Sitting with heavy

Back in 2008, I broke one of the first oaths I made to Poseidon.

The specifics are not important. In 2007, my beloved Angel died. There were other things going on, and I did not react well. I seized upon a loophole and held fast.

Poseidon has pressed for continually growing awareness with me. He’s pressed for me to be able to hold Him in my mind both as my Beloved and as my God, and this is sometimes not as easy to manage as you might expect. Our culture’s dominant approach to religion — something that other people do for you, something that you go to set place to partake of, and then return home from — does not prepare you much for a close and personal, intimate relationship with the Gods.  (For the record, I’m not poo-pooing on Christianity here;this is something that I suspects  our culture fails for many of them, too.)  I have a hard time with this, on a day to day level, even now, and so my default is to approach Him as my Beloved. It has helped to address Him as my King and my God, but  it’s still something I need to pay attention to in order to accomplish, and for the most part, it’s something He continually encourages. I suspect that I’ll never have it 100% down, and that’s just part of living with Him.

At the time of my gleefully throwing myself through loopholes, He expressed understanding and unending leniency. There was no censure, and no correction. And there hasn’t been, so much, in all the years since. A small amount of “that was a really rough time,” but beyond that, nothing.

The other day, it was apparently on my mind or on His mind or both, and we got onto the topic again. He gifted me with a heavy truth.  There is still no censure, and there is still complete leniency on His part, but for once He drew a distinction between Himself as my Beloved and as my God. “I understood, and I understand, and there is no animosity between u/Us,” He explained, “but you broke a vow to your God, and you will never be able to undo that.”

The consequence of having broken this vow is carrying the knowledge for my life that I broke this vow to Him. There is still no censure from Him, and really no sense of disappointment, save that He would spare me having done that if He could have. It isn’t even like my word then meant less to Him after that — He in generous and He is kind and He knows humanity better than I could have guessed at, way back when.

It’s a curious thing, sitting with this heavy thing. We’ve discussed this time and again, and this is the first time He’s ever brought me to understand that, no, those loopholes really weren’t loopholes, and I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was. There is such compassion from Him, and a careful watching to see how I took this revelation. It’s not comfortable — but it’s also years in the past and there’s nothing to be done for it. I mourn the loss of a certain type of innocence, perhaps, but beyond that — it’s ancient history, as far as that goes.

We are flawed. We make promises we can’t keep. We fuck up. I’m in this curious place of letting go of a need to constantly berate myself. I’m in this curious place of, I think, beginning to truly be able to apply compassion — deep, deep compassion — to myself, rather than at just a surface level. It’s extremely interesting.

I’m not sure if He would have revealed this, ever, if I hadn’t gone back on anti-depressants. I feel like my baseline blue has raised quite a bit higher. I feel stronger, more emotionally resilient, and I worry a bit how much He’s held back because I’ve been too fragile. Clearly not entirely, because He didn’t feel a need to not shove Vishnu-through-Poseidon at me O.o but still. Still.

I’ll be over here reeling at His distinction between Poseidon-my-Husband, and Poseidon-my-God (just because He never does that!!) and sitting with this heavy-but-not  revelation for a bit. Don’t mind me.

 

 

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.

 

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.

To Bear Witness

At a glance, my relationship with Poseidon might seem one-sided and focused mostly on me. Our path together emphasis my journey with compassion, my struggles with awareness, my healing and development of healthy, sustainable coping methods. We focus a lot on how I spend my time, we talk about projects I’m working on, or where my regular Reiki sendings are going to go. When we sit down to figure out the goals of a particular ritual or festival (yes, the goal is more often than not to praise Poseidon, but, as He is part of my life, He gets to weigh in with how He wants to ritual to shape up), what I want to accomplish or focus on is taken into consideration. His input shapes everything — how and what I eat, what I do with my time, how I go about my day, He even influences how I dress, from the veil upon my head to what sorts of clothes I buy and, too, what colors. He is my God, He is my Husband, He is my closest Friend, He is my Hearth. He is, more than anything else, why I am an adult who can interact with the world in a functional way and try to leave it a better place, each day. He is why my heart is open and capable of love, and He is why I am able to find joy, to choose joy, to aim for optimism more often than not. He is the biggest, strongest, most effective weapon I have against my anxiety, my depression, and my conviction of unworth. I love Poseidon . . . but I own that so much of o/Our time together is focused on my crap, or it’s focused on how I am in o/Our relationship, or how w/We are together.

Now and again — not super often, but certainly a number of times a year — He’ll push me beyond that. I’ve yet to experience anything even close to a reprimand about where my attention goes. He’ll be the first to remind me that we are finite beings, that we’ve got shit to work through. He reminds me that He does not want me to be subsumed into Him, and that a decent amount of my work in my life thus far has been about learning to take up the space that I take up, to be without apology, and that if I am truly letting Him guide my path, then following where He leads is not a wrong thing. Am I always comfortable that so much of o/Our time together is Him playing therapist? Eh, no, I’m not, but I maintain that we can be so very broken in how we interact with the world, with people, with each other, that therapy is often in order, and who is better to help us with this crap than our Gods, who see so much more, have such experiences to help us learn from? (I am not in the “the gods are not therapists” camp, in case you’re curious. I am firmly in the “the gods can fill whatever role they flipping want to fill” camp).

That said, I am uncomfortable, from time to time, on how much time we spend on me, on my issues, my crap, my fears, my projects, my life. Now — He did decide to partner with me, and part of that is living my life, and there is something to be said for Him living my life with me. There is something that dances so very close to a Mystery — for Him — when it comes to mortality and incarnations and physicality the way we humans experience it. I can’t explain beyond that because it’s not my Mystery, but there is a sense of awe and there is a sense that He is getting more out of this than I realize or can even hold in my mind. Most of the time, day to day, this is enough.

And then there are the times He pushes. The times when I’m caught up in yearning and longing and missing, in regret and a burning desire that is unfulfilled, with an accompanying sense of an inability for it to be fulfilled. It sometimes takes me a few days to realize that what I’m feeling are not my own feelings, that rather they are His.

It’s normal to want to name the feelings and find the root of their cause. What has rendered Poseidon — Poseidon — into a quiet, somber being seemingly burning from within by this yearning. This isn’t the typical “hey, w/We are two different sorts of beings engaged in a relationship that can sometimes be frustrating, and isn’t culture shock fun?” thing. This had nothing to do me, beyond that I could sense His feelings. This was frustration and helplessness, this was being tied to cause and effect, this was mourning, a deep, deep sense of mourning that goes on and on and on . . . .

Historically His moments like this correspond to some horrible natural disaster sort of thing. (Anyone who thinks that Poseidon gleefully sends tidal waves or earthquakes to destroy people has never bothered to spend time with Him after such things occur. He is tied to these giant movements, of water, of the earth, and I’m not saying that He can’t cause such things to happen, but I am saying that His grief over lives lost — and He does not only grieve for the humans — drives me to my knees. He is not cold, He is not aloof, He is not distant.) Because I am me, I want to know the reasons why. So, when He came to me this week and asked that our Poseidon Hippios ritual be more about being with Him, when I realized what I was feeling was coming from Him, I wanted to know why. What had happened? What was going on? What could I do to help?

Sometimes He tells me the reasons. When the tsunami of 2004 hit land, I knew what had happened before I heard about it on the news, because of Him. Usually it’s not like that. Usually, He doesn’t share that much detail. Usually, He requests that I simply be with Him. It’s as if He takes some time to lose Himself in the minutia of mortal existence. I wonder, at times, if He’s reminding Himself why He cares about the small things, about mortality, about life upon this planet. I wonder, when the feeling I get is of His intense presence and of His stillness, and of His seemingly open desperation, if He is holding bleakness at bay by will alone. I wonder what all else He’s got going on in His existence that I’ll never, never, never know about.

“Be with Me,” He pleaded, and every time I started to question what was wrong, He would repeat the request. Don’t be in my head, don’t be trying to puzzle it out, don’t strive for answers or patterns. Just be here. Be now. Be u/Us.

So, I had my ritual. I gave Him wine and pastry. I offered Reiki to the horses, and I wrote. But mostly, I sang, and when I became caught up in the fact that I was singing o/Our songs to Poseidon, when I became self-conscious, He pressed harder upon my heart, pulled me out of myself, and I sang louder. I cannot wrap my arms around my Lord. I cannot press His head to my heart and hold Him close. I can give Him wine and pastry, but what does He get from that that He needs? I can give Him incense, but what are these things when He is desperate and right there, and I cannot, cannot embrace Him?

Love is all I can give Him. My love, my heart, and my willingness to bear witness. To surrender the need to explain, to reason, to know in order to hold this, as much as I can of this, and simply be with Him.

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

You may need me there to carry all your weight,
But you’re no burden I assure
You tide me over, with a warmth I’ll not forget,
But I can only give you love.
— Rob Thomas, Ever the Same

Calendars or, my year at a glance (the Pagan Experience week 8)

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

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I’ve got two calendars running through the year, here. One is the secular calendar. The second is a localized form of the Athenian calendar. Localized because I do not use the Hellenic Months Established Per Athens (or HMEPA) but rather, I use the Hellenic Months Establised Per Oregon (or HMEPO)  My months roughly synch up with the HMEPA months, but the start dates are set to the New Moon for my region, not for Athens.

Why do I used the Athenian months? Pure and simple: there’s always one month (sometimes two!) named for Poseidon. I wish that, in the beginning, I would have done like Hellenic Temple of Zeus, Apollon, and Pan does and name the months for the festivals I observed, but then most would be named Poseidon and that would be confusing! Nowadays, the Athenian months are simply familiar to me, so I keep them. But, as you’ll see, I pick and choose which ones I even acknowledge, and mostly it’s just that I know the festival or holy day in question is a part of that month, and not that the month means anything to me outside of that.

Because the path I’m on is a living, breathing, changing thing, I do like to revisit my religious calendar from time to time, to see what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be tweaked. Because 2015 is the year of Writing All the Things (three books, with a forth getting print ready is the goal), I’m letting myself off the hook with a lot of these — which is rather a good thing as I’m getting back to my center. Daily devotion — that is, bringing myself back on a daily basis to the center from which I lead my life — trumps monthly- and extended-Family devotion. This is a good reminder, a necessary reminder.

In the past, Beth and I have tried a number of things. We’ve tried being sticklers about dates (and sometimes we are). We’ve tried observing cross-quarter days on their astrological times rather than the calendar times. We’ve moved things around. We’re not interested in what something looks like so much as we’re interested in things working. We do what works for us. It’s our tradition, after all. And, her particular calendar will look a bit different from mine, because there are things she observes which I do not, and vice verse. So, this is me, mine.

Around January 1st we celebrate 12th Night. Because Yule proper does not happen on the same date from year to year, this is just an approximation. Because this is the end of Yule (though far from the end of Hunt Season for us) 12th Night is pretty relaxed. It’s immediate-family only. If I’m going to do any runecasting for the year to come, I do it on this night, and if I’m going to make any oaths for the coming year (Write All The Things!) this is when I make them.

Also sometimes in January, sometimes in February, I honor Poseidon Phytalmios. As mentioned previously, this is impossible to pin down. It happens when it happens.

Theogamia falls in the month of Gamelion, which corresponds with January/February, depending on when the extra month falls. This year, in my calendar, Theogamia falls on the 16th/17th of February. Here I mark the marriage of Zeus and Hera.

February 2nd is Ewemolc or Imbolc. We tend toward Ewemeolc here in our home, because sheep and fleece and spinning! This is a more labor-intensive day for Beth, granted, but it’s one I look forward to every year (and with Fiberwytch’s ever growing armory of spinning tools to cleanse, anoint, bless, thank, and pay homage to, one that I suspect I’ll help out with more and more)

February 2nd-3rd is our Feast for a Fallen King which Beth wrote about quite nicely a few years back.

February 9th marks my wedding anniversary. (When I exchanged vows, I was using the Athenian calendar exclusively, and that date fell upon Anthesterion 8th. I go back and forth about when I want to observe it, often making a small moment of it on both days. Due to unfortunately associations, February 8th is right out the window. I’ll admit that I like to observe it most on whichever day happens to be sooner, that year. I’m female. I can do that.

I’m not planning on doing much for Anthesteria this year beyond holding it in my mind — though I did last year and that felt off. This year the dates fall in the beginning of March. (My Sacred Marriage Triad is all off this year, thanks to Poseideon II!) My observance of this three day festival is pretty pick-and-choosey, admittedly. I honor Hermes and the dead, and I honor Dionysos and Ariadne/the Basilinnas, and I pretty much forgo all the vintner bits of the festival. It’s a ceremonial nod toward a day of the dead for e, as this is still thick in our Hunt Season, and in our household, the Veil is only ever gauzy anyway.

Bolverk’s Day is on March 17th. In our household we honor Bolverk and Gunnlod. We celebrate the creation of the Mead of Poetry, and the gift Odin makes of it to the gods (and inadvertantly, the world.)

We honor Idunna and Bragi at Ostara (March 20th this year).

We honor Loki on the 1st of April — though without tricks or foolery. I hate April Fool’s Day as such, but being able to honor Loki on this day turns it into something nice.

Sigrblot is on the 6th of April.

Poseidon Hippios is honored on the 8th, or on the day closest to the 8th on which I do not have to work.

We honor Jord on Earth Day because it fits.

Walpurgisnacht is the beginning of the “end” of Hunt Season for us. This observation has altered, sadly, as time goes on. Once we used to climb to the top of Spencer’s Butte, the tallest point in our valley . . . and then we made adjustments . . . and now the physical labor and the being away from home when we’re needed here make that aspect of this day not possible. So, we make a feast, and we celebrate and we are grateful for what the Hunt Season brings us, and what it leaves us with. We celebrate survival.

May Day on the 5th of May signals the end of the Hunt Season proper. Hunt Season is (and especially for Beth) is an on-duty season. It’s not about holy days and festivals and rituals. It’s about being on-call 24/7, not to Odin-her-Husband but to Odin, Lord of the Host. This is true for me, to a much, much smaller degree.

May 19th Queen Anne Bolyen’s Day. We apparently really go in for the somber days. May 19th marks the anniversary of Queen Anne’s execution. We honor her memory with a pilgrimage to our local rose garden, where we leave offerings for her, read aloud prayers and poems we find and people send us. Queen Anne is one of Beth’s disir, a group of spirits we call The Queens, though over time she’s become an important figure in my life, as well. There is much to admire about Anne Bolyen.

June 19th-21st is a three day festival/workfest that centers around our local Sheep and Wool festival. Because there is no demarcation between “secular” and “religious” life for us — it’s all life!! — this is both religiously focused and a lot of mundane work. We kick the weekend off with a libation to Frigga and Poseidon. (Not so much in conjunction with one another as one and also this other one.)  Then we shop like mad for the store. We psych ourselves up for the Fleece Show. We get what we need. We come home. We start washing the heel out of fleeces. We prayer for a sunny day (not yet a given in our neck of the woods by this time).

Vigil for the Bulls runs July 6th-14th. This is my “counter-Yule” festival that coincides with the Paplona’s famous Running of the Bulls.  This is  one of my “working” festivals – it’s largely about being present and being aware and offering healing, about aligning oneself on purpose with suffering and offering what one can. It’s many nights of libations, sacrifice, blood, and, at the end, funerary rites — by the river when I can, at home at our hearth shrine when I can’t. Honored here are Poseidon, the Dioskoroi, Dionysos, Indra, and, of course, the Bull.

Aphrodisia falls on July 22nd

The full moon of August I honor my first meeting with Poseidon, and I hail Him as Poseidon Salibureous.  In August I also honor Poseidon of the Ponds. Ideally on the 8th of the month, but it’s really whatever date ends up working for me to get my butt to either the Delta Ponds or part of the Wetlands. We also generally do something, albeit small, for Lammas.

By September we’re gearing up for the “work months” to start again. We celebrate our birthdays (Beth’s is the 22nd, mine is the 24th, and we generally do a three day celebration. Please note that by celebration we generally mean movie-watching marathon, bookstore browsing, a meal out at one of our favorite cafes, and possibly too much wine. We’re mellow that way) (oh, and also cake). On Sept 29th  we mark Winterfinding as well as Valfather’s Day. In years past this would also be Feast of Treats but we moved that to Samhain proper. In our tradition, this is when the Hunt starts to gather. Oh, they’re here and there throughout the year, but this is when it starts to be about business again.

October brings us Samhain. We’ve gone back and forth with this one, too — because honoring our Beloved Dead is . . .  not complicated, exactly. But there’s our immediate family, and our extended family, and one is more relaxed/intimate, and the other is more formal. (Not formal, really, just more so in comparison-to). So, we mark Samhain with the Feast of Treats in honor of our Beloved Animal dead (read: immediate family) and then either later in the day or on November 1st we hold a Dumb Supper for our Beloved Human dead (read: less-immediate family). Samhain also kicks off for real-for real the start of the Hunt Season for us.

November 11th is Einhenjar Day.

And then, December!

December 4th is Beth’s wedding anniversary. December 6th is St. Nicholas’ feast day (or, as I like to call him, Poseidon Nikolaos) which I’ve adopted as a celebration of Poseidon for reasonsDecember 7th is Tulya’s E’en – a Scandinavian folk holiday in which all the trolls are thought to be released from underground; a good time to sain (bless/smudge) property and dwellings) prior to the dangerous nights of Yule. December 13th is Lussinata. The day before the Solstice is Modranacht, and then it’s Yule. In our tradition Yule and Poseidea have become largely one in the same. Poseidon has taken an active role in the Hunt (and considering the purpose behind the Hunt, as we see it, and the involvement of horses in the Hunt, I’m not terribly surprised).

Not listed above are things like Hekate’s Deipnon, at the dark moon of each month, which I mark in my own way. In my understanding, Hekate is not important to *me*, but She is important to Poseidon, and I keep this day because He asks me to do so. I’m fond of Her, and I like to think She is fond of me, as well, but I can’t say no to Poseidon when He says, “Hey, honor this One, She matters to Me.”, and the Full Moons which are Working Days but not really holidays.

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paganexperience

Putting me in my place.

He is cold and alien,

the frigid, dark depths of the deepest part of the seas

with pressure so intense it can split skin and muscle, can crush bone.

He burns

living in the sulfuric vents in the earth

adored by hosts of things we barely recognize as life

as they bask in His domain.

He is the cruel hand that capsizes boats

How many have glimpsed Him last as their mortality trickled away?

Again and again and again and again and again.

I’ve sat with Him.

I’ve felt the ghost of the weight of His rage and His grief

Holy Grief

But He is warm

He delights in the range of life, across the land as much as in the seas

And if He holds our kind in so special place

Not best among the beasts

Just one of many, with all our flaws and our cruelties and our savagery

Neither does He place us among the very least

There is no least, with Him.

We are contained, all of us, within this realm,

and the realm contains His Heart.

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

Poseidon taught me humility by showing me His humility. He set me right in my spot upon this earth. I struggled for a long, long time, trying to call Him indifferent — not in a bad way, but in that humanity isn’t a thing for Him. There’s an idea that we — humans, I mean — are the pinnacle of creation. Though it’s an idea that most of us know through the influence of Christianity in our cultures, it’s an idea that shows up before monotheism became some dominant. Much like the idea of monotheism being the pinnacle of religiosity is a sometimes unspoken agreement of our overculture, so too, in my view, is the idea that humanity is the pinnacle of mortal existence. It is a view that is present in many of the Hellenic sources, though, and it was . . . interesting? coming across that while experiencing His “indifference.” I clumsily explained it in the past as while Odin cares about humanity and individual people, Poseidon does not care so much about humanity, though He cares about specific people. Really, it’s more that He cares as much about humanity as He does any other group of species, in that He holds within Him an awareness of the ending of all life, the inevitability of death, the transience of life in general, and the fact that we are animals, just like all the others. Some may be threatened by that; I found it incredibly comforting and really it made Him approachable in the beginning. Even if I was confused about why He would have anything at all to do with me, being an icky human.

If other species had our longevity, our ability to use tools, to adapt to our environments, to make the kinds of changes we make, they would exploit their environments as much as we do. It doesn’t make us right, it doesn’t make it acceptable, but it does help me shake out of the “we suck oh my god we suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck” paralysis and depression that so often grips me. If octopod, for example, lived longer than they do? I’d be afraid for our supposed dominance. I think they could lead a resistence against us. Just sayin’.

 

Sex!

Oh, did that get your attention? My bad . . .

It’s a timely topic though, right? We’ve just had Valentine’s Day (and while it’s not a holiday I celebrate, it is a holiday that’s thrust into my awareness, thank you Retail Reality); Theogamia is staring us in the face, Anthesteria is right around the corner, and as you already know since you’re reading this post, which is part of my YAY TWELVE YEARS posting spree to celebrate my marriage anniversary, I’ve just celebrated my wedding anniversary. Now, I don’t talk about sex a whole lot on this blog — which, for those of you who know me in person may find . . . amusing? I have an incredibly naughty mind. Beth likes to say that my double entendres have double entendres. Seriously. If something can be made into a sexual innuendo, I’ve already went there. I am have the maturity of a seventeen year old male, in my head. And the worse thing is, Poseidon is right there with me.

Except, that’s not accurate, really. Poseidon has a healthy, well-balanced and (likely the most important for me) appropriately timed sexual mindset/sexuality/sensuality/something.

I don’t have a whole lot of sexual hang-ups that is typical of women in our culture. I’m fat, and I’ve always been round, but any uncertainty I’ve had in sexual exploration has not been because of my body. (I’m lucky, and possibly an odd duck, in that somehow, despite convictions of unworthy growing up, it never really became about my body. Sure, I thought I was fat in high school, but never in a dieting sort of way.) I have had a number of sexual partners that I’m not uncomfortable with, and most of the experiences were enjoyable enough. I’m open enough about my sexuality in general that people who know me realize I’m not heterosexual; a few people know that I’m not wired monogamous, as well — what most people don’t know, because I don’t talk about it, is that as far as mortal partners go, I’m celibate.

Bringing the sacred back into my sexuality — back, hah! Introducing my mind to the idea of sacred sexuality rather, was a big deal. It’s one I balked at, at first. Hands down, the biggest problem in my marriage with Poseidon was the idea of sex as an offering and the baggage the subject brought with it. Now, you have to understand, while I was raised nominally Christian, we were never involved with any fire and brimstone type churches. New England, people. You have to talk about sex in order for there to be any premarital sex is sin you are all going to burn sermons. It simply didn’t happen in our church while I was there. But despite being pagan by that point, and despite knowing all about the lovely stories of the Hellenic gods having all Their many trysts, and despite having had my awareness of Poseidon’s presence in my life extend to knowing He was around when my then-boyfriend and I were intimate (there is precious little privacy, living with gods and spirits. If we devotional types and spirit-worker types can agree on one thing, I think it would be that), the idea of sex as an offering to Poseidon just . . . Well, I was intrigued, of course — because yay sex! — but I also internalized this whole “sex is animalistic and He is A GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” thing, too.

Suddenly, for the first time ever, sex started to become this shameful thing. What the hell? And then? Then Poseidon began to put a stress upon sex happening. He encouraged. He proved to me that my pitiful double entendres were no match for what He could come up with. He poked and prodded, urged and suggested, and lead me along paths of exploration. Because it’s me, this involved reading of various things — sexuality as expressed in various cultures, in various time periods — as well as seeking out blogs, and revisiting some of my own adventures in my past. My relationship with Poseidon was founded upon Poseidon-as-Healer, and Poseidon-as-the-Sea, but for a time He really placed an emphasis as a more earthy, more virile, more earthy Poseidon. Did I mention earthy? Because, like whoa.

Interestingly enough, a lot of that corresponded with the time period in which He began to urge me to veil. It was an interesting turn of events. When I speak of being married to Poseidon, I mean it both in a blending of wyrd/binding of spirits/alliance of loyalty sort of way, and also in a He is my spouse, He is my Husband, I am His wife sort of way. I mean it in that, before Odin, before Beth, before a/Anyone else, He has the first and often the most weight in any life decisions I face. I mean it in that, He is the most innermost part of my immediate family. I mean it in that, we have a wedding anniversary. And I mean it in that while I’m celibate as far as other humans go, I am not the least bit celibate when it comes to Poseidon. No, you’re not getting the nitty gritty, but yes, I’ll admit that sex happens. I’m not a prude.

One’s sexuality can exist when one is not involved sexually with mortal partners. Hell, sexuality can exist if one is only sexually involved with one’s self, period. For my part, it was when Poseidon placed an emphasis on exploring and celebrating my own sexuality for the sake of exploring and celebrating my own sexuality as part of being an animal upon the mortal realm, that the issues I had regard sexuality, sex, and Poseidon worked themselves out.

There’s a structure to the forms my sexuality can take, in the ways it can be expressed and, more to the point, whom it can be expressed with. I can talk sex in pretty general terms with just about anyone — much to my mother’s embarrassment! I’m fairly comfortable talking about my sexual history with friends, more so with females or in a female safe space. When I say that I’m not wired monogamous, I’m saying that in o/Our relationship, sexual expression does not always just involve He and I — but it also does not involve other mortal partners — and I’m comfortable with that. I am surprisingly not so much of a jealous person. Surprisingly because, in my past, in my history with other, mortal partners, I had been. Why am I not jealous now?

Because I am secure in o/Our relationship. I’m secure in the forms it takes, and I’m secure in knowing that Poseidon in one thousand and ten percent capable of letting me know what’s up.

Look, I’m not saying that all the gods and spirits want all the sex with all the mortals all the time. It may not be a part of your relationships at all. I’m also not saying one has to be wed to a god or spirit in order to have sex be part of the relationship. I am saying that sexuality is important — or can be important, and can be surprisingly healing, illuminating, and dare I say, satisfying . . . even if you’re called to a path that looks, from the outside, well, celibate. My sexuality is something that He and I share and explore together, and having the walls of celibacy around me, removing my availability as a sexual being to share with other humans, has allowed me to fully appreciate how much my sexuality is my own.

There are so many ways in which living this life I’m living, walking with Poseidon, has enriched my whole being, has allowed me to appreciate how much of ourselves we give away to others as a matter of course, without really thinking. It’s allowed me take in those pieces, to become mindful of what I give to others, what I allow others to decide for me, and what I decide to keep for myself. Having complete power over something so intrinsically me as my sexuality has been liberating in ways I could not even begin to imagine years ago, never mind articulate.

Reflections on building cultus

I began to look seriously into Hellenic religious history a number of years after Poseidon introduced Himself to me. I am grateful, almost on a daily basis, that He helped me to build a firm foundation between the two of u/Us regarding what my devotion would look like, what forms it would take, and what outside influences would and would not touch, before I branched out in my studies. I dove in to Germanic religious history study before I approached the Hellenic side. I suspect that Poseidon’s urging me toward including His Family into my awareness finally came when I began expanding worship beyond Him. It meant I was ready to move beyond the small pond of just the two of u/Us.

As anyone who has an eye toward Hellenic paganism knows, the vast majority of the source material we have comes from Athens specifically. Oh, there’s source material from elsewhere, but it is neither as plentiful nor as accessible as the material that Athens lends us. I read a number of the classics. I gobbled up Homer and Hesiod, I read the other poets that one is supposed to read. I turned to the secondary sources, and I cursed my inability to read German. (And I laughed that my study of Hellenic religion would lead me to wanting to read German). I learned about Hestia, traditionally honored first and last, known as the hearth of the home – and I realized quite early on that such a practice was not for me. I learned about the Noumenia, the beginning of the new month, and the following days that were, and are, held sacred to specific gods and spirits – and I realized through practice that, aside from a few and aside from inspiring an adoption of specific week days being special in my practice to specific gods, such a practice was not for me. I learned about Hekate, and later about the Deipnon. I can’t say that my practice regularly includes the practice of Hekate’s Deipnon in the same manner it was observed in the past by others, or even that it looks like what contemporary worshipers do now, but I do mark the Her deipnon monthly – not because of any relationship I have with Hekate, but because Poseidon made it clear early into this exploration of mine that Hekate is important to Him. Her worship came into my practice before even any worship of Zeus or Hera – that is how important She is to Him. I read about the festival calendar of Athens, and of other places, too, but mostly of Athens, and I noticed something pretty early on.

Poseidon had an honored status in Athens, of course. We have stories to explain to us why that is the case, and we know how much sea travel was for the various Hellenic cities and settlements were, so it’s easy to see why He would be honored. He has a place of honor in a number of the various festivals that, at a glance, don’t seem to have much to do with Him. At the same time, though we know of the Athenian month Poseideon, and though we know that the months were often named after important festivals that fell within said month, and though we do know that there was a Poseidea festival marked in Athens in this month, and though we do know a bit bit about what transpired in other places in the Hellenic world during their Poseidea festivals, we don’t really know much of what happened at the Athenian festival named for Poseidon, whose name gives us the month Poseideon. We have a calendar rich with festivals to Dionysos, and to Apollon, and to Demeter. We have festivals to honor Hermes, and Zeus, and Hera, and Artemis, and of course, of course, to Athena, and so very often if Poseidon was included it was in a place of honor, but not the place of honor.

As a devotee of this god, discovering this was extremely frustrating. It also made sure that I was only somewhat interested in pursuing a more Hellenic focused path. Poseidon was not going to be my gateway-god to Hellenic paganism. What I wanted to find was something in place where Poseidon was the center of the tradition, not just a part of it.

It became clear pretty early on that, if I wanted a year of Poseidon festivals, looking to the past was not going to do it for me. And so, I found myself with the wonderful, caring, loving, good god who deserved, I thought, just as many festivals as Dionysos received, just as many rituals and libations and offerings that the year provided for Demeter or Apollon, just as much praise as Athena received (if not more!) and a veritable dirth of material.

So I began to build. At first, I’ll admit, I was more annoyed than anything else. Bear in mind that a lot of this was happening while I was trying to make sense of being “dual-trad” – I was identifying equally as a Heathen and as a Hellenic polytheist at the time, and trying to keep the practices somewhat separate. This was reinforced by having an in-real-life community of Heathens to sumbel with, at which times the honoring of non-Heathen gods was not allowed (which is fine; your house, your rules). I admitted even then that keepig my worship of Odin and Poseidon carefully delineated wasn’t going to work for me, but I was keeping two different set of calendars, I was trying to keep my Hellenic stuff in a proper ritual context, and so on. I felt lonely in my Hellenic devotion, and I was frustrated that we could go and hail Odin or Thor or Freyja or even Loki in a public setting, or that we could go and spend a weekend with people who shared much of our world view, or that we could schlep a shrine for Odin on our backs for people to use as a place to pray and meditate or otherwise commune with Pops, and then I’d come back and my rituals for Poseidon would be small and private and lonely.

The growing of the festival days was a slow process. I began marking a day for Poseidon Hippios first, possibly before I left Massachusetts, but definitely before I moved in with Beth. I’m not sure when it became less frustrating and more freeing – this creation of new festivals to honor Poseidon, many of which have no real meaning for anyone other than me (the celebration of our two anniversaries, celebrating a particular day of epiphany). At some point I became incredibly grateful that I was not bound by tradition or history, or at least, not in a way that tradition or history trumped His input. I did not – I do not – include a prayer to Hestia first and last in my festivals for Him, because Poseidon made it clear very, very early on that He is my Hearth. Zeus and Hera and Aphrodite have places of honor in my devotions, but They have such because of Poseidon. So, too, with Hekate and Rhea, Demeter, and Gaia. So, too, with Selene. My festival calendar is dominated by special days for Poseidon – rituals if not festivals – and except for the inclusion of Poseidea in our Yule festivies, they are all rituals, festivals, and holy days of obligation, that w/We have built together. Some are important to me and thus He accepts them. Some are important to Him and thus I observe them. Some are important to w/Who w/We are together, and thus they are celebrated.

In this way, though I am devoted to a Big Named God Known From Antiquity, who had temples and throngs of people sacrificing to Him (which He likes to remind me on some of my more bratty days), I know at least a little bit of what it’s like to build a tradition from the ground up, or to be focused on a lesser-known god or spirit. It’s not quite the same, I’ll grant you that, but it’s also not the same as having loads of detailed information to build from, either. Poseidon is this massive power. He is known, right? And boy does He have Connections. Yet, so much of what I do in my devotion to Him, in the building of His cultus, is rooted in the now, not in the past. It’s rooted in intimate relationships forged now, not resurrected from history. Knowing what I know of what, in my experience, matters most to Him, I have to wonder – how much of not having a ton of resources to cite regarding how things were done in His cultus from ages ago is on purpose?

I Will Make Sound

Something that people may not know about me: my marriage to Poseidon is not a secret. It isn’t something I broadcast, exactly — it’s not something that comes up in casual conversation, for example. Coworkers know that I’m pagan (at least, some of them do) but most people make assumptions about the nature of my relationship with Beth, and we don’t really often go through the effort of correcting them, because for all intents and purposes their assumptions aren’t really wrong. I don’t introduce myself by saying things like, “Hi, I’m Jolene. I live with four cats and one very expensive dog. My life-partner is Beth, I like to knit, and I think the characters I write about are real to one degree or another. I’m a polytheistic devotee to Odin and Poseidon, and by the way, I married Poseidon X years ago.” That does, actually, sum up my life pretty well, but it’s not how I go about greeting people. At the same time, I don’t hide my marriage to Poseidon. I’ll admit that I still sort of hem and haw at times about calling it that. (I’m married to Poseidon. I’m one of Poseidon’s wives. Poseidon is my Husband. I’m a flipping godspouse) The rule of thumb for when I start to get uncomfortable about the terminology? He makes me use it. Because, by the gods, words are not going to get in the way of what IS, between u/Us.

Obviously, Beth knows. My other Family knows — They witnessed the marriage, after all. My father knows, because he was there, too — the only of my then-departed kin that I know of who was there for it, in fact. We were sort of on the outs at the time, so he didn’t have an active role in the ceremony, but there was no giving away of the bride, anyway. My brother knows, because I’m not sure there’s anything I keep from him. But also, my mother knows. Really, any blood family who reads my blog regularly will know, but I specifically told her, when my ex and I broke up, when I was moving in with Beth, why it happened, what had changed, and what this might mean for my future. I shared with her my excitement over finding another person called in such a similar way that I could get on with. I was excited about this cloister that we were going to have, even if it is a semi-cloister. It’s our partial cloister, and we could not embark upon this lifestyle without the support of one another.

This is not meant to come across as value-judgment about others keeping their marriage to gods or spirits private from their family — no way am I in a place to pass that kind of judgment, even if I admit that I don’t understand keeping something so huge so quiet. We all know I do not compartmentalize well — that’s actually part of my Living Out Loud theme, with this.

I’m openly pagan — because it’s safe for me to be so. I’m openly pro-sacred marriage — because it’s safe for me to be so. I’m openly in this weird spot on the sexuality spectrum and in full support of LGTBQ-rights because come on, they only want to marry other humans (in whatever number configurations) without being threatened, I married a flipping Olympian, who the hell am I to have an opinion about anyone else? and also because it’s safe for me to be so.

I’m openly all these things also because too often I find myself wanting to disappear into the background. Living out loud — dressing in a way that does not blend me into the background, wearing a veil, writing about the things I write about . . . I’m not trying to build myself up into something great, or someone who is all that. But I am saying, hey, this is the way I am. This is what my life is. These are the things that matter to me, and these are the things I won’t compromise on. I do this because on the one hand, Poseidon deserves it. He deserves to be talked about, He deserves to be adored, and He deserves for people to know that He is approachable, that He is kind and loving and compassionate, that He is there, that He is here, and that He Loves. He loves. I do it also because there are people who can’t talk about these things, or who aren’t comfortable talking about these things, or who don’t have access to other people living their lives as they are called to live them. And, I do it because it helps me be more me. Because, while it’s so long ago now, I think of having to squish myself into a container of who others wanted me to be, and my skin crawls. I think of what I am, what I do now — nothing grand, nothing huge, nothing world changing. Like Theresa of Lisieux, I’m a little flower for my god, and I don’t want to be anything more grand than that — between being able to help Beth, and being able to provide for our family, and being able to write, and having my devotional practice, and being available to my gods and spirits, and I can’t imagine doing it quietly. I can’t imagine not writing about it. I can’t imagine not sharing parts of it here. Nothing has helped me in the process of surrendering the fears of vulnerability more than writing about those vulnerable pieces for mass consumption. I don’t know that anything could take the place of that . . . and I’m here, doing this, writing this, living this life out loud (as it were) because of Poseidon.

Growing with Poseidon

I was young when I met Poseidon — at once world-weary, cynical and jaded, and very, very young. I can remember feeling exhausted. I’ve mentioned before that, had I not been at the end of my rope, I don’t know that I would have reached a point where I could even let myself open enough to let Him in. I didn’t feel young, then, though looking back now . . . looking back now, my heart weeps for little Jolene, and I want so badly to shelter her from that life. I look at people I know now who are older than I was when I met Him, and who still seem so young, not in how they act so much as just . . . I don’t know. Young. Young in a way that calls up maternal instincts. Young in a way I want to protect them from the world.

The gods and spirits are not human. They’re not a part of our world-views and cultural mores. We dance along a wiggly line when it comes to consent, free will, and wrong behavior, I think, when it comes to gods and spirits. There have been times when Poseidon has pushed on some thing or another, when I’ve drawn my line and He’s shoved me over it, seemingly without regard to my ‘no’. In my experience, with the gods and spirits, no does not always mean no. I won’t get into the ethics of that, because I don’t believe this is something that can have a hard and fast rule. What’s permissible for me won’t be for you, and what you might take in stride may break any progress I’ve made toward being a functioning adult who navigate through the assortment of realities that make up my life. I find that poking at the ethics is a fun, interesting, thought-provoking exercise, but for me it always comes back to trust. I trust Poseidon. Even when He dangles me over some horrible edge for my own good, despite my fighting.

I’m tempted to say: “That doesn’t happen much these days,” but that’s not entirely true. What’s changed is I no longer fight simply to fight.

He’s seen me through so many stages of my life. It’s poetic to say that He held my broken pieces while I healed, but it’s also truth. He’s the one that demanded I be selfish, that I put myself first in my life, that only in doing so would I heal some of my deeper wounds. Only in doing so would I ever wind up in a place where I could say that self-care and self-compassion are not only important but necessary. It has only been through focusing so much on myself back in my twenties that I could reach a place of service, of truly being able to share who I am with my family, my loved ones, that I could admit finally that, you know, yeah, I have worth simply by being me. I have something to offer, and more to the point here, I believe that I do.

I squirm a bit, when I realize that I was but a child when we met. There was nothing even hinting toward a romantic love at that point, but it still makes me a bit weird, from time to time. He has never treated me as anything other than a person, a being worthy of respect, and of being taken at face value. A being whose emotional and mental states of being have always been important and real, even when they haven’t necessarily reflected truth. I’m not sure how to explain that. He’s never dismissed my concerns or fears as being silly, or immature, irrelevant or unworthy of His time. I can’t say He’s always been kind, but He’s never been intentionally cruel, and His patience seems to have no end.

Did He know? That day when I saw Him for the first time? Did He know how much He’d be changing my life? Did He know already that He wanted me for Himself, or did that grow as the relationship grew? Some questions He only ever answers with, “the why and how do not matter. The is matters,” and I honor that. But, I had no idea. And it’s such a huge thing to me. And if HE also had no idea, or some idea but wasn’t sure . . . ah, the beauty that is existence unfolding.