The silly things I agree to do! – Dionysia

I have lots of things that I want to post about here. I still mean to re-write the shadow work post that got eaten last week, in addition to musing about the direction in which my relationship with Hera is taking me. But I am writing here today about my opportunity to show my local pagan community what I, as a Hellenic polytheist, get up to.

As many of you will know already, a small, private group from the local pagan community get together during the conventional eight holidays in the wheel of the year at our allotment to perform ritual together. It’s coming up to the vernal equinox and some smart-ass noted that nothing had been arranged for our little group ritual yet. After a moment of wondering what to do, somebody looked at me and went, ‘Emma? What about you? You haven’t led a ritual yet!’ cue affirmative nods and mumbles of ‘yeah, you said you wanted to do something!’. I murmured something about not really following the wheel of my year in my own practice, and following a very different ritual format…’Great! We like to see how everyone else practices!’.

So I agreed to lead our ritual this month at the allotment in a Hellenic style. I have been worrying since Monday about what to put together. It crossed my mind to maybe perform a ritual honouring persephone for the coming of spring, or honouring Apollo and Artemis as gods of the sun and moon for the equinox. But no. I really don’t want to create an arbitrary rite somehow related to the time of year right off the bat. Instead, I am going introduce my community to the city Dionysia, which begins around the time of our celebration.

I am going to do a proper procession to the ritual space. I want to cleanse the participants with Khernips and have them toss barley into the fire. I am going to invite them to bring drums and noise makers to process with, I will ask each member to bring food for the god and for us to feast. And finally I will ask those who are willing to bring short stories or poetry of their own creation to be recited in ritual as a performance.

Not to mention lots and lots of wine.

Wish me luck.

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Patch:

In lieu of the PBP I was writing for yesterday THAT THE STUPID INTERNET ATE >:(, I am re-blogging this.
It’s a very inspirational entry that contains a lot of wisdom!

Originally posted on Peaceful Awakenings: Reflections of Egypt:

Just a few ideas to get you started.

Start training your brain to respond. If you smudge or burn juniper as a purification, do it every time, let your spirit learn that this is a cue; like the dog drools when Pavlov rings the bell, let the smoke teach your soul that this is a cleansing time. Use ritual baths or ritual clothing to train yourself to think of the divine in a ritual-appropriate way when you do that bathing, wear that outfit. Associate ways of doing your hair or pieces of jewelry with particular magical tasks or particular relationships to Powers, so that when you put it up or put it on you are already halfway to completing that alignment.

Steep yourself in symbolism like a good cup of tea. Know a hundred names for your gods so that you can call on the right path at the right…

View original 475 more words

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D is for Deipnon (again!)

This was last years D topic too, but it was Hekate’s Deipnon a few days ago and so I saved this brief little post for today!

I did my usual ritual in which I cleaned my shrines and cleansed my living space with lavender, rosemary and bay. I offered Hekate an egg, wine, Myrrh incense and some home-made granola (I know this sounds odd, but my mother had made it fresh that day as a gift for me and it was so special and delicious that I figured it was definitely something nice to share with a goddess). I asked Hekate to protect some people close to me who are going through a rough time, and did a reading with my casting collection for the coming month. It hinted at more intense spiritual things to come that I should prepare for.

On this months cleaning agenda was organising the drawer I keep a lot of my religious supplies in. I don’t know about anybody else, but belonging to a religion of stuff does not help my packrat tendencies. My biggest problem? Hoarding containers. I had to put containers in containers and then label those containers so that in the future, I’d be able to find relevant containers.

I also did something witchcraft related. I really need to sit down and write a proper post about the shit that’s going down in this aspect of my practice, but honestly I never know how to word it. I always look at what I have written and think that it doesn’t represent what I mean at  all. That aside, let me show you what I did:

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I have a couple of pieces of jewellery that I wanted to charge for protection. So I placed them in a bowl along with some tigers eye, quartz, and whatever herbs I had on hand with protective qualities and have left them to charge in there until the full moon. Whenever I walk past the bowl I give it a shake and occasionally put some more herbs and resins in there. Right now the bowl contains bay, hyssop, frankincense and nettle I think!

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Theogamia 2013

Theogamia began at sundown on Thursday.  It is the ancient Athenian festival in celebration of the marriage of Zeus and Hera. Since Hera has become pretty damn important to me this year, I decided to  make this a big event in my calendar!

I did a very quick reading earlier in the week to ascertain what they would like to see in my ritual. To summarise: Zeus= sacrifice, Hera= luxury, both of them = unity. Well duh, I guess.

On Thursday morning I went into town and had a look round the shops. I picked up some extra altar goodies from the charity shops (a silver plated stand I’m using as an incense burner, a vase, a long glass bowl shaped like a leaf which are all pictured in this post, and a sturdy ceramic bowl), and went searching for appropriate offerings for today. I came back with some pretty tulips, food and wine. I thought I had enough but then I saw these:

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They are pistachio and hazelnut Turkish delight in a fancy wooden box. They were so fitting for Hera I of course bought them. I now have the pretty box to keep too! I am going to use it to store her small votive offerings.

In the morning I showered, and used the bad-ass soap shaped like an apple that I had offered to Hera previously (I wish I had a picture because it looked and smelled EXACTLY like an apple. I could have put it in a fruit bowl and someone would have taken a bite) to cleanse myself. I did this in honour of Hera taking a purifying bath prior to her wedding. I then got out and offered her the Turkish delight and some lavender incense as a pre-wedding gift for the bride.

Once I was all dressed and ready, I began my ritual proper. I put some frankincense on the charcoal and recited a hymn to Zeus whilst lighting a candle in his honour, and then offered him some almonds and wine. I did the same for Hera, offering an apple in the place of almonds.

Next, I recited a prayer celebrating their union in marriage and lit a central candle from the flames of their individual ones (at which point I got red wax on my fucking altar cloth. UGH). The flowers were then offered along with pomegranate seeds, heart shaped chocolates and more wine!

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My altar set up for Theogamia. The glass bowl and central silver thingy were bought on Thursday  I see this type of vessel a lot and I think it’s actually for flower arrangements? But it’s nice and heatproof and fits nicely with the style of my altar and so will make a good incense burner. LOOK AT MY ALTAR CLOTH. :(SL372468Close up of the offering of pomegranate seeds and chocolates to celebrate Zeus and Hera’s union.

Overall I thought everything went well. I really enjoyed the rite and will happily do the same next year, perhaps with an actual bath instead of a shower to purify myself. I’d also like to explore more of what Zeus put forward in the reading (there was a lot of symbolism in just a single card).

New things are happening in my relationship with Hera. Things are changing and I think that is good! I will write more about this in future.

 

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It’s finally here

I woke up yesterday to clear blue skies and biting cold. I wrapped up warm and went for a walk around the lake by my house. There are buds on some of the shrubs, the snowdrops are in bloom and there are crocuses beginning to appear.

Imbolc is here and that makes me more happy than I can portray in writing. This might illustrate: KJHFKJHDG!!!!AAHDHDFFG

After what seems like an eternity of winter, the earth is starting to wake again. am starting to wake again! The simple act of acknowledging this seasonal point has bought about a profound change within me. Suddenly I want out of my dark clothes (I want to wear lilac and white! I don’t even own any lilac and white things!) and I want to clean all of the things. I want to bake and plant seeds and be in the sun. I welcome this version of myself with open arms because she didn’t make an appearance last year.

Things that seemed like they were important yesterday I now see are not. I have a renewed sense of focus in my spirituality, and see that I was getting caught up on irrelevant things that were leading me nowhere. None of my revelations are new, I’m just connecting with myself more effectively.

Yesterday I had milk for the first time properly since the new year, and it was nice. I attended an imbolc ritual that did not speak to me, but I got to sit around a fire afterwards with some of my closest friends drinking whiskey* and chatting about ecstatic ritual and our favourite one-time attendees of our local moot (mine was the only other hellenic polytheist I’ve ever met in person who visited at an incredibly important time for me). There is something incredibly refreshing about getting home after a night on land you helped to cultivate, slightly dirty and smelling of woodsmoke.

This morning I cleaned the whole house, and took the rare opportunity to completely cleanse the whole house too (I live with 3 men who would not like such ridiculous practices in their households, but they’ve all gone away for the weekend!). It feels much better for it.

I look forward to what this year will bring!

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C is for Card Meanings

I have owned a number of Tarot decks for a couple of years now, My favourite, as I have mentioned lots of times before, is the shadowscapes tarot. However, since owning this deck I haven’t truly connected with it.

I struggle to read tarot, and normally opt to read with my casting collection instead. The meanings don’t flow very easily for me and I find myself having to consult the book, which makes the reading very stunted and not very intuitive (which is how I like to divine).

Recently, I actually listened to a piece of advice which is always given out to me: sit with your deck, look at the pictures and write down what each card means to you without the use of the book!

So last week I got my Shadowscapes tarot and separated the major arcana. I started picking them out at random, and studying the images properly. At first, I drew a complete blank when looking at the cards. Then, slowly, little details started to jump out at me and I began to write about my overall impression of the card. Once I started things began to flow and after a few minutes I found that I had written several paragraphs for a card. I was even able to distil those paragraphs into some handy keywords.

I am still going through the major arcana right now, and I will do the minor arcana in time. This technique has made tarot actually speak to me in a way it never did before, and now I just want to buy more decks! Damn my penchant for pretty things!

I wanted to share a couple of examples I have done so far. I started writing down the meanings in my spiritual journal at first, but realised pretty soonish that I was going to be taking up a lot of space for just this one deck! Therefore, I decided to copy down all my interpreted meanings onto a word document instead, which I could then print out. Some of my meanings turned out to be drastically different from the book meanings, others were closer.

The Chariot

 I wrote: ‘Underwater, in the emotional depths, turtles bob as the tumult on the surface moves them. High above is the cloud castle of thought. The chariot is the tumultuous middle ground between thought and emotion. Her horses are wild and need reigning in, but right now she is going with it.

Keywords: Balance (thought/emotion, rational/irrational etc.), chaos, standing firm in adversity, going with the flow.

Justice

I wanted to include justice here because it took a few days of returning to the card for me to get ANYTHING out of it. It was one of the hardest so far to crack, and it took me noticing how the butterflies bunched up around one side of the scales to start things in motion.

‘There are some souls trapped in the bark below. Butterflies begin to emerge and flock around her scales, expecting to see justice prevail. She holds in her hand the feather of truth, which she will weigh against their petitions. She is impartial and her answer is true and unbiased.

Keywords: Facing the truth, true examination of ones actions, impartial justice shines through.

Even though these interpretations may not make sense to others, they make sense to me! Just the act of thinking about each card for a few moments before writing something down has conferred these things to memory much more effectively than reading the book. I can’t wait to see how these read for me and others now!

 

 

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B is for Book list 2013

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my new years resolutions this year was not to start a new non-fiction book until I had finished the previous one!

Here is the list I have so far. There are a couple of re-reads in here ( I’m counting triumph of the moon even though I didn’t actually finish the book. I ran out of library loan, haha):

  • Magic, Witchcraft and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman World -Daniel Ogden
  • The Arcana Mundi – George Luck
  • The book of English Magic- Philip Carr-Gomm
  • Drawing down the Moon -Ronald Hutton
  • Ancient Mystery Cults- Walter Burkert (re-read)
  • Greek Nymphs: Myth, Cult, Lore -Jennifer Larson
  • Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History – Owen Davies

This list is based on what books I already own or can access from my university library. Only once I have tackled this list will I allow myself to buy more wishlist shinies!

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Hekate’s Deipnon and other activities!

I have stayed true to my word recently about getting my shit together again with worship. I decided to kick start this month with a proper observance for Hekate’s Deipnon, the first in a long time.

I spent the afternoon of that day doing mundane cleaning tasks, such as laundry, washing up, and making my space nice and tidy. When evening fell, I got dressed up all nice and began my ritual.

As usual on this day, I cleansed my living space with Bay in Hekate’s name, and this month also burned a blend of Bay, Lavender and Rosemary. I then invoked Hekate, offered her some Myrrh incense and read the passage concerning her in Hesiod’s Theogony. My prayers for protection of my household and it’s occupants for the coming month were accompanied with offerings of eggs and random food from the cupboard (it’s a thing I do with her), plus a libation.

I used my casting collection to do a reading for the coming month. It pointed very clearly working through something from my fast in a positive way, but I have no idea what yet.

I also made a home protection charm (heads up: end of recon-ish part of post and beginning of witchcraft part)! The key is one I dug up at the allotment some time ago, and represents physical protection (from theft etc), and the hag-stone is for spiritual protection (bad spirits, evil eye etc). They are fastened together with a braid woven with intent. The gold represents me (I have gold hair after all!).

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Posted in Devotion, divination, festival, Hellenic polytheism, monthly observance, Ritual, Uncategorized, Witchcraft | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Introversion, Imbolc, and using internet powers for good; not evil.

I’m writing this post tucked up in bed between breaks in the last episode of breaking bad (I am going to marry Jesse and take him away from all that!!), sipping camomile tea with spearmint, yay!

As I think I have mentioned before, I acknowledge the wheel of the year in my own spirituality to an extent. Most of the sabbats do not have a religious context in my life outside of community ritual, but I do live in the UK and they are a nice way to mark the passing of the seasons and to observe the changes that occur both inside an out as the year moves on. My favourite of the eight observances has always been Imbolc. The promise of growth, warmth and plenty again after months of a grey, cold winter stirs something within me. For the last couple of years I have observed Imbolc simply by fasting for most of the day, and then breaking that fast in the evening with a home-made beef stew made with local ingredients, bread (which this year I will bake from scratch) and something dairy based for dessert to celebrate all those lactating Ewes.

I will do the same this year, but in additon to fasting on the day, I wanted to do something akin to lent from yule onwards and cut back on a few things. I want to cut out meat and dairy altogether (I usually have almond milk anyway) until February. I have been thinking about my reasoning for this, and the exact parameters of what this is going to entail and I came to the conclusion that my reason to want to do this isn’t for Imbolc or any other external reason; it’s actually just for me. From Samhain through to yule I begin to look inwards towards my hearth and home. It’s all very personal and familial, but the pace is frenetic. The period from yule to imbolc is a time to rest and digest for me, like how the earth lies dormant and is preparing for the new year. I can never choose where I like to say my spiritual years end and begin, and I think it’s because this time of year is so very liminal to me. It’s like the year ended at yule and won’t begin anew until Imbolc. What I really want right now is a period of purification and introspection.

And so my diet is purifying and detoxifying, and I am spending my time in preparation for a new year. I am an introvert by nature and after all the energy I have used up over the last year, I just want to curl up and focus on myself for a few weeks; keeping unecessary interaction and mindless chatter from all sources to a minimum. If I don’t take time out, I crash; and this year I don’t want to take a step back with regard to my mental health. I sometimes forget that on-line interaction can be just as draining as offline, and so when I log on after a long day, I am not helping myself. As I continue to work on looking at myself, I understand how I work and think throughout the year. I want to use this time for purification, health, study and worship.

With this in mind, I move to the final part of this post: using teh internet powerz for good instead of evil. In all seriousness, I mean to cut down on the amount of time I spend online; and try to make what I do on here productive. Before midday every day, I am not allowing myself to visit Tumblr, Facebook, Netflix; or basically any mind numbing time-passing type site such as those full of funny cat pictures (my inner self screams that funny cats ARE productive!). I will instead use the time this frees up to do important things like reading, working, exercising and worshipping. Any internet visits will be for research or to post here etc.

I have chosen to do this because I am at my most productive in the mornings, and it is a real shame to waste perfectly good hours in the day browsing things on the web. Over breakfast I could be getting through my epic reading list for the year, or writing down my dreams instead of scrolling through updates. Take tumblr for example. It’s like an angry version of this:

Once I look at it…I can’t really look away. But it doesn’t really have much of a point, does it? Instead of reading endless back and forth arguments within the pagan community that have been hashed out for years; I could actually post something of use to me or the world here. Even better, I could spend more time before my shrines.

This has been another meandering update into my life. Tonight is Hekate’s Deipnon so I’m going to clean up and cleanse my shrines later on. Goodnight!

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A is for Altar

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I realise I haven’t yet posted a photo of what my altar looks like in the new house. This was taken shortly before Christmas (I have altar cloths that I rotate seasonally. This is my holiday cloth, with pretty candles and stars on it) when I bought a miniature box of roses chocolates and offered one to each of my gods for a mini-devotional.

The central candle is for Hestia, whom I have started honouring regularly again (I thought rigid household practice was stifling me, but I really enjoy that aspect of my practice and just don’t feel right without giving regular honour to her). It’s a beeswax tea light in a ramekin dish, as my ‘Hestia’ candle holder was in storage at the time, but I have since unpacked it.

The other gods and spirits represented here are Hermes, Hera, Aphrodite, Athene, and the Agathos Daimon. The Agathos Daimon and Aphrodite don’t have permanent representation on this altar. Aphrodite has a little shrine of her own elsewhere, and I am working something out for my daimon. The rest of the gods do have representation, and I am working on finding an offering vessel for each of them; right now Hermes has the handmade clay pot for coin offerings, and Hera has a beautiful peacock bowl. I guess you could say that this altar is actually a collection of individual shrines on the same surface, with a working space at the front.

I am still working on making this space beautiful, as the aesthetics of my altars and shrines are important to me. There is a huge, empty space above the altar which is overwhelmingly beige and dull. I want pretty artwork to hang above the altar, but I don’t know what to get! I want yet more representation of my gods, or things I find to be sacred. Recommendations of artists are always appreciated!

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