I probably shouldn’t have offered cookies

Quite a few months ago I provided this update on the litanies to many gods challenge.  Perhaps only the four entrants and myself have noticed nary a peep from me since on the subject, but it’s been on my mind.

Turns out there are indeed many gods.  I knew I’d get some entries which included deities to whom I do not pay cult, and likely some with which I am entirely unfamiliar, but I wasn’t expecting that more than half of them would be unknown.  I also wasn’t expecting that the prospect of writing prayers for them would be intimidating.

In Hellenic tradition, foreign gods are honored in Hellenic fashion: purification, procession, offerings of barley and other things appropriate, hymns.  That’s what I was prepared to do, but the sheer percentage of foreign deities (mostly Kemetic) gives me pause.  My ancestors would have syncretized without a second thought, but I live in a time when cultural appropriation is a topic of conversation.

While I don’t think gods can be appropriated without their consent, but prayers also have a human audience, and some of those humans might feel otherwise.  What can certainly be appropriated are religious practices, which is why I am hesitant to simply research traditional forms of prayer to these deities.  Possibly none of this was an issue when the world was fluidly polytheistic, but that’s not the world in which I live.

All these thoughts have resulted in a spiritual stop on choosing a winner.  Maybe I should just mail some cookies to all the entrants and be done with it.  the project concept has also evolved in the ensuing months, and I am excited with what is taking shape.

Feedback on my misgivings is welcome.

Updates on my many gods project

The summer solstice, deadline for litanies to many gods, slipped by without me being able to acknowledge it.  I had just returned from Free Spirit Gathering, for one, and it always takes me a few days to settle back into a routine after a trip.  This is also a busy time of year for me ritually, with an ancestor pilgrimage and the festival of lilies, and the Vigil for the Bulls coming up; why I selected this particular due date is beyond me.

litany-300x235Nevertheless, the submission period is now closed.  There was a flurry of submissions at the beginning, and quickly realized how bloody much work I have bitten off.  I am going to have to write a prayer for each of the gods named, and for some of them that’s going to require education.

What needs to be done soon is the selection of a winner.  I have a post half-written about the divination systems I use and what I might do to determine which of them to use to divine that winner, but it’s languished for over the month for want of my attention.  Since time is the overall theme here, my plan is to take the time to go to meeting for worship and open myself to the gods for an answer.  It’s the most direct form of divination out there.

For my many gods

Follower of gods and friend of mortals
let this work be shared with you and by you,
for as offering to the deathless ones
I pray it shall ever more delight their ears.

Begin always with Hestia,
first among those who dwell on high,
who walks as one with or beside
the wakeful Caffeina, bringing the gods to mind.

Remember too life-bearing Gaia and expansive Ouranos,
who began many things, and Eos, who greets the day,
the good spirit of the home
and any whose oaths expect it.
In this way let all beginnings be begun.

Honor thundering Zeus,
his brothers both kindly and implacable
Hera in whose eyes all love abounds
as well as fruitful, questing Demeter,
for in this way are the six remembered.

Forget not to honor the sire Kronos
from who seed those strong ones sprang
and beloved mother Rhea, who loves her children.
Offer as well to their holy kin:
Hekate, who walks all paths,
all-seeing Helios and dynamic Selene,
broad-shouldered Atlas, Themis the just,
and their brethren, known and unknown.

To high Olympos cast your thoughts
and lift your voice thereto.
Cast praises before foam-clad Aphrodite,
brothers Hephaistos and Ares, whose hands
differ in their tasks and from the craft
of aegis-bearing Athene. To Dionysos, wine,
and grant the twins their due lest truth
be turned to unwelcome purpose.
Whisper too sweet words in the good god’s ear
and know he will bear them to all.

The world is full of gods, good friend,
and to these too make offerings just.
The wild god, the healing son,
the cleansing and purifying holy ones.
Life-affirming Eros, laboring Ponos,
Ploutos who blesses without judgement,
the god of each river crossed or drawn from,
as well as Kairos, in his due time.

Be they daimones or deities,
honor spirits of place, and know your own.
Celebrate neighborhood nymphs,
spirits of home and health,
and that ancient one who calls cannabis home;
mint of the path, stream in the park,
Nikthing who guides through light and through dark.

Remember too those foreign gods who bear
prosperity close to home: Buddha and Hotei,
in their own way. The dead are countless and too often unnamed
but honor the ancestors:
those of blood,
those of spirit,
and all the priests who ever paid honor
to the deathless gods.

If not forsworn to acknowledge the past
then honor again the gods that thou hast:
the eponymous ones, Goddess and God,
the horned one, the Green Man,
the traveler unshod.

Honor the gods, good friend,
not because of what they may bring
— though their blessings are without end —
but because they are the gods
and no other reason is required.


Herein is the hymn to my many gods. Will you write one as well? Submissions close June 21, 2017.

For the many gods: a reader challenge

I posted to Mousaios the other day for a reason.  When the head of my temple read that prayer during my ritual of ordination, it was unfamiliar to some of us, and one of my (now) fellow temple priests said that he could write one that includes more of the gods than even that stupendous litany, and perhaps do a better job organizing it as well.  I will not say that more gods are necessarily better, but I do recognize that there are some among the theoi whom I honor and are not included.

Let us then seek to honor the many gods.

What I ask of you, dear reader, is to write a litany that praises your many gods.  Include only those deities to whom you have ever made offerings, and try to include each and every one of them.  It is my intention to do the same, but it will take time to go through my book of offerings to identify them all.  If you don’t like the Orphic style, another format is used in Devotion: Prayers to the Gods of the Greeks.

This is a contest, and there will be a book involved.  The winning entry — which will be selected using a method that will be determined by a form a divination that itself will be determined at a time and place yet to be determined — will earn its author either a signed copy of my first book, Depth of Praise, or a batch of my home-baked Noumenia cookies.

In addition, that entry and others that I select will become part of the book I’m planning.  Credit will be given, as well as a copy of that book to anyone who gets into it; your entry in this contest presumes that you are granting a non-exclusive license for me to do so.  Those litanies will be used to anchor hymns I will write praising many gods individually; I intend on writing one for each god named in the contributions.

Fervently I hope that this will be a tremendous amount of work.

Email them to terence@terencepward.com, include them in the comments, or send me a link to where it’s published (trackbacks count).  You have until the summer solstice of 2017.