Last Saturday afternoon, Mr. Nettle and I attended the Gnostic Mass with the Philadelphia OTO. We have a friend who is a member and invited us along, and we were both curious about the whole thing, so along we went.

The ritual was stunningly beautiful and well-performed with great attention to detail. Their temple is lovely – they have space in one of those old industrial buildings so common in some neighborhoods of Philadelphia. It’s cavernous in the literal sense of the word; I felt as though I was underground for parts of it. I liked everyone I met there and would have been happy to go out for coffee and further conversation with any of them (and two of them I actually already knew, besides our friend that brought us there and my own Mr. N. – such is the small world of Paganism in a city of millions.) Mr. Nettle loved it and wants to go back regularly. I encourage him in this.

So, with all this said, you would think that I would be eagerly looking forward to going back. I’m not, though. I’m trying to sort out why I have this feeling that “nope, this isn’t for me.” I want it to be for me. I like the people, I like the temple, I am familiar with the source material, and I like the fact that they have a lodge structure. Yet, I start to feel all headachy at the thought of going back.

I am wondering if it’s an issue to be understood on a more esoteric level. I have read about the concept of spiritual “currents” and have taken it to be a metaphor – that there are different paths to follow with their own internal consistencies and structures, and that once you start following that path, you’re in that current, that flow, and need to follow it along on its own terms in order to understand and work with it productively. I’m thinking it might be a little more literal than that and that once you’re in one current it’s energetically difficult, and perhaps not a great idea, to hop over into another. I am at this point strongly “plugged in” to a particular spiritual path, one that is based on esoteric interpretations of Celtic mythology and direct contact with Underworld-based spiritual beings. I am more intensely “on” this current than I have ever been before. The OTO is on a totally different energetic wavelength and is engaged in a different sort of project with different kinds of Beings. An important aspect (probably the central point of it – I don’t know, and am hardly an expert) of the Gnostic Mass is the concept of polarity – the polarity of male and female, positive and negative – the whole thing is like this whomping big battery created by the Priest and Priestess. As things got going, it really felt like those two Powers – ultimate duality – was all that was there. The space felt swept clean of all else. Which means no faeries, no other gods, no other Beings, just the black and the white. No doubt it is very useful to be able to do that sort of thing, but it felt like I was one of the things that didn’t belong there in all my ternary Druidical faery complexity.

I’m thinking it’s an issue of being on the wrong current – they are AC and I am DC, so to speak. It’s nothing so simple as just shifting into a different mindset for the duration.  I don’t think it’s a matter of mindset at all; I think that the work I have done has wired me differently. I don’t know. I tend to think of myself as flexible and open-minded and I’m surprised with myself that I can’t follow this new path. Not upset – not dismayed – not even all that confused; just “hm, that’s funny.” I will probably go back at least once to make sure it wasn’t just a matter of having an off day. Posting this here in hopes of feedback. Anyone?

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