a post in the God Conjuring thread which Randall started on Wednesday but turned into something with autobio info in it and so I'm just going to post here.

(The post from Asetam referred to the fact that so much material which could have informed our speculations and researches is lost, most of it irretrievably, to that vast part of human history which remains unknown to us.)

Hi again, Asetam and all. Sorry abt the last post's coding, I bumped the Post button while reviewing the draft...chaos and randomness and all that. Hail Eris.

So very much which once was written, whether on clay, papyrus or parchments, has been lost; just as an example someone once estimated that 90% of all the works by the greatest Greek classical and Hellenistic authors were destroyed by chance (water, fire, rot) or zealotry (the belief that these old writings were superfluous and thus of no value was current among early Christian church fathers, and later among early Muslim jurists, and between the two they seem to have done in the Library of Alexandria, which could have told us so much).

I have been "away" from the pagan communities for ten years or so, worrying about the way the republic fell so easily into the arms of an illegal regime, which then broke so many laws it will take decades to piece it all together...so I got an rsi in my index finger, clicking phone calls for Obama at the SEIU Call Barn on 42nd Street (everyone in Indiana was really nice to me, which is more than I can say for some other states...), and then found that I felt "released" by the election, free to rediscover interests which I abandoned for what turned out to be a long time. Plus my kid was growing up, and I stayed home with him; by 11 they aren't nearly so high-maintenance.

But I am very hopeful about this whole "recon"(-structionist) field which has arisen whilst I was off looking at Atrios and Kos; whether or not I believe in magic, or coherent sentient energy-fields which I have never seen yet have names in every culture (ghost, being, spirit, angel...god? Goddesses?). I am heartened by the revaluation of our pagan histories, the relatively few discernable facts about the gods and goddesses so long lost which can be reconstructed into useful, coherent narratives and ritual structures. For me the best part of going to New School U. for a semester was getting at their library's dusty old translations of the original Sumerian sacred texts relating to transgendered followers of Inanna and working up a circle ritual out of it (~2000).

This i feel is why paganism in the later 20th century and into the present is often characterized by willingness to do what recons apparently can't stand: making of our goddesses and gods and spirits a mélange of the Old Religions to come up with, e.g., Gardnerian or other orthodox Wiccan narratives of their origins or beliefs, some form of an answer to those who say "you made this up".

We have really so little left to work with, literally thousands of years later in most cases, that we sometimes "triangulate", try to see the similarities from one pantheon to the next, and many open-minded, pluralistic seekers explore everything, take what they need and leave the rest, as the 12-steppers say. This is not to say we others are close-minded, just focussed differently, with different needs depending on who we are; and so I went digging into Inanna's cult, looking for something very hard to find, "twin-spirit" or transgendered devotées of a known, powerful Goddess. I found some of what I sought, combined it with a TG-themed ritual I found online, and we worshipped Inanna. It was lovely. Wish there was a Temple of Inanna somewhere in Manhattan....

The Romans did this with the Gods of Olympus on the one hand and the Gods of the Germans on the other: each had deities in common with their own, patrons of things such as birth and death, love and war, water, fire, the sun, crops and herding and hunting. Comparative Religion studies seem to me in good part motivated by an attempt to find the common elements that draw us all into either embracing, tolerating or rejecting that way of seeing, thinking and acting which we usually call Religion.

Then we get into things like speculating on the nature of Carian theophoric names beginning with hekat-. I'm studying linguistics, too, so I care; but I can see how many of the pagan peoples of America would sensibly shudder and draw away from any sentence with the phrase "Carian theophoric" in it.

And so a ritual may be written based on an early, less-scary but still-witchy Hecate who is something of a combination of early and later evidence, from Anatolia to Athens, after which someone else can argue this is unhistorical or ahistorical or just plain wrong. This may be annoying but it is probably inevitable. It is better, I think, that these discussions take place among Pagans rather than with hostile scientists and historians, who may have it in for all the Hecates.

As far as I can tell, Recons value an academic rigor which many may find off-putting, or even irrelevant, but which I find invigorating and liberating. I hope this will draw me back toward a pagan community where i am finally able to find my place. My contribution to the pagan communities will probably consist of historically-themed writing on what is known of the religions of our ancestors, maybe even some informed speculation. And there's nothing wrong with that. Writing is a kind of quiet magic.

But I understand why Gardner did what he did. The earlier building of paganism(s), from Wicca to Asatru, from whatever was at hand, "myth" or fact or supposition, what seemed right and would help the circles grow, is an evolutionary process which allows, even requires Recons to emerge in this environment, now that there is something to reconstruct. Any reconstructive history I may write in the future would necessarily be written within the context of modern Paganism, all of the entire broad array of discourses of different traditions; hardcore pagan history would not be possible without a pagan community to critique it. We all have to start somewhere, sometimes more than once.

I was reading about water altars, for example, as something found in common in many old cultures. Haven't had an altar since we moved in '99 (massive old altar made from Deco '30s wooden vanity just fell to pieces when we tried to move it), but it seems right for me from what I know, which is that my grandmother's grandfather was from France and named Aiguier. Turns out to be a Provençal word for these cool little ancient stone dome-shape houses over a spring or well. (Got this from Wikipedia.org/fr/)

So I may have--and as so often happens, I don't know for sure, but evidence points this way--had ancestors who were responsible for caring for the local water shrine. Chef de la culte de l'Esprit d'Eau? Perhaps. Maybe he just swept out the leaves. Either way I'll start with a water altar, just dedicated to the 1% of all the water that is fresh, as well as the seas' struggle to stay healthy, all the water in the world.

Don't know if there's a water goddess per se, so I have two choices:  make one up, with the best of intentions and at need, à la Asphalta, Goddess of Parking Spots (who I invoke with success on a regular basis), or research whatever is still known about water deities, which ones were male or female or maybe both, what was their customary behavior, what kind of tribute did they require. I am drawn to the learning which recons value, because it tells us more not only about the God/desse/s but about the people who loved them, and "believed" in them, just as much as today people believe in gravity or the freezing point of water or DNA evidence.

So I don't have to believe in anything, or nothing, or anyone in particular, or even magic--I have friends of course who are witches, one wrote a book even, but every spell's outcome could also have been accounted for by a theory which did not include metaphysics. I've never seen anything "conjured". But I can still make a contribution and receive support and advice.

The only time I felt the "energy" discussed here so often was when I was in the Begijnhof, a women's religious community with two little churches (Prot and RC) and a beautiful courtyard, hidden behind a street in central Amsterdam; it felt like being light, like I was floating away, and I could feel or even see the intensity of the devotion and will and ardent search for truth of every woman who had lived there since the 1600s, all of it still there, in the air, in the soil. But they shooed me out at five pm, back out into the crowded book stalls and noisy but prosaic reality; there were suddenly lots of women rushing in from work and heading for one of the churches. I started walking toward one, sort of in a daze, vaguely wanting to know what was inside, but then the guard gently guided me toward the little exit tunnel; I was the last tourist to leave.

I am also a Bokononist, for those who have read Cat's Cradle. That's from the 70s, when it was a subversive novel we passed around rather than assigned reading. And I have just begun Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series, and I am already in love with Naamah, a goddess who is thoroughly a creation, clearly fictional. Is she real? If not, then what is it I am in love with, the idea of Naamah? {And I have been grazed by Kushiel's dart, for those who have read the books. If I could, I would study at all 12 Houses, ending with Valerian. Wink }

I am an atheist--I finally learned that in World Religious Thought class--but I love the Goddess, madly, hopelessly, devotedly, even if I have to go looking into endless old texts to find out Her endless aspects. And even, I suppose, if I have to bring Her into being. By an act of will. By an act of writing She is brought back to life.

[How many deities die and come back to life? I can think of three or four offhand.]

Maybe She brought me into being in order to bring Her into being; I don't know where I was before I was born.

__________

Okay, attempt at brief facts: I am 50, of Western European ancestry, born in Texas but moved to NYC in 1984, have worked as a legal proofreader and as a copy editor and did some paralegal work. Nothing exciting (except for Nintendo v Atari, where i learned abt the Origins of Videogames, and the US vs the Teamsters, which was a mob case and had pretty funny depositions, kind of like a Hiassen novel)--that was in the 80s. Now we are all picking up after the party they had down around Wall Street for the last 25 years. Saw it coming but doesn't matter if you don't know when.

Um, my wife is 47, a math prof, and our son is 11 and obsessed with, yes, videogames. Wants to program them. And my wife is working on a videogame that would teach math; our son is working as a consultant for her. {Me, I gave up after Pong. I play backgammon. It's 5000 years old.}

We all like science fiction/comics culture; when I first came to NYC it was with friends who are comics artists/animators. Fun stuff to do, fun people to meet. (My friends are largely responsible for Ren and Stimpy, and by implication for the whole "incredibly gross cartoon" trend which then developed and is alas still with us.)

I met my spouse at work in 1991 (she was a typesetter), fwiw we are both bi but largely woman-identified, with [adult subject matter follows] an open relationship (in theory, anyway; try actually meeting the right person and then setting up a 3 way that doesn't conflict with anyone's schedule) and a love of, um, erotically-themed parties, let's say (in theory; try finding a sitter who will stay until 4:30 am). I used to be a copy editor at a porn mag publishing house, gay and straight books and magazines, in the mid-90s before the Internet destroyed the market for sex-themed works of fiction, so very little shocks me, and nothing surprises me.

We love old Rickie Lee Jones and Joni Mitchell songs, folk and bluegrass; right now I like a French singer named Jeanne Cherhal. I finally learned to read French, working on speaking it. We liked the new Trek movie. We have a signed original cartoon from Alison Bechdel she did in 1984, framed. I just saw Persepolis and was blown away; Marjane Satrapi will be among the Immortals. We have two cats, a big soft moosh named George and an incredibly intelligent, half-wild cat (former kitten) named Diamond, who zooms around the house when she's not asleep and in fact is trying to get my attention right now. You can't tell a cat that dinner isn't for two more hours.

My spouse is also technically an atheist (her parents are biochemists, and as it happens not at all religious), but she is aesthetically drawn to Goddess-based religion and has always supported my gender-crossing-spirit-journey or whatever it is I'm trying to do. The destination keeps changing the farther I get. I'll bet a lot of you have had/are having that experience.

Oh, and I make a lousy Buddhist, I can't meditate for beans. Embarrassed
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smiles and blessings,
« Lucretius »
      
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« Reply #1: July 10, 2009, 04:27:45 pm »


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« Reply #2: July 10, 2009, 06:07:28 pm »

Hello everyone, this started as a reply to a post in the God Conjuring thread which Randall started on Wednesday but turned into something with autobio info in it and so I'm just going to post here.

Welcome to TC -- where apologizing for a long informative post is never needed. Smiley
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« Reply #3: July 11, 2009, 02:53:21 am »



Don't know if there's a water goddess per se, so I have two choices:  make one up, with the best of intentions and at need, à la Asphalta, Goddess of Parking Spots (who I invoke with success on a regular basis), or research whatever is still known about water deities, which ones were male or female or maybe both, what was their customary behavior, what kind of tribute did they require. I am drawn to the learning which recons value, because it tells us more not only about the God/desse/s but about the people who loved them, and "believed" in them, just as much as today people believe in gravity or the freezing point of water or DNA evidence.

So I don't have to believe in anything, or nothing, or anyone in particular, or even magic--I have friends of course who are witches, one wrote a book even, but every spell's outcome could also have been accounted for by a theory which did not include metaphysics. I've never seen anything "conjured". But I can still make a contribution and receive support and advice.

The only time I felt the "energy" discussed here so often was when I was in the Begijnhof, a women's religious community with two little churches (Prot and RC) and a beautiful courtyard, hidden behind a street in central Amsterdam; it felt like being light, like I was floating away, and I could feel or even see the intensity of the devotion and will and ardent search for truth of every woman who had lived there since the 1600s, all of it still there, in the air, in the soil. But they shooed me out at five pm, back out into the crowded book stalls and noisy but prosaic reality; there were suddenly lots of women rushing in from work and heading for one of the churches. I started walking toward one, sort of in a daze, vaguely wanting to know what was inside, but then the guard gently guided me toward the little exit tunnel; I was the last tourist to leave.

 I am already in love with Naamah, a goddess who is thoroughly a creation, clearly fictional. Is she real? If not, then what is it I am in love with, the idea of Naamah?

I am an atheist--I finally learned that in World Religious Thought class--but I love the Goddess, madly, hopelessly, devotedly, even if I have to go looking into endless old texts to find out Her endless aspects. And even, I suppose, if I have to bring Her into being. By an act of will. By an act of writing She is brought back to life.

[How many deities die and come back to life? I can think of three or four offhand.]

Maybe She brought me into being in order to bring Her into being; I don't know where I was before I was born.


Welcome from another newbie.

I've got an odd thought I'd like to share with you that touches on the idea that a Goddess can be a creation. I believe that probably most Gods and Goddesses are thoughtforms created by a sentient mind (most likely human) and receive their power to affect the world by our belief and faith. There may have been a deity that created everything, I don't know. But I believe that it behooves us to give our belief and faith to those that align with our beliefs, in other words don't give away the power of your belief to a god that disapproves of you in a way that you can't control, which some surprisingly do. I also believe that our thoughts (positive or negative) can have great power in our lives, so its best to have positive thoughts. We're constantly surrounded by energy that reacts to our thoughts and thus affects our reality. The more we believe in our ability to affect this energy, the more power we have over our own reality. If we choose to give our power to an intermediary to work on our behalf, you have a God/Goddess.

To credit where I got this thought, I read an article on memes and it really got me thinking.

In my case, I didn't have to create my Goddesses, they existed prior to this current incarnation, but they used some of their power to touch me and affect my life in positive ways and I thankfully give them what power I have in the form of belief and faith.
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