Posted by: naiadis | February 14, 2014

Devoted – a pagan blog project post

PBP2014bBeen reading some posts about devotional work around the blogosphere of late — not all of them by any means, because there is not time, and because I stay away from the ones that I know are going to push buttons. Because it’s me, I think of what I’ve read, and I think of the language being used — not the harsh language, just the working language. Caer’s post on Belief and Doing the Work comes immediately to mind, but really, she’s using the language that we all use. I’m not picking on her (in fact, I greatly enjoy much of her writing, and I suggest if you haven’t already discovered her blog, you give it a look) And it’s a combination of a few things — wanting to be the change I want to see, wanting to cultivate joy in my life, wanting to shed the burden and distraction of guilt (oh, all the should-be-doings!) but I see talk about doing the work, about toiling away at our traditions because if we don’t who will, about doing things our gods are asking of us, and today, this morning, I’m contemplating: where is the joy? The love? The thrill of getting to do these things? If we’re called to study and build a cultus up from them, to delve into historical record and bring forth that which could have a place here and now, that which speaks to our hearts and minds . . . isn’t that joyous? Is that wonderful?

I’m devoted to both Poseidon and Odin, but I leave the bulk of the work of the official Odin learnin’ to Beth, because there’s only so many hours in the day, because she’s going to do it anyway, and because I find it fascinating, but my relationship with Pops is largely rooted in the here-and-now. If I had to narrow my tradition, my tradition that is my contribution to our household tradition, it would be narrowed onto Poseidon. I observe 8 holy festivals for Him over the course of the year. He has a place in other rituals and fesitvals that we celebrate on top of that. I read translations of the works of original Hellenic or Roman pagan in the off chance that they’ll mention Him. I find most of the material boring to read but interesting enough to have read, if that makes sense . . . I’m not trying to recruit people to my tradition, because I’m not interested in leading at all, and so maybe that’s the place where I begin to not understand where others are coming from. Maybe that takes some of the joy out of what one is doing?

If we are pagan of any stripe or another, chances are we’ve come from a different religious tradition to begin with — this alone shows that we are devoted to our path in a way that people who are not compelled to delve into spiritual matters are not. Devotion is, I believe, ultimately a private affair that can not reliably be measured empirically by outsiders — and in this case, outsiders means anyone other than you personally.

I am rediscovering, over the last year, joy that there are so many differences within the pagandom, and I’m thrilled to be pagan, to be a polytheist, to rub up against ideas that are different from mine, ideas that get me thinking, etc. I am less thrilled with the prevalence of the “devotion Olympics”. (edited for clarity).

In the end this is another: look to yourself, worry less about what others are saying, if it amounts to them saying you don’t measure up enough. You know your heart, you know your relationship with your gods, you know the extent to your devotion — Trust that.

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Responses

  1. >>>this idea of devotion Olympics is at the very least pointless.<<<

    *snort* But are there medals??

    I find it interesting this other view of Doing the Work. For me, DtW has always been incorporating whatever the work is into my daily life, i.e. being more open to the Voices, not being a doormat, compassion before speaking etc. It didn't occur to me in terms of *doing* things – outward manifestations of inner work such as festivals. And I have nothing against doing festivals. I guess I just saw them as the wrappings and the Work was the gift inside, but the Work was just as much there if not wrapped up prettily. And far easier to get to.

    Did I miss your point?

    • You didn’t miss my point — or at least, your comment is pointing out to me that i may not have been as clear as I thought — yay off the cuff writing!

      There’s a prevalence within some polytheistic . . . circles? areas? spaces? . . . to talk about doing the work and having it be external things. I wonder how much of this is influenced by heathenry (you are you deeds!). It’s certainly what I think people mean when they’re saying Do The Work — even if it’s just standing at your shrine and communing. But, yes, I think it’s more a basic tending to your needs and responsibilities, the things you picked up because you want to be doing them. I’m reminded of Gretchen . . . Rubin? and her Happiness books, and the idea that the things that make you happy do not always make you FEEL happy. Doing the Work is a bit like that — it may not be always what you FEEL like doing, but is an investment into your long term well-being and happiness, and is then worth it.

      I think there is not enough awareness, in the Do The Work conversations, that The Work may be, for some, nothing external, nothing you can measure, and that’s a shame. This might be the point of differentiation in this dichotomy — those to whom The Work MUST be open to external validation, and those to whom The Work is personal and private, and the outward stuff is outward manifestations. Curious. . . .

      • Ah, yes. I was meaning external manifestations versus internal. It may be a heathen thing, you could be right. Which, isn’t Jewish faith like that, too? Most of my Work in doing internal stuff and you only notice if you know me and have the shifting that occurs.

  2. I think it needs to be both. Yes, much of the time it is joyous. But sometimes there is Stuff To Be Done that is … not even remotely joyous, and that needs doing too. We do seem to have this weird dichotomy between the uber-fluffy “just do what feels good” approach and the “everything must be a somber duty” approach. As with most things, I think the ideal is not either of those extremes but rather a path that contains some of both.

    • Definitely something worth chewing over. I place (in theory, because there are Things that He’s shoved at that I am barely able to even hold in my head as theoretical things) Stuff That Needs To Be Done in the “things that don’t make you FEEL happy that still end up building your overall happiness.” It’s a commitment to future happiness — or maybe in these instances I should say contentment and fulfillment.

      I am seeing, more and more, the merit in “do what feels good. I’m understanding for a lot of people it’s the reinsertion and celebration of their part in their spiritual practice, and in their lives. I’m finding myself respecting that more as time goes on.

      Feh. This is no longer the post I want to have written; need to get writing before the actual day the post is supposed to be up, to avoid that in the future. Much more interesting to see what one is doing as part of one’s devotions, rather than to read one kvetch about the concept of devotion. Silly Blue.

  3. […] Devotion/Devoted/Devotional- Strip Me Back to the Bone:  “Devotion is, I believe, ultimately a private affair that can not reliably be measured empirically by outsiders — and in this case, outsiders means anyone other than you personally” […]


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