Thank you all for taking the time to circle back around and follow up on the end of this work. Gods be good, y’all got something out of it (I know I did), and when looking back over the past year, we can all see how and where we've grown.
Having had the opportunity to go within and explore my own inner landscape through the Stoic lens, I gave more thought to things like time, and death, and ego, and excellence, virtue, as well as come away with a more realistic perspective, a deeper commitment to action, and a more resolute will. I have to say that if anything, my spirit feels better, if that makes sense… and it’s not the kind of better that comes from self-delusion, but the kind that comes from deep acceptance, and right-relationship with reality.
I first took on this Stoic year to test my personal opinion that many (not all) pagan/polytheist folx don’t have a good opportunity or framework with which to explore certain themes, such as interconnectedness, interdependence, basic-goodness, mortality, and happiness without relying on Buddhist influenced modalities. In the past, when I brought up the need to explore and discuss some of the above-mentioned themes, I was met with “that’s not what we do” or “that’s what Buddhists do”. I disagreed, as I believe those themes are related to the human condition and not the buddhist condition. What I needed was to make a good case for similar teachings and perspectives from a Western, polytheist-influenced mind.
My wife, Rev. Missy, suggested that Stoicism might fill the bill. She, as usual, was right.
Sympatheia, Summum Bonum, Amor Fati, and Memento Mori… all principles from the Western, ancient world, all informed by both cultural polytheism AND post-Axial human thought. I believed this could work as the perspective pagans need to enter in to this kind of work… and so, I tried it out for a year. Every day. Why? Well, I’m not going to ask someone to consider things from a particular perspective unless I can personally assure that it’s a reliable and healthy one. Essentially, I injected myself with the cure before offering it to others. I considered it to be the right thing to do.
At the end of the year, I can say this… Stoicism works, when it’s the right tool for the job. Stoicism is meant to address things in the everyday world, from the everyday mind… not mystical things from the magical mind. When the right tool is used, the outcome can reflect that, and I believe adding a gentle Stoic practice to one’s paganism and polytheism can offer some spirit-spackle with which to fill any remaining cracks not already filled from our religious endeavors.
So… after all that, I still have opinions, I’m still sassy and salty, and I’m still working for the good of the folk with the intention to help how I can to get us all to wake up.
The difference is that now I have a more cohesive practice from which to do that work.
Thank you all, each and every one of you who have hung around and read my thoughts, and at times my haikus, sentiments, stories, and sometimes even songs. I consider myself truly blessed to have maintained your attention for this long. Thank you for that gift. I’ll treasure it, always.
Myriad blessings, dear readers!
Rev. Wm. E. Ashton, ADF