Today TPWard is honoring Poseidon Pater. This hymn has the sound of a call-back sort of a hymn, one that might include a reader and a congregation. I have to admit that the idea of there being a gathering of people simply to praise Poseidon fills me with delight.
The subject of spirit work and spirit-working/workers has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m both rereading
Walking the Heart Road by Silence Maestas, and I’m reading for the first time Walking Between the Worlds by Nornoriel Lokason. Spirit work, spirit working, and spirit workers are mentioned a fair amount of times in both books, though a decent amount of Nornoriel’s book challenges the idea that in order to have meaningful relationships with the gods and spirits one must serve a community in some way. Since the days of yore, when a small community of spirit workers gathered on LJ, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the term spirit worker, at least as it may or may not apply to myself, for a number of reasons.
First: whatever spirit work I do or do not do, it is not what drives my relationship with my primary gods and spirits. Poseidon did not approach me with an eye toward what I might in the future manage to do for Him in this world, and to entertain the idea that that may be the case is, for me, to begin a trek upon a downward spiral of un-doing. It is to undermine every hard bit of healing we have wrought upon my psyche and, worse than anything else, it is to ignore His input regarding the matter. There is much appeal in the idea that He saw raw potential in me that night upon the shore and decided to seize an opportunity, decided to make an investment. It certainly would be easier for me to accept, if maybe I wasn’t worth His attention then,that He saw in me something that might make me have some worth to Him down the road. Such an idea goes along more readily with my concept of my own inherent worth (or lackthereof), and it could be tempting to buy into the idea . . . except, He insists that no. What I am able to do now when I serve I am able to do as a natural outgrowth of my foundations being well tended, of my relationships being set right, of my spirit being nourished and nurtured rather than feeling used up and starving for sustenance. When that balance tips toward ‘used up and starving’, any spirit work that I might engage in is dropped – and here is possibly the main argument I’ve used as to why I’m not actually a spirit worker – without hesitation, and I retreat into His arms, into o/Our relationship, into the bubble that we create. If it’s really bad, that feeling of spiritual starvation, I drop pretty much everything other than being with Him. Rituals that aren’t centered around Him, rituals that are centered around Him but are maybe more ceremonial and thus taxing rather than nourishing, practices that aren’t immediately about Him – it all goes. Earlier in all of this, it would go with a fight on my end, but I’ve gotten wiser over the years, and now it simply goes. Self-recriminations are nothing but a waste of energy.
Another reason I’ve been reluctant to name myself a spirit worker in the past has been, my “service” has never once been about serving a human community. I am, and have always been, pretty darn comfortable about the fact that my definition of community is pretty inclusive. In the beginning this was extended to landspirits and mortal non-human animals naturally, and only later did it begin to include both gods and humans on a more general scale – if we’re talking a wide-scale sense of ‘community’. That being the case, it’s interesting to me (in that, ‘huh, isn’t that curious’ way) that I would balk at considering myself a spirit worker simply because other people might mean service to a human community when speaking of service. This is very much a case of words meaning things, and a struggle between what a word might mean to me and what it might mean to a majority. More curious, that, because I certainly do not let the majority of humans inform how I use ‘pagan’, ‘heathen’, ‘god’ or ‘religion’, so why the heck would I with this?
The last main reason I have for shying away from the label is, in my head, anyone who is acting as a connection to this realm for the gods or spirits is, in my mind, a spirit worker. Even if all they are doing is providing that connection, is being that doorway between the realms, that is still a very important service to be providing, and in my worldview, in my understanding of how any relationship with a god or spirit works, providing that connection is implicit in simply interacting with Them – we cannot help but provide that, any time there’s an exchange between u/Us. Thus, in my worldview, the term spirit work is sort of redundant to ‘being involved with the spirits and/or gods’. I realize that others may have a more nuanced understanding or definition of the term, but that is mine, and so mostly whether or not I adopted the term spirit work has been irrelevant.
Until this year, when Pops put His foot down regarding my avoiding any sort of serious involvement with His Hunt, crossed His arms, stepped back a bit, and allowed Them to harry me. For years (and years and years) Poseidon has had designs on the Hunt. My understanding of this has been that my Husband gets an automatic ‘in’ into my Father’s Hunt because of me – which starts to have suggestions of delusions of grandeur, maybe, but fuck it. Odin has adopted me. Poseidon calls me ‘wife’. I don’t think I’m any great thing, but I do believe that one of the things that we can do in our interactions with Them is to help forge connections between the realms – and what else is providing a link between two huge Families other than forging a bridge? Do either of Them need me for that? Not really, no. They can do it on Their own. But having mutual love and affection for a person does often smooth the way for calm interactions, does or at least can inspire otherwise territorial types to make an effort to maybe be less aggressive about such things.
I knew I was in no real danger (or, at the least, I knew that if Odin’s Hunt was going to be my ending this year, it was how He wanted it to be, and there was no point being deeply scared about it) but it was still uncomfortable. Hunting dreams (in which I was being hunted), seeing faces and shapes around me (I’m not a visual person, when it comes to Seeing; I get impressions and ‘knowings’ – I do not often See things, and it was unnerving), having flashes of scenes play through my mind, like daydreams, only I wasn’t driving them, and they would involve horrible, awful things. That, on top of Poseidon wanting me to really, for real for real this time, agree to spend time with Him, Over There, riding with the Host . . . I could keep denying this, I could keep shrugging it off (“No, You go with my Dad and go Hunting. It’s a menfolk thing, I’ll be the dutiful daughter and wife, I’ll keep a candle in the window for You both. Have fun!”) and I could keep losing sleep . . . or I could agree.
Once I agreed, They all eased up a bit, and spelled out exactly what They wanted from me, how They wanted me to be a part of Their company – and They laughed uproariously at Their great fun when I realized that what They wanted was nothing more than what I already had the tools to handle. Ah, what a grand joke! What entertainment that was!
Still, that too has me thinking about spirit work, specifically the spirit work that I do, and the fact that often spirit work, often service, is stressed, to the point where those coming into this maybe expect that they have to be spirit workers – and that’s simply not the case. This is another one of those things wherein we really need to let our relationships set the bounds of the relationships, wherein we need to be open to the gods and/or spirits we are involved with, to define with Them what is to be. For some, service to o/Others is a path they take to better understand themselves, to encourage spiritual growth and fortitude. For others, that may be the worst approach to this entire thing. For some, the thought of being loved, of being treasured, of being supported is the hardest thing to grasp and the most authentic way to a place of being able to serve. For those of us who have been forced into caretaker roles maybe way before we had the tools (or, you know, years) to fulfill that role in a healthy, holistic way, the idea of serving others may be the thing that makes us high-tail our butts away from relationships that might otherwise help us a great deal. I’m not sure those who have not been in that sort of a situation can understand fully how detrimental the mentality of “you must serve” can be to those of us who have a low sense, or are fully lacking any sense, of self-worth.
Love can be the spirit work we engage upon. Love certainly has become a central tenent to my devotional path. It’s been a winding path to this point. First came awareness, at Poseidon’s behest. Later, this evolved into compassion– first detached compassion for others, later for myself, and eventually that became the sort of detached compassion/loving-kindness that is my current struggle. I picked up service along the way, and the particular service I provide I’ve set down and picked up and set down and picked up again and again, and I’ll continue to do so. And I have no shame in this fact. It has only been within the last few years that I’ve even been able to look at service in the name of my gods, at the behest of my gods, in a way that is less about “you should be doing X” and has become a more authentic pouring out of what I am filled with. This vessel is not always filled, let alone overflowing, but when it is, the natural inclination seems to be to give.
All this being said, what, then, does my service look like? What does it entail, and whom does it serve?
The longest-standing way in which I serve is in serving the spirits. Some of you may already know that I practice Reiki. My initiation into Reiki was centered around serving others, initially humankind, but that quickly spread to other communities. Sending Reiki to the recently deceased and/or dying (with no limit placed upon species), sending Reiki to the Waters and to the Earth, are regular parts of what I do. Sometimes this entails going and sitting int a cemetery or by the river’s edge; often this entails parking my butt in the bathtub with some incense and a candle and some earplugs. It’s rarely fancy or elaborate.
Another way I serve is through my writing – and here I mean my fiction. What I don’t talk about a great deal or in great depth is how the stories come my way. I don’t experience interaction with beings as muses the way that muses are classically understood. Sometimes I’ll get flashes of concepts I want to explore, but the most common way I receive stories is that a character or two will come to me and tell me their story. What that looks like to me, as a person who regularly interacts with gods and spirits, is that a spirit of one kind or another comes to me with a story they want written down and released into the world. For the longest time I had great concerns – if I experienced these beings as real and the gods as real and other spirits as real, how could I ever know which ones were really, really, for real, real? On that front, I’ve given up. I’ve surrendered. So long as they are not causing me or mine any harm, it’s none of my business to decide the level of their Realness. They impact my life – they enrich my life – and that’s enough for me to consider them real. Their being real does not in any way invalidate how real Poseidon is. Writing – pursuing this calling – keeps me tapped in, keeps the connection open, and Beth can tell you that whenever I go for a period without writing there are obvious side-effects and negative consequences. I am grateful for the people who read my fiction and enjoy it, and I’m humbled by their support, but I write, ultimately, for the spirits who bring me stories and request that I tell them.
The most directly-in-service-of-humanity work that I do is, activism. Some may not consider sitting in one’s home and writing on the internet activism, but such people may have too narrow an understanding of the term. I’m out as a pagan, as a polytheist, as a godspouse, as a devotee to both Odin and Poseidon, because I can be. I write publicly, I use my real name, and I write about some pretty private stuff, because I live in a place and time when the worse that’s likely going to happen to me is I’m going to get ridiculed. That’s not true for everyone, and that’s a huge part of why I feel a responsibility toward activism. I want to be a voice that people can hear – whether they’re new to paganism, to polytheism, to deity- or spirit-devotion – as an example of how one might walk one’s path. I try my best to keep it real, because when I was starting out, everyone who’d been walking similar paths seemed to have their shit together, and I still don’t feel like I have my shit together, and I want to present as authentic a representation of what me walking my path looks like. Not that I think I’m the shit – I don’t – but because I think it’s important to have as many examples as possible available, to drive home the fact that what walking your path looks like is up to you (or is up to you and your spirits and/or gods) and not so much up to other humans who have nothing to do with you beyond being on the internet together.
Bottom line for me is: love is the work. Love makes the above three things happen and makes them possible to be sustained for longer periods of time without burn-out . . . and I’ve only reached that place through Love. For some, service has to come first. For others, service comes after one has shored one’s spirit up. Neither are right or wrong, and no one should be shamed for doing it one way or the other.
edited because homonyms!
Yes, I am hearing a funnily accented Italian Greyhound in my head as I read that title and you should be hearing it, too!
I started this wanting to write about joy — about picking joy, about choosing joy, about embracing joy and finding joy, and how embracing joy doesn’t just happen (especially for people that run baseline blue or depressed), how it’s a choice. Such thought put into my mind a most excellent post written a few years ago Elizabeth Vongvisith (the post is no longer up, alas) about love being a verb, not a noun, and I’m wondering: is this true for more than just love? In all of these things — love, compassion, joy, humility — my being aware of these states of mind, or being aware of these ways of being in the world, start with a choice. I choose, every day, in every moment, whether I’m going to come from a place of compassion, of love, of joy. I choose whether I’m going to represent my god in this world by how I treat those around me. Some days, of course, my awareness of this choice is lacking. Some days I can barely muster up compassion for anyone, let alone myself, and I realize that deciding that I’m going to choose how to be is not the same as deciding that everyone is capable of making that choice.
Something changed within me, in July of 2013, and I truly believe this was a gift given to me by my grandparents. In life they embodied joie de virve, and after they passed from this world, I keenly felt that loss. Their loss, yes, but also, unexpectedly, the loss of this source of their touch upon the world. Not just in how they interacted with everyone and how much they meant (and still mean) to me, but . . . I guess it’s the loss of their light upon the world. I wanted there to be that, still, in this world. I wanted, very much, for that part of them to remain. And, something shifted, within me.
I still run a baseline blue level. I still descend into darkness with regularity. I’m not, nor will I ever be, a happy, bubbly, cheerful person. But it’s gotten easier to choose joy. It’s gotten easier to give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s gotten easier to let go of the things that don’t concern me and have no real impact upon my life. It’s gotten easier to see what in my life needs to be released and, then, it’s gotten easier in the releasing of it. It’s gotten easier to be more authentically patient and compassionate with human people in general, and it’s gotten easier to allow myself to feel the joy that is walking my path and living my life.
I live my life with Poseidon; He is my center. He is my hearth. But I bring more of myself to this hearth, to offer to Him, than I had before, in being able to choose to embrace joy, in choosing to celebrate with love and warmth and joy His touch upon myself, and His touch upon the world. I won’t choose for others how they will interact with their gods, but for me, it’s certainly a celebration, and I truly want to bring that forth into the world.
Today’s hymn in praise of Poseidon Soter i, to date, my favorite of the hymns TPWard is sharing with us. The last two verses especially capture a sense I often feel, when confronted with Poseidon’s mercy, kindness, generosity of spirit, and deep abiding love.
I am loving this week, and this project of his. I am loving that I get to start my day being greeted by a new hymn in my WP reader, that someone else is talking about how awesome and great and awesome and wonderful Poseidon is. I know others out there do experience that greatness, I know I’m far from alone, but it is so, so wonderful to get to see that in action, as many of you who are followers of “less popular” gods and spirits may be able to relate to.
Poseidon Hippios is being praised today, and hurrah for it. When I think of Poseidon Hippios, I often think less about the partnerships we as a species have developed with the equines of the world, and I tend to think more about the horrid ways in which we abuse said partnerships. I try to not be so bleak, but I’ve got miners among my ancestors, and while they were miners in the US, it always puts me in mind of the mine ponies across the pond. Now, in fairness, the human miners have often suffered just as much, so . .. it’s just wretched all around.
Still, there’s no denying that much of our advancement as a species has come with the aid of horsepower, even with all the darker bits of that history. Hail, Poseidon Hippios!
I found this image for the first time, a few days ago. It has become “Poseidon at Yule” in my mind (and Poseidon has a thing with the Solstice, even within the Hellenic past. I knew this to a point, because the Athenian month named for Him roughly corresponds with December, but I discovered a year or so ago — yay Jstor! — that Athens was not the only place to celebrate Him around the solstice) and I need to get my hands on a print of it. It also puts me in mind of Poseidon Hippios, and so, I thought I’d share.
Because boasting about one’s accomplishments ought to be less of a taboo than it is in our culture:
Year to date, I’ve written 106,000 words, give or take a few hundred. Are they all going to see the light of day this year? No. No, they are not. Many of them either have or will, and the rest are seeds planted, waiting to bloom in the coming year. My initial aim for maintaining a writing blog when I started The Saturated Page was both to talk about my work (and to talk in general about books, stories, writing – all great things!) but also to have a tool to help me figure out my strengths and (more to the point) my weaknesses as a writer, to help me hone my craft, and to help me produce more work. I have written fiction since I could hold a pen. I was the girl in your English class whose creative stories were read aloud. I was the one who received word limits on my writing assignments. All of the bags and purses I’ve ever owned have had to meet two very important criteria: will both a book and a notebook (the paper kind) fit easily into the bag? Being a writer has pretty much the one part of my identity that I’ve never doubted, never thought of setting down, never really had to think much about it at all. I’ve had one period in my life when I wasn’t working on some sort of fiction, even if I wasn’t writing all the time – after I finished high school, I stopped writing, and I didn’t pen another story for two years. (This was a mistake. Writing, which had been as easy as breathing, was harder to pick back up then I thought it would be. Not my love for doing it, but getting myself out of my own way while writing.) There were reasons – transitioning from going to school to working full time, the death of my father, etc., – but it was still an experience I wish I could have skipped. (‘Allo, hindsight!) I’ve never been very focused on the production parts of writing. I want to write, and then I want to write some more. I’m happy to edit and polish (er, in theory. Maybe don’t talk to me much when I’m in the thick of it, though) Formatting, publishing, and, worse, talking about material that I last really worked on weeks or months or years ago? Not so much. I’ve gotten better at it, but it always feels a bit false. I love my stories, but to use a current example, even Spirit Touched, which goes live to the subscription group in December, and is the most recently completed work is old news, as far as story plotting and planning. The NaNo project is the one that’s occupying my waking moments. It’s the tea that’s steeping inside the teapot that is my head. (I’m terrified of this project, but I’m also excited and cannot wait to get my teeth into it!)
Up until the last three years, I haven’t been very serious about getting my work out there. Oh, I’ve had stories published, and I’ve written some books, but while I’ve been serious about telling stories, my approach has been amateurish. I didn’t pay much attention to what I was producing in a given year, I had no idea what my numbers were, what I was capable of, or even what approach to writing worked best for me. I wrote stories as I felt inspired to, and I had loads (I still have loads) of potential story ideas waiting for me to get the time to write them, but I was very la la la about getting my ass into the chair and writing. I didn’t set goals – not real, tangible, obtainable goals. In 2009 I wrote the bulk of what would eventually become The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tale, and the year after that I barely broke 20k words. Between that, the back-log of stories waiting to be told and the realization that that I would die with more stories waiting for me to write them than I could ever write in a single lifetime (even if I wrote nonstop for the rest of my life, unless I put blinders on and stopped interacting with the world, because story snippets come from every which where) I decided enough was enough. My first real, obtainable goal was formulated: I wanted to become more prolific than I’d been prior to that point, and I wanted to see how I ticked, as a writer. I also, bigger picture goal, wanted to become one of those writers who keeps writing, even when life explodes.
I made it out of 2012 with 80k under my belt, which was my first victory along that road. 2012 saw me bury my grandmother, grandfather, and one of our cats. (2012 is the year that can still, still go fuck itself.) 2013 closed with my reached 100k, which was the most I’d written in any one given year since I’d written The Fosterling in 2001. Second victory! Yes, I reached that much in part due to participating in NaNo, but so what? Only part of that word count felt like work, like striving, and that was an awesome, awesome feeling.
It’s October 2014 as I write this. I’ve tallied my writing for the year so far, and I’ve included essays, articles, and some of the meatier blog posts (because the consensus says blog posting counts towards word counts!), and rounding down a dozen hundred words or so, I’m at 106k. If I need to placate my fiction-writer-identity, I can point out that more than half of that is original fiction. With the NaNo project firmed up (Poseidon: a Narrative, and yes, I’m going to talk about this more) the plan is to hit another 50k during November. And then there’s December, still.
2014 has already been a huge writing victory year for me. I am paying a bill, regularly, by my writing, and I have been since July. This is huge for me, and it’s helped me start taking myself more seriously as a writer. Having hit over 100k words (and it’s not even the end of the year yet) is a big deal, too, and largely because little of that has actually felt like work. I’m working full time. I’ve had dental surgery. For a month and more I was working more than full time. There has been ridiculous day job related stress. My dog was diagnosed with heart failure. Life hasn’t stopped just so I could write, and yet I’ve written more this year than I ever have – and there’s still two months to go. And, I’ve managed to get regular knitting back into my life, too. (I’ve made socks. THREE of them!)
So, yeah. Gonna toot my horn a bit, and be pleased with myself. I dun good.
In writing about taboos in a previous post, I mentioned how I was not allowed to purchase mass-produced religious icons of Poseidon for o/Our shrine. Given o/Our foundation, I could make a nice, politically correct case for how He doesn’t want me to have such items because He would rather I support pagan artists and crafters, that He would rather recycled or handmade items on the shrine because they have more meaning, are more precious, are a bit detached from the consumerist mindset that rules my society. It would sound nice and proper – but it would be a lie. Oh, sure – I do want to support my fellow pagan creators. A painting or sculpture created by a co-religionist certainly has more meaning than a mass-produced statue of Neptune cast from a mold in the hundreds. A commissioned piece does not come with the waste that is built in to having more supply than the demand warrants. I do want to have gifted, thrifted, or handmade items on the shrine . . . now.
But, as I said in that post, the taboo came about not for any lofty goals of mine. It came about because I upended the shrine I kept for Poseidon one time too many, and He’d had enough.
I am typically one who is slow to anger. I have a long, long fuse. As my brother put it last week: “We will procrastinate and be inconvenienced, straight up ignore any issue for however long. But when we want the thing, we get the thing.” He wasn’t talking about our tempers in this (well, sort of. There’s levels of anger, and he was talking specifically about the, ‘okay, stop dicking me around now,’ level) but it applies. I inherited my grandmother’s gimlet eye and my father’s long fuse and I was taught early how to repress and detach and sit back and wait. My brother and I, we have longer fuses, but when they go, they go. Not big, not flashy, not always – but our tempers are not the sort where bridges are damaged and then need to be mended. Our tempers are such that those bridges never existed in the first place. We have that calm, cold rage, and we are cruel. We give fair warning – “You are crossing a line here, this is where I’m at, cease and desist,” and it’s not our fault that people don’t expect you to be able to articulate those points so clearly as lines are pushed more and more, though we’re often amazed at how surprised people are once that line has been crossed. (I joke that we’ve got a touch of berserker in our blood, but it’s not actually a joke, and it’s not actually fun to experience, and there are reasons we are mindful of our anger levels, there are reasons we are able to articulate our needs and limits as well as we can.)
By the time I’d built foundations with Poseidon, I thought I had a pretty good handle on my anger – I thought I knew it well enough to know when the fuse was close to blowing, what my limitations were, and so on. By the time I’d given Him marriage vows, moved in with Beth, and began my life over again, I felt for sure that my foundation was secure. I discovered though, no. I entered into a dark period in o/Our relationship, and if I wasn’t pissed off at Poseidon (for daring to allow me to swear myself to Him, for not saving Himself from such a mistake) then I was terrified that He was going to reveal it was all some great Cosmic Joke (what’s the punchline, again?) and using anger to hide that fear. (Good luck with that.) This anger did not burn slow. It burned hot, and it burned constantly. I swore at Him. I heaped verbal abuse at Him. If He’d been a mortal husband, He would have been right in leaving me, and of course that’s exactly what I was trying to convince Him to do. If I couldn’t reason with Him, by golly I was going to drive Him away.
I broke statuary. I shattered picture frames. I broke drinking vessels and offering bowls. Up ending the shrines was not a weekly occurrence, but it happened more than a few times. The year after Angel died was the worst of it, and it was in 2008 that I was given the icon taboo. I was allowed to purchase the statue I currently have after that, because it was a different version of the statue I already had (and I love this Neptune statue, I just do) but it was understood that this one would be the last one. The only reason this one wasn’t broken when I upended the shrine for the last time was because I was maintaining two shrines at that time, and the shrine I pitched over had a bust on it instead.
The last time didn’t even have anything to do with Poseidon, either – least you think that I only targeted Him when it involved Him. A much looked forward to visit went south pretty fast, and I was pissed off at everyone in the world. When I should have turned toward Him for comfort and solace, instead I turned on Him.
I realized at that point that my turning my anger on Him, taking my anger out on Him, had become habit. Bad enough desecrating His shrine in anger, but turning on Him was worse. The shrine, at the end of the day, is just a collection of stuff, but Poseidon . . . Poseidon saved my life. Poseidon helped me create a life I want to live. Poseidon gave me hope and courage and love when I didn’t believe there was a point to any of those things. He did not deserve the rage I was throwing His way all the time, especially when it had become habitual.
The moments after the rage, when I’d want to cringe at what I’d done, at the things I’d said, He would wrap His presence around me, and remind me that my wrath is nothing – nothing – compared to what He is capable of. The destruction of a carefully tended shrine space is nothing in the face of what He can do – and has done – when stirred to anger.
The Poseidon that I know and love has to Him a deep abiding stillness, a cold detachment that makes me think of the bottom of the oceans: freezing and dark and crushing pressure. The moments I’ve experienced when I’d expect Poseidon from the stories to come raging to the foreground – petulant, stormy, angry, wrathful – are the moments when I experience Him . . . sucking in a breathe and going utterly still, is the closest description I can call to mind. I don’t think such a reaction was part of His nature. I get the sense that He learned how to be this way, so as to cause less harm.
I don’t plan on upending any more shrines. It’s been years now since I’ve had that problem with anger. I don’t want to damage needlessly the objects that I do have, that I cherish, and wish to keep. His shrine has long since become o/Our shrine. But I live with the knowledge that I can lash out blindly, with an aim to tear down, destroy, to cut and bruise and break. I love this God of mine. I love Him deeply, with all of my being, and I want to be a place of Love for Him. Still, I know that fear, especially when it comes to u/Us, presents first as anger. I know that I will lash out. I know that my instinct is to cut before I am cut. He does not quite enjoy those moments, but neither does He shy away from them. Mostly, He doesn’t fight back, He just waits. And then He wraps me tight within His presence, and makes me sit with having been angry with Him . . . and the knowledge that He can take it.
I gotta be honest — this is hitting me in the, “I should be doing this!!” center . . . but poetry for me is a sporadic thing, and am I going to be distracted by that feeling or am I going to bask in the delight in seeing others write wonderful, beautiful, meaningful things in honor of Poseidon? Remember, Jo, you do not have to save and/or do all the things all on your own. This project is not mine and need not be mine, and really when I’m not busy wondering why I didn’t decide to do something like this (re: poetry is a sporadic thing for me) I’m over the moon about this. And so glad he’s sharing it with us.
Poseidon — more than simply a god of the sea.
My vulnerable spots, let me share them with you . . .
In our relationship, Poseidon has not issued many taboos over the years. There are certain things He prefers I do or refrain from doing. He certainly has opinions about many things, and He has zero qualms with sharing those opinions. There are many areas in which w/We compromise, in which there is a give-and-take. We do not have a master-slave relationship (though He does remind me that, should the need arise, we certainly could, and I am grateful that the need has not risen, and I’m aware that that particular ball is ever in my court) and so there are few times during which, “Sir, yes Sir!” is the expected response. Even when it comes to the places where environmental and consumerism activism intersects (what, if any, sort of seafood I eat; what types of meats I eat; which cosmetics I buy; how I dye my hair; which beverages I choose, etc.) I do not have taboos. Instead, I have guidelines, and I have the whole of everything to consider, each and every time. (Can I afford to skip meat this week, in terms of dietary needs of my human household? Am I in a moment of anxiety crisis, and will this purchase of fast food hurt or help, more? Am I approaching this from a place of needing to save all the things all by myself or there’s no point, or am I approaching this from a place of compassion?) The question may be the same every time; however, the answer can and will vary depending on an assortment of factors.
I have two taboos. One: when I’m out of the house (and depending on the time of day and the length of the walk, dog-walks may or may not count as being ‘out of the house’) my head is to be covered. How it’s covered is not proscribed. I choose to wear my hair up in two sheer cotton kerchiefs (or tichel) most of the time (the ones I have stay pretty well with minimal tying and no pins), but I’ve also looped rectangular scarves loosely over my head. I’ve worn hats instead of veils, and now and again a hooded sweatshirt worked, too. How much hair I show depends entirely on the situation, though for the day job He prefers more coverage rather than less.
The second taboo: I’m not allowed to purchase for myself mass-market produced religious icons of Him. I was, once upon a time, but there were some tumultuous years for us, and I’ve broken things in fits of anger. My most prominent figure currently is a mass-market produced icon, but it was the last one I was allowed, and I was only allowed it because I’d not up-ended the shrine in some time, and because the then-current one was broken, and because we understood that if I broke this one in anger, that would be it with religious icons, period. The one I have currently is broken, I must admit, but that’s because I brought it with me to the sea to bathe it, and fragile points of His coral crown snapped off. Accidents do not count against me, for lo my god is a gracious and generous god. Still, even then, He’d decided that that would be the last one I could buy, new, for myself. The whole theme for His shrine is: thrifted, gifted, or handmade. When it comes to most of the items on the shrine, that’s fine. When it comes to Poseidon imagery and icons, it’s less fine, because . . . well, because, damn it. Except, this is one of those things He’s firm about. He will not be moved on this matter, and really, it’s not so bad. I’m not a person who tends to want a lot of things, anyway.
Today, riding a bit high from both the Hunt energy that’s in the air around us, and from the having been stripped bare in order to connect more fully – and, true, from having a few people already respond in a way that encourages me to keep sharing these more vulnerable moments, riding high from knowing I help people sometimes just by sharing these moments – a painting I commissioned from Lykeia forever ago (okay, it was a year, maybe? Possibly a year and a half?) arrived. Now, I am not in any way upset about the time it took for me to get this painting; there was no time limit set on the commission, and such small things as pregnancy, taking care of her family, and her having a life do need to be factored in. I mention the time only to say that, there was a good amount of build-up to the actual arrival of the painting just because I had that much time to invest into looking forward to its creation and arrival. I knew it would be coming soon – it was finished and dried, and I paid the shipping a week ago. But I didn’t know it would be here today, and so when I returned home from a nice little outing to mail Beth’s candles, and then have breakfast (because the animals conspired to consume our bread for us during the night) just as the package was arriving, I was excited. What glorious timing, what a potent sign of approval and support, this arriving as I was feeling good about feeling vulnerable.
I will say – the painting itself (and you will all get to see it in the future) is gorgeous. Lykeia’s eye for color is wonderful, and she incorporates such vivid, beautiful hues. This is the third of her painting to grace our walls (I have a print of her’s as well) and I doubt it’ll be the last. I love, love, love her artwork. But, the painting did not make it all the way from Alaska unscathed – the cardboard she packaged it in had a tear in it, the frame is splintered in one area, and the canvas in the same area is likewise torn.
It’s not a slice, it’s more like the weave of the canvas was stressed. It’s more a snag than a slice. Beth assures me we can fix it, and I have faith in her eye as an artist that she’ll be able to do some cosmetic work to disguise the snag. Happily, it was in a dark part of the painting, rather than on the body of Poseidon, so there’s that.
I am not even a little tempted to decide that this is some other sort of sign or portent. Poseidon has made clear – I receive encouraging signs and omens. Anything ‘negative’ He has to say to me, He does not do with signs. That is how He uses that particular tool. What I do decide, when this happens, is that it serves me right for getting that excited about an object.
I don’t desire objects much, and almost every single time I do, something happens in the process of obtaining said object that reminds me that having too much (emotion or spiritual significance or meaning) invested into the thing is a bad idea. Spiritual materialism is something Poseidon does not want me to foster within myself and my practice. He sees the value in having icons and the like – just as He sees value in the aniconic. Even with the handmade icons, He is about as attached to them as He is not. They are, or can be (aesthetically pleasing) visual tools for my worship, but they are not the be all end all, and it’s fine to look forward to something – but it’s not fine to have a physical, inanimate object have that much control over how I feel about the world around me. He would be just as happy to have the shrine contain the various found and gifted objects that are not representative of any of His forms as He is to have the icon, the lion figurine, the horse figurine, etc.
I laugh at myself now – in delight, not so much in derision. I just said yesterday that I need to give more of myself to Him. I decide what that might mean – more time, more mindful practice. I decide what forms that will take. And then things like this happen. I can see Him holding still, watching what I might do. Fly off the handle? Decide to blame Him? Decide that this means I’m not meant to have this thing I desperately want to have, that is laden with such meaning for me? Or do I see this opportunity, to surrender more to Him? To see this attachment to this object that, while a visual representation of a very important stage of my walking with Him, is still an attachment to an object, and less an attachment to Him?
I love this painting – and you’ll see why, at some point in the near future. I’m very glad to have it, and very glad that it is mine . . . and I’m grateful for the reminder that it is, above all, an object to be appreciated, cared for, even treasured . . . but not to be confused with appreciating, caring for, and treasuring Poseidon Himself.