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Faemon's Initiation Assignments

on Mon 14 Aug 2017, 22:18
Thank you Candidate Morgan and Candidate Calista for for recording the Initiation Workshop meetings.

1st Initiation Workshop: The guiding virtues and code of conduct.

(1500 words, 500 over upper limit)

The first idea that strikes me is how very well put, the definition of Universal Balance is: "the inherent right of others to have their own peaceful existence without being bothered or harmed". At every point of individual consciousness across the Universe, ideally, each would exist with this inherent right to exercise. That's why it's Balanced, because each and every single being has this. That all flows elegantly into the Doctrine of Nonintervention, more clearly considered as the responsibility by which this right abides: no bothering, no harming. I define ethics as ideas that help to navigate challenges of co-existence. The Balance makes sense, and it's beautifully simple to begin defining one idea in this ethical philosophy. That's our start, I believe it to be a good start, and logic holds up. This is a good idea to exercise.

In the experience of life and society, however, this is impossible. In my known Universe, which is the domain of socialization, it's lumpy and full of imbalance as a given. My basic physical survival has ever been contingent on being a bother. No matter how hard I nope, I've always managed to run right into somebody with a claim to being harmed by another's growing independence and autonomy, unpredictability or uniqueness, especially in contexts where that shouldn't be true.

Nonintervention is an ideal that supersedes the virtues and provides a goal to strive for. On another level that I would like to move onto, I think about how the Universal Balance can also be (reached by) adherence to the Core Virtues.

Tradition. Shared beliefs and practices that keep those of the Gallifreyan tradition connected the past, and, I want to say, connected with one another as well. I used to consider tradition as not much more than stymied innovation, but I have conceded to the importance of being aware of history. We're doomed to repeat the bad parts otherwise, or have no way of grasping why the present situations are the way they are, and miss out on context that supports rather than symies innovation.

In my own life, the history of my country has romanticized (through traditions of architecture, dress, and music as class markers) and at the same time vilified the Spanish colonial regime. The story I was taught at school was that the United States government liberated the people in my country from cruel Spaniard overlords. More honest historians preserved records of an alternative history than what I had been taught. That explains why, while I was growing up, the fourth of July was a national holiday in my country, which otherwise made no sense because the Philippines isn't even located in the continental Americas. The archipelago is still named after King Philip II of Spain (1556-1598), and recognized as sovereign territory under that name in the context of international politics.

So to me, recovering traditions before American interference or even before Spanish colonialism...feels like clearing up a lot of nonsense from my personal identity and life. This is the tropics, and December decorations traditionally include snowflakes. A lot of pre-colonial people recognized gender constructs other than the binary introduced by the Western world.

I expect to find similar feelings in those who remember being other than human, and why reconstructing Gallifreyan tradition among humans on earth and keeping that alive is a virtue to follow. I imagine it gives adherents a better quality to life and mends the soul, perhaps after enduring a lifetime or several of a Universe and communities very much lacking Balance.

Understanding. In my own life, this has come in as a way to resolve conflicts between right and right...Not a typo. I'd formed the idea that justice was brave and honest, and mercy was kind, and that justice and mercy were mutually exclusive, but that both sounded virtuous. When a person becomes aware of the conflicting viewpoints, then it's that understanding that brings a solution that is both fair and kind.

Unfortunately I discarded this virtue as contingent on the other in an interpersonal conflict having any conscience; without that, I gave up on Understanding, though I do catch myself plagued by that impulse, often when I'm getting a painful reminder of what it's like to have this impulse manipulated. I wouldn't say it's not worth having for that, because misunderstandings are painful too and if there's a way to smooth that over then that's great...but I've found it a challenge to want to keep on with.

Discipline. It's a good thing to be in a situation where a behavioral code is clear, so that one knows what is acceptable conduct or when they're not a good fit for that space. At the same time, discipline can also suggest to me of something less good and virtuous: working outside of one's limitations to conform to where one is not a good fit and wouldn't truly be happy, especially under threat or coercion.

Loyalty. Just as tradition and discipline have less-than-virtuous connotations to me, loyalty has come off an outright trap. However, when I'm reading the group chats I vicariously enjoy this outpouring of support and acceptance. My Grinch-sized heart grows several sizes. Loyalty is a virtue when it's genuine. Commitments are the past-self or present-self, for once, doing something that the future-self will be grateful for, and beyond the self this virtue is being pro-social. It's when the good of each becomes the good of all in the community, and the good of all is the good of each. It generates a solidarity that I have found oft-mentioned performatively...but have frankly never caught a whiff of until joining GT.

Respect. The way I read this virtue described, as "treating something or someone with regard for their rights and preferences", I sense focuses very much on action but more exclusively. Respect to me is the quality of Understanding (of people in the community, and of the codes of conduct for Discipline) and the many small decisions striving for a good quality of Loyalty, put into action.

By osmosis of common conversations about ethics in broader society, I had absorbed the idea that ethics is about the effect of deeds and actions. I understand that this as pushback from a different sort of performativity: to dodge personal responsibility with "I didn't mean to do that (therefore we should behave as though I did not do that)" or "My intent actually was..." basically to shift the focus to a harmdoer's intentions and away from the effect on those who had been harmed, so a person can continue to enjoy nominal "good person"-ness while doing things that are wrong and even unconscionable.

I've also gleaned that this tenet can be a relief to overly anxious people, that it gets them out of their own head so to speak, and can stand apart from all the bad messages in their heads, because there's only the doing, and it's healthier then to shift focus to the doing of something. Besides, we can't make somebody else intend something that's in their inner world, theoretically, we can't even speculate about someone else's intentions or motives accurately ever; it's not one's own inner world, so...This is pragmatic.

I find that this comes with a harmful flip side: that it situates the aim to be at-effect because that's what's going to be considered more real, or that performativity is the right thing even if you can feel each Deed To Do eating away at the part that keeps you feeling like a person instead of a hollow husk of chaff stuffed with lifeless lint and ash. To enact Respect "with regard for another's rights and preferences" is a condition that I feel restores the authenticity of respect...and, while every decision enacted may come with unintentional effects, I can't think it more likely that many effects in human society can be brought about without decision, intention, and motive.

Integrity. I wanted to detail integrity last because I feel that each of these virtues have unique qualities, ergo the separate naming and categories...however, they can relate to one another, contradict each other, and part of the discussion that I regret missing was when to violate virtues, or, situations wherein the ethics of Gallifreyan Tradition would not be right. When I think of integrity, I think of internal unity (which can also be internal Balance.)

Integrity is the avenue by which the above virtues may be doubted and violated, because to have integrity means to be inclusive of the secular world and mundane life as well as GT. Integrity is what I feel happening when mercy and justice come together as incomplete fractions of a full Understanding. Integrity would resolve any possible contradiction between Understanding and Discipline, or Respect and Tradition: "I know you've been having a hard time, but what you're doing and the way you're doing it is hurting people and I cannot accept that in this space, how else can we support you and not enable your harmful behavior" type of negotiation.
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Re: Faemon's Initiation Assignments

on Tue 15 Aug 2017, 01:41
Week 2: Organization of the Society, chapter system

Thank you Patrician Shilo for the listed descriptions of Chapters that I found linked from the Discord chat.

I feel a decisive affiliation with Patrex. I began reading the chapter descriptors with some ambivalence, because of drawbacks noted...wondering if there were really more of a conscious, purposeful, benefit to reconstructing the Chapters rather than leaving those to be sort of archetypal energies from the bygone age of heroes. (Drawbacks being: the possibility that the system would foster division, conflict or misunderstandings between chapters over whose skills are more valuable, and that someone might not feel entirely at home in any one chapter due to having skills or traits of several and therefore could find the Chapters to be constraining.)

I have gotten the sense of a lot of pride from individuals who (in my point of view) fit in and also very much bring those respective Chapters to life, surely that's reason enough to bring chapters to earth.

And I can also get with the surface appeal in getting swept up in team spirit (Go, Gryffinclaws!)

But is the way this Chapter system is constructed to bring specific characteristics together, into categories and that necessarily holding space for everyone in this tradition? I started reading through the profiles, thinking that there might not be a Chapter that I would choose for me. There might be more than one Chapter that I would choose for me, or I might lapse out of one and grow into another. Would that sort of crossclassing be deemed un-Disciplined?

Do I decide this affiliation for myself? Because I also consider the merit of having Patrexeans validating and welcoming those who choose to be of that Chapter, but how would that not come with the possibility of noticing that one might be a better fit somewhere else? I don't put this forward out of fear or value judgment, so much as simply wondering how this works. (Because in some traditions of mysticism where I live, for comparison, there can be an organically-formed sort of three-tier condition for whether someone will become their community's designated mystic. First, they're spirit-bothered; an individual would know it. I suppose a lot of modern solitary witchcraft stops here. Second, usually, this tradition identifies a bloodline that confers the being-spirit-bothered talent. This makes an apprenticeship to conducting formal mystic rituals much easier if the family doesn't travel apart much. Thirdly, the community of non-mystics acknowledges and accepts that this is their mystic: this can be revoked, sometimes even violently.) Are Chapter qualities a merit-based position, and/or is it closer to an adoptive family with something like an unspoken heraldry motto?

For myself, I wondered whether I ought to affiliate with another Chapter, one that describes more what I aspire to become as a person (and that I regret not having become along the way.) Or, maybe, one more supportive and tempering of how I would go forward with my life.

As far as it's up to me, though, Patrex is it.

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Re: Faemon's Initiation Assignments

on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 01:45
Week 3: The history and culture of GT as an organization

As I began initiation late, I hope to be able to catch up with these and to submit the Week 4 assignment on the day it would be due, as I did have the good fortune to attend the Week 4 initiation seminar on the 16th. (It is currently the 21st, and to my understanding the essay for the one after this is due on the 22nd.)

This week's assignment prompt follows, paraphrased: Reflect on the collective identity of the Gallifreyan Tradition Society, how it is similar to and different from other communities which exist under the banner of fandom, pop culture paganism, and/or alterhumanity.

Like a fandom, the Gallifreyan Tradition is a collective of active participants in the culture and community surrounding a subject of shared common interest. With many fandoms, I find more of a tendency towards intellectually conforming to the interest being a matter of entertainment and celebrity; at the same time unbridled in emotional expressions of zealousness, ecstasy and devotion. In contrast to that, GT has constructed a cosmology and metaphysics that convey an intellectual understanding of another reality, as well as regular rituals and policy that may be enthusiastically performed but I sense is more dutiful with respect to community members who commit to this way of life...whereas fandom, although it can be consuming or powerfully influential, would still be most commonly considered the spice of life rather than life itself.

The cosmology and metaphysics mentioned above, that separates GT from secular fandoms, I believe would reasonably categorize GT as pop culture paganism/polytheism. Of course other pop culture pagan/polytheist practices and philosophy would hold different views of how it all works than multiverse theory. Rather than a broader theory of cosmology and metaphysics, non-GT practices of pop culture paganism might in some cases be more theistic, or in other cases taken more psychospiritually. I consider the adoption of the multiverse model very becoming of GT, although not unique or limited to GT alone, it does I believe resonate uniquely with the vocabulary and understanding of the spiritual worlds maintained within this tradition.

As for alterhumanity, I recognize the importance of alterhumanity to many key members of the tradition, and how consequently integral alterhumanity is to parsing information and building traditions based at least largely on what alterhuman members can access. While alterhuman experiences and the sharing of it can be widely diverse, however, I also get the sense that many alterhuman communities are more exclusively community focused, and serve as spaces more for individuation than much else, let alone similar activities or concerns to the number of other separate, equally integral, aspects of GT: cultural reconstruction, thought-provoking prompts as to where we stand in the secular material human world on numerous issues, and welcoming of non-alterhuman interest and contribution. While I haven't extensive personal experience in alterhuman communities, nor have I conducted surveys prior to essay writing to be sure, I would suspect that non-alterhumans joining alterhuman spaces would come under suspicion of bad faith or lack of capacity to hold the conversational spaces for experiences so personal to the majority of members. Given a common cause (less individuated) and multiple approaches to that cause, characterize to me a more radicalized community. 

This is not to make a value judgment on the focused specialty of alterhumanity, other pop culture pagan traditions, or fandom. These many strains of belief and practice have generated the recognizable and intrepid Gallifreyan Tradition.

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Re: Faemon's Initiation Assignments

on Thu 24 Aug 2017, 03:57
Week 3: the practice of cultural reconstruction

I feel contentment and enjoyment in the extent that I involve myself in the Gallifreyan Tradition at present, and the general shape of it. Because of that, I feel less sure about framing my ideal vision for the next ten years. One thought that relentlessly comes to me is that, for anything ideal that I would think up, everything in the secular world must proceed ideally as well, because that would provide a prominent related context, if not the context, that holds the practice (rather than the theory) of Gallifreyan cultural reconstruction on earth.

I have no idea what's going on with earth anymore. I don't know at all. The rise of hate groups and supporters if not representatives thereof to the government of one of the most powerful nations in globalized society? Trending insularity and dictatorships across the highest echelons of developing and developed nations? I should give up on divination, because I did not predict any of that should have been more difficult to miss. I might have said something similar about the recession of '08, and would have said that about the aftermath of the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks had I even started practicing then (and had the perspective to recognize that having one's school bombed and graffitied was not life continuing as usual...but maybe it was, maybe there's always going to be stuff like this happening somewhere in the world at least twice a generation, that has such destructive and wide-reaching effects), but practicing mystical things keeps me at least feeling slightly better about the world, precisely because my personal practice is evidently neither pertinent nor accurate. I write that with levity. I'll take levity wherever I can find it.

When I think about what the Gallifreyan Tradition as a group can move towards during turbulent current times, I can't help but still think that it depends on the specific current times, what we are called to collectively move towards, how our priorities would change. This isn't to say that GT has no integrity or characteristic identity: whatever we are moved towards, the approach would be characteristically GT; the options for priorities and how to elevate the prominence of each as conceived within GT, would also be characteristically GT. In that sense I believe in this tradition's resilience. From what I have seen in the conduct of its members, this collective resilience is well-earned by the willingness to openly address the impact of conflicts and how they can become opportunities for GT to grow and develop (within reason; I fortunately don't get the sense of outright emotional or ideological masochism from everybody), combined with the abundance of acceptance and support. When a common situation I've noticed in general society is honesty and kindness are set up to be contradictory, I find GT formalities to truly be a refuge, and can't personally name a context where that boundary is navigated better.

This isn't to say we sit on our laurels, because we may still have conflicts internally and externally, and each of us could always find room for improvement...or regret.

Within ten years, I imagine the Council being able to arrange for GT-specific convention events, and/or representation in broader convention events; at least one lodge or steading to which pilgrimages may be made, and at which spiritual retreat programmes may be conducted; continued advocacy of youth rights including a licensed homeschooling program and parenting workshops. Less concrete at present, though, still part of the ideal, would be establishing and managing any potential conflicts in localized religious communities or solitary practitioners (solitary practitioners, I can imagine would remain discouraged as this would be an initiatory tradition still welcome to interest but come with expectations of conduct and value demonstrations as representatives of the tradition), spiritual counseling qualifications and protocol (perhaps open to kin outside of Gallifreyans, with support groups?), and the continued advocacy for neurodiverse, queer, disability rights and racial equality; religious freedoms, sustainable energy technology, and economic justice.

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Re: Faemon's Initiation Assignments

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