Honoring a hunter


Great goddess Artemis,
mistress of all wild things,
know that Peregrine is one of your own
and receive him now into your care.

Hear how this fierce hunter
has made himself ready in your honor;
of his adventures and deeds and kills
more numerous than paws can count.

Many a day Peregrine roamed his lands
first in the shadow of matchless Myrlyn
before that one vanished in the night,
and then carrying on the legacy himself.

Mole and vole and mouse,
and the flying ones, too
knew fear and death
in grasp of barn-born paws.

Stalking seas of dry food,
a delicacy taken from him years past,
Peregrine found himself ensnared
farther from home than ever before.

You smiled upon him then,
keen-eyed Artemis,
and guided him home
to live out his days.

No scuffle with another
would stay him from the outdoors,
and though weather limited his time there,
rare was the day he never passed your shrine.

Ruling his pride,
training his humans,
running down his prey,
claiming his spot in the sun:

in these Peregrine has excelled,
leader of the hunt,
and as he transitions now,
those qualities he brings to you.

May he be accorded the honor he deserves,
the snuggles he desires,
the crunchy treats and catnip
and days by the roaring fire forevermore.

We can no longer care for him in this world.
May he be welcome full-throated in the next.

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Peregrine Ward (spring 2006-May 24, 2018)

When gods explode


I suspect I am a bit inattentive to signs.  If I were more sensitive to them, perhaps it would take one slightly less dramatic than exploding candles to get me to take notice.  I can’t say if the gods always give me plenty of chances to recognize when they’re telling me something, or if they’ve given me up as hopeless and thus go straight for the fireworks every time; all I can say for sure is that my wife had to vacuum up a big ol’ mess a couple of mornings ago after my Hestia candle exploded.

powThere are valid, technical reasons for what happened.  I prefer what are called seven-day candles, the ones that about a foot tall and encased in glass.  I can’t always find them locally and they’re expensive to ship, so I have taken to refilling the empties.  It’s a good deal, because I can add offerings directly into the wax while I’m at it.  However, I’m still pretty new at this, and I haven’t quite mastered the art (or found exactly the right hardware) to keep the wick centered all the way down, and during the pour.  About two inches from the bottom, this particular wick got way too close to the glass, and pow!

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On the other hand, when your hearth-goddess candle explodes, it’s probably best to consider other possibilities.  As it happens, I was overdue to celebrating my little festival of the lilies, which I had previously agreed to hold on the fifth of the month.  I’ve been watching them bloom, and having a deer visit the yard to eat them several times wasn’t enough for me to realize I should be getting on with offering these flowers to the gods.  Whoops.  Guess they’ve been working on more subtle signs for me after all.

2016-06-29 20.22.38.jpgThis year I’ve also been occupied by this cool new Hermes artifact, which I have been industriously oiling so that it can live outside in the four seasons as part of my shrine to him.  That’s going to have to be an annual thing, evocative of various rituals that involve washing and dressing of sacred statues.  Ergo, I’m going to be adding “oiling of the Hermes hunk [of iron]” to this festival of lilies.  That actually makes it more legitimately a festival, because I now have two different activities to perform over its course.  The oiling itself could take several days, although since this was the first time I can’t be certain what next year might bring.

2016-06-29 20.07.16In any case, the other day I went ahead and celebrated my little festival, which still deserves a nifty name.  I am completely supportive of we English speakers use English words when we name festivals and English words of description when we explore new epithets, but darn it, I want this to have a Greek name.  Since I can — so far as I know — accurately pronounce about six words in Greek and can read about half a dozen fewer than that, this dream may be one that is forestalled.  Noble Sannion was helpful in directing me to a lexicon, but until I find the time to learn how to pronounce all of the letters it’s not going to do me that much good.  I’m mostly resigned to the fact that I’m an expert in my native language and mostly ignorant of all others, but hey, specialization isn’t so bad, right, Hermes?

Over the rolling two-tenths of an acre upon which my home sits are a few outdoor shrines; in addition to the aforementioned Hermes one I maintain a space for Artemis and another for Poseidon Phytalmius, in addition to a general altar.  Inside are my main Hestia and Poseidon shrines.  I made offerings of wine, tiger lilies, and incense to all those gods as well as Zeus, Hera, Athene, Ares, Hephaistos, Aphrodite, Apollon, Dionysos, and Demeter.

Obviously — finally obviously — it becomes clear to me that offering these flowers, which are in bloom all over the Hudson Valley at this time of year, is pleasing to the gods, and that they have come to expect it.  This year, it marks a happy high point that will be followed about a week later with the Vigil for the Bulls, an observance for Poseidon Taureos created by Jolene Poseidonae that I will be performing for the first time this year.  I’m expecting it to be markedly less cheerful, but I can’t say much more beyond that until I’ve done it at least once.

In the meantime, I’m hoping that the gods don’t have to tear down my house to get my attention in the future.

First Submission to the Public Polytheistic Shrine Project


While I thought this was a cool idea from the get-go, I didn’t have the impetus to create a public shrine until one of my cats went missing. I prayed to Poseidon, Hermes, and Artemis for his safe return, and they all played a part him coming home. The offerings I made didn’t feel like enough, but then I remembered this project, and knew what I had to do. I took some wood scraps from a recent project around the house and brought them to a small park nearby. The spot I selected is more hidden than I expected, but I feared the someone stumbling on the shrine and losing eir footing in other locations.

For Hermes, who gave me the silver tongue I needed to find the right person to talk to, I offered some raffle tickets and an 8-sided die made of steel. To Artemis, who watches over the wild spirit of my cat that keeps him from accepting a life inside, I gave one of Alley Valkyrie’s bees. And for Poseidon, who kept me grounded so I would not give up, an assortment of shells and marine animal toys. Each of the gods also received offerings of water and barley.  Together, they made it possible for me not to repeat history.

I can’t wait to see pictures of other public shrines, and I kind of want to make more myself.

Gangleri's Grove

Today I received the first submission to the Public Polytheistic Shrine Project. ^__^ T.P. Ward sent me images of this shrine, made in thanks to Hermes, Artemis, and Poseidon. Thank you, T.P.

This was created in a public park near his home.

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Folks, if you are interested in joining this project (and i hope at least some of you are!), see the guidelines here.

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Acquainting with Artemis


I’ve become a bit of a deer hunter in recent year, if by “deer hunter” you mean “person who kills deer that leap in front of his vehicle.”  Or maybe my car has a thirst for Cervidae blood, and exudes pheromones that lure them in.  Although I have never been injured, it’s a painful experience, and one that I’d prefer to stop repeating.

A statue of the goddess Artemis, holding a bow and arrow and carrying a quiver, with a small deer behind her.
My statue of Artemis, repaired.

Perhaps two years ago a wise friend of mine suggested that there might be a lesson in these fatal collisions, and I listened.  I have focused on altering my behavior behind the wheel to minimize the chance of deer death:  it began with tearing my eyes away from even glancing at that stupid phone, but I have striven to become more cognizant of anything that took my attention from the road ahead, no matter how small.

Among those distractions, however, are things like looking in the mirrors behind, and the one or two seconds lost to such defensive driving techniques can prove fatal.  With no large predators (human or otherwise) culling their numbers in a meaningful way, driving mountain roads can always prove dangerous.  My own behavior can reduce the risks, but not eliminate them.

Over this same period of time, I have considered whether or not this is a not-so-subtle message from Artemis that I should be heeding something she’s trying to tell me.  This is not a goddess I have built much kharis with, so it seemed like it was worth a try to do something to please her.  I purchased a statue of the goddess and identified a place to put it, but my Artemis statue arrived broken, and I wasn’t sure what to do, so I seasoned my concern for awhile.

The Hellenic tradition I learned teaches that a particular deity may take an interest in your life for the span of a month, with divination being used to determine who that might be.  For the month of Poseideon, Hephaistos took the lead, which gave me the courage to fix my broken goddess.  My hands are not generally so nimble as to make delicate work such as that possible, but over the course of several days I made her whole.  First I straightened her golden arrow, then I replaced the fletching on the ones in her quiver.  The deer’s tail was restored, and lastly I placed the bow back in her hand.

Artemis’ day in the Athenian calendar was the sixth of the month, which will fall on January 7, more or less.  I will then make this statue a gift to her, and have a place to pour her libations.  May she never again see fit to put a deer in my path.

The broken goddess


There’s a tree in my yard, under which I started a moss garden when we first moved here a few years ago.  After I began practicing Hellenismos, I got the sense that this spot is sacred to Artemis, but other than an occasional libation, my tending did not change overmuch for quite some time.  This summer, though, I realized that one of the stones that I’d placed there was incredibly level on the top, and could support a statue, but nothing of more than about 12″ in height.

Finding a statue that small, which is made to withstand the elements, is no minor task.  I have trolled the series of tubes, I have asked in all the Hellenic groups in which I participate, I have posed careful questions to everyone I personally know who might collect such statuary.  There’s a cement caster not all that far from my home, one who uses traditional Italian methods, but he has no interest in adding more “classical” material to this repertoire.  Instead, he offered me a very nice Buddha.

Eventually I discovered a particularly reputable vendor online, and for once, the response to my simple question, “Can this be safely displayed outside?” was answered in the positive.  The shipping from Greece was more than the statue itself, but it was more than worth it.  The time waiting for its arrival was weeks, but that was not unexpected.

What was unexpected, though, was that the carefully-packed goddess had nevertheless sustained damage.  Her golden bow had been wrenched from her hand, and the golden arrow in the other was sadly bent.  The tail of her companion deer, as well as the fletchings from the arrows in the quiver upon her back, were broken off.

The seller behaved in a manner most professional:  I sent him pictures of the damage, he refunded the purchase price with shipping right away.  If anything, I am more likely to buy from him again than ever.

But what to do with my broken goddess?  My hands are not so skilled with tools and steady for fine work to make it likely I could restore it fully to its former glory.  And should I make the attempt, what adhesive might I use that could withstand the snow and rain of this outdoor shrine?  And perhaps more importantly, should I determine I cannot repair this statue, how should I best dispose of it?

Prayers and responses


Some things I learn the hard way.  Okay, lots of things.  Take the power of barley, for example.

A couple of days ago I went about happily blessing the old and new shrines and sacred spots in my yard.  I learned a new (to me, anyway) prayer for libations to the Greek gods, used with libations (translation in italics):

Khaire O Hermes. Eleibometha soi. I have poured a libation to you. Leipsometha soi. I do pour a libation to you. Leibometha soi. I will pour a libation to you. Kharin ekhomen soi. I give you thanks. Khaire!

I also used barley.  The grain can be used as an offering, but it can also be used to mark an offering for a particular god.  I sprinkled it on the altar, the upright stones, the moss gardens, and the houseplants I put out for the summer.

Christmas cactus, before it was offered up.

Alas and alack, the barley on my Christmas cactus marked it as an offering, rather than simply as sacred. The plant is enjoying its second summer outside, but never before did a deer think it a tasty snack.  It was significantly trimmed back, to say the least, and I will be more thoughtful about how I use barley in the future.  I think the cactus got the trim it probably needed, although it may disagree.  I certainly hope Artemis is pleased with the offering.

In other news, this morning I found my herm covered in centipedes.  One of the little guys was walking about with one of its fellows atop its back – is that still called piggyback?

Hermes is an interesting god, since he was still and solid long before he was fleet and nimble, but he retains the qualities of both.  I like having him around.