(Click here for the original art.)
Remember back in September, when I mentioned a cryptic writing/directing project? Well, if you’re trapped in Houston tomorrow, you officially have a legitimate reason to escape from your family, because all of us are sick, but some of us are…
Tickets are $5 at the door. You’re welcome to attend even if you’re not in recovery: I’ll just explain all of the jokes during the Q&A session.
My friend Galina is currently on a pilgrimage across Eastern Europe, and in Poland, she was introduced to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, a Northern Renaissance painting of the Virgin Mary from Vilnius, Lithuania. Seventeen miracles are attributed to the icon, the most hardcore of which being the time Dawn (I call her Dawn) whacked some Swedish invaders by dropping iron gates on them.
This particular story has taken inappropriate root in my imagination, and now I’m picturing a Marian tea party, where various Apparitions and Black Madonnas have gathered to nosh on cucumber sandwiches and get to know each other a bit. As the scene opens, we find Dawn wrapping up her introduction:
“… so then I was all, “This is my house, Swedes,” and bam! They were ANNIHILATED. Ha! Good times. Anyway, Fátima, what did you do?”
“Well, I appeared to some children…”
“Awesome! Were they invading? Did you drop iron gates on them?”
“Um… no. They were just regular kids. And I, y’know, appeared.”
Some of the Holy Virgins probably have a few resentments to work through. Just sayin’.
In unrelated news, please know how glad I am that Pagans can’t go to Hell.
Do one act of conspicuous devotion to the Gods or ancestors every day. Do one act of conspicuous piety and do it without feeling ashamed or silly. Do it and continue to do it until such piety is as natural as breathing. Excellence in anything is a habit. It’s a matter of what we choose to nourish and what we don’t. Here’s my challenge to anyone reading this: choose to nourish a habit of piety and devotion every single day. Challenge yourselves to be better for our Gods.
Simon: “I’ve been to three yoga classes in the past two days.”
Me: “Just out of curiosity, have you ever looked into yoga teaching certification?”
Simon: “I have, and I’ve figured out how much money I would need in the bank in order to quit my job and pursue it.”
Me: “You’ve really thought this through, huh?”
Simon: “Yup. My dream is to wake up every day and just do yoga and go fishing.”
Me: “Hmmm. Maybe I should quit my job and follow my own dreams.”
Simon: “What, like starting your own Pagan religion?”
Me: “Oh. That’s actually already on my ‘Harms Done’ list.”
And then I told him about the Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Cult, and he stopped blinking for like five minutes. Considering that he knows more about me than my parents, roommate and ex-boyfriend combined, it’s pretty impressive that I’m still able to render him speechless.
The upside to having both a panic disorder and an attention deficit disorder is that I am a medal-worthy multi-tasker. Need seventeen separate projects completed by yesterday? No problem! I’ll switch between them as my interest waxes and wanes until the anxiety kicks in and I screech into overdrive, and I’ll still find time for personal correspondence and social media updates.
The downside is that sometimes said projects get a bit mixed up in my head, such as what happened a few minutes ago, when I was copying text into an HOA’s monthly inspection report while having a lively email debate with a bunch of Bacchic Orphists and taking phone calls from contractors and ordering lunch. I paused for a quick second to glance back over the report before sending it to the Board of Directors, only to discover that the section on deed restriction violations now proclaimed, in proud, bolded font:
“You all heard it. He volunteered to be sacrificed.”
Couple of thoughts on that.
a) Thank the Gods I always proof-read.
b) If I left that sentence in the report, and they didn’t immediately terminate our contract, no one would ever violate the deed restrictions again. In which case I may have just found the cure for a veritable crate-load of headaches.
How to become the undisputed leader of a polytheistic religion in five easy steps:
1. Pick an obscure, ancient, Near Eastern or Indo-European culture, preferably one with an unknown and/or untranslated language.
2. Read a couple of books on the subject.
3. Double-check to make sure no one else has already established a Reconstructionist tradition based on the religious practices of the same culture. If such a tradition already exists and flourishes, reach out to the adherents, so that you may learn from each other and enjoy spiritual growth and fellowship.
3. Write your own book, the introduction of which must begin with “Never before…” and end with “Forgotten… until now.”
4. Create a Facebook page.
5. Destroy all who oppose you, with unverifiable personal gnosis and self-righteousness as your gleaming sword and shield.
As you may have surmised, Something Happened on the Internet, and I’m Having Feelings about it. I’m not going to name names or point identifying fingers, because I’m passive-aggressive. I will however, make up a fictional recon trad and use that as the context for an actual online conversation:
Polytheistic Author/Diva/Guru – “Good morning! I’ve uploaded a calendar of the Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Cult ritual cycle. Of course, we do not know if the Cult had a formalized ritual cycle, since the Proto-Lithuanian language has never been translated, so I’ve reworked their seasonal celebrations to align with the standard Pagan holidays.”
Group Member – “I appreciate you sharing this! I came up with something very similar when I was working on my dissertation in Proto-Lithuanian Studies, and it looks like our calendars are remarkably compatible. I do have one quick question, though. What led you to match the Festival of the Gelded Serpent-Pony with the Fall Equinox? I ask, because back when I was collaborating on the Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Cult Oracle Deck, we determined that the annual stallion castrations in pre-Christian Baltic territories took place in the early Spring, so I’m wondering if we missed something in our research. Thank you for any clarification you can provide!”
PA/D/G – “Look, I tolerate polite dissent, but personal experience is always more valid than what any ‘academic’ has to say.”
GM – “But I didn’t… I was only trying to… you know what? I think I’ll just quietly unsubscribe and go play on Twitter.”
And then she left the group, and I snuck out right behind her.
Young, Drunken Me would’ve lost his shit over the whole thing and thrown a few uncalled-for punches before flouncing out the door. But I’m older and
wiser calmer now, and I understand that snarling at some swollen-headed douche-nozzle isn’t going to change anyone’s mind or make any kind of real difference. Instead, I choose to focus on gratitude over resentment. For example, I am grateful for the members of a different online community, whose conversations go something like this:
New Group Member – “Hello! Can anyone recommend an introductory book on the Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Cult?”
Group Owner – “Sure! There are a lot of good resources out there, but I suggest starting with either The Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Cult Definitely Had a Formalized Ritual Cycle and This Is It, or The Proto-Lithuanian Language Is Really Easy to Translate, on Account of It’s Basically Just Prussian with Three Extra Vowels. I hope this helps!”
It does help, Mr. Welcoming and Accessible Proto-Lithuanian Unicorn Cult Reconstructionist Dude. Mightily does it help indeed.