Last year a young man approached me at a sabbat and told me he was "of my line." Huh? I didn't know I had a line. Then he told me he'd recently been initiated and one of his initiators was an initiate of one of my initiates. My initiate had been a student of mine (and of others) for some years before any oaths were sworn.
This incident brings up lots of questions, especially since it arises from a tradition (Reclaiming) that requires no initiation in order for people to participate as fully and completely, prominently and authoritatively (teaching, public priest/essing, et al.) as they choose. An obvious concern in this scenario is accountability -- to students, to community, to tradition. Another is whether, or how, one can assume a shared knowledge and capability. Those are questions for another rumination; for now, let's stick with lines and lineage.
What do we mean by lineage? Why is it important to us? Or to those of us who may think it is important? Or to anyone?
I've been pondering hubris again. Hubris--to recap--can be described as the act of willful or ignorant refusal to comply by the will of the Gods. It's a serious offense to the Theoi, and the Theos Nemesis had and has a full time job in punishing those who commit it.
When I started out on the Hellenistic path, I took to the web. I visited several forums, some of which were completely Hellenistic. It was a short visit to most of those; Hellenismos can be very fledgeling-unfriendly. Those new to the faith are warned that they must not perform ritual until they fully understand what they are doing, they must not... well... do a lot of things. It seems most of those 'do not's' are linked to hubris; the Theoi will punish those who perform Their rituals wrong, because the fledgeling practitioner thinks they don't have to study in order to approach the Theoi.
It's a nice sentiment, but I don't think it holds especially true. This is personal opinion, but it is based upon our basic societal and biological structure--the same one the ancient Hellens helped build: it's not hubris if you perform the rituals to the best of your abilities and the best of your knowledge. This includes having done your research, of course, but we all miss things.
Theodicy, the theological study of evil, is one of the stumbling blocks of religion. I have a few thoughts on the subject, which I doubt will end the matter, but perhaps shed a certain Pagan light on it. In general theodicy is trying to answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Because God wills it,” to test or to strengthen the adherent, or “Karma,” the result of past actions, are two of the more popular answers. As a Thelemite, I am not so interested in what happened but in what to do, so I tend to look at this from the other side: “How do I avoid doing evil?” This leads me to a systems-analysis approach to evil that shows how hard it is to avoid doing Evil, but there is some hope in that too.
Pagans and the flustercluck over Chik-fil-a: Many of the same organizations that are responsible for anti-LGBT hate speech are involved in anti-Pagan propaganda and continue to stoke the fires of potential Satanic Panics. How do Pagans make economic choices in response to this? I advocate boycotts as a magical action in defense of our own rights.
Control anger (Θυμου κρατει) is a Delphic Maxim that seems so simple: don't get mad. But it's not about that. Controlling anger is about knowing when you can show your anger, and when you can not. It means stepping back from your emotions to understand the words and actions of the other person. There is a time and place for anger, but more often, anger has no place at the current time.
Think of anger as a wildfire: once it burns, it burns everything in its path. You can try to extinguish it, but without specialized tools, stepping out of the way is better for your health. But some fires are lit and carefully controlled. The fire still burns hot, but can be guided. Their purpose is to promote life. It is this control this maxim teaches.
Today is my birthday. I'm now officially twenty-seven years old. I told Anne I was twenty-seven already so she wouldn't have to change it a few weeks later. Shhh! Anyway, today is a busy day so I'm doing a short one, one of the Delphic Maximsseries I have been doing on my blog for a while.
A little less than I week ago, I discussed the Delphic Maxim of 'be grateful' (Ευγνωμων γινου). Today I'm addressing a related maxim but one with a very different reasoning behind it; 'do not be discontented by life' (Τω βιω μη αχθου).
We are all told our fate soon after we are born. At night, the Moirae (Μοιραι)--better known as the Fates--enter the room where the newborn lies and they whisper their destiny into their ear. They are the only ones who can do this, as they have spun the threads that make up our fate. Mothers can invite the Moirae by leaving offerings on a table in the nursery. If they wait long enough, the Moirae will appear and, while they enjoy the offerings, will tell the fate of the child. The most well known myth surrounding this event is that of Althaea and Melaeger, who are told that Melaeger will only live as long as the log in the hearth remains unconsumed. Althaea hurries to extinguish the log but eventually kills her son by burning the log.
Last month, the New York Times had an essay contest in which they asked for people to write about why it is ethical to eat meat. You can view the results here, and read my essay here. I was not surprised to not be chosen, but did find this an interesting challenge, because one of the requirements was that we could not talk about grass-fed livestock for meat.
Relationship is one of the aspects that defines Pagan attitudes about food. For Pagans, deity is immanent in the world. Every rock, every tree, everything that moves and breathes is sacred. Including what we eat. It is very common for Pagans to feel a deep kinship with both animals and plants. This creates an ethical dilemma that is not easy to solve. How does one eat one’s brother? Industrial farming is repugnant to anyone who takes the time to look. But even more so to a Pagan who claims kinship to all living things.