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.

TPW’s debt story, or: how one Pagan got buried and dug himself out again

My debt story began the way it has for many people before and since, with college.  Some of the details are timeless, but others might be quite different than what the students of 2016 are experiencing.  One thing I suspect is unchanging is the fact that college is more financially perilous for the children of the middle class than anyone else in the United States.  Wealthy people have always been able to plan for the expense of college, and those in poverty either get aid, or they don’t go at all.

I was a student at a time and in a place that was infused with the assumption that everyone in my socioeconomic bracket was expected to go to college.  Not that there wasn’t the oddball kid who ended up going into a parent’s trade or joining the military, but they were special cases.  It would be decades before there was a widespread recognition that the number of college graduates was creating a glut of people with that skill-set and a yawning chasm where the electricians, plumbers, machinists, and other skilled workers belonged.  It was understood that I would go to college unless I came up with something better, and at the very least “something better” would mean paying rent to continue living under my parents’ roof.

Youngest of more children than any couple today could possibly afford, there wasn’t any savings to speak of for my college education, and even then, the financial aid options of even a generation before were weakening.  I was too young to have received a free college education in California even if we’d lived there at the time, and the scholarship I received to my own state system was for the same amount my father had declined 30-odd years earlier.  If he’d taken it, it would have covered his tuition; for me, it didn’t even pay for half of the books I needed each year.  As with so many of today’s students, I relied almost entirely on loans to support myself and defer my costs.

DebtThat was not, however, where my debt really began.  Yes, I was on the hook for that money, but not right away.  It didn’t feel like I owed anything, and surely I would get a job to cover it.  No, the real debt for me came in the form of smiling department store employees, seated at tables in my college’s student union, offering gifts in exchange for me filling out credit card applications.  The first was for a JC Penney’s card, and got me a set of four glasses that I was pleased to add to my dormitory possessions.  Since the store was on the far side of town, I never got into the habit of using it.

It was cool -- I picked it right out of the book!

It was cool — I picked it right out of the book!

Within a couple of years, though, I had bank credit cards, and those were much, much easier to use.  The minimum payments were always so small, and the rewards were so large in comparison.  It was easy to keep up with payments on my financial aid . . . which was, the reader might recall, pretty much all loans.  At least two rental car trips and a few tattoos (two on a friend I haven’t seen since well before the turn of the century) inked by a guy who called himself Doctor Strange (whom we traveled to see because of a rumor that he was Pagan, something we never thought to ask him about) ended up on the card, not to mention the bill for repairing the cigarette burn which mysteriously appeared in the upholstery.  It was easy!

By the time I escaped from the college environment, I had a few thousand in credit-card debt, and my student loans on the horizon.  I was unemployed, not particularly qualified to do anything specific, and again completely dependent upon my parents to ensure I had a roof over my head and food in my stomach.  At least I had a queen-size bed to sleep in, though! — although it was a wee bit outsized for my childhood bedroom.  I was grateful to have a home to return to, but I knew my parents would not be providing me with a car, or spending money, or anything beyond love and the basics.

Paying down the debt like a madman

Once the sweet, gauzy memories of college fell away before the harsh light of real life, I immediately disliked my station in it.  I found myself a job as an overnight security guard, for which I was able to borrow a parental car for transportation, and learned to love coffee.  My friends were able to attend concerts and movies, but both my weird hours and crushing debt load kept me from most of the social pleasures enjoyed by my peers.  I misered down and sucked it up, realizing that immediate gratification was going to make my life one of eternal torment.

Computers were becoming more common, but I had no money for such a tool.  Instead, I started keeping track of my expenses and income — my meager, meager income — on paper.  I drew columns with a ruler and calculated how much I needed to set aside out of each paycheck to cover the credit cards and the student loans.  I also started saving for my own car, but saving is a story for another time.  My obsession with getting out of debt got so intense that my friends didn’t just think I was cheap; they actually made up stories about my legendary thriftiness.  My favorite had me riding a unicycle to work because I figured out it was less costly to maintain than a bicycle — fewer moving parts, you know — and that I’d picked up drinking kerosene for recreation because it was so much less expensive than beer.

I’d like to be able to claim that I paid off my debts on the pittance I was earning and freed myself from the shackles of debt forevermore.  That would make for a good story.  However, the truth is that I got a much better job about five years later, after a long time in the security world and a series of food-service jobs that I chased out of a desperate belief I could make a career out of them, and it was the higher pay which made it possible.  However, that’s still only part of the story:  the reason why the better job allowed me to pay off the last of my ill-gotten debt was because I doubled my income without changing my standard of living.  I lived beneath my means.

That’s the nugget of wisdom I learned from my own mistakes:  the only way to actually pay off debt is to learn spend less than you earn.  That’s progressively more difficult the less money one makes, but it never is particularly easy at any income level.  Our society encourages us to enjoy today’s pleasures on tomorrow’s dollars, and the tattoo I got was paid for with dollars that I labored to earn as much as seven years after the needle hit my skin.

No instant fix exists to make debt go away.  All of the options require effort, persistence, and discipline.  I wish I could claim something else is true, but once debt is acquired, it’s no mean feat to slough it off.

I will help as much as I can.

Vanquishing debt

I promised a Facebook friend I would write a post about debt elimination, but the more I know, the harder it is to write just little bits about this topic, especially when it comes to writing about debt for Pagans, a group that tends to have strong feelings about money in general.

f72ae-fishing_for_moneyInstead, I think I need to against attempt to organize my thoughts into a cohesive series about debt.  Otherwise, I’m going to end up trying to mash bookkeeping, discipline, philosophy, morality, and economic theory into one long, rambling, hot mess.  Nobody wants that.

Here are the topics I intend on covering in this series.  I will shamelessly edit this post to reorder this list, eliminating and adding items wantonly, and even correcting the inevitable spelling misteak.

  1. TPW’s debt story
  2. Budgeting
  3. Animism
  4. Acting in accordance
  5. Consequences of debt
  6. Voluntary vs involuntary debt
  7. Debt and the money shrine
  8. Debt and discipline

This is a series I’d wanted to write for Witches and Pagans, but never got around to starting.  Please join me if you’re interested in applying your own will and other tools to relieving some or all of your own debt burden.

Let’s Disenchant the World! Part 1

This is a long read, but a calm and careful look at a part of the atheist-vs-polytheist debates which are again running rampant.

And back to our regularly scheduled beatings. Because if if you believe in the Gods as discrete, individual beings, you’re a shithead who needs to top focusing on such stupid ideas. That’s right, it’s Halstead time again! This time we’ll be looking at his article: The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism This is the third in […]