It Begins

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It begins in the night,
half the world away as dawn gives way to day
and is over in the blink of an eye
until the next day
and the next day
day upon day
a dance of danger
of life racing
towards the end.
Adrenaline and fear
excitement and daring
of the air charged with the promise of violence.
Blood awaits at the finish line
day upon day
and the next day
and the next day
until the adrenaline snaps
and the blood is shed
and we are gored to the bone
our flesh torn to ribbons
our blood running in rivers,
and it is over in the blink of an eye.

Festivals — the benefits of building new ones — TPE March week 4

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

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While it may be true that Poseidon is enjoying a bit of popularity right now (which is ridiculously exciting for me, considering that other people’s interactions with their gods are none of my business. I can’t help but be on the sidelines here all YAY POSEIDON!!!) one cannot argue that He does not have the following that some deities have. Since I can’t imagine being a god is a popularity contest, mostly I don’t care — I’m not worried about how He feels about these things because they are by and large beneath Him. He is very much  ‘those who need to find Me, and those I call to Me will find and hear Me,’ in His approach; I’ve never felt the need to be a priestess to Him in that sense, in the going out and preaching about Him and trying to gather people to Him. He doesn’t need me for that. We’re good.

 I would be lying through my teeth, though, if I said that compared with the amount of rituals and festivals and what-all other People have, the seeming lack of festivals that center around Poseidon didn’t irk. I’ve written before about having realized, almost as soon as I started looking toward Hellenismos (especially Athenian flavored influences) that what I was really after was a Poseidon-centered ‘wheel of the year’, and coming to know that if that’s what I wanted, that I would have to build one for myself. I’ve written about how I was annoyed at first — and yes, irked for His benefit, even if He wasn’t. “If it needed to survive, it would have,” He reasoned. Poseidon. He’s very Zen, I tell you.

I’ve also written about my various rituals and festivals for Poseidon. Many of them are based on some part or another of o/Our relationship, and won’t apply to other people’s experiences, but a few (the Vigil for the Bulls, the celebration of Poseidon Hippios, Poseidon of the Ponds, Poseidon of the Mysteries) are less specific to u/Us and either draw upon historical connections He’s had which we know about, or are inspired by contemporary understanding and connections. (You can check out my Poseidon Festivals page to follow links to write-ups about some of them, but I have to admit, I’m not very diligent when it comes to writing about them. I’ve observed far, far more than I’ve actually shared.)

I suspect I’ve also already written about the benefit I’ve found in creating the festivals for Him that I have. I know I’m not alone in either the creating of festivals nor in the finding benefit from doing so, but now and again it hits me that my stance has totally changed from where it was way back when. I was annoyed, not just at the seeming disregard for this .  . . well, awesome . . . god, but also because of the work I had to put in to developing my own ‘wheel of the year.’ I was annoyed that I couldn’t just dust off Athen’s ancient calendar and plug it into my life, like so many others seemed to be able to do. (I know, though, that even those following more ‘popular’ gods still felt [and feel!] a desire to create new festivals, despite all that) Now, though? Now I am so grateful that this was the case . . . because the festivals that mark my year are living, breathing things that resonate with my soul, that celebration Poseidon’s presence in my life, because they allow me to honor Him regularly, and they help remind me that He is more than just the narrow bits of Himself that He is able to share with me.

Our path is one of healing, of compassion, of awareness. I’m not involved with horses on any sort of an immediate level, yet taking time to honor Poseidon Hippios, to honor the sacred connection He has with equines, is important. The Vigil for the Bulls is more immediately connected to the path I walk with Him, but even that stretches me to hold more of Him in my view.

I don’t think it’s necessary that one must build a whole year’s worth of observances, rituals, or festivals toward worshiping a god or spirit in order to reap the benefits of creating something so intimate, so meaningful. That’s simply what I felt a need to do, something that I wanted to have. I do think it’s important to create at least one.  You could argue that it’s enough to take existing festivals and making them into something personally relevant. That’s completely acceptable and works, too — Beth and I have done that with Ostara, in a way, as our Ostara centers around honoring Bragi and Idunna. But, Ostara still comes with a number of the Ostara trappings and traditions — which we enjoy — and thus has a little less freedom that creating something whole hog.

Building a festival can be a rewarding, intimate experience, a special exchange between you and the god or spirit(s) in question. Depending on your tradition, it can be anything you need, want, or feel inspired to have it be — and it’s beautiful. Having something that uniquely caters to celebrating your relationship, or your understanding of the god(s) or spirit(s) in question can be deeply fulfilling. I know it has been for me, and I’m grateful these days, rather than annoyed, that this is the shape my calendar year has taken.

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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

Hail to You, Poseidon Phytalmios!

IMG_20150124_155349There are a number of observances that I hold for Poseidon (neither ‘ritual’ nor ‘festival’ work as a descriptor and I’m not sure what to call them other than observances. Rarely is anything scripted with separate stages, and the ones which are — which include a meal and offerings given in a formal sort of way — are never very festive. (The Vigil for the Bulls is a somber, somber affair.) In any event, of the lot, the observance for Poseidon Phytalmios ever stands a chance of being scripted or formal or even overly ritualistic — it is that day, that moment when the beginning of spring truly hits. It’s the moment here when the scraggly, half-hearted growth that takes place all winter but expects to wither at a random frost (almost typed hard freeze there — ha!!) and so doesn’t really count.

Once, not that long ago, Anthesteria was part of my religious calendar. Of the Hellenic holy days, aside from Gamelion, it’s one that still speaks to my heart . . . but it’s always felt a bit off. I began incorporating Poseidon into that festival in an attempt to make it fit better. There are parts that speak to me — between Gamelion, Anthesteria, and my wedding anniversary, there’s a nice triad of Sacred Marriages to honor. With the visitation from the dead, there’s a nice psycho-pomp aspect to consider — but as Hunt season becomes less of a season and more of a ‘where we always live’ for us in our tradition, that’s becoming less of a thing. Anthesteria, with the first flowers connection, is a lovely holy day, and I’m not sure where it’s going to fit in my religious landscape. But, I digress.

Poseidon did not fit well in that celebration. It was off. So, I decided to honor Phytalmios on His own, and being a good little devotee of Poseidon, the last few years I’ve placed this observance on the 8th of whatever month I was aiming for.

The first year it was March, because even though I’ve been out of Massachusetts for over a decade, my automatic setting is New England.  (Which is funny, because in Massachusetts? March is about as wintery as December is. Ask the Heathens in New England about  Ostara as a celebration of the beginning of spring. Standing in five inches of snow. On frozen ground. Go ask. I’ll wait.)

Since then, I fiddled with the dates. And they kept not working out for one reason or another. And finally, last year I realized — this is one of those holy days. The ones that move. The ones that depend on what things are like where you are, what your climate is doing, what your weather is doing, etc. This is one of those ones that, like the Return of the Rain-Makers, gives very little warning. It’s not time, and it’s not time, and it’s not time, and suddenly it’s upon you.

Today it’s upon me.

At some point I decided that this day was going to be less about the first growth in the garden and more about that moment when growth picks up again for growth’s own sake. In the story that gives us this name for Poseidon, He is wroth with people who have not been honoring Him properly, and as punishment, He coats their crops with brine. Only once they’ve appeased Him does their grain begin to grow again. Thus, it could easily make sense as a ‘yeah growth in the garden’ type of observance. And maybe, when I can get my back and my leg back into some stage of health that gardening on the ground can happen again it will be. Maybe. Except, that’s very human-focused, and Poseidon and I? Well, humans factor in, from time to time, but my experience with Him brings me to appreciating things for others’ sake, or for their own sake, and not so much for my sake, or my species sake. It’s the grass coming up, but greener, more vibrant somehow. It’s the first signs of the daffodils to come, and the smaller flowers, the currents on the trees, the near glowing green of the moss, the change of light, the birds, the air.  I am moved to honor this turning of the seasons with Him, in this way, for these reasons, for right now.

It’s a living, breathing tradition. It changes as we go. The point, in this, is Him and honoring Him–and part of that is going as my Lord desires. Which is what I strive to do.

Hail to Thee, Lord of Growth,

Hail to the One who nourishes the roots

keeper of the moist earth,

Giver of fresh water that quenches thirst

Hail, Poseidon Phytalmios!

Where once Your hand was moved in anger

Now, You hold safe, You nurture, You protect.

You give, and life continues.

Hail, hail, my beautiful God.

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Poseidon Hippios

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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.

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Into day three . . .

Or two, depending on how you’re counting. I wish I did not have the ability to turn things off without actually waking up — I missed the actual running time by about an hour. The going to bed for the first time process was extremely emotionally difficult, however — it is rare when I am granted the chance to witness my God carrying His burdens; He tends to keep the darker, deeper bits of His emotions from me, possibly because I already struggle so much with my own. But there are days when I experience a spiritual equivalent of Him laying in my arms and seeking solace, and though the words that I could use to share that do it little justice, I need to record, for my own memory, that last night was such a night. There are touches of Holy Terror that come with experiencing such a state — what do we do, what can we do, when our Beloved Gods are mourning? Well, we can hold that, too. We can witness that. We are challenged to be with Them with that, as much as we can, and not turn aside in our fear and in our awe. What a beautiful, wonderful thing.

I woke up with a start shortly before 1am, and commenced with the vigil, and while I wish I had gotten up in time, I’m not beating myself up over it. What good does that do? I’ll endeavor to keep my alarm further away from me, so that I have to move more to turn it off, and thus hopefully wake up more in the process.

I (re)discovered two essays yesterday, that are thematic for this week for me, and so I’m sharing them. Yes, when I consider this observance, I think primarily of Poseidon (obviously) but not solely Poseidon. In honor of mindfulness of the others who might come to mind, I share with you:

AJ Brokaw’s post on gods and bulls from her blog over at Witches and Pagans. (I, ah. Didn’t realize the Indra connection with bulls until I read this, which, okay, you know? I don’t really have, usually, a lot to do with bulls specifically, nor with Indra, except recently He has been on my radar, which is why, even today, I’m a bit ashamed I didn’t consider Him in light of this festival. The host of gods to be honored next Saturday and Sunday is growing)

And then there’s Lykia’s Playing With Bulls over on her blog, Beloved In Light which fittingly enough from her, is largely about Apollon and bulls. I always look forward to reading her thoughts and findings, so this was a nice treat. And, Poseidon does get mentioned, so yay!

Poseidon of the Horses, in pictures

the evening before, with lamplight

the evening before, with lamplight

I haven’t yet gotten my head to remember things like, hey, if you start the observance at sundown the day before, the shrine being set up “early” makes sense. I am not making myself go through things* faster than it takes me to go through things, so I’ll say honestly that this past week was extremely trying. I am interested in processing my grief while fully throwing myself into the hands of my Gods. This includes in pulling myself together enough to function, pulling myself out of my mundane worries enough to dismiss them from my mind long enough to honor Poseidon with this, the 7th observance of this festival. I did not do these things early enough to get the observance going at sundown the night before, but I did take the time to burn some incense, light the lamp, and pray. And snap some photos.**

Poseidon Hippios

This is a very basic shrine. The mantle is the top part of our hearth shrine. I’m at a point where I want to start including honoring — secondarily to Poseidon, naturally — Pegasos, Sleipnir (oh you faint of heart, singularly focused households, look away now!) and, unexpectedly and yet not, the Dioskouri. That happened, a bit, this year, but there were no physical representations beyond the horse figurine that I have for Poseidon Hippios.

Standard food offerings are: carrots (with greens still!) apples, and sugar cubes. This year fancy demerara sugar cubes! Obviously there are no photos of the energy work offerings.

flowers!

Flowers! I snipped two of this bouquet for Poseidon’s shrine, and they have not immediately whilted like the last ones, so I’m taking His color suggestions to heart. Pink is a beautiful color that He especially enjoys seeing on me (my wardrobe will attest to this, though I don’t love the color myself) but not so much on His shrine. Duly noted.

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**Pushing myself to get in front of the shrine and not skip out on this festival was extremely hard. It brings up all sorts of ideas about miasma and festival purity, but with Poseidon and me, it really comes back to, “Come to Me, and give Me everything.” This week was wretched and grueling, and things are being pulled from me, and every day has been a battle with apathy, because calm detachment isn’t possible right now. And it’s not even that I don’t want to share this with Him — I don’t want to be experiencing it, period. I’m toying with the idea of writing about it all, in greater detail, but currently that’s an excuse to not sit with it and just be so I’m trying to do just that.

I love my God, I truly, truly do.

**Beth took the other pictures. 😉

The dirt!

Yesterday I puttered around in the garden. It reached warm temperatures here, so I dug a spot for the rosemary Beth rescued last year, and planted the bulbs from the bulb-bowl we bought for Idunna and Bragi. I’m skeptical of whether or not I planted them deeply enough, but I also was at the end of my digging endurance, as I was using a trowel where I could more usefully have used a shovel — which we don’t have. I discovered that our chives are coming back and have buds already, that the chocolate mint and lemon balm are both exploring, that the perennial pansies I planted are coming back, and that the cinquefoil is spreading around nicely. I knew the nettle was doing just fine because it’s been doing just fine all along. It’s pluckier than even then mints. I half toyed with the idea of digging up the wild greenery that I don’t want there — some clover, some buttercups — but then a few jumping spiders started scattering around in an uproar and I decided to leave well enough alone. It’s not growing where I want to have other plants, at the time being, so it can stay. We need to tend our heather, but I like the leggy look of it.

I’m awash with garden dreams and plans. In the front I will be putting in an artichoke plant. In the back, once we get said shovel, we’ll turn soil over and put in some veggies. In the side yard, over the graves, I want violets and native bleeding hearts. At some point I want a lilac bush, borage, and a yew tree. Want want want.

Getting my fingers into the soil, getting to watch the creepy crawlies, getting to sweat and be outside . . . yeah, I miss the chill of winter, but I so love spring in this place.

I also picked my yoga practice back up, again again. There are no words to do that feeling justice.

~*~*~*~

We’ve got festivals coming up in April. On the 10th we’ll be holding our Sigrblot; Poseidon Hippios falls on the 18th; we’ll honor Jord on the 22nd, which is Earth Day (see what we did there?); Walpurgisnacht on the 30th. Also in there is seidhr. Thanks to Beth’s schedule for 2013, a large portion of the Poseidon festivals fall the day before seidhr, since I place the not-date-specific ones on the 8th of the lunar month, and she’s placing seidhr on the 9th of the lunar month. I look, and I see four festivals and a day of obligation, and I’m all, meh, that’s not that many!

I’m looking forward to the Poseidon Hippios festival. This is my longest running created festival for Him, though it’s place in the calendar has fluctuated wildly. More on that closer to the date.

Mother Night, Poseideia, Yule

Every year, Poseideia comes up, and every year I decide that I really ought to be doing something BIG and elaborate, a nice, long drawn out ritual with offerings and flowery sayings, praise upon praise heaped upon Poseidon, the most beloved god in my life. It never happens that way, because the moment I start trying to plan something big and elaborate and fancy it stops feeling from the heart, and while that’s fine if there are more than just me involved (group rituals need something the group can focus on together) when it’s just me, it feels awful.

I am incredibly exhausted, incredibly overwrought, and incredibly vulnerable-feeling this Yuletide. I’m drawing in, drawing close to my immediate family of spirits, and not much wanting to step out beyond Their light into the darkness that this time celebrates. This year, for Poseideia, there were no words, no actions, just being with, just falling apart and being held safe. Mother Night has come and gone, and I hold dear in my mind the mothers that have led to my being here, but this year, with my grandmother’s passing being so recent, there’s really no room in my heart for more than love, grief, joy, gratitude for the woman that she was, and the influence she had upon my life.

That’s the best I can do this year, and somehow, I think that’s enough.

In a continuation of words meaning things, about that ‘Merry Christmas’

I try to keep out and out rants off this particular blog, because that’s not what I want this blog to be about. In this case, however, I think the subject fits the scope of this blog.

As you may or may not be aware of, I work in retail. Happily, it’s a drug store, not a department store or a grocery store — and my heart goes out to those of you working in said stores this time of year, because I cannot imagine what it must be to work in those types of stores this time of year. Working at the drug store is bad enough, but at least I don’t have to worry about riots.

Still, working in retail makes the ranting that folks do regarding upcoming Christmas a subject I have to deal with every single day, and while I realize that, considering my likely blog readership, I’ll be preaching to the choir here, there’s two things I want to talk about.

First: the worry of the meaning of Christmas being lost in the frenzy of consumerism. This utterly baffles me. It seems straight forward to me. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I do give gifts to friends and family, and for a long time now those gifts have been simple, hand made things. Stories exclusively for my friends and family, or knitted items, or baked goods, etc. Nothing ever elaborate — no matter how elaborate the plans start out (you laugh, but we’re talking “oooh, I’ll supply everyone with a complete set of handmade bathroom linens! Or a complete set of winter woolens! Hats, scarves, mittens, and wool socks for everyone!!”) — but home made. Items assembled or crafted over the course of half a year in the comfort of my own home, and half the time while in pj’s. So, the mad-crazy-frenetic buy buy buy rush that the majority of people experience is removed from my life.

Considering the religious significance of Christmas that Christians have, I can fully understand the ‘coming together with loved ones and be warm and cozy and share with each other,’ mindset. Like with Easter, even as a pagan (possibly especially as a pagan? Certainly, especially as a member of the not-dominant religion) I am astounded by the secularization of this holy day of theirs. And my bafflement in clearly not aimed at the Christians who are taking steps to bring back the meaning of this holiday into their lives. I’m speaking specifically of the people who hobble in on Black Friday, after having been shopping for thirteen hours straight, who’ve been up all night, and who are complaining about how the meaning of Christmas is lost, and it’s ridiculous what we as a society has done to it, and it’s a shame, and so on. This is how you want to honor the birth of your lord and savior? By turning into a zombie and competing with other people in their mad dashes for the newest electronics? If you’re so miserable doing it, stop doing it! Don’t support it! Remove yourself from the problem as you see it, and then at the very least, you won’t have to deal with the problem any longer.

Second, and more dear to my heart: before you start going on about this ‘War On Christmas’, stop and think, eh? We started playing Christmas music after Halloween this year. This a new early-record. Half our store is transformed for two solid months with Christmas merchandise. What other holiday does that happen for? Oh, right — none. Mostly, though, I dismiss this from my mind. It’s absurd, obviously those who feel it is happen (it sort of goes hand in hand with my above comments — if you don’t like what you see, stop adding to it! Be the change you wish to see in the world, right?) aren’t going to be willing or able to consider another perspective.

But the one that really gets my goat is the “Merry Christmas” rant people indulge in. “I’m going to say Merry Christmas, I’m not going to worry about being all PC, it’s ridiculous how overly-sensitive people are!” (and yes, that’s a direct quote). I’ve heard this from people who I otherwise believe are quite compassionate and worldly, not just small town folks who haven’t ever had the change to interact with people who aren’t exactly the same as they are. (And before you get on me about slightly small town people, I grew up in one of those small towns, so I’m speaking from experience!) The truth is, such an attitude is hurtful. It causes anger and strife, to be sure, but for me, most of all, it causes pain. It discounts immediately the beauty, the joy, the peace, the comfort, strength, and love I’ve found with my gods, the better person I am because of my faith and my religious devotion, and it makes me hyper-aware of the potential pain that other non-Christian people may be experiencing because of the same situation. The attitude that this sentiment fosters does not come across as ‘we’re persecuted and so I’ll stand up for my faith come hell or high water,’ but rather as our own, authentic, non-Christian experiences are to be bulldozed over and pushed out.

I don’t know if the feelings would be the same for more secular-minded folks, but I’m deeply religious. Since I have such strong devotion to my gods, and such a love for my holy days, I am able to understand why other religious folks who are not of my religion but who are also deeply religious might find beauty and strength and joy in their religious paths — including Christians. But not exclusively Christians, you see the difference? Living in a multi-religious society, I really wish folks spent more time focusing on what could unify us, and allow us to have common ground with each other and less attention on divisiveness. And insisting that everyone acknowledge Christmas is an act of division.

My personal rules for holiday greeting etiquette goes as follows: I don’t assume people are Christian. Why should I? For all that there are more Christians than anything else in our country, in my daily life they are in the minority. I’m not, I’m certainly not going to assume others are. I do wish folks a happy holiday season. It covers a nice assortment of holidays (though admittedly completely glossing over the fact that many religions have no winter holiday.) and is open-ended enough. If nothing else, many people get days off from their job, and that can be a holiday without being a holy day. If I’m greeted with Merry Christmas, I return it. I echo whichever greeting I’m given, in fact — because it’s polite. Because the wisher is telling you what they themselves celebrate, and in that case, no, I do hope they have a happy celebration of their choice. It’s what I do to keep sane during these four weeks of madness. It helps.