Sunday, January 29, 2012

Grieving ritual

I found a few prayers for those passing from this realm into the next one in my Book of Pagan Prayers and started out my ritual last night with those, after lighting the candles for the gods above and below.  And after lighting the incense and waving it around myself and the altar.

Then, without a lot of forethought, I picked up the chrysanthemum stone, which I use to represent Persephone on my altar, and held it to my cheek while I prayed, "Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, whisper in Hades' ear that David was only 24 years old and never got the chance to have a wife and family.  Whisper in Hades' ear that David was kind to my son, an Eagle Scout and cheery fellow." I think I asked her to whisper more things but those are the only ones I can remember. The response I received was nearly palpable.  I felt a charge of energy that absolutely permeated my body, making it tingle and all the hairs on my arms stand on end.

But most of all, I felt so at peace afterward, so comforted.  Hades gets a bad rep, mostly because we, as humans, tend to fear death and the deities responsible for the dead.  But also a huge chunk of misrepresentation belongs to the Christian fathers and early writers who associated Hades with hell and Satan.  Just as they did Pan.  While I'm not eager to cross the river Styx anytime soon, I'm not afraid of Hades anymore.  I think the mythologies deal most with the fears people had about themselves than real stories of the gods.  I don't see Hades as a rapist, or an evil being who is in charge of sending souls to damnation.  Not at all.  Mostly I see him as a neutral figure, doing the job required of him in a dispassionate way.  I think Persephone is his partner, the balance to his neutrality by offering up the earthy, animated aspects of human beings.

Wishful thinking?  Imagination?  Perhaps.  But when I approach my altar to pray, I can only go by the response I feel, knowing that it's purely subjective.  I could be wrong, of course.  But what harm does it do to believe in the deities as they respond to me?

I also acknowledged Hermes, since he is the one who carries the souls to the Underworld.  It must be a very hard thing to bring those freshly separated from their bodies, probably full of confusion and questions.  Particularly those who had different ideas about the afterlife. Or perhaps he appears to each one as the deity they expect to see when they cross that river.

Not saying my view of this is either the right one or the only one.  Not at all.  But these are the gods I pray to and these are the ones who have comforted me when I grieved.  So these are the ones I envision taking care of the tasks of ferrying and caring for the dead.

At any rate, it was a wonderful experience and helped me sort out a lot of my anger and grief over war and the deaths of too many young people over a war that we had no business starting. But then, those who start most of the wars never actually participate in them.  Do they?  No, they send other people's children to die for their oil or religion or revenge.

I will remember the ritual and write it down in my notebook for a future time.  It was absolutely what I needed last night.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday night, nothing special

I ordered the book Rituals of the Dark Moon on the recommendation of Hippy Jersey Devil and I'm really anxious to get it.  It should be here in a week or so. 

I really need to get busy studying all the books I've got set out and start defining the rituals I want to incorporate into my worship.  I'm a lover of ritual, one of those people who are drawn to it magnetically.  It's just finding the ones you can use as a solitary practitioner don't always line up with my spiritual mindset.  I've got to learn to adapt them to my needs and I think I've grown enough to do that now.

I worked on my room yesterday, added my corn maiden to the altar but she's not sitting well.  Seems wrong somehow.  So she's going back into the armoir for now.  Maybe I'll add her back at the first harvest.  Still wondering what to do for Imbolc, if anything.  Pan has been whispering in my ear again, telling me to spend more time outdoors.  And not time between the car and the store.  Time in Nature again.  It may be that I should look at Imbolc as the promise of spring and appeal to Pan, since he's the one nudging me right now. It really falls into place for me with him as the focus.  Not so much trying to fit Hestia in or invoking Brighid, whom I don't have a connection with anymore.  If I ever did.

I've been pushing myself to speak up more in the facebook Pagan groups I'm a member of.  I get nervous about it but I'm making some friends in the Madison group and since I might be able to meet up with them, it's a bit exciting.  Especially since one of them is from Feral Druidry, a blog I've been reading off and on for a while.  Not all are Wiccan, which is what I thought at first when we were an email group.  There are many different spiritual disciplines and they have been so helpful to me on my journey to find out what my path is. One girl, from Witchy Rambles, is moving near Madison soon and she recommended a book called Candlemas that is in the library system. I have it on hold and might find some rituals that work for me for Imbolc.  I can't explain how hard it is for me to jump into a group of unknown people and expose myself, no matter how kind they have seemed.  I'm such a recluse.  But...if Zach doesn't have D&D the next time there is a meetup, we're going.

But for now, I'm enjoying forging friendships online even if I'm doing a terrible job of it.  I just lost the know-how after being a recluse for so many years.

Sad news...a young man from our former fundie church was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday.  He was one of the good guys, always nice to Zach, although they weren't friends really.  We saw him in the school's production of Beauty and the Beast and although he had a minor role, he was brilliant in it.  I'll be lighting a candle for him tonight and offering up the incense to Hermes, who carried his soul to the underworld and Hades, who judged him.  And whisper to Persephone to speak on his behalf.  Zach says he has no clear memories of him but he has blanked out a lot of what went on there.  Still, I liked David and his parents although I'm sure they would be horrified if they knew that I invoked Pagan gods on behalf of their son.  I guess I just won't tell them.

Early to bed tonight.  I just need some down time to rest and restore myself.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Time to clear, clean and cleanse

Zeus moved to another altar last night.  No, not on his own.  But wouldn't that have been wild?  No, I just had this feeling that he wasn't happy where he was so I moved him to my "threshold" altar where Hermes resides.  Not literally, of course.  But it's the first thing you see when you walk in the door so I can see why Zeus would be happier there.  I'm knitting a new altar cloth for them because the original one was too small and the bandana I put down is too big.  I'm just knitting a rectangle in a linen stitch, which reminds me so much of woven cloth, which fits in nicely with a Greek/druid altar.

I have read, though, that altars are places where you do "work" and everything else is a shrine.  But as I work everywhere, they are altars to me.

Still wondering what to do about Imbolc.  I've read that Hestia can be substituted for Brighid on Imbolc, but I can't say that I feel right about that.  Hestia isn't a Greek version of Brighid.  They are their own goddesses with different characteristics and responsibilities.  I also read that Imbolc was also called Lupercus but I can't find anything to corroborate that.  February 15 is Lupercalia, which remembers the founding of Rome, but can't find a festival called Lupercus anywhere.  Still, neither of those things represent where I am and what I want to achieve.  I'm pretty sure the ewes aren't birthing this time of year in our neck of the woods, but it's possible, I suppose.

It's a bit of a struggle for me, forging this path, trying to merge the worship of Greek gods with the philosophy of Druidry as most of the festivals in Druidry are geared toward the Celtic/Welsh/Irish/Scots/whatever gods. Not everything can cross over.  Nor should it.  I don't feel locked into the Wheel as much as I thought I would be.  And there are some Greek observances that I do like.  I love Hecate's Deipnon, which is the dark of the moon, a time of cleansing of the house and settling up of your bills (not like that's going to happen anytime soon, but what the heck).  Cleaning out the fridge of old foods, getting rid of clutter and stuff you're not ever going to use so why not throw it out or recycle it, smudging, getting that flow of energy back the way it should be.  Cleansing the house of negativity.  I do love that even if I've only managed to accomplish it once.

There are other things, too, but I haven't managed to do anything with them yet.  Family meals with the gods as guests of honor, hospitality, things of that nature.  Not so much in ritual form, although you could.  More of a labor of love. steps.  I get in all kinds of trouble when I try to throw myself into something with all my being.  I burn out hot and quickly.  I need that slow, steady flame.  Hard to change half a century of bad habits though.

So tonight after laundry and supper, I'm going to clean my room because it's gotten cluttered.  I missed Hecate's Deipnon but it's still not too late to do the cleaning, clearing and cleansing.  Never too late for that.  And I always do better when everything is tidy as opposed to chaotic.

And prayer.  My prayers have been short and...short lately because of the fatigue, which I sometimes think is linked to the disorder in my house.  If I can at least get the area around my main altar in order, maybe I can put that found energy toward the rest of the house and build on that.

One can hope, after all.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Maybe if I re-read it enough I'll finally understand it

I'm running low on my black candles and don't want to buy more because I'd either have to order them off the internet or wait until Halloween with the stores have orange and black candles available.  Only thing is the black candles smell like licorice and I absolutely hate the smell and taste of licorice.  So I went with a deep, deep, dark red that I found at StuffMart.  I think that represents the chthonic gods as well as black does.  I still have about a month's worth of black candles left though.  Or more if I don't keep them lit as much, but I love those chthonic gods so I tend to let their candles burn a lot.

I'm re-reading Triumph of the Moon.  Well, I say re-reading but I mean, re-reading the parts I already read last time I had it out from the library.  The print is small and not terribly conversational and I have mush for brain cells, thanks to the fibromyalgia, so in a way it's like reading it for the first time.  I only got two chapters in before I had to let it go back.  I've just finished the first chapter again so I'm a bit ahead of the game since it took me 2 weeks to read it last time.

I still have an intellectual crush on Professor Hutton and could sit and listen to him lecture for hours on end.  I've got a few of his lectures from the Druidcast on my mp3 player.  I've only listened to two of them and have a couple more to listen to.  I found it very interesting reading about how the Greek gods never really left the picture.  I think later he talks about the regional gods of Britain but the evolution of "paganism" (small p) was interesting to read about.

I'm really exhausted today after two days of errands, including a trip up to Fond du Lac for my semi-annually appointment with the rheumatologist.  A must if I want to keep taking my pain pills.  But I am beat and plan on setting up my ottoman in front of the altar, lighting the candles and doing some praying and reading while I'm near the heart of my spiritual center. I find it rejuvenating.

Then, I'm crawling into bed and vegging out for the rest of the night with mindless watching of anything that doesn't require my complete attention.  I need some "me" time once in a while, after all.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

With permission

When my depression sinks to a certain level, there isn't even a smidgen of spirituality left in me.  It's like it floats away, leaving me empty inside.  Which is what depression feels like a lot...emptiness.  So, I'm trying to ride it out and quit fighting the momentum.  I skipped a day of prayer and attending my altar but last night I did light the candles and incense because they do help with my focus and sometimes that focus can help lift the depression, even if it's only a miniscule amount.

I had been reading too may Hellenic sites that were either recon or close to it.  I am able to understand where they're coming from more now, but still disagree that this is the only way to honor and worship the Greek gods.  A few of them made me so angry with their rigidity that I deleted them so I wouldn't be tempted to go back there and read more.  One site didn't make me angry but I couldn't make heads or tails out of just what the hell they were talking about.  I can be a deep thinker but they were digging toward the core of the earth.  Way beyond what I want in my relationship with the gods.

I finally found the 2012 calendar from Hellenion giving all the various holy days and celebrations for the year but I just can't seem to get enthused about it.  It's not that the ceremonies aren't beautiful.  They are!  But it's so not me.  So I had a talk with the gods at the altar with my candles and incense lit and told them that I was sorry but I just couldn't worship them in that way.  That my way was more the path of Nature, more eclectic with a lot of Druid overtones and that if they couldn't accept that, then I was sorry but I just couldn't do it the "Greek" way.  I said I would understand if they decided to pack up their luggage and leave, but that my heart was with them, just not the way their followers worship them.

For quite a while I stood there feeling nothing at all, as if the gods were convening and taking it under advisement.  Then, just when I was about to blow the candles out and go to bed, I felt that warm glow I always feel when I am connected with the gods.  All is well.  I'm not sure everyone is on board with this manner of worship but I know that the ones I honor the most are.  So with permission I will follow the path I see laid out before me even if it seems a bit off to some out there.

Now that's not to say that I won't find myself performing a ritual derived from the groups that are recon or close to it.  Or that I won't still pour a libation to Hestia every day.  But I just can't be exclusively Hellenic.  It just isn't where my path is taking me.

I'll figure out what to do with the various stops on the Wheel that are more Celtic in design and adapt them to the Greeks I worship.  I don't think it will be a daunting task at all.  I just have to keep in tune with what's going on with Nature and how the gods fit into that.

But now I need some sleep or I will fall over while lighting the candles tonight.  Might be another night I skip ritual and sleep instead. 

There are worse things to do, after all.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mindless spirituality...or how to pray when your brain cells have left the building

Sometimes you just don't need elaborate ritual to feel in that spiritual groove.  Last night I was bone tired, brain dead and just eager to crawl into my bed.  But I also wanted to acknowledge the gods because I enjoy it.  So I just lit the candles and the incense and grabbed the chrysanthemum stone and held it to my forehead and just zoned out for a bit.  I didn't pray or act out any kind of ritual but I still felt that connection between me and the gods.  It's an instinctive thing, I think.

Normally I stand when I attend my altar but standing is painful for me so I would like to come up with an alternative.  I like the idea of kneeling but as I would have to call for Zach in order to get up again, I don't think that's an option either.  I'm thinking of just sliding the ottoman over to the altar and sitting on it while I pray or do ritual.  I can reach everything at that height and getting up doesn't require a crane.

I haven't done much studying lately.  Fatigue dulls my brain and lessens my concentration so it's futile to even try until my brain cells decide to join me while studying.  They normally let me know when they're back from vacation but since I haven't heard from them yet, I'm guessing they're still at the beach.  I do miss them when they're gone.

Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon.  Zach and I are going to attempt some healthier options for eating and exercising and maybe that will lure those pesky brain cells back.  It's worth a try anyway.

In the meantime, I'll just muddle through, reading the same sentences over and over again and letting the gods direct my worship for me.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Getting to know them

I downloaded some Druidcasts to my mp3 player today.  I haven't listened in quite a while but as they help keep me motivated, I decided I should do that.  I was also thinking about the nature of the gods lately although I really don't have any clear idea of who they are exactly.  I can only go back to my experience with the Fertile Crescent god who demanded perfection from us while claiming he possessed it, yet seemed have a lot of do-overs himself.

But who are the gods?  Are they the loving parent who nurtures us and always bestows lovingkindnesses upon us, sad when we don't always behave but never gives us time-outs?  I don't have anything concrete to base my beliefs on except that feeling we are all entitled to.

I don't see the gods as all-good, perfect, or universally fair.  I believe they grow up in much the same way we grow up.  I don't see them as static deities who have always been perfect with no room to grow into anything better.  I think they do make mistakes.  I think they have favorites and that's one reason we don't all worship the same deities.  I think they exist for themselves and not for us or our pleasure but our very existence fills them with either love, indifference or anger.  I don't think all the gods like us.

I think there are gods of light and darkness or both.  I don't think darkness means evil, though.  I think it just means that there are elements that exist in that realm that aren't as happy, clappy as the other realm, but still contain as much satisfaction for those who thrive in the dark.  Not all creatures live in the sunshine, after all.

I think we will never know the gods in this reality and can only go by intuition or even just plain guesswork. But I think the more we tune ourselves into the deities who have called us to them, the more likely we are to find a framework to build into knowledge. 

I don't think of the gods as happy and fluffy toward us all the time.  I think some do care very much and are willing to give a shoulder or even stand up for us against the crap we have to endure as humans.  But I think they all have a side to them that you wouldn't want to encounter very often.  I love that Hera knows and understand what I'm going through, but I also "know" that whining pisses her off.  And I really wouldn't want to piss off Hera.

I'm still learning and probably always will and I'm sure I'll be fine-tuning these opinions or maybe even changing them altogether as I grow closer and closer to the deities who have called me to do their will.  Or perhaps even find the gods coming and going in my life as my own spirituality changes and grows.  Maybe in a year from now, I'll read this post and think it ridiculously naive.  Who knows?

I may not know them very well, but I know myself enough to say with some certainty that should any deity ever tell me to worship him and him alone and if I didn't then he was going to punish me with pain for eternity, then I will kick that deity out of my life forever.  Oh, wait...I already did that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stop me before I think again

I got some reading in this morning before getting up and about with my chores.  Mostly I just did a lot of organizing of all my journals and such.  I tend to collect journals.  Not really write in them.  Just collect them.  But I have a few I have written in and a few more I'd like to write in.  So I sorted those out.

Then I looked at the notes I had taken over the years, trying to decide what to do with it all.  I'm going to keep it because there is some useful information in there.  And there's room to add more wise stuff whenever I find some.  I have two three-ring binders.  One has a year-long study of the moon from The Druid Network.  The other contains notes about the Greek gods and various Greek festivals.  Then, of course, I have all my books on Druidry and Greek mythology and such.

Which led me to do some contemplation, while watching the candles burn, about how we can know the gods.  The Fertile Crescent religions all rely on scripture to tell them who their deities are, which in turn were written by people who supposedly got that knowledge from their god personally.  Even in the Greek recon setup, they rely on writings that are thousands of years old to tell them how to worship their gods and who their gods really are.

Yet, my impressions about the Greek gods don't line up at all with the recons.  How they desire to be honored or worshiped or who they are or whether hubris or miasma are barriers to worship or not.  While I do appreciate those who have gone before, those who have known the gods longer than I have, I refuse to let them dictate to me who those gods are and what my relationship with them will be.  I lived half a century being told who "God" was and how I had to behave in order for him to love me and take me to heaven with him when I died.  By people who were interpreting texts that were ancient and in some cases, forgeries. So why should I rely on ancient writings to tell me how my relationship with the gods in modern times should work out?  Or rather, why should I rely on someone in modern times telling me what ancient writings say about how I should be approaching the gods?

I don't want to be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious, but when I get an impression about the gods that comes from worship and ritual, then I'm going to believe that before I believe what someone else is telling me about them.  When I feel a spark of energy so tangible that it takes my breath away, well...I'm going with that.

I've struggled for a while with what to do about mythology.  My biggest obstacle in trying to remain Christian after losing my faith was the Bible.  What to do with the mythologies in it.  I had been raised to believe it was 100% true.  That all the stories in there happened literally.  Once that foundation fell away I couldn't transform those stories into mythologies that had symbolic value or that were allegorical.  How could I know "God" without the Bible?  If the stories weren't true, then how could I possibly know who "God" is?  So I've had similar problems with Pagan mythologies.  How do I know the god without their mythologies?

It's one of the reasons I had so many problems with Celtic mythologies as well.  And a huge hurdle to me accepting the Celtic/Welsh/Irish/etc gods.  Yet when I look at the Greek mythologies I tend to see them on two levels, co-existing quite harmoniously.  On one level they are true stories to me.  When I read them I can see Zeus, Hera, Hades, all the gods living on Olympus, having all the adventures they have.  On another level, I know they're not true, but how the ancients found a way to explain and relate to the gods.  I can't seem to do this with any other mythology so I'm pretty convinced that this is exactly the right path for me.

So when I deal with the gods, during prayer, during ritual, even invoking magic (which I haven't done much of yet) I don't see them as they are in their mythologies at all.  I just see them as they exist in relation to me.  I don't see Hera as the bitch-goddess who is always chasing down Zeus's paramours and turning them into animals or such.  I see her as a wife, mother and woman who understands what it's like to be me.  After yesterday, Hestia has ceased to be the aloof guardian of the hearth who keeps her distance.  She's right there with me, struggling with normal household tasks that are turned into hurdles by my fibromyalgia.  She sits beside me, knitting away with me, or spins while I spin.  Whatever barrier that was there before has been torn down and she has become more real to me.

It's the same with other gods, too.  Persephone has become one of my favorite goddesses.  I don't see her as an unwilling resident of the Underworld, but as the consort of Hades, reaching out to those who appreciate that the dark isn't evil, but another aspect of the night.  I've really come to love her.

I could go on but it's sappy enough as it is.  Bottom line is, the gods are who they are.  I can't imagine that they would welcome relationships yet leave their character a mystery to us.  If they don't make that connection and leave us with impressions of who they are, then how is anyone to ever find out who they really are?  Did they only reveal themselves to the ancients and then lock the rest of us out?  I don't have answers.  I only know that they don't reveal themselves to me as they exist in the myths.  Nor do I get a sense from them that they only want worship as it existed thousands of years ago. 

I think people who try to control religions want it to be the way they do it and they don't want anyone to do it differently because that implies they're doing it wrong.  And that's very sad.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Trying to break out of that shell

A different kind of Hestia answered today when I invoked the hearth goddess.  Initially I thought it was Brighid, but now I think it's still Hestia, but as she really is and not as I have pictured her.  I do tend to view her as pristine, virginal and aloof.  The goddess who answered today was more down-to-earth and showed more tenderness and understanding about the difficulty in keeping house with limitations.  It's the first time I've felt that kind of compassion from her.  And it comes after a weekend when I had to work with extreme fatigue in preparing a house for company.  Then, too, maybe my feeble attempts at hospitality spoke to her and we made a connection that way.

I know that the Greeks feel very strongly about hospitality.  It's a big issue, making someone feel welcome and at home.  This has been an internal struggle for me, a recluse and social misfit, trying to open up my home and my self to "invaders."  It worked out very well, actually and while I could only do my best, and with Tom's schedule, do it mostly on my own, I do feel like I did a much better job than I have done in the past several years.

I even showed my altar to my sister-in-law, who while being an atheist, is very sympathetic to the spiritual journeys of people around her.  Although I really was obnoxious about my journey through fundamentalist Christianity.  We did talk about my reasons for leaving but not so much about where I was traveling now.  She loved my crystals and stones and my Starry Night print.  She has her own spiritual connection with Nature, even as an atheist, which I find very beautiful.  We did some bridge-building this weekend and maybe in the future, if I can manage to leave home again, we'll do something together, as couples.

I was invited to an Imbolc festival at Circle Sanctuary with the Madison Area Pagans.  It's an afternoon event so I might go.  If Zach will go with me.  I know nothing about group rituals but I am eager to learn.  I haven't actually met with anyone from the group yet because I haven't made any meetups yet.  Zach's D&D game was on Saturday night so we couldn't go.  If I can get past the sheer terror of going someplace new I will definitely attend.  Tom is encouraging me to go.  He can't get off work or else he would take me there.

I am more comfortable with this dual path than I had thought I would be.  Maybe it's not real Hellenic Polytheism, but I'm okay with that.  I'm beginning to think of myself as more of a Hellenic Druid anyway.  It's my path; I can call it what I want. :) 

It's getting dark and I need to refill the bird feeders before I shut down for the night.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Finally feeling winter's edge

I crashed early last night so I didn't do any evening ritual or prayer but I don't feel bad about it.  The gods know how tired I was and they know I think about them in the course of the day anyway.  And if they were so dogmatic about rules and regulations concerning worship, then they wouldn't be the gods for me anyway.  I had more than 50 years of that and that was 50 years too many.

But I did light a candle to Hermes today after getting home safe and sound.  I hate driving the truck on snow but the roads were pretty clear by the time I got out and about.   And I will have ritual tonight.  Not to make up for anything.  But because I enjoy honoring the gods and connecting with them.

Zach wanted some help in fixing up his inventory with things he wants to use to further his spiritual path.  Which he is still fine-tuning so I won't say more about it.  Except that his pull toward dragons is a huge part of it all.  So we got him some stick incense since the cones seem to irritate his throat a lot but the sticks don't.  I'm phasing out cones, too, because they don't burn completely.  And my frankincense cones don't stay lit at all.  I'm going to crush them all and burn them loosely and then never buy cone frankincense again.  I gave him my potpourri pot to use for scented oils and things of that nature.  It's bigger than my oil burner but lasts a lot longer.  As long as 3 hours.  My oil burner only lasts a couple of hours.  With tea candles.

Now if he can just find a flat surface in his room.  He's not the tidiest person I've ever known.  But certainly not the messiest.

I need to spend more time outdoors in nature.  Tomorrow I plan on refilling the bird feeders and maybe spending some time at my outdoor altar.  Brief time.  It's cold out there.  I want to see if any animals have utilized the pomegranate. 

StuffMart had seeds out already but it's too early to start seedlings.  We can't really plant until late May so any seeds I would start now would be bearing fruit by the time I got them in the ground.  Plus I don't have room on the rack I have in front of the only southern-exposure window in this house that is capable of utilizing a rack for seedlings.

But I do want to start getting the foliage cut back in preparation for Spring.

I'm also thinking of waiting to celebrate Imbolc until the weather is better suited for it.  Normally February 2 is still very much winter here, with snow on the ground and below freezing temps.  I'm actually thinking of celebrating the wheel by the seasons rather than the calendar.  It really makes more sense to me.

But for now, I'm off for a hot shower, then laundry, supper and ritual before bedtime.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

She's back and she brought her luggage

Ritual last night was interesting on many levels.  For one thing, when I lit the candles and incense and invoked the gods, I discovered Artemis sitting sideways on her deer, acting as if nothing had happened.  But she did let me know that the deer was hers and Pan could find another representation.  Okay, not literally sitting on her deer, but that image was strong in my mind.  So I prayed specifically to her and felt a connection we hadn't shared before.  I have no idea why the flounce earlier but she is back and brought her luggage so I assume she's here to stay.

I don't feel right invoking Artemis without praying also to Apollo, and since I was going to be practicing divination, I offered up prayer to him prior to opening my tarot deck.  The deck was behaving very strangely in my hands.  Normally I don't have any trouble shuffling them in spite of their size (Rider-Waite) but the deck kept exploding in my hands, cards flying everywhere.  Finally I put them away for a bit, focused on the candles and incense, and just concentrated on both Apollo and the cards themselves.  Finally I was able to set out the three cards.  My spread is just 3, representing past, present and future.  The past card was the Knight of Swords, which I felt was talking about me conquering the indecision about which gods and which path.  It really had been weighing on me even if I didn't articulate it.

The second card, the one of the present, was the Ace of Cups, which really did feel right because of the satisfaction and peace I have felt ever since accepting the dual path I'm taking.  Future was the Knight of Pentacles, which I intuited to mean that I would be required to demonstrate responsibility on this path, focusing on spirituality, frugality and nature, things I have been neglecting of late.

This was actually my second spread.  The first one was completely dark and felt wrong for some reason.  Which is why I put the cards down and focused on hearing what Apollo or the gods had to tell me.  Also, when I've been away from my cards for a while, they tend to throw tantrums when I pick them up again. So after the second spread, which felt right but also felt a bit incomplete.  Then I found several tarot cards had fallen off my tray and were in the bed covers.  So I'm not sure if the reading was accurate or not.  I won't try again for a few days since I never get very good readings if I do them too soon after a reading.

I got out my Druid Animal Oracle cards, which really did seem to be right on. The first card represents the guiding idea, cause, impulse or motive behind a situation or event. The first card was the Eagle.  According to the cards, the Eagle helps with decisions and allows me to detach from my worries and keep my focus on the spiritual.  I'm to look to the Eagle whenever I feel stress encroaching on my spiritual life.  On the Greek level, the Eagle represents Zeus, who I also kept running into last night.  As Zeus is the king of the gods, this seems to confirm that my path lies with the Greeks.

The second card represents its effect on the emotional, social or relationship level.  The second card was the Bull, which represents the Druid version of Jupiter (Zeus).  The Bull helps guide me in matters of money and focus on financial responsibilities, which corresponds with the tarot card I pulled.

The third card represents its effect on the physical level of manifestation--in the body or in the concrete, tangible world.  The Stag (Artemis?) brings strength when I am vulnerable.  Asking for protection from the Stag will bring calmness, strength, dignity and represents beginnings.  Perhaps the beginning of merging my Greek and Druid paths?

I'm not sure I'm reading these cards right but I'm trying.  I've put the animal oracle cards on my altar to ponder and meditate on during evening ritual.  Perhaps more intuition will come to me then.

But I couldn't sleep worth beans last night and it didn't occur to me until just now that I hadn't focused on releasing the energy I used reading the cards.  This happens to me every time I do that.  No sleep at all.  As I said, I'm very new at this.  I used to read them many years ago but I lost my confidence and intuition.  Plus since I burned the cards because I was told they were evil, I suspect the tarot is holding me at arm's length until I have developed a better relationship with them.

Consistency is the key.  In all of my spiritual choices, actually.  But I'm getting there.  I may stumble and get it wrong occasionally, but each time I do that I walk more confidently on my path.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

They're here to stay after all...minus one

Another gorgeous, unseasonal day today with sunshine and temps at around 52F.  But a winter storm watch goes into effect around midnight so the next few days will be spent at home, cozied up on my bed with a blanket on, reading and knitting.

During ritual last night, I called upon the gods and asked if they had a problem with combining Druidry and Greek polytheism and got an incredible warm glow for an answer.  Seriously.  Zach felt something in his room; that's how wild the energy was. 

Well, Artemis was absent from the consensus, but Pan said he would take her place in my deer statuette.

And speaking of Zach...he's been going through a de-tox stage himself, trying to find his way and discovered that he misses the spirituality he had before.  So he's back to studying and finding rituals that fulfill him.  And dragons play a huge role in that as he has been in love with them since he was a toddler and feels that there is some kind of spiritual connection there.  I told him to go for it.

It's good to know that the gods are content to stay.  I would have missed them terribly if they left.  Plus I do get tired of bouncing around all over the ethereal plain trying to find the gods who are interested in me enough to stay and put their feet up.  I feel very much welcome with the Greeks.

I talked to my mother the other day on the phone and she spent over 20 minutes talking to me about her church.  I know her well enough to know that this was her way of "evangelizing" because she's done it to my two older kids many a time.  I don't know that someone has outed me to her, but she does know that we no longer attend church.  A matter that I briefly mentioned and then never brought up again.  So it could be just her way of trying to get me to go back to church.  Although she wasn't happy with us in the Episcopal Church at all because they don't do it right, if you know what I mean.  I tried very hard to sound interested in how their church is growing now that they got rid of their pastor (a frequent occasion at that church) or how my brother-in-law showed up for a friend's baptism and how she was so excited that maybe he'll start coming all the time now (I doubt it) and how much everyone loves my sister who is in charge of the music programs there. 

But she's my mother and I love and respect her although I stay as far away from her as I can because in close proximity she takes it upon herself to criticize everything about me from my weight to the way I wear my hair and how I deal with Zach and what Tom should or should not be doing.  Seriously...shoot me if I ever behave that way with my kids.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, after all.  Or is that absence.  Nah...distance works better for me.

I don't have much of a relationship with my family much anymore.  I rarely hear from my sisters and the obligatory phone calls are the only contact I have with my parents.  And that suits me just fine.  I don't know if there is something wrong with me or not, but if being myself is wrong, then I don't want to be right.  :)

Off to bed, knitting, reading and ritual.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Whispers, hawks and a flounce

Today was a lovely day with sunshine and temps near 50F.  I refilled the bird feeders and split the pomegranate and left it on my outdoor altar.  With thanks to Persephone.

I tried to do a full moon ritual last night but I was pretty distracted and just couldn't really enjoy it. So I just lit the candles, took my spirit beads to bed with me and just watched the pretty fire.  (I also watched Howl's Moving Castle and the witch keeps talking about the pretty fire in it so that's where my mind is right now.)  I was unable to do any studying or anything because I lacked the ability to concentrate...part and parcel of the fibromyalgia, unfortunately.  It's not all the time, but when I'm hurting or terribly fatigued, I just can't retain anything I read.  Or watch.

I saw a hawk today while I was outside.  Normally I have to go out of town to see them in the sky but we do live on the edge of town so it wasn't terribly unusual.  Still, it felt like a sign that I am on the right path.  I feel very good about returning to Druidry while keeping the Greek gods although if that changes, I'm okay with that, too.  When invoking the hearth this morning, I thought I heard Brighid in the background.  I hadn't called Hestia by name, but rather invoked the Goddess of Hearth and Home.  I wonder if it's like dialing a number and whoever answers is the one you're speaking to.

Anyway, if the Celtic gods want to come for a visit, they're more than welcome.  And if the Greeks decide to take a vacation, who's going to stop them, eh?

I wonder if maybe I should have taken a de-tox from all religion after leaving Christianity to give myself a cleansed palate, so to speak, before tasting what the other gods had to offer.  Too late now to change that, but I'm not going to deal in absolutes anymore.  Whatever happens, happens.  But I'm keeping the blog title no matter what.  LOL!

Pan has been whispering in my ear the past day or so.  I think I'll change out my raven/pentacle for the Green Man pendant for a few days.  He's the reason I really reconsidered and decided to give Druidry another chance.  He's let me know that I'm no city girl and that Nature has my number and intends to call.  Frequently.  But for reasons that I can't fathom, Artemis has given me the cold shoulder and did a flounce after the full moon ritual last night.  It was very unsettling but keeping her against her will isn't something I'd ever do so if she comes back, she does.  If not, I wish her well but my journey continues with or without her.  Maybe it was something I said or the ritual wasn't done well or maybe she's not crazy about me combining Druidry and Greek polytheism.  Whatever the reason, I didn't lose any sleep over it.  I'll be honest...I've never felt a strong connection with her anyway.  I did try, thinking that she would be my connection to nature, but she was always a bit aloof.  And I suppose she didn't like being invoked for a full moon ritual anyway.  Next time, I'll call Selene.

My time of groveling before the gods is over.  Doesn't mean I don't owe them respect and honor, but never again will I be a doormat for any deity.  I don't set myself on the same level as the gods, but neither do I expect them to walk all over me.

Just sayin;'.

Monday, January 9, 2012


As promised, some pictures of my altar.  Just the main altar, not the hearth or Hermes's altar.  I'm learning the camera so I'll try to get more pictures later.

I knitted the afghan I'm using for a cover.  It's a Greek afghan pattern I found on Ravelry but I didn't have enough yarn to make a full size afghan so it fits perfectly on my yarn bin, which is under all that.  The red thing on the left is the pomegranate I'm offering to Persephone.  I have a close up of the altar coming up.

I have purified water in the back in a vase and my oil burner on the left, incense burner in the middle and my bell on the right.  I am using the black candle for the cthonic gods, namely Hades, Persephone, Hecate.  When that candle is gone, I'll probably just use another color as finding black candles is hard.  I don't use a particular color for any of the other gods aside from Hestia.  I use red for hers to symbolize the hearth-fire.

These figurines represent the gods:  the eagle for's an old Avon container but the lid is missing so I'm using the jar part as a frankincense holder.  The two owls represent Athena; the shell, Poseidon; the swan, Apollo; the deer, Artemis, and the snake, Asklepius.  Hanging on the shelf is a set of spirit beads for meditating.  I like to hold them when I pray or do any kind of ritual.  They're made of jasper and hold some lovely energy.  Behind the shelf is my print of van Gogh's Starry Night.  I just feel a lot of energy coming from that beautiful work of art and it makes me think of the gods in the ethereal plain.

I had some other pictures above the altar, on the wall, but they didn't come out very well.  It will take me a bit to learn how to do this camera thing better.

I don't really fit in with the other Hellenic polytheists, which doesn't bother me because it seems to me that choosing to fit in with them would be limiting myself.  I will not willingly put myself in prison to any religious system again, especially one that insists on one way to do things, or one who believes they and they alone hold all truth.  And to be honest, there are some on this particular path who behave just like the fundies I left behind.  Plus, they seem to be on a very conservative political spectrum, one that I also left behind and will never return to.  Not all, of course, but many.  Enough that makes me wary of embracing that kind of spiritual path.

I have no doubts about which gods I should be following.  I am quite content with the gods of my youth and am happily forging a connection with them.  But I've discovered that I have limited myself too much by trying to label myself as a Hellenic polytheist and it's starting to feel too snug a fit.  I do love the traditional aspects of the Greek gods but I'm not living in ancient Greece right now.  Nor am I Greek.  I'm not interested in the ancient philosophers or how the ancient Greeks thought about the gods.  I'm interested in now.

I also don't believe anyone can know exactly what the gods thought about this or that based on the philosophers or the mythologies.  Ancient writings are just like modern writings.  They are all based on opinion.  No one can know without a doubt that the Greek gods hated magick or that they were offended by miasma or that one had to perform a ritual in a particular way.  It's all guess-work.

That's not to say that those writing don't have some merit.  I happen to like reading other people's opinions about all kinds of things, and I'm glad to learn from them.  But never again will I believe that any writings are without error or must be read literally.  I've had enough of that, thankyouverymuch.

So I've pulled out my Druidry books and plan to incorporate that into my practices as well.  I will yield to the pull toward magick also.  It's a strong pull and I can't imagine not going in a direction I feel the gods are leading me toward.  I really don't see any conflict with Druidry and the Greek gods anyway.  My original problem with Druidry was that I couldn't connect with the Celtic gods.  Other than that I really did like it.

So I figure it's my path, not anyone else's, and since they're not going to walk it for me, they shouldn't be able to tell me how to walk it either.

All in all, things have never been better for me spiritually.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Attending the altar

For a long time, I've been thinking of a vigil candle or light of some kind on my altar.  I have, from time to time, attempted it for special occasions.  I really do like the idea of having one going all the time.  The dynamics of doing that, though, aren't as easy as it seems.  For one, I don't want a 7 day candle because I'm nervous about leaving a candle lit when I'm not home or when I'm asleep, no matter how "safe" it might be.  Any other kind of real candle would be out of the question.  I have a battery-run candle that I've used in the past and my oil burner runs on a tea candle that can last as long as 3 hours.  So if I time it right, I can use the oil burner during the day, blow it out when I leave (which means I have to remember to do that) and then switch to the battery-operated candle then.  Or I could just use the battery-run candle all the time unless I have my votive candles lit for ritual or prayer.  It's something that would be more of a disciplinary action initially.  Teaching myself to ensure my altar is attended at all times.  I really do like the idea as long as my memory cooperates.

I bought some pomegranate oil for my oil burner today, in honor of Persephone.  And I picked up a real pomegranate as well, to place as an offering on the altar before I share it out with the birds and rodents.  I will have a taste as well, having never tried it before.  I found a tiny snake figurine that is on my altar now, in honor of  Asclepius.  The Greek version isn't the caduceus, but a snake wrapped around a staff.  Still, this is as close as I can come right now.  I'm thankful for his help with Hannibal's infected chin and Tom's back pain.

I'm hoping to get some pictures taken later this week of my various altars.  I've wanted to do that for a while but haven't gotten around to learning how to use the camera yet.  I plan on getting Zach to tutor me on it this week.  It may take a while to get some good pictures though.

I haven't done as much studying as I would like.  Depression does that to you...leaves you in a limbo kind of world.  Wanting isn't always enough when it comes to motivation or impetus.  Still, I don't despair.  This, too, shall pass.  I can take baby steps again until I'm back to reading regularly and that is all I can hope for.  And all that I need hope for.

Off to nightly prayer and ritual and then bed.  I might just read tonight instead of knit.  It's been that kind of a day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Only the title has changed

Changing the title and defining my path won't make any changes to this blog.  I don't intend to blog in a teaching way or intend to explain a lot about hellenic polytheism.  I'll be doing the same things I always have done.  Just talking about my day to day dealings with my spirituality and how I interact with the world.  Sometimes I'll rant; sometimes I'll offer opinions.  But mostly it's just me talking about my daily spiritual path.  I'll just be more open about what walking on that path entails.

How boring, huh?

I'm riding out another depression cycle, normal for me this time of year.  I can't take meds but my dr does recommend diet, exercise and meditation.  She said that meditation has been known to change the brain patterns in people with clinical depression.  I also read that incense, or aromatherapy, helps change the brain patterns as well.  In particular, I've read that frankincense helps.  Unfortunately I don't care much for the scent although I use it in ritual because the gods seem to like it.  But get the sticks.  The cones won't stay lit.  I have to grind them up and then they burn too fast.

I ran into a friend from my old fundie church at StuffMart again and discovered that their pastor had flat-out lied to me about the reason they didn't do their Christmas program this year.  He told me it was because of some deaths they had and felt that it was a God-thing.  D said it was because people didn't honor their commitments and just bailed out.  They didn't have enough people to put the event on.  Of course I didn't tell her what the pastor had told me.  I don't play those games.  It was good to see her and she didn't interrogate me as to my religious activities this time so it was pleasant.  We talked a lot about our pets.

I've been writing down prayers I find online into my journal to use for daily rituals and such.  Some of them are lovely; some not so much.  I have copied a few Orphic hymns that I liked.  Decided against some I didn't care for.  I've been thinking that I should get back to writing again.  Not blog writing, but journaling and even trying my hand at poetry and fiction again.  I might start out with short stories first.  I think my problems in the past were I attempted mountains before I could walk up hills.

I also have been looking longingly at my drawing pencils.  I should get back to that, too.  I'm not the most ambitious person in the world and follow-through is my worst fault, I think.  Maybe more structure in my life would help.

The other night, while praying, I found a connection with a goddess I hadn't considered before but makes perfect sense for me.  While praying to all the gods I invoked Persephone and immediately felt a warm rush of energy overwhelm me.  I stopped for a moment to consider what it meant.  I'm not sure.  Not really.  But I will attempt to connect with her again and see what happens.  It was a good feeling, for sure.  One that brough positive energy and thoughts to me.

I have a lot of studying to do to bring myself up to speed on the gods but as I love doing that studying, it's something I really look forward to. Although I don't intend to study to the degree that I've dissected hellenic polytheism into a bloody pulp.  I like it whole.  Chunky, not smooth.

Time to light the candles and have a little time with the gods.  My rituals tend to be simple and wordless, although I do use prayer a lot.  I love the time I spend with them.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Name change...again

I've felt for a while that my blog name didn't represent me anymore but part of me didn't want to be this open about my Hellenic polytheistic path.  I think my reluctance had more to do with fear of what people might think rather than feeling like my path has been settled.  At least for now.

So I boldy announce that I am a Hellenic polytheist with a leaning toward the traditional, but not reconstructionist, practices.  This fits me like a glove and I no longer feel like an outsider or a pretender.

The name, of course, relates to a post I wrote about when the Greek gods came to visit, bearing luggage.  They came to stay. :)