Personal Gods for November

In the dark parts of the year, several Gods have decided that I make offerings to them.

The Morrigan

The Morrigan threw me out of bed demanding that I work for her. Often referred to as The Triple Goddess, The Morrigan has three major aspects. She is Morrigu, the Goddess of Battle, Macha, Goddess of Sovereignty, and Badb, the Goddess of Prophecy. As the Goddess of Battle, The Morrigan rouses her warriors for the fight. As the Great Queen, The Morrigan is the personification of sovereignty. In this aspect, She inspires the people to defend their homes. As the Goddess of Prophecy, The Morrigan appears as the Washer of the Ford. Often seen washing clothes in a river, She predicts who will die in battle by handling their bloody garments.

Baba Yaga

The squirrels tell me of Baba Yaga. To them, She is wild, kind, ruthless, and enigmatic, holding the mysteries of the wilderness in Her. The Goddess speaks to me in the dark time of fall and winter. I often feel Baba Yaga in the inky blackness of night and the drab greyness of dawn. Within the darkness, I am enveloped like a primordial forest of wild nature. Then I hear Her screeching in my ear like an angry squirrel about what devotions to do for Her.

Lost Species

In the Wheel of the Year for Neo-Pagans, November is the time to remember the Ancestors. Hecate has a festival day on November 30, which is “Remembrance Day for Lost Species.” (https://www.lostspeciesday.org/) This day is a “chance each year to explore the stories of extinct and critically endangered species…” The day is for witnessing the loss of biological diversity and to honor solutions on saving the rest.

In my Cultus for “Extinct Animals,” I have observed there are four groupings. “The Recently Extinct” do not want any contact with humans, as they are still grieving and angry. “Dinosaurs” also dislike humans since their bones are handled disrespectfully. “The Long Dead” such as Trilobites are alien to humans but are curious about them. “Ancestors of Humans” also are curious about their descendants.

Roman Gods of the Month: November

For Romans, November was the month of community and games. The Ludi Plebeii (The Plebeian Games) in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus were held for ten days. I see November as a month to celebrate the community and the blessings of the Gods.

In the Roman calendar, there is a lack of festival compared with the other months. Examining various ritual calendars, there appears in each culture at least one month that is “empty.” For example, Shinto has October as the month when all the Gods go to Izumo Shrine. November is a quiet month for Romans. It seems to be the time when people catch their breath after the harvest and before the festivities of December.

POMONA: A festival thanking Pomona, the Goddess of Orchards for the ripe fruit is held on November 1.

MANIA and DII MANES: The Opening of the Mundus (the Well to the Underworld) is conducted for the third time in the year on November 8.

FORTUNA PRIMIGENIA AND FERONIA: On the Ides of November (the 13th), Fortuna Primigenia and Ferona are honored. As the Mother of Juno and Jupiter, Fortuna Primigenia sets the destiny of children at their birth. Meanwhile, Ferona is the Goddess of Agricultural Produce.

Reclaiming Wonder with Pleasure

In “Healing Power of Pleasure,” Julia Hollenbery claims that modernity has turned ordinary people into horrible messes. People now have a gnawing sense of lack, and blame others for it. Since people are under constant stress to improve themselves. the quality of life has been degraded.

Because modern life is decidedly unmagical, the Gods (and Nature) have been banished to the nether regions. Meanwhile, magic itself has been devalued. But magic connects people to the invisible world. As real as the material world, this other world is inhabited by Ancestors, Gods, and Other Beings. Without this connection, people are lonely and miserable.

Hollenbery notes that people are connected to the sky and rooted to the earth. Whether they recognize it or not, humans do live in the ebb and flow of nature. Once people allow themselves to feel this, they will be in alignment with all the worlds. For she notes that the “soul exists in the deep, in the space behind, around and within our physical body. We are informed by information coming through us from beyond us: our Ancestors” (and other Beings).

Trauma shuts people off from their bodies. Furthermore, it comes between people and their relations with the Cosmos. Since people have become frozen and hopeless, they are disassociated from themselves and Nature. Hollenbery suggests that people look at the Elements to learn how to embody their bodies.

The Elements can be a guide to healing trauma. Air is clear thinking. For that, a person needs clean living spaces. Fire notices how “yes” and “no” feel in the body. Learn to say both clearly. Water allows the emotions to flow. It also shows where a person is stuck. Earth provides each person with what they need. Earth nourishes the body.

To be re-enchanted, a person must have the courage to embrace pleasure. To reclaim magic, they must allow themselves to sit with the unknown. A person needs to hold a space where something can unfold. Then, they can enter the mysteries of life and allow themselves to be surprised.

To reclaim magic, Hollenbery lists “medicines” to take, and their results. She urges to people to gently explore each to reclaim their magic. The end result is a shift towards pleasure and wonder.

Medicines:

  1. Slow: the Medicine of Slowing: Sensitivity
  2. Body: the Medicine of Embodying: Embodiment
  3. Depth: the Medicine of Deepening: Presence
  4. Relationship: the Medicine of Relations: Nourishment
  5. Pleasure: the Medicine of Sensing: Fulfilment
  6. Power: the Medicine of Empowering: Powerfulness
  7. Potency: the Medicine of Aliveness: Potential

Hollenbery gives “technologies” to use to “enter the realm of potency and pleasure in the Universe of Deliciousness.” These practices will integrate the person. She writes “Synthesizing their (the person’s) polarities, they will establish for the person the neutral middle path of Truth.”

Technologies:

  1. Imagination: The muscle of the soul. Free it.
  2. Attention: Here is now. Be in the moment. Cultivate attention.
  3. Receptivity: Receive the aliveness of the Universe. Be receptive.
  4. Acceptance: Include of who we are. Be whole. Allow yourself to experience it all.
  5. Appreciation: Fuel. Open up to the bounty of life. Be appreciative.
  6. Creative active participation: Take responsibility for the self. Participate actively in the world.
  7. Breathing: Contact with the body, and integrate the soul, mind, and body. Breathe.

Christian Valters Paintner in “Earth: Our Original Monastery” suggests for keeping wonder alive, the daily practice of the Examen (Note 1). Ask yourself two questions at the end of the day. “What has been the most life giving? What has been the most life draining? Where were the moments you felt arid and dry? Where did you feel the fullness of greening.” This keeps wonder alive.

Valters Paintner’s focus is what St. Hildegard called “viriditas” – the greening power of nature for spiritual growth. People engage with this living force to be close to the Gods (God). Being connected to the greenest of Life integrates a person to be a part of the Ecology of the Cosmos. (Note 2.)

Notes:
Note 1. Examen, developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola, is a Catholic practice. For the Polytheist, it can be used for self-reflection of their daily life. Express gratitude for the day, celebrate victories and understand failures. Then anticipate the next day, asking yourself how to honor the Gifts from the Gods.

This can be thought of as the PAR Method. Prepare intentionally for your day. Act by living through action in the present moment. Reflect and grow in awareness and insight. (from the Monk Manual planning system by Steven Lawson.)

Note 2. “Ariditas” according to St. Hildegard is separation from God.

Recapturing Wonder Through Wandering in Landscapes

In the “Soul’s Slow-Ripening,” Christine Valters Paintner stresses that wandering in the landscape is a way to reclaim wonder. She writes, “the practice of peregrination (Note 1.) is an invitation to let go of our own agendas.” We leave behind what is familiar and safe to explore the unknown. Busy cities offer interesting insights as do sun-swept meadows. What is important is to move out of linear time and thinking.

Nothing is lost but stored in the memory of the earth. Wendell Berry, the American poet, wrote, “The earth under the grass dreams of a young forest, and under the pavement, the earth dreams of grass.” In wandering, people move into spiral time (and experience) and then into deep time. (Note 2.) Valters Paintner writes, “we allow ourselves to arrive fully in a sacred place both body and soul, and ask permission to be and receive the gifts offered.”

Fabiana Fondevila in “Where Wonder Lives” lays out a mythical landscape with landmarks for people to wander in. She plots a route for a journey from “The Jungle” to “The Ocean,” recapturing an element of wonder at each stop. Each place has a theme to focus on. Following her route will aid a person to let go of their rational mind and embrace wonder.

The Route and Focus:

  1. The Jungle: Re-wild Yourself
  2. The Garden: Awaken Your Senses
  3. The River: Let Your Imagination Flow
  4. The Mountain Top: Tell a New Story
  5. The Swamp: Embrace Your Shadow
  6. The Village: Deepen Your Relationships
  7. The Fire: Reclaim Your Rites
  8. The Lighthouse: Focus Your Mind
  9. The Ocean: Open Your Heart

Wandering in this mythic landscape will restore a person’s place in the Spiritual Ecosystem. (Note 3.) At The Jungle, you go outside into nature to experience it in its fulness. While there, learn the names of birds, clouds, and trees. At The Garden, among the flourishing flowers and vegetables, you safely experience Nature with all of your senses. The Jungian psychologist James Hillman noted “we have lost the heart’s response to what the senses bring to us.” The Gardens is where you find it again.

At The River, you free your artistic impulses and create. The Mountain Top is where the ancient myths come alive. Embracing the mythic vision, you find your own story. The Swamp is a necessary step because your shadow lives there. The Swamp may be dank and dark but it is fertile and life creating.

After reuniting with your shadow, you enter The Village. Now, your whole self can be a part of the Web of Life. At The Village, you form relationships with others. Outside The Village, lies The Fire where you enter sacred time and space to meet the Gods.

The Lighthouse governs the mind. Fondevila writes, ‘the guiding light of consciousness returns you to the only that is truly safe: the present moment, in which life happens.” At The Ocean, you become anchored in “the deep and abiding power of love.” Arriving at journey’s end, you start over with a renewed sense of wonder.

At this moment, Valters Paintner suggests “statio,” “the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgement that in the space of transition and the threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility.” Prepared, we then can enter into what comes next.

Notes:
Note 1. Peregrinatio (peregrination) is the “leaving of one’s homeland behind and wandering for the love of God.” First practiced by St. Augustine of Hippo, it later became a part of Celtic Christianity. By wandering the landscape, the person returns home changed, and connected deeper to God. For Polytheists, it can be a practice to deepen their relations with the Gods.

Note 2. Deep time is the unfathomable immensity of the past and future, as defined by Valters Paintner. I experienced deep time at Great Falls Park, Maryland where the Potomac (an ancient river) speeds over the narrow Mather Gorge. The roaring sounds of the river over the falls put me into a trance where I viewed a scene from the Cretaceous Period.

Note 3. The Spiritual Ecosystem consists of the interactions and exchanges between of the Gods, Ancestors, Humans, Other Beings (Lars, etc.), Plants and Animals. It includes the visible and invisible worlds.

Sumer: Dispute Between The Hoe and The Plough (full)

From the Electronic Text Corpus.
(editing by me.)

Introduction:
O the Hoe, the Hoe, the Hoe, tied together with thongs; the Hoe, made from poplar, with a tooth of ash; the Hoe, made from tamarisk, with a tooth of sea-thorn; the Hoe, double-toothed, four-toothed; the Hoe, child of the poor, the Hoe started a quarrel with the Plough.

The Hoe:
The Hoe having engaged in a dispute with the Plough, the Hoe addressed the Plough: “Plough, you draw furrows — what does your furrowing matter to me? You break clods — what does your clod-breaking matter to me? When water overflows you cannot dam it up. You cannot fill baskets with earth. You cannot spread out clay to make bricks. You cannot lay foundations or build a house. You cannot strengthen an old wall’s base. You cannot put a roof on a good man’s house. Plough, you cannot straighten the town squares. Plough, you draw furrows — what does your furrowing matter to me? You make clods — what does your clod-making matter to me?”

The Plough:
The Plough addressed the Hoe: “I am the Plough, fashioned by great strength, assembled by great hands, the mighty registrar of father Enlil. I am mankind’s faithful farmer. To perform my festival in the fields in the harvest month, the king slaughters cattle and sacrifices sheep, and he pours beer into a bowl. The king offers the libation. The ub and ala drums resound. The king takes hold of my handles, and harnesses my oxen to the yoke. All the great high-ranking persons walk at my side. All the lands gaze at me in great admiration. The people watch me in joy.

The furrow tilled by me adorns the plain. Before the stalks erected by me in the fields, the teeming herds of Cakkan kneel down. In performing my labour amid the ripened barley, I vie with the mighty scythe. After the grain have been gathered, the shepherd’s churn is improved. With my sheaves spread over the meadows the sheep of Dumuzid are improved.

My threshing-floors punctuating the plain are yellow hillocks radiating beauty. I pile up stacks and mounds for Enlil. I amass emmer and wheat for him. I fill the storehouses of mankind with barley. The orphans, the widows and the destitute take their reed baskets and glean my scattered ears. People come to drag away my straw, piled up in the fields. The teeming herds of Cakkan thrive.

Hoe, digging miserably, weeding miserably with your teeth; Hoe, burrowing in the mud; Hoe, putting its head in the mud of the fields, spending your days with the brick-moulds in mud with nobody cleaning you, digging wells, digging ditches, digging ……!

Wood of the poor man’s hand, not fit for the hands of high-ranking persons, the hand of a man’s slave is the only adornment of your head. You deliver deep insults to me. You compare yourself to me. When I go out to the plain, everyone looks on but the Hoe does not, and insultingly you call me “Plough, the digger of furrows”.”

The Hoe:
Then the Hoe addressed the Plough: “Plough, what does my being small matter to me, what does my being exalted matter to me, what does my being powerful matter to me? — at Enlil’s place I take precedence over you, in Enlil’s temple I stand ahead of you.

I build embankments, I dig ditches. I fill all the meadows with water. When I make water pour into all the reed-beds, my small baskets carry it away. When a canal is cut, or when a ditch is cut, when water rushes out at the swelling of a mighty river, creating lagoons on all sides. I, the Hoe, dam it in. Neither south nor north wind can separate it.

The fowler gathers eggs. The fisherman catches fish. People empty bird-traps. Thus the abundance I create spreads over all the lands.

After the water has been diverted from the meadows and the work on the wet areas is taken in hand, Plough, I come down to the fields before you. I initiate the opening up of the field for you. I clear the recesses of the embankment for you. I remove the weeds in the field for you. I heap up the stumps and the roots in the field for you. But when you work the field, there is a procession: your oxen are six, your people four — you yourself are the eleventh. And you want to compare yourself with me?

When you come out to the field after me, your single furrow brings you pleasure. When you put your head to work and get entangled in roots and thorns, your tooth breaks. Once your tooth is fixed, you cannot hold onto your tooth. Your farmer calls you “This Plough is done for”. Carpenters have to be hired again for you. A whole workshop of artisans surrounds you. The fullers depilate a fleece for you. They stretch it over the wringer for you. They toil at the straps for you — then they place the foul hide on your head.

Your work is slight but your behaviour is grand. My time of duty is twelve months, but your effective time is four months and your time of absence is eight months — you are gone for twice as long as you are present.

When you are put on board and your “hands” rip out the beams, your “face” has to be pulled from the water like a wine-jar. After I have made a pile of logs, my smoke dries you out in the house. What happens to your seeding-funnel if it once falls? Anyone who drops you smashes it, making it a completely destroyed tool.

I am the Hoe and I live in the city. No one is more honoured than I am. I am a servant following his master. I am one who builds a house for his master. I am one who broadens the cattle-stalls, who expands the sheepfolds.

I spread out clay and make bricks. I lay foundations and build a house. I strengthen an old wall’s base. I put a roof on a good man’s house. I am the Hoe, I straighten the town-squares.

When I have gone through the city and built its sturdy walls, have made the temples of the great gods splendid and embellished them with brown, yellow and decorative clay, I build in the city of the palace where the inspectors and overseers live.

When the weakened clay has been built up and the fragile clay buttressed, they refresh themselves when the time is cool in houses I have built. When they rest on their sides by a fire which a hoe has stirred up, you do not come to the joyous celebration. They feed the labourer, give him drink and pay him his wages: thus I have enabled him to support his wife and children.

I make a kiln for the boatman and heat pitch for him. By fashioning magur and magilum boats for him, I enable the boatman to support his wife and children.

I plant a garden for the householder. When the garden has been encircled, surrounded by mud walls and the agreements reached, people again take up a hoe. When a well has been dug, a water lift constructed and a water-hoist hung, I straighten the plots. I am the one who puts water in the plots. After I have made the apple-tree grow, it is I who bring forth its fruits. These fruits adorn the temples of the great gods: thus I enable the gardener to support his wife and children.

After I have worked on the watercourse and the sluices, put the path in order and built a tower there on its banks, those who spend the day in the fields, and the field-workers who match them by night, go up into that tower. These people revive themselves there just as in their well-built city. The water-skins I made they use to pour water. I put life into their hearts again.

Insultingly you call me “Plough, the digger of ditches”. But when I have dug out the fresh water for the plain and dry land where no water is, those who have thirst refresh themselves at my well-head.

What then does one person say to another? What does one tell another in detail?: “The shepherd adorns the plain with his ewes and lambs. After the heavens had been turned upside down, after bitter lament had been imposed on Sumer, after, as houses were overwhelmed by the rivers and Enlil frowned in anger upon the land, Enlil had flooded the harvest, after Enlil had acted mightily thus, Enlil did not abandon us — the single-toothed Hoe was struck against the dry earth.

For us you raise winter like the harvest-time. We take away the hand of summer and winter. Hoe, the binder, ties the sheaves. Binding bird-traps, it ties the reed-baskets.”

The Storm:
Then the Storm spoke: “The mortar lies still while the pestle pounds. People fight with grinding stones. The sieve disputes with the strainer. What have you done to the one who is angry? Why are you scornful of Ezina? Why, Plough, is the ripened grain in your seeding-funnel?”

Enlil:
Enlil addressed the Hoe: “Hoe, do not start getting so mightily angry! Do not be so mightily scornful! Is not Nisaba the Hoe’s inspector? Is not Nisaba its overseer? The scribe will register your work, he will register your work. Hoe, whether he enters five or ten gij in your account, Hoe, whether he enters one-third or one-half mana in your account, Hoe, like a maid-servant, always ready, you will fulfil your task.”

The Hoe having engaged in a dispute with the Plough, the Hoe triumphed over the Plough — praise be to Nisaba!

Read at: https://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section5/tr531.htm – The Electronic Text Corpus