Announcing the Virtual Temple Project

So . . . this is an extremely exciting project, and pretty much all the excuse I need to get my outdoor Poseidon shrine in order this year.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

I am happy – and nervous and exhausted and intimidated – to announce the launch of a new project that’s very dear to my heart. The Virtual Temple Project is a multimedia endeavor that brings polytheist and pagan worship spaces to people everywhere with the help of video technology. Even though the number of publicly accessible worship spaces are  growing, access is limited by many factors. However, we have beautiful and meaningful worship spaces inside our homes. We have the skills to create altars, shrines, and temples to our beloved gods. Designing a space specifically intended for public viewing and then recording it and sharing it online will make meaningful spiritual engagement accessible to anyone with an Internet-enabled device.

There were many, many motivating factors behind the development of this project but the needs of my fellow spoonies were perhaps first in my mind. Sometimes simply getting up and going…

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Depression and Anxiety: a video

Because talking about it still makes me want to vomit, and you know what? Fuck that. Depression and anxiety is something that my immediate blood kin all deal with (or don’t deal with). I am not suicidal — 98% of the time. I’ve been suicidal, to the point of planning to plan suicide, maybe three times in my life, maybe four. Not a lot. But two of those times have been in the last two years, and that’s not a trend I’m comfortable with.

No one deserves to die because the thoughts in their heads convince them  that it doesn’t make a difference, or worse, that it’ll be better for everyone.

I may make more of these, because I really, really don’t want to. Not wanting to talk about this to people for most of my life has meant I haven’t really dealt with it well at all. So, you know. Maybe it’s time to just do it,  even if it’s terrifying. I don’t want to go and talk to a doctor about this? Okay. Time to talk to *everyone* instead.

Tea for Durga!

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During my morning devotionals a few weeks back, Durga opined that She’d also like some tea, thank you, but tea of Her own, not to share, would be appreciated. I commissioned a tea made for Her from Mia over at The Forest Witch, and she came up with this blend for Durga. It is beautiful, and it smells amazing. I haven’t had any yet, because it’s primarily for Durga (and I’m a bit meh about green tea myself)

Beth has an appointment today, and I found myself with the house to myself*, so I decided I would have a somewhat fancier offering-giving bit at the shrine (read: would see how I felt about incorporating bells into my worship). I am awkward and stumbling in the face of more formal ritual in my own home with People I don’t know super well ,but Who are kind and generous and sweet.

Spoken praise, incense, tea, and gratitude.

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There’s a scarf that She’s expressed appreciation for, at one of our local stores. Once there’s money for it, I’ll be bringing it home for a new shrine cover.

Durga is kind. Truly. The bell ringing was quite nice, though there is a feeling of attention being redirected that was a bit unexpected and powerful. Her shrine is lower down than Poseidon’s, so it requires kneeling at, and I rather like that. Juggling the offerings and the bell was interesting, and I may need to figure out something else when presenting  more than one item at a time, because  I can’t exactly set them down on the floor  to wait.  There  is a need to choreograph that I am beginning to appreciate. She is kind, and patient, and accommodating.

 

*one is never really alone in our house.

So, there’s this local shrine?

No, no. There is. That’s not a question. There are, from what I can tell, a small number  Hindu groups is my immediate area (though possibly with overlap?). The first is a satellite site of a larger group, and the other one that I’ve found is a connected shrine, the Sri Mookambika-Mahadeva Shrine. The shrine is set up in the backyard of some devotees, and it’s all fancy and pretty and impressive looking, and the daily devotions are taken care of by volunteers.

They have a FB page, and I’ve started stalking them. It’s, alas, not  a very active FB page. (and this is my problem with all the groups I’ve found thus far: a lack of web presence that would be helpful to socially anxious introverts. For shame!😉 ) That the central deities of this shrine are Mookambika (a goddess, from what I can tell — the story I found call her the goddess of speech — which is part of how She defeated Mookasura) and Mahadeva ( which, according to the story, would render Him Shiva)  and, too, Ganesha (because, Ganesha!) . . . and I want to visit it. I want to visit so badly. In the way that makes me want to cry and hide and be ill.

I found photos online, of past festivals, and the group  of worshipers is small, far too small of a crowd to hide in, and worse, I recognize like half of the people as customers at my day job, so hiding cannot happen.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this, exactly.

Except, I know already that I want to host a public shrine for Poseidon. Have wanted to for ages. Need to stop pretending I don’t.

And now, more tea.

Devotions began again!

Feeling like death warmed over has finally abated enough that I don’t feel gross sitting at the shrine. Not that Poseidon cares, except for the whole being upright has been a swaying, surreal sort of experience, and healing is better served in bed, but Durga was very much of the “not visiting again until you are well,” which was both stern and sweet at the same time.

At some point, and soon, I’m going to incorporate actual prayers, I think. I keep considering traditional prayers, and I keep feeling not quite right about that. So, I may just off the cuff it, and I may just recite English versions of traditional prayers, I don’t know. It’s not yet. I’m still getting myself into a place of being comfortable with this development. (I’m comfortable and also not. I’m comfortable because She is gracious and kind, but I’m a bit not, because Her presence is still so new) So, at some point, and soon, but not yet.

I feel better, so much better, for having had my devotions again this morning. Wee!

Sitting with heavy

Back in 2008, I broke one of the first oaths I made to Poseidon.

The specifics are not important. In 2007, my beloved Angel died. There were other things going on, and I did not react well. I seized upon a loophole and held fast.

Poseidon has pressed for continually growing awareness with me. He’s pressed for me to be able to hold Him in my mind both as my Beloved and as my God, and this is sometimes not as easy to manage as you might expect. Our culture’s dominant approach to religion — something that other people do for you, something that you go to set place to partake of, and then return home from — does not prepare you much for a close and personal, intimate relationship with the Gods.  (For the record, I’m not poo-pooing on Christianity here;this is something that I suspects  our culture fails for many of them, too.)  I have a hard time with this, on a day to day level, even now, and so my default is to approach Him as my Beloved. It has helped to address Him as my King and my God, but  it’s still something I need to pay attention to in order to accomplish, and for the most part, it’s something He continually encourages. I suspect that I’ll never have it 100% down, and that’s just part of living with Him.

At the time of my gleefully throwing myself through loopholes, He expressed understanding and unending leniency. There was no censure, and no correction. And there hasn’t been, so much, in all the years since. A small amount of “that was a really rough time,” but beyond that, nothing.

The other day, it was apparently on my mind or on His mind or both, and we got onto the topic again. He gifted me with a heavy truth.  There is still no censure, and there is still complete leniency on His part, but for once He drew a distinction between Himself as my Beloved and as my God. “I understood, and I understand, and there is no animosity between u/Us,” He explained, “but you broke a vow to your God, and you will never be able to undo that.”

The consequence of having broken this vow is carrying the knowledge for my life that I broke this vow to Him. There is still no censure from Him, and really no sense of disappointment, save that He would spare me having done that if He could have. It isn’t even like my word then meant less to Him after that — He in generous and He is kind and He knows humanity better than I could have guessed at, way back when.

It’s a curious thing, sitting with this heavy thing. We’ve discussed this time and again, and this is the first time He’s ever brought me to understand that, no, those loopholes really weren’t loopholes, and I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was. There is such compassion from Him, and a careful watching to see how I took this revelation. It’s not comfortable — but it’s also years in the past and there’s nothing to be done for it. I mourn the loss of a certain type of innocence, perhaps, but beyond that — it’s ancient history, as far as that goes.

We are flawed. We make promises we can’t keep. We fuck up. I’m in this curious place of letting go of a need to constantly berate myself. I’m in this curious place of, I think, beginning to truly be able to apply compassion — deep, deep compassion — to myself, rather than at just a surface level. It’s extremely interesting.

I’m not sure if He would have revealed this, ever, if I hadn’t gone back on anti-depressants. I feel like my baseline blue has raised quite a bit higher. I feel stronger, more emotionally resilient, and I worry a bit how much He’s held back because I’ve been too fragile. Clearly not entirely, because He didn’t feel a need to not shove Vishnu-through-Poseidon at me O.o but still. Still.

I’ll be over here reeling at His distinction between Poseidon-my-Husband, and Poseidon-my-God (just because He never does that!!) and sitting with this heavy-but-not  revelation for a bit. Don’t mind me.

 

 

Full thoughts: I can haz them.

(They just take me a few days to complete)

What I meant to say, in my post yesterday, was: when  it comes to ritual purity, to the concept of miasma, I always balk, and for the reasons I mentioned. It hadn’t really occured to me before now that, the reasons for not going to the shrine, the reasons for not approaching Them,  might possibly be about going easy on ourselves, and that maybe the Gods know we’re, you know, mortal creatures. Giving birth, grieving a life lost, being ill, menstruating . . . It’s really only in our gogogogoGO produceworkdothethings lifestyle that we try to have these things not take time. Our world tells us these things shouldn’t stop our living. What kind of sick time to you get from your job? How much time to do you get to bury a loved one? I suspect that the Powers value us more than we truly value ourselves.

Anyway. So I never not approach Poseidon — I don’t even need a shrine for that. He’s my first though in the morning, and even before my eyes are open I’m reaching for Him . . . but what I have with Him is not what I have with Anyone else, and aside from Him and Odin, this is the first time I’ve been physically not okay since I’ve began morning devotion to Durga, and Her gentle rebuff-that-wasn’t-really-a-rebuff had me visiting the idea of ritual purity in terms of illness and staying away — not because I’m unworthy or unclean in a judgy-merit-worth sense, but in a ‘it’s not time right now’ sense. And it was neat.

You’d think I’d know better. I hope I never know better about all these things; I love discovering what I didn’t know.

Why did I never look at it this way, before?

I have crud.

Because my immune system is way better than I have any right to expect it to be, the crud is passing rather quickly (and has thus far bypassed my sinuses entirely, hooray!!). It came on fast, and I think I’ll be back to normal in a few days.  I was dog-tired on Wednesday, and didn’t want to leave the house, and the sore throat made its presence felt by early afternoon. I dozed on and off for two days — I’m pretty good about staying put when I’m not well, especially now that my “should-be-doings” is less active.

I didn’t approach Her shrine, once I was feeling unwell. I thought about it — I’ll still do my morning devotions for Poseidon; neither He nor Odin tolerate any real excuses for distance-making, and certainly not anything like germs.

I thought about it, and ever so gently, ever so firmly, nudged away. “No. Now is not the time for visiting. Go, rest.”

Whenever the subject of ritual purity, of miasma, comes up, I always, always, always balk. And it’s not that I think I know everything, but I forget, I guess, that I only know a few things really well. I only know how Poseidon is with me, and how Odin is with me, and not some much how Others are with me, or how Anyone is with anyone else. Death? Illness? Any other reason for ritual impurity (menstruation in some traditions, but not in all)? These things do not, have not ever kept me from Poseidon, from His shrine — He will not tolerate it. But, I feel like crap, and I haven’t been this sick in a long time, and Her rebuff-that-wasn’t-really was so gentle, so patient, so laced with, “why push yourself in this manner. I am here, and you are here, and it may wait.”

I have truly never experienced so many corrections completely void of value-judgment. It’s awesome, in the true sense of the word.