I have given money to support people attending this important conference already, but if I can scrape up some more, I will make an offering to Dionysos by helping the Bakcheion team get there. Maybe even if I can’t.
Roughly a decade ago, maybe longer, my friend Krei S. started the “public altar project.” With this project she encouraged Pagans, Heathens, and Polytheists of all stripes to create shrines – temporary, ephemeral, often with found objects – in public places for the Gods. This project ran for a few years and then, due to a number of circumstances, fell by the way side. I had participated in it three times, first with a shrine to Holda erected in Berlin, then one that I did with my adopted mom to Ran, Aegir, and Their Nine Daughters erected on the beach at Big Sur, and finally a shrine to Eir at the base of a tree in a NYC park. I hadn’t thought about the project in years, until last week while on my artist’s residency.
During the residency, each artist had to give a brief presentation on his or her…
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What a fun idea!
I haven’t been posting much the past two weeks because I’ve been on an artists’ residency in Taos. It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve met some wonderful people, made new friends, sold some of my art, and best of all, I’m coming home with my head full of new techniques to try in my art. One of the things that I”ve learned is about a whimsical type of art referred to as ‘mail art.’
The first time I heard it spoken of, I thought it was ‘male’ not ‘mail’ and got all excited. lol. It is not however, pictures of men. (Sorry, ladies!). It’s pieces of art sent right through the mail. One takes a post card size (or slightly bigger — the woman who told me about it, an amazing artist from the UK—said she once sent one size A4, which is bigger than standard US paper size) piece…
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This whole Nepal thing has really been eating at me. I feel like I understand, and yet I don’t. These people, clinging to life on the sides of mountains, surely have enough challenges without the touch of Ennosigaios to wipe nearly everything they know from the face of the earth.
Science makes clear what living on the slopes of the Himalayas brings with it. Nepal’s earthquakes are some of the most regular tectonic disruptions known. So regular, in fact, that I expect the eldest Nepalese remember a time, when they were young children, that the otherwise solid rock beneath their feet shook like curtains and rippled like water. The sharpest among them might even recall that their own grandparents and wizened elders told tale of the time when this happened when they were young children, skipping two and three generations, but never so many that none living could recall that earthquakes are nothing new. This greatest of mountain ranges is built upon plate tectonics, as India dives down beneath Asia, and such majesty does not arise without violence. In a way, the Nepalese are blessed like no other people, because they at least have a sense of when the inevitable shall occur. No one in California can say that.
Widespread disaster never seems to touch our shores. The worst losses of life in my country have always been created by us, not the gods. In the United States, we have the knowledge and resources to prevent so many of the deaths once caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods . . . and yet countless thousands die in Ares’ name, or by human folly. Passion drives us to create more powerful weapons, more effective medicines, more troubling food systems, more potable water, more disconnection from the gods, and simultaneously more skepticism for the science that was supposed to replace them. I live in a great bubble, Basileus my king, that tries to muffle your influence but creates new forms of suffering to balance accounts. My life is nothing like that of a Nepalese family living high in mountain village that can only be reached by a thin ribbon of road, or perhaps a helicopter if one is available. Their struggles are not my struggles. The amount of money I make, the amount that sometimes keeps me awake at night worrying what the future might bring, is still more in most weeks than many Nepali workers earn in a year. Sheltered by industry and empire, even if I am ever in the crosshairs of your rage, Labrandeus, my life will still materially rebound much, much faster than it will over there. Part of me wonders if the people of Nepal haven’t been kicked in the teeth, either for no reason, for because they deserved it for reasons I cannot fathom.
Death by landslide or cholera or malnutrition is not all that face the people of Nepal. As unwelcome as their suffering surely is, this quake is the sort of disaster that can bring humanity together, because its onset was sudden, its victims blameless, and its destruction is being relayed around the world. Whatever money is pooled to aid the Nepalese may or may not be enough to rebuild what was lost, but it’s arriving much faster than did relief for Ebola. Stories of aid supplies backlogged and not arriving in the remote villages where they are desperately needed is still better than stories of people dying because no help has been sent at all. Managing the logistics of compassion is worthy work, and I cannot help but believe that each attempt to work together on missions of aid elevates our entire species. Humanity’s spirit needs opportunities for elevation, but we are probably missing a lot of them. Are we so deep in our ruts that thousands of people need to die in a distant land before we are shaken out of our complacency, Ennosigaios? And why did you choose Nepal to set your clock by?
You are god of sudden change, Poseidon, and it can take a long time to learn the lessons that you unexpectedly bestow. May you grant at least the full eighty years to allow this one to sink in.
Thinking of you always,
I got your message today. You obviously asked Hermes to deliver it, because it arrived when I was driving. That he’s all about travel and pranks, as well as communication, makes giving me a message when I can’t so much as write it down make a lot of sense. I’m not so sure about the ones that pop up when I’m in the shower, or otherwise indisposed, but that’s all part of the mystery, isn’t it?
Anyway, the message, “You should compile a book of your letters to me,” presumes that I’ve been writing letters to you in the first place, which I’m sure you know I have not. I have to commend you on your hints, then: I think you’re starting to realize how useless subtle is around me. Lots of people are really good at recognizing signs and interpreting their meanings, but that first step is a pretty big sticking point for me. I can’t interpret what I never notice. I definitely notice that you think I should be writing letters, so here you go. I hope I do better than when I was sending mail home from college, but I’m not swearing any oaths about keeping this up, okay? I don’t make promises I don’t know I will keep.
Writing letters is a pretty good idea, though. I have so many questions for you, and I’m probably not the only one. I know people who get into conversations with their gods — you included — but that’s not how it works between you and I, is it? I hear from you when you deem the time is right, and by way of whatever means you consider appropriate. Your messages come through dreams, divination, and dropped right into my head, and it’s not lost on me that discernment is pretty important for all three. After all, I dream dreams that don’t come from you, most of my divination probably isn’t your doing, and sorting out the thoughts which didn’t start out in my cranium takes practice. No doubt you’re trying to train me to notice you when you’re subtle, too, by mixing it up. If I just write to you, though, I can control my message as much as you do yours. We might have to work on delivery methods, but even writing down words forces my thoughts to clarify. Well played.
This is just a short note, to let you know I got the message, and I’m on it. If I remember, I have a lot of questions about what’s going on in Nepal and the Mediterranean. There’s also a question of possession that I need to broach with you. I have to go now to write for The Man, but I’ll be getting back to you soon.
Very excited to hear the Dver is formalizing her awesome skills into a business, one which I have every intention of patronizing. In fact, it’s already in process.
I got the first draft of From the Roaring Deep to review yesterday. It’s quite a rush to see one’s work alongside that of very talented people. Maybe it’s that format, but when I reviewed my work, I had the reaction of thinking, “wow, I wrote that?” None of my submissions to that anthology will be new to my small readership, but it really is a rush to see it in such a prestigious collection. Humbling, too.
That sense of excitement moves me to announce that I am collecting all of my devotional writings for Poseidon into a book, to be called Depth of Praise. The project is moving along swimmingly; I’ve secured the services of a designer and paid for cover art. The only delay is the writing. I had thought the 29 pieces I wrote initially would be sufficient, but Poseidon has inspired me to continue adding to the work. Therefore, this is a bit of a tease, but I promise more updates as they are warranted.