Since it’s halfway through the calendar year (and still the beginning of HMEPA’s 699.3), I thought I’d revisit some of my goals for the year and describe where I am with them, with a focus on the ones related to religion.
I do goal-setting to keep myself honest about my aspirations for the year; conversely, it’s a good way to look back and see where I was at during the first week of January when I wrote them down. In addition, transparency is good, and it would be helpful for you all to know where I’m coming from.
Some of the goals went well; some did not. After a religious experience I had at the close of May’s first decad, I reevaluated some of my priorities, so the goals that did not go well have not gone well for positive as well as “meh” reasons. I’ve tacitly added new goals, which include reading more philosophy, spending more time in ritual, and some related things that I will keep vague.
Complete initial series on feminist practices.
I started making posts, such as the one on menstruation and miasma (UPDATE: I have exciting news! I have serendipitously discovered that I was wrong and that my suspicions that there were sources I just didn’t know of were right! There are actually sources that are not some 19th century French man waxing poetical in his colonialist travelogue about North Africa. This is new, AKA something that happened today, and I’m going through the book soon-ish because it is a 12-week ILL with no renewals, so STAY TUNED FOR CORRECTIONS, and incidentally the monograph I found is half in French so I wonder if there is more French scholarship on this than English scholarship? I’m legit very excited!), and another one on Daphne. This is not done, but I still have half of the year left to make headway into some of the remaining ones. I’ve re-prioritized what I want to do, though, so I won’t be doing all that I had once wanted to do.
Talking about worshipping the Hellenic Gods in a feminist context is intellectually puzzle-box challenging because on the one hand, a lot of us do not like hot takes on the Internet that lack background and nuance, so I think people (yes, me, too, occasionally) expect the worst when someone brings it up. On the other hand, as I think I said when I mentioned I would do a series of posts, addressing these issues from an informed, pious standpoint is important because it helps members of our own communit(y/ies) who are wrestling with what sometimes feels like a disconnect between religious and culture-at-large perspectives.
When I write posts like that, I have to think about a multitude of audiences at the same time, and they go through a lot of iterations until I have figured out a way to say things that is accurate to my understanding.
Overall, though, discussing challenging things is a good way to give back (and pay forward), as per Delphic Maxim #55, λαβὼν ἀπόδος. Helping one another in a kind and courteous manner (Maxim #93, φιλοφρόνει πᾶσιν), especially those who are inexperienced due to age or because they’re newly “onboarding” into the community (Maxim #127, νεώτερον δίδασκε), is a responsibility that we all share.
Write one KALLISTI post per week.
This was a terrible goal. I much prefer diving into things and then coming back when I actually have something to say. One of the things I dislike about aggregated religious blog ecosystems is that they sometimes force their authors to produce content even when a blogger has nothing of substance to say yet; why should I do this to myself?
My modus operandi is clusters of posts followed by long stretches of silence, and I won’t change that for now.
I have a bank of topics now that I’ve been off of Twitter for a few days, as I mentioned from a previous post, so expect that this is one of the clusters.
(Last night, I was reading the into of a different book on purification and pollution. Scholars of Greek religion have now discovered personal piety, and this lit review is hysterical in a sad-laugh kind of way — also informative and serious, but things can be many things at the same time. If only I could live-comment this. I miss that part of Twitter. People who go looking for fights on the platform are my least favorite part of it, but I love all of the constructive conversations and informational “pageposts” because I learn new things. I occasionally correct my thinking based on the positive things I see, too; I think that growing into understanding one’s errors is way more effective when the environment is supportive and one has space to think and process.)
New emphasis: Write posts on KALLISTI that say something meaningful — no quotas, no rules beyond that they have to build people up, even if I’m offering criticism.
Scale back involvement in the UU.
This has been moderately successful. I grew up both Neopagan and Unitarian Universalist; the latter was more of a respectability layer, as we were very seriously into Circle when I was growing up. I’ve become increasingly fatigued with a lot of things within the UU. First, there’s UU cultural appropriation, which often masks itself as perennialism; from conversations I’ve had on Twitter, I’m not the only polytheist who grew up going to a UU Society and eventually got fed up. Second, there’s the tacit ἄθεος mindset and privileging. Finally, I wasn’t taught about the Six Sources until I was an adult because nobody ever mentions them; some of them are either wholly (or wording-based) hard nopes for me because they are not reconcilable with polytheism.
I started going to a UU society in town because I felt lonely and isolated when I moved to my area seven years ago, and it has taken me a few years to realize that despite how nice the people there are, it’s really not a good fit. Associating less (or not at all) with people who happen to be nice is the worst. It’s a very small society, so I was actually serving as an officer for a bit? That makes it even more awkward.
Granted, all of my experiences with UU societies have not been bad, and in UUism, a lot really depends on the society one goes to given the amount of flexibility there is (even when, again, the Six Sources contain some dealbreakers). I am eternally grateful for the exposure to philosophy that we had during my senior year of RE back in the Quincy, IL, one. That may have been the only year I actually looked forward to RE because it was the first time we were discussing anything meaningful, and I actually got upset with my parents on Sundays we couldn’t go. (I think the reason I didn’t take any philosophy classes in college was that I assumed it would be atheistic or Christian, and I didn’t want that? The philosophers we were talking about in RE had not been atheistic. I think they were tepidly deists or monists.)
Going forward, I’d rather focus on worshipping Hellenic Gods, especially since there’s so much volatility right now with the way social media exacerbates everything negative among our communit(y/ies). I’m coming to understand that despite being an awkward, head-in-the-clouds intellectual, I likely have interpersonal skills that can help.
We all care about the gods and doing right by them — which, especially for those of us who are not ethnically Greek, is often how we got into worshipping these Gods in the first place (a demographic observation that’s about as noteworthy as gravity; it is what it is, let’s move on and start talking about things like sacred site vandalism) — so if enough of us work hard at this, we can do it. I’m in Hellenion, and I’m trying out officer service by being on the Boule, so I’ll see how it goes!
New emphasis: Focus on community-oriented things (and polytheism more broadly) and see how things goes.
Pray as much as I can.
I don’t understand why I decided this was a goal, but I agree with it in principle, I guess? (What was I thinking? Why did I write this down?) I’ve reached a good place with this and a lot of related habit-building.
I’m working my way through a lot of philosophy right now, and I would say that that is related. Maybe I can finish reading both the Divine Iamblichus’ On the Mysteries and Proclus the Successor’s Parmenides commentary before the end of the month? That would be cool.
I’ve written at least 10 poems that I would consider readable to others, and when I wrote my annual goals back in January, I wasn’t thinking about a side project like Acts of Speech; several of the poems I’ve written recently were made to round out some of it, and others were written because I needed some way to express some wordless things. The prose creative writing projects I have are also tacitly religious, and I’m making much-needed progress on them, too.
That’s really all I have to say. 😁