Oracle for one


I have noted before that I have pulled back on ritual work for the moment, something which Apollon this month confirmed through divination is still appropriate by saying, “Stay, friend.”  In practice this means I stick with what’s daily and have laid down weekly and monthly work, including many of my priestly duties.

Poseidon and chariot

My oracular work remains, and during my preparations yesterday I was told, “Bring an extra index card with you.”  These are the cards on which I transcribe the questions ahead of time, and write down the responses during the session.  For this one I had no question.

When my ritual engine is running on all cylinders, my weekly time in the temple space with Poseidon nearly always results in something to be written down.  I have pages and pages of words which have come just from being in his presence.  Most often it’s just a sentence, something which might be found in a fortune cookie if one were to frequent a Chinese restaurant with an Hellenic bent.  Other times, including but not limited to during the Vigil for the Bulls, I’ve received full hymns and even insight into mysteries I’ve never seen referenced in ancient texts.

I could feel his presence more closely than ever before, and the period after each answer was delivered was quite long as I basked in his company.  When he bid me pick up the final card — the blank one — it was to give me a gift such as he is wont to in the temple.  As it happens, in the back of my mind I have been pondering if the end of my time as a pagan journalist might be better used as the beginning of a period teaching sacred journalism, a way to seek and reveal truth.  This has been nought but a notion, no more solid than the diaphanous garments I always find for sale at festivals when I am looking for something to warm my bones.  Poseidon warmed my bones by offering some ideas as to the tenets for initiating others into such a path.

What’s curious is that Poseidon isn’t personally vested in sacred journalism.  He gave me this because he misses me, and wanted me to know it.  I miss him, too, and I am grateful that even in the dark and the silence he is present.  I may not be able to bear as much of his immortal self at the moment, but he desires me whole and is patient with the process.

Soon, the temple will be open again.  Never doubt the gods are with you, friends, even when you have pulled away or they seem to have withdrawn.  The gods are undying and unfailing.  The gods make us whole when we are broken or near to breaking.  The gods complete the universe.

Glimpse into my oracular process


I’ve been serving as an oracle of Poseidon since July, and recently a colleague asked me about my process.  There is little which is certain about how such rituals were performed in antiquity; regardless, even if it’s how it happened at Delphi, I’m not planning on inhaling volcanic vapors anytime soon.

Delphi is a location associated with Poseidon, largely before the Apollonian period.  The Pythia needed protection as much as Troy did, and I am of the mind that there is more to the relationship between these gods than the scant myths suggest.  In any case, my work is done in the shadow of an ancient tradition.

I cannot say why it’s the case, but Poseidon did not send me to the books or demand I master ancient Greek to serve as manteis.  I have engaged in ritual possession and deep contact before I walked the Hellenic path, which has helped me gain the discernment to recognize what’s my own voice, and what is not.  That being the case, my training in one sense began close to 30 years ago.  To refine what he needed of me, however, Poseidon sent me to become a Quaker.  What’s relevant of what I have learned as a member of that community is the technique of expectant listening.

On the morning of an oracular session I begin with my usual offerings, then enter the space which my wife is kind enough to allow me to use for this work.  I review the questions for the first time, and transcribe them onto index cards.  I light incense, pour a libation, and settle into worship.  I sometimes use a mild entheogen if I am led to.  Whether I wear my wreath or not varies; my the tradition followed in Temenos Oikidios it is not use in chthonic rites, and sometimes that’s what is asked of me.  Poseidon is a god who stands between, and brings me his word in the manner which suits him that month.

While my Quaker friends may not use this language, I descend into a trance.  They might say I open myself to spirit, which is certainly true.  I use the silence in the manner some use drums or chanting.  As with any spiritual journey, it can take some time to unload the mental clutter and begin the actual work, but when he and I are in harmony, I reach for the first question.

Invariably I have some anxiety when transcribing these questions.  People ask very important things, life-altering things, and I get clutched by a worry that I will lead them astray.  When I pick up that first question in ritual space, however, none of that is present.  I see the question through his eyes, or maybe he sees it through mine.  Sitting before the antique writing desk in the library, my hand reaches for the pen and a response is provided.  Watching it unfold, it seems simple enough.  Just pick up the pen, and write down an answer.

What seems simple takes most of my morning, though, even when there are few questions to address.  In any case, I don’t make appointments for that day to do anything but this work.  It’s something for which I have been trained as long as I have been Pagan, and the fact that this is also simply training for what he asks of me next is both daunting and exciting.

It is an honor to serve.

Oracle of the bull


We are nearly at the beginning of the year per the old Athenian calendar, and that signals a new period of service to the community for me.  Monthly in the coming year I will be acting as oracle of Poseidon, as part of training I am receiving from him for another activity.

I will be doing this on the following dates:  July 20, August 20, September 18, October 16, November 16, December 17, January 15, February 12, March 15, April 12, May 13, and June 11.

Those wishing to get a question answered are requested to submit it here; questions must be received three days’ prior else they will be rolled over until the next session.  (If you’re late for the last session, that’s probably going to be that.)

Keeper of the door


Why is it that Poseidon is called Domatites, of the doorway? To what home does he seek entry?

Surely he stands guard at the doorway of Hestia, first and foremost. It is her hearth at which the builder of walls desires to warm his bones, and it is her heart which he desires to shore up and protect.

Hestia rejected a proposal of marriage from Poseidon, a decision which is reflected in the physical world: our homes remain above the waves in all cases, and while the walls are strong from without, they should ever feel inviting to those welcomed within. It is in our nature to need water, but water is not our home.

We do not dwell in the ocean, yet we are never far from it. The similarity of blood and sea water is overstated, but they share a common ancestry. It’s poetic, but still not unreasonable, to say that the ocean flows in our veins.

Another of his epithets, Epaktaios, also speaks to the liminal nature of this god. Here, Poseidon is of the shoreline, between land and sea. It is not difficult to see him standing guard at the shore as Gaiêokhos, holder of the earth; this parallel to guarding the sanctuary of Hestia suggests a role that Poseidon might play in mysteries, barring the door to a space he cannot or will not enter.

Prosklustios, who dashes against, is Poseidon in his power but also Poseidon between. Here he might be seen as the protector of the sacred precincts, testing the walls of Troy to detect any weakness. The theoi are often masters of opposing forces, and this epithet also suggests the wearing down of defenses, the seemingly inevitable destruction which ocean brings to earth. Much is written about how the gods seek to break down and rebuild us better than we were; Poseidon dashes against the walls around our vulnerable parts, seeking or creating an opening through wish to wash away all flaw with the purifying force of the sea.

In another sense, Poseidon stands at the doorway of death. His temple at Tainaron was a psychopompeion, a gate to the realm of Hades. Poseidon is said to have received that place in return for giving Pytho to Apollon, and the temple there was a place of sanctuary, oneiromancy, and necromancy. This suggests he stands between his elder and younger brother, facilitating congress with his siblings; Apollon receiving the premiere oracular function in return for this relationship suggests the nature of the sacrifice involved.

Does this mean that Poseidon does not use oracles? Not necessarily, although those he did use may have been connected to death. Perhaps that was due to the dearth of active worshipers Haides had to choose from, and a need for there to be oracles connected to the underworld as much as Delphi received words spoken on high. This jibes with another gnosis I have had about Poseidon, that he has a preference for mortals past a certain age — maturity level might be a better way to put it — in certain relationships with him. The longer we live, the more likely we are to have stood at the gateway of death ourselves, or in companionship with one who is crossing over. The longer we live, the more likely we are to know loss. The longer we live, the more likely we are to be ready to hear words tinged with death, as the drowning sea is tinged with salt and the gaping vent is tinged with magma.

I have been called to do oracular work for Poseidon, which will take place on the first Thursday following the first Monday of each Athenian month, beginning Hekatombaion of olympiad 699, year 2; I expect this work will last for a full year as a continuation and evolution of my priest-craft. That means the dates will be July 19, August 16, September 20, October 18, November 15, and December 13, 2018; January 17, February 14, March 14, April 11, May 9, June 13, and July 11, 2019. I will post a call for questions ahead of each session.

While I am not permitted to ask for payment for these sessions, oracular work is an intense process which is physically and spiritually demanding on the worker, and as such is a service which has significant value. In short, this is a gift to the community as much as it is to me, and if I am permitted to continue beyond these dates, I plan on charging at that time. For these sessions, an offering to Poseidon by the querent will be all that is required.