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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Before me

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C550866538/E20070109062023

Before me

It's not quite... ancestor worship

The late Zenna Henderson wrote stories about extraterrestrials called the People who were very close to human and who had migrated to Earth when their own planet died. Among other things, the People were psychic and had a faith based on direct awareness of Divinity which they called the Presence. They also had an unusually developed race memory where each of the People could remember the stories of their ancestors as if they themselves were there. Yes, it was a narrative device, but striking all the same. They called their ancestors Befores. I loved the concept, even if I didn't share the abilities that made it effective in the stories.

Over the years, I've tinkered with the idea. It's not ancestor worship by any means, some of my ancestors aren't worth much anyway. Now for me, the idea is closer to "revered ancestor who I choose to honor by living their example." Well, actually more than that, but that will do for a start. I've expanded the idea too, so it is no longer limited to my blood ancestors. Yes, I have Befores of bone, those in my family line. But I also have adoptive Befores, those who inspire me in other ways.

Julian is an example of a Before of spirit. Yes, he was the last Pagan Emperor of Rome. But what makes him unique is that even today Christians revile him for the very reasons that they would make anyone else a saint. He found his true faith (not the True Faith™, there is a difference), and despite adversity managed to live it until the very end.

The late Doreen Valiente shows what a Before of words could be. Maybe it would be better to call her a Before of thought. She was the author of my very first book on witchcraft which literally fell off the shelf on my head. I've always had my suspicions about that. Anyway, her writings helped me realize that I could still have faith and not have to be a Christian, and I wouldn't have to dishonor my family. For an ex-seminary student who was still a manipulative Corporate Clone, that was a major revelation. It didn't help me meet my Gods, that came later.

Harry S Truman is a Before of deeds. He rose to power through a political machine until he decided to be his own man. He never sought the Presidency or the Vice-Presidency, but once he became President he was going to be the best damn President he could be and he would not let anyone stop him. As an ordinary man who became extraordinary while keeping his honor, there is no better example.

As for a Before of heart, that one I still have a hard time talking about. I was privileged to know a certain hand-trembler of the Diné before he died. He taught me that compassion tempered with wisdom could be a strength all in itself, His death gift surprised me with the form it took, and in some ways is still shaping my thoughts and heart today.

And for a Before of bone, I have to choose my maternal grandfather. Not exactly a saint, but his death taught me a very important lesson. We told the funeral home we needed the biggest chapel that they had. It wasn't big enough. There were close to five hundred people at his funeral, more still in the cemetery. Those were just the ones in Arizona. That taught me that the measure of a man is in the lives he touches. I am proud of him.

Those are some of my Befores. Adoptive or not, they helped shape me into who I am and give me clues to who I want to be.

Posted: Tue - January 9, 2007 at 06:20 AM

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