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.