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7. Beliefs - Patronage and other deeper relationships

First I'll say that I do not have a patron relationship with any deity. I never have. There are gods I am closer to than others, and I am a long-term devotee of Aphrodite, but she is not my patron. I suspect I'm not someone who is prone to patronage. Partly this is the mostly-headblind thing (it's so much work just to get a glimmer!) but partly I think it's that I'm just not that focused. (It's amazing to me that I found a life partner--Dan--who I never get bored with.) And for what I am supposed to be doing, it's probably better if I have a broader view.

Yeah, I suck at these however-many-days memes.

Moar! )
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6. Beliefs - The power of prayer/reciprocity

I am a strong believer in "a gift for a gift." I think it's a much-misunderstood principle. There is, certainly, a contractual aspect to it (the Romans, I think, made this aspect into an art form)--but there is a contractual aspect to marriage and I don't see anyone (well, not many of them) lining up to object to that. Because we know there's so much more to it. As there is so much more to reciprocity. The exchange of gifts between friends is in great part symbolic. It's a concrete representation of the growing bond between the two. You don't give your friends presents in order to get something from them, you do it because you love them and want to share something with them.

I am also a strong believer in building a relationship with deity--that relationship is a greater gift than any other blessing they may grant. Gifts and offerings can be a part of this, but so is prayer, and meditation, and work done for the gods--time spent, effort spent.

Days to come... )
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5. Beliefs - Magic, spellcraft, mysticism etc.

My religious practice is, on the whole, almost entirely devotional. I've done magic in the past, in my pre-polytheist days (folk magic, not energy work) and my experience is that it pretty much always works, but that usually there are more direct routes to accomplishing what I want. It's a toolbox that's I know is there, even if I don't open it. I'm not necessarily saying "never again" but right now it's not something that interests me. And hasn't in, what, ten years?

I'm also uninterested in heathen mystical practice--I think it's great that people do it, but I'm not going to be among them. (If you're tone-deaf, you probably shouldn't join an orchestra.)

I'm also not much of a mystic. It's not something I have any objection to, just something that's not at all a strength. I'm fairly well headblind. Not totally, but pretty close to it.

So these aren't personally-based opinions here.

I think people should do what works best for them. If you connect best via magic, than that's what you should probably do. If you don't, look elsewhere.

Days to come )
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4. Beliefs - Birth, death and rebirth

I'm not a literalist about this. In my opinion, death is a continuation of our lives, it's the entry point to another part of our existence. I think it may be a more flexible reality than the one we know now. Mainly, I think that any attempts to describe it by earth-bound people (i.e. us) are bound to fail because we don't have the understanding or the tools to do it. Any such attempts made are at best incomplete and almost certainly just wrong.

I don't mean that we shouldn't think about these things, or theorize. I think it's a useful exercise. I just don't think we should expect that we're going to be correct in our guesswork. :)

But I do think we go on. I think we may be able to connect with the world we're in now in some way. Possibly we'll gain a better understanding of the gods. These things are all possible. They just aren't guaranteed. (This is a point where I find myself diverging from the more reconstructionist folks at times.)

So, the answer to this one? As the agnostics say, "I don't know, and neither do you." :)

Days to come )
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3. Beliefs - Deities

I'm a hard polytheist. Generally speaking I think that if a deity has manifested in a particular way, there's a reason for it, and as far as I'm concerned in my practice, that reason is that s/he is that individual deity. Note that I'm not saying that I know that this is so--I'm fairly headblind so don't take my word on that--just that it works for me and it makes sense to me.

There are two pantheons of gods I honor. The Greeks came to me first. (Well, Aphrodite came first, but polytheism is like an avalanche, a bit of snow to start and pretty soon you're buried up to your neck. In fact Aphrodite is why I am a hard polytheist.) And the Greeks are pretty close-knit. You don't have to be besties with the whole family, but please be civil, offer a libation when they drop in, that sort of thing.

Then there are the heathen gods. Started as a friend-of-a-friend thing I think, but that's how you meet new friends, right? I feel quite a bit more comfortable with the Vans and their energy, personally, but here there is a strong community bond as well, I have many rl co-religionists. Initially there was more of an element of choice here. They're pretty clear on what they want from me, which is nice, and they're fairly direct, which is also nice. :) (Incidentally I'm not folkish. I think it's great for those who are but it's not the sort of connection I myself make.)

I'll also say that I don't really get how people can equate gods of one pantheon with gods of another, because in my own experience they're not much alike. But that's why I'm a hard polytheist, right?

More days )
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2. Beliefs - Cosmology

Or, our place in the universe.

Ask me this, and I go with the scientists--big bang, evolution, dinosaurs, et cetera.

Because mythological truth is mythological truth. No less important, no less true, but nothing to get literal about.

Which means that Ymir and Gaia are both formational forces, and they are unconnected. That fire and ice met. That Gaia birthed her husband, then her children. That all this is true, and it does not conflict.

And that there are manymanymany gods, and some of them are mine, and most of them are not.

And how I put my mind around all of that, I'm not sure. :) But I do.

More days )
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Okay, so a caveat--I make no promises about getting this done in 30 days. I may skip days, or weeks. I may do several days on the same day. Just so's you know. :) And due to the meme's structure it might even end up being more or less than 30 discussions.

1. Beliefs – Why Paganism?

Originally, as in way-back-when twenty years ago, it was the world-view that drew me in. I'd been fairly strongly agnostic (can you be that? :)) for many years, ever since I realized as a teen that I didn't really believe the things I'd been taught in church. And, belief being central to even my family's fairly liberal branch of Christianity, that was significant. Never was able to get it to "take." And in my experience you can't force belief. You can't even choose it, not really. Or at least, I couldn't.

But paganism (and I use the lower-case mindfully, not as a lack of respect but as making the point that faith is a part of life, not to be put on a special shelf somewhere) was about more than belief. It was about experience, and practice, and about what you did, not just what you thought. It was about Yes, not No. It was about the good things it brought with it, not the bad things that would happen if you didn't join up. It was about promises, never threats. It was about the possible. And I like the possible.

And that, I think, was "Why Paganism?" More specifics follow in later topics.

The Days )
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