|"The Disguise" by Daneli. Source: theflickrite.com|
I have been asked to share a little about myself – to be honest this is not something I am altogether comfortable with, for I am intensely private. I love the anonymity of the internet; it is like a virtual masked ball where one can reveal and conceal as much of oneself as one likes. Consider this post like a short walk down a darkened alley where I will expose a little more of myself than usual, only to clutch my mask and cloak and go running back to the main festivities and lose myself in the crowd.
Something that is often of interest to polytheists is ethnic background – mine is mostly Germanic (my ancestors are mostly from southern Sweden and England). Thus I am naturally drawn to the Germanic pantheon, in particular Odin – for whom I harbour a strong love and respect which some might think is a species of superstition (every time I see a raven I take it as an auspicious sign) – but I do not live in a northern climate and it is the mindset of Rome that really resonates for me. Who knows, perhaps I have Roman ancestors dating from the time when Britannia was a colony, but whether I do or not doesn’t matter greatly to me, for the inherently inclusive Religio Romana lends itself so naturally to a religious perspective which reaches beyond ethnicity – to me Rome is about culture, not DNA.*
I live in Sydney – a city of close to 5 million people from diverse backgrounds, mostly deriving from the United Kingdom but with a sizeable Mediterranean (especially Italian, Greek and Lebanese) and Asian (especially Chinese and Indian) population. The climate is mild in winter and hot in summer; the culture is both hard working and hedonistic – most Sydneysiders I know profess no religion and those who are religious are careful not to annoy others with their world-view. It seems to me that most social life in Sydney revolves around the consumption of alcohol, or sometimes cannabis or something harder – smoking marijuana and experimenting with an array of party drugs was a strong feature of my early adult life (in between university coursework), until I had an inevitable collapse into poor mental health, following which I became a fairly devout Buddhist, in my mid to late 20s, and thereby gave up drugs and alcohol – for the most part.
Out of Buddhism I developed an interest in polytheism. At first I was drawn directly to Odin and then later Mercury (who is very like Odin) and the entire Roman pantheon. Unsurprisingly, anything Roman-related tends to be my favoured reading matter. I marvel at how well I am able to relate to ancient Roman authors – they describe a society and mindset that is both delightfully different and strangely familiar all at once. I consider Western culture to be indelibly indebted to Rome – and I am a proud Westerner, though I have a fondness for Asian culture as well. While I developed a strong interest in the Religio Romana over four years ago I never entirely lost interest in Buddhism; lately I have been going to a Buddhist meditation centre regularly and I meditate on most days (though I still drink whisky, wine and cider – usually in moderation). Regardless, I cherish my time at my Pagan shrine, seeing the candle light flicker and cast a beautiful shadow of my statue of Mercury, while rich incense smokes up the room, is a regular and blessed highlight in my life – for me it is all about honouring the divine that is all around, the household spirits, the local spirits (which surely include Indigenous Australian spirits in my part of the world) and the wise and compassionate deities who enrich our lives.
And now … back to my mask and cloak;p
* Nonetheless, I note that the study of Y-DNA haplogroups in European populations indicates that for the most part the children of Europe are related to each other. See eupedia.com for more on the genetic origins of contemporary Europeans.
Written by M. Sentia Figula. Find me at neo polytheist, Roman Pagan and on Facebook.