erynn: Gaelic merman image (tea addict)
I realized last night after I went to bed that I hadn't posted anything about yesterday. It wasn't a busy day, but it felt rather long.

I went down to the VA for the spirituality group and gave my Medieval Women's Choir concert ticket to one of the women in the group who loves their music and was very excited about getting the ticket. I was honestly surprised that nobody online expressed anything but passing interest; the group is amazing and if I can't go, I want to be able to share their music with someone.

After group I went over to Travelers. I spoke with Leon briefly, who was going to Philip Hesleton's talk on Gerald Gardner last night. When I showed Leon the postcard for the Ireland pilgrimage, he asked if he could have it; I still have four and will need to get to a copy shop to make some more before I give any others away. He said he was going to show the thing to Heselton, though why, I'm not sure. I doubt he would be at all interested. Leon sounded pretty jazzed by the whole idea of the pilgrimage though, of course, he's got a million things to do here. I just wanted him to know about it so that he could spread the word along.

Jeff dropped into Travelers while I was there, and we talked for a while and he bought me a chai. [livejournal.com profile] gra_is_stor was off at a bodywork appointment and so couldn't join us. She'll be up here later this afternoon so we can be ready to head out to Port Townsend tomorrow for the Victorian seance and murder mystery party.

I did spend some time alone at Travelers, taking notes from one of the books I've still got out from the Suzzallo. It has one of the medieval hymns to Brigid in it, which was what I was looking over last night. I need to dig through the Lives as well. I feel deadlines pressing along pretty much every side, for the pilgrimage and for the Eight Winds trip in June.

I have to remake the Brigid and Sarasvati handout from PantheaCon so that I can add a couple of things to it that rose out of our discussion at PCon. I'm doing the presentation again at Eight Winds this year. I also got a request for the information to be put online by a guy who was at my talk and who has Indian roommates who were interested in his account of the discussion. (eta: Found the paper on the netbook, where I composed it because the laptop had been giving me fits. Redundant computerage is redundant. And helpful.)

This afternoon, I'm sipping a pu erh tea that smells like the inside of a cave. I rather needed a little of that. It's grey and drizzling out and the traffic is rushing by on the street below the parking lot. Ducks are quacking over the sound of the cars going by. It's a typical early spring day in Everett.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Sarasvati)
I spent several hours today filling out the questionnaire for the polytheism survey that someone was doing. I'd posted the call for participants a month or so ago. The questions didn't seem problematically biased (to me, anyway) as some studies are, and tended to focus more on experience, though there was one question about "faith," which you might expect from a questionnaire on something religious or spiritual. I managed to answer most of the questions in some depth and had a pretty good time thinking about the whole thing as I did so. It's nice to have something interesting to consider, particularly on a topic so near and dear to my heart.

I talked about things like how Sarasvati, as a river goddess, taught how people can approach worshipping these entities when one lives far from where the physical river resides -- the river Sarasvati disappeared centuries ago, and her many other aspects came to the fore during that process. Now she's worshipped globally by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, as well as by western Pagans without a connection to her culture of origin. I think that's a pretty powerful statement of how religion and deity changes with time and the shifting of geography and circumstance. If she were only the spiritual manifestation of the physical river, she would not have been able to make that transition or to travel to distant continents.

Certainly when we think about deities like Bóann and Sinann, who are strongly associated with particular rivers in Ireland, we can see how this is important information and a useful model. There are many ways to approach these issues, and I think one of the most useful ones for those of us who dwell on continents far from the origins of the deities we follow is to look at what they do that is not solely specifically linked to particular features of land and water. Understanding that we can access those places in Otherworld realms is also important and powerful. We are neither the first people who have had to deal with these things, nor will we be the last.

Among the other moments of my day was a quiet making of peanut sauce. It's not the best peanut sauce ever, but it's pretty tasty, and at the moment it sits atop a mound of rice, long beans, and chinese broccoli. It is, therefore, the best peanut sauce in the house!

Last night I was feeling ill again, though I think it was just the tomato sauce with the sardines, which I had two days in a row. I'm going to have to lay off them in the evening, I think. Acidic stuff is still a problem for me.

The check from the contractors arrived today! I emailed to let them know, and the secretary was astonished by the swiftness of the local postal service. She thanked me for my patience regarding the situation. If I'm up to getting out of the house tomorrow, I'll wander down to the Safeway and deposit the check in my account. There are moments when money gods do actually get to be useful. Today's email also brought notice that my new Brigid statue had been shipped, so it should arrive fairly soon. I'll be redoing the Brigid altar when it arrives. It's well past time I did so.

When I finish up the renovations, I'll probably post a picture.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Sarasvati)
Today I went to a couple of presentations. First up was the Paganism and New Media panel. [livejournal.com profile] mythworker did a presentation on this last year; this was, I think, more sophisticated and covered a broader territory, as well as bringing in new approaches. The panelists included Thorn Coyle, Star from Patheos.com, a board member from Cherry Hill Seminary, and one of the tech people from Llewellyn, with [livejournal.com profile] mythworker as the moderator. One of the issues addressed this year was e-publishing, which hadn't really been brought up last year at all that I recall. I noted the issues I'd had with Circle of Stones being in and out of print, and how the print edition goes for ridiculous prices online, while I'm now selling a PDF of the book for the original cover price, yet folks still want hardcopy -- they buy the PDF, but I can completely understand the desire for paper copy.

The second panel I went to today was the presentation "Are Hindus Pagans/Are Pagans Hindus," offered by four Hindu practitioners from a national Hindu association. I thought it was an extremely positive and interesting presentation. Topics addressed included the history of Hinduism in America, spiritual similarities between Hinduism and Paganism (pluralism was the watchword of the panel), common cause between Hindus and the Pagan community regarding American culture and western culture generally, in terms of coerced conversions, activism, political involvement, and civil and human rights, and an examination of how we can work together. Issues of potential cultural appropriation were also addressed; this was seen as a problem if it was a commercial appropriation, but when Pagans approach Hindu deities as sincerely interested parties for spiritual purposes, the panel's attitude was that the deities are big enough to be just fine with being approached by non-Hindus.

There was a good deal to think about in the presentations and I was impressed with the speakers. They seemed very interested in working together with the Pagan communities to strengthen all our positions in resisting oppression by the monotheist majority when it seeks to marginalize or actively destroy our communities. It has not been unusual for poor Hindus in India to be bribed into conversion -- "we'll send your children to a good college, we'll give you medical care, we'll feed you if you convert." Yet this conversion is then taken to an extreme, where the new converts, who are really only going into it to try to make life a little better for their families, are coerced into desecrating not just their own altars at home, but the altars of their families or even their local temples. This sort of thing is completely disgusting, but it's not at all unusual behavior for evangelical Christian missionaries in Asia, India, and Africa. It's not at all unlike what has happened to the Native peoples in North America, where cultures were destroyed, children stolen from their homes, and entire groups of people slaughtered.

I think there's a lot of really good work to be done between the Pagan and Hindu communities in the future. I was absolutely delighted to see a strong Hindu presence here this year and hope that they'll continue coming to meet with us at PCon and under other circumstances, creating strong ties between all our communities as we all struggle for our rights as spiritual and religious minorities in a mostly-monotheist society. We need to dismantle the privilege that Christianity has in the United States; its status should be one of many, not the dominant force in American society. We cannot be equal when one religion is more equal than all the others. It's a continuation of the same aggressive, disrespectful force that allows military chaplains to believe they're simply exercising their freedom of speech when they attempt to force deathbed conversions on non-Christians and atheists. To quote from the Christian Post article, "Birch informed the audience that he would oblige to help them with their faith but would not withhold himself from helping a dying soldier or a soldier with no faith get right with God."

After the panels, I headed up to spend some time with the Sisterhood of Avalon folks, talking with them about some potential ideas for pilgrimage themes and places. It turns out that one of the gals I was talking to is an old friend of [livejournal.com profile] joyful_storm from Atlanta, and she wandered in while I was talking. One of the ideas I was suggesting was a Sequana pilgrimage, dealing with that Goddess and the shrines and artifacts at the source of the Seine river; since [livejournal.com profile] joyful_storm had gone to the Seine a couple of years ago to find information about Sequana and had already been to many of the sites, I thought she would have some excellent suggestions for this, and I think both of them are going to talk this over. They're also talking about proposing a Pagan pilgrimage panel for next year's con, which I think would be a fantastic idea.

Eventually, I had to go get ready for the 11pm Bakkhoi Antinoou ritual drama. I got dressed up in the most bling anyone is ever likely to see me in for a very long time, with my brocade silk jacket, one of my shiny silk scarves in iridescent colors, sparkly bracelets, and lots of green silk. It was pretty spiffy, if I may say so myself. The play involved the death of Antinous, and the Otherworld happenings surrounding his deification. We had a ton of fun, and I think the audience did as well. Tomorrow morning at 11am we have the "Antinous is Not Just for Pretty Boys" panel, consisting of several of the mystai of the Ekklesía. It'll include me, [livejournal.com profile] ogam, [livejournal.com profile] alfrecht, and [livejournal.com profile] tristissima talking about the various ways we deal with Antinous, and what the whole thing means to us, considering the general impression of Antinoan cultus is that it's supposedly only for young pretty gay guys. None of us actually fit that particular model, of course. A lot of people ask what Antinous would have to do with them, given that they're not gay men, but most of them would never ask what Brigid would have to do with them if they're not women who are poets, smiths, and healers. I think it's a paradigm issue, really.

And now, to try to get some sleep. It's nearly 3am and I have to be up and about at some ungodsly hour tomorrow.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
Yesterday I went down to Seattle for a few hours. I had a bit of a headache, but it wasn't too awful. I browsed East West and Third Place Ravenna before I was supposed to meet up with Moss and the druids at 6:30 at East West.

What I hadn't realized was that the druid meetup and Surendra Mathur and his wife, whom I'd come down to talk with, were at East West to listen to a speaker there. She turned out to be one of those intuitive channelers who rambled and gibbered for about 90 minutes and whose most useful bit of advice out of the whole time was "send pure energy to people." She's written three books about this.

That bit, in my opinion, was a complete waste, though Surendra seems like a charming gentleman. He's been interested in the intersections between Hinduism and Celtic spirituality, getting his start in looking into the idea about four years ago and getting most of his information from British druids like Philip Carr-Gomm. Now, I like Philip a lot, but OBOD's not always the best source of information for historical information and materials. I'm hoping to have a chance to talk to Surendra in a little more depth on Sunday, when he's doing a presentation of some sort at Travelers. I gave him my email and told him I could show him some stuff that I've seen/found regarding Sarasvati and Brigid, at the very least. He didn't seem aware of the field of Indo-European studies, which I found quite surprising, so perhaps that can open up some more doors for him in his pursuits. I was sad we'd only had about ten or fifteen minutes to chat before the speaker got started.

I did also meet a delightful UW PhD candidate at the meetup. She's studying, among other things, the militarization of culture and we'll be getting together at Travelers next Tuesday to talk for a bit. So far, I think she hasn't had the opportunity to talk with folks who actually are or have been involved in the military, so it should be an interesting discussion for both of us. It's for this reason that I can't write the entire afternoon off as a waste -- she was well worth talking to and I hope to see her again fairly frequently.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
This is the thingummy that [livejournal.com profile] man_of_snows gave me. Pics here. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
A while back I was involved in a conversation with someone about whether one could convert to Hinduism. I can't remember if it was here on LJ or on the Recon Interfaith email list or elsewhere, but I had cited a book by an American-born convert to Hinduism titled "How to Become a Hindu." The book was not taken terribly seriously because it was by a caucasian, not by a Hindu born in India.

On that topic, I found an article today by that same author, citing a number of different Hindu authorities from the 19th century forward and noting the conversions of the Bactrian Greeks of Alexander's army, among many other affirmative answers to the question. From the article: Dr. Atulchandra S. Thombare from Pune, India, noted, "A man can change his nationality, and even his sex, why not his religion?"

I think that's a reasonably enlightened attitude. Here's the article itself, for further reference: Does Hinduism Accept Newcomers?

Oh, and here's [livejournal.com profile] mythworker from [livejournal.com profile] thewildhunt with 100 words on Who/What is God?.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] dmiley tagged me with a lemming. I don't usually respond to them unless I think they're interesting. This one seemed pretty interesting. Here's the gist:

What religions do you find most interesting apart from your own? Would you pick one of the major world religions? Say Islam, or Buddhism, or Hinduism or Judaism? Or would you pick something more obscure, like Wicca or Taosim or Rastafarianism or Gnosticism? Would you pick irreligion, say Atheism or Agnosticism? Or if you're not Christian, would you say Christianity?

As most of you who have followed me for any amount of time probably know, I'm primarily a practitioner of CR filidecht. I'm also a member of the local Shinto shrine, and a mystes and luperca of the Ekklesía Antínoou. I've always been interested in world religions, large or obscure.

I do find both Taoism and some of the more Zen-leaning Buddhist paths quite interesting. I read a lot about both of them and find them very inspiring, particularly when I'm trying to work out knotty problems from a non-Western angle. They've both taught me a lot about patience and going with the flow of things. I do think that both of them influence me to some degree.

Shamanism is also a deep interest of mine, though I wouldn't say I practice it; I'm an animist but not all animism is automatically shamanism. I've studied it and worked with some of the techniques, of course. I think it offers a really good set of technologies for working in the Otherworlds. Along similar lines, I have always enjoyed reading about and seeing different aspects of the Afro-Diasporic religions. They're valuable models of survival by syncretism and adapting to some really horrifying conditions while maintaining a strong spiritual core.

Hinduism fascinates me. I find the iconography beautiful and dynamic, the rituals interesting, and the depth of polytheist culture profound. While I have something of a relationship with Sarasvati, this doesn't in any way make me a practicing Hindu. That said, Hinduism produces some great music, is the source of some extraordinary poetry, and has inspired some fabulous Bollywood media, as well as providing the world with a kick-ass cuisine. It's hard to go wrong with a combination like that!

While I read Christian theology, I'm not that interested in Christianity itself, per se. I find monotheism far too problematic on a number of levels to ever want to be a Christian again. The obsessive insistence on one-true-way in monotheism leaves no real room for organic growth and exploration of other paths; it's very hard to accept that other things can be valid if you're that deeply enmeshed in a religion that insists it has the whole and only truth. In the same category for me is Sufism which, while being a part of Islam and monotheistic, really does have some appealing aspects and has produced some profoundly beautiful mystical poetry. Dancing with Sufis is cool but having to deal with much of the rest of Islam and its baggage is difficult.

That said, I'd love to learn more about pretty much every religion I've ever heard of, with the exception of Scientology and Mormonism. I have too many ex-Mormon friends to want to get anywhere near it, and the Mormon church's deep involvement in current anti-queer politics makes them pretty much radioactive as far as I'm concerned. I have some very deep problems with any religion that wants to make or keep me a second-class citizen in my own country. Scientology is just plain too fucked up to poke with a ten meter cattle prod.

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