[This was supposed to have been posted yesterday, but for some reason, it got saved as a draft rather than posted...drat, blasted intertubes! Well, at least it didn't get lost entirely. Imagine this is Monday, then...and I may write more later tonight.]
I forgot that in Neos Alexandria, Sunday was Kunegia. Damn…it not only fits with Antinous, but with Cú Chulainn. Drat…I can’t say that “well, at least I did other things,” because it’s no replacement for the acknowledgement of the festival; but, some of the deities concerned at least got their due out of the day, I suppose…
Today, however, I wish to write about a particular topic that has nothing to do with the holy-day of the given calendrical occasion. I was intrigued by a post over on The Wild Hunt recently by Eric Scott called “Unsolitary.” You should go and have a look at the post first, just so you can see from whence some of my thoughts on this matter spiraled out, as it were.
Solitary practice, one might say, is almost the default practice of a huge number of modern pagans in the U.S., and an increasing number throughout the world, especially in countries where there isn’t a lot of public awareness or openness about paganism. It’s very likely that almost everyone in modern paganism (with the exception of those raised in a given tradition, of which there are some, but not a lot) probably starts out realizing they’re “a bit different,” and then if they’re lucky and get some good resources, they might be able to find a local community of some sort. If not, they often become a solitary practitioner whether they like it or not; and even if they do find a local community, if it doesn’t suit their tastes for whatever reason, they might end up being a solitary again anyway.
Teo Bishop has been doing some interesting things with the Solitary Druid Fellowship. (I can’t get the page for the SDF to load at present…sorry for the lack of links.) I don’t know Teo that well, but a lot of people seem to be getting something out of this organization; and, Teo is a very nice individual. But I find myself questioning (while in no way suggesting a critique or undermining of his efforts): if there is a “fellowship,” can it really be “solitary”?
I reflect on my own situation as well. For the majority of the time that I’ve been involved in devotion to Antinous, I’ve done so on my own. Yes, there are a few times a year in which I am able to get together with other people, whether they’re hardcore and dedicated devotees of Antinous or not, and do rituals of various sorts; I also meet various Mystai of Antinous for social occasions apart from ritual during the year as well, and inevitably some matter or other of interest comes up in our conversation. The pronons used in some of our prayers in Latin (e.g. the “Antinoan Petition”) are first person plural, no matter what, because when I pray it (or anyone else does), I am in very definite solidarity with a number of other individuals, both in my specific organization and on a wider communal level. Even though I’m doing most of my devotional practices on my own (including some of the biggest holy days of the year during the past year), nonetheless I don’t feel alone or “solitary” in doing so.
So, that is a big question for me. If lots of Wiccans are solitaries, but they’re all following a set of ritual rubrics derived from the same source (e.g. Cunningham, perhaps?), then are they truly “solitary”? If one is a part of a larger organization or fellowship, even if one does the majority of one’s practices alone, is one truly “solitary”?
And, because I’m a polytheist and an animist and we ask questions like this, I also have to add: there are other beings who are not only the recipients of devotion in my practices (and those of many others as well), but who also take part in them with us on occasion, worshipping or honoring other deities…or even themselves. (Yes, that happens, too!) How, then, can anyone really be “solitary” when the world is filled with divine beings who aid and assist us, who join us in singing the praises of their fellows, and who are present often both when invoked and when not invoked into the ritual space?
I’m going to leave these as open questions, because I think it would be more interesting to hear other people’s answers than to attempt to offer my own answer in a once-and-for-all manner. So, what do you think?