Wanted: Pagan accountants

Yes, it’s heading into tax season, and I want to know:  where are the Pagan accountants?  I’m sure they exist; I know so very many Pagan computer programmers, physicists, and similarly right-brained folk that surely there must be some Pagan accountants out there, too, and I would like to talk to them.

I may very well use some of what you tell me in future posts, so if you want to use a pseudonym of some kind, fine by me.  Accountants could, I surmise, range the gamut from those who all but live a double life (trial balances by day, ritual trials by night) to those whose office and temple are the same space, so how much identifying information you wish to share is definitely a personal choice.

What I want to know includes:

  • What kind of Pagan are you?
  • How does your faith inform your work?
  • Do you view these numbers as sacred and/or magical?

There are probably other questions, ones I don’t know enough to know to ask yet.

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Bathtub assignment: ancestor offering

It’s not like WE are going to change your bed pan, sonny!

Today I celebrated the Deipnon, like many of my co-religionists.  This is the day that I make offerings to Hekate, and to my ancestors.  And this morning, I was pleased to get one of those submerged personal gnoses which I like to call bathtub assignments, those glorious epiphanies that come when there isn’t anything in reach with which to record it.  Well, I’m not complaining.  They could pop up in the shower, for one thing, and they could pop up not at all, which would be quite sucky.

So today my assignment was to up my offerings to the ancestors with . . . an IRA contribution.  Apparently, olive oil and Scotch just aren’t enough anymore; it’s high time I get back on the retirement-planning wagon before I become a burden upon my own descendant.  (That’s right, just one, and his attention is sure to be divided among his four parents, nce we all reach our dotage.)  My ancestors remember who I have been, sometimes better than I do myself.

I had an aggressive savings strategy ten years ago, when I was miserable in my work but earning a lot doing it.  So much so that I was able to leave that job and coast for awhile as I pursued business opportunities (and yes, if you think you know what “business opportunity” is code for, you’re probably right).  I transformed my robust IRA into a down payment on a house, and have no regrets, but the message was clear:  it’s time to get into the habit again.

This is going to be a slow restart.  I only contributed a buck this month, but I plan on increasing that amount each Deipnon going forward, until I either reach the maximum annual contribution ($5,500 this year) or I risk running out of gas money.  But if I can contribute a dollar to an IRA, so can anyone else who has earned income this year (or plans on it).  Start small, it pays off.

Pagan Tea Time redux

This is my second open call to join me for some Pagan tea.  I have completed the process of migrating my blog from Blogger (owned by Google, which tries harder every day to stalk me wherever I go online) to WordPress, and unlike all the other posts I have written, that one didn’t make it over.  So allow me to show how awesome WordPress by showing off one of its features, the contact form:

Drawing of two people in ancient Greek style sharing a beverage

Let’s have a conversation face to face, or at least voice to voice.

Of course, I am also going to find out what happens if I try to put a contact form and an image next to each other, which could be a terrible mess.  Or a brilliant layout.  I have never taken “preview” all that seriously; publish or perish, I say, and let the gods sort ’em out.

Acquainting with Artemis

I’ve become a bit of a deer hunter in recent year, if by “deer hunter” you mean “person who kills deer that leap in front of his vehicle.”  Or maybe my car has a thirst for Cervidae blood, and exudes pheromones that lure them in.  Although I have never been injured, it’s a painful experience, and one that I’d prefer to stop repeating.

A statue of the goddess Artemis, holding a bow and arrow and carrying a quiver, with a small deer behind her.
My statue of Artemis, repaired.

Perhaps two years ago a wise friend of mine suggested that there might be a lesson in these fatal collisions, and I listened.  I have focused on altering my behavior behind the wheel to minimize the chance of deer death:  it began with tearing my eyes away from even glancing at that stupid phone, but I have striven to become more cognizant of anything that took my attention from the road ahead, no matter how small.

Among those distractions, however, are things like looking in the mirrors behind, and the one or two seconds lost to such defensive driving techniques can prove fatal.  With no large predators (human or otherwise) culling their numbers in a meaningful way, driving mountain roads can always prove dangerous.  My own behavior can reduce the risks, but not eliminate them.

Over this same period of time, I have considered whether or not this is a not-so-subtle message from Artemis that I should be heeding something she’s trying to tell me.  This is not a goddess I have built much kharis with, so it seemed like it was worth a try to do something to please her.  I purchased a statue of the goddess and identified a place to put it, but my Artemis statue arrived broken, and I wasn’t sure what to do, so I seasoned my concern for awhile.

The Hellenic tradition I learned teaches that a particular deity may take an interest in your life for the span of a month, with divination being used to determine who that might be.  For the month of Poseideon, Hephaistos took the lead, which gave me the courage to fix my broken goddess.  My hands are not generally so nimble as to make delicate work such as that possible, but over the course of several days I made her whole.  First I straightened her golden arrow, then I replaced the fletching on the ones in her quiver.  The deer’s tail was restored, and lastly I placed the bow back in her hand.

Artemis’ day in the Athenian calendar was the sixth of the month, which will fall on January 7, more or less.  I will then make this statue a gift to her, and have a place to pour her libations.  May she never again see fit to put a deer in my path.

Towards a drama-less year

After reading a few top ten lists of Pagan blog posts for 2013, I’m really very excited about this community.  It’s been so volatile, in such specific ways, that I think it’s poised for another evolution.

Two theater masks, one white and smiling, the other black and frowning, generally called the comedy and tragedy masks, overlaid by a red circle with a slash through it, a common sign for no.

The stuff that has gotten people really engaged has been about important questions:

These are the queries of a maturing religious movement.  In the early 1970s none of them could have been asked, because Paganism as practiced by the early revivers had a lot less diversity — and a lot less internet.  Communicating through mimeographed newsletters and almost entirely meeting as covens, those brave souls were the pioneers of a public Paganism in the modern age.  People didn’t leave Paganism (at least not with fanfare).  They were mostly in covens because Wicca was paved the way for other Pagan paths.  Atheists and polytheists (particularly reconstructionist hard polytheists) were all but unheard of.  Institutions were beyond imagining — and not entirely welcome.

It was a different time.

And the very fact that it was a different time — that Paganism has survived long enough, and been open enough, to evolve — is a testament to the passion and drive of those “early adopters” of contemporary Paganism.  The term now includes faiths that are wildly different from one another, so much so that some consider Pagan conversation to be interfaith work.

But can we have these conversations, these oft-painful conversations, without drama?  I believe so, but it’s going to take a deeper form of listening (reading, really, since so much of this takes place in written form) than most of us are exercising.  Deep listening, and responding in a way that reflects that listening.  From what I have gathered, much of the hurt feelings and umbrage comes from a sense of exclusion, or a presumption of inclusion.

My experience with magic might work as an example.  If it weren’t for the Pagans I met as a young adult, I wouldn’t know the concept even existed.  They were Wiccan, and their practice centered around using magic.  For the most part, mine never has.  I have used magic and continue to study it, but I do not “work with” my gods, I worship them.  So when I read an opinion that Paganism needs more formalized magical training, I think to myself, no, it doesn’t.  Maybe some forms of Paganism do, but there is a growing number of Pagans who don’t touch the stuff, or, like me, don’t consider it part of their religious practice.

That kind of wording can leave a reader feeling excluded, if they don’t practice magic themselves.  In the alternative, it can lead others to believe that all Pagans are included in under the “raise energy by invoking the Goddess” umbrella, when that simply isn’t the case.  The language is not reflective of deeply listening to the audience, so the point (which is certainly worthy of discussion) gets a bit lost.  It may be clumsier to use a phrase such as “those Pagans who incorporate magic into their religion,” but that kind of phrasing helps the piece find its intended audience.  (And if a clumsy phrase is used often enough, people are bound to shorten it.  I cringe at the thought of being called a PWIMITR, but we all have our burdens.)

Carelessly including those who do not belong, as well as excluding those who feel they do, leads to a lot of distracting, drama-riddled debate.  And once someone’s hot button is pushed, it’s very easy for the reaction to push someone else’s.  The fact that this is religion makes it all the more problematic, because my experience of Hermes may well be considered blasphemous to another of his worshipers.  Our beliefs are the result of long struggles, and challenges to them are often met with force (of words, not blows, but the results can be just as devastating).

We can have important conversations about the future of Paganism, with all the myriad meanings that phrase brings to mind.  To do so, we’re going to need to listen more deeply than most of us (myself readily included) are comfortable with.  Far, far deeper than drama allows.  So here’s to a year of deep listening, not drama.