When gods explode


I suspect I am a bit inattentive to signs.  If I were more sensitive to them, perhaps it would take one slightly less dramatic than exploding candles to get me to take notice.  I can’t say if the gods always give me plenty of chances to recognize when they’re telling me something, or if they’ve given me up as hopeless and thus go straight for the fireworks every time; all I can say for sure is that my wife had to vacuum up a big ol’ mess a couple of mornings ago after my Hestia candle exploded.

powThere are valid, technical reasons for what happened.  I prefer what are called seven-day candles, the ones that about a foot tall and encased in glass.  I can’t always find them locally and they’re expensive to ship, so I have taken to refilling the empties.  It’s a good deal, because I can add offerings directly into the wax while I’m at it.  However, I’m still pretty new at this, and I haven’t quite mastered the art (or found exactly the right hardware) to keep the wick centered all the way down, and during the pour.  About two inches from the bottom, this particular wick got way too close to the glass, and pow!

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On the other hand, when your hearth-goddess candle explodes, it’s probably best to consider other possibilities.  As it happens, I was overdue to celebrating my little festival of the lilies, which I had previously agreed to hold on the fifth of the month.  I’ve been watching them bloom, and having a deer visit the yard to eat them several times wasn’t enough for me to realize I should be getting on with offering these flowers to the gods.  Whoops.  Guess they’ve been working on more subtle signs for me after all.

2016-06-29 20.22.38.jpgThis year I’ve also been occupied by this cool new Hermes artifact, which I have been industriously oiling so that it can live outside in the four seasons as part of my shrine to him.  That’s going to have to be an annual thing, evocative of various rituals that involve washing and dressing of sacred statues.  Ergo, I’m going to be adding “oiling of the Hermes hunk [of iron]” to this festival of lilies.  That actually makes it more legitimately a festival, because I now have two different activities to perform over its course.  The oiling itself could take several days, although since this was the first time I can’t be certain what next year might bring.

2016-06-29 20.07.16In any case, the other day I went ahead and celebrated my little festival, which still deserves a nifty name.  I am completely supportive of we English speakers use English words when we name festivals and English words of description when we explore new epithets, but darn it, I want this to have a Greek name.  Since I can — so far as I know — accurately pronounce about six words in Greek and can read about half a dozen fewer than that, this dream may be one that is forestalled.  Noble Sannion was helpful in directing me to a lexicon, but until I find the time to learn how to pronounce all of the letters it’s not going to do me that much good.  I’m mostly resigned to the fact that I’m an expert in my native language and mostly ignorant of all others, but hey, specialization isn’t so bad, right, Hermes?

Over the rolling two-tenths of an acre upon which my home sits are a few outdoor shrines; in addition to the aforementioned Hermes one I maintain a space for Artemis and another for Poseidon Phytalmius, in addition to a general altar.  Inside are my main Hestia and Poseidon shrines.  I made offerings of wine, tiger lilies, and incense to all those gods as well as Zeus, Hera, Athene, Ares, Hephaistos, Aphrodite, Apollon, Dionysos, and Demeter.

Obviously — finally obviously — it becomes clear to me that offering these flowers, which are in bloom all over the Hudson Valley at this time of year, is pleasing to the gods, and that they have come to expect it.  This year, it marks a happy high point that will be followed about a week later with the Vigil for the Bulls, an observance for Poseidon Taureos created by Jolene Poseidonae that I will be performing for the first time this year.  I’m expecting it to be markedly less cheerful, but I can’t say much more beyond that until I’ve done it at least once.

In the meantime, I’m hoping that the gods don’t have to tear down my house to get my attention in the future.

Imagining


phytlamiusToday’s Kickstarter update was a musing on what an illustration of Poseidon Phytalmius might look like.  There are so many really excellent pictures drawn of Poseidon relating to the ocean, but not so many covering his earth-god aspects.  That’s really part of why I want to illustrate Depth of Praise, to visually call out his more-than-just-the-ocean-ness.

Of course, if I completely ignore his watery ways, I may end up all wet myself.  Rest assured, breathless reader, I shall not.  Indeed, my first illustration has been sold, and I am contemplating creating a few more to capture such epithets as “he who dashes against” and “of the coast” in my inimitable style.  While you wait, feel free to dangle this post in front of anyone who might be willing to help get this project funded, or who has a bunch of friends in such circles.

Stay tuned.

Waking of Phythalmius


Poseidon Phytalmius in snow

Poseidon Phytalmius in snow

Today being the tipping point between winter and spring, I thought to wake Poseidon Phytalmius from his slumber.  This picture is illustrative of what my shrine to the plant-nourisher looks like in snow, but today is a bit different.  At least 18 inches of snow have fallen since I went to sleep, and there was no evidence of the sleeping god under that thick blanket.

Using the azalea and the slope of the land, I made my best approximation of where he was underneath, and poured him a libation of wine upon the snow.  It was fluffy enough that I am sure some wine got to the ground, but deep enough that I haven’t a clue if it landed upon his face, or missed the mark completely.

Such is the uncertainty and certainty of life.  I cannot tell if my offering was received, but I do know that Phytalmius shall in time awaken, and the nourished buds shall again burst forth with life.  I don’t even know if my own shall be long enough to see that day, but I’m certain that I am not needed for the cycle to again pass through this stage.

Xaire, Poseidon Phytalmius.  Awake!

Phytalmius photo op


Green Man

Badass green man jacket, front.

I am no stranger to the Green Man.  Indeed, I wear his jacket, or would if I could remember to get the zipper fixed.  That’s why I was pretty excited to write about Poseidon Phytalmius, since I had no idea he had any meaningful link to green, growing things.

Tumblr readers, you’re going to want to click through now, because my pics over here on WordPress are sweet today.

The story until now:  I excited by mythology as a child, but bored as a Roman Catholic.  I but decided to try harder in my teens, and became a lector (reader) in my church.  That routine didn’t survive the tumultuous transition into college life, but when I met real Pagans, my curiosity (“You mean they worship the Greek gods?”) also led me to explore all the established religions in town.

Badass Green Man jacket, back

Badass Green Man jacket, back

After a time I identified as Pagan, the sort of Pagan that was drawn more to the beings of the forest than I was to the Wicca-styled rituals which were my only experience.  I did rather enjoy drawing down Herne, though, and in time my path led me to a deeper relationship with the Green Man before I allowed my religion to lie fallow for a time.  The theoi, having noticed that I hadn’t entirely forgotten them, eventually came calling, Poseidon tapped me, and here we are.

Along the way, I’ve carried forth the lessons of my earlier forays into relationship with divine forces, and I have also picked up a few objects which remind me of the more profound experiences that I have had.  One of these is a iron Green Man face, which has sometimes hung on the front door, but is really too heavy for that spot.  We’ve talked about mounting it above the mantle, but the bricks are covered with plaster, and that’s a lot of expertise which no one here possesses.

Poseidon Phytalmius Poseidon Phytalmius Poseidon Phytalmius Poseidon PhytalmiusMy Hellenic practice has caused me to cultivate an interest in shrines, both inside and out, and I’ve created a surprising number given the amount of usable land around our home.  In fact, one of them has never gotten a whole lot of use, because although I’ve been sure it’s a sacred spot, I haven’t really known who it was for.  I’ve tried pouring libations to Pan there, but even with the massive patch of moss surrounding the small stone I erected, it didn’t ring quite true.  I tend the moss, and encourage it to spread, but that’s about it, so when I suggested to my wife that I might take the iron face outside to put it in the moss to dedicate the shrine to Poseidon Phytalmius, she was quite agreeable.  What I didn’t expect is how incredibly right it would look — and feel — when I did so today.  The face just settled into the opening created when I removed a pile of stones which I’d placed there previously.  I moved one small tuft atop his cheek, and there it was.

I stood up from my ministrations to look at my work, and a deep sense of satisfaction — of rightness — all but bowled me over.  Seeing him surrounded by leaves, I understood that I should construct festivals to honor his sleeping under the leaves, and for the time of uncovering in the spring.  The spot is also adjacent to the front door of the house which, as is so often the case in my country, is not the primary egress, but it is used, and never had a divine presence nearby until now.  (My Hermes shrine stands at the crossroads near the most-used door.)  It feels like I’m just realizing that he was trying to reach out long, long before I started paying attention to this (okay, any) part of my ancestry.

Dusk

Dusk.

Dawn

Dawn.

What this means in full, will likely take some time to understand, but my appreciation for the subtlety and patience of Poseidon are redoubled by this simple experience.  No doubt there were times in my life that I would point to this as proof of the rightness of my theological stance, which might have been pantheist, or monist, or panentheist, or some other complicated word to express a sort of connectedness that once felt true to me.  Of course, that perspective is almost certainly as entirely true as what I feel now, which is that this is proof that the individual god Poseidon simply was trying to find the right face and right message for me.  And the fact that my Green Man jacket continues to be a hit doesn’t hurt.

Poseidon Phytalmius


Cloaked in the depths and the salty mist
few consider Poseidon Phytalmius.
Verdant lord, forest king,
to him each leaf and bud does sing.

Long before wrote thoughtful Homer
was he consort to Demeter.
Breathing life upon each branch
so lifeless bleakness was thus stanched.

Phytalmius, nourisher of plants
who sees the future of each seed,
we give thanks to their nature
so our people we may feed.