Sunday, 28 February 2010

Tree Hugging Dirt Worshippers

It's not until you get back to nature that you realize that everything is out to get you. (Dana Scully, The X-Files 3x22 "Quagmire")

Don't get me wrong; I love nature. I respect nature. I just don't like to get it on me.

It's yet another way in which I am antithetical to what modern pagans are assumed by some to be. Not all of us are happy hippies wallowing in mud-holes. I enjoy the fantasy of Ye Olde Dayes as much as anyone else, but I like my fantasy sanitized and romanticized, thanks. Drop me at the nearest ren faire--in garb, of course, and preferably with a tankard of mead to hand--and I'm happy, knowing that air conditioning and running water are never too far away. Talk to me of multi-day outdoor festivals and primitive camping and my horror is palpable. Nature and I do best when we maintain a respectful distance.

I am being hyperbolic, to a degree. I have camped, although I derive little enjoyment from it; I like the idea of camping a great deal more than I like the reality of it. I have attended festivals, though they've seemed an awful lot of expense and discomfort for very little payoff. I like to go outside and dig in the dirt and soak in the atmosphere and such, go for hikes in the woods and spend time at beautiful sites. There are places that break my heart with their beauty, places that shimmer with power and majesty and mystery, and it enriches my soul to be in those places. But I am not very well suited to outdoorsiness in general.

Insects love me. Other humans have accused me of being bitter, but bugs think that I am very, very sweet. They love to drink my delicious blood and nom on my tender flesh. I am luminously pale (though definitely not sparkly) and, thanks to the lack of ozone layer, burn more easily than ever before. I can scarcely step foot out the door at the height of summer without cooking up to a wretched lobster color. Basting myself in SPF3000 every five minutes is a real pain in the ass, but it's either that, swaddle myself in a burqa, or court melanoma with every moment. I don't do well in extremes of temperature; having been raised as a hot-house flower, my comfort band is pretty narrow. If I get too cold, I huddle in a miserable semi-conscious heap; if I get too hot, I become hostile. Unless I have a very compelling reason for subjecting myself to the elements, I like to limit my exposure. Contrary to popular belief, and to what I may have led you to believe during this little diatribe, such compelling reasons do exist; but since I have had lots of bad experiences of the outdoor life over the past decade-plus of active paganism, I have become reluctant to expose myself further.

You can respect a thing--love it, even, revere it, want to preserve and nurture it--without wanting to get too very close to it. I love lions, but I think they'd only love me as lunch.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Coming Full Circle

Less than a month ago, I was quite looking forward to, if not retirement, then at least a serious curtailment of spiritual activities and responsibilities. Pare down circling to sabbat observances when convenient, coven meetings to the very rare occasions that we feel the need to have one, drop our Pagan Pride Day involvement back to just running sound and making announcements, etc. We were going to do our mutual druidry as the mood struck us, I was going to focus on my FOI coursework and my personal Kemetic practice, and that would be that. And of course, that's not how it played out.

The Arts Magickal are rather like the Hotel California: just because you check out doesn't mean you get to leave. It's not at all sinister and diabolical, like something you'd read in a horrible Christian propaganda book from the 1980s Satanic Panic days; the universe doesn't actually work like that. However, I have found that once you take things on, then events tend to arrange themselves in such a way as to prevent the dangling of loose ends. There were loose ends still dangling, and until they've been tied off, clipped, or woven into something else, there will apparently be no retiring for me. That's really fine--I'm all right with it, even if I sometimes am frustrated beyond the telling with it all. I've managed to find the balance point between tossing it all and heaping more onto my overloaded plate. And while I am certain that my life would be easier if I had fewer interests, well, obviously that isn't going to happen.

My Iseum has mostly an online presence, though there are real-life components as well; at this time, I'm planning for the observance next weekend of the 15th anniversary of our founding. That means rededicating the main shrine for certain, and there may be a Flamma Vestae to perform as well. We have an enthusiastic initiate of our peculiar flavor of independent Gardnerian-based witchcraft, so until her partner is initiated and elevated to the proper degree to work with her, the coven will carry on, at least on such occasions as we can all get together. There are a couple of people who still like to come around and circle with us in a non-coveny context, so we'll continue to meet when it's convenient for all concerned. My personal Kemetic observances, some of which are quite Orthodox and some others not so much, will continue as they always have.

Today, by the Kemetic Orthodox calendar, is the second day of the Saq (ritual appearance) of Horus and Hathor of Edfu.* I'm unable to meet temple purity requirements at the moment, so I'm doing nothing formal to mark the occasion. Their theophanies, however, have been more than happy to appear for me for the past several days; it seems everywhere I look, there's a hawk perched nearby, keeping watch. Dua Heru her Hethert! Nekhtet!

* For the most part, I'll use the Greek names for the Egyptian gods here, just for ease of reading for my non-Kemetic Orthodox and non-Egyptologist readers.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Temper, Temper!

From The Instructions of Amenemope, Chapter 4:

The truly temperate man sets himself apart,

He is like a tree grown in a sunlit field,

But it flourishes, it doubles its yield,

it stands before its owner;

Its fruit is something sweet, its shade is pleasant.

The name under which this blog is filed, along with the username I chose for this account, are neither accidental nor wholly connected with my current fangirling of the TV series Bones. While it is sometimes true that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, I have also found that the excesses tend to build up intolerably inside the palace, making a muddled mess from which nothing much good ever comes. What I crave these days is restraint, control, moderation: that is, temperance.

I love the imagery of the tarot card you see at the top of the post. It's from a deck I don't own and have never read, but it is evocative in a different way than the more traditional presentation of the card. There are a wealth of layers to the concept of Temperance, beyond those attributes I listed above; it carries with it also the idea of alchemy (yes, Crowley got that one right in the Thoth deck), of the union of seeming opposites, of water-into-wine and wine-into-water, two becoming one becoming more, following the law until the law is broken and the very idea of law has been transcended. (For more, and perhaps more coherent, commentary, I suggest this page at Aeclectic Tarot; it's late and I'm descending into incomprehensibly figurative speech.) It speaks to me powerfully at this stage of my life, so I've made the concept the keynote of this blog--for now, at least, until that exploration leads me elsewhere.

I find that I want to stand apart from the teeming masses of my assorted co-religionists, so much so that it's very difficult some days for me to claim the name of "pagan." I have for most of my life felt apart from others, the odd girl out for various reasons beyond the scope of the present post, but willfully setting myself apart is a rather novel exercise in which I've been engaged now for a few weeks. The experiment thus far has primarily involved altering my appearance: taking more care with it, dressing mindfully and with a specific image in mind, using makeup and hairstyling with intent, and--yes, doing my level best to look like anything but what you might immediately envision when you think of a modern neo-pagan person. I'm starting to feel a pull toward altering my speech, as well; paradoxically, freeing my inner pedant and giving free rein to my love of big words is starting to moderate my tendency toward lax speech and careless profanity. My archaic (that is, weird) speech patterns were one of the things that caused a divide between me and my peers growing up; my written expressions got me accused of plagiarism by more than one teacher who refused to believe an unprepossessing little kid like me could write like that!

Um, note that I never said I planned to exercise moderation in the volume of my discourse!

At any rate, if magic(k) is indeed the art of causing change in conformity with will, then the current exercise is already proving fruitful. The fruit to me is sweet, and my partner concurs. I've long felt my proper place would always be the space between, the middle road, the twilight space where the owl roosts and observes. Temperance is the key to that place, and Amenemope knew it too.

And here I am again.

The first blog I ever kept was here on Blogspot, and it still exists today as an archive, though I've long since lost the ability to access the account. In the intervening time I've moved around, settling into blog-homes at Blogdrive and Wordpress and LiveJournal; of those, only the LiveJournal account is still at all active. The Blogdrive account served its purpose, while the Wordpress one never really took wing, maybe because I found the user interface unwieldy or maybe because I was in a flux state when I started it. Whatever the reasons, the end result is me coming back here to Blogspot, and so to the latest incarnation of Polyvalent Logic. (And if you don't know what that term means, stick around, because I'll be discussing it eventually.)

As I write this, the world outside the window trembles on the cusp between winter and spring, while the world within me seems at last to be thawing into a reawakening season as well. Something--a new me, or a refinement of the old me, or perhaps just the continuation of a me I'd dropped somewhere along the way--something is stirring, and I'm glad of it. This is where I'll explore more of the spiritual side of that, even as life continues apace at LJ. Here I won't distract with shiny icons and animated mood themes and fandom ramblings interspersed between more serious musings, though certainly fandom-related topics may find their way into the plot points here. I am sometimes disposed to wander, but I always end up somewhere in the vicinity of a point. All right, usually. We'll see where we end up this time.