῾αγνον χρη ναοιο θυωδεος εντος ιοντα
᾽εμμεναι, ἁγνεια δ᾽εστι φρονειν ὀσια.
“He who goes inside the sweet-smelling temple must be pure.
Purity is to think religiously correct thoughts.”
I think this quote from the temple of Asclepius at Epidaurus really hits at something essential about spiritual purity. It begins in the mind, in how we each choose to cultivate and develop our inner landscape. At its core, purity – being free of miasma and in a state of spiritual integrity—begins with cultivation of the mind: thinking correct thoughts, desiring correct things, having the correct priorities. Those things are all within our capacity to acquire. We control whether or not we are successful here. No one else can do this for us.
What is correct? That is for the devotee and his or her Gods to figure out with the scaffolding of one’s tradition and perhaps one’s elders and diviners as helpful guides. The important thing is to know that it is fully within our capacity to develop habits of “religiously correct thoughts.” This is something each person can do. Like devotion, it’s a matter of choosing to take responsibility for what goes on in our heads and hearts and choosing to work at that daily.
This is why it’s important to consider carefully what we allow to take up residency in our minds. What we fill our thoughts with, what we allow free reign within ourselves will shape us in relation to holy things.
“We’re in a moment that’s about nihilism. And somewhere along that slippery slope from moral laziness — which all of us have — to outright nihilism hangs the future of our republic, I think.” — Pete Buttigieg
This is something that our communities are facing too, make no mistake. I think that with the way that nihilism is bleeding over into our communities, that the next few years are going to be very, very challenging if we want to grow something that is properly focused on the Gods and truly sustainable.
I’ve been meditating on Sigyn quite a lot the last few days. My husband has a poem about Her in his new book (which will be available shortly) and I want to share a line from it that so perfectly encapsulates Her power:
“She is as old as the mountains and as young as yearning.”
However She chooses to present Herself, this, more than anything else I’ve ever read on Her, or at least that i’ve read in a very long while, so beautifully describes Her.
“Between “orthodoxy” and “orthopraxy”, I privilege neither, but rather affirmation of the Gods Themselves. This is not reducible to “orthodoxy”, because there can be multiple doxai concerning Them, nor to “orthopraxy”, because practices can and do change.”
–Edward Butler, Phd
“I love traditions because I love the Gods, not the other way around.” — Edward Butler, PhD.
“Of course materialism in general creates a bias toward monotheism, because everything incorporeal is reduced to some material or semi-material continuum, whether, e.g., of texts, or of psychological experience, which, whatever else it does, reduces the phenomena to unity.” — Edward Butler, PhD
Chas. Clifton continues the discussion about religion, politics, and the Gods on his blog here. He also offers what I find a quite profound comment about living as a polytheist:
“That is the polytheistic view of life. The world is a mess. The world is beautiful. The gods are eternal (or as good as). The gods work at cross-purposes, and sometimes humans are caught between them.”
This is something that our ancestors knew, I think, but that we have forgotten. Anyway, his article is worth a read.
Every culture is worth preserving because every culture has a different way of relating to the Gods, of honoring them and singing their names. Every culture has a different language, different words for beauty and love and anger and sun and rain; and, therefore, different ways of seeing and understanding and relating to the world and all those who inhabit it. Every culture should be preserved because it has inherent value in and of itself, and the world becomes a less vibrant, less artful, less musical, less beautiful place when we lose one.
In an ideal world, cultures (and people) would meet as equals, and the resulting exchange of food, words, art, and ideas would enrich everyone.