A Little Musing (and foul language, just an FYI)

So I just broke out the good whiskey (Crown XR for those who care about such things). Why? Well I have a few reasons. For one, this is my third post for the day, and for me, that’s a lot. Secondly, because Sannion is driving me to drink. In a good way. This is toasting whiskey, so a toast to him.

He wrote a great post about writers in the community, and how basically everyone is full of crap. It definitely left me with a kill-the-phonies vibe ala Catcher in the Rye. There are days when I can’t tell when Sannion is being a jerk or when he’s being serious. Maybe like me he’s serious about being a jerk? It doesn’t really matter, because all I’m doing is gabbing. And he f**king called it.

So anyway, he was wondering where all the other folks in Hellenism are at. You know, people who aren’t writers. The sad thing is, while it may be his fingers doing the typing, there’s a part of me that’s damn sure he’s not the one speaking. Sannion is the tool of a god. You don’t have to believe it. I’m not even sure I believe it, but there’a a part of me that knows I’m right (because I usually am). We need to start doing things. We need to really come together if we want to create a community. I’ve seen the posts everywhere, too, so you can’t say, at least nominally, that you don’t want it.

Sannion also talked about leadership, and went into it more with Suz in the comments (she’s pretty great, even if I’ve never really gotten to interact with her much). They talked about how people get pushed into leadership, and how that never works out well for people. There’s a problem with leadership though. It has to be wanted. But it’s a catch-22, because we inherently mistrust the people who want to lead. We have cautionary tales about groups that became insular because of self-aggrandizing leaders. I get that and that sucks, but here’s the deal: if someone doesn’t want to do a job, are they going to do a good job? Hell no. One of the reasons the military works so well (and let;s face it, it works better than anything you civilians can really imagine, even when it doesn’t) is because you don’t get to pick your leaders. If you get a shitty commander, you deal with him or her until another one comes along to replace them in two years.

I’ve thought about starting groups before, but I put up with too little bullshit to really make that happen. I’m what you’d call a hyper-conservative. If I could, I’d go back in time to Sparta, then throw myself from the cliff because I have psoriasis, and the Spartans wouldn’t have any of that shit. I really live up to my name’s etymology, and I’m as unmoving in my positions as a stone monument; it literally takes a force of nature to get me to move. Don;t get me wrong, I know what I’m doing and I have the experience, but even if it’s something a community might need, my impatience for stupidity wouldn’t allow it.

Part of the problem is due to the nature of the internet. Sannion talked longingly of days past when people got to get together to do ritual and yada yada yada. Then the internet happened and we were given choices. Choice, contrary to what republicans (the system advocates, not the party) may posit, does not actually make people happy, especially when we get all the choices the internet offers. Don’t like Hellenion? Join Neokoroi. Still not a fan? How about Elaion? There are (or at least were) plenty of groups, fora, and mailing lists. So what happened? Choice happened. The days Sannion and Suz and the other folks miss–they had one choice: participate or be alone.

I can say I’ve tried not being just a writer. The truth is probably less than that. My ego is even disappointed, and there isn’t enough collective data-space in the world to fit my ego. Also, as nice as it would be to be a “professional pagan”, that doersn’t pay the bills, and I’m not the kind of person who is okay with merely getting by. Maybe that’s why I love Ares so much: the world really is not enough. So I guess I’ll go out and start taking things over. Gotta make the big man proud after all. And Sannion, if you’re reading this, I owe you a drink, and you’ll have to come out into the world to get it.

17 comments on “A Little Musing (and foul language, just an FYI)

  1. I confess I love to write…whether it is essays, my little booklets (which I am kinda lagging behind on ha ha), devotional poetry etc. However one of the reasons why I don’t get around to writing as much as I should is that I am busy doing things. I do a lot of devotions for my gods, and try to get involved with the locals as much as I can manage with my interest, and then there is my crafting and various projects (most of which are of spiritual nature) that takes up oodles of time. Of course it is important for people to *do* things, but I cannot fault people who enjoy writing about what they know, as I do it myself. In fact it often fills in the gaps for me of stuff that I have spent less time personally looking at myself…because I only have so much time as I said above 😉 So there is value in writing, so long as that is not *only* what they are doing and have an otherwise involved religious life.

  2. pthelms says:

    Yeah, he goes into that, too. I do more than just write, but writing is what I do primarily. I just wished I was the right person to be in a community, but my standards are too high, I’m a judgmental, harsh, crumudgeonly person. I just can’t out that aside. :-/

  3. ladyimbrium says:

    I’ve been using the community-destroying internet to help me find community in the first place. It’s hard to locate anyone down here in the county that’s stuck in 1910 who won’t immediately attempt to exorcise me or something. Still, I also just saw a call from a local paper (legit- I checked the writer out and she’s ok, so is the paper) for interviewees of “pagan or wiccan faith” and I think I’ll see if I can’t rattle a few cages.

  4. Oh, I’m reading. This is one of my favorite blogs, and I wasn’t just blowing smoke up your ass when I said that on the radio. I appreciate your bold views and the way you proudly carry the standard of Ares, who doesn’t get near enough attention and respect in my opinion. (And I’m sure he doesn’t give two shits about that, which is what makes him so awesome.)

    And this post was awesome, too.

    You hit a nail right on the head with this, a nail I wasn’t about to go after considering my history. You see, one of the reasons the Hellenic community is floundering is the complete lack of leadership. Hellenics can’t get shit done without leaders and yet they despise and tear apart their leaders any chance they get.

    Back in the day I was an effective leader, but not a very good one because it’s not really in my nature to lead. But I got results because I was uncompromising. I had a vision of how things needed to be and you either got on board with that vision or you went somewhere else. I could see what people’s strengths were and had no problem coaxing them into the positions they needed to be in. I believed that people should have a voice and decision in how things were done — directly proportionate to the amount of effort they contributed to the group. And that voice was fine, until it ran up against the principles by which the group was run. Then you could just fuck off.

    Clearly the approach worked. We left all the other Hellenic groups in the dust. We had a calendar of festivals (which people actually kept and talked about keeping) worked out, a website that was the envy of the internet for its breadth of primary sources and original content contributed by members, weekly rituals and prayer requests, successful literary and artistic contests, members were out in the community doing classes and workshops and leading public rituals, our forum averaged thousands of comments a month (intelligent, creative and drama-free comments at that) and we were also publishing a bunch of books.

    But then people started complaining. Saying that I was mean and bossy and didn’t let folks have enough say in how the group was run. On top of that I was exhausted and my personal practice was suffering because all the momentum was coming from me.

    So I took a step back and let folks have more say in how things were done, eased all my restrictions so anyone who wanted could join. And it all pretty much went to shit from there. It got so bad I ended up having to leave the group and by all accounts the shittiness hastened. All those things I just mentioned disappeared practically overnight, except for the books which they’re still churning out. Which I give them credit for – other groups can’t even manage to produce a newsletter. But this was supposed to be a religious group, not a publishing house.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. Fix the leadership problem – either by getting proper leaders or a group of people who can direct themselves in their endeavors – and you’ll fix the community.

    • Aj / Melia says:

      Unfortunately, you can’t force people to participate. When you left you took whatever leadership skills you claim not to have with you. I’m not a leader and have never claimed to be one. Hell I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing. So while it wasn’t started to be a publishing house, at least it has produced some great devotionals.

  5. pthelms says:

    “Nice” really is ruining the world.

  6. Helen Katlinebsite says:

    Maybe I’m too new or too dumb to really contribute here, but I have the internet to thank for coming across Hellenic communities. And I’m grateful for that.
    I think I agree with what you say about leadership though. But that’s just what I think

  7. Meg says:

    I was doing good writing for a couple of years – probably 2009-2011. And then I stopped and went utterly silent. Partially it was because I was having a crisis of faith, partially it was getting a Real Life Job(TM), and partially it was because I got tired of experiencing the gods through the keyboard. I selfishly (and joyously) walked away from the online community, and I’ve spent the last two years worshiping Ares and Hermes through sword fighting, exercise, and trying to become a model of what I feel their chief virtues were. My community building’s pretty much been directed elsewhere as well (mostly to HEMA, the “sword fighting” sport… think fencing, but longswords and medieval manuals instead of car antennae.) And honestly, it’s been a good life. Actually living and practicing the physical side of things, rather than just the scholarly, has something to be said for it.

    That said, I miss you guys. And I am glad you still write and carry the torch here in the world where you can be seen.

  8. […] Pete does the same, but with more foul language: […]

  9. Kullervo says:

    Also, I have to say that the best whiskey for my money is Black Maple Hill. Absolutely phenomenal quality for price (should be around $40-$50 for a bottle but easily holds its own with Pappy Van Winkle, for which you’ll pay four times as much, if you can ever find a bottle for sale).

  10. rgarvey says:

    “Don’t like Hellenion? Join Neokoroi. Still not a fan? How about Elaion? There are (or at least were) plenty of groups, fora, and mailing lists. So what happened? Choice happened. The days Sannion and Suz and the other folks miss–they had one choice: participate or be alone.”

    From my (admittedly Christian) perspective, that reminds me of the people who hop from church to church and never commit to a community. I envy the Mormon “stake” system…there’s one church for every certain amount of members in an area, and if you live in that area, you go to that church. No other options.

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