You ever have those weeks when a topic or theme emerges, when a topic comes up again and again, maybe not something that you yourself are overly concerned with, but a concern or issue that others on your periphery are dealing with?
Over the last week or week and a half, I’ve chanced across a number of people wondering out loud whether they should keep on writing about their path, their experiences, their relationships with their Powers. These people expressed frustration over feeling unheard, or frustration over drama that they can’t seem to get away from, or generally just not seeing a point to continue sharing themselves in a public capacity.
I’ll own two things here and now. The first, and most important is: no one is obligated to share anything with anyone, least of all strangers on the Internet. The second is: of course I want people to keep sharing these things with strangers on the Internet. So, I have a bias in this, and I freely admit it.
Beyond that, though, I feel extremely strongly about writing, about sharing if you want to share, and about the potentially unseen benefit that your words might do to help others, who may never reach out and say anything.
Writing about my path is one of the forms of activism that I can do that does not burn me out oh so quickly. Interacting with the public for my day job pretty much takes up all the people tolerance I can manage (Especially on days when, as I’m following a policy, said customer takes umbrage with it and tells me I’d do anything for money. Oh, you’re never shopping here again? Can I get that in writing?)(Compassion, some days you’re are elusive). But, I can be vocal about being pagan, about being a polytheist, about being a devotee of Poseidon and Odin. I can be vocal about making choices in one’s life that takes one firmly out of the mainstream culture, and I can be one more voice that says, “You are not alone.”
I know my writing has helped people, because people have told me so. And it’s knowing that it has helped people that keeps me coming back to the keyboard, as much as, if not more than, wanting to share the awesomeness of living a life with Poseidon at the center. I’ve had moments when I’ve felt utterly alone and cut off, when I’ve felt that there was no one out there who knew what I was going through or cared that I was suffering or confused, etc. I don’t think I’m this great person — if you’ve been reading along for a while, you know that it’s the opposite — but I also know that I am able to write in a way that people sometimes connect to my words, and so I feel compelled to do this.
In the interest of keeping it real, I’m going to further own something. I am fascinated by drama. This is a learned trait — there have been times and situations in my past when the only time I felt anything at all was if emotions were highly charged. I also have a sort of quasi-anthropologist fascination with the mechanics of exchange when emotions are running high and conversations turn into train-wrecks. It can be mesmerizing to watch or read people push buttons to get certain reactions, to watch people not stop to listen, to be unconcerned with trying to see from other peoples’ points of view, and so on. I don’t care much for personal drama — I like my life to be as even keeled as possible — but when it’s people I don’t know going at each other? There have been times I’ve gone looking for that, just to read the comments in the threads.
Go further back and you’ll hit a time when I would have been happily snarking privately with trusted friends about past dramas. I share this to say: I have no illusions about how addicting drama can be, and how we can all get caught up in it. I share this to also point out: drama is a choice, and none of us are obliged to participate. We don’t have to read it. We don’t have to seek it out. We don’t have to allow for it in our spaces.
There are many important topics that our community (or communities, really) need to address, complex topics that I believe it’s important to talk about and read about and think about. But — you get to decide how and when and how often you deal with these topics. You also get to decide how deeply you want to interact with people regarding them.
I’m fascinated by a lot of the anti-capitalism issue some are focusing on these days, but I am content to sit in the shadows, to educate myself, to take in what I want to take in, to dismiss or disagree with what I disagree with, and to not participate in dialogue that too often turns heated. I’m frustrated a lot by the reluctance by white people to acknowledge that white privilege is a thing, and I get to see an amazing amount of white people trying to educate these other white people, and I’m so glad that I’m seeing white people stepping up to do that education, as it’s our place to do that educating — but I don’t chime in all that much, mostly because others are able to speak better on the topic than I can, but also because it’s an (absurdly) hard topic for people to understand.
I don’t go looking for drama these days. I purposefully do not read comments on blog posts or feeds if I know they’ve gotten heated. I have a limit to how much bullshit I can take in any given day, and I honor that. If you are burned out on drama, stop reading it. Don’t engage. Walk away.
Share your voice — but only if you want to. Share your voice, because we are not so large in number that there are too many pagans and polytheists speaking. Share your voice, because the Powers deserve for us to speak of Them, to bring Them back into peoples consciousness. I’m the only polytheist that I know of at my job, but all my coworkers (and some of the managerial staff) are aware of Poseidon, because I’m pretty upfront about it. It doesn’t matter that they don’t worship Him. The awareness is there for them that there are people out there that do worship Him — and that’s important. Not so much for His sake (He makes it clear to me that He does not need me bringing people to Him) but for our sake. And this is always weird for me to admit, because I talk good game about not doing any of my Work to benefit human people directly, but! This is one of those rare cases where I believe it’s important for those of us who can to promote awareness of these minority religions. To a degree, supporting minority religions in a “Christian” world, whether it’s Kemeticism, Wicca, Heathenry, Judaism, etc., is something I feel I’m honor-bound to do. I only feel able to speak up publicly about my own personal religious practice, but I feel called to be aware of and to be an ally when needed to others in minority faiths. I speak of my life with my gods and spirits, and I do so as much as a way of processing things as I do to be a visible example of how it could be.
There’s no wrong choice here. Share your voices how you want to, when, and where, and with whom you want to, and do not feel guilt or poorly for placing limits on what you’ll deal with. I adopted, at Odin’s insistence, a Litany of Hierarchy, to help me remember w/Who in my life gets to have my time and attention, who I have a responsibility towards. It’s amazing how helpful it has been for me, in establishing boundaries, both with others but also, more to the point, in my mind.
I’m very big on people sharing their voice, telling their stories, and I hate the idea that some are feeling like there is no point. So, consider this me, cheering you on. But, more, supporting whatever decision you make, because only you can know what is right for you.