I’m going to break tone for an entry, here. I’m also shelving the bull cults paper I promised — at least for a couple weeks; no sense in throwing out a project I’ve already put a good deal of work into — since I just wrote a lengthy Pazuzu article and have an equally lengthy post on ritual purity for the Kemetic Round Table queued for tomorrow.
Writing that Pazuzu article over the past few days sparked a series of tangential thoughts about community.
I have all the community I feel I need in terms of my Kemetic practice (though that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop working to see that community succeed and improve). While the few friends and co-religionists I have in that area are often considered heterodox and unpopular within Kemeticism at large, and though we communicate predominantly through digital means, we’re able to study together, and share with each other, without going at each other’s throats or forcing everyone else involved to conform to any given individual’s doxa or praxis. We actually find it pleasant that no two members of our small group are the same. Each of us has a lot to bring to the table, and we actually let people bring things to the table. No one person ever dominates the group. No one person is worshiped as “Fearless Leader.” We functionally collaborate as a team.
Admittedly, I do sometimes become irritated by the lack of interest in theological exploration and debate within the Kemetic sphere outside the small circle of friends I belong to, but I can still connect with Kemetics of most persuasions (with the exception of Afrocentrists or other racists of various persuasions). The bickering can be bad at times, but it’s not overtly terrible — at least, not for me, since I avoid the intellectual morasses eCauldron and Tumblr like the Black Death. And although I’m not in total agreement with every aspect of Kemetic Orthodoxy, I can still respect and rely on my fellow Remetj and Shemsu. Even if we don’t necessarily agree on theological interpretation, we still generally get along. I can call them my “Temple family,” because they’re kind and reliable, which is exceptionally rare among various Polytheist communities. At the end of the day, we still pray together.
Where Kemeticism generally tends to succeed, Mainstream Heathenry generally fails. Hard. I still honor some of the Norse Gods, but I’ve since become fed up with most of the Mainstream Norse Polytheist community with its incessant infighting, organization-trenching, baseless Loki-bashing, LGBTQ-ostracizing, sexism, and anti-intellectualism. The only people who follow the Norse Gods that I still interact with are my husband; a few respectable authors (who are unnecessarily slandered by the Mainstream Heathen community); a rational handful of fellow academics in the fields of Theology, Medieval Studies, and Scandinavian Studies; and a few sane, reasonable friends I made through networking within the Mainstream Heathen crowd before I TARDIS’ed that cluster. Heathenry in general is rife with brutish childishness, which I cannot abide, nor will it succeed as an overall minority religious movement if such stupid, counter-intuitive behavior is allowed to continue. It has become more about cults of personality than about the Gods and helping each other out as minority religionists who are ultimately in the same boat.
But, at least I have some sense of community in regard to Heathenry, even if it is small and the overwhelming majority of Mainstream Heathens make my skin crawl.
When it comes to the Akkadian aspect of my personal practice, I really don’t have anyone. Sure, some of my friends like Pazuzu, or Ištar, but I don’t have any fellow Akkadian Polytheists to talk History and Theology with. I have a couple friends with their fingers securely dipped in the Natib Qadish pudding, and while Canaanite Polytheism has a lot in common with Akkadian (and Egyptian) Polytheism, and while I do enjoy interacting with Canaanite Polytheists . . . it’s just not the same. I feel rather alone in this aspect of my personal practice.
My actual worship of the Gods is solitary, since I view prayer and ritual as deeply personal things that don’t always need to be conducted publicly. It’s hard for me to concentrate on ritual or prayer when there are other people in the room. Still, I crave connecting intellectually and exchanging ideas and methods with people who are actually religiously invested in a particular discipline, not just academically. That is what truly accelerates my religious progress.
It’s really hard to talk about Akkadian concepts or publish articles about Gods like Pazuzu on a religious blog when seemingly no one else in that hemisphere gives an engaged damn about Akkadian beliefs and practices, when virtually no one can give feedback and intelligently challenge interpretations. I’m stuck with a bunch of Classical Studies and Assyriological books and historical journals for the most part. It’s very one-sided and incredibly empty, even for someone who once attended University for these things. Despite popular misconception, academics need communities, too. Books can only give a person so much.