Message from Selene

When I was a young man, I looked up into the sky one night while walking my dog, and swore an oath to the moon.

I cannot say exactly what I swore, because I don’t recall. For many years — decades, actually — I didn’t even remember that I had taken such a step at all. I admired the moon, but somehow over the course of time I forgot just how much I had admired the moon in the moment.

July, 2016, it came back to me as she turned my world upside-down. On the occasion in question I was submerged in a bath, reading for the first time Lunessence, a Selene devotional anthology to which I had contributed a piece about her and Poseidon. I turned to the page on which my offering, “Waiting for Selene,” was at that moment first beheld on paper by my own eyes. I read it as if for the first time, drinking in the dynamic I tried to describe between the two deities.

[raptorzysko]

I hadn’t looked at this piece since I had submitted it some months before, and frankly, I was impressed. Sometimes, the words I put together seem like they must be coming from another place than my own mere mind, and this felt like one of those times. Yes, I was impressed, but perhaps being impressed with myself wasn’t exactly what the gods were looking for. That’s when they turned my world upside-down.

The hand doing the tilting, I felt, was definitely Poseidon’s. While she is the gentle-but-irresistible pull of the tides, his is the relentless force of plate tectonics. Looking at my feet extended to the other end of the tub, my brain demanded to know why they instead appeared to be extending up above my head. Kinesthetically I knew they were not, but the information being patched through my eyes disagreed. If the planet’s poles had been reversed without warning I would not have been more disoriented than I was in that moment.

All the while, I understood the physical cause of this sensation to some extent. I have a condition which can alter fluid pressure in my inner ear, resulting in an altered perception of up and down. This is the condition which had been triggered, and I was confident the switch had been flipped by divine hand as a less-than-subtle message. Surrounded by water, reading about the goddess of the celestial body which controls the tides, turning my understanding of gravity inside-out got my attention. In a world of sensory overload, the subtle and quiet does not always make an impression. Sitting in that tub, I had no choice but to pay attention. I could no longer even read.

It was during those moments of extreme disorientation that I recalled an oath, one I had sworn decades earlier, on a night when the moon was full and I was out walking the dog. Things fell into place. I had reneged because I had forgotten not to, and I probably forgot because I didn’t make the oath as specific as it needed to be. If I’d made it more specific I probably would have remembered making it at all, for one. It would have included specifics about what I was offering to give, and whether I was expecting anything in return. If I’d be really thinking, I would have established a time limit, even something as simple as my own mortal life. I could have put in a lot of detail, and that might have prompted me to write it down. Who knows?

Oaths are not for the weak. They are not for the shortsighted. Many Christians avoid them entirely and with good reason, as I found out: they tend to linger about, their power unabated yet unrealized. I wonder what other youthful oaths I swore, which have not yet risen into recollection? What consequences might I endure as I rediscover those promises? Should I engage in preemptive reparations? Is it better to wait until they make their wishes known? Divine hypothetical conjecture seems madness, but ignoring obligations doesn’t feel like much of an alternative.

End of the line

Nothing else interesting this way. Move along.

It was fun, but now it’s done.  Over the course of Maimakterion I wrote 33 hymns to Poseidon, including all the epithets I know were used for him in antiquity, several that I’ve been assured were or should have been used no matter what the limited records say, and a couple that I’m almost certain have not been uttered up until now.  I think this assignment was only to prepare me for two successive months of Poseideon, but as I write this I don’t know what is expected of me.  I don’t expect further daily demands upon my blog, but I haven’t actually asked yet.  (Divination might work, but I’m also a Quaker, and weekly worship is often where I get my messages.)

The product of this month’s work won’t be restricted to my blogging, though.  Astute readers may note that I have only posted 29 hymns here, but claim to have written 33.  (There’s also a bit of prose that came out, and I’m really excited it did, but even though I know what it’s trying to say, I barely understand it; clearly, it needs a wee bit of polish.)  I do intend on submitting the original 29 for consideration for inclusion in From the Roaring Deep.  I was excited when I learned about this anthology months ago, thinking it would make a good read, then I put it out of my mind.  A few days into my hymn-marathon it was again brought to my attention, and the fact that it opened for submissions during this month was not lost on me — I can be dense, but sometimes a sign is pretty clear.  Beyond that, I know I have more writing to do, because no matter what gets included in that worthy tome, I intend on putting out a collection of my own, one that will include the four I haven’t shown to anyone yet.

Once that book is published, I’m permitted to take on an additional name to mark that offering.

Being a simple guy, I’ve been stunned by the amount of interest and support this work has received.  I’ve seen over 60 hits on this blog some days, and a couple of my posts have nearly 10 comments!  (Seriously, it doesn’t take much to please me.)  Some people have given me particular support that is worthy of public gratitude.  They are:

  • My wife, who I am not naming just because I haven’t ever asked her if I could do that here.  She’s the one who first pointed out that I had a problem with Poseidon, even though she may not think that’s what she was doing, and despite being on a different path, her unwavering support of my religious life makes it all possible.
  • Sannion, the first person who called me on the fact that I really never talked about Poseidon.
  • My priest Timotheos, who pointed that that Poseidon also had noticed.
  • Jolene Poseidonae, who has been an enthusiastic cheerleader and constant inspiration.

The fact that I was experiencing a lot of repressed anger is less interesting to me than the assignment I was given to work on that:  write about him to learn about him, I was told.  I don’t [yet] think that my questions have been answered (except for that one Sannion got an answer to via divination; for some reason I never got the email and ultimately I decided I didn’t want it, not that way), but I now have some tools to help me ask better questions.

Conversomancy

20140715-130022-46822305.jpg
This is a fairly narrow form of divination. On your birthday, prepare a question in your mind. Prepare two rough-torn squares of brown paper and place each in a different color Chuck Taylor. Designate one shoe for yes and the other for no, and wear them throughout the day.

When you remove them, do a pencil rubbing on each piece of paper and interpret the results.

Bathtub assignment: ancestor offering

It’s not like WE are going to change your bed pan, sonny!

Today I celebrated the Deipnon, like many of my co-religionists.  This is the day that I make offerings to Hekate, and to my ancestors.  And this morning, I was pleased to get one of those submerged personal gnoses which I like to call bathtub assignments, those glorious epiphanies that come when there isn’t anything in reach with which to record it.  Well, I’m not complaining.  They could pop up in the shower, for one thing, and they could pop up not at all, which would be quite sucky.

So today my assignment was to up my offerings to the ancestors with . . . an IRA contribution.  Apparently, olive oil and Scotch just aren’t enough anymore; it’s high time I get back on the retirement-planning wagon before I become a burden upon my own descendant.  (That’s right, just one, and his attention is sure to be divided among his four parents, nce we all reach our dotage.)  My ancestors remember who I have been, sometimes better than I do myself.

I had an aggressive savings strategy ten years ago, when I was miserable in my work but earning a lot doing it.  So much so that I was able to leave that job and coast for awhile as I pursued business opportunities (and yes, if you think you know what “business opportunity” is code for, you’re probably right).  I transformed my robust IRA into a down payment on a house, and have no regrets, but the message was clear:  it’s time to get into the habit again.

This is going to be a slow restart.  I only contributed a buck this month, but I plan on increasing that amount each Deipnon going forward, until I either reach the maximum annual contribution ($5,500 this year) or I risk running out of gas money.  But if I can contribute a dollar to an IRA, so can anyone else who has earned income this year (or plans on it).  Start small, it pays off.

Bathtub assignment: a new festival for Hermes

I’m sure there’s a reason I get ideas while sitting in the tub, unable to write them down.  Maybe it’s because if I were driving I might try to write them down, which surely wouldn’t end well.  This week I got the idea to

celebrate the secular holiday season with a festival to one of my favorite aspects of Hermes, Agaraios, which effectively means “of the marketplace.”  Let the fun begin.

The festival is going be held in early December (specifically the 4th of Poseideon, because the fourth day of the month is sacred to Hermes; my calculations are not always successful but I think that falls on December 6), and serve as an opening of the marketplace for the madcapitalist mayhem which traditionally ensues for the various holidays that a friend of mine has chosen to replace with something she calls “Giftmas.”

What I can say for sure is that I’ve no real experience creating a festival for a god — the only other one I have invented is agricultural, an unnamed festival of lilies in the summer.  I would be interested in knowing how others structure their day when they create solo festivals.  I know what sorts of things I want to do, though:

  • Buy a gift for each person in my immediate sphere, even if it’s a small one.
  • Give away our offering jar to a family I have identified; we’ve been filling this jar with cash all year for this purpose.  (I put money in whenever I experience a stroke of luck, on Wednesdays, the fourth of the month, and whenever else the mood strikes me.)
  • Make some kind of meal.
There will also be purification, tossing of barley, libations, frankincense, offerings of coins . . . more of my usual offerings.
I am not nervous about this, but I am excited.  I think that giving away a bunch of money to an unsuspecting family will get me in the mood for the holidays, which in the past have sometimes felt very empty because it was someone else’s holidays.  Yule was okay, but it never felt quite the same.  Perhaps starting off the season with my own take on Hermaia Agoraia will help that.

Bathtub assignment: coin divination

A bathtub assignment is a task that pops into one’s head fully formed while one is in the tub, shower, walking a balance beam, speed skating, or otherwise unable to write it down.  Today I got a pretty complex one requiring me to do a lot of coin divination, all because I want to review a book.

The book is Coin Divination: Pocket Fortuneteller by the inimitable Raymond Buckland.  I was excited to find a book that spoke more broadly about divination with coins than the I-Ching alone, but for various reasons, I found myself disappointed with it.  I thought to review the book for Dirty Money, where I blog about Pagans and money, but I’m hesitant to give an unfavorable review unless I know what I’m talking about.

So I’m going to start practicing coin divination.  It’s the reason I bought the book in the first place, and I’ve been selecting coins for my set for over a year.  I have grandiose plans of embroidering a cloth with a design that could be used for a variety of throwing methods, which in itself belies my feeling of disappointment from the book, but I want to start simply and work myself into a frenzy over months or years; slow magic, if you will.

To start, I’m going to add divination to my morning routine, starting tomorrow, so I can get in some practice.  This is going to be a problem, because I never know what to ask; my approach has always been more Foolish than insightful, Epimethean rather than Promethean in its scope.  I might just come up with a list of questions based on the method to be used; for example, if I am just going to flip a coin, I could ask, “Will I have more cash in my pocket at the end of the day than I do now?”

In a few weeks, I’ll start taking requests, because by then I will 1) have some practice at interpreting the throws and 2) will probably have gotten over the I-hate-asking-questions thing, and there comes a time when you can’t get any better reading for yourself.  And accountability and accounting come from the same root, so if I’m interested in the mysteries of money, I ought to be willing to make an accounting of my path.

I’m thinking of announcing that divination requests are open at my Tumblr, True Pagan Warrior.  It’s a little-used social medium for me, one that has a built-in “ask” feature that I might use for taking the questions.  I can either post my reply publicly or send it as a message back to the recipient.  My Tumblr following is only a dozen as of this writing; perhaps giving it a niche role in my life will help build that.  It won’t be seen here, but everything I post ends up on Facebook.