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Info & Updates / Re: Announcement: Putting the Forum into Hibernation
« Last post by Danica Swanson on November 05, 2019, 09:54:00 PM »
Update: We've received several requests to leave the forum posts public for awhile longer, especially the Call For Submissions for Janet Munin's upcoming anthology on polytheistic monasticism. So feel free to keep reading the forum for now.

I'll provide advance notice of any further changes.
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Info & Updates / Announcement: Putting the Forum into Hibernation
« Last post by Danica Swanson on October 14, 2019, 02:51:10 PM »
Greetings, everyone.

After much agonizing, we have decided to put the Polytheist Monastic forum in "extended hibernation" soon. The founders are unable to maintain it, and we have not found anyone who can take the reins.

We put a great deal of time and work into building this community-owned forum, and we still believe in the importance of its mission, so it hurts to make this decision. Sadly, though, we've hit a wall. We've tried everything we can think of and we've run out of options. We don't want to simply leave it in extended stasis.

Here's a longer explanation of the combination of factors that brought us to this decision:

* We were hurt badly by three weeks of unplanned downtime, and we're STILL experiencing tech issues (e.g., the Knowledge Base, including the FAQ and info pages, can't even be seen). We've been unable to find a proper fix, even after WeepingCrow relocated the forum to a more reliable web host.

* WeepingCrow, who is the back-end tech person, is now unavailable due to a jam-packed school and work schedule. We've been unable to find a tech person to take over his duties, or even to serve as a backup.

* I cannot carry the full workload and responsibility of community management and content admin work myself, especially not on a volunteer basis with no tech backup (plus a day job and many other commitments.) Wonderful as our moderators have been, the forum's needs still exceed our collective capacities.

* For a variety of reasons, many members are no longer contributing here, despite having expressed continued interest.

* Although we put out several calls for help through our networks over the past couple of months, no one else stepped up that has the necessary combination of skills, interest, and availability.

All things considered, we decided we preferred to let it hibernate rather than allow it to remain visible but in extended limbo. We know that there is still a lot of interest in the subject matter…but we don't see any viable alternative that doesn't rely on huge amounts of unpaid labor from people who are already overloaded.

WeepingCrow and I will pay the hosting and domain renewal costs while it's in hibernation. We'll keep the database and all the forum posts preserved exactly as they are, and we'll keep the domain name active.

We plan to "put it into extended sleep" on November 5th, six months after we launched it. After that date, when you visit polytheistmonastic.com you'll simply see a message that we're in extended hibernation and we hope to wake up again around the time that Janet Munin's anthology on polytheistic monasticism is published.

In the meantime, we're happy to answer questions and direct our members to other resources. You can always contact the staff at:

polytheistmonastic [at] gmail.com

Best wishes to you all, and we sincerely hope we'll see you here again one day.

- Danica Swanson and Roger Finney (WeepingCrow)
Co-Founders of Black Stone Abbey and polytheistmonastic.com
https://blackstoneabbey.substack.com
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Laity Discussion / Re: Discernment and Legitimisation
« Last post by James Miller on October 04, 2019, 07:30:01 AM »
I resonate with so much of this it is hard to know were to start.

 

I'll try! Following the Ways of Non-Contrivance means cultivating space for "emergent" (uncontrived) contemplative practice. Broadly speaking, the intention behind it is to shape the monastic structures for Black Stone Abbey through guidance arrived at by "bottom up" spontaneous animist intuitions rather than imposing structures through "top down" centralized planning. Following the Ways of Non-Contrivance means creating conditions that invite a certain quality of attentive engagement with the world - an ease that flows from silence, solitude, "doing nothing," and deep listening. There's no way to codify the Ways of Non-Contrivance because they're different for each monastic, and as I understand it, that's entirely by design.


Love this. I think it is good to remember that all the forms of monasticism that we see as 'established' for legit started off very much like we are- bottom up. Be that Buddhist, Christian, or otherwise. In many early forms there was a lot of overlap between "laity" and monks and the hieriarchies were pretty fluid. Folks experimented and over time found what worked, and did so in communities. The successful forms found rule sets and structures that fit their practice and the life they wanted to formulate. It is important to note that the practice comes before the 'rule' for even the vow in most cases. The practice works, then you communicate it and consolidate it into a more formal structure you can communicate and have to keep you on track. Then adjust when needed- communities help with that and broaden the 'experiment'. It has been said that monasticism is also empirical- in that it develops from practical experience.   I think monasticism needs a community- hermits are often, historically, still tied in some way to a larger community in their practices.

There is a Buddhist book called " Living by Vow" and I think it is a great text on vows and monastic life. As mentioned above a vow can be to the attention and right exercise of something, like sex or eating. The Vow is a way for us to live by our intentions and goals and not by the current of the rest of society or our own (often unexamined) habits. I see in this discussion (here and otherwise) a lot of carryover from forms of western Christian monastic and moral philosophy/spirituality that I think and polytheists we have to unpack a bit. I think that is why I tend to look to Buddhists, Mystic monastics (like Eastern Christians), and New Monasticism (like the groups WeepingCrow alluded to) models as they are far less moralistic ,built around contemporary experience, less "top down" and have a lot more gradients built in for practice esp in the moral sense.

For some interesting history "A desert a city" is a good text on early monastic formations.
 I also think about discernment a lot. It is hard sometimes to know how to interpret and make sure 'marching orders' are divine, understood well, or workable. I think a community can help us in that process or give us better ways to follow our callings, and paths. I think sometimes the 'structures' we find in communities of devotees gives us support to follow our paths in healthy ways. 

I really like the Rule of Awen and as I alluded to before I think it reflects a heart you see in a lot of early monastic formation in many traditions. I think and "structure"  and practices we form should support ones divine struggle with that rule.

Early Chrsitianity (and others like Buddhism) like Danica Mentions- generally took its clergy from monastics and even when they had non-monastic clergy their expectations were built off the monastic models. In many forms even the forms for life of the laity is built off of monastic forms as well (you see that in Eastern churches and old Catholics) . Even Monks who did not serve as clergy had a role in the community as part of its evolving life. In some sense everyone's Awen , even as a solitary, has its influence and connection to others.
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Info & Updates / Re: Recent Downtime
« Last post by Danica Swanson on August 21, 2019, 10:34:31 PM »
The avatar problem has been solved.

Excellent. Thank you for all your hard work behind the scenes, handling one problem after another. The forum is lucky to have you. Now that everything's back up to speed and functional, let's announce it on the Facebook groups and let people know we can get back to our regularly scheduled discussion. Three weeks of downtime is a lot, and I think some folks wondered if the forum was down for good. So we need to do a little nudging to remind people we're here again.

(P.S. I did notice that the change-over affected your "Positive Asceticism" article - it put a bunch of strange characters in place where the apostrophes were. We need to go through that and replace them all with proper punctuation so it's readable once again.)
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Info & Updates / Re: Recent Downtime
« Last post by WeepingCrow on August 21, 2019, 07:46:50 PM »
The avatar problem has been solved.
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Info & Updates / Re: Recent Downtime
« Last post by WeepingCrow on August 17, 2019, 06:36:56 PM »
Please note we are still having a problem with displaying and uploading avatars. We're looking into it. The rest of the site should be functional. Thank you for your patience.
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Info & Updates / Recent Downtime
« Last post by WeepingCrow on August 13, 2019, 11:47:42 PM »
We want to extend an immense apology for the recent downtime. It was unforeseen, and measures have been put in place to prevent it from happening again.

Our original host was updating software, but didn't provide a warning more than a couple hours before starting. Unfortunately, the updates broke the forum software. While working to fix this, the server suddenly became unavailable without explanation for several days.

The website has been moved to a new, hopefully more reliable host. This was an option available entirely thanks to the generosity of our members. Thank you for your support.

In the future, we'll try to warn the forum when downtime happens. If you ever have questions and the site is unavailable, the staff is available by email at polytheistmonastic@gmail.com.

Thank you to everyone for understanding.


[N.B. - Edited by Danica to remove a typo in the staff email contact address.]
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We should definitely chat! How? I have no idea haha... are you on facebook? Is there a chatting option on this forum? And I'm so sorry about your romantic relationship! That sounds like such a difficult choice! I'm glad to hear you haven't been challenged much, it's nice to know that some pagans out there are accepting of us! And me? Successful in my ventures? I'm not so sure haha, I didn't think I was, but maybe I am! Anyways, I am glad to meet you :)
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Hey hey! Fellow transman here! So excited to see another self-dedicated priest out there! How did you become a priest? did you make a ritual, a dedication letter? Have you had lots of people challenge your priesthood? And how do you live out your priestly devotions? I'm so excited to meet you!

Hey! I'm probably in the same boat. I was going to make my graphic memoir what ordained me as a priest, but that's a longer term project... and I'm currently in the middle of a really painful crossroads because I think I'm being called away from the first successful romantic relationship I've ever had in my life to only pursue priesthood for the time being. I really like this person and want to pursue them as a life partner, but I'm currently discerning whether that is possible at this time.

Basically, I'm a priest because Apollo considers me one. I don't get many people who challenge me, actually, and quite a few people respect me for answering His call. However, I tend not to interface with too many other pagans at this point. Some groups in my area have popped up, but only just recently. Otherwise, I used to host a social gathering of pagans and the like in my area. I may just have to jump into the community-sided aspect of priesthood while I work on my graphic memoir, but I'd like to self-publish some zines in the mean time.

We should chat! I've been called to do more public ritual, but I'm not quite sure where to start. It sounds like you're doing well in your own pursuits and I'd like to hear more about it!
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Laity Discussion / Re: John Michael Greer: Toward a New Monasticism
« Last post by James Miller on July 21, 2019, 06:01:03 PM »
As far as communities I think  Zen Monasteries and Monastic life developing  in the west would be good models to look at. The San Francisco Zen center and the attached Tassajara and Green gulch communities comes to mind. sfzc.org. I also think the New Monastic movement like  Shane Claiborne and related groups would also be insightful, esp when looking at married monastics, and folks with careers etc.

I find it challenging to assess what "ordinarily devout" is, and therefore, what constitutes "unusually devout." ...

It's even harder for me to figure out what "ordinarily devout" means in the broader world of Paganism.  It's easier if we start, perhaps, with polytheism as the foundational community, then query what polytheists do in devotion to their gods -- how often, how much, what and when and where and why... and then are there unusually devout folks?  I feel like I don't have enough data of the lay of the polytheist land to understand where I stand on that spectrum.

I think you are on to it here. There needs to be development in the monastic and 'lay' movements (and everything in between). In the development of lay and monastic communities in other traditions you see a back and forth between lay and monastic over time as they shape each other. Polytheism needs the monastic forms to grow and begin to grow so the lay and monastic can develop together similarly.
 I think the language is a bit hard to deal with in this situation. More and less devout sounds judgey.  I know in some groups (like Zen and Eastern Orthodox Church - EOC) some times monks and laity interact a lot. In some places Laity move near the monasteries in order to have some of that spirituality and life while not being monks.
 I have a friend in the EOC who is a monastic in a group in which he lives on his own and goes to a regular parish but lives a monastic rule and has a relation to a monastic order based a couple states away. (this is also a group that is EOC in theology but uses some Anglican forms). He is not seen as more devout- just (called to) on a different path.
I find the spectrum a good thing and I don't think devotion is really the determination between the, it is more about the type of rule they choose for their relation with the divine. Monastic and lay are a part of the same fabric in a community. I knowin some EOC groups family life is called the domestic monastery.

 
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