So, by now, I can only imagine that readers of my blog know where I fall on the whole treating ‘the Lore’ as scripture topic. For those who have missed it: my understanding (and more importantly for this writing) of ‘the Lore’ – everything from the myths that have made it down to our times to the historical information we have regarding how a god or spirit was worshiped and what their cultus looked like – is that ‘the Lore’ is nothing but historical UPG with the weight of tradition behind it. Yes, even the big things like the Eleusinian Mysteries that attracted oh so many people in the ancient world. (I suppose this would become something like PCPG rather than UPG at this point, but you get my meaning, I hope.) I use “unverified’ in an empirical sense, in this understanding – at no point, in what survives, did a god or spirit manifest in a way that could be weighed and measured and shown to be true in a way that survives and convinces everyone. Do I believe that there was something real, something mystical, something spirit or god driven going on in the various places where and when history tells us people gathered together to pay cultus to particular gods at particular places in particular ways? Yes – because I believe the gods and spirits are real and can do so. For all that we know about certain places and ways of worshiping, we never, at any one time, have a clear instance of Zeus or Hermes or Thor sitting down and instructing us, whether or not we believed that they are real. Thus: it is nothing but UPG/PCPG with the weight of tradition behind it.
This does not mean that I don’t take how the gods were worshiped historically into consideration, in my practice and approach. This does not mean that I throw all their myths out and am completely making up new myths whole hog. What this does mean is that I do not give more credence to what we have from history than I feel is necessary, and it does mean that, if what Poseidon is telling me does not go along with anything we have from antiquity, I go with what He says over what the primary sources might say.
I bring this up, because it’s been on my mind lately. Due in part to conversations I’ve had with others (some people writing about stuff that syncs up with my understanding and experiences with Poseidon, other people talking about stuff that does not sync up at all), and thinking about how myths work in general, but also because of the time of year it is, and the inclusion in my personal practice of Poseidon with Odin’s Hunt. And, to be far, because of the struggles of writing some of this out for Poseidon: a Narrative. I’m finding myself being confronted with some of my possibly out there understandings of Poseidon and His Mysteries – though not all of them make it into stories in this book, and not all of the stories that do make it into the book are personally held ideas about How Things Are. It’s an interesting thing, to write a story that is so ‘true’ for me, and then to write another one that is a neat idea, and a fun way of considering something, but that isn’t ‘it’ for me. (I love writing!) Some of the things that are in my understanding, that I think may be ‘out there’: the dividing line between the Brothers is wiggly and wobbly, and is not always a solid thing. I run into this a lot between Poseidon and Zeus, and Poseidon and Hades, and not so much between Hades and Zeus, though I suspect that’s all a matter of focus. Now, in my personal devotion and my interactions with Zeus and Poseidon and Hades, I have certainly interacted with the Three as distinct individuals, so it’s not as though I’m saying I think (and thus treat) Poseidon and Zeus as the same entity. Because I don’t. I swore vows to Poseidon, not to Zeus. Zeus was a witness to my marriage – He and Hera are the ones who blessed it, and I get that it could not have happened without Them. Historically, in myth and in cultus, Zeus is hailed as the King of the Gods, and I get that – and at the same time, in my personal understanding of the gods, that is a rank that is place upon Him by humans, and it’s not quite like that, and . . . stuff. Except, at the same time, it also is. Except it’s not. But then, it is. See? It’s clear. It’s obvious. It’s straight-forward.
I do think the Three are different and distinct . . . but I also think that in places, Zeus assumed roles that Poseidon previously held, and I think that They share names and myths and mysteries as it suits Them, and I think I’m not going to try to hard to suss it all out, but that when Poseidon gets that gleam in His eyes and starts down the philosophical ‘what are names, really?’ road, I relax, even more, my desire to name and categorize and what-not.
Another part of the personal myth cycle that informs my life regards Hekate. Hekate is not one of the gods I’m personally involved in. We have had zero interaction on o/Our own. She is, however, the one Poseidon was first insistent upon that I honor in some way, and this is why I ever began marking the Deipnon (though how that’s marked varies widely from month to month). There is the idea within Heathenry that our gods worshiped something else, something other, something bigger than They Themselves, and that’s an idea that is not commonly seen in other polytheistic traditions (unless it is – do share if your tradition has something like that!). In my personal understanding of the relationship Poseidon has with Others, Hekate would be the something other that He worships. It’s not quite that, but it’s close. I’m told that She is the One who initiated Him into a number of Mysteries. My understanding of Her has become that she in what anchors the worlds to the kosmos, that She is to the Gods what Hestia is to human-kind. I know there are others who do not hold to this idea . . . and I do not for a moment think that either one of us invalidates or cancels out the other’s understandings, doxa, or UPG.
We are all of us living our own myth cycles, and I don’t believe they can be invalidated by mere humans.
Admittedly, I’m something of a loner when it comes to walking my path. Yes, Beth and I share a tradition and a Family. When our paths don’t over-lap exactly they are often complimentary. When they’re not? We don’t fuss over it much. We do our own thing. It’s not a big deal. I am, in my out-look, a little less firmly entrenched in the ‘hard polytheist’ camp than she is – and that’s cool. (I really live in the ‘we can never really know to a satisfying degree that ends all arguments about it, so while it’s fun to poke at, I don’t get so dependent upon my understanding it clearly because why bother’ camp.) So, while I understand the need for “PCPG” when one is dealing with a particular group, outside of that, I fail to see the need.
The stories of the past – the myths, the cultus paid to Poseidon – definitely, without a doubt, color my understanding of Poseidon. They certainly factor in . . . but He hold the final say regarding how things are to be understood and approached. And, that’s how I think it ought to be. What I want is for Poseidon to be worshiped. I want His praise to be sung, I want His touch upon our mortal realm to be seen and acknowledged, I want to see Him receive offerings and libations, prayers and devotional acts . . . but I don’t care so much how people get there. I don’t care that they line up with my understanding of this god. I’m not bothered if they run counter to my own myth-cycle to the point where we may sound like we are talking about two separate gods. The gods are massive. I want Him to be loved and adored and known – the rest just is not important to me. It’s interesting – I like seeing differences as much as similarities – but it is only going to inform my practice and my devotion as Poseidon Himself directs. And, in a perfect world, it would be that way for everyone.