I wanted to be a layperson. I wanted to be an individual who, upon finding a path to walk, performed tasks in support of those who did the work. I wanted to read, and learn, and follow, and apply well-formulated concepts to my everyday life. Through this work, I would be part of something established – something rooted in history, something true.
And…I found the holes in the history. Tons of information about priests and priestly rituals, and rituals of the king, and temples, and 473 different calendars but little to nothing for ordinary people. No records, and little to no archaeological evidence. And…I found the holes in community and one cannot be a congregation member without a congregation. And…I found that religion of the state, while a functional model in some cases, wasn’t possible in diaspora because (1) there is no state and (2) it needs ordinary people to prop it up.
When absorbed by religious ritual and the Things That Must Be Done to Keep the Universe Rolling it isn’t easy to also make sure that the Things That Must Be Done to Keep Me Alive and Functioning also get done. But, the priests need to eat. The king needs to drink. The scribes need a roof over their heads. People have needs and being involved in the sacred doesn’t make anyone less a person (although, when one comes to think of it, the whole god-king thing might make that up for debate. Or not.) Without the support of the ordinary person, state religion falls on its face – the people busy with Keeping Things Going need someone else to build their houses, brew their beer, and hoe their multitude of onions for the Festival of Chewing Said Onions.
(Btw, chewing onions? Not for the faint of heart, although onion variety plays a significant role in how long one can keep it up. I like Maui.)
I have a really hard time understanding the need for specialness that seems to be out there in greater Pagandom, but at the same time I recognize the ton of irony in the fact that I was perfectly happy to be an ordinary person in a support role, to be an un-speshul snowflake, to not have direct deity relationships…and then I got god-smacked upside the head. Here’s the thing, though – my experience wasn’t an ordinary one. I don’t know how to spell it out any more plainly to those new people asking about finding patron gods, or developing a personal relationship with Deity – this shit doesn’t happen for anyone and, really, though you may think you want it you probably don’t.
Seriously: the world needs more ordinary people. There’s joy and ecstasy and meaning and power (if these are things you want) in being part of the support team. You doesn’t have to move mountains with your mind to have a meaningful religious experience. All you need to do is live and work and play and know you are part of the Whole.
You are Divine. Now, go hoe some onions!