Identity and Group Mind

Oh wow, it’s been more than a year now since my last post. And in light of that, I probably don’t need to say that the idea brewing in my head at the time didn’t exactly work out. For a while it did, about four months there things felt solid, stable again – then the cracks started to appear and the whole thing shattered. The rest of the year was spent feeling as though I were being jerked around from one thing to the next, looking for the end to this problem and finding that I’m still, always, missing the mark. I was exhausted by the end of it, despondent; wanted to put my fist through something, bang my head against something, throw everything out the window, throw myself out the window, give up and move into the cave in the woods and be done with it all.

Still here though, having caught whatever number wind I’m on now, still trying to work my way to the bottom of this. This whatever wind it is has brought with it a new angle, courtesy of some online discussions I’ve been privy to. Permit me, if you will, a rambling trip through this thought process.

For the last couple years I’ve been following John Micheal Greer’s blog (and the Dreamwidth one, too). I’m not a commenter there, five years ago I would’ve gone for it, tried for some sense of community, but I’m still too burned out, too wary, not quite willing to take that risk right now. So I just read, absorb, learn. And it has been quite the education, I’ve had my perspective challenged, changed, broadened on any number of issues. He’s a traditional occultist, something that the Pagan traditions I came from tended to treat like it was cooties (and still do, as I see). To be fair, exposure to watered down pop culture Wicca doesn’t help matters, but Western Esotericism is more than just Wicca (much less watered down pop culture Wicca). I’m finding it so far, the philosophy, the world view, to be interesting and, in a lot of ways, to make more sense than much of what I’ve come across before.

Here’s where I saw passing reference to egregores. Nothing too in depth, but enough to hook my mind, to be sitting there on the mental back burner when an unpleasant revelation hit me and sent me after a recommended book on the subject.

I’ve been able to visit my family in recent times, after having not seen anyone in person for seven years. On the one hand it has been nice seeing people again, the nephew who was a toddler when I left or the niece I never met at all, but on the other hand…it’s odd. That amount of time and things are both familiar but also kind of new to you, you’re distant enough that you experience things as an outsider might. I look around and think nothing has changed; then, my god, nothing has changed. This exact same oppressive whirlwind of negativity is what I grew up in. Fucking hell, how did I ever breathe? I don’t know, I find it kind of hard to breathe in now, if I don’t go with at least some small measure of protection I can find it hard to shake off later; it sticks to you, a miasma that blackens the mood and shortens the temper.

I think there is an egregore at work there, attached to the family. If that is the right word for it. Some powerful behavior patterns, a drama enacting itself over and over again. I had a vital role in that drama, growing up, though I didn’t see it that way at the time; I thought of it instead as just who I was, not a part I was unwittingly cast in (though having played in it for so long, it is to a degree who I am now, though not as strongly as it once was). I was the scapegoat, the antagonist, the negative comparison. And after I abruptly escaped that prison, not right away but over the course of time, it seems one of my siblings was recruited to fill the role that I left, in order for the drama to go on.

To an extent, I knew this; I still talked to people, got two sides of the same story, suspecting but never too sure where the bullshit is. Seeing it was a completely different thing, And there were always things that I wondered about, behaviors admitted to by both parties, things that mirrored my own – though my behaviors stemmed naturally from a childhood trauma, not collective family trauma something that was mine alone. It never really made sense to me for said sibling to be acting this way. But then a very casual conversation with a different family member pointed out, to my amazement, the similarities did not stop there. Even down to very fine details I missed, or didn’t want to see, it was beyond eerie. This person who at one point was on a very different path than me (had a different role in the drama) has since become, in a way, a version of who I could’ve been, had the gods not intervened.

That really threw me for a loop; still does. There was a moment of is this my fault, did I cause this somehow? But no, and I do know that; I may, possibly, with my departure created a vacuum that needed to be filled, but I am not the source of this drama and I’m not to be faulted for saving my own skin. My troubled mind lingered more on questions of why me? Why was I spared? Because I was, when Hermes showed up on my doorstep and offered me an out; I wouldn’t have gotten out of there on my own without the synchronicity string he arranged on my behalf, and I know that (as a side note, I strongly suspect now the name change I was given on my way out the door was not (only) a devotional move, but a way to further sever me from this group mind). So why me? And there is probably an answer to that question, though I may never learn it, not in this lifetime. Mostly it’s just troubling, because I see this whole situation coming to a bad end; I hope not, I hope some measure of course correction can be set in before things go speeding past the point of no return, but I don’t know. There’s not much I can do about it either way.

Not that that was my only exposure to the power of group minds, I had ringside seats to a first class spectacle with the last group (cult) I was involved in before I pulled all the way back. It’s something I try not to focus on much because I don’t want to be another of those people blaming everyone else for my problems; it’s possible though I also downplay the influence it had. I almost wish I’d had the presence of mind to take better notes when it was all happening, it could have been a fascinating thing to look back on: the gradual way one person’s delusional fantasy life came to dominate so many people (okay, it was a handful of people, but still, more than it should’ve), the way this one person lost the ability (assuming they ever had it in the first place) to tell the difference between fantasy and reality and swept others off with them. Including myself, to a degree. I never got as deep into this, shall we call it live action religious role play, as others did, I was more peripheral to it, but it did affect me. Years of inane jumbled horseshit I mistook for UPG, that’s where it had its roots; I didn’t act much on those thoughts but they were there, had to be picked off like leeches at a later date. It’s easy to see the influence now, but I didn’t get it then, it slid right under my radar.

But this is an extreme example, and it’s always easier to see the extremes. This little cult of personality though splintered off from a bigger group that itself splintered off from various parts of the broader Pagan and Reconstructionist movements, sealing itself in a little online echo chamber. Group minds form wherever there are groups, so what about this one? What was the legacy it left me? What beliefs, routines, expectations, still embedded in me, have roots there? And more importantly, how many of them are actually legitimate and how many are leeches in need of being picked off?

I’ve journaled about this a bit, trying to trace these beliefs, routines and expectations, trying to see the overall effect, then and now. The conclusion I come to, every time I think about it, whatever it may sound like, is most (not all, but many) of those people from back then didn’t know what they were talking about – they thought they did, but they didn’t. I think a lot of people were in it for reasons other than what they said, less about the gods maybe and more about their own image (I’ll throw one example out, that bullshit that circulated for a time within this group that putting serious work into spirituality, into mysticism and devotional relationships, was not necessary, that expecting work was elitism – that’s about protecting people’s fragile egos, not about the way things really work). And I think some, beyond the few I know about for certain because I witnessed it up close, lost the ability to tell the difference between wishful thinking (or delusion) and actual divine messages (and with a group mind that doesn’t encourage good discernment, apt to believe everything from the in crowd or otherwise with little to no question, expect that shit to spread – and yes, including myself here).

A lot of this is just a feeling, I admit, a guess, something I notice when I compare the source material I’m reading now, the few people I’ve observed enough that I do think they know what they’re talking about (and who have a reputation as such extending well beyond just me), with the stuff I remember from then – there’s a difference in quality I can see, even if I can’t articulate it. The quality of a group mind can be judged by the results it produces, and what do I see there? A lot of people who have crashed and burned; people who have vanished, or quite visibly moved on to other things; devotional relationships and responsibilities with fancy titles turning to smoke around them, slipping right through their fingers. The people still around, often are the ones that backed off early, or weren’t that involved. I don’t know the individual reasons behind each and every instance, I don’t pretend that I do, but it does create an overall impression, and sometimes that’s all you have to judge – this is a group mind that creates faith not strong enough to last the test of time, perhaps not even strong enough to take one of those good hard blows life is bound to throw your way. And unless I want to end up in the same position, I might want to rethink everything I learned at its feet.

And how did any of this happen? How did I get so entangled in so much bad shit? That ties into thoughts sparked from the current discussion on Ecosophia, that of identity – a term I tend to think is way overblown nowadays, but the conversation there has been interesting. What can happen when your sense of identity is weak, when you lose it altogether, what might you fall prey to in a desperate attempt to know who and what you are.

NeoPaganism was the framework I started out with, and it was never a perfect fit; there was always a lot to it that didn’t speak to me, a hell of a lot of people I felt like I had nothing in common with, but it was close enough. I can recognize a lot of that now as the pop culture aspect, the alternate lifestyle and political baggage that made it a hip and trendy place to be among certain circles (a phenomenon rapidly switching into reverse I think). I met a lot of those types when I was involved one of the larger NeoPagan organizations: I’m here because I’m kind of a hippy, I like veganism and polyamory and environmental activism, and that’s what we’re all about here, right (yes, I have heard this). Oh, and this ritual stuff is cool too, I guess. And maybe it was, maybe they were interested, but you also got the sense if the group abandoned the ritual element, became say, a vegan social club or an environmental activism movement, they’d still come because it would still be giving them what they’re after. I would not; I was only interested in polytheistic worship and mysticism. Religion in other words, and in a group that often so loudly resists being labeled as one.

Last big group public ritual I ever went to, not one where I really knew anyone, but it was local so what the hell. And I see a crowd of people just chatting, not about anything important, just mundane stuff: kids, work, laundry, home repairs. And this conversation is paused long enough to spit out a ritual (and yes, it was kind of like that, a clapping of hands and okay let’s move into the clearing and get this on with), and as soon it was over the same conversation just picked right back up again, like nothing had happened. This ritual, this sacrifice, this calling of the gods and meeting with something holy, wasn’t worth talking about, it was a blip at best. Never went back, never wanted to. The one right before that, such as it was, seemed to spend most of its time talking about some other local guy they hated, who was a mega asshole yes indeed, but still, is that all you’re bringing to the table? Are we only here because you want to show that guy up (the answer in the end was yes and it was a wasted effort)? That second was a group where, at least on paper I should’ve had more commonality, people who claimed devotional relationships and whatnot, but when it came right down to it their focus was clearly on personal drama, religion was an afterthought.

Some differences I expect, of course; not everyone is interested in mysticism, most people won’t be walking down that path, that would happen whatever tradition I was in, whatever god I was following. The gap here though, often times felt too great that it wasn’t worth putting up with the drama; as I moved away from the very beginner simple prayer and devotion lay person stage, it felt irrelevant. So I backed away from both it and Reconstructionism (where I felt some more commonality but also many of its own problems). I don’t regret that decision at all, I think I reached my natural limits with both of them, these two frameworks I built off of that were neither of them right but close enough. Only…well, now what?

Labels, never any shortage of labels around, fancy titles people could claim for themselves. And people talking themselves up like they were masters of the universe (to be fair, many I think were just happy to have somewhere to talk about this shit without people looking at them like they had three heads, and went a little overboard; this same sense of freedom at last probably also contributed to the erosion of skepticism). Beyond that it was all really nebulous.

To be fair again, I get that some things can’t be expressed in words. I also get that, past a certain point, mystical paths are very individualistic, it’s you and your gods and no one else can point the way for you. But that’s after a certain point, surely there is a whole highway of preliminary stops along the way before sailing forth into unmapped territory? Certain basic practices applicable to all, to get you to the point where you’re open enough for any sort of continuous mystical work? Preliminaries that were largely not discussed but vaguely assumed? Things I know I missed out on in my earlier Pagan career, and I suspect I was far from alone in that boat; many of the people around then likewise came from other non magical Pagan traditions because a patron relationship developed into something more – the beginning of a call, not a teleportation to its end (these may be the people who convinced themselves, over time, they didn’t need that work at all).

And that relationship, too, up and changed on me; I didn’t think it would then, but it did. And what was it now? I had a word for it, a label borrowed from community use, but what did it mean? For me? For him? What am I supposed to do with it, how am I supposed to act? I didn’t know; fuck, I still don’t know.

Is that part of what threw me so far off course? That I found myself lost in the wilderness without a compass, just the added pressure that more responsibility has been bestowed upon you and results are expected? That I didn’t know how to relate to the gods any longer? That I had no role models to follow, and the people who welcomed me into their alliance gave me nothing but bad advice, not that I had the knowledge to tell that at the time (well, some of it, others I really should’ve known better)?

To be fair for a final time, I also know these are new traditions that don’t have a long history in place. Were I a Christian mystic I’d know where to go and what do to; alas, not what happened. Here, people are still, mostly, figuring things out as they go, and they’re bound to make mistakes – sometimes awful ones. And some people are better suited for that than others. Me, I loathe rigid tradition, but at the same time still have the programming in my head that tells me I’m a screw up, and while that doesn’t have to matter a lot of the time, when it’s something important to me, when I don’t want to let someone down, that’s a different thing. Some firm guidelines to get started, a better definition of terms, clearer expectations and some amount of reasonable skepticism. And help; I don’t know if there was no help to be had, no one I could’ve turned to for this basic groundwork, or if it was just in my head, but I never felt like I could ask, could admit that I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. Considering that I was not the only person burned by this group when in its largest stage before the various splintering occurred, I’d have to say it probably was not just in my head.

I’ve never thought about it like this before, but it does make a kind of sense. And stripping away all the bad group mind influences (even the really sneaky ones), while necessary, would do nothing to address the central problem that allowed them to grow in the first place, that I don’t really know what I am anymore. Fuck, maybe that’s the reason I keep looking for some bigger change, trying out radically new ideas before discarding them, unable to focus on anything – if I had to start all over again, maybe things would start to make sense again, like they did before.

Well, if that is it (or part of it), I do think the occult literature I’ve been reading, the blog I’ve been shadowing and the odd traditions it’s had me seeking out, put me in a better place to manage it. I have some of those basic preliminaries in simple to follow steps and I’ve been working on it (sporadically, what with all the jerking back and forth last year – long enough to see some results, to have perhaps cracked a door open that may not be closed again, but not much more than that). The shedding old egregores, the resetting my expectations into something approaching realistic, continues on (hampered now only with bouts of frustration). This new angle, I’ll have to see what I can do with it.

And I do hope it comes to something. Because I’m tired. Just, really tired.

The Masks They Wear

Well, it’s certainly been a while now, hasn’t it? And not for a lack of anything to say, in fact it’s been a very busy, interesting, frustrating and enlightening year. And that was part of the problem, really: what to say, how much to say and how to actually get any of it out.

This is not the first time I’ve sat down to write this very post, it’s the fifth. The first time was early spring, so these attempts were spaced out. I would get so far with it, and then something would cause me to stumble, I’d glance over what I’d done and it would strike me as all wrong. It served as a good indication that I had not actually gotten to the bottom of the matter yet. So it will be interesting to see if I finish this time and hit that publish button, it might be the final sign that I’ve reached the end of this particular puzzle.

But let’s go back to the beginning. I started the year on a high note, I had managed something I had always struggled with: a consistent daily ritual routine. I’ve been over this before, but to review: my self discipline is garbage and the various disorders that I live with can make that worse. I tried to tell myself, and others, that regular practice was not necessary, that it was an overstrict and unreasonable expectation from overstrict and unreasonable people. I did that for a long time, but eventually I had to sit down and have one of those hard conversations with myself – do I think that because it’s what I actually believe, or do I want to believe that because it’s something I have a hard time with? And I had to admit it was the latter, and furthermore that such people had a point: if you’re going to master something, be good with something, you need to work at it every fucking day. Sporadic attention will only take you so far, and that’s fine if so far is where you want to go; I didn’t, I wanted more, and being as reality will not suspend its rules on account of my difficulty, I needed to change myself.

And I had managed it, for over three months (if I’m being honest it wasn’t every single day, the time covered holidays that involved busy schedules and travel and no time at home, but they were the exceptions, I hadn’t worked out how to deal with the exceptions yet, I was very aware of the ritual’s absence and got back into it the very next day, so I still consider it a win). I was excited, I was going to come on here to brag; and then I hit the wall that has been my obsession for the rest of this year.

It didn’t come out of nowhere, there had been signs along the way (going back a number of years), that I wasn’t sure how to interpret beyond noticing the pattern, that I kept in the back of my mind while focusing on other things. I don’t know if it was a matter of too much time going by, or if it was the string of wins I was wracking up, the layer of solid ground that was developing under my feet, that the gods decided to stop letting me ignore it. There was a shadow growing over everything I did, a certain discomfort building.

You’re missing something, what you’re doing is not adding up. Something is different, something has changed. You need to figure it out.

So I gave up my routine, even knowing I’d have to struggle back up again from the bottom of the fucking mountain at some future date. Some would say I should not have done that, never stop your devotions, and I can see the point of that, really, but at the same time I didn’t know what else to do. Something was wrong and I had no idea what, the only plan I could come up with was to suspend all operations and start systematically poking at the every surface until the problem reveals itself.

So that’s been my year (well, barring the summer where I had wilted into uselessness): poking, testing, getting hints, reading, studying, weaving elaborate theories, making many, many mistakes along the way, often ones that should’ve been easily avoidable. I have, by turns, felt close to the gods and hopelessly distant; intrigued by the new information and the strings of weird coincidences, and ready to slam my head against the wall just to make this stop.

Times like this, my solitary status can feel like a burden. I think back to when I had circles of like minded friends and distant acquaintances I could bounce these ideas off of; people who had been there, done that, and could assist a confused person with a diagnosis. The internet could be helpful with that. But then I also remember echo chambers, spreading trends and cults of personality; I can look back to a couple years worth of alleged gnosis I’d written down that read like inane jumbled horseshit to me now, all from when I’d (inadvertently, and stupidly) drifted into a very insular group where everything was tightly focused on one person’s fantasy life. Questions and gnosis and difficulties can be spun in any number of interesting, and flagrantly incorrect, directions if one is determined to look at things through a particular lens and, intentions aside, someone can be lead very far off course.

And I can do that myself, as well. I’m very much a head person, I live in my own mind and I think, obsessively. It’s both a strength and a character flaw. And left to my own devices, it can run wild. I can lose track of where an idea came from, did it originate with me or outside of me, or if it’s something I noticed in the course of reading does it really have the weight I’m attaching to it? That is a point where I do think having another knowledgeable person to bounce these ideas off of would’ve helped, someone else might’ve better caught some of this before my mind got carried away. It’s often possible to draw lines between things if you look at them long enough, and I don’t mean it’s bullshit sometimes those lines are genuinely there, but it doesn’t mean it’s relevant to you (or not in the way you’re looking at it). There was one error I’d gotten hung up on for a couple months, because I could make a lot of logical sense of it, it all tied in with each other in a way that looked a little too neat and tidy – in my own mind, that is, when put into actual practice it instantly fell flat. I remember the divine commentary on it much later, after it had been put to rest: It was a really interesting coincidence. Still a coincidence.

So why don’t you put it into practice earlier, I can hear someone asking me, since that is the arena where all theories must live or die. And I agree, I know, and yet I don’t do it, I get lost in my own mind and ignore the physical world. And probably end up wasting a lot more time that way. I recognize this, I’m trying to do better, but it’s not always easy to pull yourself out of that spiral.

And another cause of that spiral is left over baggage from the Dark Years: the mental break, the time with that very insular group, the circumstances which produced the inane rambling horseshit that was a big tangled knot of my projections and insecurities and other people’s projections and insecurities. Those years are firmly in the past, but this is the first time since then venturing out into the murky waters of let’s call it spirit work, and I’m finding it intimidating, dealing with UPG or making grand proclamations about how things have changed, when I was so wrong before. I understand better how those mistakes were made, I’m not in a depressive headspace, but there is still that worry, that shadow of doubt. And I need to confront that, I need to get over it; if this is what my life is going to be, and I want it to be, this is one of the conditions that come with that. I have no doubt part of this is all about getting me past that intimidation, and I’ve stepped up to the plate, I haven’t shrunk back from it, from any of the mistakes or only partial truths of recent months; I’m just overly cautious on this first run, and thus obsessing over things maybe a bit too much, maybe demanding a lot more evidence ahead of time than I really need.

And it’s also possible that I’ve been subconsciously dancing away from the truth, every time it rears its head, hints at its existence, for reasons that may range from simple disbelief that this could be the case to maybe a fear of what it will mean. That I keep explaining it away and retreating to a proxy scenario, something that feels safer, something that is close, yes, but not still not right.

That is a possibility that’s become harder and harder to dismiss. I’ve systematically poked and prodded every wall, but there was one place I’d ignored, because it had not occurred to me it was on the table – the surroundings, sure, not the central pillar. But no, it’s all on the table, even, maybe especially, that central pillar.

I’m not ready to make any (semi) public announcements here, past experience has also made me gun shy about rushing into such things and this, I think, is a lesson I should keep. But I am ready to say two things, one that was an early revelation and has since solidified; the other, well let’s say I am also very certain of part of it, even if I am still working out the full extent of it (and if this time I finish and publish, I may take it as an omen that I’ve reached the correct ballpark).

The first was the total abandonment of a Greek cultural framework. That came through early, it was very clear and unambiguous, and my mind had no reason to try and make it so. Probably this message came through years ago, though I had interpreted it as leave the Hellenic Reconstructionst community, which I did, and then had little opportunity to further explore. I actually suspect this has been in play all along, as I think back to the struggles I went through trying to include other elements or other gods from the pantheon, because I felt like I should, and it never working out, often because Hermes himself stepped in and put a stop to it. In trying to pick up a practice again, that was where I defaulted, it was what I knew best, diving back into reading about ancient culture to reacquaint myself and find a good starting place, to maybe follow up on a few things I’d long had an interest in there, and then the foot came down. Forget it, all of it, it’s not meant to be.

Yet the underlying instinct to look for tradition, rather than the grab bag of whatever you feel like, was still present and that brings us, in part, to the second item.

This has been a very slow process, a slow understanding and acceptance, and I think most of the research I’d been prodded on was ultimately about bringing this to light, if in a somewhat roundabout way. That the aspect of Hermes I interact with is a syncretic one. I do not know if this is a more recent phenomenon, if, as in the phrasing I frequently see in oracles, something has changed, or if maybe it’s always been this way. That is one of those questions my overactive brain could take and run away with in a desperate attempt to fully understand this whole mess; I doubt I will ever really know, one way or the other.

The way Hermes appeared to and interacted with me had seemed starkly different from what a great majority of Hellenic Polytheists described (at the time): I didn’t see the Messenger of the Gods, nor the Light Hearted Lord of the Marketplace, or the more recent Holy Hipster of the Internet. I had noticed at the time, but thought little of it. I’d had a few friends then that also counted Hermes as a patron of sorts and saw him very similar to me – I remember remarking on it to them, at least once, that I hardly recognize my Hermes in the poetry shared on e-lists, and having the sentiment agreed with, so I was not in the boat alone. But gods are complicated and some more complicated than others, there were likely very good reasons why we saw the face we did and other people did not, and vice versa. I find it to be a point of curiosity now, lessened perhaps by the presence of those old friends who were then, and still are now as far as I know, interacting with Hermes. Of course the both of them also had far more ties to the rest of the Greek package, whereas he was the only thing keeping me there.

He also rarely showed up with the classical trappings that Hermes ought to have. And I don’t know if that was always true and it just took me a while to notice it, or if it changed at some point. The downside of not journaling I suppose, but I doubt small details like that would’ve struck me worth recording. He did come with a few other trappings that were not attested to in ancient lore or practice, but were very consistently present for me. Again, I didn’t worry about this much, then, only started raising an eyebrow at it when it began growing in more recent times. Because every one of them was something that made logical sense, that looked like it belonged in his sphere even if the Greeks did not recognize it as such, and I could explain it to people in a clear way that they would understand, so it never seemed a problem.

Thing is, the reading I got prodded into doing, even the initial quick bits I was finding through internet searches, all of those extra non Greek trappings, they’re all accounted for at the other end of the syncretization line. All of it. It’s been a little eerie, watching all that come together.

It’s been an interesting journey that has kind of gone all over the place; at the end of this trip through online information, what I could find in my local library (and that could be better) and, *massive tired sigh* very brief glimpses into certain corners of the Pagan community, that I very quickly abandoned lest the insane amounts of drama, argument and infighting I saw front and center put me off the entire endeavor.

(I’m not pretending the community was wonderful when I was a mostly happy part of it, there was always drama, argument and infighting, but it’s not just gotten worse over time, it’s kicked into overdrive. I had seen discussion, among those few people I still pay attention to, about how bad it’s gotten, and yet I was still surprised. I no longer have the energy nor the patience to deal with shit like that, the benefits are not worth the cost. Now I also hear from those same few people, about many small private groups that keep to themselves and just practice their religion; I hope to eventually cross paths with them. Until then.)

Anyway, I ended up mostly focusing on two cultures, two points of interest, one entirely new and…well, one that just kept on coming up, even in my research of the first, but I kept moving away from it, talking myself out of it.

Syncretic deities were nothing I’d ever thought much about, because (or so I believed) I’d never run into one. It’s the sort of thing my brain could also run away with, down some rabbit hole I’d never find my way out of: how does it happen and what does it mean? Does it create a third being, or a meeting place of sorts, a mask that both separate gods have access to? Interesting questions to contemplate, that I could distract me forever until I have what grasp on it my limited mortal view can manage, and the lingering intimidation can make that look like an attractive path (understand what you’re getting into before you get too far off track again). I have to actively push it back.

Thing is, I could’ve dealt with a syncretic Hermes, there would’ve been some perspective adjustments, but that’s fine. But oh noooo, no, there’s got to be another curve ball.

Said curve ball was thrown many months ago, when the syncretic thing was just dawning on me, a brief direct message that had jerked me out of meditation, wait a minute, what the hell does that mean? No further elaboration came, and it stuck firmly in my head ever since, hovering on the sidelines, trying to work itself out.

You may need to get used to calling me by a different name.

I thought it would be a epithet, an addition, a nod to the syncretic side. I’d certainly found quite a lot that would’ve been very relevant. I’d focused most on that first culture and the clear link there, the one that was new and thus unfamiliar. And there is something there, a legitimate connection, I had that confirmed, in an odd bit of UPG I’m not prepared to get into. But said UPG did not involve two figures alone, the number given was three: Hermes, Option One and….oh, I mean I think I know who the third is, probably, but I’m just not sure, sooooo, let’s not worry about it!

*sigh* Fuck it. I know what it is. I know what the name is.

It’s the thing I keep inching up to, and then dancing away from, back to the new and unfamiliar, the close but not quite. Because that other thing, it’s very familiar, from way back. I put myself in the Hellenic community once because Hermes, but aside from them who were the people I was meeting? What did a lot of them have in common? The worldview I quietly absorbed through a good deal of second hand exposure, culture specific terminology I still use? A direction I was nudged into once and has never really been that far away, however much distance I (unconsciously) try to create?

Why that distance, though? Why have I, as I now acknowledge I have, been finding excuses to push it away? There are a couple of potential reasons that spring to mind. One may just be an association with certain people and the headaches they cause me, something that once acknowledged should be easy to sweep aside. Other possibilities might have more to do with me, the implications, what this could mean for me, that might require some introspection, self work, acceptance – a little bit more of what I have been doing as of late.

It could also just be the whole can of worms this opens – the question of who am I now, and have been, dealing with.

From a logical, outside perspective, I can see this makes sense. If I am told to leave the whole Hellenic package behind, if I am prodded to pick up a world view from the other culture, then why keep only the name? Why not make the full move, right? But why request worship in a foreign culture, using someone else’s name, unless…

So what the fuck, my brain screams, what happened here? Will I be dealing with Hermes in a skin suit? Or am I, right now, dealing with you in a Hermes suit? Did something on this syncretic line shift from left to right, from one to the other? Did a change occur at some point and I never noticed? Or was it always this way, and I never realized?

There is something I’m reading right now, not a book I’d sought out but kind of tumbled into my lap through chance just as I was working my mind around this, a book that has answered a few questions, closed a few of those holes in the theory, the what about X, I know X is true and Y doesn’t look like X so what about that – well, here’s another way to look at it, here’s some fine details you may have missed, and maybe that actually isn’t a contradiction. According to what I’ve seen there, that bit about the Hermes suit, that’s very possible. Not just possible, it would almost be typical. Doesn’t mean it’s true, it may have been a change, it may not even be permanent. But it’s not a possibility I can continue to ignore.

Ugh.

I am resolving not to get lost in the literal endless stream of questions and doubt, to act as if and see what happens. It is in action, not contemplation, where all theories live or die. This idea won’t go away, so run with it, flip to the other side, call the other name, worship the other god; if it’s not true I will learn that quick enough, as I have with every other misstep in the last year.

First impressions – uh, yeah. Wow. We are still in the beginning, a reversal could still conceivably happen, something else could still occur, at this point who knows. Quite the start though, like after months of something watered down I got suddenly hit with the real stuff.

And I finished this post. So there’s also that.