Last night, I was adding some data to a baseball stats database that I am creating. I had the internet radio player on and was listening to something called “The Moth Radio hour” which I happened to stumble across while looking for some kind of background noise. Krista Tippett, the creator and voice of the podcast “On Being” happened to be on. She was talking about her late grandfather and how her experiences with his “preacher” occupation had led her to ask some of the questions that she does. During that, she was stating some of the questions that she regularly goes through in her head, and she stated one that really intrigued me. I even stopped entering data to sit and contemplate the depth in relation to some of my own communities – the Pagan community and the Polytheist community.
What are we to each other?
A lot of what I do, particularly in my journal writings is a lot of navel gazing. Or if you prefer, a much narrower focus than a question like this. I have my own approach to the two Gods and the single Goddess that hold interest in me. Crow, Coyote, and Fliodhas all particular interests within my life. Each have provided – and continue to do so – lessons that I have needed to learn. But there are other teachers that hold places in my understanding of the world around me.
I podcast occasionally. I write blog posts where I get the chance to set out my perspective on daily life and many other topics. I read posts by many Polytheists where they detail their perspectives on approaching the Gods, the Goddesses, the Spirits of Place, and the Spirits of Ancestor. There are, literally, connections and interconnectivity that is made everywhere.
I have had the chance to meet so many people whose works, music, and talks have inspired me in so many ways. And I have had the chance to meet people who say that I have inspired them to search within themselves in a direction that they had never thought of. And there are those that I have never met, and yet have made a connection with them. Stepping back to Tippett’s question, who are these people to me? And the unanswerable side of that question – what am I to them?
For some, to some degree, I am a consumer of their goods, their output from their talents. I get free pdf copies of books, but I still go out and buy the books from the authors. Many of the musicians have provided their music to me for free. I still go out and purchase their music. Many of the folks who have provided me with copies of their talks, I have added myself as a “patron” of their materials through websites such as Patreon. I do this, so that these folks get compensated and can continue to share their talents with world around them. For them, I am a believer in what they are doing. I want to see them become successful at this, so that they can continue to produce such lovely and inspiring works for everyone.
Some of them, I have been lucky enough to cultivate a friendship with them. I have found them to be wonderful, giving, and caring friends. Some have only shared small parts of their lives with me, while others have welcome me into their lives as a family member would. To whatever depth that may be, I treasure each and every one of these people. I am fiercely protective of them, as I consider them all to be a part of my wider family, no matter the degree or depth of our shared bond.
But all of this showcases the depth of the connectivity that I have achieved with some folks in the Pagan community. What about others? The people I meet at Festivals, Gatherings, Rituals, and Conventions that I can only nod to in passing? Who are these people to me? Who are these people to you?
Being only one person in a communities as wide and diverse as Polytheism and Paganism, I cannot (and would not) attempt to answer for anyone else. For me, these folks that I walk past in Conventions, meet only once at a Ritual, etc etc — these people are family to me as well. But far more distant. Being that they are somewhat unknown to me, I am slightly more wary of them. But they are Pagans, as I am. Or maybe not. They could be sympathetic monotheists attending a Ritual or Convention out of curiosity or a desire to broaden their knowledge. But to me, they are no different than I am. They are people, struggling to make their way through life in the ways that they understand, comprehend, and find as a capable method for themselves.
In the end, I have to fall back to the concept that was derived for the most part from the Hippy movement – Be kind to another. As an individual of an alternative lifestyle, I know that acceptance of what and who I am is somewhat minimal by many within the so-called “mainstream” society. But none of that changes how I approach the rest of the world. I accept that people will follow concepts and teachings that seem most comfortable to them. So long as they do no harm to others, I am perfectly fine with it.
Who are these people? These fellow travelers on similar Paths to my own? Who are they to me? Well, they are people that think somewhat similar to me. Some of them approach the Gods and Goddesses in a similar vein as I do. Many of them are finding, experiencing, and defining the connectivity in their own worlds, just as I am. Regardless of similarity or disagreement in who we approach things in our lives – they are just as I am, and I should treat them with dignity and respect, even when they do not do the same for me. And all of this runs deeper than human beings. Animals, plants, rocks, soil, the planet, the stars, the Gods, the Goddesses, the Spirits of Place, the Spirits of Ancestor — all creation deserves that same dignity and respect. I might still be puzzling out some aspects of who all of this is to me, but regardless of that connection – there has to be dignity and respect at its core. Even if nots given in reciprocity.