The way 2021 went did not correspond to what I actually set down as goals at the beginning of the year. I knew it would be a strange year, especially after I returned to hybrid work in August after working exclusively from home since lockdown started in March 2020.
During the pandemic, I have set ambitious goals that I have needed to change frequently, sometimes for lovely reasons, not hard ones. It is dissonant to reconcile the lists of things I haven’t done with the demonstrable evidence that I have actually accomplished so much each year.
I set very ambitious reading goals, which I met: My goal was 35 books, and I hit 43. (I’m currently reading another book that I may finish in the next few days, which would make it 44.) This does not include most of the reading for the polytheism course I took this fall, which was often at least 100 pages per week. (The readings got longer as the semester went on.) It does include the Phaedo and Commentaries reread for the Prometheus Trust seminar. I had also planned to read myths in the autumn, and the polytheism course fulfilled that function at a much faster pace than I could have anticipated.
Writing-wise, I completed the three prayers for the Hellenic Gods. A free ebook is available for anyone who wants to use them. I am also writing devotional poetry and continuing to work on my Speculative Theogonies project. Poetry is fast to read, but slow to do well — like taking many photographs and selecting the best ones, one has to play with many concepts and select the ones that matter the most for the overall form of the composition. Acts of Speech has now sold 21 copies, which makes me happy because I didn’t know if people would want to read niche religious poetry at all, and the way part three made me feel bare and vulnerable had my stomach in knots. I am also making progress on my fiction projects, which are set in polytheistic societies, but less relevant to this blog.
KALLISTI had 14,500 views this year from 5,500 visitors, up from a little over 10,000 views last year. I commit money to make this blog ad-free, and one of my goals is to create religious content that empowers others to do practical polytheistic worship without a paywall or annoying ads. I’m pleased.
Top 10 Blog Posts/Pages of 2021
- New to Polytheism? page, 522 views
- Household Worship, Brass-Tacks Style, 414 views
- A “How to Pray” Infographic, 383 views
- Hellenistic Syncretic Polytheism (HeSP), 227 views
- When You Have a Bit of Time for the Gods, 220 views
- Yggdrasil, or the World Tree, and White Supremacist Appropriation, 217 views
- Heavy Reflections on Athene and Arachne, 191 views
- I Updated the “New to Polytheism?” Helpful Blog Post List, 188 views
- Purification and How We Talk About It, 174 views
- Advice About Honoring Gods for the Anxious, 173 views
Satisfyingly, many top-viewed posts were ones that I wrote with the specific goal of making small-scale household worship approachable. (Note: the About Me page was also viewed a lot, but that’s not as important as the other content, so I took it out.) Reverence can seem intimidating when we see so many beautiful shrine photos, and social media makes it seem like everyone is having deeply meaningful incubation retreats to receive the Gods’ wisdom. However, when we cut out the unnecessary anxieties about others’ seemingly perfect practices, we can make room for the individuals who truly matter in our reverence — the Gods and other divine beings.
Looking Ahead to 2022
First, creative projects. I am committing to sit for at least 45 minutes a day working on something — a poem, fiction, something else. And then there’s my open access devotional practice toolkit project. I won’t say much other than to show you the progress in my private GitHub repository:
In 2022, I hope that more and more of the year will fill up with green like a beautiful field under the warming sun. It’s a challenging project because I am avoiding using the words polytheism or paganism in it, and my baseline goal is to synthesize practical, actionable advice for anyone who wants to worship Gods. It will be open access and have a creative commons license. Some of the content will be original, and other content will be derived from KALLISTI blog posts that I have already written.
Second, the quotidian. I am happy with my prayer practice, but could use some more contemplation. I have a habit of developing a solid meditation habit for a while and then dropping it once my schedule gets hectic: I feel guilty taking ten minutes, but then I end up getting distracted for ten minutes with less constructive things, and then I feel sheepish about not meditating. In 2022, I want to actually just take a pause and turn on my meditation timer, even if it’s only for 2-3 minutes, when that happens.
While I may be happy with my prayer practice, I also recognize that it’s likely to change a bit this year as I work through concepts while writing my open access project. For example, I’m using the HeSP label less and less and just calling myself a polytheist — I worship many Gods, and I’ve got my own context for that, and it doesn’t need a spectacularly complex qualifier. Sacred Source also came in with the agalmata I ordered in late May/early June, and I ordered a wooden wall hanging of the twelve Olympians from Etsy a few days ago, so there will be some new configurations of my shrine spaces once these things arrive. One piece of advice I’ve given on my blog is to keep shrine spaces tidy and minimal; while writing something for my project, I mentioned natural disasters and calamities and whether people would be able to take precious agalmata with them if they had to evacuate. It resonated with me, and perhaps with you, in this era of climate crisis and uncertainty. 😨 My shrine definitely isn’t minimal enough to be packed up quickly, but I would like to be able to take some of the agalmata into my go bag without them breaking. Plato’s Laws says wood is the way to go — maybe this is another reason why? 😉 There are so many beautiful images of the Gods that it is easy to get carried away.
Next, pulling back from sharing and interacting on public social media and prioritizing people I actually want to be around. One reason staying off social media has not worked is that I do not have many local or private-online social connections. My main social media trigger is loneliness, followed by ennui. However, connections with most people there are shallow, and I am primarily interested in committing my energy to connections that are likelier to net actual friendships, not the horrors of transactional, surgically callous human interaction. In the social media-based polytheist and pagan community, I’m not sure what to think about investing in friendships. I’ve felt such dissonance between the admonition to not abandon friends once made (from Solon’s Tenets) and the prevailing online retribution culture, which seems to assume that we can all throw others away at the drop of a hat even when we have an ethical obligation to them according to our moral code due to having known them for so long. It feels like being ripped to pieces — a dissonant, wide ocean of parasocials, acquaintances of various distances, and a few friends, everyone clawing at one another and making threats of retribution if you don’t obey everything they say is true — or at least, it does so to me. I have realized that I am alone in thinking like this or experiencing this emotional suffering, which is odd, as usually the reverse holds true — I think I’m alone in feeling a certain way, and then it turns out not to be the case. Occasionally while thinking about the situation (which somehow is always when I’m brushing my teeth), I look in the mirror and joke to myself that I am actually in Tartarus, then go really, Kaye, really?! with an eyeroll. It may be best to just keep most people pleasantly distant, like I do with most coworkers at my day job. I have other social outlets in non-social-media online spaces where people tend to revere Gods and incline towards paganism, so I’m leaning into that. Beyond those spaces, I’m considering what focused social interaction on Zoom and/or Clubhouse might look like. If I wouldn’t tell someone my legal surname or add them to my private Instagram, they don’t get to know me behind the parasocial curtain.
I will use my public Instagram nurselingofkronos account to continue sharing quotations of interest, but my public Twitter account will mostly be used for either sharing blog content, doing Twitter Spaces, or sharing interesting things I’m reading. (Most things in that last category end up as blog posts, so you’re not missing out.) I’ll also use Twitter to promote any poetry publications I have and the eventual outcomes of my open access project. Blogs are not social media, so you won’t witness any striking changes here. I’m also fine with reader questions on the blog, but it may take me a few days to respond.
A good thing in 2021 was restarting my gym membership and going to spin class again. (Note: It’s not SoulCycle-style. It’s spin for normal people who want a good workout, and most of us wear practical cheap workout clothing, not Lululemon. We also all wear masks.) There are a few people there who are pleasant acquaintances. I am planning to write more letters, do more Zooming, figure out how to use Clubhouse (finally), and hang out in person (depending on what COVID-19 allows).
In 2022, I want to work on some personal finance recalibration. I started engaging more regularly with women’s financial literacy content in 2021. While I’ve been to some financial literacy trainings, most of them had been trying to sell me a retirement account that I already have, and the advice I started engaging with is more focused on the shorter-term visioning I needed to reflect on. 2022 will involve self-directed tough love and course-correction, building on strategies I’ve already started to figure out this year. The personal finance recalibration will free up resources to address some pressing things, like my driving phobia. It’s embarrassing to say that I have a phobia at all because it feels like something a stable adult shouldn’t have. However, it’s something that was habituated into me from an early age due to growing up near a highway with many fatalities, and habitual flaws are difficult to fix, especially when the habit is an acute anxiety response, complete with tunnel vision and difficulty breathing. It used to seem insurmountable. While the area I live in has public transit and delivery options, it would be useful to drive for emergencies and visiting state parks. Phobia therapy, while free with my insurance, relies on exposure, and it costs a few thousand to learn how to drive in Connecticut. Why couldn’t I be afraid of something less expensive to fix instead? 😂
Finally, I have selected nearly 30 books to read next year, one of which is Plotinus’ Enneads. While I have read some of the treatises, I want to actually sit down and read them in order. Most of the other books I want to read are poetry or nonfiction, with a few fiction titles thrown in. There are a few titles on my TBR that I may add to this, depending on how well things go. I’m doing other bookworm activities (and am extremely excited about continuing to attend Prometheus Trust things), so I think this load is ambitious.
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, ed. Kornfield
On Metaphysics 13-14, Syrianus
Math Without Numbers, Beckman
Radical Platonism in Byzantium, Siniossoglou
What the Buddha Taught, Rahula
De Anima, Aristotle
De Anima, Iamblichus
Wakefulness and the World, Linck
Enneads, Plotinus, in English and French
Heathen Soul Lore Foundations, Rose
Hidden Zen, Moore
Contemplating Reality: A Practitioner’s Guide to the View in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Karr
A stretch goal of a re-read of the Parmenides and Spanu’s Proclus and the Chaldean Oracles
Poems of the Elder Edda, Terry
Being Full of Light, Insubstantial, Addison
The Kali Project: Invoking the Goddess Within, ed. Sood and Daquin
Jade Mirror: Women Poets of China, trans. Farman
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, Harjo
Sacred Verses, Ptahmassu
Singing to the Goddess, trans. McDermott
The Girl with Bees in Her Hair, Wilner
Sentences and Rain, Equi
Set Me On Fire: A Poem for Every Feeling, ed. Risbridger
Bhakti Blossoms, Kanta Das
Poet to Poet: Contemporary Women Poets from Japan, ed. Kikuchi and Crawford
The Woman Who Married a Bear: Poems, Midge
The Salt Roads, Hopkins
The Lost Books of the Odyssey, Mason
I have a few more goals that are not included above because they are a bit boring, and I may adjust some of these goals depending on what my annual divination says when I do it on New Year’s Day. In addition, I try to be realistic about what I can accomplish, as I do have a full-time job. I pray to Hermes and Athene for success in my professional life, especially in the exciting parts of my job related to open access and rekindling deeper connections with our user base after a while of pandemic semi-disconnection, and for patience when I have to trudge through the boring bits. Otherwise, my professional life is much less relevant to KALLISTI. I am ever grateful to the Gods that my nervous system is capable of resetting in the evenings after meditation and stretching so I can brain after a day of work.