#YT paganchallenge week 4 video(s)!

In which I talk a lot (a lot-a lot) about my religious calendar with Poseidon. I pre-recorded these weeks ago; I am intending to edit out longer pauses in the future, but, you know, this is how I talk and I’m not entirely interested in making myself look or sound more polished than I am.

Enjoy! Or, you know, don’t. Long.  Did I mention long? Long.

Giving it another go — Percy Jackson

I discovered Rick Riordan’s Olympian series not long after the third book was released, though I put off giving the series a go until more of the books had be published because Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire long, long ago burned out any willingness on my part to get involved in anything longer than a trilogy before all the books had been released. I was excited about the series, but realistic, and while I pride myself on not being a genre snob, I have to admit that I do tend to automatically shy away from books or series that seem “too” popular. Because I don’t want to ever turn my nose up at a book based on other people’s opinions, I made myself read the first book once it was clear that the author would finish the series.

I remember not much liking it, but because, hey, Poseidon! I decided to try again a while after, in preparation to seeing the movie version. Really ought not have done so, because I discovered again that I didn’t much care for the book and I was set up to dislike the movie for changing so much as well as embracing what I think of as lazy writing. (Underworld beings as villains? How . . . original. I mean, the story was already written for you! Why did you have to change so much??)

This isn’t to say that I did not enjoy Kevin McKidd’s portrayal of Poseidon on the big screen. The opening scene where they pay homage to this statue as he’s coming out of the water? Pretty much makes the movie for me — even if Kevin makes too fair of a Poseidon for my taste.

Now, I know that a poor representation of the gods as characters is an age old story telling issue that goes back to Homer, that it is not a problem brought about by millennia of monotheist-dominated cultures. That said, it wasn’t Riordan’s writing itself, or even what could be seen as irreverence that bothered me — why should he write reverently about divinities he does not worship? While I feel I have an onus to write respectfully of gods and spirits, even when having them fulfill an antagonistic role in a story, and while I wish more pagan or pagan friendly writers shared that goal, I certainly don’t expect anyone else to. I simply enjoy stories more when respect is granted — yes, even while I know that a fictional representation may be just that: fiction. At the same time, I know the spirits and gods can use whatever tools come to hand, and if any of Them ever decided to use my fiction as a tool through which to reach someone, I want that tool to be respectful.

Considering the complexity of the interactions I’ve had with Dionysos (the relationship between Poseidon and Dionysos is, at best, a Mystery that I have on hopes of getting into words, and am not even going to try, but it has not ever been easy or necessarily pleasant, these brief interactions) the fact that the portrayal of Dionysos in the series was the most off-putting for me and thus is what turned me away from them after the first three books is somewhat amusing.

But then I was chatting about them in brief with Terence a while ago, and trying to explain why I didn’t care for them. And I thought: the series is finished now. Why not try again?

I’m not sure what’s changed about them, so much. I’m only halfway through the second book (for the second time) but I’m finding them entertaining-enough. I love, even without having read them, how they’ve brought an awareness of Poseidon to the minds of people who might not have come across Him. Yes, I know, fiction . . . but I don’t care. And I don’t hate how much easier it is to find trident images and pendants and jewellery now that it was twenty years ago.

So, to sum up: yay Poseidon!

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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Dragging my ass back to the shrine — keeping it real

Yesterday was a bad day. The stupid ant part of the nice Vishnu dream didn’t help, I’m sure, and when I was in the middle of belly aching over something or other (writing, or the lack of it this month so far, if you must know) He decided He’d had enough of my not using the proper words to express why frustration, and He called me on it.

Mind you, I didn’t want to be called on it. I wanted to vent and be frustrated and, yeah, possibly dig at myself a bit. But He has taken a page out of Odin’s book and He’s very much, say what you mean, be precise, especially if you’re going to be tossing missiles at yourself. And this made me furious. It conjured up all the “I can’t express myself,” feels, and so, not half an hour after writing my last post, I found myself reaching hard for that apathy, wanting to retreat into it. I found myself with “fuck You” and “fuck all this” within reach and wanting very much to just dive into them. The blog post only remained up at first because I was on my way to work, and my connection wouldn’t work, and then because people had already read it. I’m not generally a “delete the post!” person, even when mad, so this was total over-reaction on my part.

We fought all day. Or, I fought, and He played the god-card. “You realize Whom you are speaking to like this, and living after having done so, right? I am Poseidon,” and I’d toss a mean “Are You sure? Because, look at this Vishnu shit right here,” and He’d press a bit harder, and I’d press back, and then I’d come to my senses and remember that it was a choice, how I responded, and it was up to me to let the anger go and come back to center.

I did, but it took all day. ALL. DAY.  Sometimes, when I’m upset, communicating with Him in words is too hard, opens up too much room to bumble and get things wrong. I’m too prickly. And most of the time — really, 9.9 times out of 10, He goes along with that. He doesn’t push. He doesn’t bother to use words. This time, that day, He did, and I know the point — or one of the points — was to get me to see why using the correct words are important. Calling myself a hack writer is not only not true, it’s the incorrect use of the word. What I mean was undisciplined, and once we got the correct word in place, I was able to realize that I’m not undisciplined. What I am is unrealistic/not honoring what I know my limits to be, with the pace and the goals I’ve set up for this year. Too many books, too fast. I may get the 3 books of the trilogy written this year — in fact, I believe I will, but three in six months? Not while working full time, and taking care of the house, and working with Beth on Fiberwytch — and she needs the help more and more as business picks up. (which, yay!!)

Part of why Poseidon is awesome is because He can and does push me hard when I need to remember to keep it real. He keeps it real for me when I slip, and He doesn’t pull His punches. Even when I get pissed off. I adore that He’ll remind me Who and What He is, not to get me to grovel at His feet, but to help me remember what I’m saying to Whom, to remind me that though o/Our relationship is about u/Us, we both exist outside of the relationship, and what we are after is support, affection, love, and empathy. Not hard, harsh, brittle words that strike like daggers, aimed inward or outward.

Oh, the humanity; or Compassion and Poseidon (The Pagan Experience week 5)

WK 1- Feb. 2- Humanity- How do you define “humanity”? What is your contribution to the collective space of humanity? How does your spiritual path support this definition and contributions?Note:  we will be exploring some of what you all share as your practices more deeply in the months ahead, so don’t hold back in giving a glimpse into what sustains you.

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There are a few personality traits of myself that I am proud of. I think being proud of the person one is is a good thing, and though I’ve struggled in the past (hahahaha, in the past!) with my concept of self-worth, there are a few things about how I am and who I am that I’ve thought worth having. They have been, in the past, part of what I’ve clung to. Mile markers, perhaps. “Well, I may be wretched, but at least I’m X.” One of these traits has been, has always been: I’m not a speciesest.

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My tribe — in the collection of beings that make up my family, in the various levels of hierarchy — is made up of, well, various beings. I’ve talked before about how this hierarchy of tribe works for me, of how I am extremely tribal in practice, though universal philosophically, but to catch new readers up: I’m unapologetically tribal. That is, I admit fully that those who are in my family matter more to me than those who are not in my family. “My family” is not just the people of my blood — though people who share blood with me are in my family. (Some. Some aren’t. My immediate family isn’t even all human — in fact, my immediate family consists of one other human. The rest? Cats and dogs, incarnate and disincarnate, some gods, a few spirits. I’m unapologetic about that, and I’m unapologetic about the fact that my family matters more to me than strangers do. I think it’s normal. I think it’s natural. My dog’s well being, happiness, and health matters more to me than some random stranger’s well being, happiness, and health. We’re not a speciesest household. We’re a tribal household. As such, we don’t have that line that demarcates human/animal that other people have, that general humanity seems to value. That line which, when one is lacking it, one is often seen as cold, unfeeling, or at best, odd. Our line is “family/not family”, and we’re pretty okay with this. It doesn’t mean we wish ill of people. It doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t help people when they need help. It does mean that, in a situation that requires either helping strangers or even friends to the detriment of taking care of our family, we’re going to take care of our family. When presented with the old “who would you save from  burning house?” question . . . well, my family comes first. Even the old and the sick. I’m not going after Bob the Neighbor first just because he’s human.

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That’s all by way of introduction, though. What I really want to talk about for this post is: I’ve always maintained I haven’t had that delineating line, but until Poseidon entered my life and started to work His Compassion magic, it was a lie. I did have that line. It was solid and firm and thick. It also put humanity quite rigidly on the side of “worthless, must die, is automatically worse/less worthy than all other life.” Humanity was the enemy.  If you were human you automatically counted a less in my mind.

Poseidon changed that. How?

He challenged me to compassion. Not all at once, not at first. At first it was, “Pay attention to your surroundings, your reactions, your assumptions. Be aware, not just of how you’ve come to your mindset and your default actions and reactions, but also how these other people may have come to theirs. You write stories; what back stories might these people have that you are not privy to?” This moved on to having compassion — not compassion as it’s understood by society, the light, happy, always being kind, always assuming the best “compassion” that is really just not rocking the boat. Real compassion. The sort that challenges and stretches me, the sort that takes me far, far outside of my comfort zones. The sort that challenges me to remove myself entirely from the situation.

He was clever, but then Poseidon is many things.  It started as embracing compassion for other, non-human creatures, and that was easy, because I saw no problem with that. They deserved kindness, patience, and the ability for me to set myself completely aside on a case by case bases. Did I really need to go and get food/find comfort/pee when I was hungry or cold or had a full bladder, but the bird in my hands was in the process of dying and I could either set it down and let it be by itself, cold, or I could hold it and at least allow it to be warm and witnessed. Did I really need sleep when this kitten needed to be bottle-fed every hour, and I then had to help him pee, and then I had to clean him, though my eyes were crossing and I hadn’t slept the night through in days?

I settled into that idea of compassion readily. He introduced the idea of compassion for other humans, too, but I took to it slowly, and it was difficult, because my experience with Him tells me that part of why w/We get on so well is due to my lack of placing humanity above other animals. I’ll admit that, when I’m thick in depression compassion for others is the hardest to hold onto. I often don’t see the point — or didn’t — when I’m in that place.

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Once, over a decade ago, a year or so into my marriage, I was in the thick of a very dark, very black, very angry period.  I was by turn apathetic and furious, and it was impossible for me to care about much beyond taking care of our furry companions. I didn’t quite understand why Poseidon kept on about compassion, but at that time I couldn’t quite understand why Poseidon was involved in my life, period. I was walking home from work, or going to work, or something, and I saw a young boy — maybe eight? maybe ten? — narrowly avoid getting hit by a car. Bad enough. Worse: I saw the car coming. I saw the boy not see the car. I saw him going into the road, and I said nothing. I didn’t do anything. He didn’t get hit, but his not getting hit had nothing at all to do with me.

This was, happily, a wake-up call that I needed extra help getting out of that particular bad spot, that my normal coping methods were not working, that I needed to learn new ones, and that I could likely use the breathing room that medication can provide to give me the space to learn those new ones. But it’s also one of my most shameful moments in my entire past. I can provide excuses all I want — I wasn’t well, my mental health was questionable, and these things are true. But, I want better from myself, and I knew that much, even then.

My standard of compassion for others in pretty high. I fail at it a lot, but never to that degree. And, my need for compassion for others is not the least bit altruistic. Maybe one day it will be, but for now it’s self-serving. It makes me a better person. Having compassion for others (and for myself,  which so far is the hardest bit) allows me to be a better person for the world. Having compassion for people allows me to keep apathy at bay. It allows my relationship with my gods and spirits to remain open and constant. It allows for me to deal with the crap life throws our way.

I’m not a speciesest, but at least when I say that now I mean it, and humanity does not get an immediate demerit mark simply because we’re human.

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This post is part of The Pagan Experience blog project. To read more posts on “humanity”, click here. To read TPE’s FB page, click here. To read explore more topics in general, click the image below!

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Questions about marrying gods or spirits?

I haven’t talked about it because I’m a tad superstitious when it comes to talking about writing projects before a certain amount of work has gone into them, but Beth has talked about it, so why not?

We’re writing a book on Sacred Marriage.

(Most important to note: we’re writing a book on our experiences of being godspouses for the last decade and then some. We are writing the book we wish had been when we started upon this path. It is not meant to be an authoritative “this is how you must do it” book — anyone who reads our blogs or knows us online should hopefully know by now that that’s not how we roll. We are far more in the “this is what works for us,” camp.)

Part of the book will be addressing questions, so if you have any to ask, now’s your chance! I’m not saying we will cover all of them, but we are going to be address the most common ones. If you have questions, if you’re curious about this thing called Sacred Marriage, if there’s a topic you’d like to see addressed, let us know! If you are upon this path yourself and there are things you wish you’d known in the beginning, please share! Email me (bluedolfyn at g mail dot com) Please title the email “Questions about god-spousery” or something equivalent so it stands out. We may not answer them all, but I will try to answer the ones that we won’t cover in the book here on my blog. And thank you, in advance, for your help with this project!

(Oh my god the typos. I kan rite reel good.)

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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Names Don’t Matter, or: what to do when your god pokes around with your identity by poking around with His own

A young girl is on her hands and knees at the water’s edge, keening into the sea. There is no other word for the sounds coming from her, the sounds of a spirit bound too tightly slipping its cage and splintering from the force of it. She feels herself shattering, and no amount of trying to hold on will stop the process. She is beyond fear, beyond worry, beyond hope. She has given over to this moment, and she is caught up in fury, in desolation, in these big, crushing waves of emotions that are too big, too wild, to be held back. Her spirit has tasted freedom and it will not return to its meager existence. Her spirit knows the depth and beauty of the worlds, and it calls out for rescue.

He comes clad in moonlight and darkness, in denim and leather, in flesh, bone, and magic. The young girl does not hear him, does not see him, until his arms have already scooped her out of the surf and wrapped her snug against him. He is warmth and spice and gentle, gentle strength, and he strokes her hair while she continues to cry. He gathers the pieces of her shattered being that have scattered along the sand, treasures that he will hold onto in safe keeping until she’s ready to take them back. She does not see this; she does not see anything in the outside worlds as she is trapped in her grieving. She cries for lost childhood, lost innocence. She cries for her pain and the pain of loved ones. She cries because she cannot kill her feelings and she has tried, oh how she has tried, for so many long years. She cries for having ever dared hope that an ending would come sooner, and for the disappointment that it never has. She cries for having been trapped, for having been alone, and for wanting, still, to not have to feel so alone. And she cries for so many other, unnameable things.

As the keening turns to sobs and the sobbing begins to taper off, the young girl begins to take in the worlds around her again. She can hear the steady crashing of the waves upon the shore, the ssshush-ssshussh-ssshussh as the water races up the beach and then retreats. She can feel the cool night air upon the bits of her skin that isn’t cocooned in warmth. Through burning, swollen eyes she can see the light of the full moon dancing upon the waves and casting the landscape in a nice, gentle silvery-white light.

She can feel the arms at her back, the hand stroking her hair. She can feel the rise and fall of his chest under her cheek. Her ears pick up small, wordless sounds of soothing nonsense, and she realizes he’s been making them for some time. She pulls back far enough to peer up at him. Dark, kind eyes catch her gaze before pulling her back against him. She wonders in a detached way if she should try to get away, but there are still people walking about on the beaches, and the houses aren’t very far away, and they’re out in the open for all to see. Maybe she’s gone fully mad, she wonders, and any pretense of concern disappears because concern is too much work, and she’s so tired of making the effort to care about things like survival.

They speak, and he dares to speak of things like love and hope and awareness. She gives him her anger, and he counters it with detached calm. She rages, and he does not flinch. She offers up her revulsion for her body, weak and flawed, for her whole species, destructive and mindless and insensitive. He takes her revulsion, takes her animal, and places it back neatly within the bounds of nature. He plants seeds for love and for compassion, and he hands her the tools she needs to keep going. This is triage, nothing fancy, nothing elaborate, but the rest will come.

“Who are you?” she finally asks.

“Name’s don’t matter so much,” he says, “but I am Poseidon.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From the very beginning of our relationship, Poseidon has been all about not being hemmed in by boxes. I was not yet a polytheist when I met Him – I was pagan, sure, and certainly of an animistic bent, but I was trying to be Wiccan (or at least Wiccanesque). I was reaching out for the God and Goddess, forms of the divine that continued to elude me. On that night, all I was, was broken. I remember reaching out both to the being that I refer to as Momma Earth, and to Grandmother Moon, pleading that I could just be finished. I wanted, as I’ve wanted a time or two before and since, to just be done. It’s a curious, non-suicidal desire – there has never been an urge to do it myself. It’s not about wanting to die, exactly (and maybe this is because I’ve always had a conviction – or fear – that death isn’t The End, and troubles can’t be expected to just stop simply because one in so longer living) so much as wanting to simply not be, any longer. This was the first, and most shattering, most encompassing, of mental breakdowns that I would have. This was the first time I let myself go completely – and I have to laugh at that phrase, because I did not “let myself go”; I was broken. I was done. I wanted to lie down and die, and maybe I would have, if it hadn’t been for Him.

To this day, I can’t say how and where our interaction took place. He was as physically real as I was, as solid, as present in the moment. So much so that, for months after I decided I really had gone crazy. Trying to figure out in which way the experience was “real” (was it a vision? Did I get pulled somewhere else? Was He truly embodied, or did He just use my memory to make it seem that way? Did He possess some hapless passerby?) distracted me for quite some time, until He decided that was enough. “If it changes you, it is real. Does it matter ‘how’ it’s real in order for it to change you? Do you really need to know the details to that degree?” No, I suppose not. Whatever had happened between us granted me enough of a buffer between my hopelessness and myself, so that I could become comfortable with living, so that I could begin to accept that hope and a desire to be loved, and to love, was to be a part of my existence. There was some back and forth at the original exchange – I was not remotely interested in the Hellenic pantheon, though I knew enough about Poseidon to know His reputation with the ladies – willing or not. I was interested in Celtic mythology; maybe He could by Llyr? Manannan? I even suggested as much, still snug in His arms. He laughed, somehow making it sweet and gentle and not mocking, when all I’d known at this point was laughter-at-my-expense. “No,” He insisted. So much for names not mattering.

I refused to delve into Hellenic paganism for a number of years. Even after Poseidon “moved in” (a disconcerting time period after I’d pretty much asked Him to, when my awareness of His presence in my life went from somewhat regular interactions ‘uploaded’ to my mind, to constant, unrelenting awareness that He was with me. That sounds sweet, right? For three months I seriously thought I was losing my mind, and it wasn’t until I started practicing yoga that I found any relief at all.)(Thank you, Diane, for that!) I wanted very little to do with Hellenic paganism. I’d known some with a recon bent, and that was fine, but it wasn’t for me. I gave offerings of water and of juice and of tea. I burned candles. I meditated, and I practiced yoga, and I wrote letters to Him. I picked up barley as an offering to scatter into the sea whenever I managed to get to the shore more because friends with connections to Apollon (again, thanks Diane!) put that knowledge into my head, and not because there was any big push to study up on His Family, and ‘His’ culture. And, for the longest time, there was no push from Him. Once Odin entered the picture, and I delved freely and happily into northern European studies, Poseidon did begin pushing for equal treatment, if not equal enthusiasm, for His historical areas, and so I did begin to (grudgingly) expand my studies. But, for years before that, our relationship was about us, and about the here and now. The stories of Him raping women did not – do not – mesh at all with my understanding of Him as a compassionate, kind, healing god. I sat with that for a long time, and there’s so many ways one can approach that. Maybe the myths aren’t to be read literally. Maybe word usage and definitions change over time. Maybe translators, especially in the early centuries, wanted titillating tales that shocked delicate sensibilities. Maybe ‘rape’ is an easy way to explain the overpowered sensation that can come from being in the presence of a god, when your own agency and sovereignty is completely eclipsed by this massive, massive presence. Maybe a combination of these things, and others I hadn’t considered. It would be easy to get lost in the wondering, trying to explain it all out, but how do you do that with a god, with His Mystery? And why worry about that so much, when He saved my sanity, my life, and gave me Love unlike any I had known before?

He brought me to yoga, and yoga was the single most transformative tool He would grant me. Through yoga, I healed the rift between my psyche and my animal. Through yoga, I brought myself into a more and more easy communion with Him. Through yoga I challenged the limits of my comfort zone and began to pass through them. With yoga, I began to care less about being seen and judged. For years, yoga was The Devotional Act I preformed for Poseidon, for us, and of all the devotional acts that are in my arsenal, yoga is the one that works without fail, even when I’m in my blackest, blackest places.

My devotional life is not defined by any one culture or time period – the gods do not belong to people and places; people and places belong to gods. Every time I’ve tried to make Poseidon stick to a way of being worshipped, He shatters it. Every time I’ve tried to restrict Him to being paid cultus in a particular way, He refuses it. I’ve had my eye on the Hellenic past for some time now, enough so that I find their ‘religious language and landscape’ for wont of a better phrase, native-enough. (The understanding of the Germanic religious language and landscape feels like my native tongue; the Hellenic feels like a pretty fluent secondary tongue.) Poseidon has been saying for the better part of a few years now that it was time to widen my scope again, that I’ve become too entrenched in these few spots in history along a narrow bit of the Mediterranean. It was time to explore outside that region.

~*~*~*~*~*~

He’s funny, about names. When I’ve asked Him about whether or not He is also Neptune, the answer is unfailingly yesno. At the same time, He’s given teasing glimpses about places in stories when people are speaking of Zeus, that they may be speaking of Him, instead, or vice verse. The feeling is that They (the gods in general, or maybe just the Three Brothers, or who could possibly really know??) are not so attached to names the way we are, and They could exchange them like we might borrow a coat from our kin. He laughs in delight as I stumble over references to El being equated with Poseidon in some regions. When I hit a point in a book that speaks of religious influences hitting the Mediterranean world from the East by way of what is now Iran – a place where Poseidon was certainly worshipped – He simply holds me near to Him and floods me with sheer delight.

I am, for all intents and purposes, a polytheist. I’m a devotee of both Poseidon and Odin, and I do not count Them as one and the same god. I don’t really see either of Them as different manifestations of the divine – at least, not any more than I see everything as manifestations of the divine. Simultaneous holding. Yes, I can see how that might be so, but that does not discount my individuality from Beth, anymore than it discounts Poseidon’s individuality from Odin. An abstract idea about the beginning of all is maybe a nice way to begin (and end) the story of All That Is, but it’s so far removed from our experiences as to be nearly meaningless, and is certainly not very useful in navigating our ways through life, the worlds, and our interactions with the spirits. I’m not the least bit interested in narrowing my understanding of the divine and how the divine works into little boxes – I prefer to celebrate the differences, and to stretch myself when those differences threaten me. Why should they threaten me? I choose to celebrate. I choose to find wonder and joy. I choose love. I do not want to become rigid. I do not want to go back into those little boxes, and in any case, I don’t think I’d fit, anymore. So, whether there are a handful of gods who are known differently in different places and times, or whether there are as many gods as we have names for, and more, is, in my practice, irrelevant. It is unknowable. My gods are Odin and Poseidon. That is what I know. Names don’t matter, but He is Poseidon. That has been His mantra. He won’t budge on that. He is Poseidon, but maybe He uses His brothers’ names here and there. He is Poseidon, but He does not want to be trapped in history. He wants to be present now. He is Poseidon, but, oh, hey, let’s read what we can about Yam, and also, aren’t these things about El interesting?

And I’ve prodded. Of course I have. Let’s look at the things that inform my practice. First and foremost (though less actively in the more recent years, because modifications for injuries and weak points has become annoying and frustrating. Yes, I’m working through that) we have yoga. (Like most people in the West, when I say yoga, I more properly mean hatha yoga, which according to most falls within the Raja yogic path. The four main paths being Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raja Yoga). Awareness, healing, and compassion have been the ‘signposts’ along my journey, with an emphasis on detached compassion-loving-kindness. It’s never been just awareness of myself and my limits, healing for myself, compassion for myself – it’s been all these things, and also, awareness of other people’s limits, experiences, situations. Keeping an eye toward the healing of others and how, if I can’t aid their healing for whatever reason, I at least not make it worse. Healing – oh, my Lord is a generous, talented, ruthless Healer, and He has done more for my being able to function in the world than I can even begin to name. From the very beginning I’ve joked that Poseidon is very Zen. Further along, things like humility and grace have come into my religious vocabulary. I cover my head when I leave my house because He’s asked it of me, and I dress rather modestly, both because it’s more comfortable for me and also because He has definite opinions about it. Of course, I’ve prodded at this – what, of all of that, sounds like Poseidon of Hellas? Short-tempered, vengeful, lustful, petulant Earth-Shaker? In my exploring outside of Hellas, are You sure You are not instead El? Yam? Ba’al? Going further north, are You not Aegir, maybe, Njord? Here’s Neptune, here’s these others, and names do not matter, so are You sure? Again and again over the years, and He is Steadfast, my Hearth, my Home. No, I am Poseidon. Oh, there’s a bit of Me that resonates with that, but I am Poseidon. Names can be like hats, but I am Poseidon.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Yesterday Beth and I watched Peter Marchand’s Divine Energies of Hinduism (and if you’re even passingly interested in that topic, do watch. His accent is a delight, his word choices often charming, and the painting are gorgeous). I actually started watching it on my own, made it through most of the second part, and had to stop. Now, I’ve been passingly interested in Hinduism on and off for a while – there’s that yoga connection of course, and the chakra connection (a system that informs my energy work). Most importantly for me lately is, there’s that whole extant, long standing polytheistic tradition to be inspired and informed by. (We won’t get into a polytheistic-or-monotheistic debate. I don’t know enough about the information we have in the English speaking world and how much it was or was not colored by the translation efforts of the Imperial period, during which educated white men would of course be interested in putting the whole of it across to the Western world as ultimately a monotheistic tradition. Monotheism was in their mind the pinnacle of religiosity. I personally do not understand monotheism as being a workable module if for nothing else than we are pattern seeking animals and you cannot have a pattern with just one, and I do not see the various monotheisms in our world as true monotheistic paths anyway. That’s neither here nor there).

I knew of Siva, of course, always with the trident, and I’d looked into that connection before, ages ago. I knew of Brahma and of Vishnu, of Kali, of Krishna, of others. What kind of a well read pagan do you take me for? Of course I knew. But I’d never really dug deeply at all – I still haven’t. But I was watching this lecture last night, and he starts talking about the various avatars of Vishnu. Vishnu, already pictured with a triune symbol upon his forehead, with blue skin, and with a shell in one hand. He spoke of Matsya, the first incarnation of Vishu, the fucking fish incarnation, and I laugh, delighted but uncomfortable already, because Poseidon is watching me watch this lecture. We move on to some others, and then we get to Narasingha, and I stopped breathing a bit. Hit pause. Seriously considered stopping the lecture for good.

godnarasimha

“You can stop,” He said, “Or you can keep watching. Know that yes, I am Poseidon . . . but I also want you to sit with these things. You need do nothing more, and I am not taking My name from you, I am not changing My name, I am not asking you to do anything more than sit with these things.”

Because – I have a lion connection, a strong, strong lion connection with Poseidon. It was dream given (and I’m realizing quite uncomfortably that the various icons in the dream could easily see parallels within Hindu mythology) but the end result was lions became very closely tied to Poseidon, in my personal worship. I’ve sought external connections to them with Him, and I’ve found some by way of Rhea, but it’s always felt more personal than that. It’s a connection that defies sense – Poseidon is not much in the way of a solar deity, my Lord of the Depths, my Lord of the Rains. Not in the way that we know Apollon is seen as a solar deity. (And I know many find connections between Apollon and Vishnu, easily – in my understanding of these gods, Apollon ‘feels’ like the next-generation of Poseidon. I explain it in words like, He is Poseidon’s favorite nephew, He has the feeling of an heir, He is that one step closer to humanity, but these all fall woefully short. My point is I am not surprised that I can find uncomfortable parallels between Vishnu and Poseidon, considering the similarities and overlap that can be found between Poseidon and Apollon.) Still, the connection remains.

There’s more than just these small connections, a host of small connections that are building up to something bigger, something scarier, something potentially threatening. I’ve had dreams of Poseidon with blue skin — important enough so that I’ve got a commissioned painting my way in which my Beloved is blue skinned. But there’s more, so much more, seemingly insignificant, that, added together, make breathing hard and panic start to kick in. Don’t take this from me. Do not, I beg You, take such a big part of who I am from me, please, my God, please.

Discomfort is not a reason why I pull away from things; in my training with both He and Odin over the years, discomfort is a trigger to dig in, to explore and name and expose, and well He knows it, so of course I kept watching. And all was perfectly fine until we reached Varuna – whose name I’d come across a few weeks ago, and who, at first glance, while seemingly connected to the oceans and thus a sea deity, also seemed pretty occupied with social hierarchy, and as that’s not a connection I see Poseidon as having, it was easy enough to dismiss Varuna from my mind – and the lecturer mentions that He is both a god of the deep and is also very concerned with compassion.

At which point I was tempted to start crying, so instead I grabbed Beth, started it all over again at the beginning, and made her watch with me. (Not a hardship, because, again, pretty.)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I’m still feeling extremely uncomfortable. I’ve been praying. He says, again and again, “Just sit with this,” but ‘just sit with this’, when it makes me feel this vulnerable, often means “write about it and share it” because that somehow nullifies the threat that comes along with feeling vulnerable. It transforms the feeling of vulnerability into one of empowerment.

I’m cautious. Is this me wanting once source for all these seemingly disparate bits of “my” Poseidon that do not come from any Hellenic sources? Is this me, yearning for a tradition that I can draw on, rather than having to forge forward on my own so much? Is this me, is this my wanting? But, no – if I was left to my druthers I would never move beyond my Father’s sphere. “Use what works, learn where it comes from, honor the history, be respectful, but use what works.” Yoga works, yoga is ‘our’ thing, and I don’t need to be attached in any way to the tradition that gave it to the world in order for yoga to aid in my union with my god. I’ve teased, too, along the way. “You are so big on this whole humility thing; are You sure You’re not going to end up being Yahweh? Maybe Allah?” but we’ve always, always come back to, “No, I am Poseidon.” So this careful, careful, “Hey, maybe you could sit with this,” suggestion takes my worries that this is my doing, my imagining, and tosses it to the wind.

I do not want to be so connected to a way of thinking, to any sort of identity, that it threatens my connection with my god, my Husband. I do not want to be so fixated on His being Poseidon that I refuse to let Him Be Who He Is. I am so caught up in being Poseidon’s – it is who I am, who I’ve been for more than half my life. There is panic – whose am I, if I am not His? I do not want to be any Others’, and the thought of not having Him does make me want to die. But, I don’t care about the name, in the end. And it’s not that different from the early days, wondering how He was Poseidon, which Poseidon – really, truly Poseidon of myth and legend, or a spirit that has taken on that name now – and deciding, I don’t care. If He is a Poseidon-imposter or The Real Poseidon – He is the being who held a shattering child as she lost herself in the world, as she gave up. He is the being who caught her as she flew apart, and held her close, and gave her hope. He is the being who planted the seeds of compassion, so that I’ve gone from being an apathetic, resentful, hateful creature to one who not only sees beauty and love and goodness in the world, but one who chooses joy. He is my Love, He is my Heart, He is the very center of my soul. Names do not matter, so much, and yet,

“I am Poseidon,” He says. Does He, for my comfort, for my peace of mind? Does He, because it is an informative part of His very being? Does He, because that is the piece of this god’s story that I’m tied to? Does He, because it is True at the very Heart of His core? Does He rush to assure me that He is not taking His Name from me, because we’ve reached a point where, soon, He might? Or does He rush to assure me because He wants me to hold fast to that while stretching myself to take in more Mystery, without giving up what I’ve already been given? In the end, as in all the ends, all I can really do is cleave to Him, and so I will. He is the only buoy in this great Sea that I can even see. I will go where He goes, I will go wherever He takes me, and it will be enough. He has done nothing, nothing, but kept me safe and true, all these years. Fear is no reason to begin to doubt, now. He is not what shatters me. I shatter myself. He is what holds me together, despite myself.

And, He is Poseidon. 😉

Embracing Simplicity

It’s an on-going process, isn’t it? Complications creep back in, and I’m reminded that the way to keep my life uncluttered and simple-focused is to live an engaged life, and to make mindful decisions. These aren’t made once or twice, these are made every day, as they come up.

We don’t buy a lot of things that our media pushes upon us to by. We don’t have TV, so the watching of programs that we do is a mindful decision when it happens, and we aren’t bombarded with images of the things we’re supposed to want. Our non-household running purchases tend toward things like books, and offerings for our gods, and sometimes extra clothes, but I count clothing as part of household running. The most non-mindful, impulse purchasing we do is when it comes to food, and we don’t stick closely to the food budget, and that for me is a struggle (because we’re mindful in all these other areas, and food is so much a reward for me for things like, going to my day job, or making it through the week, or I just feel badly, and so I deserve X)

Beth’s hobbies, interests, and second part time job all requires stuff, so we do purchase (mindfully!) there as well. Me? I write. I’m a writer. Aside from software that I may want (I’m still eyeballing Scrivener. Anyone here use it or have feedback on it?), and aside from needing a working computer I don’t really require stuff. Yeah, I knit, and that requires stuff, so there’s that. But beyond that? Not so much — and I like that. I’m not a stuff person. I like the simple.

I’ve gone back and forth, for years now, about setting my wardrobe up so that it’s all sort of uniform. I already do this for the day job, but I want to do it across the board. Why? Simplicity’s sake. Yes, I’ll admit, I want something about my style of dress that says, at least to me, “Nun.” I wish, very much, that I had available to me, some signal that could announce that to other people, not so much so that they’d recognize me but, honestly, so that there would be a short cut method of signaling “Not interested over much in pop culture or in the secular world.” I get that already, a little, with my veiling, but I want it a bit more. Beyond that? I want to not have to think about putting my clothing together, and the idea of wearing virtually the same thing every day brings with it a certain sense of liberation.

I’ve always been a jeans and tee shirt kind of gal. I cultivated a preference for skirts, because I loved the idea of them and I was never comfortable wearing them because they seemed to stand out, and one of my things in life is to not refrain from doing things because of fear of other people’s opinions. In most areas of my life, I do not care what people who are not my family think of me, providing that they do not impact my life in any way. (I’m not saying we should not care about people who might hold power of employment over us; I have not come across that so it’s not yet a factor in my decision making, but at the same time I’ve always lived north of our great Bible Belt) so it was important to me to root out that inhibitory fear. Wearing skirts nearly exclusively for years helped with that. There’s also a level of modest-attire, but I’m currently exploring that concept in my head (is it ‘modesty’ per se? Do I want to even use that word, with the history of patriarchal control over the womens coloring it so? I like, for me, the sort of form-free-ness in skirts that you don’t get with pants, but maybe that’s more a desire for a barrier between myself and the public sphere than actual modesty). There’s also a small part of feed-back from Poseidon, and with me, He certainly has a dresses and skirts preference. I’ve started trying to pick that a part. (In my view, the Gods are not “from” the historical cultures that worshipped them — Poseidon isn’t exactly Hellenic, He is a god, He is beyond our human cultures, even if they do, in turn, influence Him) How much of that seeming preference is His own personal taste? How much is influenced from the cultures He interacted with for so long? How much of that is an understanding of human textile history and the sexes? (For those curious, I’ve tentatively arrived at the idea that simple dressing removes my concerns from ‘fashion’ (as much as I’ve ever been concerned about fashion) and takes me one step further away from strictly human concerns to embrace more general ‘we are all animals” concerns. Poseidon is compassionate, and He cares about humanity, but not more or less than He cares about other creatures, and one step further along that path is one step closer to Him, in my view.)

Lately I’ve gotten lazy about it (skirts are work! They require leggings, and they’re harder to find in the thrift stores at my size, and jeans are more rugged) but I’m also at a point where we need to increase our wardrobe, soon. I have not purchased any non-work related clothing in years. And so I’m thinking, again, about how to simplify it, how to bring in a sort of standard same-ness. I’m not sure how it’s going to look, exactly, but I think I’m finally at that point of being willing to just go with it. We’ll see.