Poseidon Hippios is a festival I hold in honor of er, Poseidon Hippios, every year. Recently I’ve had the occasion to sit and think back, and I’m realizing that I’ve held this holiday for Poseidon, in one form or another, going back thirteen years although I’ve only been holding it continuously for nine. It is the longest running of my various Poseidon holy days. Like with pretty much all of them, this one is something of a working ritual as well. There are no horse sacrifices or mock-sacrifices held in His honor; instead there is petition prayers for the well being of our equine cousins. There is energy work. There is a reminder of the horrors that are committed against those who are denied sovereignty over their lives, and, as alway, there’s a reminder as to why, again and again, I find myself compelled toward a vegetarian default with a heavy emphasis on ethical meat consumption and consumerism. I fail at this much more than I succeed, because our world is not set up for this to be embraced nearly as much as I’d like it to be. It’s not enough, in my mind, to replace animal made products with synthetic alternatives whose creation destroys as much as it saves, and so I struggle. A lot. And I fail, all the time.
I’ve talked about it before, how for a while I was one of those holier-than-thou pagan types, in my food consumption if nothing else. I ate locally and organically. The meat I consumed was raised within a hundred miles of where I live, if not closer, and it was slaughtered humanely. We spent a fortune on our food, and we felt good about ourselves . . . but we can no longer do that and provide for our own needs. We have an increasingly expensive dog and one cat with medical needs as well. We have a tighter income than we used to have. The produce I buy comes from all over the world, though I still try to eat to match our local seasons, but that’s not based on what I can get, that’s purely aesthetics. We’re easing into eating more meat again (we lighten it for summer, eat more of it during the Hunt Season) and while we always endeavor to purchase meat that was raised ethically and treated humanely up through the end process, we don’t always stick to that. There are times when I am exhausted by having to be so focused all the time, when I can’t muster up the wherewithal to be so damned conscientious.
Because we’re not set up for it, in this culture. Because sometimes there are no options available that meet our ideals. Because sometimes we simply can’t afford it, and if I can spend $40 on groceries to see Beth and I through a week, or $40 on groceries that won’t take us more than three days, you can guess which one I’m picking. This stumbling has taught me, continues to teach me compassion, and humility. It reminds me, constantly, to keep it real.
So, too, does it remind me to keep my practice real. Once upon a time, this meager spread would have embarrassed me. Despite Poseidon’s insistence that He does not desire Stuff. This has historically been a simple affair — generally sugarcubes and apples, carrots, oatcakes if I though of them enough ahead to make them. A prayer to Pegasos, to Sleipnir, to Poseidon. Some wine. Fancy fairtrade sugarcubes. Organic apples and carrots, locally made wine. Only the best, right?
Today there were no apples, no sugarcubes, no oatcakes. Hell, no wine. There was incense, and carrots – baby carrots, even, with no tops — from Winco. They came from a bag, not from the soil to the market to me. Who knows where they came from? A candle burning that I know is not beeswax. These are the things I have in my house. These are the things I can afford right now, and of them all, all Poseidon desires of me is my time. The energy work.
Ideals are wonderful things to have. Don’t let them turn you into an unbending, uncompassionate pagan. Do not let them make you miserable. Do not let them keep you from your altar, from your gods, from your devotion. Our gods want us there. They want our attention and our love, our time. They want us sharing our lives with them. Strive for your ideals, by all means, but do not be caged in by them. Do not let them render you too afraid to move, for fear of moving wrong, for fear of stumbling.
Giving these offerings to Poseidon should not have been the self-inflicted guilt trip I inevitably make it be. Do not be like me, in this.