Ascetic and worshiper of the old Gods in Clearwater, FL

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James Miller

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Ascetic and worshiper of the old Gods in Clearwater, FL
« on: May 14, 2019, 11:04:04 PM »
I have been interested in monasticism and asceticism since high-school (pre 2000). Religiously, I began in the evangelical world – moved into the Eastern Orthodox church were I helped start a parish and was minor clergy - I left before further ordination.  I think my turn to the EOC was the start of moving toward a pagan faith. The Eastern Orthodox Church interested me for many reasons, one was the relation their  monastic communities have to the liturgical life.   EOC spiritually is more directly related to the monastic life than other christian groups and it grew my appreciation and understanding of an ascetic calling. The Liturgies and practices  for laity are basically shorter versions of what monks do.  The more I studied the EOC monks and saints the more I realized they were a bit beyond what the church made them out to be and that their influences were wide, even pagan. I was growing in a contemplation practice (rooted in the monastic tradition) and hit a wall (partially because I was not close to a monastery)  I became interested  in Zen Buddhism as a way to move forward (actually kinda common in EOC circles). I slowly found that I was thinking about and understood the divine, cosmos, and my relation to them differently than the church.  I think much of this shift was related to what I was studying in my graduate education in folklore and philosophy. Over time I also realized I saw the EOC liturgy, theology, spirituality, and the liturgical  year in a more pagan way (I saw its roots) .  I also had issues with many of the stances the church took dogmatically.  So , after about 9 years I left the EOC officially in 2017. 

Upon leaving the EOC I continued studying and practicing Zen and eventually took vows and became a practice leader.  I grew a lot and I value it, but I felt something missing. It was the liturgy and a more active contact with the divine. While Zen has something like a pantheon   I felt drawn to the Gods and the Proto- into European narratives and deities. I had been teaching folklore and calendar customs for years  so I was familiar.- frankly I didn't realize how much I was influenced by paganism and how pagan I had become.   Becoming a pagan was definitively a gradual yet firm process for me.

I have a BS in religion/ biblical studies ; a BA in philosophy; an MA in Folk Studies; a Graduate Certificate in Gender and Women’s studies, and further doctoral work in the humanities. I am currently writing a dissertation on asceticism.  In my MA I focused on ritual, belief, intentional communities, and  calendar customs. I also completed the course work but stopped just short of completing a program for EOC clergy ordination. I have studied asceticism and monasticism  of a few traditions as a part of my graduate studies.

I am a member of ADF working through the dedicant program. I assume I will continue my studies with ADF after that as well.  I am a liturgist at heart and find the structure  in ADF a good place to work from.  I love ritual, practice,  and liturgy and find connection in a holistic liturgical practice. I am interested in using my background to develop more liturgical rites and processes for a more ascetic and monastic spirituality(s). I think that laity or the non-monastic benefit form the presence of monastics in their broader circles/spirituality. Laity and the monastic are just different paths for similar goals in many ways.  I am currently working with Proto Indo-European and Celtic deities as well as a focus on the earth, ancestors, and spirits.

Currently live in Bowling Green KY but I am relocating to the Clearwater FL area in June. In the free time I have I work on liturgies/rites, I like to make things ( I am a carpenter by trade)  read, write, and ride a bike when I can. (sorry for typos- excited to post)
« Last Edit: May 29, 2019, 09:43:03 AM by Danica Swanson »

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Danica Swanson

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Re: Ascetic and worshiper of the old Gods
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2019, 12:47:52 AM »
Welcome to the forum, James! Thanks for the fascinating intro.

I am a member of ADF working through the dedicant program. I assume I will continue my studies with ADF after that as well.  I am a liturgist at heart and find the structure in ADF a good place to work from...I am currently working with Proto Indo-European and Celtic deities as well as a focus on the earth, ancestors, and spirits.

Do you know about the Manual and Book of Liturgy from the Gnostic Celtic Church, compiled by John Michael Greer? It's published by the AODA, and it's one of the books I recommend most frequently to people who ask about monasticism within polytheist contexts. With your particular interest in liturgy, I recommend it even more (if you haven't read it already.)

(excited to post)

That's good to hear. I'd be interested to know how you found this forum. It's only ten days since we opened sign-ups to the public, and we've done very little publicity work so far, so it's nice that you found us already!

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James Miller

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Re: Ascetic and worshiper of the old Gods
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2019, 04:21:10 AM »
I found this via a post on an ADF Facebook page.

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Sage Ambue

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Re: Ascetic and worshiper of the old Gods
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2019, 06:49:54 AM »
I found this via a post on an ADF Facebook page.

I wonder if that's my doing. Hi, James - I'm Ellen on Facebook and I know I posted at least once to ADF about these forums. :) Glad to see you made it! I appreciate you sharing so much in your intro.

When you have a chance, I'd love to hear more about your experiences with Zen Buddhism. Also, I seem to know a great deal of folks on a druidic path who find their way to Zen - though that of course may just be confirmation bias.

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Lorna Smithers

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Re: Ascetic and worshiper of the old Gods
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2019, 01:36:34 AM »
Hello James and welcome :)

Thank you for sharing your fascinating journey through the EOC and Zen to Paganism. I've love to hear more about your development of liturgical rites for the  Proto Indo-European and Celtic deities (I'm a Brythonic polytheist) as well as your ascetic practices.

Intriguing to hear that, like many here, you've also got a philosophy background. I guess this shows that most monastically inclined people are led to contemplating the depths of our philosophical traditions.

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barefootwisdom

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Re: Ascetic and worshiper of the old Gods
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2019, 06:08:09 PM »
Welcome, James! And thank you for this introduction. There's a lot that jumps out at me here.

One thing that I did not mention in my own intro (simply for sake of brevity) is that, while I was raised in the Roman Catholic church, my last stop on the way out from that familiy of traditions was in Byzantine (eastern rite) Catholicism, finding my way both into and out of that community for many similar reasons to your EOC story. Though I didn't initially realize it, the Eastern church was moving me much closer to paganism, and in addition to the monastic ethos, had a kind of joy and celebration of life about it—in sharp contrast to the more dour world-denying approach of the western traditions.

And as Lorna already mentions above, we do seem to have quite a disproportionate number of philosophers on this forum, as compared to the general population!

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Danica Swanson

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Re: Ascetic and worshiper of the old Gods
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2019, 12:36:41 AM »
Hi James - I'm going through the intros today and encouraging folks to post their location in the subject line, so that other interested members can easily scan the intros for people near them. Sounds like you're moving to Florida soon - could you edit the title of your post to mention that? Thanks!

[Follow-up: subject line edited.]
« Last Edit: May 29, 2019, 09:43:18 AM by Danica Swanson »