Humbled — keeping it real.

I’m better, today. I’m shaky, I’m fragile-feeling, but I’m on the mend. The voices that love to tell me how worthless I am gained a whole lot of ground in the previous two weeks. I believed them. Of course, they’re full of shit, and they are largely to blame for why I was so unwell in the first place — they started talking and I believed them. “If you were better/less pathetic/more dedicated you wouldn’t need boundaries/your down time/decompression time. If you just applied yourself/weren’t so stupid/really wanted X, it wouldn’t be so hard. Obviously you are lying/stupid/lazy/pathetic.” Which, sounds reasonable . . . right?

I’ve been reading along to some of the “Wiccan Privilege” discussions — not all, not nearly, I don’t have time for that and really ultimately it is only a peripheral interest because I’m pretty reclusive, I do my own thing. I’m interested in it because I’m interested in interacting with people successful, because language fascinates me, because reading about experiences people have fascinates me, because I’m not a little bit of a voyeur, but there’s so much, and people better qualified than I to tackle the topics. And maybe I really shouldn’t have been reading along, because the enormity of the topic, the enormity of the “pagan/polytheism” debate daunts me.

I keep reading because, if nothing else, it’s a great way to keep ‘compassion’ in the foreground of my mind. Those with whom I ought to theologically have common ground with and patience for, those I ought to sympathize with, lose my compassion when they become hostile, when they espouse a my way or the high way attitude. They lose sympathy or understanding when they (to me) seemingly fixate on a word and insist it’s meaning narrow/change — not because I’m judging but because I don’t see language working that way, and because I don’t understand being in a place where you would not like to explore the stories of who we are and why we are here and how we came to be here.

I realized a few things in my reading, quite suddenly, which helped me a lot. The first: I have no real experience to speak from. Oh, I have experience. I’ve been pagan for long enough. I know my gods and their histories, and of the cultures they’re couched in. I’ve lead public ritual, I’ve been a part of organizing Pagan Pride Days. I’ve been to gatherings.

Except, the Pagan Pride Days I’ve been a part of or have gone to were extremely Heathen-friendly, or Heathen-run. The public rituals were sumbels, not circles. The gatherings I’ve been to were Trothmoot and East Coast Thing. Not pan-pagan gatherings. I’ve been involved with specifically Wiccan gatherings too, during our brief year with the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel . . . again, not pan-pagan. Tradition specific. I’ve ever been to FSG. I’ve never been to Pcon. The big, pan-pagan events are big draws, and for that reason alone I’m not likely to attend. So: no experience to compare with those polytheists and pagans who are not drawing from Wicca at all in their practices and being frustrated at being under represented in larger groups.

I realized that, for as much as I want to distance myself from those who are writing in ways I wish they ought not write, at the end of the day, no matter what else I want to call myself, I am a deity-centered polytheist. If you ask me what I am, the first thing that comes to mind? It’s not heathen. It’s not pagan or polytheist or Hellenic. It’s Poseidon’s, and then it’s Odin’s. Poseidon first, always Poseidon first, being His is so much a part of my identity. Everything else comes after. For all that environmental concerns are a part of my path, for all that my festivals and rituals are seasonally based, it is not an earth-centered path that I walk. The line between deity-centric and self-centric is less clear to me — if I’m struggling to put myself more and more in alignment with Him, there is as much self-work as there is devotional work for/to Him, so I don’t understand the distinction some make between the two/it isn’t there for me.

I also realized that I was exhausted and overwhelmed, and that was eating up at my compassion and patience and willingness to learn or contemplate. Which had nothing specifically to do with the conversations going on. It was a separate thing, but it did mean I needed to step back from such a heavy topic until I was less overwhelmed.


I don’t have taboos. Well, there’s the headscarf thing, but beyond that, the adoption of religious “laws” into my practice is choice-based. And, my choices over the last few weeks have not been the best. Some wasn’t avoidable: financial worries, worries over the animals, errands that had to be taken care of, going to work, not having any down time, migraines. Some was: bad food choices, not dropping the things that could wait, getting rest without giving in to those voices.

There are many reasons why Poseidon urges me to eat whole foods. We may not be able to focus as much on the local as I would like. We may not be able to focus on eating seasonally as much as I would like. We may not even be able to focus so much on eating organically as I would like. But there are some rules that are to be flouted at our peril. Worn down, unwell, and bad nutrition that looks like good nutrition on top of it? Disaster.

I’m proud that, on my utterly worst day, I started the day with yoga practice. I’m sort of awed, really, that as the blackness covered my head and filled my lungs, my ass was on the mat and I was reaching for Him in our most tested-and-true way. That day the difference wasn’t quite there, and I was so over-wrought by the time I got home that night that I couldn’t eat anything other than saltines. (Everthing else had too much flavor/too much texture/was overwhelming). I was a sobbing, shaking mess.

The next morning? Back on the mat, only this time when the cats flanked me, it was wonderful, not enraging. There was laughter and joy, and a steady, steady calm.

12 thoughts on “Humbled — keeping it real.

  1. {{Huge hugs}}

    I’m sorry you’ve been having sucha rough time. I can relate, but you know that. I just had to unsub from the one Hellenic list I was still on because I couldn’t take the drama.

    I’m also glad yourtouchstone is keeping you grounded, even when things get tough.

    {{More hugs}}

    • I’m on one on FB that I may need to leave. I ONLY go there when I’m *looking* for train wrecks. not good.

      *happy sigh* I love you. Can’t ever yoga without thinking of you, too, you know. It’s kinda awesome.

      • Help me understand this. Why do you have a place that you keep *only* to see the train wrecks? Where is the value to your soul in that? (There may be value and I am missing it, so I’m asking.)

        • I would love to help you understand this. In reality? I can’t. I would have left the group ages ago, but the trainwrecks — of which there are not often many — captivate me on the days when I’m relentlessly restless and going out of my mind from it.These are the days I go seeking drama, not to be a part of, just to read. Which, happily, happens less and less. It’s not the least bit healthy. *mutter* And I know it. And it’s silly.

          • Ok. I used to do this. Maybe it was to feel superior to “those stupid people having those useless arguments.” Maybe it was pure vicious voyeurism. Or believing that if I shoved my opinion in there, too, I was being useful (along with smug). It could have all of those things at one time or another. All I know is I stopped. I’ve been moving people and lists and groups out of my life that do not feed my soul. At first I did it on faith – that is would be worth it. Now I do it because I’ve learned that faith was well placed. It’s not that I’m never dragged to drama, but now it is a clear conscious choice if I am rather than a habitual reaction.

            I asked because I thought hey, maybe you used it for fodder for your stories.

            • At this point, when i go seeking it, I know it’s a choice rather than habit. I don’t *think* it’s so i can feel superior (generally speaking, feeling inferior is a thing I do, not the other way around). When I’m being completely honest, I can admit that there’s a familiarity to being around hostility and drama for the sake of creating drama that is ?soothing?. It’s not really soothing, I simply cannot think of a better term. It’s familiar ground, it’s intimately familiar ground, and on some levels I trust it more than I trust its lack. Which is a whole ‘nother level of fucked-up.

              *considers* I don’t know that I use the specific situations for story fodder. I will concede that I might harvest frustration/anger/rage/hostility for writing, though. Curious . . .

              • Oh, be certain *absolutely I assure you* that I was speaking only of me when I used to go watch and participate in the beheading of the fluff bunnies in Pagan fora and feeling oh-so-aren’t-I-pagan-wonderwoman about it. It’s been years since I did that and I am a much better person since I quit. For future reference know that when I talk what I used to/am doing I mean only me and not you. If I think you I say you, or I ask. *muah*

      • I’m a member of largish Hellenic groups on Facebook, and they have all been pretty calm of late. No internecine fights over the place of philosophy or whether the Roman and Hellenic gods were the same beings, no one looking for a forum from which to trash Jews or claim that only those of Greek blood have the right to worship the Olympians . . . it’s been nice.

  2. ” . . . it is not an earth-centered path that I walk.” Considering your environmentalism and seasonally-based festivals, I suppose that depends on whether Petraios is an epithet that shows up along the way or not!

    • This comment has me thinking a lot about the dichotomy between “deity-centered” and “earth-centered” spirituality, and wondering how much of the dichotomy is false or irrelevant. I can step back, look at what my practice may look like from the outside, and see how one might be able to point and say, “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck . . .” In my case, the environmental concerns and the seasonally based festivals are an outgrowth of my devotion to and focus on Poseidon, not the other way around. So, in my head, the deity comes first, the focus on the world in which I live comes second, and it factors in at all because of His direct and influence, His guidance. In my mind there’s a difference between trying to live wholistically within the world (rather than trying to dominate it) and having the earth be at the *focus* of one’s spiritual practice, but now I wonder how, from the outside, that difference may look.

      It has be wondering, also, how much that dichotomy is influenced by a mindset of binary choices (it’s this *or* it’s that), and how much place it may or may not have had with our pagan spiritual ancestors. Earth-centered or deity centered? Secular work or spiritual work?

      All in all, good introspection fodder, so thank you. I feel a blog post brewing . . . .

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