Catching up with…everything

After last week’s big announcement of the hand bound Loki devotionals, I spent the weekend trying to catch up with a few important things.  At last, taxes have been taken care of, laundry done, some cooking accomplished, medical stuff addressed, and my practice routine resumed. To tell the truth, I’m a little overwhelmed at all the projects I’ve got on my plate right now. The book project I’m working on for submission to a publisher has all but stalled, Heartroad 2 is gathering cobwebs, and the article I said I’d have drafted in a month is, eh, going to take a little more time. There’s also Many Gods West to prepare for, some other craft projects that have been languishing, and a custom project that I need to get back to. Oh and, you know, the day job.

I’ve created a little schedule to keep my writing efforts focused. I work at my writing job 6 – 7 days a week in addition to my day job employment so it’s very hard to predict where my creative energy is going to be. BUT my goal is to open a particular document on particular days of the week. I don’t have to do much – I just have to do something.

So! Tuesdays will be Many Gods West material (since today is Tuesday and I decided that’s what I wanted to work on today. Tomorrow will be the article, Thursday will be Heartroad 2, Friday will be erotica for the Kindle market (I’ve written a couple pieces and eh, every $.33 sale helps). Perhaps Saturday will be the Santa Muerte writing project. Perhaps Sunday will be prepping my 2016 Pantheacon submission (because that’s a thing that needs done, too).

I’m happy to have so much work to do, even if it’s going to be tough to accomplish. For several years I hid from most forms of community engagement in order to focus on school (and let’s be honest, because the Heathen groups I was involved with collapsed into infighting, murder, and allegations of child porn so there’s that). I prefer practicing privately; I’ve become very jealous of my time and energy. In many ways I don’t want to share, not when I’ve experienced such a long track record of getting very little in return for my effort. I’m not just talking about getting back a positive community experience; the energy exchange I trusted in simply didn’t seem to come about. In many ways, I feel like I got away without sustaining more damage. I also encountered a level of conflict regarding Loki that I simply couldn’t tolerate after a while.

Community engagement can be hard for all kinds of reasons and I think there are times in all our lives when we simply don’t wish to have it in our sphere. Coping with the anger and fear and distrust and yeah, even the disgust that comes up with dealing with humanity in general has been a challenging thing for me but it’s also been a very important lesson. We must engage with humans in order to understand humans, and we must understand humans in order to represent the needs of our species to the Powers that are concerned with us. Anyone who communicates with the Powers on behalf of any human – including themselves – can’t afford to be dismissive of the human condition, including all the suffering and hypocrisy and anger and violence. These things have to be confronted, recognized, named, and dealt with on personal, interpersonal, communal, and global levels. Checking out of this work can become a disadvantage. Checking out of this work can put a worker at a disadvantage.

Setting heavier thoughts aside, there are many things to look forward to this year but managing the stress and busyness of it all will be a distinct challenge for me. In the meantime, I’m also working on preparing a handmade devotional book for Odin. I actually started planning His the day after Loki’s was finally released. I’m really excited to work on Odin’s and I’ll probably start formatting it before the month is over. Is there any traditional material related to Odin that you’d like to see in a devotional book?

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Presenting at Many Gods West

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be presenting some brand new material at Many Gods West, a polytheist religious conference taking place in Olympia, WA later this summer. It’s a real treat to have the opportunity to explore religion, spiritual practice, ritual, and magick with such a diverse group of presenters and attendees.

I’ll be presenting a session called “The Labor of Love: (Re)Valuating the Purpose of Devotional Practice”. It’s my hope that this material will help further a consideration of what purpose devotional practice actually serves in our greater religious traditions and how the development of increasingly-articulate forms of devotional engagement actually contributes to the growth and maturation of the traditions that practitioners are part of. Some of the static surrounding a conversation about devotional practice is the opinion that this work is indulgent, delusional, or simply selfish; I hope to counter these attitudes by highlighting some of the physical and metaphysical advantages that this practice yields. (And to speak to a concern that I imagine a few of you have: No, I don’t think that devotion is important because of its concrete, measurable, or observable outcomes. I do plan to mention that valuating the human emotional experience at all is a problematic and potentially reductionist endeavor.)

Click here if you’d like to take a look at line-up of presenters and rituals. The precise schedule of events is still being determined but this is what the weekend has in store (though there’ll also be some musical performances, too).

If you’d like to know more about the event itself, visit the Many Gods West homepage. Registration is still open and last I knew there were still rooms open at the hotel.

I love teaching and sharing information and conferences are a great place to do this. I also get to meet lots of people that I’d never have the chance to otherwise. I’m by nature pretty reclusive – which is good since I can’t really afford to go far or do much. Finicky health also keeps me close to home and that can make traveling complicated, too. Needless to say I’m a little nervous about the trip for these and other reasons but I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the Pacific Northwest and I’m very happy for the chance to spend some time there.

If you’re a little nervous about the prospect of going to such an event and, like me, kind of a socially awkward kid, perhaps think about coming anyway. We can stand in the corner and fidget together while thinking about the pets we left at home. (My cat, you guys! I’m gonna really miss my cat!)

Home from PantheaCon

I’m finally headed home from San Jose and another year of PCon. I’m already mentally planning next year’s trip so it’s fair to say I had a good time. Chronic illness symptoms keep me close to my hotel room but I still manage to do some interesting things. There’s always programming that I’m interested in and plenty of things to do but honestly, getting to meet people in person is the best part. This year I got to connect with people I’ve only known online; one person I’ve known for a decade and never met until this weekend.

I’m certainly looking forward to coming to PCon again in 2016 but I don’t think I’ll submit another presentation proposal. Getting accepted as a presenter in 2014 was the motivation I needed to get me back out into the community and it woke up my love and enthusiasm for teaching and sharing information. It might be time to pull back for a while, do some more personal work, then perhaps prepare a new session a couple years from now.

(To those who have come to my blog via Sunday’s session: Thank you! It was such a pleasure sharing my work with you.)

A lot of interesting energies can get shaken up at an event like this. You put a lot of pagans together and interesting things happen. I had some very moving experiences that I didn’t expect to have and I have some things to sit with. For now though, I’ll focus on getting home safely and bringing myself back to a secure and stable center. Once home, I’ll need to spend a couple weeks catching up on work but sooner or later I’ll post a couple new entries here.

Many Gods West 2015

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giovanni_-_Noces_de_Th%C3%A9tis_et_Pel%C3%A9e,_Louvre_RF_1346.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Giovanni_-_Noces_de_Th%C3%A9tis_et_Pel%C3%A9e,_Louvre_RF_1346.jpg

A while back I learned about Many Gods West, a polytheistic religious conference taking place in Olympia, WA in the summer of 2015. I found the goal of this conference quite exciting; a whole weekend of polytheistic matters? Oh, yes please.

I sat and thought for several weeks about whether or not I’d submit a proposal to present. Traveling is complicated; it’s expensive, I have two jobs to juggle time away from, I never know how my health is going to be, etc. etc. On the other hand, I have a couple presentation ideas that aren’t a great fit for PCon or any of the other venues I’ve taught in.I felt like these ideas would be a good fit for Many Gods West but I didn’t submit any proposals.

But here I am more than a month later still thinking about submitting a proposal. After all, sending my ideas is no guarantee of admittance so I’ve really got nothing to lose. All the same, I really want to work on this subject. I want to develop some of these ideas into greater clarity. I also would love to travel to Washington. I have friends in the area, I’ve never been, and it’s Washington.

So long story short, I submitted two proposals this morning. One is for the session I’ll be doing at PCon 2015; it’s about getting into some of the mechanics of devotional ritual and it’s some work I’m pretty pleased with. It’s got some broad appeal, so that’s good. The other is a little more narrow in focus.  I want to talk about why devotional practice matters to polytheists and what we, as a community and broader polytheistic culture, can actually gain from this work. I also want to trouble the idea that devotional practice has to achieve something concrete and measurable in order to be valuable. I’d like this to be an exploration of the subject, a heuristic session if you will, but I have some clear points I’d like to highlight.

Anyway, here’s hoping. I’ll let you know how things develop on this front. And perhaps if it doesn’t work out to present this year, I’ll have the chance to try again next year. 🙂

Almost Ready for PCon in SLC

Well, I’m down to the last couple days before my local presentation of my PantheaCon session. I started doing this in anticipation of my 2014 session and spoke to a small, four-person audience at a nearby branch of the public library. It was a very productive experience and I got some valuable feedback from it. Sharing this session with my local community gives me practice with the material as well as an opportunity to identify problem spots. And naturally, I like being able to give back something to the people who have supported me in my various research efforts; it’s nice to bring just a little taste of PCon to the SLC area.

I’ve spent part of this year studying with a local OTO body because I wanted to broaden my knowledge of the Gnostic Mass in particular. This journey has been quite enriching and I feel like I’ve gained some valuable information in this short time. Precisely how long I’ll continue to study with them I’m not sure. For a hot minute I considered joining the group but I’m not prepared to jump into anything. If nothing else, I feel positively about continuing my association with them as a non-initiate.

My presentation will take place Friday night at a local metaphysics shop and with any luck I’ll have a pretty OK turnout. The whole event is scheduled for two hours, so I’ve planned 90 minutes for the presentation and the rest of the time for Q & A. I’m close to being prepared; I need to finish revising my notes, print them out, and then do some practicing but the bulk of the work is done. Of course, I’ve got my day job and my writing job to take care of in the meantime…

At any rate, here’s the flyer I made to help promote the event locally. I’ll change it up a bit for February. I’ll let you know how the class goes once I’m on the other side of it. Plus, I might have some news about another conference I’d like to present at but let me get this off my plate before I talk about the next big project I want to launch myself into.

a thousand ways flyer 2015

Presenting at PantheaCon 2015!!

Good news, everyone! I’m very happy to announce that my programming submission for PantheaCon 2015 was accepted. I’ll be presenting at PCon for the second time next February! This is a very exciting opportunity for me for lots of reasons and I hope that if you’re at the convention that you will consider coming to my session on Sunday at 3:30.

My session is called A Thousand Ways: Exploring Devotional Ritual. It’s a revision of the material I presented last year. With any luck I will have made the material much more approachable than it was last year. Though I still feel very positively about the material I prepared I think I tried to pack too much information into the time available and left some people in the dust because of it. My aim this year is to keep the material engaging for experienced practitioners without entirely alienating newcomers to the path.

As usual, I will be taking a pragmatic approach. I like empowering people with information that can be applied in direct and practical ways. Though the theoretical underpinnings of ritual, devotion, and spirituality are important and certainly interesting to talk about, the practitioner will encounter a great deal of this information on their own simply by putting in the time. Besides, the greater Pagan community is generally more practice-oriented than theory oriented and ritual is very much about the “doing”.

At any rate, I’m very happy to be returning to a convention at which I had a very positive experience. I don’t get to travel as frequently as I’d like to and being away from home in an unfamiliar environment for several days was a major sacrifice. It was worth the effort and I’m more confident about my attendance this year. (That said, I’m dealing with all kinds of emotional reactions to the news that I am, in fact, presenting again! So much self-doubt, you guys!) I love to teach and the opportunity to share in-depth information with such a diverse group of participants is very special to me. I’m very grateful to everyone who has supported my work.

If you’re not going to be at PCon and if you just happen to be near the Salt Lake City area, I’ll be presenting a trial run of the new session sometime in December or January (time/place still to be determined). The workshop will be offered in an open, public space though a small entrance fee may be charged by the site (not by me). I’ll post those details once they’re worked out.

I hate that I have to make this post.

By popular definition, an earth religion holds as inherently sacred and intrinsically valuable all manifest creation on this planet. In the imagination of earth religionists this typically includes trees, rocks, fluffy animals, bugs, water, wildfires, and all the rest. All this rest includes, yes, human beings (we are animals, after all; we have our own scientific name and everything). Human being is a category that includes everyone. If one segregates this category into subgroups that dilute, minimize, or otherwise alter or put conditions upon the inherent and intrinsic properties that are a central part of earth religion belief, such a one is not – by definition – an earth religionist. Or, if they insist that they are, they are not a very good one.

If your particular brand of earth religion involves the honoring of personalities and processes that grant life, liberty, happiness, and agency to trees, rocks, fluffy animals, bugs, water, wildfires, and all the rest then any conditions placed upon the expression of these personalities and processes within the bodies and lives of human beings is not – by definition – honoring of those personalities and processes. If, if you insist that it is, it is not a very good way of doing so.

In either case you may continue to willfully, consciously, and with the knowledge that we’re all laughing at you continue to Do It Wrong. You may also choose to make a change.