Welcome to the new blog, same as the old blog.
Well, not quite the same. The URL hasn't changed, but the backend has. My year of hosting was almost up and I figured that if I'm paying for website hosting (I highly recommend A Small Orange if you are also looking to pay for website hosting) I might as well just install it here and be able to mess with all the plug-ins I could possibly want.
When I first considered it, I thought of it as wanting to be more self-sufficient. It isn't really, though, is it? I'm still just paying for hosting. I just have a little more control, and in turn, a little more responsibility to maintain it myself.
True self-sufficiency is hard to achieve. Even if I owned my own server, I would be dependent on my ISP. If you have a farm in the middle of nowhere with solar panels and raise enough food to feed your family, you still have to hope that your neighbors upstream don't poison the water table. You can put more degrees of separation between yourself and other people, but there is still interdependence there.
As humans, we argue constantly over how self-sufficient we should be. You'll get very different answers to that question in China than you would in the US. It's dependant on your political philosophy, how you were raised, and yes, your religion.
The thing that made me feel like a heathen in Phoenix was the community. I could go to Heathen Sunday School and blots and events. We knew almost everybody, and the ones we didn't know, someone was vouching for. (Seriously, if you're ever in Phoenix, stop by Northern Winds and say hi to Mike. He's good people.) I felt welcome, even as a trans guy, even as someone who hangs around Loki, even as a liberal who sometimes brought up SJ issues.
I know I was lucky to have that, and that most heathens who are not Asatru do not have access to that kind of community. There are lots of heathens, Lokeans, Rokkatru, Vanuatu and Waincrafters who go it alone with the Norse gods. I admire them and maybe I envy them, but I am not one of them. I still talk to Odin and Loki, but calling myself a solitary heathen feels hollow in a way that's been hard to articulate.
What do I believe, what do I practice, when there's no one else around? That's one of the things Project Protagonist is about figuring out. My instinct when I'm with other people is to explain my experience in their terms; learning to do it on my own terms is hard.
I don't think I'll ever be a totally non-social, solitary pagan. I like talking to others online, comparing ideas and cross-pollinating. I hang around with some local pagans and druids, and I enjoy it as a social act. Even as a solitary sort-of-Buddhist-pagan, I'm not really self-sufficient. I just don't expect to have my specific beliefs in common with anyone anymore.