What in the actual fuck.

I woke up this morning exhausted from the working last night. I forget, every year, that the energy work is a Real Thing that has Real Consequences, and I was groggy like I’d been up for days. I lazed in bed with Corb for a bit, which was awesome. (He was supposed to be helping me get out of bed. It didn’t work)

I reached for my phone while I fought the urge to get out of bed and get moving. I was up before my “get out of bed” time, and darn it, I wanted to stay snugged in with my bedbug. I checked FB, as one does, and suddenly didn’t want to leave the bedroom ever, ever again. I was still, still trying to work up the nerve to watch the Alton Sterling videos. (I have the privilege of not having to deal with this shit daily or personally, which sort of makes me feel like I’m obligated to look, rather than look away). It hadn’t even been a full day since I’d learned about his execution, and now this? For fuck’s sake.

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We’re one day into the Vigil for the Bulls. Already, it’s shaping up to be more than I could have expected it to be, and in totally different ways. Vishnu is part of the devotions this time around, and I’m struggling with that, because the lines between Poseidon and Vishnu are . . . fluid, if you will, and I can’t begin to pin them down. They greeted me, during the energy work, together, the Two of Them, overlapping like images on a photo that’s been double-exposed. They took my hands and brought me to Bull. Or, a bull. My mind argued that it ought to have been a huge animal, the quintessential bovine, towering, massive. Or a short-haired creature like you see in Eastern art. But, no. No, the creature I was brought before was a black, long-haired bull that most resembled the Scottish Highland breed. He/They lead me to this creature, placed my hands upon his side, and he lowered his head to my shoulder. He/They lead me to this creature, and we hugged each other, and just were.

The thing that unsettles me the most about this experience is not the urge it’s kicked up in me to once again attempt moving my diet to a vegetarian, and eventually vegan, diet; this happens every year with the Vigil, and every year I try again. It’s not the headache-inducing presentation of Poseidon-n-Vishnu-as-One-yet-Not, because I’m slowly getting used to that. It’s not even Poseidon pushing me harder to dismantle the compartments that I’ve built up between Them in my understanding, which He got serious about yesterday as I tried to explain where I’m coming form with my confusion. “I know all of this, I don’t care. Stop doing it.”

The most unsettling thing was the feel of the animal against my shoulder. It was the feel of his fur under my hands. I kept trying to bring my mind to the bulls running half a world away, and my mind kept coming back to this image, instead. I don’t have experiences like this. When I meditate, when I do journey work, it’s never tactile. Never, never, never. When I talk about being in Poseidon’s arms, I never mean that I feel Him holding me with physical arms. This bovine felt as solid under my hands as Corbie does, pressed against me, and he had sentience. He was real.

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I carried this with me, as I woke up, and was greeted by the news. For me, it’s interwoven, this Grief that is Holy, and this grief that is consuming our country. How do I gain this better understanding of the individuality of non-human species, and not apply it to my own kind? How do I gain this better understanding of life being sacred, and not apply it to our kind? Life is sacred, and people are being slaughtered. Life is sacred, and people are being executed before their family. Not just across the world. Not just in some third world country under a dictator’s regime, where you expect this to happen.

Here. Now. And too many people don’t care. We cannot be this apathetic. We can’t.
I don’t know what to do with this. It sits heavy around me. I’m lost in it.

I want this Vigil to be about the bulls, about Poseidon, but all I can do is feel this gnawing helplessness. I am not doing this. I did not cause this. I cannot stop this. But I can’t look away anymore. We can’t. We can’t.

#BlackLivesMatter – and if you feel inclined to come back with any ‘all lives matter’ bullshit, do me a favor, would you? Find that unfollow button on the screen, click it, and don’t come back.

Take A Walk With Me

Depending on where I am in my cycle, my mind can be a very exhausting place to be. My goals for today included:  work on a short course I’m taking, getting a blog post written, and getting the last bits of the info I need gathered in one place so I can actually get my taxes ready to be mailed off tomorrow. Closing last night messed up my inner clock  a lot, and I woke up this morning after only a little bit of sleep, but I was groggy as fuck. I  dithered back and forth for a bit, worked on some stuff that required little more than tea. Went back to bed to nap, but I was in that state of having a too active brain for sleep but a too foggy brain to accomplish anything.

I’m all for powering through despite that, but there are some tasks (like brainstorming, which is where I’m at in the short course I’m taking)  that do not lend themselves to powering through foggy brain. I couldn’t nap. I couldn’t work. I decided I’d go back to the river.

My route to the river is almost always the same.  Walk down the street I live on for about a mile, walk up, hit the rose garden, and then go to my spot on the river.

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I avoid the Owen Rose Garden during the height of summer, as I have a very hard time with the rose scents, but I try to remember to visit before and after, because all the other flowers are amazing. Generally my first stop is to visit the cherry tree in the background of this photo, but today my attention was all for the magnolias. When I visited last week, I knew the magnolias were close to opening, and I’d decided to come back this week — and I forgot until I was there, today. My arrival at the park timed perfectly with the sunlight and the sky — sun streamed in from the south, at my back, and the  clouds against the tree were the perfect shade of grey, and the white on the petals all but glimmered. The photo does not do it justice. I was riveted, and I walked to the tree in a half-daze — and I wasn’t there long before another person came up with their jaw all but slack in wonder. ‘Perfect timing,’ they said.  Yes.

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Here’s a younger tree. I sat for awhile underneath this one,  on a comfy bench that I fully intend to revisit.

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I was struck, as I walked, at all the plants that had not been dead-headed or stripped away. Everywhere there were old artichoke blooms, dried out mullein towers, once-yarrow clusters that blotted the growing green with their browns and greys and rusty colors.

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I watched ladybugs crawling along the outside of the mullein towers, and I knew that there was a host of unseen creatures living among the deadfall. I was struck by the presence of the dead, among the living, that overlap in season, when the dead oversees the new growth, and I had a moment caught in wonderment: do they pass on their knowledge, their experiences, at this time? What if the spirits of the once-plants are hanging around, whispering their secrets to the seedlings, to the new green? What if such guardianship is as important as the genetic coding passed on through the seeds?

My mind was filled with thoughts of death, of ancestor worship, of footprints, of honoring what came before, as I meandered out of the garden and down to the river. I realized, as I walked and as I thought about this city and our lazy dreams of moving out of the city at some point down the road, that I really do love living here. There are places I would miss being able to see every day, and I haven’t felt like that about a place, well, ever.

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When we first moved to our new place, we had to find a new spot to leave our offerings for Bragi and Idunno, on Ostara. We had been going to a meadow in our old ‘hood,  but we moved to this apartment in February of 2011, and we decided to head to the river.  We found this grove of hazelnut trees, had our ritual, and left our offerings. (Maple sugar candy, milk, apples, cheese, bread.) We’d gone back a few times since, but as this is a good, sheltery place to be in, people are generally in the space, and we haven’t left offerings there  in a while. It tickled me to walk passed today and see so many of the ducks and geese taking their lunch there. I don’t know why, specifically, but it really brought Bragi and Idunna to mind, a lot.

The duck in the foreground did not love my taking his picture. I didn’t linger.

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Just across the river you can see the mall, and out of frame (out of view, actually) is our local Barnes and Noble, which I haven’t been to in years and years. This is my favorite spot on this part of the river, mostly because there is water I can touch, wildlife to watch (ducks, geese, presently gulls, osprey at the right time, and an abundance of grey squirrels, which are not the most common around here. Also, people with their dogs) and a place I can sit that is not a bench and is not muddy. Once the leaves come out on the trees it becomes a bit more sheltered, but I like the openness, too.

Gulls had been wheeling over head until I took out my camera.

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Moar river shots. I sat here for a bit, and then meandered home. My mind was quieter, again — but then I took a nap. Whoops, too quiet.

The river whispered to me, of ocean gods, of sea spirits, of water wights. My nixie came to speak for a while, and the woman on the bench feeding the ducks had her own stories to tell. The mallards taught me more about liminal spaces, and about the merits of taking a meandering route rather than taking the direct path. Speed of journey isn’t always the point.The spaniel walking off leash with his human had much to say about trans-species relationships.  Poseidon wrapped me up in His presence, and the crows chased the seagulls, and the seagulls chased each other, and it was a beautiful hour or so spent out doors.

Leaving the river,  I passed a field of sleeping water fowl. I watched them from across the walkway for a bit, because every time a cyclist or a jogger or anyone moving too fast whipped by, they would all stand and trumpet at them, announcing their displeasure, like a gaggle of old men and women barking at the whippersnappers to slow down and watch where they’re going.

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I laughed, and then I made my way slowly passed them, stopping to take a picture. And, when I’d gotten passed and they all stood up to yell again, I just might have walked a bit faster.

 

Offerings to Vishnu, ADF babble, and a Tarot video!

With the set up of the extended shrine space,  I’ve turned my mind toward offerings to Vishnu-without-Poseidon, Lakshmi, Durga, and Ganesh. I’m still at a wordless offering place — incense, and non-verbal touching in. Part of that is the offerings happen first thing in the morning, and I’m not a person who words easily first thing in the morning.

Words will be incorporated at some point — maybe. Regularly? That’s less clear. Words tend to be, for me, about community-with-humans, not so much community-with-Powers. They don’t need my words, but the world might. So, we’ll see?

Two sticks in the morning is the limit for me, for what my delicate nose can tolerate, so Poseidon gets one, and the rest share the other, and so far so good with that. May incorporate drink offerings for Them to all get individualized hospitality and attention.

Part of why I’m eyeballing ADF is an attraction to a ritual format (or even ritual tradition) that is utilized by many to fit a variety of ‘hearth cultures’ that can serve as a common language. This may be silly — surely I can figure that out on my own, and in fact,  I have — but it’s only one part of my eyeballing joining ADF. This is a reoccurring idea of mine, and I’m going to do it if for no other reason than to finally put that idea to bed. The more I read about Hinduism, the more and more  I’m reminded that worship is about extending hospitality and expressing gratitude. This seems to be true across the board. Keeping in right relationship with the Powers.

As I ponder and as I write and as I pray, I come back to balking about adopting a Hindu form of worship. I’m about as Hindu as I am Hellenic; I’m not. And I tend to tie myself up in knots, a lot, when I’m in study mode. So maybe joining ADF and working through their Dedicant Program while studying Hinduism and its history, might be the thing I need to remember that there are other ways of approaching Them, if They find it agreeable.

Poseidon’s been trying to get me to leave off from Hellas in my mind, of associating Him so much with Hellas, that He’s all for this.

And, for something completely different, I made a tarot deck flip-through video. Luna added her commentary, and the last minute had me in tears when I watched it before uploading it. Just sayin’.

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Depression is an asshole. On this, I think we can all agree. I’ve written before about how of the power-duo that is depression and anxiety, anxiety is the more active in me, but depression is pervasive, and it is tenacious, and it is sneaky as fuck. It is the root of the belief that I have no inherent self-worth, despite the perhaps paradoxical conviction that we are born inherently worthy. (Possibly more accurately to my worldview, the concept of ‘worth’ as we use it when it comes to life has no real place in, you know, life, living, and the natural world, but I digress). I’ve been engaged in rewiring that particular conviction of unworth for about a decade, and I’ve made progress. My default setting is and has been, I’ll trust Poseidon’s judgment on my worth since I clearly cannot trust mine. Slowly, slowly, largely by ignoring my conviction and trusting in His, I’ve made progress, and that approach works for me.

One manifestation of this conviction of unworth is my reluctance to look forward to things, to get excited about things. When it comes to situations or events, my anxiety feeds into this, and in those areas, I’m pretty much resolved that this is simply how it’s to be, and that’s okay. I don’t look forward to events with people, or socializing, or like, for an immediate example, going to the movies. (Beth and I are going to see Into the Heart of the Sea this week, our first cinema trip since Les Mis came out.) (This may be a bad example; I’m going to love seeing this movie and its big waves) (actually, movies may be the sole exception?) (argh). Once, we took a trip up to Portland with friends at the time to see some revels. I thoroughly enjoyed having gone. The stress of being away from home, the travel time up, the being ‘on’ for the whole two days, traveling back home, being in a crowded theater . . . Ugh. Just, ugh. I did not enjoy any moment of any time during the event; I enjoy having gone. That’s just how I am, and it’s mostly okay. During the entire event, I look forward to being home.

This manifests more for material objects. I rarely allow myself to become excited about getting something especially for me, or allowing something, any one thing, to have especial meaning for me – because something always happens to ruin it or mar it or just make it less. Poseidon prayer beads? Sure, but it took years to get them just so, and they broke pretty quickly. Commission a Poseidon painting by a beloved artist whose art I’d already purchased before and had it be perfect? Yes, and it was, indeed perfect, except for it broke en route so the painting – which is gorgeous, and whose colors are amazing – has a tear in its canvas. Finally cave and get the Vishnu picture you like the looks of? Sure, but it’s going to take forever and a day to get to you, and when it arrives you’ll see just how wildly different colors can look between photos and screen display.

It sounds trivial, and to a degree, maybe it is. But I’m fighting an uphill battle with the idea that I get to have or want things, that I get to look forward to having something. Spending money on myself that is not on books is incredibly difficult (often, Beth has to do it for me). And, when the thing in question could have some sentimental meaning or emotional impact, it’s even harder to get me to be excited or be receptive to it, because the higher one’s hopes are, the harder they fall and the more splendidly they shatter, and it’s a small step for me to cross over into the the land of, “I don’t deserve anything, what was I thinking?” and it’s such a wretched feeling.

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Omens abound. For those of us who interact with the Spirits, we know how readily omens present themselves. The Powers speak to us constantly, if we but listen.

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I dislike that much of my back and forth with Poseidon can still slip into the realm of needing reassurance that He really does know His mind. There are larger gaps, I guess – longer stretches of time when I don’t need that reassurance, and smaller time periods during which I do, but the depth of my insecurity feels like it’s about the same. I still brace for Him to change His mind. Why the hell wouldn’t He? I’m a mess.

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It’s tempting, so much, to take negative happenings as ill omens. Say, for instance, you purchase a picture of a god whose worship you are on the fence about, whose connection with your own Beloved you’ve been introduced to by your Beloved. Hypothetically speaking, of course, but let’s say that your Dearest, who has repeatedly clung to His name, suggests that maybe this name, too, is a part of Him, and that you should explore that. Suppose He gives you a year before beginning to really start poking at you about it, and wanting to know why you hesitate, wanting to know, don’t you trust Him, reminds you that you beg Him with every breath to take you deeper into His mysteries. Say all these things, and say you purchase the picture. Say you let it sit for weeks in your home, and say that on an auspicious day, you frame it and you hang it and you admire it. You allow the warmth of contentment, the joy of perfection, the pleasure at having this thing sit just so above your shrine, to settle around you. You allow the glow of accomplishment, of having done the thing, of feeling His pleasure at your doing this thing and starting to release this not-quite-resentful but certainly not-best-pleased feeling you’ve been harboring for months. Say you offer incense and a libation. You dare to begin to relax in this feeling, and you decide that you are truly excited now and not anxious. Excited, and looking forward to where this might take you.

It would be the easiest thing in the world, then, when the frame comes crashing off the wall, when the glass shatters into a bazillion pieces, knocking over and breaking your handmade super-special statue along with it, to decide it was all wrong, that the affection you felt from your Beloved was wrong, misunderstood, that THIS is the sign that it was not well received, that this study should not be undertaken, that you are right all along to not be excited about things, that you do not deserve things, and this serves you right for daring to think yourself worthy of such things.

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Omens abound. As I swept up glass fragments, with a lump lodge in my throat and tears burning my eyes, I held this awareness in my mind. This was a rejection, a clear sign that this action was not wanted. I tried it on for size, and I’ll admit that part of me grasped for it. The familiar feeling of hopelessness, of bleak existence, the sting of disappointment. It would be the easiest thing in the world, to step over that line, to wrap that blanket around me. Omens abound, and so do the Powers, and how could I read this as anything other than His displeasure?

I know my Beloved. He would not make me look directly at His affection of my having done this thing, for fear of it spooking me, but neither would He allow me to ignore it, and so, even now, I can feel His pleasure at my having done this thing. At taking my discomfort, framing it, and putting it on my fucking wall. Of admiring it and admitting, I love this picture, this picture is perfect, this is what the shrine needed all along. There are Powers who set Their people up for having the rug swept out from under them; Poseidon is not that way with me. He is careful and He is gentle and He is kind. He is ruthless and brutal when it comes to self-examination and exposing vulnerability to make it not be vulnerable (I’m writing this, you’ll note. I don’t want to. I want to cry, still.) but He is kind and gentle. He is an expert at pushing me to the point of overwhelmed but not numb. Too much, and I go numb, and He keeps me at that line.

Setting something up for it to fail spectacularly is not His style.

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I wrapped my arms around myself and held – have been holding – my disappointment close to me. I’ve been using it to ward of feelings of dejection. I’ve been holding myself still in this disappointment, making myself feel it washing over me, savoring the feeling of excitement turned sour. I’ve been soaking in this feeling of impermanence. He’s taken the opportunity to speak of looking forward to things, and of how obtainment is not the point. The looking forward to things is the point. Enjoying things as you have them, and being flexible when you lose them that the loss does not cause you overmuch pain. There was a collective intake of breath in my house, as the last bits of glass tinked to the floor. Beth, Poseidon, Odin, the cats, Corbie – everyone held their breath, and most of them waited to see how I’d react. Would I tailspin in a black depression? Would I decide this was His message for me? I wanted to. The familiar pathway was there, waiting for me. But, I breathed, and I held the pain, and I accepted it.

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Omens abound. Even as I write about this, so close to bedtime, my heart is still sore, still raw, and that lump that was in my throat has settled around my heart. The only omen I will see in this is that I need to be more careful in hanging pictures. I will not doubt His reactions, His directions, or His affection. I will not deny His pleasure in any part of this, and I will allow Him to teach me the proper way to enjoy that which is impermanent.

The frame will be replaced. The image will be rehung. But likely not until after the New Year.

Well, I’ve taken yet one more step. Happy Poseidea, my Beloved.

2015 was like 2014 in that  it’s been a year of minimal devotional activity. (Minimalistic?  Simple? Simple.) It’s been a year of simple devotional activity. My planned calendar looks a lot more impressive than how it actually pans out. Most of my days for Poseidon (which, to be frank, are the  only one that I’m all that interested in) are ‘sit and be with Me’ days. There are libations, minor offerings, incense — mostly it’s just time spent  in communion, which makes them not that different from every other day, just maybe with a bit more focus, with a bit more of a goal that goes beyond u/Us. (There are other days on my calendar that are important, but they are almost all of them unique to my particular path, or otherwise important to me because they are important to someone I care about).

I spent many years walking a path as a devotee of Poseidon’s and of Odin’s feeling torn about December, long before I learned that Poseidon’s main holy day in many places centered on or around the Winter Solstice. I knew that the Athenian month of Poseidon more-or-less correlated with our December* and so their main Poseidon festival (of which we know very little) likely happened then, but I did not realize that that was true through much of the Hellenic world. December was a time that I felt ought to be a time I focused on Pops, and I do, I do — but Poseidon has always, always, always felt . . .  more reachable, more immediate, more gloriously wild and feral and . . . I don’t have the words. Not more present, precisely. Maybe more present in a particular way? Just, I guess, a part of the season in a way that I could not discount, and eventually I ceased trying to discount it. Eventually we just added Him to our Yule observations, decided it was fitting in a household made up of wives of the gods, and called it good.

And then I discovered Noel Robertson’s Poseidon’s Festivals at the Winter Solstice. (Which begs the question: why do we need what we are led to suspect through observance and interactions be reinforced by what has come before? Especially when forging new relationships and new paths, why must verification or validation make us feel that moment of ‘oh, ah-ha, look, there’s a reason behind this experience I’m having  or this intuition I’m having outside of the power in question leading me to it, which makes it be real, be valid.‘ I hate that I do that.)

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Today I observe Poseidea. In my religious landscape, this is not the biggest big deal festival or observance.  Or, rather, it’s not the biggest, big deal Poseidon festival. That honor belongs to the Vigil. So maybe it’s really that Poseidea is more intimate, less work-y?  I dunno.

Today, He said, it was time to get the Matsya picture up.  I have a table that’s slated to become my Indian deities shrine space — currently it’s housing the Durga stuff and my tray. I’d thought the Matsya painting, which is my Vishnu representation, would go there, but silly me, it’s just too big, and Poseidon said, repeatedly, that He did not want a separate shrine to be made. An extension, sure, because I needed more surface space, but a space set apart was not acceptable to Him.

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So I cleaned off the shrine, and oiled the wood, and oiled the horse, and washed things down, and gathered up more sand, stick, and ash into my collection jar, and poured out new sand, and spritzed with holy water, and fondled the various treasures I have, and hung up the framed picture. (Painting? It’s a painting reprint, and it’s on a flat surface, but it’s texture-y and good, thick paper, and I don’t know what to call it.) I need to reposition the image within the frame but it’s curly from being rolled up, so I’m letting it be and I’ll fiddle with it later. (It’s a weird size, 12.75 x 15).

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I’m not displeased. He joked, gently, teasingly, “There. A year and three months later, and you’ve done one thing to start along this exploration I want from you.” Which isn’t quite true. I’ve poked my toes into study. I’ve purchased books (oh, noes, not books!). I’ve (with the help of a friend) begun the gathering of bare necessities for proper worship. I’ve entered the idea of seeking local temple spaces to visit. There’s no censure, only a celebration of the ways in which I do things, the ways that I have to sidle up to things to not get spooked, and there is love.

It is both jarring to have a picture of Vishnu hanging over my Poseidon shrine, where I’ve been reluctant to hang any Poseidon images because they’ve been all wrong (save for the painting I’ve had commissioned, which is over my bed, because it’s minemineMINE), and also not jarring at all, because the picture is “right” in a way that no Poseidon image ever has been.

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Blessed Poseidea to you and yours. Oh, and Glad Yule!

 

*WHY did we not change the names of the months that are number names when we changed their placement? Why, for all that is holy, why??*

Keeping It Real: Insecurities.

This is a common refrain here on my blog, but I think it’s important. Once upon a time, when I was a baby pagan, I was in awe of the people who’d been doing things for what seemed  like a long time, who seemed to have their shit together. With experience under my belt, I can  readily admit that the face that we present to the public may be, if not a mask, at least a carefully selected  choice of what we want to share, and the having one’s shit together may be more about being choose-y about what one shares than about actually feeling that one has  it all figured out. I’ve known people who have adhered to the “fake it until you make it” concept, and consciously present a strong front when in their private lives they are  filled with insecurities, fears, and doubts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this: we are not obligated to share any parts of ourselves with people we don’t know well/don’t trust/just don’t want to. We’re not obligated to share any of ourselves with anyone else.

I realized a few years back that I’d been ‘doing things’  (wherein doing things translates to having a devotional relationship with People, namely Poseidon and Odin, with the heavy emphasis on Poseidon) for a while now, and that  I’d reached a point where, if I was my baby pagan self looking at someone else, I would have expected that person to have their shit together, and I realized that I do not feel like I do. Sometimes, with some things, yeah — there are a number of things I take as given, at this point. Like, it’s been a long time since I wondered if Poseidon was real, for example.  But there are other times — a lot of times, still — when I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants, and that the insecurities I feel like I’ve dealt with and have put to bed are as strong and present as ever, and it’s annoying and it’s exhausting.

I realized that I don’t ever want to come across like I have my shit together when I don’t.

I realized I wanted to admit that, hey, you know, twenty years on this path, it’s still amazing and weird and unexpectedly challenging, and there are days when it feels like I’m just starting out.

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A few days ago, By Star and Sea posted this beautiful photo and prayer to Poseidon. It’s gorgeous, and I’m always excited to see people talking about Poseidon (because, you know, Poseidon!) I’m grateful for the chance to exam the concept of jealousy (as in, do I have it?) in a way that’s more than just intellectual exercises, now that more people *are* talking about Him, about worshiping Him and loving Him and walking with Him, and all that fun stuff. I’ve been contacted by a few people who have given Him marriage vows, and I’ve always said I’m not a jealous person, and it’s neat  to have that backed up by experience. (Go me!)

The sort of brutal self-examination that I’m encouraged  or required to do does not allow for things to go unexplored, though, so when I came across the aforementioned photo and post in my reader and it pinged an uncomfortable feeling within me, of course I had to dig into that.

It’s stupid. It’s one of those things that, at this point in my experience with Him, with the relationship that we have that is built upon trust, and affection, and on allowing it to be defined by u/Us and no one and nothing else, I really ought to be beyond. Instead, there is a whisper of insecurity, a murmur of doubt. Not of Him, and not of u/Us, but of me, and, what if I’m doing this wrong?

I tried, instead, for a feeling of superiority, not because I actually think that I’m  better, but because I’m human, and superiority feels better than insecurity, and so maybe because all time is the time of Poseidon for me, maybe that made me better? Except, my heart isn’t in that because I don’t actually believe that, and I wish I could say that I don’t believe that for good reasons like, no one is better than anyone else when it comes to these sorts of things, we can only be as we are, and comparing ourselves to others is pointless and causes unnecessary angst. On my good days, that’s true, but in my heart of hearts I don’t believe I’m superior to anyone because in my heart of hearts I know I’m inferior.

(Intellectually I realize that’s just as bad, if for different reasons, as thinking myself better than others; mostly I ignore it because it changes nothing in my actual relationships. I trust Him more than I trust my feelings, in these weaker moments, and that’s stood me in good stead thus far).

I don’t know that I’d have such a strong ‘what if I’m doing this wrong?’ fear if I wasn’t heading into uncharted (to me) waters where He is really stretching things like names and cultural associations and the like. Would I have such a “what if He really ISN’T Poseidon after all??” fears if He wasn’t leaning so hard on Vishnu right now? Doubtful. What’s happened here is, insecurities have been festering below the surface, and the above post was a flash of light upon the waves that illuminated the depths so that I couldn’t pretend they weren’t there, and so I’m grateful for that. And I’m sharing this, because I think it’s important to be a voice that says, no, we don’t always have to have our shit together. No, we don’t always have to pretend that it’s okay. We can be challenged, from unexpected and unintentional sources, without making it into a huge deal, and we can be grateful for the chance to dig deeper and explore more.

In the end, I’m not insecure, not even if my worship of Poseidon or my time with Him looks  different from other peoples, because we all have our  own personal relationships with Them. Which goes back to my favorite mantra: it doesn’t all have to look the same, and that’s okay.

TL;DR: sometimes even those of us who’ve been doing this for a minute or two need that reminder.

On veiling and fears

This post of Columbine’s over at the Treasurey of Apollon, has my thoughts a-turning. You should definitely read that post, as well.

So, I veil. I veil for a number of reasons that all come back to “Poseidon asked me to.” My default style these days is a tichel tied like kerchief, with the middle tail tucked under to make a mock-snood, and the two end tails twisted and wrapped across the top of my head. Something like:

tichel

photo from coveryourhair.com

 

I’ve been veiling now for eight years, and over time, I’ve taken to  covering more and more of my hair. Poseidon’s request was never “hide it all”, though there are times when I want to be as covered as possible. There was an idea put forth by the writer of Aphrodite’s Tortoise, that veiling in ancient Hellenic culture — and indeed, in some modern veiling cultures — served as a sort of extension of the private world for women, that the fabric became in essence an extension of the walls of the home. I find this idea appealing, and on my more off days, the idea of essentially wearing a tent from head to toe is a great idea, if I must go out at all. While I find the idea of hijab-style veils incredibly appealing, I default to more basic tichel-style wraps, more for ease of movement and for less fuss than anything else. (The tichels I use stay without even needing to pin or tie much at all. Considering all the migraine trigger spots on my poor sensitive skull, this is a good thing.)

The most negative reactions I’ve received from people regarding veiling have been from fellow pagans. Mostly, though, any reactions I receive tend to be curious, supportive, or honestly ignorant, all of which I’ve gotten better at dealing with over time. (Once, while walking outside of my workplace, we overheard people referring to me “look, look at her with her scarf on her head. I wonder where she’s from! I think Belgium!” which was much, much source of amusement.)

It need be mentioned that I do live in a college town in Oregon known for our hippy population, and that I’m white, and that work with the public.  I don’t, in general, fear when I leave my house in a veil, because people here wear all sorts of things — including almost nothing — and for the other reasons stated above. I have been apprehensive traveling while veiled, and I have been thoroughly patted down (though not moreso than the unveiled woman who went after me) but nothing more has happened and, again, I think how I veil and also that I’m white plays a huge role in that. Which sucks.

I consider, after the attacks in Paris, that covering could make me a target for those with anti-Islamic sentiments, and  I did consider that maybe I might switch to something less scarf-y. This is a decision only we can make for ourselves, and I don’t know that there’s a wrong decision . . . but I do know that I won’t be ruled by fear.

It’s not okay that I can wear fabric on my head and be fine, but others are harassed — or worse — because of it.

It’s not okay that fear of people who are different can be allowed to turn us into ugly, uncharitable people.

It’s not okay to revile what we don’t understand.

It’s not okay to hate  an entire religion  because some people take that and twist it and make it ugly.

It’s not okay, as a religious minority, to pretend that there isn’t common ground to be found with others of different religious (or other) minorities.

Fucking hell — I’m a polytheist. I’m a modern day polytheist, and so objectively I know that the temples that were destroyed or converted into monotheist temples, and the pagans that were forcibly converted or killed are not my immediate predecessors. At the same time, I can say that people who believed as I believe were killed for believing it. I can say that devotees of Poseidon were likely killed for it, and certainly, certainly His holy places were desecrated, and I won’t pretend that that doesn’t touch me. There are topics in monotheist scripture about how wrong, wretched, and horrible polytheists are. I’m not unread, I know about shirk.

This isn’t going to stop me from saying that Islamophobia is wrong. It’s not going to stop me from saying that hated people because of their religion is wrong. This isn’t going to stop me from giving support to minority monotheist religionists, because freedom of religion (which is as much a UN thing as it is an American thing, and really needs to be a global world thing) is important, including freedom from religion (that is, not being forced or punished for not having one) and including religions that are not mine.

I find interfaith dialogue and study to be as important to my practice as devotional acts to my god, because Poseidon is all about compassion with me, and being able to empathize with others keeps me compassionate.

The world could do with more empathy.

I am held.

So, I’m not all that good right now. It’s a number of things (retailhell season, anniversary of my grandmother’s death which generally make me think of them both as they were good enough to die in the same year and also because, hey, we buried her on my grandfather’s birthday–HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIPPY, LOOK WHAT WE GOT YOU!, but also  the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor always makes me think of my grandfather too — he was a WWII vet — and also, just THINGS. THINGS DAMN IT I DON’T NEED REASONS!)

A few days ago,  I had a day wherein a bunch of exciting things I was happy about sort of all crashed down around me.

So, I have a new phone, and it was cool and exciting, and it worked!  It actually dialed out and picked up when people called and I answered; it went online and did online things; it actually kept the time; it was an unexpected Xmas bonus from my  part-time job, woot! Only then we discovered that hey, that neat high speed internet we’ve got isn’t unlimited like we thought (curse you, fine print) and there was no way to re-up it once it was out for the month.

I ordered a Matsya print, and failed to receive confirmation of the order, and discovered that it wasn’t going to be here for forever. (Okay, a month).

I discovered that one of the other books I had purchased had been cancelled with no notification to me beforehand.

So, you know, a bunch of first world problems.

The struggle in this, for me, was — I was genuinely excited about these three things. Those who know me well will know that I generally do not get excited about things, I do not allow myself to become emotionally invested in outcomes going a particular way or in myself having a particular thing. This sounds like a nice, not-attachmenty way to be, but the truth of the matter is, I am this way due to a long history of things not working out/being what I wanted. This non-attachment comes from heaps and heaps of disappointment playing out and not any sort of altruistic, personal development crap. So every time it happens and is reinforced, I find myself in a place of, why the fuck do I expect to have happiness from things?

To which, His reponse is often, “Yes, well, why?”

(In the interest of full disclosure: hormones and deathaversies.)

Lately, He’s been supporting the excitement of having things and wanting things. Not all things indiscriminately, but specific things. I’m realizing that I’m increasingly unhappy with my lack of acquisition of physical books, and the fact that my bookshelves are so small and are not rotated through often. (Apparently I derive satisfaction, inspirations, and fulfillment from having books I can look at and remembering reading. Who knew?) We’re limited on space, granted, but we’re not so limited that a creative solution can’t be found. (Taller, deeper bookcases, for example).

There’s also the acquiring of new, totally different images and/or ritual tools — hence the Matsya print that is on its way to me. I also have a modest assemblage of puja tools (namely an extremely pretty tray and a bell and a mini-shrine for Durga), and I suspect more will be added over time. So far, they’re just sitting there, being present in my home, but they will get used. And it’s weird to me, to have Poseidon be supportive and encouraging of the gathering of things, because so much of o/Our discourse on the topic of material goods have been, “meh, sometimes nice, but ultimately unnecessary.”

It’s interesting.

Through this all, He is gentle. He is kind. I am wrapped up tight in love and acceptance. It’s really difficult to hold on to feeling threatened in any of this, because how can I be, with this sort of support?

Surrendering can be pretty.

Especially when it comes with this!

matsya-avatar-EL67_l

I decided, with Poseidon’s help, and the encouragement of both this video here, that I would honor some of what I know about myself. Icons are too difficult, too much commitment to start out with, too much, but not images. Images are okay. Going in, I know I’m going to be offering sporadic, nocturnal, minimalistic worship, and hey let’s just run with that. Once again, Poseidon reminds me that He’s not asking me to be something that I’m not, and so maybe let’s not fall into that trap.

So, a print of that image is its way to me. After a few hours of trying to find a Vishnu image that I really like, and wanting it to be Vishnu and not so much avatar of Him I came back to this. The non-human avatars are my favorite, and this is my most favorite.

I’ve also got a book on puja coming my way, and largely I’m hoping it’s going to get me to calm the fuck down about this. We’ll see. Worst case scenario, at least I have a new book.

Dear Poseidon, or: I want to reject compassion

Dear Poseidon,

Compassion has been a cornerstone of o/Our relationship since the very first day w/We met and You held compassion for me. You planted a seed of compassion for others within me, though it would be years and years before that would sprout. Awareness, You stress — take in all sides, view the big picture, strive to understand the full story, and then, compassion.

Compassion isn’t complacency. It’s not being a doormat. It’s not turn the other cheek while atrocious things are done to you. Sometimes compassion is action, and sometimes its hard action, but ideally with personal desires removed — justice versus revenge, even when the outcome is the same. It’s why I can say I strive toward being compassionate, and still think the death penalty is sometimes necessary, or at least, more desirable, more proper than letting people continue to live. Though, that’s beginning to slip, these days . . .

I don’t want to be compassionate right now, my Lord. Not in my heart, not in my thoughts, not in my words. I don’t want to have to pause and think about those others. I don’t want to stop and think about what a world must be like to drive others to such hatred and violence. I believe that hatred and violence are things nutured, are taught, are borne of desperation and fear. I don’t want to think about people who hold different world views that I do, and how they can hate ‘others’ and still love their families, how they can still honor their parents and care for their children. I don’t want to think about how we are all human, and how instincts drive us more than we admit.

Neither do I want to think about the shaming that’s going around, on social media, about not paying enough attention to all of the current affairs that warrant attention. I don’t want to be compassionate toward the people who want to use shame to give people grief about being upset about X but not about Y.  I don’t want to have compassion for people who can’t understand that everything is complex, and that we can’t all of us know about all of the things, and that shame is not necessarily the best motivator to get us to become engaged.

I’m afraid for others right now, Poseidon, and I don’t want compassion. I don’t want to engage in compassion. I want my fear to be soothed, and I’m animal enough that I want my fear to be soothed by the destruction or at least the disempowerment of those others. I’m animal enough that, when the news tells me that France, in cooperation with others, has bombed a training region of Daesch’s, I cheer, and I hope for their destruction.

I don’t want to think about the people who are trapped in the region with them, who are innocent and dying. I don’t want to think about others, elsewhere. I don’t want this call to compassion. I don’t want this stress on awareness. I do not want it at all.

You provide no answers; You simply refuse to allow me to set this down. For every time I think, “they need to be destroyed, they cannot be allowed to continue,” You bring me back to compassion. In these moments I want Angry Poseidon, Petulant Poseidon. I want the Poseidon who they say destroyed cities, leveled populaces with one angry shake of the land. I want tidal waves and divine retribution, damn it. I want a clear sign that says We Are Right and Good and Just, and They Are Evil Born — except evil is taught, and You will not let me forget that. You hold still, and You council education, and prayers, and healing, and awareness, and always, unfailingly, compassion. You council distance from gossip and speculation. You council compassion. Always, always compassion.

Compassion is exhausting and undesirable, and still You council it. You have the reputation that You have, and still You urge me in this particular way, so I must listen. I will listen. But I don’t want this compassion right now. I thought You should know.