The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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Fellowship: sketching a calendar

September 20th, 2014 · No Comments · fellowship, intentional communities, ritual

Continuing from the previous post, I am working further on plans for an “event” in a few months.

Step one is gathering together the calendar information relevant to the cycles of Venus and Mercury. This is done and available here. Based on the current date and the upcoming events, I see two particularly good dates for events.

The one I had originally spotted in early December looks good for a large gathering. December 6th is a Saturday, a full moon, and is two days after the reappearance of Venus and two days before the conjunction of Mercury. This would be a great celebration of Venus and honoring of Mercury and appreciation of the Full Moon. Good times.

The second event time I spotted is a bit sooner, on October 25th — also a Saturday — is a proper Pentafest, with the actual Venus conjunction occurring that day. This is a good day to start all the cycles, but also more of a private celebration — perhaps for the co-producers for the December party — to light the spark that catches fire in the minds of a new community.

So now I’m planning two parties, a small one on 10/25 and a much larger one on 12/6. To be honest with myself, I’m planning to do a lot of parties, gatherings, workshops, services, lectures, and video projects, starting with a small party on 10/25, and a much larger one on 12/6. I’m going to work and move forward on the assumption that folks will be interested in this and will want to participate, if they are given opportunities to hear about it and understand what it’s about.

This helps me with another thing that needs to be spelled out now, before much more work is done. This thing needs some clear boundaries. I keep thinking about this both in terms of how it will start and what it could become and I’m wanting to allow space for natural growth, so I’m being deliberately vague about a lot of it. Setting boundaries now will help me set scale and determine priorities.

Fundamentally, this community needs to be able to survive and grow without me. I’m happy to devote my time and effort towards building it up and running it for a while, but I’ll move on at some point and other folks should take up the mantle of leadership. So it can’t be about me. Obviously, I’ll be setting up the original stuff and I’ll be the spokesman for the group, and I’m bringing it all together now, but ultimately, it needs to be about the people who are all doing it together, not about who’s in charge. To this end, anti-authoritarianism and self-reliance will be virtues encouraged in the mythology.

Another virtue encouraged is that of self-love, such that forgiveness of self, acceptance of self, and respect of self are strongly emphasized in the mythology and the rites. This virtue is extended to become a love of everyone, a love of the world. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and honor.

The pursuit of knowledge and wisdom is also highly prized, each person is expected to learn to think logically and come to rational conclusions. The arts of rhetoric and performance should be taught to all. Each person is encouraged to seek out truth and understanding in its every form and from every source.

Each member is taught how to respect and honor the sacredness of the unknown, how to open themselves to divine guidance and wisdom, and how to communicate what they know to those who follow them. This dynamic — how to learn and how to teach — is really the engine that can drive this community forward through the generations. Both sides of this interaction needs to be modeled multiple times throughout the mythology until it becomes a trope.

Naturally, nearly everything done will be compared to Christianity, and there are elements which are specifically designed to counter the cultural impact of Christianity — and thus may cause conflict with many. Christianity is the dominant of the culture, and as such, it deserves the appropriate respect. Nothing is gained by being exclusionary or by demonizing the dominant faith. Instead, it should be welcomed as a good introduction to the larger world of religious experience. At root, Christianity is the patriotic worship of authority, and so it belongs as part of other patriotic and nationalist icons. When grouping icons around a temple, a space set aside to welcome and praise the gods of nation and state is the perfect place to add a Virgin Mary and Jesus statue, or maybe a descending dove or a shepherd and sheep as representations of the Christian faith. Personally, I would avoid placing a crucifix in my temple: representations of death are expected, but I don’t countenance capital punishment.

In other ways, I want to avoid manifestations that compare to Christian traditions. The predominant form of gathering should not be a regimented appreciation of authority, but an organic expression of acceptance and good will. So temples will not have rows of benches bolted to the floor, facing the podium. Instead, open floor arrangements with many alcoves for alternating use all around, with priests attending to and guiding the people as they are called. More than one mythic cycle will be presented, so that gatherings and rituals are not the same every week, every year.

Each person will be called upon to discover their own gods and their own rites. The authority to recognize divinity and interact with it is given freely to all. Neither the Fellowship nor the Temple define or judge what is divine, but instead teach its membership how to recognize the divine, and how to treat with it. There can be no arguments about orthodoxy or heresy if everyone recognizes that theirs is not the one true way, but simply one of many. Acceptance of belief includes those who choose not to recognize external divinity, as even a blind man can live life and do good work without ever being able to see their results.

The Fellowship, as an educational community, will present ancient and modern mythology, representations of divinity, and rules for specific practices. It should be made clear that these are not the only available myths, representations, or practices, and that others will be shown, but more importantly, that each person should take it upon themselves to make up myths, and divine their own representations and practices as they see fit. People will be encouraged to make altars in their homes, offices, cars, and back yards, and to see divinity as all around, not just in the Temple, or where-ever the Fellowship is meeting.

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