Dear Poseidon

Dear Poseidon,

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.

Take care,

What role does mystery play in your tradition?

If I’m not mistaken, the idea of mysteries comes from Hellenic tradition, so there’s that.  Some percentage of Hellenic Pagans have embraced mysteries ever since, right up until the present day.  The question is about my tradition, and that’s the answer.  I haven’t personally been initiated into any Hellenic mysteries, but there is something itching at the edge of my brain which may change that fact at some point.

This post is part of a series of devotional questions for polytheists which were developed by Galina Krasskova.

What offerings do you make in your tradition and why?

Hellenismos has a lot of information about the offerings that were made to the various gods in antiquity, and that in itself is a good enough reason to continue making some of the same ones.  Frankincense is an old favorite, and I toss a bit of barley to one god or another every day.  Giving a coin to a beggar is something I will turn my car around to do.

Some traditional offerings aren’t my style, though.  Like most modern folk, I have no plans to sacrifice an animal and burn a portion as an offering to the gods.  I’ve considered making a burnt offering of meat I sometimes purchase from a local farm, but it hasn’t happened yet.  I understand the reasons for doing it, and don’t find it less morally problematic than simply killing the animal for meat, but there’s a pretty steep learning curve to do it right, and I don’t feel compelled to make that climb.

The list of things that the Hellenes offered their gods is actually pretty long and detailed, but outside of the aforementioned items and some myrrh and wine from time to time, that’s most of what I take from it.  My other offerings fall into the category of unverified personal gnosis, or perhaps just reasoning out a few that seem right.

  • Grape juice.  I don’t drink much wine, so when I pour libations with it (after mixing it with water, of course) I still get lightheaded for a bit.  I also pour more libations in the morning, and wine doesn’t feel quite right, so I offer unfermented grape juice instead, like the Methodists do.  Since it’s reconstituted, I don’t feel the need to add water, either.
  • CoffeeI take coffee seriously, offering it brewed to Hestia Caffeina daily, as well as offerings of ground coffee to her seasonally.  For the past year or more I have also given Poseidon Soter a daily libation of coffee; he is savior of sailors and one well-known fictional sailor, Starbuck, gave his name to a coffee-shop chain because of his love of the stuff.  Coffee grounds (as opposed to ground coffee) is given to Cloacina, together with . . .
  • Mint, in season.  Cloacina is the Roman goddess of the sewer, and not much is known about her cult, so I added mint when it’s growing because who doesn’t like a refreshing whiff of mint?
  • Cookies.  I bake chocolate chip cookies for Noumenia, the beginning of the month.  I like them.  The gods accept them.  They bring smiles to everyone else who eats them, strengthening community.  Win all around.
  • IRA contributions.  The better off I am in retirement, the less of a burden I will place upon my descendants.  That allows them to carry traditions forward, which honors my ancestors.  Our present economic system demands poverty of senior citizens before helping them, and expects the costs of child rearing, elder care, and student loans to be borne by a single generation.  It’s a broken system, one which is the very opposite of community, but it’s what we’ve got.  This offering works within those confines.

Offerings are central to my practice.  Quite a bit of what I offer isn’t exactly traditional, but it all works in my relationship with the gods.  When they want more emphasis on old school offerings, they aren’t shy letting me know.

This post is part of a series of devotional questions for polytheists which were developed by Galina Krasskova.

What does it feel like when one receives inspiration from the divinities?

Like someone opened up my head and dropped something inside of it.  Like a light being turned on in a dark room that you didn’t realize was wired for electricity.  Like the feeling of seeing a jigsaw puzzle piece that fits.

I also get ideas, lots of ideas, more ideas of my own than inspiration from outside of myself.  And again, discerning one from the other is not always easy, but it’s also not always necessary.  There’s a distinction between good discernment and good judgment, but if you have the latter you won’t always need the former, because the stupid ideas will be tossed out without knowing that they weren’t inspired.

This post is part of a series of devotional questions for polytheists which were developed by Galina Krasskova.

What are some of the ways that you communicate with the divinities?

Finally, I get to a question that’s a bit easier to answer!  For me, communication is usually asynchronous; I talk to the gods at different times than they speak to me.  I perform devotions to one or more gods daily, which generally involve a libation and an offering of barley, sometimes include reciting a written prayer or hymn, and less frequently the lighting of a candle or an offering of incense.

Replies come in many forms:

  • Signs:  I have a friend who is very good at pointing out the ones I might otherwise miss, such as the eagle we spied last summer or a hawk perched outside of my kitchen window the other day.
  • Silence:  I have mentioned more than once that in the company of Quakers I have gotten messages; their practice creates an excellent environment for this sort of listening.
  • Water:  I receive insights, and assignments in the bathtub just often enough that I use the tub for my mind rather than my body.
  • Insight:  On rare occasion, I will have a full-blown message pop directly into my head while performing devotions.

As with any devotional or mystical path, the key is developing the discernment necessary to know the difference between a sign or message and the machinations of the universe.  I’m still working on that part.

This post is part of a series of devotional questions for polytheists which were developed by Galina Krasskova.