Nobody wants to be the one to start something, especially a religion. There are two ways of handling this: Either say you are actually reviving a religion that fell into disuse longer ago than anyone can remember (that’s how Judaism started: read your Bible), or say that you are reforming one that’s already there (Christianity, which started as Reform Judaism; and Protestantism, which started as Reform Catholicism). –Rosemary Edghill
Contemporary polytheism is great or whatever, but don’t you kind of wish you could blow off all the established traditions out there and start your very own cult of personality?
Chin up, budding tyrant! You absolutely can, and I’m here to help. Just follow the simple process outlined below, and you’ll be on your way to commanding a Pagan corner of the Internet with fire in your heart and Fix-a-Flat in your ego.
Pick an obscure, ancient, Near Eastern or Indo-European culture, preferably one with an unknown or untranslated language. (When in doubt, go with Etruscan.)
Double-check to see if anyone else has already founded a Reconstructionist and/or Reconnectionist tradition based on the religious practices of the same culture. If such a tradition already exists, reach out to the adherents, so that you may learn from each other and enjoy fellowship and symbiotic spiritual growth.
Write your own book, the introduction of which must begin with “Never before…” and end with “Forgotten… until now.”
Create a Facebook page.
Destroy all who oppose you, with self-righteousness and unverifiable personal gnosis as your gleaming sword and shield.
As you may have surmised, there was an Incident on the Social Media, and I’m Having Feelings about it. I’m not going to name names or point fingers, because I
am passive-aggressive rise above. I will, however, make up a fictional recon trad and use that as the context for an actual online conversation.
Polytheistic Guru/Admin: “Good morning, devotees! I’ve uploaded a calendar of the Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Clan ritual cycle to our Files section. Of course, we do not know if the Clan had a formalized ritual cycle, since, the Proto-Lithuanian language has never been translated, so I’ve reworked what we know of their seasonal celebrations to align with the standard Pagan holidays.”
Group Member: “I appreciate you sharing this! I came up with something very similar when I was working on my dissertation in Proto-Lithuanian Studies, and it looks like our calendars are remarkably compatible. I do have one question, though — what led you to match the Festival of the Gelded Centaur with Lammas?”
PG/A: “Why do you ask?”
GM: “Well, back when I was collaborating on the Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Clan Archeological Almanac, we were able to determine that the annual stallion castrations in pre-Christian Baltic territories generally took place in early Spring, so I’m wondering if we missed something in our research. Thanks in advance for any clarification you can provide!”
PG/A: “Look, I tolerate polite dissent, but only to a point.”
GM: “Um, what?”
PG/A: “You need to understand that personal experience is always more valid than what any ‘academic’ has to say.”
GM: “But I didn’t… I only meant… You know what? I think I’ll just quietly unsubscribe and go play on Twitter.”
And then she left the group, and I snuck out right behind her.
Pre-Sober Pit Bull Me would’ve lost his marbles over the whole thing and thrown a few uncalled-for punches before flouncing out the door. But I’m older and
wiser calmer now, and I understand that snarling at some swollen-headed douche fountain isn’t going to change anyone’s mind or make any kind of real difference.
Instead, I choose to focus on gratitude over resentment. For example, I am grateful for the members of a different virtual forum, whose discussions go something like this:
New Group Member: “Hello! Can anyone recommend a good introductory book on the Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Clan?”
Group Admin: “Sure! There are a lot of solid resources out there, but I suggest starting with either The Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Clan Definitely Had a Formalized Ritual Cycle and This Is It, or The Proto-Lithuanian Language Is Really Easy to Translate, on Account of It’s Basically Just Prussian with Three Extra Vowels. I hope this helps!”
It does help, Mr. Welcoming and Accessible Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Clan Reconstruction Guy. Mightily does it help indeed.
In the interest of transparency, I should mention that I originally wrote this article for a short-lived blog project called The Second Coming of Bacchus. A week or so after I published it, I met with my sponsor to work on a Fourth Step, and, as we are wont to do, we immediately drifted off-topic.
Sponsor: “I’ve been to three yoga classes in the past two days.”
Me: “Just out of curiosity, have you ever looked into yoga teaching certification?”
Sponsor: “I have, and I’ve figured out how much money I would need in the bank in order to quit my job and pursue it.”
Me: “You’ve really thought this through, huh?”
Sponsor: “Yup. My dream is to wake up every day and just do yoga and go fishing.”
Me: “Hmmm. Maybe I should quit my job and follow my dreams, too.”
Sponsor: “What, like starting your own Pagan religion?”
Me: “Oh, that’s already on my ‘Harms Done’ list.”
And then I told him about the Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Clan, and he stopped blinking for like five minutes.