Introduction to LANMIPP – Loosely Affiliated Network of Monastically Inclined Polytheist Pagans   Leave a comment

lanmipp-imageNow 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.

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