Calendars or, my year at a glance (the Pagan Experience week 8)

Wk 4- Feb. 23- Any writing for the letters C or - I am keeping this familiar format on week 4 for those who have joined me from the Pagan Blog Project.

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I’ve got two calendars running through the year, here. One is the secular calendar. The second is a localized form of the Athenian calendar. Localized because I do not use the Hellenic Months Established Per Athens (or HMEPA) but rather, I use the Hellenic Months Establised Per Oregon (or HMEPO)  My months roughly synch up with the HMEPA months, but the start dates are set to the New Moon for my region, not for Athens.

Why do I used the Athenian months? Pure and simple: there’s always one month (sometimes two!) named for Poseidon. I wish that, in the beginning, I would have done like Hellenic Temple of Zeus, Apollon, and Pan does and name the months for the festivals I observed, but then most would be named Poseidon and that would be confusing! Nowadays, the Athenian months are simply familiar to me, so I keep them. But, as you’ll see, I pick and choose which ones I even acknowledge, and mostly it’s just that I know the festival or holy day in question is a part of that month, and not that the month means anything to me outside of that.

Because the path I’m on is a living, breathing, changing thing, I do like to revisit my religious calendar from time to time, to see what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be tweaked. Because 2015 is the year of Writing All the Things (three books, with a forth getting print ready is the goal), I’m letting myself off the hook with a lot of these — which is rather a good thing as I’m getting back to my center. Daily devotion — that is, bringing myself back on a daily basis to the center from which I lead my life — trumps monthly- and extended-Family devotion. This is a good reminder, a necessary reminder.

In the past, Beth and I have tried a number of things. We’ve tried being sticklers about dates (and sometimes we are). We’ve tried observing cross-quarter days on their astrological times rather than the calendar times. We’ve moved things around. We’re not interested in what something looks like so much as we’re interested in things working. We do what works for us. It’s our tradition, after all. And, her particular calendar will look a bit different from mine, because there are things she observes which I do not, and vice verse. So, this is me, mine.

Around January 1st we celebrate 12th Night. Because Yule proper does not happen on the same date from year to year, this is just an approximation. Because this is the end of Yule (though far from the end of Hunt Season for us) 12th Night is pretty relaxed. It’s immediate-family only. If I’m going to do any runecasting for the year to come, I do it on this night, and if I’m going to make any oaths for the coming year (Write All The Things!) this is when I make them.

Also sometimes in January, sometimes in February, I honor Poseidon Phytalmios. As mentioned previously, this is impossible to pin down. It happens when it happens.

Theogamia falls in the month of Gamelion, which corresponds with January/February, depending on when the extra month falls. This year, in my calendar, Theogamia falls on the 16th/17th of February. Here I mark the marriage of Zeus and Hera.

February 2nd is Ewemolc or Imbolc. We tend toward Ewemeolc here in our home, because sheep and fleece and spinning! This is a more labor-intensive day for Beth, granted, but it’s one I look forward to every year (and with Fiberwytch’s ever growing armory of spinning tools to cleanse, anoint, bless, thank, and pay homage to, one that I suspect I’ll help out with more and more)

February 2nd-3rd is our Feast for a Fallen King which Beth wrote about quite nicely a few years back.

February 9th marks my wedding anniversary. (When I exchanged vows, I was using the Athenian calendar exclusively, and that date fell upon Anthesterion 8th. I go back and forth about when I want to observe it, often making a small moment of it on both days. Due to unfortunately associations, February 8th is right out the window. I’ll admit that I like to observe it most on whichever day happens to be sooner, that year. I’m female. I can do that.

I’m not planning on doing much for Anthesteria this year beyond holding it in my mind — though I did last year and that felt off. This year the dates fall in the beginning of March. (My Sacred Marriage Triad is all off this year, thanks to Poseideon II!) My observance of this three day festival is pretty pick-and-choosey, admittedly. I honor Hermes and the dead, and I honor Dionysos and Ariadne/the Basilinnas, and I pretty much forgo all the vintner bits of the festival. It’s a ceremonial nod toward a day of the dead for e, as this is still thick in our Hunt Season, and in our household, the Veil is only ever gauzy anyway.

Bolverk’s Day is on March 17th. In our household we honor Bolverk and Gunnlod. We celebrate the creation of the Mead of Poetry, and the gift Odin makes of it to the gods (and inadvertantly, the world.)

We honor Idunna and Bragi at Ostara (March 20th this year).

We honor Loki on the 1st of April – though without tricks or foolery. I hate April Fool’s Day as such, but being able to honor Loki on this day turns it into something nice.

Sigrblot is on the 6th of April.

Poseidon Hippios is honored on the 8th, or on the day closest to the 8th on which I do not have to work.

We honor Jord on Earth Day because it fits.

Walpurgisnacht is the beginning of the “end” of Hunt Season for us. This observation has altered, sadly, as time goes on. Once we used to climb to the top of Spencer’s Butte, the tallest point in our valley . . . and then we made adjustments . . . and now the physical labor and the being away from home when we’re needed here make that aspect of this day not possible. So, we make a feast, and we celebrate and we are grateful for what the Hunt Season brings us, and what it leaves us with. We celebrate survival.

May Day on the 5th of May signals the end of the Hunt Season proper. Hunt Season is (and especially for Beth) is an on-duty season. It’s not about holy days and festivals and rituals. It’s about being on-call 24/7, not to Odin-her-Husband but to Odin, Lord of the Host. This is true for me, to a much, much smaller degree.

May 19th Queen Anne Bolyen’s Day. We apparently really go in for the somber days. May 19th marks the anniversary of Queen Anne’s execution. We honor her memory with a pilgrimage to our local rose garden, where we leave offerings for her, read aloud prayers and poems we find and people send us. Queen Anne is one of Beth’s disir, a group of spirits we call The Queens, though over time she’s become an important figure in my life, as well. There is much to admire about Anne Bolyen.

June 19th-21st is a three day festival/workfest that centers around our local Sheep and Wool festival. Because there is no demarcation between “secular” and “religious” life for us — it’s all life!! — this is both religiously focused and a lot of mundane work. We kick the weekend off with a libation to Frigga and Poseidon. (Not so much in conjunction with one another as one and also this other one.)  Then we shop like mad for the store. We psych ourselves up for the Fleece Show. We get what we need. We come home. We start washing the heel out of fleeces. We prayer for a sunny day (not yet a given in our neck of the woods by this time).

Vigil for the Bulls runs July 6th-14th. This is my “counter-Yule” festival that coincides with the Paplona’s famous Running of the Bulls.  This is  one of my “working” festivals – it’s largely about being present and being aware and offering healing, about aligning oneself on purpose with suffering and offering what one can. It’s many nights of libations, sacrifice, blood, and, at the end, funerary rites — by the river when I can, at home at our hearth shrine when I can’t. Honored here are Poseidon, the Dioskoroi, Dionysos, Indra, and, of course, the Bull.

Aphrodisia falls on July 22nd

The full moon of August I honor my first meeting with Poseidon, and I hail Him as Poseidon Salibureous.  In August I also honor Poseidon of the Ponds. Ideally on the 8th of the month, but it’s really whatever date ends up working for me to get my butt to either the Delta Ponds or part of the Wetlands. We also generally do something, albeit small, for Lammas.

By September we’re gearing up for the “work months” to start again. We celebrate our birthdays (Beth’s is the 22nd, mine is the 24th, and we generally do a three day celebration. Please note that by celebration we generally mean movie-watching marathon, bookstore browsing, a meal out at one of our favorite cafes, and possibly too much wine. We’re mellow that way) (oh, and also cake). On Sept 29th  we mark Winterfinding as well as Valfather’s Day. In years past this would also be Feast of Treats but we moved that to Samhain proper. In our tradition, this is when the Hunt starts to gather. Oh, they’re here and there throughout the year, but this is when it starts to be about business again.

October brings us Samhain. We’ve gone back and forth with this one, too — because honoring our Beloved Dead is . . .  not complicated, exactly. But there’s our immediate family, and our extended family, and one is more relaxed/intimate, and the other is more formal. (Not formal, really, just more so in comparison-to). So, we mark Samhain with the Feast of Treats in honor of our Beloved Animal dead (read: immediate family) and then either later in the day or on November 1st we hold a Dumb Supper for our Beloved Human dead (read: less-immediate family). Samhain also kicks off for real-for real the start of the Hunt Season for us.

November 11th is Einhenjar Day.

And then, December!

December 4th is Beth’s wedding anniversary. December 6th is St. Nicholas’ feast day (or, as I like to call him, Poseidon Nikolaos) which I’ve adopted as a celebration of Poseidon for reasonsDecember 7th is Tulya’s E’en – a Scandinavian folk holiday in which all the trolls are thought to be released from underground; a good time to sain (bless/smudge) property and dwellings) prior to the dangerous nights of Yule. December 13th is Lussinata. The day before the Solstice is Modranacht, and then it’s Yule. In our tradition Yule and Poseidea have become largely one in the same. Poseidon has taken an active role in the Hunt (and considering the purpose behind the Hunt, as we see it, and the involvement of horses in the Hunt, I’m not terribly surprised).

Not listed above are things like Hekate’s Deipnon, at the dark moon of each month, which I mark in my own way. In my understanding, Hekate is not important to *me*, but She is important to Poseidon, and I keep this day because He asks me to do so. I’m fond of Her, and I like to think She is fond of me, as well, but I can’t say no to Poseidon when He says, “Hey, honor this One, She matters to Me.”, and the Full Moons which are Working Days but not really holidays.

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paganexperience

A Rant Against Lazy Writing

Before I really dive into this, I have to admit to a few things.

The first is, in the reading of Bringing Race to the Table (review forthcoming) there have been a number of stories that have really ripped my eyes open and have broken my heart. One that has sunk in real, real deep was Reluctant Spider talking about searching for images of “Goddess” and finding page after page after page of white goddess images. (The whole book has hit me, hit me good and hard, and I’ll be writing about that soon). Reluctant Spider sharing this story went a bit beyond my interest as a person who wants to not be an asshole, who wants instead to be the sort of ally that is wanted, and hits me hard in the storyteller-vein. More than any article on systemic racism or institutionalized racism or the prevalence of white privilege, this sharing of seeking out a visual representation of the divine that resembles oneself and failing miserable made me stop and really, really look at what we are doing, at what we’re saying, not with our direct words, but with our myth and our poetry, with our legends, our books, our movies, our stories. So, while I knew before that making someone like Papa Ghede into a villain in a story irked me, it didn’t go beyond a “meh, whatever, Christians, blah.”

The second thing is, I’m sort of by accident reading an awesome collection of essays on Oshun, because when I was at the library the book was all, “Hey there. You’ve only got two books in your hands, I see. Look at me in all my splendor. You want to read about water deities? Yeah? I have all the stuff about the Mother of all Water Deities. . . ” If there’s a pick-up line I can’t resist, it’s any pick up line from a book, so, you know, that book came home with me.

The third thing is, Beth and I are making our way through the TV series Grimm. We adore it, we love the “in jokes”, and I am firmly in Camp Monroe. It’s entertaining, funny, and while all the German makes me want for Zie to show up for a visit (wrong fandom!) or Adam even (again wrong fandom, though dude, they used his name!), it’s not like, when it comes to mainstream TV shows I expect a LOT in terms of not being asses.

These things all laid out for you, and knowing that this post will contain spoilers for season 2 and 3, let me just get some stuff off my chest.

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What the fuck did I just watch?

For the second-to-last episode of season 2, we are introduced to Papa Ghede. All nice big top hat. Tall, slender, attractive enough looking black man (for transparency: the degree of attraction increases with my viewing depending upon whether the character is supposed to be human or not — the more “not” the more attractive I tend to fiind them, so that’s my viewer bias kicking in) with a nice thick French accent. Already I’m groaning, because so far the “wessen” characters have almost all of them been white and have almost all of them been drawn from German/Eastern European myths and folklore — the show is called Grimm — and while there have been a few non-white folks to show up as the antagonists for the show, in my memory they’ve tended to be less “misunderstood shapechangers who had something go bad while trying to blend in, their crime is not their fault” and been more “working for the over-arcing bad guys of the series.”

It was clear before the end of the episode that Papa Ghede was aligned with the people we are’t supposed to like, and that he was a tad more sophisticated the the rest of the villains had been. Before the end of this particular mini story-arc it was clear that Papa Ghede was a shapechanger (they call them wessen — phonetically, vessen) and had been recorded in the Lore as a voudou priest back in the day.

I had a few immediate reactions to this. Having just watched American Horror Story: Coven, the trope of using one of the lwa as a villain was fresh in my mind and high on my list of annoyances. As a pagan and as a storyteller, I find an inherent laziness to using pagan or non-Abrahamic gods as villains. It’s something that will destroy my interest in a series right quick. For example: there’s a series out there that portrays Artemis as some vapid, sex-crazed villain. I liked the writing well enough, but once she was introduced in that way, I couldn’t continue. For another — and sadly surprising — example, I’ll point out on of Nora Roberts’ paranormal series, the Cousins O’Dwyer trio. I read all three, and I genuinely enjoy her writing — I love the way she weaves threads together and builds family. But in the last book, the driving antagonist turns out to be a demon (ho-hum) who then she decides to name Cernunnos. In a matter of a sentence, mere pages from the ending, she utterly ruined the story for me, and instead of it being good escapism, it’s a series I have to say I can’t recommend in the least bit. I can’t help but see this as anything but lazy story writing, and it bothers me so much.

But I’ll say it: it’s worse when we do it with folklore, myths, legends, and figures from the cultures of those who are marginalized. Why? Because as story tellers, we are use myth, folklore, legends, and figures as short-hand. It’s part of telling a story, and that in and of itself is not bad. What I find uncomfortable — deplorable, really — is what this particular type of short-hand says. “This figure, this myth cycle, is foreign. It’s unknown, it’s unfamiliar, and that makes it bad.” Every time we use this short hand in this way (Papa Ghede being on the ‘wrong’ side) we are re-enforcing the idea that this particular way of being different in wrong. We’re re-enforcing particular associations (dark skin, an accent, altars with candle stubs and what could be wax, could be blood, the creation of zombies, the portrayal of a veve) with the idea of a malicious sort of ‘other’. In contrast, in the show, another story-arc involves a witch trying to get her powers back. She’s another antagonist, and her witchcraft involves death work, but she’s a pretty, skinny white woman, and while what she’s doing isn’t necessarily good, we’ve gotten her back story, and she’s been written in a way that we are encouraged to have moments of sympathy for her. That is, she’s multi-dimensional, complex, etc.

This isn’t even touching the problems I have with the use of a marginalized religion of any sort being used in a dramatic way to build an atmosphere of mystery and unease. I get that in an hour long show (even a two-parter!) there isn’t time to get into it that deeply . . . but come on. You can get the culture of the region so spot on that one character is making blueberry quinoa pancakes with a spinach puree maple syrup, but you can’t not be lazy about this? Really? And all *that* isn’t even coming close to my issue with taking Powers and making Them less — which is a big part of my problem with Roberts’ use of Cernunnos.

Look, I’m a storyteller, too. And I write about gods and spirits, about Powers interacting with humanity. Not all those interactions are good. I don’t require that spirits and gods not fulfill an antagonistic role, really, I don’t. I, too, have written gods and spirits as the “bad guys” of a tale. I shy away from “good versus evil” and try to keep it more “hey, obviously we want our side to win and we think we’re in the right, but so do they,” but in the end, I have had gods and spirits that needed defeating or thwarting. So it’s not that.

Just . . . don’t be lazy about it. Be respectful, and maybe try to get it right. Don’t use something (Hi, Voudou. Sorry, Voudou. We suck, Voudou. It’s probably not going to stop.)(Looking at you too, all ‘demons’ ever) that is rich, complex, and already done to death as a short cut. It’s not a short cut. It’s lazy. Who wants to be a lazy writer when you could instead be digging deeper?

Dedication Isn’t Supposed to be Easy-The Downsides to Veiling

Jolene Poseidonae:

This is an awesome post!

Originally posted on Horrific Knits:

There are a lot of really amazing, wonderful things to come out of veiling. I have talked to multiple women about the ways that it is grounding, emotionally healing, and calming (more on that later).

And it’s hot, uncomfortable, and makes you a visible target.

Let’s be honest with ourselves-part of the reason that those who are drawn to veiling do it is because of the sacrificial nature of the act. You are taking on a requirement that sets you apart from your peers-even peers in your own belief set. This is an act that requires long term commitment and a need for follow through.

I’m by no means suggesting not to veil. Most everything has a downside as well as benefits. Veiling also isn’t for everyone and there is certainly no shame in the attempt and decision that you are best serving deity in other ways.

These are the…

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Putting me in my place.

He is cold and alien,

the frigid, dark depths of the deepest part of the seas

with pressure so intense it can split skin and muscle, can crush bone.

He burns

living in the sulfuric vents in the earth

adored by hosts of things we barely recognize as life

as they bask in His domain.

He is the cruel hand that capsizes boats

How many have glimpsed Him last as their mortality trickled away?

Again and again and again and again and again.

I’ve sat with Him.

I’ve felt the ghost of the weight of His rage and His grief

Holy Grief

But He is warm

He delights in the range of life, across the land as much as in the seas

And if He holds our kind in so special place

Not best among the beasts

Just one of many, with all our flaws and our cruelties and our savagery

Neither does He place us among the very least

There is no least, with Him.

We are contained, all of us, within this realm,

and the realm contains His Heart.

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Poseidon taught me humility by showing me His humility. He set me right in my spot upon this earth. I struggled for a long, long time, trying to call Him indifferent — not in a bad way, but in that humanity isn’t a thing for Him. There’s an idea that we — humans, I mean — are the pinnacle of creation. Though it’s an idea that most of us know through the influence of Christianity in our cultures, it’s an idea that shows up before monotheism became some dominant. Much like the idea of monotheism being the pinnacle of religiosity is a sometimes unspoken agreement of our overculture, so too, in my view, is the idea that humanity is the pinnacle of mortal existence. It is a view that is present in many of the Hellenic sources, though, and it was . . . interesting? coming across that while experiencing His “indifference.” I clumsily explained it in the past as while Odin cares about humanity and individual people, Poseidon does not care so much about humanity, though He cares about specific people. Really, it’s more that He cares as much about humanity as He does any other group of species, in that He holds within Him an awareness of the ending of all life, the inevitability of death, the transience of life in general, and the fact that we are animals, just like all the others. Some may be threatened by that; I found it incredibly comforting and really it made Him approachable in the beginning. Even if I was confused about why He would have anything at all to do with me, being an icky human.

If other species had our longevity, our ability to use tools, to adapt to our environments, to make the kinds of changes we make, they would exploit their environments as much as we do. It doesn’t make us right, it doesn’t make it acceptable, but it does help me shake out of the “we suck oh my god we suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck” paralysis and depression that so often grips me. If octopod, for example, lived longer than they do? I’d be afraid for our supposed dominance. I think they could lead a resistence against us. Just sayin’.

 

Papa-seidon

Jolene Poseidonae:

Reblogging because, despite the *ridiculous* names he calls me, this post is just . . . well? Well?

To read other people writing about Poseidon is a treat. To read their sweet words, to glean even the tiniest bit of their love for Him, to be allowed to see them Seeing Him . . . it makes me cry. I weep, that others know His presence. It’s silly, of course. People do. They know Him, have known Him, will know Him. I know I’m not the only one, I know people do, but to be able to see that, even in it’s smallest bit. It’s humbling and it’s beautiful. Hail, hail, oh hail, Poseidon.

Originally posted on Mud and Lightning:

So, the other day, I read Jolene’s post about her relationship with Odin and some of it reminded me of my relationship with my own divine Papa, Poseidon. I thought I’d write about him a little, because as the inimitable Jo has said more than once, there’s not enough stuff out there about modern people who know him.

First thing to know is that as a Papa, he can be unbelievably gentle. Kind, generous with his time, resolutely will not let me listen to my brain weasels in his presence, but never in a way that makes me angry or upset. Gentle about it, but completely firm in that particular boundary, in a way that somehow doesn’t set off my deep seated knee jerk resistance to authority. (And he has authority in spades.) Just a quiet voice, saying No. You are not worthless. You are my son and I love…

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Racism and Activism at Pantheacon

Jolene Poseidonae:

Reblogging this, because. I’ll be finishing up “Bringing Race to the Table” this week and reviewing it for EHS, but I have to tell you, the book has broken my heart, and reading this does it even more. Important, because the topic *should* break our hearts, and drive us to fix what is broken.

Originally posted on Pagan Activist:

FB_IMG_1424196654259–by Shauna Aura Knight

Yesterday Pantheacon ended. Pantheacon is the largest Pagan conference and has almost 3,000 attendees and takes place in San Jose every year. I’m posting this a day late because I’ve been at the conference and wanted to write about activism within the Pagan community and specifically on issues that come up at Pantheacon.

Several years ago, Pantheacon was rocked by the exclusion of transgender women from one of the women’s rituals, and that controversy rippled out (and is still rippling) across the broader Pagan community.

This weekend I was proud to be part of a panel discussing Racism within the community. Unfortunately, that panel began on a sour note as I learned that there had been something hurtful and racist written in one of the various newsletters distributed at Pantheacon.

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Knowing Thyself isn’t enough.

Knowing yourself is only the first step. In some cases, it may be a long, involved first step. And, true, it’s a step that you never really leave. That self-awareness, that self-knowledge is important and it changes as you change.

I wrote a bit ago about writing as spirit work. (And I’m not the only one who writes about this. I was so very excited to see this article show up in my email by C.S. McCath!) I’ve written also, with excitement, writing goals for the year, and how I thought they were manageable, even with the working full time (three roughly 50k novels from start to finish and editing up the Poseidon novel) and really, if I am writing 10k in a weekend, it would be manageable. I even freed up some time in February to work on the writing. But then Beth and I added our Sacred Marriage book, and then I took on the Pagan Experience, and suddenly writing became a chore, and suddenly, I didn’t really want to write. Anything.

I’m not sure why I do this to myself, but I do it fairly regularly. Now, I’ve changed some habits of mine when it comes to writing that I’m glad to have changed — I’m writing regularly in that I haven’t written less that 100k words in a year, in three years now. I’ve decreased my down time, so that I’m writing more often than not. I’m accomplishing projects. This is good, and I’m glad for it. I’m proud of it, even.

My secret? My bad, shameful secret? I’m not a driven person. I’m not a person with burning, hot passions. There is, besides wanting to be blissed out in the awareness of Poseidon, nothing I want badly enough from the future to make myself suffer for it in the present. I am too constantly aware of mortality, of the finite-ness of existence, to work and work and work until I drop and then get up and work some more, in hopes of some future pay-out.

Knitting and meditation are my go-to forms for working through the mundane worries and chatter in my head. Yoga (when I can convince this body with its various, conflicting ailments, that we want to practice) and meditation is my go-to for connecting with Poseidon in a deeper way than my day-to-day chattering at Him. (Oh, crap. Am I part of the chatter in His head?). Writing the stories that come to me is my way of honoring both the non-Poseidon spiritual world around me and my place as a part of the spiritual world. Every time I come back to “I’m going to work full time on my writing, I’m going to be a Professional Author, and it’s going to be about producing material!”, writing becomes miserable. It’s not that the stories go away, because they don’t. It’s not even that anyone (er, Anyone) else gets on me for my approach . . . it’s this thing of joy and wonder and magic becomes a chore, a job, a task, and a task that has no heart in it for me, and I stop writing.

I knew years and years ago that I did not want to be a person consumed by one passion. I look at the people who are on fire for this one thing, this calling in their lives, and I don’t envy them. I have my calling, and I love my calling, but I don’t want to burn for it, and maybe that’s because my calling, as I see it, is not one simple thing. It’s to be Poseidon’s, in this world, and that’s not one simple thing. Even writing. Even with writing,  I don’t want that to be the sum of all my parts. If my writing was more directly about Poseidon that might change, or so I say, but even when my writing is more about Poseidon, if I approach it with a MUST ACCOMPLISH IN X AMOUNT OF TIME I then because all writing meh.

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I was upset about this, once again, yesterday. Shouldn’t I want to be driven? Shouldn’t I want to push myself? Shouldn’t I want these things? He says to me, “why are you worried about shoulds? Take the shoulds away, what do you want from yourself?” The answer always comes back to writing. And, I want to be disciplined when it comes to writing . . . but what I learned when I was working on McCredie’s story was, writing everyday does not work for me. Writing a chapter or two over two sittings is sustainable; working at a chapter or two a little bit every day for a week . . . it doesn’t bore me, exactly. It makes me feel depleted. There’s a certain amount of holding the scenes in my mind, poking at them, daydreaming about them over the course of the week, that lends them a potency, that lends me familiarity with them, that is as much a part of the story telling as the writing is. My best stories were handled that way.

Why do I ignore what I know of myself?

Poseidon shows me tidal energy. Not just the tides of the waters that rule our bodies so, but also the tidal pull of energy, and the cyclical nature of things. He reminds me of my bursts of obsession that come in small almost gentle eruptions, when all I want to do for a week or two is knit, or read, or write, or browse around. He reminds me that I’m at my most productive when I just let myself be. He reminds me that He did not become involved with me for some future person I might become, though He is curious also about how experiences will shape me, as we go. He asks me why I, then, seem only interested in this future self rather than honoring who I am now.

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It sounds horrible, to admit that I’m not driven. That I’m not interested so much in striving-for, to the point that all I am is that striving. There are things I want. I want to support myself with my writing. . . . but not so much that I’m willing to make myself miserable writing in order to get that. And, I need to be more realistic with my goals. I need to keep it real.

And, this comes back to Poseidon’s influence in my life in this way: He does not allow me to get away with pretending to be other than I am. He . . . . celebrates? experiences joy? Loves me? . .. for who I am, and He has never once suggested that I am unworthy of His love or attention because I’m not driven toward one thing, because I’m not a passionate person. (He raises doubts about that passion, and He reminds me that when I’m before the sea I am nothing but passion, I am nothing but an ecstatic vessel that is consumed with yearning, and that I have moments of that even land-bound, but I mean in general. In general, i’m not passionate). He, more than me, insists that I keep it real.

May this lesson stick, this time. I swear I’ve gone through this before.

 

 

Sex!

Oh, did that get your attention? My bad . . .

It’s a timely topic though, right? We’ve just had Valentine’s Day (and while it’s not a holiday I celebrate, it is a holiday that’s thrust into my awareness, thank you Retail Reality); Theogamia is staring us in the face, Anthesteria is right around the corner, and as you already know since you’re reading this post, which is part of my YAY TWELVE YEARS posting spree to celebrate my marriage anniversary, I’ve just celebrated my wedding anniversary. Now, I don’t talk about sex a whole lot on this blog — which, for those of you who know me in person may find . . . amusing? I have an incredibly naughty mind. Beth likes to say that my double entendres have double entendres. Seriously. If something can be made into a sexual innuendo, I’ve already went there. I am have the maturity of a seventeen year old male, in my head. And the worse thing is, Poseidon is right there with me.

Except, that’s not accurate, really. Poseidon has a healthy, well-balanced and (likely the most important for me) appropriately timed sexual mindset/sexuality/sensuality/something.

I don’t have a whole lot of sexual hang-ups that is typical of women in our culture. I’m fat, and I’ve always been round, but any uncertainty I’ve had in sexual exploration has not been because of my body. (I’m lucky, and possibly an odd duck, in that somehow, despite convictions of unworthy growing up, it never really became about my body. Sure, I thought I was fat in high school, but never in a dieting sort of way.) I have had a number of sexual partners that I’m not uncomfortable with, and most of the experiences were enjoyable enough. I’m open enough about my sexuality in general that people who know me realize I’m not heterosexual; a few people know that I’m not wired monogamous, as well — what most people don’t know, because I don’t talk about it, is that as far as mortal partners go, I’m celibate.

Bringing the sacred back into my sexuality — back, hah! Introducing my mind to the idea of sacred sexuality rather, was a big deal. It’s one I balked at, at first. Hands down, the biggest problem in my marriage with Poseidon was the idea of sex as an offering and the baggage the subject brought with it. Now, you have to understand, while I was raised nominally Christian, we were never involved with any fire and brimstone type churches. New England, people. You have to talk about sex in order for there to be any premarital sex is sin you are all going to burn sermons. It simply didn’t happen in our church while I was there. But despite being pagan by that point, and despite knowing all about the lovely stories of the Hellenic gods having all Their many trysts, and despite having had my awareness of Poseidon’s presence in my life extend to knowing He was around when my then-boyfriend and I were intimate (there is precious little privacy, living with gods and spirits. If we devotional types and spirit-worker types can agree on one thing, I think it would be that), the idea of sex as an offering to Poseidon just . . . Well, I was intrigued, of course — because yay sex! — but I also internalized this whole “sex is animalistic and He is A GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” thing, too.

Suddenly, for the first time ever, sex started to become this shameful thing. What the hell? And then? Then Poseidon began to put a stress upon sex happening. He encouraged. He proved to me that my pitiful double entendres were no match for what He could come up with. He poked and prodded, urged and suggested, and lead me along paths of exploration. Because it’s me, this involved reading of various things — sexuality as expressed in various cultures, in various time periods — as well as seeking out blogs, and revisiting some of my own adventures in my past. My relationship with Poseidon was founded upon Poseidon-as-Healer, and Poseidon-as-the-Sea, but for a time He really placed an emphasis as a more earthy, more virile, more earthy Poseidon. Did I mention earthy? Because, like whoa.

Interestingly enough, a lot of that corresponded with the time period in which He began to urge me to veil. It was an interesting turn of events. When I speak of being married to Poseidon, I mean it both in a blending of wyrd/binding of spirits/alliance of loyalty sort of way, and also in a He is my spouse, He is my Husband, I am His wife sort of way. I mean it in that, before Odin, before Beth, before a/Anyone else, He has the first and often the most weight in any life decisions I face. I mean it in that, He is the most innermost part of my immediate family. I mean it in that, we have a wedding anniversary. And I mean it in that while I’m celibate as far as other humans go, I am not the least bit celibate when it comes to Poseidon. No, you’re not getting the nitty gritty, but yes, I’ll admit that sex happens. I’m not a prude.

One’s sexuality can exist when one is not involved sexually with mortal partners. Hell, sexuality can exist if one is only sexually involved with one’s self, period. For my part, it was when Poseidon placed an emphasis on exploring and celebrating my own sexuality for the sake of exploring and celebrating my own sexuality as part of being an animal upon the mortal realm, that the issues I had regard sexuality, sex, and Poseidon worked themselves out.

There’s a structure to the forms my sexuality can take, in the ways it can be expressed and, more to the point, whom it can be expressed with. I can talk sex in pretty general terms with just about anyone — much to my mother’s embarrassment! I’m fairly comfortable talking about my sexual history with friends, more so with females or in a female safe space. When I say that I’m not wired monogamous, I’m saying that in o/Our relationship, sexual expression does not always just involve He and I — but it also does not involve other mortal partners — and I’m comfortable with that. I am surprisingly not so much of a jealous person. Surprisingly because, in my past, in my history with other, mortal partners, I had been. Why am I not jealous now?

Because I am secure in o/Our relationship. I’m secure in the forms it takes, and I’m secure in knowing that Poseidon in one thousand and ten percent capable of letting me know what’s up.

Look, I’m not saying that all the gods and spirits want all the sex with all the mortals all the time. It may not be a part of your relationships at all. I’m also not saying one has to be wed to a god or spirit in order to have sex be part of the relationship. I am saying that sexuality is important — or can be important, and can be surprisingly healing, illuminating, and dare I say, satisfying . . . even if you’re called to a path that looks, from the outside, well, celibate. My sexuality is something that He and I share and explore together, and having the walls of celibacy around me, removing my availability as a sexual being to share with other humans, has allowed me to fully appreciate how much my sexuality is my own.

There are so many ways in which living this life I’m living, walking with Poseidon, has enriched my whole being, has allowed me to appreciate how much of ourselves we give away to others as a matter of course, without really thinking. It’s allowed me take in those pieces, to become mindful of what I give to others, what I allow others to decide for me, and what I decide to keep for myself. Having complete power over something so intrinsically me as my sexuality has been liberating in ways I could not even begin to imagine years ago, never mind articulate.

Reflections on building cultus

I began to look seriously into Hellenic religious history a number of years after Poseidon introduced Himself to me. I am grateful, almost on a daily basis, that He helped me to build a firm foundation between the two of u/Us regarding what my devotion would look like, what forms it would take, and what outside influences would and would not touch, before I branched out in my studies. I dove in to Germanic religious history study before I approached the Hellenic side. I suspect that Poseidon’s urging me toward including His Family into my awareness finally came when I began expanding worship beyond Him. It meant I was ready to move beyond the small pond of just the two of u/Us.

As anyone who has an eye toward Hellenic paganism knows, the vast majority of the source material we have comes from Athens specifically. Oh, there’s source material from elsewhere, but it is neither as plentiful nor as accessible as the material that Athens lends us. I read a number of the classics. I gobbled up Homer and Hesiod, I read the other poets that one is supposed to read. I turned to the secondary sources, and I cursed my inability to read German. (And I laughed that my study of Hellenic religion would lead me to wanting to read German). I learned about Hestia, traditionally honored first and last, known as the hearth of the home – and I realized quite early on that such a practice was not for me. I learned about the Noumenia, the beginning of the new month, and the following days that were, and are, held sacred to specific gods and spirits – and I realized through practice that, aside from a few and aside from inspiring an adoption of specific week days being special in my practice to specific gods, such a practice was not for me. I learned about Hekate, and later about the Deipnon. I can’t say that my practice regularly includes the practice of Hekate’s Deipnon in the same manner it was observed in the past by others, or even that it looks like what contemporary worshipers do now, but I do mark the Her deipnon monthly – not because of any relationship I have with Hekate, but because Poseidon made it clear early into this exploration of mine that Hekate is important to Him. Her worship came into my practice before even any worship of Zeus or Hera – that is how important She is to Him. I read about the festival calendar of Athens, and of other places, too, but mostly of Athens, and I noticed something pretty early on.

Poseidon had an honored status in Athens, of course. We have stories to explain to us why that is the case, and we know how much sea travel was for the various Hellenic cities and settlements were, so it’s easy to see why He would be honored. He has a place of honor in a number of the various festivals that, at a glance, don’t seem to have much to do with Him. At the same time, though we know of the Athenian month Poseideon, and though we know that the months were often named after important festivals that fell within said month, and though we do know that there was a Poseidea festival marked in Athens in this month, and though we do know a bit bit about what transpired in other places in the Hellenic world during their Poseidea festivals, we don’t really know much of what happened at the Athenian festival named for Poseidon, whose name gives us the month Poseideon. We have a calendar rich with festivals to Dionysos, and to Apollon, and to Demeter. We have festivals to honor Hermes, and Zeus, and Hera, and Artemis, and of course, of course, to Athena, and so very often if Poseidon was included it was in a place of honor, but not the place of honor.

As a devotee of this god, discovering this was extremely frustrating. It also made sure that I was only somewhat interested in pursuing a more Hellenic focused path. Poseidon was not going to be my gateway-god to Hellenic paganism. What I wanted to find was something in place where Poseidon was the center of the tradition, not just a part of it.

It became clear pretty early on that, if I wanted a year of Poseidon festivals, looking to the past was not going to do it for me. And so, I found myself with the wonderful, caring, loving, good god who deserved, I thought, just as many festivals as Dionysos received, just as many rituals and libations and offerings that the year provided for Demeter or Apollon, just as much praise as Athena received (if not more!) and a veritable dirth of material.

So I began to build. At first, I’ll admit, I was more annoyed than anything else. Bear in mind that a lot of this was happening while I was trying to make sense of being “dual-trad” – I was identifying equally as a Heathen and as a Hellenic polytheist at the time, and trying to keep the practices somewhat separate. This was reinforced by having an in-real-life community of Heathens to sumbel with, at which times the honoring of non-Heathen gods was not allowed (which is fine; your house, your rules). I admitted even then that keepig my worship of Odin and Poseidon carefully delineated wasn’t going to work for me, but I was keeping two different set of calendars, I was trying to keep my Hellenic stuff in a proper ritual context, and so on. I felt lonely in my Hellenic devotion, and I was frustrated that we could go and hail Odin or Thor or Freyja or even Loki in a public setting, or that we could go and spend a weekend with people who shared much of our world view, or that we could schlep a shrine for Odin on our backs for people to use as a place to pray and meditate or otherwise commune with Pops, and then I’d come back and my rituals for Poseidon would be small and private and lonely.

The growing of the festival days was a slow process. I began marking a day for Poseidon Hippios first, possibly before I left Massachusetts, but definitely before I moved in with Beth. I’m not sure when it became less frustrating and more freeing – this creation of new festivals to honor Poseidon, many of which have no real meaning for anyone other than me (the celebration of our two anniversaries, celebrating a particular day of epiphany). At some point I became incredibly grateful that I was not bound by tradition or history, or at least, not in a way that tradition or history trumped His input. I did not – I do not – include a prayer to Hestia first and last in my festivals for Him, because Poseidon made it clear very, very early on that He is my Hearth. Zeus and Hera and Aphrodite have places of honor in my devotions, but They have such because of Poseidon. So, too, with Hekate and Rhea, Demeter, and Gaia. So, too, with Selene. My festival calendar is dominated by special days for Poseidon – rituals if not festivals – and except for the inclusion of Poseidea in our Yule festivies, they are all rituals, festivals, and holy days of obligation, that w/We have built together. Some are important to me and thus He accepts them. Some are important to Him and thus I observe them. Some are important to w/Who w/We are together, and thus they are celebrated.

In this way, though I am devoted to a Big Named God Known From Antiquity, who had temples and throngs of people sacrificing to Him (which He likes to remind me on some of my more bratty days), I know at least a little bit of what it’s like to build a tradition from the ground up, or to be focused on a lesser-known god or spirit. It’s not quite the same, I’ll grant you that, but it’s also not the same as having loads of detailed information to build from, either. Poseidon is this massive power. He is known, right? And boy does He have Connections. Yet, so much of what I do in my devotion to Him, in the building of His cultus, is rooted in the now, not in the past. It’s rooted in intimate relationships forged now, not resurrected from history. Knowing what I know of what, in my experience, matters most to Him, I have to wonder – how much of not having a ton of resources to cite regarding how things were done in His cultus from ages ago is on purpose?