Learning the Value of Practice and Tradition

I was looking through old blog entries of mine today – not here, one of those other blogs that I never erased but set to private long ago, when I realized it existed mostly as a means to complain about people, that that wasn’t terribly mature. I hadn’t really touched it in three, four years, all but forgotten it existed, but I found some old emails from it and so decided, out of shear morbid curiosity, to go check it out.

Dear fucking gods, was that painful! I come off like such a whiny bitch – which I sincerely hope is unusual for me. The most maddening part though is how close I was to getting it, I seemed to have most of the understanding I currently do, but the focus of it was all wrong. I was still so wrapped up in blaming others for my own discomfort, making excuses for why I don’t need to change, it’s everyone else who is wrong, they need to accommodate me. And it’s all so transparent, I wonder how I didn’t see it even as I was typing it, how there was not some little voice yelling in the back of my head:

Ten paragraphs. Ten fucking paragraphs all crying because someone made you feel inadequate. Yes, how very dare they, how very dare anyone expect anything of you. Ten paragraphs all on everything you don’t need to do: formal ritual, regular practice, any sort of responsibility at all. Are you trying to convince your audience, or yourself? Are you sure they maybe don’t have a point, that maybe you could stand to develop a little discipline? And I don’t mean doing a hundred impossible things while standing on your head – if you took a real deep breath and thought back good and hard, you’d realize no one ever said that to you. This is all coming from inside your head, this is all you reacting to what other people are doing for themselves. You would not be reacting so poorly to what other people are doing if what you were doing was working so damn well for you. You know you’re wrong here, that discomfort is your brain telling you you’re wrong.

And while we’re at it, about ninety-five percent of what you’re writing here is oh woe is me, I’m so dreadfully broken, my life is bleak and painful. I imagine the only reason you didn’t get a flood of messages trying to talk you off the ledge you must surely be on is because you’d gone and surrounded yourself with people who all sounded just as bad. There is acknowledgement and there is obsession. Your framing your life in this context is a good way to ensure that it ends up owning you. Maybe if you stopped obsessing over it for even five minutes, just maybe you’d figure out how to get out of your own way.

So close, but just not close enough.

There was something else I picked up on from my old writing, something that I remember being the commonly agreed upon thought in the post spirit worker circle, something I’d forgotten about until confronted with it again, something that bothered me a lot as soon as I noticed it. That I would begin talking about religious devotion, devotion to the gods, but it would very quickly turn into a conversation all about me: what I want, what I need, what I expect, my desires and why I’m allowed to have them right alongside everything I can’t do (often because it gets in the way of some other desire) and why that’s just a-okay because me me me. Almost like I was the only one in the alleged relationship, the only one who mattered…

But I’m not prepared to get into that point now, I did just notice it, for the first time, and I need a chance to really think it through. But I wanted to mention it, the way it jumped right out at me, the way it bothered me, as a sign of how poorly I was treating that connection, that I’d lost sight of so much of what once mattered to me and I was so oblivious to it.

It was formal practice I was going to talk about, in part. That thing I once swore up and down I didn’t really need because…uh, because I had a hard time making time for it, because I’m undisciplined and because I have a sleep disorder that makes scheduling difficult so…impossible to make new habits, right? Well, no, because I’ve done it in years since. It’s hard, I need a degree of flexibility to go along with my variable schedule and it can require some experimentation to get just the right mix; I need to not beat myself up too much if I miss the target but I can’t go too easy on myself either, I need to want it and know how to make myself want to succeed.

It’s not something that came about only because of the great spiritual crisis, it was a long standing problem that was partially mitigated because I was neck deep in a community for a while there, online and in person. It was enough to keep it in mind in the beginning there, it prompted just enough action on my part, but of course when that crutch went away I had a serious problem on my hands that I was unprepared for. That foundation needed to come from me. That was especially true when I got pulled into a deeper level, I needed to step up my game and that should’ve been obvious, yet I missed the memo.

I was trying to – I don’t know what I was trying to do, drift aimlessly around? The practice I’d developed, what little of it there was, was empty and meaningless, dissolved into nothing very quickly. Whatever you feel like doing was the watch word at the time, whatever works for you; though I talked like a self involved person then, that’s not a motivating factor for me, general good feelings, I need something else. Not only did I give myself no real motive, I expected me to build everything from the ground up. None of it was grounded in anything, no tradition, no nothing; I didn’t know anything about ritual, how it worked, in order to craft my own.

Again, in retrospect, not very wise on my part. I don’t think I fully understood the value of the thing I was so carelessly throwing away. Though to be fair to me, I don’t think anyone had really explained ritual in real, meticulous detail: what makes one good, what makes one work, every individual part and the way it all comes together. It’s more than just a thing that you do on certain days of the year, in between the laundry and telling your fellow coreligionists about all the laundry you’re stuck doing over potluck.

I’d left a tradition behind, reconstructionism, as I should have because it wasn’t working for me. I think the success of those religious movements depends on your ability to connect to the ancient culture as a whole, its mindset, and that just never happened for me. Not to say I didn’t try, try to let things work out the way I thought they would, and should.

The Greek gods, it’s said, come to people as the family unit that they are, if you are drawn to one that one will push you to meet the rest of them and you’ll have several of them in your life, if not the whole pantheon. That was a common enough experience, at least back then. It never worked that way for me. Again, I did try, there were other gods there I’d been interested in a connection with; aside from Dionysos who has always been around off and on, the ones that didn’t outright tell me to get lost were fairly indifferent. Honestly, after a while there, so was I.

What developed around me instead, much to my initial confusion, was a small collection of concepts and deities, etc. connected not by time or place, but by some association with Hermes. Sometimes an actual historical one that I didn’t know about until I had cause to look into it (always interesting when that happens), other times it’s something (or someone) with a lot of parallels to him. He is the center, not a particular time, place or culture; it all revolves around him.

Hermes is a liminal figure, there’s a side to him that fits well in the cultural center, but there are other sides that take him out to the fringe, and beyond. That latter, that’s always been the one I see, the one I know best. The lack of concern for boundaries he has shown with me over and over again, it makes a certain kind of sense.

My beginning attempts to accept that reality lead me to leave Hellenic Reconstructionism. It also lead me to think I would not be able to find another spiritual home (even a temporary one), but that, I now believe, was a mistake. While I may one day have to venture out entirely on my own, I wasn’t ready for that then, or now. I collected quite a bit of historical knowledge; practical spiritual technique, ritual practice and the like was far more lacking. As undisciplined as I am, I need some structure; not militant, not so restrictive I couldn’t keep up, but enough to tell me where to go, keep me on point. I should’ve been looking for somewhere else to go, to continue my education.

I may have that now, or at least I’m on the right path to it, though I’m not yet ready to say much more than that. There have been a few odd changes over the past year that it’s taken me a while to wrap my head around; odd enough that I’ve made mistakes already in interpreting them, understandable mistakes in hindsight. I don’t want to keep doing that, I don’t want to say anything else until I’m a hundred percent. It’s been an interesting road regardless, even if I don’t jump on this particular bandwagon, I’ve still gotten a lot out of just the research.

It’s been good having a research project again.

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Why I am no longer a Reconstructionist

What finally brought about the death of my Reconstructionist identity was Hermes himself. He told me it was time to drop the label and take a couple steps back from the community at large (which is not to say I was ever heavily involved beyond list lurking). And since he is really the center of my religious life, what he wants he gets.

That was the final nail in the coffin. Truth be told, this was building for quite some time, perhaps even from the beginning.

I discovered the Recon community after maybe a year or so of reading about Wicca and generic eclectic NeoPaganism and finding it unsatisfying for a variety of reasons. I appreciated the respect people in the Recon community had for studying the ancient traditions, actually respecting the deities as individuals instead of treating them like genies that exist only to do you favors. I signed right up, I thought I had found my home.

One mistake that I made then, and which unfortunately many people still make now (deliberately or not) is thinking its a matter of one or the other; either you are a hard line Reconstructionist or a fluffy eclectic, either you follow tradition to the letter or you do not give a shit at all. This is not even remotely true, its more of a spectrum than two opposing sides, with many different shades and layers in between. Not having ever been a hard line Recon, or even a self identifying Recon at all anymore, does not automatically put me on the side of the fluffy thoughtless eclectics. If that is, in all honesty, what you believe, I suggest you get out there and try interacting with some actual people instead of thinking that you can decide the way the world is without ever having left your tiny corner of it.

There are also, again unfortunately, some very negative and very persistent stereotypes that people on the one side will use to paint the other with wide, careless strokes. It is absolutely not true that all people who identify as Pagans (as opposed to Recons) don’t care about tradition at all, do no studying beyond books found in the New Age section with the little half moon on the spine, and basically do whatever they want because it feels good to them and who cares about the deities involved. Do such people exist? Absolutely, and they are a sadly very vocal segment, but vocal does not equal numbers (in fact, often enough it equals the opposite). I personally know a number of self identifying NeoPagans that are very well read, very devoted to their deities (as opposed to only trying to make themselves feel good)  and are very respectful of tradition whether they choose to follow it to the letter or not (and to be perfectly honest, whether someone wants to replicate tradition exactly or not, I do prefer they at least make their decision from a place of knowledge rather than ignorance). I do know of others who are … well, not so respectful. But to act as though those who are thoughtful and do know what they are doing either don’t exist or are in such an extreme minority that broad brushing the whole faith in this less than flattering picture is perfectly fine is horribly unfair.

And there can be problems in the Recon circles as well. Some have the idea that Reconstructionism is more like a religious reenactment society than an actual living faith, that people mostly just study and analyze and philosophize and talk endlessly but never actually practice, that everyone worships culture more than the gods. And are there people like that in the movement? Oh absolutely. But is that everyone, or even most everyone? Hell no. I have met some incredibly devoted people in this community, and my experiences in it have for the most part been positive.

The stereotypes and generalizations though can be easy enough to buy into, especially if you are new to things and don’t know any better. It can be easy to make the mistake of thinking, “Well, I know I’m not in that camp (whichever you may find more distasteful) so then I guess I must be in this other one.” It can make it harder to let go of labels if you believe, even in the back of your mind, that if you do so you will immediately become that other extreme that you don’t really want to be either.

I was fortunate to have come into the more, some would say moderate segment of the Hellenic Recon community, I wouldn’t brush up against those with far more extreme opinions until much later. Had the lore thumpers been my community I think these problems would have surfaced much earlier, assuming I had even been allowed to have my Recon career in the first place (and I doubt it). But even in the more moderate group, those gaps between where I was and where so many others were became apparent to me very early on. And so the struggle, between where I was finding myself and where I felt I needed to be as someone under a label, began.

Reconstructionism is not a religion, it is a methodology; it is a way to approach religion, to approach tradition. But it is also a community, it is a group of people united in that methodology. Nobody does things all the same, some things will be more important to one person than it will be to another, there are many different interpretations, theories and opinions. Still, there are some themes that do appear to be for the most part community wide, practices or beliefs that most seem to hold as a part of being Reconstructionist. And, for myself anyway, I felt there was a limit to how many of those near constant themes I can diverge from before I have to admit that I am out of line with everyone else.

Practice wise, the differences are not that deep. My rituals are very bare bones, candles and offerings and prayers/hymns and long meditation; I don’t require much in the way of pomp and circumstance, I have found simple works best. When it comes to studying ancient lore and history I consider it a must, if you wish to serve a deity now you do need to know who they were once considered to be, how that service was once done. And although I have no problems with reasonable innovation and UPG (ongoing communication from the gods is what makes this a living faith, after all), sticking to tradition as close as possible should always be the default position when approaching any deity you don’t know; these are offerings/activities they have been known to like in the past, its a reasonable place to begin; now if after the relationship has been established they tell you they want something different that’s fine, but why start out with guess work when someone else has already done the job for you? Keep in mind also I am not one of those people who believes the gods appreciate anything and everything you do for them, I do believe they can be offended, especially by those unwilling to put any real effort into a relationship or show them any consideration as independent beings that exist apart from you.

Its in other areas that I find my path just diverges from others.

1. Many Hellenic Recons believe it is absolutely necessary to worship every deity in the pantheon more or less equally; one person in particular classifies the “worship of the twelve” as an absolute requirement (there are other problems with that statement, but takes us beyond my point). I really don’t believe it is possible to worship all the gods equally, even beyond the issue of patrons there will always be a few you like and connect with more than others. But still, this does seem to be something the vast majority of the community agrees with and observes to the best of their abilities.

I ignored the other deities initially because Hermes was the one dancing for my attention and I felt instinctively that it was important to really establish that primary relationship, so I gave him my full attention. Later on I tried to expand that, I found Dionysos to be friendly enough although far in the background from where Hermes was. But the other deities mostly weren’t there, there were some I found impossible to relate to (as a mostly rootless wanderer, how do I connect with Hestia?), and two told me very clearly to get lost and don’t come back.

I do agree that it is never acceptable to disrespect a god, and I respect all deities for what they are and the place they hold in the world whether its a place that touches me or not. But respect and worship do not necessarily go hand in hand. Just because God X from whatever pantheon likes you is no guarantee his sister Goddess Y is going to feel the same way. And if a deity has repeatedly shown a total lack of interest in you, is it really respectful of them to continue pushing up on them against their obvious wishes?

2. Reconstructionism is, for the most part, modeled on the religion of Joe and Jane Average, and most people in any given religion are going to be general practitioners. The modern Recon community is designed to encourage those who come into it to be general practitioners; the word enforce can always be used for those people who firmly believe this is the only way to be and do not understand that not every person is necessarily supposed to be on the exact same path.

I am more a spiritual specialist, in that my focus is narrowed to one particular field of the human spiritual experience, as opposed to the broader picture. This is not something that I planned on or asked for, I was fine with being a general practitioner, but plans don’t always work out the way you think they will and you can’t always choose your gods. It wasn’t even something I fully realized for a long while, it took time before I started to see the themes and patterns. Some may argue that this is not very balanced, I think that can be debated (for one thing not everyone’s balance is going to look exactly the same), but I do believe it is part of the overall balance to have some people be so focused, it wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t necessary somehow.

Because mindless accusations do get made, let me state for the record: there is absolutely nothing wrong or inferior with being a general practitioner. Before you decide to assume this is all about feeling special with me, I challenge you to find where I ever said that having an “average” devotional life was inferior, or where I ever made anyone feel less than me for not having the same experiences I do.

3. I have contacts in the Norse pantheon as well as the Greeks. Now how offensive or not being dual trad is will depend on who you are talking to, some absolutely deplore the idea while plenty of others have no issues at all. Of course I hesitate to call myself dual trad, as the situation with the Norse deities seems to be shaping up much the same way the Greek gods did: my contacts are with two very specific deities while the rest of the pantheon mostly leaves me alone (although I have been informed Freya thinks I’m cool shit). 🙂

Now here some might throw the eclectic label at me. I can’t stop people from forming their own opinions, but I personally don’t feel the label applies. For one thing, I’m not making my own choices here, these are the being that are coming to me and the others are staying away for whatever the reason, its just the way it is. Though you can choose to believe me on this point or not. Also its hardly a random mishmash system I’m just throwing together, there is nothing random about it. Its all very tightly focused, all very well tied together in any number of ways. Its rather frightening actually.

4. While I do think its agreed upon that understanding ancient culture is important in truly understanding how and why the religion worked a certain way, it may be more debatable how many people actually think adopting the ancient worldview yourself is necessary. Though some think that it is.

I’m not going to pretend that our current culture is perfect, it isn’t, but nor do I hold to some romanticized vision of the past either. News flash, no culture at any point in time has ever been perfect, nothing will ever be perfect so long as people are involved. I am not in ancient Greece, nor do I honestly believe that the worldview would have remained exactly the same more than a thousand years later had the ancient faith survived. Naturally a person’s faith can and will influence their behavior and the way they see the world, but this should be a more organic process and not something dictated to you by others. I have never gotten the impression that my deities want me to reject everything I ever was or believed in in the twenty plus years I was alive before finding them, light it all on fire and automatically adopt someone else’s idea of the world wholesale. My gods prefer me to think for myself, thank you very much.

I’m not overly influenced by the culture that I live in now, I’ve always been pretty far outside the norm and my total lack of desire to fit in and be accepted makes it hard to make a real impression on me. My place in the world is as an outsider serving a liminal god, it wouldn’t make much sense of me to take on the cultural norm of any place or time. Though it doesn’t mean I can’t attempt to understand it intellectually, just like I try to intellectually understand this culture now (so difficult to do).

Many have observed that Hermes seems very at home in our modern world. Indeed there may be many elements to our current culture that are very Hermetic, for better or worse (that will largely depend on who you’re talking to). Though I do agree with this, I also believe that Hermes, being a deity of change, would be able to adapt to just about any culture at all. He has never struck me as being too terribly traditional, and others have had this experience of him as well (though your mileage may vary).

Hermes seems to prefer me to be a free agent, not become overly involved with any specific organization or movement. He wants me free of labels and the constrictions they bring. I got my beginning there, the label pushed me to focus on the studying that I needed to do, and now that I have my grounding it is apparently time to move on. Which is not to say that I ever stop studying, but that it may be time now to broaden focus to include things often left out of the Reconstructionist movement, like mysticism or magic (both things Hermes specializes in, like it or don’t).

I don’t fit in with the Recon movement, though there remains enough similarities that I can still hang in the background on the lists and groups that I was involved with before, I’ve maintained my same contacts through the massive changes I’ve made. I don’t fit in with the NeoPagan movement either. And no, its not up to some arrogant Reconstructionist up on his high horse trying to pin a scarlet “ENP” on everyone he doesn’t like to decide what is NeoPagan and what isn’t; self identifying NeoPagans can decide for themselves who fits in with them and who doesn’t, and they don’t recognize me as one of their own, the differences between me and them are just as great if not greater. Too liberal for the one, too conservative for the other, I find myself somewhere in between. Which is probably perfectly appropriate for me. 😉

Destruction of Labels: Spiritual Crisis part one

As I am now ready to officially restart my blog (one new page, two rewritten, may be a good idea to check them out), I think my first new post should be something expanding on some of the problems that I have been having that have kept me away from the Internet for so long. Starting with the issue of labels.

As I have said in previous posts and in my information pages, I at one time, not long ago, considered myself a Hellenic Reconstructionist and that I have since stopped using that label. Exactly why, and what went into that decision I will explain in more detail in a future post, because I would not want anyone to get any number of wrong ideas based off of that. For the moment, it is enough to say that the destruction of spiritual labels, one I held for the entirety of my religious career and also the fact that I have not been able to find an adequate label to replace it, affected me more strongly than I may have at first thought. It made up one part of my current, slowly fading spiritual crisis.

Now, why would the loss of a particular label affect me so strongly? Its likely not for the reason that you may be thinking.

For many, labels are a tool that they use to define who they are, both to themselves and, I’d say more importantly, to the rest of the world. Its a sense of identity, and a sense of belonging in a particular group of others who share that identity. For that reason alone, humans being in general social creatures who function best within a community structure, labels hold a place of powerful importance in their lives. The loss of that label, and the sense of identity that goes with it, a devastating blow to one’s psyche.

For me though, much of this just simply does not imply. I am one of those exceptions that prove the rule in that I am not for the most part a social creature, I am not community oriented (note that does not mean anti community, but again this should probably be a post in and of itself) and I function best being mostly solitary interacting with communities when necessary (indeed sometime it is necessary) from the position of an outsider. As such, my relationship with labels is different than it is for many other people, as a means to define myself they are neither useful nor really needed. I’m not looking for catchphrases I can use to describe myself to others, to see if I belong in their club or not; for personal use I do not need them, I’m perfectly content to just let myself be and not worry about what to call it (a good thing because I don’t fit neatly and honestly into most any solid category).

I never fit perfectly into the Hellenic Recon box either, and thus I often qualified it by calling myself a “liberal Recon” and freely explaining that I may not do A, B or C that many other people seem to do. I connected more with certain individuals within the community as opposed to the community as a whole, people that for the most part I doubt are going to turn their backs on me merely for the loss of a label (mostly because they got to know me beyond mere labels). Anyone that would stop talking to me just because of that, well, to be perfectly frank, if your concern for me is based entirely around what I choose to call myself then you likely weren’t important enough to me to miss.

As a matter of identity and group identity, labels matter little to me, its loss made no real impact. Thinking only on this level, I didn’t consider it to be a problem. And yet, there is was, growing the longer I went without finding something new to call myself.

Labels, particularly religious labels, serve another purpose besides group identity. They are a way to define the world around you, to try and make sense out of a senseless mess. Its a way to create boundaries, decide what’s important and what’s irrelevant to you, what you can expect to happen and what never will, who are your allies and who is … well, if not an enemy outright at least not a friend. Established religious traditions come with a map of the terrain, offer you a place of shelter where things make sense and you pretty much know what is around the next corner and there is always someone there with who can guide and support you.

The thing of it is, these maps, these boundaries, are artificial. Laid out by people; inspired people perhaps, but it still doesn’t make their image an absolutely true and universal one. The world operates under its own rules, and that includes the spiritual world; people’s understanding of these rules, and their many exceptions, is far from complete. The world does not care how you think things should be, and though most people can go through life safely inside their walls, some of us for whatever reason get to find out the hard way just how fragile those walls really are.

This crisis really started for me when Odin and Loki entered my life very suddenly, at Hermes’s invitation and remained with his approval. Being a Hellenic Reconstructionist gave me no context in which something like this could happen, but instead told me that it doesn’t. Furthermore, it tells me that such a scenario is not a good idea.

While a soft polytheist would declare that the gods I made contact with are really one and the same as Hermes (this is a view point I never agreed with instinctively and this experience proved it as far as I am concerned; Hermes, Odin and Loki all have a great deal in common and a lot of over lapping areas of concern, but there is also a great deal of differences there, and those differences can and do effect the way the god comes through to you, the feel of their presence, their personality, on those levels they are most definitely not the same)  and Hellenism does have plenty of that, hard polytheists might argue it doesn’t happen. The Greek gods are the Greek gods, the Norse are the Norse, and there is a firm line between them that is just never crossed.

I will not argue that the Greek gods are a family in and of themselves, and the Norse deities are their own series of tribes. I agree that work generally occurs within the family. But the notion that the different tribes of gods are not aware of each other, that they have never interact with each other, it doesn’t strike me as terribly logical and, judging from my experiences and those of others, its not the case at all.

Just because a god from one particular pantheon initiates a relationship with you, is not to say that deities from other pantheons are never going to come around (likewise, just because a deity from a particular pantheon likes you is not the say all the others gods from that pantheon will feel the same way, but that’s a whole other issue). But specific traditions, especially cultural tradtions, do not generally address this; don’t introduce you to the possibility, don’t tell you what you should do when and if it does come up (now it seems logical to me that ignoring a god’s call for no other reason than because they come from a different pantheon is not a wise move, but just because its logical to me is not to say that it will occur to everyone).

Even more confusing for my Reconstructionist background is not just that a new pantheon had shown up, but that my patron had invited them over. And though I initially tried to keep worship very separate, I kept feeling a very strong sense of disapproval whenever I did. The message I kept getting was that this careful and deliberate separation is really not very necessary. This runs completely counter to everything I learned in my time in Recon circles, which says pantheons must never be mixed, that this is always a bad idea.

I want to state very clearly here, that I am not in any way endorsing the sort of irresponsible eclecticism that runs rampant in some Pagan circles. Research should always be done, cultural differences and divine preferences respected. And there is a very good reason why that no mixing pantheons rule is there, and why it should always be the default position. The good thing about having myths is that it shows you how deities generally interact with each other, how well they get along; so you know, for example, calling Loki and Heimdall into the same ritual space would be a spectacularly bad idea. These myths do not exist cross culturally, and thus its not known how these two personalities might interact if I call them together. Just because two deities may govern similar things is no guarantee. I would say in fact, unless they themselves tell you its okay, separation is the way to go.

In my circumstances, I was told its not a problem; though in practice I often don’t call more than one god in a ritual at a time because I find it easier to focus on one, though they do all share space in the temple room with no ill result. I had run the situation past several people personally involved with at least one if not two deities from the group, none of whom had problems with the conclusions I came to. The gods in my group were all travelers used to dealing with strangers, boundary gods that blur lines, tricksters that don’t pay attention to rules, the idea that they would interact outside their pantheons and all get along with each other was not impossible to believe in fact it almost seemed to make sense.  Though I was glad to have my UPG confirmed by others whose opinions I respected, accepting that UPG, which ran right in the face of things I have been taught before, was probably the first step in my losing my connection to my religious label and the well ordered safe haven that came with it. By making me a spiritual specialist focused on liminalty (whereas Reconstructionism is designed to encourage everyone to become general practitioners), by insisting on certain other vows and other practices, Hermes hammered away whatever was left of that connection before ordering me to drop the label altogether.

Leaving religious labels behind is like being left standing alone in the middle of a vast, uncharted wasteland; you don’t know where you are, where you need to go, who you might meet along the way. And there is something very freeing in this, which I’m now at a point that I can begin to fully appreciate; but its also a little frightening to admit that the walls you thought protected you do not actually exist, that the map you are holding is of some place you’ve never been to. I don’t have a path laid out before me, I don’t have access to clear cut answers about what I should do, and I have no idea what might be coming next. Its an intimidating position to be placed in.

It is helpful to know other people in similar circumstances, never the exact same but similar; I am not the only person who was so rudely ripped out of more comfortable surroundings. No, I’m not completely crazy, not as far as this is concerned. There is no one single correct way to worship the gods, what they ask of one or even most people they may not ask of everyone. Reconstructionist faiths are mostly designed to reflect the religion of Joe and Jane Average, and there is nothing wrong with that, but its also not where all of us are meant to be. Tradition remains important, and my studying of ancient cultures and incoporating what I can has not changed, my relationship with tradition is not as all encompassing as some have it, and in certain areas of my spiritual life I am very much on my own.