In the Otherfaith, there are three ‘paths’ that one can walk: laity, clergy, or mystic. Mystics are myth-makers or myth-walkers, who live out the mythos of the West and create new ones, and journeying is a large component of that work. Clergy know when to make the proper offerings at the proper time and are charged with keeping track of the holy calendar and leading group rituals. Laity give devotion to the Four Gods and, ideally, keep a home shrine to the gods and spirits.
For this series, we will be focusing on the path of laity and what it means to be a lay-person in the Otherfaith. This is the most accessible path and the one we should all start from when beginning to interact with the gods and spirits of this faith.
The three most important parts of the Otherfaith are establishing right relationship, prayer, and maintaining a shrine. When we begin our work, we start with the first two (right relationship and prayer) and only bring in shrines and material offerings after we have established those. You may have noticed that I haven’t included lists of offerings or any altar layouts, and this is because we have to begin with our actions and behavior first.
Right Relationship – Daily Action
Looking at the posts about the Four Gods, you’ll see a lot about how they affect our behavior and inform who we are as people. This might seem a little strange, because the Otherfaith is deity-centric in its approach – it is very solidly a religion. But the Four Gods are much more concerned with us living in a way that honors them than whether we give them the proper fruit on the correct day. We can give all the proper offerings at the proper time, but if in our lives we are failing to uphold their laws and lessons, we’re not doing them honor. We’re not living in right relationship with them.
That doesn’t mean we have to constantly uphold their laws 100% of the time. That should be our goal, but we’re not in this to be perfect. The Otherfaith has cleansing rituals in part to wash away our shame when we’ve failed to act appropriately, opening us up to making amends and properly identifying and relating to unethical behavior. We don’t want to wash away our mistakes. We want to acknowledge them and work through them.
In the Otherfaith, we each have to figure out for ourselves what is means to live honorably and in alignment with the gods and spirits. The most important influences in my practice are hospitality, pride, and personal boundaries. What that means in my daily life is that I do my best to be friendly and generous, take care of my appearance and work on self-care and self-love, and only allow people who are kind to me into my close circle of friends. Those three words could mean something very different to another practitioner of the Otherfaith.
I don’t think list ethics (such as commandments or ‘virtues’) are useful, as easy as they may be for laying out basic ideas. How an Other Person behaves would depend on which of the Four Gods they want to be aligned with more or which gods are most present in their lives. Someone who is more focused on the Dierne will likely be more focused on pride and spreading beauty in the world; someone who emphasizes the Clarene may focus on environmental or social work.
Each of us, when we begin practicing, have to figure out what an honorable life means. And we have to wake up each day and live a life that we are proud of, one that reflects well on our gods. If all we can do is speak well but not act in accordance with our speech, we’re not truly living our faith. We have to, each moment, decide what action to take.
I’m not educated enough to properly speak on ethics, though I am learn. As it is, the ethics of the Otherfaith are grounded in action. One does not need ‘pure’ or ‘good’ thoughts in order to be a good person. We have utilitarian ethics – maximizing joy and minimizing pain.
the Dierne may be all about excess and joy and indulgence, but that does not come on the backs of others.
All this said, I can’t give you a list of places not to shop at or stores to boycott. I can’t give you a string of names to avoid. I can’t tell you how to act. All I can do is tell you what we focus on in the Otherfaith: joy. If we are living a life that brings us and others joy, we are beginning the work of the gods.
The reason we place this first is because all the offerings in the world don’t matter to the Four Gods if our actions are out of line with them. That, to these gods, is like giving someone money while spitting in their face. Ideally, we should live such a life that we bring into being a healthier, sustainable home or community or self. We have to walk our talk.
In my next post I’ll be talking about another side of this issue – contemplation. Contemplation is how we decide if our actions are in line with the gods, how to handle shame, and how we learn self-acceptance. That is all a part of living in right relationship with the Four Gods.
Links to Relevant Posts