The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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Fellowship: Keystone Point approaching

September 18th, 2014 · No Comments · culture, fellowship, intentional communities, ritual

I was reminded about my Fellowship project last night when I saw that my birthday this year is the day Mercury is hidden by the Sun. It will remain invisible for 12 days. (It’s actually passing in front of the Sun from our perspective, but you can’t see it without special lenses, because Sun.) Two of the key cycles in the Fellowship mythology are the cycles of Mercury and Venus, so the conjunction of Mercury and the Sun is “important” in this context.

So now I’m considering that this may be a fortuitous occasion to kick off some small part of the larger project. Or perhaps just a good theme for my birthday party.

I have put a few short essays here about the Fellowship, but the two things to know here is that (1) the purpose of the Fellowship is to model a new type of religious community, and (2) the Mercury cycle is related to learning and wisdom, such that each cycle is considered a new opportunity to learn and apply knowledge to gain wisdom.

Both Mercury and Venus are “followed” by the Fellowship as they move through what is called a retrograde cycle, meaning that they appear to move backward across the sky periodically. Mercury repeats its series every four months, while Venus repeats hers every nine months. Specific points within these cycles relate to events in the mythology that guide and give context to the rituals performed during these times.

The rituals themselves should be inclusive and informal, with time and space for each person invited to experience the elements of the evening. An element might be a thought written down, a flavor sampled, a word spoken, or a vision beheld. Once most or all have sampled each element, a group ritual (each speaking from their seat or place) could provide a sense of having a conjoined spirit. There should be food and drink, opportunities for folks to mingle and visit, and several shrines set up to honor different gods.

There should also be a few “demonstration rituals”, where folks have an opportunity to witness several “personal” or “family” rituals. These might occur several times during the event as is reasonable to do so. Overall, the experience should be one of having attended “an occasion”, with a feeling of having become wiser or better than before. Participants should feel anxious to return again soon to another, similar, event.

We’re talking about something two and a half months away from this point, so there’s time for planning and creative work. Most immediately, I need to develop a calendar for the coming 16 months, with the relevant Fellowship dates on it. Then, some mythology needs to be hammered out that covers the necessary dates/events. Given both, I should be able to design a “Hermes Enflamed” party.

I will need a few conspirators. I need co-producers who can help lead ritual, explain the props, and, hopefully, help set up the party. At some point, I’ll need help to develop the mythology and structure of the Fellowship. Should it gain enough traction to develop a following, I’ll need help to keep it going. If it all goes unexpectedly well and it takes off, becoming enormously popular, then having other co-producers can make it more about the group and less about just one person.

Big picture: this is an educational project. The point is to give people an opportunity to witness and experience what religion could be if we allow ourselves to experience the full breadth and depth of religious experience, and not just the shallow, binary popular in our culture. The Fellowship is modeled on common elements of  pre-Christian in the ancient Roman Empire, circa 300CE.  The goal is to create an active, self-sustaining religious community that actively models these old methods and philosophies.

We cannot revive the ancient ways. Beyond the loss of the language, the history, and the ancestral traditions, we now are different people, with different needs and different expectations, so we don’t really want to go back to the past just to experience a greater range of religious practice. Whatever we do is fundamentally modern because we are modern people, so there is no need to strive toward historical accuracy. What was it they were trying to do with this ritual or that taboo? How do we replicate the results here, today?

In order to reach the goal of an active, self-sustaining community, the firm foundation of an intentional community must first be deliberately created. Religion or esprit de corps can be used as one leg of the intentional community tripod, but economic and educational elements must also be present to attract and retain membership. These elements need not have anything to do with presenting an educational presentation, or reviving ancient ways of worship, yet they stand as possibly the most relevant issues, and if they are ignored, the greatest obstacles to success.

Through the filter of time and the strictures of organizational , the golden light of ancient philosophy must still shine through. Folks should again understand all knowledge and learning to be sacred, and guided by holy guardians, and worthy of their focused attention. Neighbors should once again view each others as brothers of the land and members of a larger community. Families should be able to revive their connection to their ancestors and the lands of their peoples. And all that’s really needed is to demonstrate it in practice. Lectures, workshops, and books can come later, after there is a living community to show that such a thing is really possible.

So, two-and-a-half months to develop a dozen rituals, some coordinating philosophy and mythology, and rope a half-dozen friends into playing along. And if I am really serious about sustainable community and making something real out of this, I’ll want to have more than a half-dozen friends to be at the ritual. I’ll need to somehow attract a large number of pagan-friendlies, religious searchers, archaeo-humanist types, and free-thinkers to come to a  thing that’s most definitely much more than a birthday party for me.

Just how many people is the key to whether I can afford to secure the space to do this. I haven’t priced areas for ritual or workshops in a while, so I’m expecting this to be mind-blowing.

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