I’m finally back from PantheaCon! I arrived home last night and my home has never looked older or colder or dirtier and I couldn’t be happier. I’m by no means a veteran or even an experienced PCon attendee (this was only my third year) but I’m starting to get a feel for how best to survive the experience with my health in tact. Nonetheless, I’ve got a creeping con bug/airplane bug. Blech.
My session on Monday morning went well and I think it was well-received. Devotional practice is often a very private topic so that people are willing to come out and not just listen to a frank discussion of how complicated this work can be but share their own thoughts and experiences is very meaningful.
Of course, once the session was over I remembered all kinds of things I forgot to say. So here’s the Corrections and Omissions part of Advancing Devotional Practice: PCon 2016:
– The Kindle book can be bought here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615262155/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=
-The paperback can be bought here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/silence-maestas/walking-the-heartroad/paperback/product-4308209.html
Don’t buy the paperback from Amazon! There are people out there who’d like to convince you that this is a rare or valuable book. It is rare in the sense that there aren’t millions of copies floating around but this simple fact doesn’t make it worth paying a lot of money for. Pay $9 for it. When you do, I actually get a few cents. When you pay $40, $50, or $90, I get nothing. We both suffer – so I suggest not bothering.
-I have an article coming out in the next issue of Witches & Pagans! Watch for the Polytheist issue to hit newstands. Barnes and Noble usually carries it though people without chain bookstores hanging around may need to look online or visit their local indie bookstore or magazine seller. Unfortunately I can’t provide you with a copy; I think I’ll be getting a contributor’s copy but I’m not even positive about that so I’ll also have to make an exception to my “No B&N” rule.
-The topic of cultural appropriation was raised in the session. I’m not the person to guide this conversation for many reasons, not the least of which because I still have a great deal of work to do on this issue inside my own heart. Further, Kali worshipers are entirely capable of speaking on their own behalf and I love the Mother’s devotees too much to take that agency away from them. To avoid potentially thorny assumptions, I’ll state quite clearly that I am not Hindu. I do, however, worship the Mother as Kali in Her many forms. I approach this dimension of my spiritual life thanks to the teaching and ongoing support of people who provide both instruction and correction as necessary. Generations of devotees have created literature, music, and ritual instruction by and for themselves; that some devotees have in my lifetime chosen to share some of these things with me is an honor and privilege I don’t take lightly. I can’t answer questions about how, why, when, or if you should worship Kali because I am not the Mother’s gatekeeper and nor am I the gatekeeper of Her devotees (except insofar as I love them and would be fully willing to help them if I was asked; I have not been). I might be willing to speak with people one on one about our experiences of Maa and of Her immense blessings but to drive home this fact in the my own mind if no one else’s I’ll say it outright: I am not an authority on Kali worship.
-I really wanted to state clearly in my session that devotional practice takes many, many, MANY different forms and that there’s no way I (or anyone else) could possibly say things that are going to feel universally applicable to all people, at all times, in all circumstances, in all relationships, in every configuration. As was probably obvious, my devotional configurations are of a very particular type and though things have changed over the years, the cast of characters not changed quickly or frequently. Additionally, my devotional practice is indelibly colored by the fact of my spirit work. They can’t be separated. I try to, at least mentally, because there are times that I want to talk about strictly devotional practice but then I find myself being unable to separate out the experience of myself as a spirit worker and the experience of myself as a participant in devotional relationships. This is not the case for everyone and it will become an increasingly rarer occurrence since there have always been more devotees than spirit workers.
(Did you know that there was a time when I couldn’t convince spirit workers that devotion was a thing that any of us were doing? There was a lot of shrugging and dismissal of the subject, then later a lot of surprise when someone found a book that mentioned the emotional dimension of religious engagement…..yeah. That’s why Heartroad rather specifically discusses spirit workers: because at the time it was written there was little to no acceptance of the devotional path as a thing that had anything to do with spirit work.)
I think that was everything I wanted to say but didn’t get to in my session. There was also like a whole page of notes on evaluating the changes that occur in this practice and how we can determine if these are things that are actually helping us in the long term. There was actually quite a bit of material that was left out of the session in the first place simply because I wanting to leave room for discussion. There’ll be more about this. I’m working on it. Trust me.