monasticism

Monasticism

This time last year, a friend and I were dreaming a dream that will not let me go. We dreamed a group that we cannot build, a group that would bring forth a community centre for polytheists and ultimately also a monastic house for those among us who feel pulled to that life by something we cannot name (I have felt the pull of the gods, and this is not all that is happening here. This is also something in me that knows how I should live, knows the course my life should take). The dream took root in my psyche and I cannot let it go, but equally I cannot build it.

I’ve read a lot about Anglican and Catholic monastic life, and there is so much in it that calls to me, much as well that I could adapt to my own religious path and incorporate successfully and I believe that would bring me joy. But from my reading, the heart of many types of monasticism is community. Real flesh and blood people with you and around you all day every day, flawed and infuriating people, very much like family. And I read these things and my heart aches.

And you don’t have to be a mystic, a spirit worker, a visionary. You have to be devoted to your god (or, in the case of polytheists, gods) and willing to live as the community lives, and to keep going when things are difficult. Monastic life is very much about discipline, but it is supported day to day by the community. I can do discipline – when I was at school I was a music type and that really did teach me the value of discipline, even if that doesn’t always transfer easily into my religious/spiritual stuff. But I don’t have community, not really. I value online polytheist communities very much, but it isn’t the same as having flesh and blood people around. The friend I dreamed with lives a fair way away from me now, she has a busy and full life and I don’t like to bother her with my daydreaming. I’ve considered trying to find devotional polytheists in the pagan community, but I don’t live in a city and I can’t drive, and anyway I’ve found increasingly that paganism doesn’t really look much like what I’m trying to do. I think a lot of pagans would probably think I was mad anyway!

So I’m stuck with this dream that makes my heart ache, this dream I don’t know how to build.

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9 thoughts on “Monasticism

  1. I don’t think you’re mad. An idea similar to yours has been floating around in my head for a while, too. No clue what to do with it or how to pull something like it together… So, for what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re mad and I love that idea. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s always nice to hear that others have similar ideas – apart from anything else it gives me hope that something along these lines might become a reality one day 🙂 Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my best friends has a dream of creating a temple for devotion to Cernunnos. It’s actually not only a big project, but I have a very powerful feeling that it’s actually going to happen. What you write about here sounds quite a bit like his vision for the temple.

    And I definitely don’t think you’re mad at all. If anything, presenting physical spaces where polytheism can be explored is a huge necessity, I believe. Paganism doesn’t stop where people think it stops.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, part of this dream when I dreamed with my friend involved a temple. We wanted to build shrines to all the gods that were ever recorded, and then to unrecorded gods and spirits. Some dreams, I think, need curbing! But I’ve also dreamed of creating temples for specific gods, Cernunnos among them – I wish so many good things for your friend and his temple.
      You’re right, certainly we need physical spaces for polytheism and polytheists. I think it would be an important step in building up polytheist communities, especially as there isn’t any kind of physical centre for the polytheist movement. Sadly (for me, at least) I suspect that a polytheist community centre would be more viable than a monastic house, as it would probably serve more people.
      (I hope I’m making some sense here – I’m rather sleep-deprived at the moment!)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That is a BIG temple!! haha No worries, you make perfect sense, and I love to hear about your dreams and your ideas. Thank you for the well-wishes!

        I think that, for beginning, a polytheist community centre is the best idea. That way there can be discussion, and more people can understand what that’s all about. Additionally, a temple might be too strong a structure to begin with, in terms of introducing polytheism into the community and performing service on behalf of the gods. As you gain members, or as more people understand your ideas and may come to side with you in community, then the temple/monastery will be able to develop. Who knows?

        There’s a lot of ways that someone can make this work. I wish I had the freedom and the time to be able to open something like this myself, so I’ll resort to wholeheartedly offering my support to such projects! You’re actually the third person I’ve been made aware of that wants to do something like this… and I LOVE it!!! The best of luck to you, and I’m always here if you ever need to brainstorm or just need to talk. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think there are probably quite a lot of us who want to do things like this, but there isn’t necessarily an obvious way to bridge the gap between ‘this is a thing I’d like to do’ and ‘this is a thing I’m going to do’ other than just starting. And just starting can seem a bit impractical.

        Yes, I think in all probability you’re right. Starting with a community centre would give the deeper and more obviously devotional things (temples, monasteries etc.) a firmer foundation to be built on. I’m just impatient!

        And thank you 🙂 I’m not really in a position where I can do very much at the moment, but I’m hoping that time to think and plan will mean that when I start it won’t be completely chaotic! I appreciate the offer (and also the enthusiasm! It’s really encouraging) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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