“Hear now, those for whom the fire burns still within your skin. Hear now the crackling of what once was the peak of your arrogance. It lay in a smoldering pile, the debris of a life filled with sorrow and pain. But now, the fire rages. Now, your rotten core shall be expunged in flame.
“Do not fear, for this is the change you seek– the very boundary between the worlds of your unmaking, and the worlds of your creation. Be calm within the flame, for the flame is you, and you are the vehicle of your own salvation.
“Know Thyselves, sweet children, and be at harmony with your passions, and your flames. I charge you to carry them, to hold them in honor, and to burn with them when necessary. Now is the time for the pure flame of Truth, and you, My messengers, will burn brightly to illuminate the new worlds for welcoming eyes.”
Lord Most Serene, Most Blessed, whose dance leads the Kosmos in its twirling glory; O God of the distant burning, of the solar flames, once close, but now withdrawn, yet still so potent that we feel them, even now, in their distance. Lord, come now unto your people, who would know your presence, even at the crumbling of the world.
Apollon, whose grace is immense and immeasurable, inflict your heat upon us, that we may not know a time without your love, and mighty force. Lord, let your flames stand between us and our enemies, that they will be consumed until naught but the ashes of their crumbling ideals remain. For though you are distant, ever do your eyes look out upon the Universe, seeing the deathly futures they imagine; and in your seeing, in your knowing, may they be met by your unrelenting Will, and be they smashed like shipwrecked corpses upon your rocky shore.
Apollon, who is Truth made manifest, we ask for your blessing, and for your curse upon those who would see us humiliated, subjugated, or worse. May the first recipients of their ire always be themselves, and let their hatred rend their minds and bodies, until relief is but a fleeting dream. By your magnificence, may they know no rest, and no peace, from now until the cessation of their futile hostilities, for Lord, you are a hammer for justice, wielded by the hand of Great Zeus, our Father.
I hope this month finds you well and if it doesn’t, may Apollo Physician aid you to your wellness. This month’s newsletter touches on justice, pride, and discipline and includes two lovely contributions from our very own Columbine.
We appreciate all contributions and if you have an idea you’d like to share, as long as it’s somewhere between 80 and 350 words, we can put it in the newsletter. Poetry, prayers, thoughts on the Delphic Maxims, theology, stories, and opinions are all welcome. Additionally, if you have announcements, prayer requests, or life changes you are willing to share, I can add those as well. And, as always, feel free to distribute as widely as you feel appropriate.
I wish I could tell you that I was doing something intense or important when I was supposed to be writing the newsletter, but in the spirit of our Lord Apollon who speaks the truth, I was playing video games and watching My Little Ponies with my kids. That said, a late newsletter is better than no newsletter at all and I hope you enjoy this month’s offering.
A couple words of business:
Your contributions really help! Prayers, musings, poetry, opinions, and theology are all welcome. Works can be between 80 and 350 words with the ideal range being between 200-250 words.
And, as always, feel free to distribute as widely as you feel appropriate.
This world is a teeming, vibrant world. A world full of the bitter struggles of life in all beings and forms, wrenching their existence out of the elements before them. The fish move throughout the ocean, but they also are the ocean, as their molecules constantly shift between those of the water, and other sea life. The land animals dig and scrape the earth for food, sometimes even taking the lives of their Earthly cousins for survival. They too are mingled in form with their elements. We, humanity, are no different, for even in our cities of concrete and glass, we feed upon the structures of our environment.
Ours is a society nourished by many sources. We are of course sustained by the Earth, though in a way that seems almost secondary to the human construct of fame, and its behavioral partner, ostentatiousness.
The desire for a place in the world is one which nearly all people have. We want to belong, and we want to be valued within the particular social structures we navigate. We are an animal which needs its own place in the world, both collectively and individually. Hence, we have occupied many niches, and in so doing, have attempted to elevate ourselves through our achievements. In celebrating our advancements within the animal kingdom, we have become lost in our potential as a species, forsaking the now, and our Earthly brethren, and also one another. Such is our way, reflected, for example, in humanity’s conquest, use, and sometimes misuse of fire.
We think of fire as a mere tool too often, and we as its masters, when instead we should see fire as our honored ally. It has its own life and will, and as long as we respect it, treating and feeding it with the proper care, we can prevent fire from suddenly taking everything we value, including our lives. But if we do not respect it and its responsible care, we need only indulge in one moment of neglect, and all is lost. In the loss of our once reverent coexistence with the non-human, we have also lost much of our ability to empathize and identify with each other.
We must prevent the loss of these crucial perspectives. The surest way to do so, is to dismantle the construct of human superiority, and indeed superiority over other humans. There are no lives which are inherently of more or lesser value. Each of us, and each individual of each other species, even the tiniest protozoa, has the right to life and respect. We must protect ourselves in certain circumstances, yes, but self-defense is a far cry from the wholesale destruction of species’. Because life feeds on life, we must respect life at all costs.
How may we begin to assist in this shift of human consciousness? How can each of us, as mere individuals, help to end the perpetuation of false ideas of mastery and lordship over the whole Earth? We need first confront any illusions of superiority lying inside us, dormant or otherwise. And we must be willing to see and accept the inherent equality of all life.
Know also that this is not the dismantling of pride. Healthy pride is a virtue that all should cultivate within themselves, for one must first know their strengths if they wish to utilize them. Pride is not boastful, which is a common vice among those seeking an elevated place in society. Pride is not loud, nor is it domineering. Pride is the opposite of ostentatiousness, just as quiet humility is the opposite of boastfulness.
One may, and rightly should if circumstance warrants it, visibly champion their right and just causes, and even their personal goals, to those who would listen and contribute. But we must not let our pride be swept away in this fervor, for to do so may invite hubris to poison our minds. Sometimes, the easiest and best way to prevent such an occurrence, is simply to choose to move quietly through the world.
In this context, moving quietly means doing right and doing good in small, unassuming ways along with more overt gestures, but also to do so without any expectation of reward or accolades. When the focus is on the deed and the rightness of it, rather than the audience of the deed, our egos gain the peace of the shadow. That is to say, we learn that by occupying the background, we may observe the foreground, quietly remaining within the scene while holding our place subtly. In this position we become more capable of responding to the actual needs of those or what we champion, instead of the opinions of spectators and future contributors, alike.
Imagine what might be accomplished once the ego has stepped aside, what goals might be met quietly, and without controversy. Imagine how much good can be done when one is focused on the doing, and not the telling. The gratification of revealing our deeds can be a potent lure, but we have to look past those urges to see what is truly best, and what we truly care about.
By moving quietly, we can attain the perspective needed to see our world in all of its terrible beauty. In the quiet, truth is found, and once we have attained even a kernel of that truth, we must continue to cultivate it for our own sake, as well as our causes’. People unknown to us and the world, in circumstances unfathomable, do right every single day, expecting nothing in return. We can join them if we choose. Then we can accomplish our great deeds, and our vast projects, by moving quietly, like shadows revealed in the burning light of truth.
Perhaps and hopefully, in the quest to better ourselves, collectively and individually, we will begin to reopen the lines of empathic communication between ours and other species. Moving quietly also facilitates listening, and that is something that we could certainly do more of when it comes to the animal kingdom, and our species, too.
Hail to the Lord Apollon, who provided the images and emotions channeled through me for translation of this article. May He continue to illuminate our world, while steering us through the chaos which permeates it.
We’ve had a busy Noumenia weekend with school wrapping up and Beltaine/Thargelia celebrations and your esteemed (I hope) editor is also easily distracted by shiny objects. I do hope you’ll forgive me for the lateness of our newsletter this month and I will do my best to ensure next month’s gets out on time.
Special thanks to Zoe for the statement against racism, to Lykiea for the use of her painting of Athena Nashville, and to you, as always, for reading.
This is a Special Edition of our newsletter and a response to some… stuff going on in our community. I have done my best as a white person to present anti-racism work in a way that doesn’t create more emotional labor for people of color. To that end, most of the content is directed toward people who have white privilege as a way to encourage this work both internally and externally. Feel free to share with whomever needs to shed a little light on their words and actions around white supremacy and, my dear and beloved friends, also feel free to call me out if I’ve made any mistakes. I’m still learning and I offer these words in the greatest humility and willingness to shed additional light on my own missteps.
Apollon lend you sufficient moxy to dismantle systemic racism.
Every writer knows this little bit of crucial advice. It’s how we manage to convey the innermost thoughts and feelings of our characters without using pages and pages of arbitrary scene description. In this context, we take the reader along with the protagonist, on the journey and into the action as it is happening, not as an afterthought. It helps the reader to suspend their disbelief if they feel like they are a part of the story, experiencing situations while in their midst.
In a way, this could also be applied to religious activities. This is why video and audio contributions from Polytheist authors and bloggers become so popular. People want and need to see how things are accomplished, even if they later decide not to practice in the ways observed. You see, without dedicated land and buildings set aside for the worship of the Gods, we are not readily exposed to the many rich traditions of our pasts.It is true, we have many academic works that we may infer conclusions from, and even scholarly religious works written by Polytheists, for Polytheists, and however grateful we may be for this tradition of scrutiny applied to the roots of our faiths, following the dictates of any written work is limiting. At some point, hopefully, we begin to apply our own intuition to what we’ve learned from the many tomes.
This is the point when we being to show ourselves the true commitment we have, or do not have, for our faiths. If nothing more, practice, offering and simple focus upon the Gods serve to keep us within the fold of our religious traditions, while simultaneously challenging us to make them work, for us.
As opposed to a strict orthopraxy, some may find that building new structure upon the foundation of accepted rites and ritual forms will better suit them in these modern times. I am one of those individuals. My Land is alive and my religion is alive, so why should I be fated to, ever-so-slowly, reconstruct the body of past practices for a location that was completely unknown to the ancient Hellenes?
The answer is I shouldn’t, and I won’t. Instead, I choose to immerse myself in what is now, in the present time.
Some weeks ago, a few of my Treasury Sisters and I were having a chat about names and labels within the various Polytheistic communities, when one of us was finally able to pin down a couple of terms that seem to work for a few of us. One is Revivalism, which speaks to the natural growth within Polytheistic faiths.
Revivalism (seen here in the Roman variety), in my view, is a growth of the spirit which inspired past practices and lore. As opposed to keeping the old ways and stories like we might keep a crutch, the old ways inform how we respond to the very real demands of the Land and its spirits, as well as the Gods, and helps us to devise new but accepted protocols with which to deal with these demands.
I know that many of the things my local spirits ask for may not have been conceivable in the ancient past. Personally, this is why Immersion (the second term to be discussed) plays such an important role in my spiritual practice. In order to become immersed within one’s own local framework, one must be willing to listen, and to be shown what is acceptable to the spirits one works with.
Immersion is the beginning of the path toward a true Revival, thus Camilla has coined the term Immersive Polytheism to refer to this first step, as practiced by those of us who claim the term.
I have talked about this before, though I had no proper name for it then, in my post here. Immersion is seeing from a different perspective. It is seeing, acknowledging, and aligning oneself to this world, as it is, while still maintaining deep ties to the subtle worlds surrounding us. It is allowing those subtle worlds to influence our everyday lives, and the ways we interact with our own world. If witchcraft were the topic instead of Polytheism, I might say that Immersion were equal to living the craft, in each moment of every day.
In this context, living the craft, or practice rather, could mean any number of things to any number of practitioners. Our individuality will shine here as our souls become entwined with those of the Land, and the Gods supporting us. It is important that we accept what is happening. To deny the subtle changes in our awareness will lead to stifled spiritual practices, and a lot of unhappiness on our parts, and the parts of those we claim to serve.
After we have become immersed in the life of our local community of spirits and Gods, the natural step forward would be to record what works, discard what doesn’t, listen, and to watch for what the spirits show us. We are all in this together, and we are all participating in varying amounts of show and tell. This is normal, however, I think that generally we’ve probably done enough telling for the next few hundred years. The future will be built by those who are able to show others their life’s work, and not only tell about it in writing. [Yes, I am one of those people who needs to write less and do more.]
There are so many ways to do this. One could organize rituals for the locals (spirit and/or human), or simply record one’s own rituals for a viewing audience later. One could participate in radio/internet broadcasts discussing important elements of their tradition and practices.
Showing is of course very easily done via the written word, and there are some wonderful anthologies available that give us glimpses into the world and work of others. I am not discounting the power of the written word, but why remain shackled by it when there exist alternatives that some, as individuals, might find more appealing and inspirational to their own practice? Immersion is also embracing modern technology and modern techniques for the advancement of Polytheism.
Once we are in tune with the life all around us, which is participating in this existence along side us, we may begin to find the elusive structure many of us are seeking. We have to build it, though, and that starts within (with help from our a/Allies), as we commit to showing ourselves, and each other, what we’re able to accomplish in this world, as well as the Others.