I woke up today to this post over on A Forest Door. (Okay, I lied; I woke up to dishes and then read the post.) I brought up the posts linked to, which can be found here and here, and settled in to read before work.
I knew going in I would disagree – I’m a pop culture guy, a fangirl, the kind of boy who grew up on fanfic. I’ve got geekery all over my practices. I thread my religious ideas into my fanfiction. I skip back and forth, teeter and watch and wait to see if something useful will bloom. I like drawing connections and asking questions. I like finding that story that makes everything click into place.
I also know I’m a bit odd. I don’t just follow a historical path, though my practice with Antinous isn’t pop culture-y. (Actually, it’s rather ‘tame’, since the gods are historical and my practice is a very clear devotional relationship and it doesn’t seem that will change. Not much there for people to get up in arms about. If I talked strictly about that, my blog would be a lot calmer. Antinous makes me calm. My practice with him brings me joy.) I have my devotional relationship with Antinous and friends.
And then I have the new gods I worship. The Four Gods and their related spirits, gods I would sometimes very much like to shut off because they’ve brought more frustration into my life than I ever thought they could, but, hey, they’re gods, this is real to me, and I’m honestly glad I’m stuck with them. I’m glad to have encountered the spirits I have and to be challenged every day.
Then there is my very playful and meditative practice with various fandoms. Most of the time that practice is meditative, focused on internal work, crafting myself into a better tool for the gods and spirits through lessons and ideas that can be presented in fandom and fiction.
Most of the time. Except when a spirit adopts a face I know, or when a phrase keeps being brought up because it’s an accurate name for certain spirit phenomena, or when weird stuff just happens and it’s more offensive to tell a spirit, “You’re not real,” than it is to work with them on their terms.
Discernment is great. Offending a spirit because they wear an unexpected face or challenge your assumptions is not so great.
But you know, reading through the posts I linked to, what really got me was the superiority. Oh, I’m just not brave enough to really give my life over to the spirits, that’s why I involve fiction and fandom into my path. Obviously I’m just not strong enough or smart enough or dedicated enough to my real super real really real real spirits. I mean, let’s ignore that I do work with spirits and gods; there’s this super weird, strange practice that I have that totally makes me ridiculous and means I’m ‘playing pretend’.
Yeah, that’s nice, but I actually have a practice to go do – you know, one with your ‘real’ ‘legitimate’ spirits and, surprise, my own, which sometimes draw on pop culture!
There is this weird – really weird, mind-baffling even – phenomenon where I can’t control what the spirits do, and sometimes what they do is appear to me in masks.
I probably don’t get the whole super offended thing because I’m not a Hellenic polytheist. Heck, I’m not all that concerned with historical messes. I’m basically over here in my corner with my new gods, tinkering with my new spirits, learning a listening ear to them and doing my best to serve. There really is a lot I want to address in the posts that were written – how fictional characters can’t do anything real (heal us and such), how cinema isn’t an experience, so on and so forth – but then…I decided to think it over a bit longer.
Cause this is a subject that deserves a lot more words and a lot more focus than I can give today.
(But I’d love to hear more about how I’m not a ~true believer~ because I think spirits change and grow and are born in a variety of ways, I really would.)
Edit: Actually, I have to add, I’m really weirded out that people who gladly talk to me about my new gods are fawning over these latest posts. Clearly there is a lack of respect for me and what I do – which is fine, but I prefer knowing that upfront rather than finding out later after dialoging with someone.