Vigil For the Bulls e-book is live!

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(Yes, alas, only for Kindle so far, though, you know, I know the author pretty well. If you want it in another form, I’m sure something can be arranged.  *wink wink*)

(Note: I’m uploading a new file with hopefully corrected chapter links. If you bought a copy already and the lack of properly working chapter links bothers you, please contact me and I’ll send you a new file)

Oh, and also? The Poseidon Liturgical Year Project site is officially live! Some of you have caught a sneaky-peeky of this (and by caught, I mean, were given) but if you haven’t checked it out yet, you may want to mosey on over. Or not. It’s not that exciting yet (and it’s only going to be exciting at any point if you’re into Poseidon, honestly) but I am going to be sharing bits of this year’s Vigil experience throughout the week. Pictures, thoughts, impressions, maybe poetry, I dunno. Whatever strikes my fancy.

Can I talk a moment about how awed I am at myself? Because I am. Not in an ego sort of way. More in an “I still don’t recognize myself, who IS this person??” way.

Ten days ago, the only thing I had for this project was a cover, and an idea. That’s it. I was fed up with not having accomplished with this blog what I’d first envisioned it being, even while acknowledging that I prefer what it is to what I thought it would be. I wanted one place for people to find material specifically about contemporary Poseidon devotion. I wanted this material to be available to people. No, it’s not the be-all, end-all. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face: I’m not special. But, if I’m not special, then it follows that my own struggles over the years are not unique, and that means that the things I’ve learned and experienced may help others along their path, so shouldn’t I be sharing? I know my writing has helped people before; they’ve told me as much.

Ten days ago, none of this existed. It was a cover, a vague notion, and a deadline.

Four months ago, it would have gone differently. Four months ago, I would have had the idea. I would have become overwhelmed. I would have put off writing any of it. I would have wondered who the hell I was, to even dare write such a thing. I would have maybe started the intro, and then set it aside.  We’d be here, now, and I  wouldn’t have it done. I would have failed, and it would have become a weapon against myself, a reason why I was worthless, as if I needed any more reasons. A reason why it was pointless to even try.

Who am I to write this? Simply put: a devotee of Poseidon’s. Yeah, He’s been in my life for two decades, and yeah, that’s granted me experience to draw upon, but in the end, it comes back to simply being a writer, and a devotee. This is what I can do.

Is it definitive? Fuck, no. If you ever hear me talking about anything I write about Him as being definitive, please slap me. Remind me to get my head out of my arse. Something. Anything. It’s just my experiences with creating a particular ritual for my beloved Poseidon. Nothing more. But I hope it helps.

Durga is kind . . . . and requests tea.

There’s continuing — I hesitate to use the word ‘pressure’ here, because that implies a press of urgency/impatience that is not present–encouragement? awareness-brought-to-the-fact? requests? reminders? I’ll go with reminders, that Durga does, in fact, want a tea cup. More, while She witnesses the right and proper sharing of tea between Poseidon and me, She wants Her very own. So far, it seems as though She wants green tea, with floral notes. It appears as though She’d prefer Her own tea assessories, set aside for Their usage.

I’ll admit, this is strange territory for me. I’m a low-church, practical-usage, paraphernalia-light sort of devotional polytheist, and tools and artifacts set aside solely for Their usage is very high-church, ritualistic, paraphernalia-heavy sort of thing. I’m all for having a certain cup  in my cupboard that is for a guest, because that guest prefers that cup — but I’m going to use that cup when the guest isn’t here, especially since we don’t, generally speaking, have more than the amount of cups we strictly need on any given basis.   (We own three mugs at the moment — one for Beth, one for me, one for Corbie) (he has a thing for drinking out of mugs, it’s a fun game, a treat, and  he’s not always willing to drink as much as we like, when it’s hot) so, for example, when g-c is out with her main squeeze in two months (!!!!!) we’re going to have to do some shopping. Having things just for Them is . . . not something I’ve ever before really encouraged. (Some might say I’m a bad polytheist  because of this. I’d argue that I’m definitely a bad high-church ritualist. I can do it, and I can do it well, but it’s never really had a place in my home space or private devotions before.)

Tea cup hunting is happening this weekend. I already own a small teapot that I could dedicate to Her service. (See what I did there?)  It’s plain and brown, and it’s my very first teapot, and if any of the teapots I have could be considered prized possessions, it’s this one. It came from a dear, dear friend, all the way from England, during our initial getting-back-in-touch after too long of having fallen out of touch. I’m not a thing person, but if this one ever  breaks, I’m probably going to cry.

But, tea cup first and foremost, because one can brew a single cup well enough in a tea cup — that’s what we do, after all. As shrine space allows, They may get individual cups, but only She is visiting currently.

And that’s another neat thing that’s happening. Poseidon does not live on or in His shrine. His shrine, more than anything else, is a focal point and a representation of our relationship, a focal reminder of Him being the center of my life. Odin’s is very much the same thing — He’s not quite the center of my life, but just left of center, and neither does He reside there. With Durga, and Their shrine . . . It’s certainly where She is residing within our house. It feels like that’s Her room and seat of honor, at the same time, and it’s a neat experience, because it’s different. Not more real. Not more tangible. Not more anything, just different. (I’ll admit, I feared that They’d feel more real to me, in the way that some of Them sometimes do. Poseidon feels extremely real to me, but at the same time, He is, or can be, like water you’re trying to cup in your hands, and I never know if that’s His nature, or if that’s due to not as much worship over the years, thus having a harder time getting through to our perceptions. Anyway. Not the case, thus far. Just different.)

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It’s raining today. Walk to the river is postponed for now. Been doing it every week, and it’s been helping. Yesterday I finally made my dr appointment, so that’s happening on Friday, and Beth is coming with in case I get into one of my ‘don’t talk about it, don’t bring attention to it, everything is totes fine.’ phases.  So next week should be better. It’s been so interesting to what my black mood rolling over me in waves and side-stepping the emotional investment into it. The vitamin supplements have helped with my anxiety and my attachment to the emotions, and have allowed for a better perspective of how not okay I am. I would never, never expect anyone else to deal with this without help — without pharmaceutical help. Yes, I can watch my moods go high and low, and yes I can watch the baseline blue pervade most of my feelings, and yes, it’s good to be able to achieve that not-attachment to your emotions when you need to, but the downside is, because it happens so much, it’s hard to allow myself to experience the pleasant emotions, as well. I feel them, I watch them, but . . . it’s exhausting, being on high alert all the time. With the anxiety under control, or at least under control enough, I can say, this is fucked up, that I’d try to do this on my own. I have been, for a decade. But the tools in place are not enough right now, and so . . . yeah.  I always expect less empathy than I get, from my doctor, and if there is judging on this, that’s on her, not on me. (There won’t be. She’s got a beat on fatness, but that’s her own thing, and this is not that anyway.)

 

On Offerings

Because this topic came up in the comments and in private discourse so much, I’ve decided it deserves it’s own post.  While I talk a good game about Keeping It Real and about not having my shit together, and about stumbling a lot, often over the basics as I lose sight of them, one thing I don’t have to worry about these days is having zero idea of where to start. Yes, I hemmed and hawed when it came to including Vishnu-Through-Poseidon into my morning devotions, and yes, I tied myself up in knots for a bit, with the studying and the  wanting to stay away from cultural appropriation while at the same time wanting to honor those particular Powers in forms that are familiar and appealing to Them. Yes, I made sure to make myself overly agitated and anxious over this development, until I had to put everything down, step back, touch in, and calm the fuck down.

When I did that — when I returned to Poseidon, when I touched in to what I knew of Him, of me, of u/Us together, and further, when I returned to the experience of having Him say, “Vishnu, too,” and when I returned to the experience of Durga’s embrace — I brought myself back to a place of certainty, and I remembered that I’ll never be a beginner again.

Yes, I might instigate new relationships with new Powers. Yes, I might explore waters that I haven’t even yet discovered. Yes, I will begin new things with new People, or deepen relationships that I already have — I’m going to go anywhere Poseidon decides w/We’re going together.

But for all that I started a devotional practice for Durga and Vishnu, for Lakshmi and Ganesha, and Vishnu-through-Poseidon, and Krishna, Who is automatically included when I think of Vishnu-outside-of-Poseidon, and for all that I created a new shrine space and began something new, the concept of standing before a shrine and offering an offering is not new, and will never be new again.  It will never have the same depth of crushing anxiety, fear, uncertainty, maybe excitement. I have years of experience doing this, and I’ll always have them, so for all that I try to keep it real, and for all that I want to say, I know where you are because I’ve been there  — yeah, I have, so yeah, I do, a little, but also, it was years ago and I have the experiences to counter the fears. The freshness of those fears, of that intimidation, of the not knowing how to talk to Them, any of Them, at all — that’s gone. I don’t have that. I remember what it’s like, but I remember what it’s like with the nice, cushiony reassurance of experience, and so remembering isn’t really enough to put myself in your shoes.

How do you begin to make offerings? What’s acceptable, what’s useful, where do you start? It’s not all that useful for me to say: be sincere, trust in hospitality, and you’ll be fine. If you don’t have a religious background, or if you’re trying to distance yourself from said religious background, such advice isn’t all that helpful.

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I came at this with very little religious background. We were Christian, growing up, but it was very low-church form of Episcopalian, and neither of my parents were ritualists in any sort. They were both happily laity, as Silence points out in Worshiping Loki, we pretty much have to make religion happen for ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a ton of work, necessarily, but especially if we’re going it on our own, we don’t have the benefit of group-support to figure out what will work and what won’t.

Because I hate telling people what to do, I’ll share what I did, starting out. For the first few years of interacting with Him, what He got from me was my time and attention. The shrine wasn’t even set up for a few years after that, and then it was very basic. A candle, a cloth, some shells. That’s it. My first representation of Him was a mask that a friend purchased for me. After that it was a bust modeled after the maybe-Poseidon-maybe-Zeus, and finally this statue. Eventually I would begin burning incense for Him, and I’d give offerings of water. My yoga practice was a devotional act from the beginning. Now, and for years now, my mornings start with incense-and-tea, a wordless prayer before His shrine (which is why I keep not making the devotion-sharing video. My morning prayers are pretty boring on the outside) when I touch in and ask for His continued blessings, affections, and strength.

I share food, sometimes, and for a while after the marriage I made it a point to give Him a portion of my dinner, every day.

If you’re new to prayer and new to giving offerings, my  one suggestion is to seriously, truly treat this like a conversation and a sharing with a new friend. YOU get to decide what you want to share. Want to sit in quiet while a candle burns a certain amount? Awesome. Want to burn incense and share your hopes and dreams? Great. Want to offer wine or water or coffee or milk and a poem, prayer, or hymn? Perfect. Especially when you’re getting to know a Power, share yourself. Look at suggestions others might have, but do not feel pressured to conform to how anyone else is doing this.

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Figure out, too, with Them in mind, and with your  limits, how you’re going to dispose of the offerings, if they’re perishable. When we were in Philly, our offerings were also taken out for the strays, after, and our offerings  never contained foodstuffs dangerous to cats. These days, my liquid offerings are poured down my sink rather than offered to the ground, because that’s what I feel called to do. (Poseidon is a water deity, even if He may not have began that way, and that’s as much about pipes and plumbing and sewage system as it is about rivers and oceans.) Different traditions have different ways of handling this, and more knowledge is always better, but your relationship, the whole of the relationship, with said Power is up to you and said Power to define and figure out. Yes, look to others for inspiration and guidance, but if this tradition says burn the offerings and you can’t, or you don’t want and the Power you’re interacting with doesn’t seem much fussed  if it’s burned or not, then don’t burn it. Don’t worry about it, beyond that, especially when you’re just starting out. Community can be powerful, can be invaluable, really  — but the back-and-forth that you have with the Power you’re trying to form a relationship with must be rooted in your back-and-forth, not in what others are doing.*

WLcover.pngHonestly, the best thing I’ve read about starting a devotional practice in a long while — it terms of breaking it down, dismantling the intimidation, and empowering you in your role in your practice — is Worshiping Loki. It’s specific to Loki in that Silence is sharing his relationship to Loki, and talking up Loki, and confronting the bullshit ideas that Loki is undeserving of worship, but it’s also not specific to Loki, in that the building of a devotional practice is not just a Loki thing. This book is not spendy, and it’s super important, and it’s a quick read, and more, it helps feed a cat. Check it out if you haven’t, and consider buying it.

 

*and there I go telling you how you must do something. Sorry about that. Obviously, it’s your call, your choice. I cannot conceive of having anyone other than Poseidon having any sort of authority over my relationship with Him, so take that for what you will.

Celebrating Pagan Fiction video series launch!

This is by no means a fancy video — I don’t know that I’m ever going to do fancy videos. It is, though, the first in what will hopefully be an awesome series featuring pagan-friendly fiction written by pagans.

First up: Jennifer Lawrence’s Fire on the Mountain.

(now I just need to figure out how to showcase e-books, since my e-reader device and my video recording device are the same. Fancy video editing may have to happen after all.)

Future videos already planned: Beth Wodandis, C.S. MacCath, Juli D. Revezzo, yes this is an excuse to finally get Deborah Blake’s books. Any suggestions are welcome!

Happy Anniversary to me and w/We!

This morning, I’m actually quite displeased with myself, enough so that I believe this will be the last time that I fail to take the time off from work. I realized last year, finally, that I also really prefer to not work on my birthday, and I’ve already got that date jotted down on our work calendar.  Today is day eight of an eight consecutive work day stretch, and I do. not. want. I want to stay home and immerse myself in the presence of my Beloved. I want to walk to the river (which wouldn’t happen today even if I was staying home, thanks to a pulled and pissed off knee). I want to write letters, I want to write crappy poetry, I want to read bits about Him that I’ve written, and that others have written. I want to bask.

Instead, I’ll go and put stock away. *sigh*

I’ll drink copious amounts of caffeine. I’ll maybe write a bit when I get home. Certainly I’ll spend some extra time in meditation. I’ll rest my knee, so that it does not set off the sciatica — oh, you jealous nerve, how you want in on all the pain action! I felt those twinges last night! —  Tomorrow I will attend to chores and rest some more, and enjoy the time off. I will take to heart how much I want this time off next year, and maybe I’ll remember to plan for it.

I’m not sure when it happened, but anniversaries matter to me now, and I’ll start marking them.

 

So — ADF material? Also, a neat series.

I’m not all the way through Our Druidry as yet, but I’ll admit to skipping around a bit. (Today is day 6 of an 8 day work week; I’m cutting myself so much slack, everyone, it’s amazing.) I’m already having a ton of thoughts, and some are inspiring crankiness, and I want to write about these things in a place where I can revisit them as I go. Obviously, I’m not going to be sharing their members-only material, but I will be sharing my thoughts and commentary on it. I find myself wishing to print it out simply so I can write in the margins, which is so not like me, but I may end up doing it. Who knows? I don’t know if I’ll keep those posts public or possibly password protected, and possibly just private.

An example: reading through I’ve come across a thing I really, really like, a thing that bothered me deeply on Others behalf, and a thing that I just hadn’t realized and maybe if I had would have stopped me from joining.

The thing I really like? At one point, the manual stresses that the cosmology ADF uses ‘was created for us–the people of today. We have not attempted to re-create ancient religions because we are not ancient peoples.’  This is a hook that is sure to get me in. I respect that, at least as far as the manual goes (and as far as my experience goes with people in ADF) research is valued and important, but so is experience, and not one placed above the other. I am not a reconstructionist. I do not want to build a bridge to the societies of the past that worshiped the gods I worship in an effort to bring them forward — the societies that worshiped my Beloved would relegate me to a subhuman due to my gender. Reaaaaally not interested in bringing that back, thanks. I want to take where we are now as far as civil rights go. I want to make our would better regarding those civil rights (make them, you know,  something that isn’t just on paper), and I want to bring the gods (or the possibility of the gods) back into human consciousness at large.   I want to see a polytheism (or, polytheisms) is our world as our world is now. I don’t want to erase our history that has created the culture we now live in, because that’s an impossible task, and I’d rather deal with where we are now, and deal with going forward. So, this appealed to me.

One of the first suggested ritual is a basic one to confirm one’s intention upon the path, and to ask for a blessing from the Powers. Now, I like the triad of worlds representations — despite feeling at home in the Scandinavian cosmology of nine worlds,  the triad of Ancestors, Gods, and Nature Spirits really sums up  the division of beings that we deal with — even if I think those divisions are more for us than anything else. I like that. But, the text of the ritual made me cranky, and they lost me at the very beginning, whereupon they suggest that you place a piece of silver into the bowl of water (for the Well) to represent the bounty of the Deep.

The bounty of the Deep is the Deep itself, as far as I’m concerned, and not the shiny thing that it might offer that we decide to value. There is, at least to my mind, an implicit ‘this is what it gives us and thus it is important because of what it gives us,’ in this sort of symbolism that gets my hackles up. The worth of something  because of what it can do for us — this is animal, it is base, and to a point it is unavoidable, but it needs to be balanced if we’re going to pretend that we are not ruled by our instincts, if we are going to continue to pretend that we are creatures who can  grow beyond that. So maybe the silver is a symbol for the knowledge that we can glean by going deep, and maybe those symbols are necessary for some, and maybe they are not for others, but the Deep is valuable, is a treasure, by Its very existence, not because of what It may give to us, but because of how wretched we would be without It, period. We are the center of our world; we are not the center of the everything, and the implicit entitlement that is part of that way of thinking catches me up and leaves a sour taste in my mouth. So there’s that.

The bit that I didn’t realize is the IE focus that ADF has. Now, at a glance, that’s not a problem — my main Powers fall under the IE umbrella. But I dealt with Poseidon’s exclusion in community worship enough to know that the idea of excluding based on arbitrary lines bothers the fuck out of me, so we’ll see how that goes.

In other news: I’m really enjoying this series of articles over at Humanist Pagan. Michele Briere writes about non-theistic paganism, so far in three parts. Now, I’m clearly a theistic pagan, so why do I like these? Because, damn it, I find hospitality to be important, because we have a huge fight ahead of us, we minority religions within the US, and because we cannot really afford to fight it alone. Because interfaith discussion is valuable, because coming across ideas that we don’t necessarily agree with makes us more empathetic, or at least more exposed to other ways of thinking. Primarily, I am not threatened by other ways of thinking, and people are fascinating.