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.

Peregrine at rest 20160216.jpg

Peregrine Ward (spring 2006-May 24, 2018)

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.

Instruction

Orpheus to Mousaios
translated by Athanassakis

raffaello_concilio_degli_dei_02

Friend, use it to good fortune
Learn now, Mousaios, a rite mystic and most holy;
A prayer which surely excels all others.
Kind Zeus and Gaia, heavenly and pure flames of the Sun,
Sacred light of the Moon  and all the Stars;
Poseidon too, dark-maned holder of the earth,
Pure Persephone and Demeter of the splendid fruit,
Artemis, the arrow-pouring maiden,
And kindly Phoibos, who dwells on the sacred ground of Delphoi.
And Dionysos, the dancer, whose honors among the blessed gods are the highest.
Strong-spirited Ares, holy and mighty Hephaistos,
And the goddess foam-born to whose lot fell sublime gifts;
And you, divinity excellent, who is king of the Underworld.
I call upon Hebe, and Eileithyia, and the noble ardor of Herakles,
The great blessings of Justice and Piety,
The glorious Nymphs and Pan the greatest,
And upon Hera, buxom wife of aegis-bearing Zeus.
I also call upon lovely Mnemosyne and the holy Muses, all nine,
As well as upon the Graces, the Seasons, the Year;
Fair-tressed Leto, divine and revered Dione,
The armed Kouretes, the Korybantes, the Kubeiroi,
Great saviors, Zeus’ ageless scion,
The Idaian gods, and upon Hermes, messenger and herald of those in heaven;
Upon Themis too, diviner of men I call,
And on Night, oldest of all, and light-bringing Day:
Then upon Faith, Dike, blameless Thesmodoteira,
Rhea, Kronos, dark-dwelling Tethys,
The great Okeanos together with his daughters,
The might of preeminent Atlas and Aion,
Chronos the ever-flowing, the splendid water of the Styx,
All these gentle gods and also Pronoia,
And the holy Daimon as well as the one baneful to mortals;
Then upon the divinities dwelling in heaven, air, water,
On earth, under the earth  and in the fiery element.
Ino, Leukothea, Palaimon giver of bliss,
Sweet-speaking Nike, queenly Adresteia,
The great king Asklepios who grants soothing,
The battle-stirring maiden Pallas, all the Winds,
Thunder, and the parts of the four-pillared Cosmos.
And I invoke the Mother of the immortals, Attis and Men,
And the goddess Ourania, immortal and holy Adonis, beginning and end, too
Which is the most important,
And ask them to come in a spirit of joyous mercy
To this holy rite and libation of reverence.

Depth of Praise is now published

Depth_of_Praise_Cover_for_KindleIt is done.  With the click of a mouse, my first book is released to the world.  Depth of Praise is now available via CreateSpace, and this Poseidon devotional will be available via Amazon.com in 3-5 business days.  It is not, and never will be, available in any electronic form.

My Kickstarter backers were advised earlier today about this good news; even now, copies of this book are being prepared and rushed to my door so that I may fulfill their many expectations.  These good people waited far, far longer than I expected that they would, and that was my fault.  I did not fully understand the process of working with an illustrator, and believed I had built enough wiggle room into my estimates.  We live and learn.

As I noted above, there are no plans to offer any electronic versions of this work.  I have seen far too many books by Pagan authors available for unauthorized free downloads around the internet, and I do not wish to chase down violators on my lonesome.  However, that surely makes these autographed copies of Depth of Praise all the more valuable.

It pleases me to no end that I have completed this important task for my patron only days before the retreat at which I hope to become his priest.

My personal practice: epithets

When I look back at how terrified I was to get things wrong as I attempted to honor the theoi, particularly around the use of ancient Greek, I’m amazed that I didn’t simply smile and decide that this path wasn’t for me.  I did before, when I was invited to join a group of people who aspired to Druidry and ADF membership.  Yes, I’ve probably got more Irish blood in my veins than anything else but no, I didn’t have any interest in wrestling with Gaelic or whatever language it was that I’d have to master.  I’m good at one language, and I don’t believe for one second that specialization is for insects; in fact, I think it’s one of the great strengths of humanity to be able to specialize.

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Der Narr und die Närrin.

Long before I ever thought about Hellenic gods, I was a fool, and I still take the job very seriously.  I’ve assumed the office of jester in a coven, inducted people into the mysteries of Bill the Cat, and tales of what transpires when I draw down the Lord of Misrule are recounted years after the fact.  Being a fool is to master the art of applied ignorance, and I always considered Socrates to be my role model in that regard.  (Yes, writing this makes me realize I probably should be paying him hero cult, but I don’t wish to get ahead of myself.  Baby steps.)  One step that I took in my Hellenic education would be considered quite foolish to some of my co-religionists:  I joined Tumblr.

Here’s another thing I’ve learned by being a fool:  you can’t consider the source.  More specifically, there is no value in dismissing a source because they happen to use a lot of profanity, or they were born in this century, or even because they got started in their religion because of some guy’s books.  If I considered the source, I would never have found a particular blog on Tumblr, written by a particularly potty-mouthed someone who clearly reveled in blog-battle.  As it happens, one of that really nasty blogger’s posts laid out the structure of a basic Hellenic ritual in a way that, for some reason, clicked with me.  I was probably at close to two years of formal instruction by this point, but the presentation spoke to me in a new and important way.  I can’t find the post, and frankly I’d rather not link to it anyway because there’s no need to invite trouble, but it got me thinking about epithets.

It was the notion of calling a god by many epithets, “or whichever name you wish to be known by,” that got my gears grinding and enabled me to level up.  This is something I can anchor in time, because I distinctly recall that when I attended the Polytheist Leadership Conference, I was proud that I had memorized seven for Poseidon.  It took a few weeks to commit all of those to memory, and to be honest I’m still not convinced I’m pronouncing most of them correctly.  Still, that was the beginning of a process which has exploded for me.

Poseidon, by Grace Palmer

Poseidon, by Grace Palmer

Honestly, I would have been quite content calling Poseidon by seven epithets important to me, reading a simple hymn of my own creation, offering barley and a libation of coffee.  Longtime readers may recall that I was challenged — from several sources — about whether I was doing enough for him, and that ultimately he assigned me the task of writing hymns for each of those epithets, and a whole lot more besides.  Those hymns are the core of my book Depth of Praise, promised for well over a year but finally in the design phase.  That’s exciting in and of itself, but I expected that my daily practice would calm down after I wasn’t writing something new every day.  The creation time did fall away, but somewhere along the line the number of epithets that are part of my standard practice ballooned to 29 different titles.

That means that over the course of roughly five years, I went from making a fixed number of offerings to one god in return for a favor, to layers upon layer of daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal practice.  There is no question in my mind that I could not have and would not have started on this path if I was told that this would be expected of me down the road.  He who shakes the earth also knows how to move the ground with an imperceptible slowness, allowing me to feel like it was no change at all.

The task for me, and for anyone with a few years of practice, is to see one’s own practice through the eyes of a neophyte, and understand that this is not where anyone should begin.  Even if they take on a multilayered calendar of offerings with zeal, they are likely to burn out.  Even more common is what I decided about the Druids:  “Thanks, but no thanks.”  Who knows what opportunities I missed?  Who knows how many doors I might close to someone simply by showing them what I do on a regular basis?

By the word of Hermes, I will lie and deceive to avoid scaring a seeker.  I will hide my practice and reveal my knowledge only when it requested, and then in appropriate measure.

By the word of Apollon, I will try to recognize how much truth a seeker is ready to know, so I dole it out at a pace the gods decree, rather than let my passion and excitement trample over the curiosity of another.

By the word of Poseidon, I will root myself in the patience of the tectonic plates themselves, and trust that it is through me, and not from me, that wisdom may flow.

There is more to tell about my personal practice, but it’s mostly frills and shiny things.  Stay tuned.

Hymn to Ploutos

Ploutos, god of wealth and abundance
Giver of largess indiscriminately
Blinded by Zeus so thy favors would rain
On the good and some who lived not virtuously

Conceived in the thrice-plowed field you were
Born of Demeter, goddess of grain
Master of riches brought forth of the earth
And those shining things which ‘neath still remain.

Your eyes ever-darkened
You instead strain to hear
The hymns which do hearken
To your waiting ear.

Scion of Iasion
Cornucopia held high
This hymn now I offer
A votive not for your eye.

— by Terentios Poseidonides, 2012