A Devotional Preface
So, I had a flash of insight on Tuesday night and wrote out the entirety of Narahji (one of my conlangs) script within the span of ~45 minutes. I’ve been struggling with how to render klåsen kul bes (the Seven Dancers), the name of the script, for several years.
You can see me playing around on Twitter (@kayeboesme) with it. As a warning, about 75% of what I post on Twitter is related to constructed languages, linguistics, and linguistic gender systems. About 20% of it is about writing, and <5% of it is personal stuff because I treat social media like a public forum, and the daily frustrations of one’s life are better left in private conversations. <1% is explicitly religious.
This is the opening paragraph of Epiphany written in Narahji.
Since it’s likely that I owe this flash of insight to Hermes and to the Mousai, I would like to acknowledge that here. Hermes, the Master of Scripts and Language who visits the home of the Mousai and their mother with the beautiful hair and clear, cold water: Thank you. Thank you, too, Mousai.
Blogging and the Gods
And now, I will go into the meat of this post, which is about writing, gods, and efficacy. I am going to talk about blogging.
There is a weight to gods in any creative project. The Mousai are powerful and numerous. They collaborate with so many other gods, but the fire of creativity is ultimately meant to be connective and collaborative, not isolating. Creativity benefits a community and links it together.
When it doesn’t work, it usually means that two entities are not in the same community — I am ignorant of 90% of television and films (and their stars). Likewise, most people I know in meatspace don’t listen to Hardcore History, Mabel Podcast, Welcome to Night Vale, or Alice Isn’t Dead. There was a brief period in time when Serial was popular and I was really excited because it meant I could talk about narrative podcasts (fiction and nonfiction) with my coworkers. My media community is primarily on Twitter and Tumblr.
Divine weight is the term I have given to the sense of expansiveness of a god in petitionary or devotional prayers and activities. It’s the sense that worshipping one god and praying to one god for success leads to a discovery of the other gods involved in a project. That first god is like one prayer-responsibility, and the others come out of that like threads being woven into new fabric. Weight has another sense for me, though. Imagine that you had a taut sheet on which you threw equally-spaced spherical weights. In my mind’s landscape, all gods are like spherical heavy things, and the places where they have weight are where their center of influence is in the mind. There is a space where a god suddenly falls into resonance with a creative work or a person or what have you, and it’s like the sudden sensation of a heavy paperweight. That is my best attempt at putting this into prose.
Blogging is governed by Hermes and the Mousai because blogging requires written oratory and rhetoric. (It’s way more straightforward than writing an epic. I think I am praying to 12-13 gods at this point for that.) The Mousai are involved because blogging is storytelling. It is also a rhetorical performance in the written medium. It is often persuasive writing, but it can also be narrative nonfiction, poetry, &c. The informative and persuasive posts are designed to bring a specific community together. This often fails to happen in the blogosphere.
One of the benefits of writing is that you can experience ideas asynchronously and be involved in interesting conversations long after they took place. Two of the risks of blogging are that tone and word choice efficacy are difficult to assess, and a writer doesn’t have the benefit of monitoring listeners’ facial expressions for confusion or anger. Blogging requires a lot of empathic creativity. To be blunt, there are six generations alive today with very different upbringings, slang, and etiquette conventions. There is a spectrum of political identities from conservative to liberal, in addition to anarchists and libertarians. There is a spectrum of genders and sexual orientations. There are many experiences of race and ethnicity.
This makes effective blogging really difficult. One of my blogging goals is to prompt good and insightful conversations (and to increase the visibility of) professional devotional practices. I need to do this while being mindful of the perspectives of the mystic and theological communities in the polytheistic blogosphere. Blogging about polytheism is a sacred act, so there’s that, too. (Some others have discussed or briefly mentioned blogging as a devotional activity, and it’s important to note that they have different perspectives and pantheons. That’s a different conversation.)
It serves no one if I claim that a professional devotional practice is edgy or misunderstood or undervalued or beset on all sides. A claim like that would establish an us vs. them mentality and fail to address the real problem. Professional devotional practices are under-discussed. Expressing gratitude to gods for quotidian things? Also under-discussed in most circles. The solution is to start blogging about it. A lot of our blogosphere mystics and theologians have day jobs or careers and also have things to contribute. There are also people reading things on the polytheistic blogosphere who might not feel religious enough, and that’s the main reason I share my devotional deltas because I have been a polytheist since I was nine and have twenty years of embarrassing stories.
These communities don’t all overlap, and they have different community mores and vocabularies. It’s like being at the water cooler and liking podcasts and not television. I spent a lot of effort on the post about Durga, for example, because I was trying really hard to strike a balance between the serious respect I have for the goddess and the gift of that answered prayer and the fact that doing a prayer like that when I was a teenager without doing research or knowing what I was doing was careless. There were a few early drafts that did not adequately communicate piety.
The editing of a creative work is even more important than the ideas behind it, and that is the place where there is the most swearing and the hardest effort. It’s the place where good ideas can go wrong or where ineffective ideas can be rooted out, and in my tradition, it is also the place of the light-fingered messenger. 😉