I’m pleased to announce that I’m one of the authors who will be writing on the new Pagan-owned-and-operated paganbloggers.com portal. I’ll be releasing at least one new article every month. My writings will focus on sacred endarkenment, polytheist monasticism, sacred dance, and dark ambient music. (No surprise there, eh?)
The site launches on March 21 – just a couple of weeks away!
So you’ll soon be able to follow my writings for the Hermitage at paganbloggers.com, on my Patreon, and on Medium. Patrons – even at the $1/month level – will always be notified first whenever I release new work, or when I have announcements to make about the Hermitage.
There’s also a possibility that the Pagan & Polytheist Monasticism discussion group, which has been on Facebook since its inception in September 2016, will be moving its headquarters over to a web forum that will be hosted on the new Pagan Bloggers site. The prospect of that appeals to me for several reasons:
1. The forum would be Pagan-owned and operated, not owned by Facebook.
2. Non-participants could read it, and thereby discover that Pagan & Polytheist monasticism is A Thing. (That’s how I discovered it, after all! I found the Order of the Horae Pagan Monasticism FAQ back in 2006-ish, and the Maetreum of Cybele site around that time as well, and that got me wondering if there might be a place in a Pagan monastery for me one day.)
3. Even older discussion threads would be easily readable for newcomers. On Facebook, new folks have to scroll back a long way to read the early discussions, and few people bother to do this, so a lot of valuable material is being overlooked.
4. It would permit the group to organize photos and files in ways that suit us, rather than remain constrained by Facebook’s methods of organization and file storage.
(I’m particularly frustrated about the way photos are handled on Facebook. We have so many beautiful shrine photos in the group, but they’re rarely seen because they’re hidden away behind a nondescript tab in the sidebar, and when someone adds a new photo to an album, it does not even show up in members’ feeds unless someone comments on it. But if they don’t even see it, they don’t know it’s there to comment on!)
I won’t have details for awhile, as I need to discuss it with the other admins after the Pagan Bloggers launch. But if you’re one of the folks who has been interested in joining or following the monasticism discussion group outside of Facebook, keep an eye out, for you may soon get your wish.
I’m delighted to announce that I have a brand new website and Patreon campaign for the Hermitage! Please give them a look, and if you enjoy my writings on dark ambient music, playlists, shrine photos, Black Tent Temple design, devotional dance, etc., please consider becoming a patron! I have many exciting plans in store for the future of the Hermitage, and I’d love to devote more time to writing and community service work.
The resident hermit. Photo by J. Buffington.
Queries I’ve answered in depth on the new site include:
* What is sacred endarkenment?
* What do I need to know if I want to visit the Hermitage in Portland?
* Could you put together a dark ambient playlist for my yoga class/ritual/event?
* You do lamentation dance for ecological and ancestral grief?
* You’re writing a boook about dark ambient music?
* You interviewed a bunch of dark ambient musicians? Where can I read more?
* When will your new (book, essay, article on underrated dark ambient albums) be published?
* Where’s your bio/photo/background information?
…and of course there are devotional pages for Skaði, Móðguðr (Mordgud), and the conifers I love so much.
Tea table and shrine space at the Hermitage. Photo by Ilana Hamilton of Blackthorn Photography.
If you are interested in visiting the Hermitage in person, I am making new offerings available to you: Paths of Sacred Endarkenment retreats, a monthly geomancy study group, and access to the in-house library of over 900 books by appointment.
I offer several pay-what-you-want and gift services (custom themed dark ambient music playlists, Black Tent Temple design, and hospitality) as well as hourly rate services (house cleaning and proofreading.)
And if you are a polytheist/animist who is also on Patreon, take a look at the BIG (basic income guarantee) Polytheist Patreon Creator Pledge Network. If you’d like to take the pledge to limit your own final patronage goal in support of basic income for everyone, contact me and I will add your name to the list. Here’s to building strong and resilient mutual aid networks for polytheists, and increased visibility for the basic income movement!
My new site is not a blog, but a landing page with info on all of my current projects. You can find links to almost everything I’ve published online in the past 20 years, including my book manuscript for Rethinking the Job Culture. It was put together by divine mandate…and working on it consumed nearly all my free time for the last four months of 2016, so I’m pleased that it is finally finished and I can get back to focusing on writing again.
I have ambitious writing plans for 2017, and will be posting updates on published work here, as well as on Patreon and on social media. Patrons will always hear the latest news first!
From my new Patreon page:
“I have a religious mission of service: to help make inroads toward organized monastic life for would-be polytheist nuns and monks through creating space for leisure and sacred endarkenment.
“The Black Stone Hermitage is my home, where I live, work, and serve. It’s also a concept that I am developing and extending to others through artistic and devotional use of my living space as a host. With time, I hope the Hermitage will become a retreat space and house of worship that will outlive me, and continue on to serve future polytheists who feel called to monastic life and seek solitude and endarkenment for contemplative reasons.
“After 20+ years as a Pagan, and 13 years of dedicated solitary service to Skaði, it’s time for me to reach out and expand my community service offerings – and to do that, I need your help! The need for polytheist monastic hospitality and fellowship is growing. 2016 saw the founding of Pagan and Polytheist Monasticism, a new discussion group on Facebook which has attracted more than 125 people, and a new entity called LANMIPP (Loosely Affiliated Network of Monastically Inclined Polytheist Pagans). I am closely involved with both, in administrative roles.
“As things currently stand, there are few options for polytheist Heathens and Pagans called to monastic life. The need for them is there, but it remains unmet. With your support, I hope to use my creative work, centered around the concept of sacred endarkenment, to help build a foundation for future contemplative monastic endeavors in our communities – and eventually, when the right space is found, to relocate the Hermitage to a permaculture co-housing community or ecovillage with a religious mission.”
This blog you are now reading (at blackstonemonastery) will remain online indefinitely as an archive – a chronicle of the development of the first five years of the Hermitage vision. It is now mostly retired, however. All of my future blog posts will appear at my blog home on Medium.
I would greatly appreciate your help in publicizing the new website and Patreon. If you appreciate my work, please share these links widely.
Thank you so much, and I wish you many blessings in 2017!
Now that I’ve had time to gather initial feedback (thank you everyone!), here is an introduction to LANMIPP that should answer most of the questions we’ve received about it so far.
Q: What is LANMIPP?
Loosely Affiliated Network: We acknowledge that there is no organized monastic tradition within modern Paganism and polytheism, so our affiliation is not formal or structured. We gather, online and off, in order to learn together, share ideas and practices with one another, appreciate our diversity, foster a spirit of camaraderie, support, and fellowship, and help build a strong foundation for future polytheist Pagan monastic endeavors.
Monastically Inclined: We acknowledge that we have no formal, recognized basis for calling ourselves monastics. Nonetheless, we choose to affiliate with one another because we feel an inclination, interest, or calling toward monasticism in many forms – structured life in community, contemplative practice, and monastic hermitage, for example. Some of us identify ourselves as amateur nuns or monks in training. Others are simply here to explore ideas.
Polytheist Pagan: Most of us identify ourselves as polytheists, Pagans, or Heathens. We believe the deities are many and They are real. (Thank you to the Many Gods West conference, from which we have taken this description.) We don’t do theology checks; if you say you are a polytheist, that’s good enough for us.
Q: How did LANMIPP get started, and who is involved?
LANMIPP emerged in September 2016 during a playful, tongue-in-cheek conversation on Facebook among Silence Maestas, Syren Nagakyrie, and Danica Swanson. The brief mention of the founding of LANMIPP on Danica’s Black Stone Hermitage blog was quickly followed by expressions of interest from several members of the Pagan and Polytheist Monasticism Facebook group, including founder Merri-Todd Webster and admin Jolene Dawe. None of us knew at the time that LANMIPP would so quickly take on a life of its own. Apparently the timing was right for it to be born!
Q: What does LANMIPP do?
We have three goals:
1) to further discussions about Pagan and polytheist monasticism,
2) to connect people (both online and offline) who may want to develop some kind of monastic study or practice collaboratively or in consultation with one another, and
3) to encourage and facilitate the formation of monastic support networks (both online and offline) to help LANMIPP affiliates better meet their practical daily needs, especially in difficult times.
To further discussion, we are exploring the possibility of scheduling a “Tea With LANMIPP” roundtable discussion for the Many Gods West conference in 2017. Regularly scheduled online conference chats (Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.) for small groups are also being discussed as a possibility.
Regarding collaborations: so far, there is a group of devotees of Antinous who are connecting online, started by Merri-Todd Webster. There is also an online flametending group for devotees of Brighid, started by Erin Lund Johnson; some of the flametenders involved also meet offline. We would be happy to see more collaborations and groups of devotees interested in building monastic practices in consultation with one another, so if you’d like to start one, you are welcome to do so, and tell us about it!
Our third goal, encouraging and facilitating monastic support networks, will be approached the same decentralized way: if you’d like to start one and link it to LANMIPP, then go ahead and do it, and tell us about the results! There are many ways to go about it, and we celebrate that diversity. You can organize and structure it in whatever ways best suit the people involved. Just as one example, one of our affiliates, Danica Swanson, will soon be starting an online pledge network among polytheists who are Patreon creators. We hope to inspire others to come up with something that works for them. Monasteries all over the world provide practical assistance for one another. Polytheists don’t yet have physical monasteries, but our hope is to start building networks to help fulfill one of the functions of monasteries: mutual aid.
Q: How does one get involved?
The best place to start is to join the Pagan and Polytheist discussion and support group on Facebook and introduce yourself. Write about what you do and how you became interested in monasticism in a Pagan and polytheist context. You can also share the link to the discussion group on blogs and social media to help get the word out to other interested folks.
Once you have formed some sort of affiliation – a group of two or more devotees or collaborators interested in monasticism – feel free to announce it to the group and describe what you are doing. To help future would-be monastics connect with existing groups, we will be creating a document of LANMIPP affiliation groups and support networks that can be edited by everyone.
Q: What’s next for LANMIPP?
That will be determined by those who show up and participate. That’s the beauty of loose affiliations: relationships can form organically, over time, and if the need arises for more structure, those involved can take action to put that structure in place.
If you’re on Facebook and interested in Pagan and Polytheist monasticism, there’s a brand new discussion group that I can highly recommend, for which I am a co-admin.
The group is turning out to be so fantastic – so full of brilliant and prolific writers, and so supportive and community-driven – that it has consumed nearly all of my available online time for the past week, and I don’t regret it for a minute. Our guidelines were inspired by the My Polytheism project founded by Jolene Dawe, which is a space of sacred hospitality focused on celebrating diversity in polytheism. The project was recently featured in The Wild Hunt in a piece by Crystal Blanton – I was interviewed alongside Alley Valkyrie, Celestine, and Yvonne Aburrow for this piece.
About the new discussion group, founder and co-admin Merri-Todd Webster writes: “It’s like people have just been dying to talk about this stuff. Starting the group was definitely the best idea I’ve had in years. I think my gods must have been nudging me.”
I’ve certainly wished for such a group for many years. I often thought of starting one myself, but kept hesitating for all kinds of reasons. I’m so glad Merri-Todd took the initiative!
Almost as soon as the virtual doors of the place were opened a week ago, the outpouring started. We were expecting there to be a just a handful of us, so we’ve been floored by the level of interest and enthusiasm. We had over 50 members within the first 48 hours, and as of this writing we have 70. Apparently there’s a need out there that we hadn’t known about.
A discussion among MGW attendees that followed the founding of this monastic discussion group also led to the creation of LANMIPP, a Loosely Affiliated Network of Monastically Inclined Polytheist Pagans. (Thanks to Silence Maestas of the Virtual Temple Project for the name and acronym!) Since there are no established monastic traditions within modern paganism and polytheism, and it’s clear that the need for such traditions is growing, this will be a way for us to gather together fellowship groups (online and in person) to further the discussions.
There is talk of a “Tea With LANMIPP” roundtable being planned for Many Gods West 2017. In the meantime, if you are interested in Pagan and Polytheist monasticism, feel free to join the Facebook discussion group.
Over the past couple of years, interest has been growing in the Black Tent Temple concept I put forth on the Hermitage blog back in 2012. I’ve received quite a few inquiries about it. I encouraged anyone who was interested to take the idea and run with it, and invited them to share their results with me in words, photos, video, or whatever medium best suited them. In August of 2015, Priestess Gerrie Ordaz put together the first Black Tent Temple space outside the one at my Hermitage.
Last month, Gerrie built a Black Tent Temple space for the second year in a row at the Oasis event by Earth Traditions, a Pagan church in Chicago. I’m delighted to share her new post about it, complete with photos and the lines from the opening rite she performed. These lines were influenced by the rites of the Order of the Black Madonna:
“To the Vastness of the Holy Dark we bow down.
To the Fierce and Compassionate Darkness we bow again.”
I am also intrigued that Gerrie writes “There was a small black cauldron in which was placed black stones for people to take back home with them the blessings of the Black Tent,” as this is exactly what I have done with my own Black Tent Temple space at the Hermitage, but it’s something Gerrie and I had not discussed in advance. And I noted with similar intrigue that the Healing Shrine of Asclepios at Many Gods West last month also had a bowl of small, magically charged stones for visitors to take with them.
Check out Gerrie’s wonderful work, and if it inspires you, why not get creative and build one yourself? A basement, backyard, or even a walk-in closet (like the one I’ve used at the Hermitage for the psychomanteum/darkroom meditation space) could be a great place to start!
I am gathering material for a future website featuring Black Tent Temple spaces, so if you decide to build one and would like to share the results with me, please do!
(Photos shared here with Gerrie’s permission.)
My meditation and lectio divina corner at the Hermitage. Photo by Ilana Hamilton.
My new post on Medium is now published! It started out as a list of my contemplative practices, but then it expanded into a contribution to the My Polytheism project, which was recently launched by Jolene Dawe to celebrate diversity in polytheism. Yay! If you haven’t seen the blog yet, I recommend you go check it out! I love this whole project, but especially this:
“Sacred Hospitality. This is the common ground our communities need to be built around. Not same-ness. Not dogma. Not gate-keeping. Hospitality. What good is the hospitality we extend to our Spirits, Gods, and assorted Powers, if we are utter shit to our fellow humans? We have to build up. We have to be approachable. At least, I want us to be approachable. And, if you’re here, I’m assuming you do, as well.”
YES YES YES.
Well, I had stated that I’d be cross-posting here and on Medium for awhile, but now that I’ve written and published a full new blog post over there, I realize that I simply can’t justify spending the time and effort necessary to duplicate a post so that folks in both places will see it. Medium is SO much easier for me. It’s mobile-friendly too, whereas this WordPress blog would need to be redesigned to be more readable on mobile devices, and I simply have too much on my plate to tackle a project like that right now. So, dear readers, Medium is where all of my posts will appear from here on. Please follow the Hermitage there!
My new Reflections on the Many Gods West 2016 conference post can be found HERE.