The Accidental Syncretist

I have a deep yearning for artificial simplicity.

Back when I converted to Kemeticism, it was like coming home. It was like falling in love. It was this intense experience, an actual genuine conversion experience, and it was a big damn deal for me. I went out, I found a group to join, and I settled down to do the thing. I did regular ritual, and it fed me like no other ritual had before; I found language and framework to articulate theological and philosophical concepts I had been kicking around for years but couldn’t talk about coherently because I didn’t have a structure for them; I had a lovely honeymoon.

And then I had one of those Experiences, which told me “This isn’t enough for you.”

And I didn’t like that. I didn’t want it to be not enough.

And I chewed on it for a long time, and I did research, and I started exploring in the direction I had been shoved, and it turned out, several years later, that it was indeed not enough for me.

So I started doing other stuff too. And I built an artificial simplicity: I will do this, and I will do that too, and there is this illusion of multiplicity to work with, and I do not cross the streams.

There was a fascinating thing about doing other stuff more deeply, more thoroughly, and with more devotion: the more other stuff I did, the more it all looked like the same stuff. Here, this symbol matches that symbol, with similar resonances; here, this goal looks like that goal viewed from a different angle. And that was okay, that was a thing where I did the work and suddenly I was building a deeper framework because I was doing two things.

I’m okay with it when it feels like work.

And then …

… and then it gets different …

… and the artificial simplicities, the this-and-that, they break down, they fall away, there is this gaping chasm, and after the fall there is …

actual simplicity.

And the parts of me that crave the neat and tidy boundaries scream. (But if you’re not being scared by something, you’re probably not doing something deep? People ask me how to make it safe, and I wonder what they’re looking for.) I do believe the Powers of Egypt can reveal themselves in the rest of the world (because otherwise what would be the damn point?), and yet having a Power present herself in symbology and structure from another part of the world makes me panic.

And I talk to people about it, and they say, “Yeah, that makes sense. I can see it.” I can see it too! I just … there are parts of me that don’t want to. That don’t want this additional tie-together of all the things I do as one thing, as a coherent thing of all sorts, that doesn’t want it to be that easy, because the ease of it feels like the moment when the audience shouts, “Don’t go in there! It’s a trap!” (It’s quiet. Too quiet.)

I don’t have Sannion’s holy-unholy glee about it. It scares me too much.

To lose the artificiality. The neat lines, the tidy categories that I never really believed in but clung to nonetheless.

So I go with it, of course. Because otherwise, what would be the damn point?

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6 thoughts on “The Accidental Syncretist

  1. Grace says:

    This: “I do believe the Powers of Egypt can reveal themselves in the rest of the world (because otherwise what would be the damn point?), and yet having a Power present herself in symbology and structure from another part of the world makes me panic.”

    Though my focus is Gaelic, I really identify with this. Reconstructionist training and syncretism are uneasy bedfellows, but how do you keep them apart when you do the work, unless you lock yourself in a tiny box?

    • kiya_nicoll says:

      The reconstructionist paradigm has its weak points, and this is one of them, for sure. (And while this blog is primarily recon-paradigm focused, it would be dishonest of me to not note this kind of thing.)

      But the work leads where the work leads. And sometimes the tiny box is an eggshell, and growing means it cracks….

  2. Anarchivist says:

    This is really interesting to me for a lot of reasons … Partly because my nature is syncretic (in all things, not just spirituality), and plenty of people will say that means I’m running away from something, by not sticking in one metaphorical place. But I think reality is syncretic! :) Also because it reminds me of when I first start dating my husband, and we had a talk about how “this just seems too easy. And whoa — maybe it’s actually supposed to be easy!” Now we’ve been happy for 14 years … but I haven’t seemed to be able to get that lesson of going with what’s obvious into the rest of my life the way I’d like to (in right livelihood, for example). And because when I was at church with my dad on Sunday, they did communion, so they were talking about the historical last supper, And I thought, hey: modern Christianity is also a reconstructed religion! They just forget that, because it still “exists” in a radically evolved form.
    Lots of food for thought!

    • kiya_nicoll says:

      One of my jokes about my wibbly-wobbly religious path is that I have returned to the religion of my ancestors.

      The Puritans.

      By which I mean “Unitarian Universalism.”

      (This is also my favorite illustration of Problems With Reconstruction.)

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