While matters such as this are always a matter of (often seriously flawed) interpretation, I would like to state the following for the record:
I think we are, literally, at the dawn of a new age, and that yesterday saw a gigantic shift in things, the implications of which will not be known for a long time.
Let’s start with some basic things.
This year is 2013. “Thirteen” is considered an unlucky number by some people. And, today is Friday the 13th, the unluckiest day of all in the view of many, in the final month of 2013. It’s bound to be a bit odd, perhaps for those reasons alone.
At college yesterday, a student that works in the bookstore commented to me, “This year wasn’t supposed to happen,” in reference to the notion that December 21st, 2012 would be the “end of the world” according to the Mayans (which is wrong, as explained here). Now, of course, that’s nonsense, because if is a deterministic universe and this year wasn’t “meant to” happen, it wouldn’t have happened…and yet, I suspect there is a larger zeitgeist of the uncanny that is afoot in the world at present, for all sorts of reasons…
And, I think that my college sort of felt it pretty intensely this quarter, for reasons yet unknown to me. Even by the end of September, I heard professors and students at the college saying it was a “weird quarter.” And, this weirdness persisted throughout it. Today is the last class day of the quarter, and I still have large piles of grading ahead of me to do this evening and over the weekend (it’s all due Monday morning). Two twin students died in a car accident on Hallowe’en night (on the road my bus travels each day coming and going from work for me), which was an accident that was talked about on the news for a few weeks after it happened. Several faculty members had close family members die.
And, of course, death has been something that has been on people’s minds a lot lately, with Nelson Mandela, and with some pagan-specific individuals like Sancta Lady Olivia Durdin-Robertson and Colin Wilson, the parents of some dear friends and co-religionists, as well as many others…
We had a significant “first” yesterday at college as well, though. There was an end-of-quarter holiday (read: Christmas) dinner for the advisors and officers of all the college’s clubs at a local fine-dining spot I’d never been to. I advise two student groups, the newest of which is the Pagan Student Union, and it was only the officers of that which were able to attend the dinner. I mentioned my advisorship of the group to several people in the course of the day yesterday, and while there was perhaps some perplexed reaction from some of them (including at the dinner), there was no outright hostility, happily. It was an enjoyable event altogether, and a good “first official” function of the group (though there have been a variety of unofficial ones as well over the last seven months).
And, it was also literally an “end of an era” in greater Seattle-area pagan history with the departure from our region, state, country, and continent of Erynn Rowan Laurie, who has arrived safely in Italy as of the typing of these words. She was toasted several times during dinner yesterday.
But, since the birth of Aion was celebrated yesterday, this morning arrived and on a divine level, quite literally, a “new age” was born.
Thus, with the arrival of the New Age, I would like to inform all of you that this blog will now only be available on subscription for $45 a week. No, no, no…not that kind of “new age”!
There were some other random and strange occurrences for many people with whom I spoke yesterday. My phone up and died (though not permanently) for no logical reason, and thus I was not able to contact anyone most of yesterday (generally not a problem, other than I had to walk to dinner rather than get a ride, which wasn’t as pleasant as I’d hoped, but oh well!); and, there were intermittent network outages with my college’s system, thus I couldn’t get as much grading done as I’d have hoped.
The internet was working for the most part, though, and I was on it, and checking this blog and responding to comments, rather frequently…and I had one of my highest page-views during the day to date, with almost 1,000, and nearly half of them on this post, which was linked to on The Wild Hunt, and where there is some very useful conversation still happening today. I don’t mention this to “brag” or anything, but instead to just express surprise, because as frequently as I’ve been quoted on The Wild Hunt, general posts like that one have tended not drawn as much attention as that one did. And, I think there may be something in that.
I was speaking with my Anomalous Thracian colleague last night, at the end of what turned out to be a very long day for each of us, filled with more internet activity than either of us expected, and he observed something that I suspect hasn’t been discussed in the open much, if at all, in relation to a great many things that have taken place in the pagan and polytheist communities over the last nine months, and even several years. He pointed out that as long as many of us have been doing polytheism–myself for more than twelve years as a more strict polytheist, and more polytheist than anything else for about nine years before that–few if any of us really felt the need to say what that really means, or to discuss what we mean by it, because we didn’t think we had to discuss it. That’s a deceptively simple, but rather heavy in its implications statement, and one that I have thought about quite a bit since he said it. It’s actually been a bit difficult to concentrate on other things meanwhile.
Just as our gods are different, separate, and distinct, so too are we as polytheists different, separate, and distinct from many other forms of modern paganism, and even from many people who use the term “polytheist” as a self-description. I have no opinion on “good,” “bad,” “better” or “worse” where any of this is concerned; only “different,” and also “the best way for me at present.”
I truly wish that such caveats and conditions did not have to be stated every time one gives an opinion in modern paganism, but there we are.
While it has been building for the last few years more and more, I wonder if we have not, at last, reached a kind of definitive “breaking point,” so to speak, where polytheism and general paganism can no longer realistically say that they’re at all related.
Now, of course, there are people who are still “involved with both,” so to speak, and that’s fine. Also, there are many traditions that are analogous to paganism but which are not modern paganism that freely interact with pagans and paganism all the time–the various ADR and ATR religions, Shinto, Gnosticism, forms of ceremonial magic, and a variety of non-western indigenous traditions, for a start–and even have a crossover in membership, in occasional practices and technologies, and a variety of other things. Polytheists will still freely interact with pagans, and we’ll still end up presenting at a number of pagan conventions. Many pagans are polytheists, but it seems that fewer and fewer polytheists are also pagan.
Even if this great aeonic shift is nothing more than that–well, that’s still pretty big, in many respects.
Or, it could just be that the end of the strangest quarter I’ve yet taught has everyone on edge, and we all need a break. Who knows?