or, Poseidon Nikólaos?
A brief note to explain why I haven’t updated in a while: the Yule season (for our household this runs from Samhain through Yuletide) is my time to focus on my work with Odin. He’s in my life throughout the year, honestly, but that I’m Poseidon’s is pretty much the lens through which I see the world. For the Yule season, I consciously shift that. This is the second year since I realized this was how I needed to approach things, that I realized that the whole balance everything idea didn’t mean equal time so much as appropriate placement of mindfulness and attention.
(Of course, with my uncle’s passing in October [and how those words still seem so alien and foreign and incomprehensible to me] my Work this season has all been intensely personal and private)
Before I was mindful of this, Yuletide was still very much all about Odin in our household, even though we did incorporate Poseidon into the festivities. Poseidea doesn’t have an exact date, and places that celebrated it or something like it, celebrated it on different times. I have, for convenience sake, always placed it on the 8th day of the month Poseidon, which made it fall in the general Yule season.
This year, Dver was inspired to mark the passing of Saint Nicholas’s feast day (who, while having ties to Odin, for sure, also shares some things with Poseidon) with a trip to the coast and hey, did a certain person of Poseidon’s want to come along?
She sure as hell did!
For those who aren’t familiar with the history of Saint Nicholas (who is just one of many, many figures who’ve given us our modern Santa Claus), Saint Nicholas has many, many, many nautical themed elements to his story. A common one is that, coming home from a pilgrimmage, the ship he was travelling on was caught in a storm, and he prayed, and the storm calmed. This, the story goes, is how he became the patron saint of sailors, and why they spread word of him in their travels.
Over the course of history, many temples belonging to Poseidon were converted to churches dedicated to Saint Nicholas. In the Quarterly Review Vol 163, we’re told, “have St Nicholas as the representative of Poseidon This fact especially noticeable in Tenos where once stood the temple to the sea god here not only is the chief church to St Nicholas but the town itself is called by the name of saint Everything nautical has to do with St Nicholas Mykonos a little church built on a rock in the middle of harbour is dedicated to him . . .”
Typically, I hold my Poseidea ritual on the 8th day of month Poseidon. In fact, the only reason I follow the Athenian calender month, as opposed to others that are available, is because they’re the ones with a month (sometimes two!) named for my god. It was a small thing, however, to decide to wait until I was at the seacoast to honor him, instead.
We decided to bring some traditional Saint Nicholas feast day foods for offerings, although in the end this entailed only my moon cookies which turned out to be more like a cakey type thing. (In my working with Poseidon, there’s a moon connection, which should probably be obvious, and hence, appropriating the moon cookies). We also picked our locale pretty easily: there is a Neptune State Park, where one of the many creeks around the coast let out into the sea. It was pretty much perfect, and could have only been made better if I had actually brought my sandals with me instead of deciding I could walk barefoot. Yes, the smooth rocks are smooth, but they are still many and painful.
This wasn’t an insanely organized, everyone in ritual together sort of thing, and for me at least, what it was was exactly what was needed for me. I do want, at some point, to have a Poseidon festival and ritual that is big and planned out and with multiple stages and parts — but knowing me, this is likely never going to happen for me at the coast. My mind shuts off and all I want is to be in the water nownownow. I’m transported to a place that is intimate and immediate and has no place for words or talking or bothering with other people at all.
I brought along a number of sacred items to bathe in the sea water. I brought a change of clothes, because the water is always washing over me and I planned this time to go in. Yes, in December. What?
I selected an area, where the creek came into the ocean, to go and kneel and sing to Poseidon. By then I was already drenched from the knees down and happy for my change of clothes (and towel and blanket and toe-warmers) that we thought ahead to bring along. I danced, unmindful of my numb feet and the river rocks. I laughed and flirted with the waves and wanted desperately to be out in the breakers. At last, I knelt while the tide rushed up around me, and then back out and out and out, dragging the sand beneath me with it, freeing the rocks under the sand, to send them tumbling against me. I sang my Poseidon song, and water came up to my shoulders as I knelt, and the rocks fell away. I remained in the water as long as I could (surprisingly, it wasn’t as cold as I expected it to be, and I wonder if I’m just used to a greater water/air temperature difference in the winter, because generally the water up here is colder, stays colder, than the Atlantic off Mass.) and then a tad bit longer, and then made my way to my dry clothes and towel and blankets. Stripped and sat wrapped up for a bit before I could be bothered to put on dry clothes. The hardest part was walking back across to where everyone else was, across treacherous stones on numb legs without dropping and breaking any of my stuff — like my sacred items or, you know, my toes. Graceful I was not.
There was more huddling, wrapped in blankets, snuggled up next to Beth (who had also waded in but then made a beeline for warm and dry) and experienced that fun defrosting pain.
Once mobile again, I wandered around a bit to take pictures and videos, to leave out an offering of the moon “cookie” (which was then filched by a raven, which I caught with my camera. Tricksey Odin, that was for Poseidon!) and attempt to collect some sea water to bring home. By that time I was still far to cold and the idea of getting wet at all again was horrible, and so, I passed on the water.
After lunch, we stopped at two other parks, one being Heceta Head which is the one I’ve been to the most. Happy sand at the water’s edge, so I was able to get the water I wanted. Didn’t mind getting wet — I was warm and fed — and I wasn’t worried about bashing the jar against rock. Almost immediately after Dver commented that she never found whole sand dollars I found one for her, and then there was a sea lion. Happy happy. Sunning himself and seeming very unconcerned at our curious approach. More surf-flirting and dancing and happy, and another sand dollar, and then utter exhaustion and homeward bound.
This was a greatly needed trip for me. I know that my companions all had their own very personal, important, touching, not-Poseidon reasons for going to the coast — it’s simply one of those liminal spaces and not the province of the sea spirits alone — but I’m glad that everyone nodded to Poseidon, said hello. He does not get nearly enough attention. Also, I’m beyond grateful that we were able to tag along. This was pretty much a perfect trip.