Retirement

I am retiring this blog. Haven’t written in it in ages, so that’s probably not a surprise.

I’ll be leaving it up. I stand by what I’ve written here. (Or most of it. Who hasn’t rethought some of the things they’ve said?) I am still me. Still feeling my way along as a devotee of the Theoi, and Dionysos in particular.

I just haven’t felt the urge to live this part of my life online. Not in a long while.

 

I’ll still be blogging – though sporadically I’m sure – on my personal/art blog: http://reverendthorn.wordpress.com. Anyone who’s curious is most welcome to follow me over there.

Um, Silent July, August, and most of June…

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So, I really had no intention of going silent for July.  Or August for that matter.  (Not that I don’t understand and respect the reasoning of those who did.)

I just sorta stopped being interested in blogging for awhile.

I’d like to think I was “doing stuff” instead of “writing about doing stuff,” and that was definitely part of it.  To  be perfectly honest though, it’s not like I was so busy with devotional practice and art I couldn’t slip a post in here and there.  I just didn’t have much to say I guess.

I decided to quit doing the Pagan Blog Project because, while I love it and enjoy seeing the posts everyone comes up with, I found myself feeling pressured to write just for the sake of having written.  (Also, when you’re in the middle of a ritual and find yourself thinking about just how you’ll word the description of the experience, it’s probably time to take a break from the internets…)

So, what have I been doing instead?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve set up an altar to my ancestors and beloved dead.  At this point, I’ve yet to really begin regular offerings, but it’s good to have the constant reminder that they’re there.  I’ve found myself talking to them more often as a result, which has got to be a good thing.

Continuing my daily prayers and offerings.

I’ve also been doing art, devotional and otherwise.  I’m quite proud of the mask I made for Dionysos.

Also been doing regular life things like holding down a job and taking care of  a sick puppy.

Still, I like having the blogs.  I’m going to try to find a happy medium between never posting and never doing anything else because  I’m focused on writing about it.

Any suggestions?

Another Day in Another Life…

Previous incarnation of Dionysos’ shrine, since simplified (and expanded)

There seems to be a new trend in the pagan blogosphere of sharing what one’s daily devotions look like.  I like it.  (Plus, it’s far healthier than the other bandwagons I’ve jumped on lately.)

Many who have shared are hardcore mystics and spirit workers.  My practice is much simpler than theirs, though I wouldn’t quite call myself a lay person – I feel called to a much more involved practice, but I am only just beginning on my path.  (Despite 20+ years of paganism!)

So here’s what my day looks like right now, religiously:

I wake up in the morning, get a cup of coffee and check out my blog roll.  Often this means I’ll quickly find myself bogged down in the pagan dramas of the day.  To avoid this, I try to pick one or two things to read that look inspiring or at least interesting.

(After all, I can always pop me some popcorn and read the train wreck later if I really want to.)

Once I’m fully awake I shower or – depending on the occasion and need – at least wash my face and hands.  Then I dress in my normal clothes for the day, gather my offerings and go to Dionysos’ shrine.  I’ll take a minute to prepare the shrine – tidying up, putting incense in place, lighting the candle – then I step away.

Then its time to get my head in order.  I’ll go over any prayer I intend to recite in my mind, then let it go.  I focus my thoughts I Dionysos alone.  When I feel ready, I approach the shrine (a processional of maybe 4 steps, but it is effective) and raise my arms in prayer.

I am not a poet.  I begin by reciting a written prayer, usually Orphic hymn #30, but others – ancient or modern – as I feel inspired to.  (If I make a mistake in the recital, I will step away from the shrine and begin again, unless the spirit draws me onrward.)

Then I offer thanks.  I do this in my own words.  I thank Him for the many blessings He bestows on the world and upon myself, and for specific gifts and blessings as appropriate.  I asking Him to accept my offerings, and with them my love and gratitude.

For offerings, in the morning I always offer incense.  I will add to this as inspired – most often wine, of course, but other items as well.  They are usually pretty traditional.

After I make the offerings, I speak to Him from my heart, offering praise and sometimes discussing my concerns of the moment – though I usually leave those for less formal prayers throughout the day.

I like to chose and epithet of His and spend a few moments in meditation on it.  It will stay with me throughout the day, keeping my thoughts with Him.  (I haven’t been doing this part as much as I’d like of late, though.)

I offer praise a final time and leave the shrine (backing away the first few steps as I believe it is rude to turn one’s back on a God.)

If it is a morning where I will have to leave for work right away, I will return and blow out the candle immediately.  Otherwise I leave it burning at least until the incense is done.

Then I finish my mundane rituals for the morning – make up, shoes, occasionally even breakfast – and spend some time with my family.

Before I leave for work (or on days off, immediately following my time with Dionysos) I approach my hearth shrine – the one in the public portion of the house – tidy it, light the candle, and make sure offerings are in reach.

Then I step away again and focus my thoughts on the Gods.

I return to the shrine and pray, using some variation of the following (my own, pardon the plainness):

I pray to Hestia, the great Goddess of the Hearth and Home

I pray to the household Gods and the Agathos Daimon

I pray to the Theoi who dwell on Olympus, greatest Gods of all

I thank You for another day, and for the many blessings you bestow upon the world and upon myself and my family

I will add my thanks for specific blessings as appropriate.

I then ask Them to accept my offerings, always incense and pure water* but often other things as well – olive oil, herbs, essential oils.

I pray that They will watch over, bless, and protect myself, my family, and our home on that day and the days to come.

Then I will offer praise to them, and back away from the shrine.  (Returning to blow out the candle immediately if I am leaving right away.)

Throughout the day, I will offer informal prayers to the Gods as inspired, often speaking to Dionysos rather casually about my thoughts and concerns or simply that might be of interest to Him.  I try to be open to His (and Their) presence in the world, though the challenges of modern life make this easier said than done.

When I visit places that remind me of him I will offer a greeting – for example, there is an “ivy tree” on the path I walk from my work to the bank every week.

(That’s pretty much all I do every day right now.  The following are practices I have done but have become sporadic due to the demands of life.  I am in the process of reinstating them.)

When I return home, I will burn incense at the hearth shrine for the Agathos Daimon.

Before retiring for the evening, I will return to Dionysos’ shrine for “quality time.”  (Not that the morning devotions aren’t “quality” as well.)  This is where I offer wine or whatever spirits I have on hand and share a glass with Him.  I will meditate, dance, listen to music.  I try to remain open to Him throughout the rest of the evening as I go more mundane things and “family time.”

If I have any questions for Him I will mull them over in my mind as I fall asleep, hoping for a moment of clarity between sleeping and waking.  I rarely have dreams from any of the Gods.

That’s it.  I’ve felt a pull for quite some time to begin honoring my ancestors and beloved dead, but I’m at a loss how to begin.  The same is true of the nymphs and land spirits, and other deities I wish to honor more directly.

I will do these things in time, but right now I have to remind myself that I am still recovering and my practice is growing slowly.  Rather than jump in with both feet and fail – as I have done many, many times in the past – I am trying to establish practices and show that I can stick with them before adding on something new.

So, um, anyone else feel like sharing?

*On water offerings:  I know that several people take issue with this practice on the grounds that in the west, pure water is so abundant and readily available that it is not a real sacrifice.  I choose to make these offerings for the following reasons:

     – Water is a powerful substance.  Without it, there would be no life on earth.  It is one of the greatest gifts of the Gods.

     – I understand “sacrifice” to mean to make holy.  Any sense of hardship on the part of the one making the offerings is secondary at best.

     – I have been poor enough in the very recent past – while living in a desert no less – that, even if I were to subscribe to the more common meaning of “sacrifice,” I have no illusions about the ready availability of necessities like food, water, and shelter.  Even in the industrial west.

Pagan Piety Survey Answers

About this post, “BNPs” and pagan drama:

Well, I was all ready to post this.  Then Sannion declared that piety was going to be the next big pagan brouhaha.  And I was like, didn’t we just do that last month?  So I trashed it.

I love Sannion for the work he’s does for Dionysos, and because many of his poems and essays helped me immeasurably when I first encountered our God.  His projects are hit and miss with me – though I hardly think he has become the evil thing he’s being accused of.  (Hear that?  You need to try harder.)  I admit I enjoy watching him stir up shit, in a voyeuristic way – I’ve got a thing for internet drama and train wrecks.  It’s not something I’m proud of.  

(I actually can get behind this week’s stated purpose for the drama.  I wonder how I’ll feel about next week’s.  Sannion has begun to remind me more than a bit of the Joker explaining how he got his scars.)  

Apparently, though he’s gotten a bit under my skin this time.  And to hell with that.

So I thought WTF?!  And I restored it.  

So I emailed my responses to Elizabeth, but I figured I’d post them here (with some minor editing to accommodate this format.)  Since I’m asking you all to share, it seems only fair that you get to see what I had to say on the subject:

1. Name (real or “Craft name”)

– Agathi

3. Age, gender, geographic location (country, state/province, and/or city).

– 42, F, Northern California

4. How long have you been Pagan/polytheistic?

– 20+ years

5. What is your tradition (i.e. Wiccan, reconstructionist Heathen, eclectic, etc.)

– “Polytheist/pagan with strong Hellenic influence, valuing both the techniques of reconstructionism and personal inspiration ”  Or, just, “eclectic.”

6. Do you have any patron gods/goddesses or deities you are especially close to? If so, who are They?

– Dionysos

7. How do you define your own relationship(s) to the gods? For instance, do you view one or more of Them as your beloved or spouse, or are They more like parents to you? Do you consider Them friends, allies, mentors? All of the above? None of the above? How does this differ between various gods?

– All of the above?  None of the above?  The relationship is fluid.  I consider Them Gods.

Right now Dionysos seems a bit like the really cool kid I had a crush on in high school who occasionally deigned to notice me – but that says more about me than Him.  I’m hoping that relationship will continue to grow and change.  Or more like a really awesome teacher I have a crush on, who will inevitably end up getting fired by the administration for teaching the kiddies all the “wrong” things.

8. How do you define “piety” as it relates to Paganism/modern polytheism?

– Giving the Gods what They are due.  Actively practicing one’s faith.   Understanding one’s place in the relationship.

9. Do you find this to be a useful or relevant term concerning your own relationship with the gods? Is it relevant to Paganism/modern polytheism in general?

– I think piety is a relevant term for me.  I struggle to be more pious.  I think a lot of pagans find it irrelevant and that saddens me.

10. Is it possible to be pious without an established dogma or authority? Why or why not?

– I believe this is absolutely possible.  In the end my relationship with the Gods is between me and Them.  They are the authority.  They’ll let me know if I’ve gone astray.

11. Is there anything you consider impious (i.e. behavior, modes of worship)? Why?

– For me, personally, all the online fan-girly gushing about dates with Loki etc (to use a common example) strikes me as impious.  Not “Godspousery” (<- is that a word?) itself – that’s an intense form of devotion that I have great respect for – but those who act as if they are gossiping about their wonderful new boyfriend.  It makes me question the nature of the relationship, if it even exists at all.

But that’s me looking from the outside.  It would be impious for me to behave that way, but I freely admit I can’t know what their Gods ask of them.

12. Are you for or against the establishment and observance of rules about piety in your particular tradition and/or within Pagan/polytheist religion in general? Please explain your response.

– I don’t have a tradition, so I can’t answer the first part.

As for the second, absolutely against it.  Pagan/polytheist religion doesn’t exist.  Pagan and polytheistic religions are so diverse that to try to have one rule for all would be absurd.  I have no problem with the establishment of rules about piety or, you know, beard length or whatever, within individual traditions.

13. Further comments, thoughts, observances?

– I’m right in the middle of this debate.  On the one hand, I believe every individual’s relationship with their Gods is unique, so I try not to judge it from the outside.  On the other hand, some practices seem so absurd I simply cannot take them seriously.

I see something like Galina’s recent blog post about the elaborate meals she prepares as an offering to her Gods and I applaud her piety and devotion.  And yet I disagree with her demands that we all do the same.  We could all be more pious, yes.  But we are not all cut out to be priests and mystics and to dedicate the majority of our time and resources to religion.  Modern pagan and polytheistic religions need to have room in them for “lay pagans.”  They will never survive and grow otherwise.