Piecing things together

I’ve been meditating on missing crucial pieces quite a lot lately.

Things that really would have helped to have, if it had survived.

Because there are questions I have. Questions that will probably bug me for the rest of my life. These are things I ask Lilith all the time, but I don’t think I will ever receive a straight answer to (not in this lifetime, at least). I really first noticed this for the first time when I studied my Norse ancestors. Well, I’d noticed it before: Lilith is nothing if not a controversial and shall we say “multi-faceted” figure, but I hadn’t truly noticed it. I hadn’t felt it in my bones, and really truly realized that there were things that were missing: entries in the historic record that mattered in a major way that could never have a hope of being accurately reconstructed.

Some of these missing bits are answers to very basic questions I would ask of Lilith. Questions like “what is it that you actually DO?”

I’ve been a loyal child for 12 years now, and in 12 years I’ve heard twice as many explanations of what Lilith did before She was condemned to a demonic reputation by the monotheists. I’ve heard of her as a wind spirit, a Handmaiden of the Queen of Heaven, a fertility goddess, a protector of Home and Hearth, a guardian of children, a Divine Consort, and more. Enough survives to indicate that any or all of those theories are true, but perhaps equally likely is that none of it is really true. Her existence in the historic record is highly fragmented, to the point that really anyone could say anything and there’d be a partially obliterated stone tablet they could point to as evidence.

Needless to say, this rather mucks up the process of attempting to understand my Divine Mother, but I’m hardly alone in such trials. Asatru also suffers from a great deal of this, despite their original sources being fairly well documented by comparison to most other reconstructionist faiths that I can think of that originate in Northern Europe, such as Druidism.

Ironically, Christianity itself has not escaped this trap, despite having a well established reputation as a professional force of “missing piece makers”. Just look at the seemingly infinite subdivisions and denominations of the faith to see how there have been people endlessly reinterpreting a work to justify a particular claim. Or take a look at the number of so-called “Apocryphal Gospels” that emerged over history, each with its own take on the life and teachings of Jesus, or one of the Apostles. Or the number of these that were discarded as the Church was saddled with the unenviable task of determining their Biblical Canon. How many of these actually existed? We have no way of knowing. How many of them will go unseen, probably forever, by the eyes of the modern day faithful? The sad truth is, probably the vast, overwhelming majority of those books.

Every faith has its missing pieces. Some are lost to accidents, many to intentional destruction… and on rare occasion, some are just plain and honestly misplaced and forgotten in the sands of time. I’ve got quite a lot of big holes in what I’m trying to work with, but I’m nowhere near the First Place position in that particular race, nor do I envy whoever actually is.

So what do we do, when we find a gap and are unable to intuit what might have originally filled it? Well, I really wish I had a better answer than “take what you know for sure and let your heart decide the rest”, but that’s honestly the only valid answer I know to give. It’s in places like these that Faith is more important than ever before.

When the historical record is reading a blank and your gods won’t answer a direct question, take what you’ve got already, and go with your gut. At least until it leads you to a brick wall or something. There’s really nothing more sage-like I can say than that, however underwhelming an answer it might be. It is what it is.

May the gods guide you, as always.

 

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Drifting? No, Sailing.

A spiritual journey is a funny thing, rather like a roller coaster in that it is full of ups and downs and turns you often don’t see coming.

Sometimes, things that we expect will turn out great don’t turn out at all, great or otherwise. And so it was with my connection with the Norse gods. Academically, they’re still fascinating to me. The Eddas and Havamal are still terrific sources of wisdom. But for all my efforts, I know that I have drifted far from that direction, and I’m not likely to sail back now that I am presented with the choice to do so.

At least, not for a while yet.

The people are partially to blame. In the last several years I’ve had to come to the sobering realization that several close friends of mine who were Asatru were also agents of Hydra  white supremacist and anti-Semitic “folkish” heathens, and I’ll admit that this shook me heavily. That’s not a world I inhabit or wish to be vaguely near to. For obvious reasons, these former friends had to go, even though they’d done nothing to me personally. I’m a pretty open minded soul and I do my best to build friendships with many groups of people, but racial supremacists are right out. In the world which I seek to help build, there’s no place for monsters like that.

The other reason was the quietude of it all. Maybe I’m not the sort of person gods like to talk to long term, but after a few years of study and communion, contact just sort of… stopped. Like I was very suddenly speaking to a brick wall. While this happened before I cut the Hydra agents Nazis out of my life, if it turns out that the gods of my ancestors cut me off because I don’t believe a person’s skin color makes them superior or inferior to others, well, then fuck them. Any god that is so small minded is not worthy of me. But I don’t believe that’s the case. I think gods just need to do god things and there’s no room for me in that. At least, I sincerely hope that is the case.

As for why I’m not headed back anytime soon?

While it is the most easily researched part of my Northern European lineage and my voyage certainly began with them, the Norse are not the end of my quest to understand who I am. I have documented ancestry in Scotland, Ireland, and Gaul as well — a proud dual strain of Gaelic and Brythonic Celtic ancestry beats within my blood. If I am to seek my ancestors, I must seek ALL my ancestors, and it’s frankly easier to do that if I am not tied down anywhere spiritually. I don’t think that I’ll ever owe allegiance to one set of gods or another. Individuals, yes. I’m quite fond of Frey, Loki, and Skadi on my Norse side. I’m fond of Lilith on a personal side. Hopefully in the year or so to come, I can forge new bonds with gods from my Celt ancestors who are at the very least new to me. If this next leg of my journey is anything like the one I have just completed, I think I should stand to learn much and grow more.

Sometimes we are knocked off course, or becalmed in spiritual doldrums. Sometimes we lose track of where we are or where we’re going. We are each Odysseus, each of us navigating to get somewhere that strikes us as “home”. But just as each instance of those created a new chapter in Odysseus’ journey back home to Ithaca that made him a better leader, a better warrior, a better man, or simply reminded him of his ultimate goal and hardened his resolve. With that analogy in mind, I think that we should come to celebrate these drifts and off course moments. Unfamiliar seas mean new sights, and new sights are new opportunities to grow in one way or another. And sometimes, just sometimes, we find a place that’s worth staying for a spell before we get back in the boat and resume our voyage home.

I’m not mad that the Norse gods aren’t speaking to me. I might be annoyed, but that’s harmless to both sides. During this time of quiet from one source, I have elected to sail on and explore uncharted waters, and I’m very fortunate that I live in a time and place that allows me to have this option when my ancestors by and large did not.

That’s my solution. What will yours be?

Gods guide you.

Disciplined Pagans

Labels are tricky creatures.

Used wrongly, they can be incredibly harmful. Used correctly, they have the ability to inform and helpfully categorize. In faith-based circles, labels are used to help serve as a spoken or written shorthand that summarizes what we believe much faster than a paragraph or a list. It may not be exact, but they seldom need to be 100% precise.

I don’t have a label.

I don’t have a metaphorical badge on my chest I can use as shorthand, to others or to myself.

I love Lilith, who is but a piece of a much greater Goddess that exists unseen, unfelt, and uninteracted with all around me. I’m proud of my Norse and Celtic ancestors and all that they accomplished — but that same accomplishment causes angst that I might not ever measure up in their eyes or even my own. I am fascinated by my ancestral gods and find great wisdom in their teachings that have come down to me, but I’m now ready to say that I don’t really follow or worship them in any conventional sense.

I’m not Wiccan. I’m not a Druid. I’m not Asatru or Vanatru.

I don’t get to have a word that really says “this is the gist of what I cherish and believe to be true about the world”.

I get a paragraph, at the shortest.

The closest word in the pagan community seems to be “eclectic pagan” but that’s not really a solution. All that really says is that one’s beliefs tend to fall outside the more mainstream frameworks. If you want to be any more precise, well, get your flashcard with your best descriptor paragraph on it ready.

Wait.

You mean you don’t have flashcards?

…Okay, I actually don’t have flashcards either.

But “Eclectic Pagan” still doesn’t really communicate anything but “Fringe” on it’s own. It still needs to be explained on a case by case basis if your beliefs are to be understood.

There’s got to be a better word than that, but damn if I know what it is.

“Agnostic Pagan” is imprecise and arguably worse.

“Self-made Pagan” just makes us sound pretentious and somehow spiritually hipsterish in the worst possible way (not that I have anything against hipsterdom in and of itself, but let’s not kid ourselves: most people do).

Perhaps we ought to take a note out of Plato’s book and refer to ourselves as “Disciplined Pagans” if we are shooting for maximum precision. Plato, after all, regularly and frequently maintained that the definition of discipline is “to know oneself”.

Valdis Leinieks wrote the following in his book “The City of Dionysos: A Study of Euripides’ Bakchai” to clarify Plato’s views on discipline.

Plato characteristically gives a highly intellectual twist to his definition by further defining knowing oneself to mean knowing what one knows and what one does not know. The definition of discipline as knowing oneself, however, need not be taken in this restrictive sense. The definition includes not only knowing what one knows and what one does not know but also knowing what one is able to do and what one is not able to do. It involves the recognition of one’s strength or lack of it with respect to other men and the gods. This aspect of discipline leads to recognition of one’s weakness with respect to the gods and is equivalent to thinking like a man.

Disciplined Pagans.

I almost like the sound of that, to be honest.

If we are to take Plato at his word, then it’s an apt term that calls for us to garner a personal understanding of ourselves, our beliefs (especially those that set us apart from more mainstream movements) and how we judge ourselves to fit into this world spiritually through our strengths and shortcomings, and how all of this relates to the gods we have chosen to worship. Of course that’s easy to say on paper. Almost everything is easier said on paper.

What would it mean to be a Disciplined Pagan?

I posit that it’s a better term than Eclectic in the 21st Century.

While Eclectic is, let’s be clear here, a perfectly chosen word (at least for those who give a damn about word meanings), we also live in an era where word meanings are becoming irrelevant to on the spot touchy-feely emotion. Eclectic carries a feeling of randomness or cherry picking the best aspects of something, and in today’s world where a burrito-stand can be shut down for “cultural appropriation”, I’m not sure that that’s a target many pagans want to paint on their backs for today’s rabid social justice warriors.

But discipline?

There’s a big strong word. It commutes a meaning of orderliness, honor, and inner strength. Combined with its Platonic definition, I think that’s a term that could serve us “Disciplined Pagans” well into the future.

I doubt the term will catch on, and honestly, even if it did, it still isn’t frankly a brilliant solution for the root problem of lacking a word that can sum up my beliefs or someone else’s in a single word. But maybe some things aren’t well suited to being described in a single word. After all, the Author knows better than anyone else that a thousand words can often be better than a single picture — just ask Geoffrey Chaucer or William Shakespeare (or if you’re one of those ultra modern types, ask JK Rowling).

Just remember to carry discipline in your practices, whatever they may be, and your future will be all the better for it.

Gods guide you.

A blog post to inform you of an upcoming blog post

My update schedule thoroughly sucks. Hence I am writing this little blurb so that anyone who is still subscribed will see it and know my future plans (sadly not World Domination even though my ideas for that are pretty awesome).

In the next day or two, I hope to have a formal entry up. I’ve been thinking about the topic for several days now but the proper wording still eludes me. The topic is somewhat personal, but I think there are enough pagans out there like me in this regard that it will be worth publishing.

Stay tuned for further updates!

Spiritual Wayfinding

So, the Tumblr experiment was a bust. Try as I might, nobody really seemed to pay attention to it enough to like or dislike it. As it goes, c’est la vie.

Honestly, it never really stopped feeling awkward for me. I might keep updating it, but it and my blog are once again trading priorities. So Ithildin Goddess on Tumblr will now be the secondary source, which I think suits it well enough. I’ll still try to keep it posting useful notes, helpful tips, or just some appropriate images aggregated from around the witchy side of Tumblr, but essays and thinkpieces are going to move back in here to be the bread and butter of this blog going forward.

I guess that concludes what they call “old business”.

New business!

I’ve been reading up on the Picts recently. Fascinating stuff, really. It had occurred to me a month or two ago that I have a TON of Scottish ancestry. I’ve known this for a while, but I never really focused on it in any aspect beyond the odd reference here and there in conversations that veered towards that topic. And then it really hit me this year. I have Scottish. Ancestry. …And therefore probably also Pictish ancestry. At the end of the day they were a mostly illiterate confederation of tribes and clans and didn’t keep records of that sort though, so really it’s anyone’s guess. It’s probably true, but I have no way of pointing to documentation that could conclusively prove it.  But probably.

And really, the things that drew me to my Norse heritage are also largely true for the Picts. Or rather, they should have been. They were a set of proud and fierce peoples who in their own manner beat the Roman Empire. I should know everything there is to know about them. I should fixate on that place and time in history, and the people therein, no less than I did the Norse. I should be knowledgeable about their spirituality, their gods, their heroes.  And yet I know more about the Irish, with whom I have far fewer historical blood ties (not to say they aren’t there, but far fewer of them), and even for them I don’t know more than a handful of names and stories. So that was kind of sad.

Here is this group of amazing people who literally defined the course of Scottish history, and therefore that of my family, for several centuries that I know functionally nothing about. So a month or so ago, I elected to fix that. A few cursory web searches convinced me that this really isn’t a topic I could just skim. I had to read up. So I bought some books and I’ve begun digging into this heretofore unknown (at least to me) period of history. If you’re thinking that I’m gonna do a book review, you are absolutely goddamn right I’m gonna do a book review.

Just not today.

I haven’t finished it.

But this has reminded me of a huge part of paganism’s role in my life. Wayfinding. Far be it from me to not place a reference to Disney’s Moana at an opportune moment.

Quoth Maui:

It’s not just sails and knots. It’s seeing where you’re going in your mind, knowing where you are by knowing where you’ve been.

Knowing who we are by knowing who we were played a huge part in life for all my ancestors, who partook in ancestor worship, and I’m willing to bet the same was true for yours. It helps us feel our place in history, and understand and appreciate ourselves, our parents, and our children. But it’s more than just boring knowledge, of the sort that might help you ace a school exam or go far at a pub quiz. Paganism helps connect me to my family history more than words on a page ever could. It makes the connection spiritual rather than simply prosaic academia. My Norse ancestors believed that theirs –what would be my ancient ancestors– were on their side, taking an active role in guiding them to greatness, or failing that, a good life. I don’t think our ancestors ever stopped doing that. We just forgot how and when to ask for that help. But if those who have lived our family stories are really in our court as much as the Norse believed, surely we lose nothing and gain much by adding to that spiritual familial support team as much as possible. And if we are to do that, we need to know who we mean to add.

Know who came before you. Understand what they did and why. Appreciate all the help they stand to offer, both direct and indirect. If they could make it, you can too. In fact, it’s not limited to merely a weakly worded and bog-standard “you can make it” self-help line. Far more than that. You owe it to your past family to survive and forge your own link in the family chain. Because one day, you might find yourself in the hereafter, looking at those who came after you, and they will need your help just as you needed the help of those who came before you.

Know where you are by where you’ve been. Know who you are by who you’ve been.

And then blaze the trail further.

To me, that is what ancestor worship is all about. That helps me to give a damn about all of this. That’s a big part of what Paganism does for me.

Spiritual wayfinding.

So go out and find yours.

Gods (and ancestors) guide you.

I swear this is as political as this blog will ever get

As usual, this is published a week after it premieres on my Tumblr (also titled The Ithildin Goddess), and includes some minor edits.

As I think on my ancestors, I don’t think they would have felt as strongly as I do today about “harm none” and “diversity”. My viking ancestors would have robbed immigrants blind at the border, and I have a strong feeling my Celtic ancestors would have killed them at the border just for the crime of being strangers at the border.

Thing is, I try to honor my ancestors as best I can, and that understandably creates a bit of a quandary for me. It can be difficult to honor past generations when they would tell you to do something you believe is wrong because they knew it to be right.

My ancestors were not nice people. Their gods were not nice gods. Their world was not a nice world. But they also made great things and shared in the same struggles I face today.

Every problem we face today were faced by our ancestors, and our ancestors overcame them — at least well enough long enough to clear the path for their children to do the same for theirs. We owe them literally EVERYTHING that we are, while still coming to grips with the fact that their world was hard and cruel, and they had to adapt by doing the same.

When is it time to abandon tradition? Can we abandon traditions and still claim to honor our past family generations? Honestly, I don’t really know the answer to either question for certain. I just know that sometimes, we must.

The world won’t get better until the people in it do.

There are monsters out there, and the worst hide in the shapes of men. But if we are to become better, we must not let our fear of the monsters stop us from uniting in compassion. It is when tribes strike up alliances that they become an unstoppable force.

If we can do that, the monsters will come to fear US.

With their long view from beyond, I hope my ancestors can see and at least appreciate that.

I actually kind of forgot about this

I suppose that’s only natural, what with me running this as both a Tumblr and a WordPress with virtually no traffic on either – doubly a shame as the WordPress at least had a small following at one point.

I suppose I’ve no one but myself to blame. Well, that and my uneventful life. My blogs have always tended towards responding to events. Something would happen, I’d think about it, and write down the resultant insight. And people seemed to like that. I liked it too.

But then things stopped happening. Not entirely, mind, but the stuff I would write about on blogs like this did.

And I sort of forgot this existed as a result.

My bad.

Mea culpa and all that.

So, this Yule, I’ll throw myself onto the Pagan side of Tumblr and try to find some juicy stuff to connect to, because on every day I don’t write something, I die a little on the inside.

I’ll see what I can come up with, and hopefully earn some followers as I do so.

May the gods bless your steps.

If your gods suddenly AREN’T hiding, you have an immediate and urgent problem

​Sometimes I get asked “if your Gods are real, why don’t they just show it?”

Sometimes I’m even the one asking myself this in a moment of doubt or frustration.
But then I remember that these phenomenal fantastic cosmic entities, whatever we might choose to call them, are so much bigger and older than us and our world. Our lifetimes are mere seconds on the clock next to those of Immortals.
The gods have a vast cosmic perspective, and usually as a result are not particularly concerned with the minutia of mortal existence and reveal themselves only as they will.
Gods like Odin frequently walk among us but only seldom reveal their nature to those around them. There are many reasons for such visits, including out of boredom with their halls. But often, I think it’s to remind themselves of the smaller worlds and beings they look out for and protect. Operating on a cosmic time scale leaves a lot of room for losing touch from your charge and becoming detached and apathetic.
When a god or goddess finds themselves wondering “What’s the point of looking out for these creatures that are as ants to us?”, they pay us a visit incognito. They travel about, interacting with us in disguise so that they remember that even ants are no more or less valid an existence than their own.
When they DO feel compelled to reveal themselves during a visit, those who have pushed them to that point often regret it as it means that the person the gods reveal themselves to has screwed up so royally there is no other recourse — and this is seldom the case as there are plenty of excellent recourses available to a god that don’t involve making a spectacle of themselves. Usually an effectively eternal being has the patience to just ignore and outlast such petty problems as mankind can conjure up. If our lives are seconds on the clock for them, then the worst wars and disasters we can drum up must not even have the lingering irritation of a mosquito bite.
Ergo, if Thor were to show up and just go “Hey. So, I’m Thor, and I’m not hiding this fact.”, I would start looking for the universe-guzzling black hole or imminent collision of two galaxies that demands a God’s direct and immediate attention and leaves them without the time to pussyfoot about with a disguise. I like to imagine such being have better foresight and planning skills than that.

Why don’t our gods reveal themselves?

Because I’m pretty damn sure that they day they do is gonna be the day the world is really no kidding ending and we should duck, cover, and kiss our bums goodbye as a result.

What evidence proves there is only one God?

As usual, this is published a week after it premieres on my Tumblr (also titled The Ithildin Goddess), and includes some minor edits and additions.

This was a question directed at my blog some time ago and I am finally getting around to answering it. Sorry about the delay.

In short?

Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

In fact, the very existence of the First Commandment outright nixes the idea that there is only one.

By saying “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” YHWH was indicating that for those of the lineage of Adam and Abraham, he was the only God worth their time and devotion, as he was also the only one who would protect them — and Biblical history definitely bore out the latter point at the very least. He wouldn’t need to make this demand at all unless there were other very real deities with similar powers who might wind up being worshiped by the Hebrews, even after accounting for the obvious poetry about “money” or “the nation” or “the law” being false gods as well.

However, if you walked up to YHWH and asked if there were other gods, the answer would be an undeniable “yes”.

He wasn’t claiming to be the only god (not in the Old Testament at least) but rather the only God for his chosen people, the Hebrews.

And other tribes and civilizations record having been visited by their own gods with impunity. Ur, Babylon, the Norse, Scottish Picts, Aztecs, Incas, etc; most civilizations have been visited at some point by their guardian/patron deities. The list goes on and on.

In addition to these fine points, atheists will (wisely) point to a lack of theoretical evidence (being, evidence that can be used to empirically test a theory) that supports the existence of any gods, be they one or several. In short, god is presently unable to graduate from the “shaky hypothesis” stage of the scientific method.

A lack of evidence for any is also a lack of evidence for one, and this gives us, as stated in my opening, exactly ZERO evidence that there is only one god.

Sadly this is all we can have evidence for

I suppose the next question you should be asking is “Does the lack of evidence matter to you, personally?”

Star Wars needs a Grey Jedi main character

WHOA. POP CULTURE ON THIS BLOG?

I guess it’s the end times!

Well not so fast! I haven’t seen any meteors, nobody but North Korea is threatening to launch nukes (and it’s not like they could if they really wanted to), and Heimdall and Gjallahorn are mighty silent. Ergo, it is NOT the end times, and you just have the good fortune of seeing me write a bit about Star Wars here on this blog.

As will be the usual routine from here on out, this blog publishes on a one week delay from my associated Tumblr act, so that’s the place to be if you want to get updates faster — with more numerous posts of varying media types as I find share-worthy material. The big stuff will always find its way here though, so if you are somehow Tumblr-averse, fret not. Reblogs of other people’s WordPress content will be exclusive to this site, however, and posts here will be prettier and more multimedia friendly, so there can and will be bonuses to following both sites.

Now. *claps hands* The main article today!

Star Wars desperately needs a Gray Jedi, and here’s how and why.

In the aftermath of the prequel trilogy, a lot of the luster that the Jedi used to have has been lost as we bore witness to what the order had deteriorated into by the time of Anakin Skywalker. We saw them overtaken by the very things they sought to oppose – they became a political and military order more than a spiritual one, which is a very real risk run by organized faith-based movements, such as Churches.

The idealized version of the Jedi that Obi-Wan Kenobi would later preach to Luke Skywalker is utterly nostalgic, and being such, reflects a reality that never really was. But Kenobi was correct – there was a defined period, in which his lifetime coincided with the end moments, wherein the order truly fell from grace and became little better than the Sith. I mean, Mace Windu and Yoda may have been correct that Palpatine was a traitor, but imagine the Pope saying “That Obama guy, he’s clearly a traitor to the American people. The Vatican must intercede and remove Obama from power until a new better leader can be elected.” This is essentially what the Jedi were proposing, which is seriously meddling with a nation’s politics in a very measurable and hardcore way, where the Jedi are meant to be politically neutral. That is a long way for the Jedi to have fallen, and quite a hard surface to have landed on from that height.

Unfortunately, the Jedi were never as removed from politics as Kenobi liked to imagine in his older age. But we, as audiences, today still live with his basic notion that “Jedi Good, Sith Bad”.

Alas that the world is not that simplistic. Wouldn’t it be great if it was though? It would make some key life decisions much easier.

But I digress.

I am very much a child of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, despite the clear nosedive in quality it took close to the end (much like the Jedi). The SWEU made clear that the Force wasn’t neatly divided into Light and Dark sides – that was always just the Sunday School version of it. Quoth Han Solo: “THAT’S NOT HOW THE FORCE WORKS.”

And here we get to the centerpiece of this thought article: we need a Gray Jedi in the hero spot. And I think Rey has it in her to reject the duality of “with us or against us” preached by the Jedi and Sith.

Ask any real life witch: magic is a tool, and possesses little capability to influence you morally one way or the other. The spell caster is in fact the one doing the influencing of the magic, whether they know it or not (it generally helps to be aware of this though).

Rey has no real connection to the Jedi or the Sith at the outset. She’s heard stories about them, but her outsider’s view would be ideal  in an examination of both parties and what they do well and what failures plague each side. From that, the Outsider has everything needed to build a new philosophy from the remains of Jedi and Sith that acknowledges the truth about people: no being can survive with a divided nature (just ask Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde how that turns out). It’s only by meeting in the middle of two extremes that balance (the arc word of the prequel trilogy) can be found.

Rey could be our first New Canon Gray Jedi. The passion and power of the Dark Side married to the discipline and self control of the Light. Either extreme left to themselves will destroy you, but together, they make us whole.

It’s like salt: the constituent elements are pretty damn effective poisons, but when brought together take a form that is necessary to our well being.

The presence of a Gray Jedi in the center spotlight  could be a superb role model to kids, especially in the early days of that path where Rey stumbles. Maybe she gets carried away with how good using the dark side can feel, or she becomes too detached from her friends and allies to the point of apathy while she struggles to free herself of want in the Jedi manner. Maybe both. Preferably both.

Kids need to see someone like Rey get that balance right. After all, that sort of struggle is an important part of growing up, and Disney owes it to kids and young adults to show a role model who is going through that struggle and emerges better and “cooler” for it – give them the take away that we all stumble and fall as we reach for our completion as people: we might do too much of this or not enough of that, but that the end result is every bit as empowering and fulfilling not just to the self but also to others around us that it really is.

We need a Gray.

And Rey has it in her character to be that hero.

Besides, look at her outfit in the last movie.

Gray.

Not light, not dark.

Somewhere in between.