Life Updates

So there have been a few changes to my life that I figured I should share as I’m sure it is going to change what I write about and how. 

1) I am no longer a member of Hellenion. There wasn’t a big dramatic falling out or anything like that, just after giving it a lot of thought I realized that my values and what I want do do and build don’t align with the goals, methods, or aims of Hellenion. I consulted a diviner about it before I chose to resign and that is that. I wish the members of Hellenion the best and will continue to try to organize stuff for Hellenic Polytheists of all varieties in my area. 

2) I’ve decided to re-engage ADF’s dedicant program. I started it back in, errr, 2012 I think, and then got super-duper Recon-y and decided that ADF just didn’t make the cut. Well, now I’m back and determined to finish their dedicant program at the very least. I’ve realized that there are certain things that I am *terrible* at (such as journaling. . .) that their program emphasizes. Plus a couple of my friends who are non-ADFers but have been to a few of their gatherings (which I have yet to do) insist that I would really like it, so, yeah, why not? 

3) I’ve changed my major to Religious Studies from Theatre Arts. Here is the kicker. . .I won’t graduate any later from the switch and will likely graduate between 1-2 semesters earlier. The decision was one that was long in the making. Don’t get me wrong, I still love acting and still love the theatre, I just don’t like studying it in the way that the University has it happen. Don’t get me wrong, the program at UNT is EXCELLENT, but it isn’t for me. at least not to the degree which a major requires. I should still be going for a minor, which will still allow me to pursue a “Highly qualified” certification to teach it. 

4) I’m probably going to be attending Between the Worlds in 2015 assuming that I can manage to scrimp and save enough to go. I definitely will be at BlizzCon in November thanks to the generosity of my beau. If you are going to be at either of those conventions let me know! 

And as a final little note, on August 2nd Denton CUUPS will be celebrating a modernized Herakleia. I put this ritual together myself with the assistance of John Beckett. It is a bit different from what the group usually does (I followed the beat of a more traditional rite) and still quite a bit different from what I usually do (I’ve never written a ritual for such a mixed group. . .or such a large group.) Am I nervous? You bet. Really nervous. I’m also very excited. We’ll be honoring Herakles and his stories as well as honoring Hera and Athena for their roles in his journey. If you are in the area definitely attend. 

And that’s pretty much anything important that has happened in the last few months which I haven’t mentioned. 

Cheers y’all

Not Just Words

Words have power.

The words we know and the language(s) we speak help influence our perception of the world. Our mother tongue limits our ways of thinking about the world. And so we also know that the words we choose to describe a situation affects how we will think of it ourselves. . .and how those who value our opinions think of a situation. 

In brilliant and clear light we see this with the “immigration crisis” going on. Some folks describe the children as “illegals” or “illegal immigrants”. Others describe them as “refugees”. These are not mere descriptors. The words can pretty quickly tell you whether or not that person is for or against helping these children.

Which relates to which you can figure out.

Words have power.

Not just in the words we choose but in how we say them. Not just in tone but in cadence, lilt, pauses, and accents. Used in certain ways it can make you shiver with anticipation, and anyone experienced in  the bedroom knows that some phrases need to be said with just so perfectly or they can come off a tad. . .creepy. 

Anyone who has been to a poetry reading knows the power of cadence and lilt first-hand. Poet’s voice is an insufferable experience; the right words said in the wrong way quickly lose all their potency. 

Words have power

They carry with them ways of ordering the world and yeah, maybe we all use them a little differently but they are a devastating force to be reckoned with. They carry on their backs our deepest secrets, our fears, our hopes, our dreams.

Our words are vital to the worship of the gods, to rebuilding the cults, rituals, and worship.They let us not only tell how to do something but why we do it. They let us know Them and share that knowledge with others. Words are not irrelevant. They are vital to what we are doing and what we will do. 

Words have power

Some folks say that in the beginning the universe was created by a single word being uttered. 

I’m inclined to agree

 

Animal Heads

The Egyptians got it right
With their animal-headed-gods
Goat’s head for Hermes
For Apollon, wolves’ paws

Those Greek boys thought it funny
But I thought it wise
To show upon the gods
Their animal disguise

Forgive me if I ponder
For a thing I won’t miss
A cow-headed Hera
Giving Zeus the Bull a kiss.

Soil and Ancestors

I took a handful of dead leaves and carefully spread them on the ground. Another handful. Another handful. Some dry, some damp and wet, slowly I covered the ground with them being careful to get some around each tree. After I ran out I returned to the patio to get more, carefully using the rake to make a nice sizeable pile. I don’t know how long the leaves had been there, some seemed new, some had turned to rich, black, and wonderfully earthy smelling soil. I do know that they all shared one thing in common, they would soon be helping the trees in the yard grow vibrant and strong.

As I scattered the leaves I suddenly had an epiphany. These trees, these strong and mighty trees, were made big and strong by the dead. Their success was built on the dead. Not just the leaves which they all had shed, but also by the dead which have enriched the soil that they grow in. Eyeing some fungus on a nearby log, I understood that as they were built, so shall they build.

Humans too are not exempt from this fact. We are all built upon the dead, made better by them. Most obviously we are allowed to grow from the plants and animals who die so that we may eat, whether we like it or not the death of another is required so that we may continue to live. Almost no one alive is an exception to this, though I’m sure the fastidious would be able to find an example of someone whose diet consists entirely of plant by-products and animal by-products. Then we come to the dead closest to our own hearts, our ancestors. Whether you have an amicable relationship with your family or not is not a relevant point, they still made sacrifices and decisions that led to your being in existence. They struggled, they fought, they grew, just like we do and will do. Were they perfect? Of course not, they were children of their time. Up until and continuing in modern times, the subjugation of different ethnic groups was very common. While the average American tends to categorize ethnicities by skin color, the case was not the same several hundred years ago. People from different ethnic groups in Europe, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, and yes, the Americas engaged in the demeaning and belittling of people who they called the other. Despite this and many other shortcomings, it is important that we realize that we are built upon their choices, actions, and decisions. If anything had been minutely different none of us would be where we are. Whether or not this gives you a sense of gratitude and thankfulness for your ancestors is your own decision, I however choose gratitude.

Our foundations and growth on the dead do not stop there however, we also are built upon those dead who have helped shape our individual societies and cultures, for better or for worse. Most everyone in America knows who Shakespeare is, and yes, he has influenced and shaped American culture. When two people are hopelessly and unfortunately in love we may call them “star-crossed lovers”, when a man is hopelessly romantic he may be referred to as a “Romeo”, and everyone in America is pretty dang good at misquoting Hamlet. Some of these people pretty well add to the cultural wealth of society, after all, where would theatre be without people like Shakespeare and Stanislavsky? Where would American culture be without the presence of the theatre? The foundations that our societies are built on are laid down by the contributions of all persons who went before us, which is one of the reasons that we need to carefully consider what cultural artifacts we are creating and leaving behind. The foundations aren’t limited only to what kind of art we produce but also what knowledge is passed down through the generations. Isaac Newton said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of ye giants”. Contrary to the “Wild West” ethos espoused by so many Americans, no man is an island and no man gets to where he is alone. All of us, every single one of us, is indebted to the dead who have come before us. No society or culture has been wholly perfect, and no generation that has passed has been without their evils. To overlook the atrocities that have been committed is to dishonor the dead, because it allows us to overlook the problems that they created and further contribute to the poison which will destroy what they worked to build. Fixing the problems they laid in our foundations is important, not only for the betterment of our own society but for the benefit of those who were a part of our society. The Dead can have changes of heart and opinion and to see the society crumble that they worked to build up is not pleasing to many, so for all the gifts they have given us it would be wise for us to give them the gift of a better society.

Our biological, cultural, and spiritual ancestors are not perfect. In fact, they did a lot of pretty terrible things. The ancient Athenians owned slaves and were incredibly misogynistic, my own ancestors were racist, homophobic, and ethnocentric. But they are also the reason why I’m here. They are the reason why I live and breathe and why I am able to be as I am and do as I do. I hate some of the actions they took, yes, but I do not hate them. I owe them my life itself. So for that reason I hail them, honor them, and remember them.

I grow in the soil they have become and remember that one day I too will be that soil.