Pagan Piety Survey Answers

About this post, “BNPs” and pagan drama:

Well, I was all ready to post this.  Then Sannion declared that piety was going to be the next big pagan brouhaha.  And I was like, didn’t we just do that last month?  So I trashed it.

I love Sannion for the work he’s does for Dionysos, and because many of his poems and essays helped me immeasurably when I first encountered our God.  His projects are hit and miss with me – though I hardly think he has become the evil thing he’s being accused of.  (Hear that?  You need to try harder.)  I admit I enjoy watching him stir up shit, in a voyeuristic way – I’ve got a thing for internet drama and train wrecks.  It’s not something I’m proud of.  

(I actually can get behind this week’s stated purpose for the drama.  I wonder how I’ll feel about next week’s.  Sannion has begun to remind me more than a bit of the Joker explaining how he got his scars.)  

Apparently, though he’s gotten a bit under my skin this time.  And to hell with that.

So I thought WTF?!  And I restored it.  

So I emailed my responses to Elizabeth, but I figured I’d post them here (with some minor editing to accommodate this format.)  Since I’m asking you all to share, it seems only fair that you get to see what I had to say on the subject:

1. Name (real or “Craft name”)

– Agathi

3. Age, gender, geographic location (country, state/province, and/or city).

– 42, F, Northern California

4. How long have you been Pagan/polytheistic?

– 20+ years

5. What is your tradition (i.e. Wiccan, reconstructionist Heathen, eclectic, etc.)

– “Polytheist/pagan with strong Hellenic influence, valuing both the techniques of reconstructionism and personal inspiration ”  Or, just, “eclectic.”

6. Do you have any patron gods/goddesses or deities you are especially close to? If so, who are They?

– Dionysos

7. How do you define your own relationship(s) to the gods? For instance, do you view one or more of Them as your beloved or spouse, or are They more like parents to you? Do you consider Them friends, allies, mentors? All of the above? None of the above? How does this differ between various gods?

– All of the above?  None of the above?  The relationship is fluid.  I consider Them Gods.

Right now Dionysos seems a bit like the really cool kid I had a crush on in high school who occasionally deigned to notice me – but that says more about me than Him.  I’m hoping that relationship will continue to grow and change.  Or more like a really awesome teacher I have a crush on, who will inevitably end up getting fired by the administration for teaching the kiddies all the “wrong” things.

8. How do you define “piety” as it relates to Paganism/modern polytheism?

– Giving the Gods what They are due.  Actively practicing one’s faith.   Understanding one’s place in the relationship.

9. Do you find this to be a useful or relevant term concerning your own relationship with the gods? Is it relevant to Paganism/modern polytheism in general?

– I think piety is a relevant term for me.  I struggle to be more pious.  I think a lot of pagans find it irrelevant and that saddens me.

10. Is it possible to be pious without an established dogma or authority? Why or why not?

– I believe this is absolutely possible.  In the end my relationship with the Gods is between me and Them.  They are the authority.  They’ll let me know if I’ve gone astray.

11. Is there anything you consider impious (i.e. behavior, modes of worship)? Why?

– For me, personally, all the online fan-girly gushing about dates with Loki etc (to use a common example) strikes me as impious.  Not “Godspousery” (<- is that a word?) itself – that’s an intense form of devotion that I have great respect for – but those who act as if they are gossiping about their wonderful new boyfriend.  It makes me question the nature of the relationship, if it even exists at all.

But that’s me looking from the outside.  It would be impious for me to behave that way, but I freely admit I can’t know what their Gods ask of them.

12. Are you for or against the establishment and observance of rules about piety in your particular tradition and/or within Pagan/polytheist religion in general? Please explain your response.

– I don’t have a tradition, so I can’t answer the first part.

As for the second, absolutely against it.  Pagan/polytheist religion doesn’t exist.  Pagan and polytheistic religions are so diverse that to try to have one rule for all would be absurd.  I have no problem with the establishment of rules about piety or, you know, beard length or whatever, within individual traditions.

13. Further comments, thoughts, observances?

– I’m right in the middle of this debate.  On the one hand, I believe every individual’s relationship with their Gods is unique, so I try not to judge it from the outside.  On the other hand, some practices seem so absurd I simply cannot take them seriously.

I see something like Galina’s recent blog post about the elaborate meals she prepares as an offering to her Gods and I applaud her piety and devotion.  And yet I disagree with her demands that we all do the same.  We could all be more pious, yes.  But we are not all cut out to be priests and mystics and to dedicate the majority of our time and resources to religion.  Modern pagan and polytheistic religions need to have room in them for “lay pagans.”  They will never survive and grow otherwise.

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