On the night of March 12, I had a dream about my middle sister. We were both trying to catch the train to Northampton, MA, and didn’t have much time. There was a parking garage, and we needed to park the car, but there weren’t spaces. I was praying to Hermes. Then, my sister started praying to Jesus. There was this weird, dissonant feeling in the dream. It was invasive and unwanted, and I was wondering who this person was who was now my sister. I awoke feeling weird and awful.
The dream was actually about her upcoming Catholic wedding. My middle sister became Christian while dating her fiancé. (She once claimed to miss the Neopagan rituals of our childhood, but she didn’t want to go to any events in the DC area without approval from him.) Weddings give rise to many emotions, and my mom and that sister had a fight about a week after that dream about wedding-related things. I won’t get into any details here because most of the people reading this are strangers. It’s really the kind of thing to talk about with close friends in private.
What I do want to talk about, though, is about being an adult who grew up in the Neopagan/polytheist movement, the dream, and the emotions-at-large in the situation. Part of any life is interacting with the religious conversion and self-finding of siblings and friends — which (depending on context) can be dissonant and hard, especially for those of us who grew up in NRMs in less tolerant American states.
The dream had anticipated many uncomfortable things rising to the surface — the fears in my teens that my siblings’ friends would come into my room and smash statues, the religious violence at school, and my desire and hope to leave Missouri as soon as I turned eighteen. (One of the reasons I wanted to go to Massachusetts for school is that Massachusetts was a beacon of religious tolerance to me and the place I thought it least likely someone would socially suffer for not being Christian.) My middle sister experienced it, too. Our parents were once contacted by my sister’s middle school teacher about the pentacle she wore at school, and that teacher had suggested a Christian camp to purify her of devil worship — and the teacher said she didn’t want that offensive symbol in her classroom ever again. The school administration sided with my family.
The dissonance in the dream is about the now-conflicting values systems and the social uncertainty of how to navigate a sisterly bond divided by religion. Our relationship’s social trust wedge has festered for years, and it came to light during the conflict. One of the outcomes is that I’m not going to the wedding because she disinvited my girlfriend. I voiced some concerns (some religious, most not) in the hope she’d reassure us that we were welcome, and she interpreted it as an attack. We haven’t been close in years at this point, and there were probably better ways to phrase what I wanted that I didn’t know about due to estrangement.
And I guess sibling issues are perennial. Work and Days is framed by Hesiod as a callout poem to his brother. I am not ashamed to say that I have read the first several pages of Works and Days several times in the past few weeks or that I have looked up sibling issues in the Enchiridion. There isn’t really a social norm for dealing with this situation, and the ethics about the wedding are murky and no-win at this point.
I find ethical no-win situations frustrating and infuriating, so I’ve been quiet for a while on KALLISTI — I’ve been grappling with this, reading philosophy and fiction, and working on my fiction prose writing and poetry. I have also been working on some purification and miasma-cleansing, and I now have a gorgoneion ring. And then there’s the project I want to do (and am planning for) about feminism and Hellenic household worship, which will hopefully act as a counterweight to all of the popular culture interpretations of Greek myth and religious culture with the benefit of being on a blog and thus easily searched/found by people asking Google about whether it’s weird for women to worship Greek gods. (It’s a project and not a post because I think it deserves a thorough treatment.) This hasn’t left a lot of time for blogging because I basically come home and eat and then dive into personal projects.
But anyway, that’s what’s been going on. I’m looking forward to things calming down.