Friday, August 16, 2013


In response to some issues I've seen going around about Priesthood:

I am the nightmare that creeps in at an unguarded moment because I am your dark mirror. I am your dark mirror because I say what you don't want to hear. But your shadow, your reflection, they will remind you of my words. Take a deep breath and let go of the blinders. If you dare. If you can.

You know why you're angry with me? I took a match to the tender of your preconceptions. I took a match to your carefully constructed image of greatness. I took a match and smelted that ring you wanted me to kiss.

See that? That's my fiery kiss. Smooch.

Think I'm not you're friend? Think I'm Meanie McMeaniepants? Guess what: I just did you the biggest favor ever by by telling you the truth, if you can take the heat. And it would have been way easier, more comfortable, for me to smile and nod, to play nice, instead of speaking up.

Do you want to know how I know who is great and who is not? Do you really want to know? Warning, you can't un-know this once you read it.

I know great people by their humility. I know by how they prostrate themselves to their gods. I know by how they treat their ancestors. I know by how much they give. I know them by their acts, their words, their deeds. I know them by how much genuine respect they've accrued in larger communities. I know them through their relationships with their deities. I know them by their years of service. I know them by their passion. I know them through their boundaries. I know them through oracles. I know them by their education, I know them by their investment of time, I know them by their daily devotions, I know them by the company they keep. I even know them by their enemies. I know them by their quiet, I know them by their loudness, I know them by their intensity. I know by the strength of their souls. I know by the purity of their spirits. I sense it like the scent of sun-warmed shamnu moru (myrrh oil) on skin.

I know them because my deities tell me to know them. I know them because their deities tell me to know them.  I know them by an inner light, a charisma, a beauty that emanates from them. It's a freakin' halo like in religious art.

Some people confuse this aura of greatness with "power": it isn't a matter of dominance over another. It isn't a matter of being stronger than anyone else, although that can come with the territory. Instead, it is a display of divine favor. And it comes not from a person's force over others, but from his/her humility to the gods and the ancestors.

Greatness is about humility. There. That's it in one tiny four-word sentence.

Greatness has its own crown, its own scepter, its own stunningly beautiful mantle of handspun splendor. All of these things are heavy and they come at the price of service and humility. All of these things chafe, all of these things bruise, all of these things cause as much pain as pleasure. All of these things: they are not given, they are not bestowed by birthright. They are earned. 

For those who would seek to grab a crown, a scepter, a mantle of your own, instead of earning it, instead of serving the deities, instead of honoring the ancestors:  your misguided actions make me sick. To put yourself on par with these people who are great, to call yourself great in connection to them, to insist on a title you haven't earned, is deeply misguided and it makes a mockery of their service. It is misdeed. It is khats'a.

You can indeed become great in time--when you are humble before your gods and your ancestors, when you serve your community. When you are great, you will know these words are true and your anger will evaporate. The nightmare will become beauty, and the shadow will no longer dog your steps. Your reflection will be clean.

And you will laugh in joy.

Today is

10 Ra'shu Yeni, Shanatu 85.
The tenth day of the month of Ra'shu Yeni (New Wine). It is the 85th year since the rediscovery of the Late Bronze Age Canaanite city-state of Ugarit, from where we have gained much of our primary source documents written in Ugaritic cuneiform on clay tablets. Our next holiday, Ra'shu Yeni, which celebrates the grape harvest and the new wine, starts the evening of Monday the 19th and extends for seven days through the full moon. Our new year begins on the coming new moon...

Image Credits
Photo by Sebastian Ritter. Used under Creative Commons License