I’m going to let you in on a little secret, just between you and me.
I’m a bad polytheist.
The fact is, my daily practice is more weekly, sometimes monthly. Sometimes, doing basic housework is all the spiritual oomph I have in me. Sometimes, I sneak past my altars in shame for my lack of piety.
There are days when I actually don’t think I’m any good at this, that I’ probably not really someone anyone should listen to.
But then there are the days my shit works, when I can muster the will to do it, like the day I hauled my coughing, wheezing ass out of my sickbed to go lead this ritual I’d promised, and a hundred people danced joyously in Dionysos’ honor. People whose judgment I trust tell me I have it (whatever it is), whether I can tell or not.
So maybe I’m better at this than I think I am?
I have great ambitions for my practice (to be put in greater detail in a later post), but my follow-through is not what I’d like it to be. The bit that’s relevant, here, is the question of whether or not part of my problem is being daunted by the scale of my plans. It doesn’t sound like much, to me. Daily devotions to five or six important spirits, putting together a devotional group for Dionysos, quarterly open (if not totally public) rituals…
I mean, reading some blogs, I get the idea that’s downright easy. The Thiasos of the Starry Bull gives regular prayers to at least 13 entities, yeah? The Ekklesía Antínoou have a sanctus to celebrate for almost every day of the year. My five or six (or seven or nine, depending on how fine you cut it), plus ancestors, land spirits, and beloved dead, is hardly anything at all, right?
But there’s this gap between the ideal and the achievable, isn’t there? In reality, my various shrines get a single, all-in-one mass prayer, maybe every few days. My ancestor altar gets attention when I notice it’s a few days past when the flowers should have been replaced.
While I’m trying to do that, I’m also job hunting, editing fiction for a publishing startup, doing housework for a collective household, helping care for a disabled partner, and also struggling with my own depression and anxiety issues.
So… Where does one strike the balance? And how does one tell when one is truly overloaded, or just using one’s load to justify not taking the Scary Next Spiritual Step? After all, I read somewhere that, if one is truly devoted to one’s gods, one will find the energy somewhere; doesn’t that also mean that if one does not or cannot, one must not be truly devoted?
One thing I hear–though not necessarily from the same sources–is that one can’t judge one’s progress by comparison with others. Maybe true, though it sounds strangely convenient. But, damn, it would be nice to have signposts, and maybe maps left behind by the last people to come this way…
But I’m rambling. The main thing here is that I want to be honest about what my practice actually is, what it isn’t, and what I want it to be. I want to talk about the obstacles I face, as well as the successes. To do that, I need to be clear about what I do and have done, and the difference between that and what I have yet to do.
Because, in the end, I’m just one guy. I have some experience, and some wisdom, and a whole lot yet to learn. I’m here in the hope that there are others from whose example and advice I might learn, and to share what I have with the ones who need it.
And to do that, we all need to be honest and clear about what it is we do.