Daily Devotions

For me, being a Polytheist means daily devotions to the Gods. Like many modern Polytheists, my Gods do not all belong to the same Pantheon. Although I consider myself a Roman Polytheist, I do venerate Other Gods. Because of my brain injury and devotional work with the Dead, Anubis, Hekate and the Morrigan have requested devotions. Meanwhile, my Anglo-Saxon Ancestors want their family Gods honored. Finally for reasons unclear to me, the Gods of Babylon and Canaan have asked me for devotions.

To accommodate all the Gods Whom I honor, I had to set up a schedule. How did I go about doing this? First, I read the lore, and then did divination which days would be appropriate for which Gods. Finally, I broke my day into three parts – morning, afternoon, and evening for my devotions. Since we all have our daily rituals such as brewing coffee or checking our phones, including one for devotions seemed reasonable.

Mornings are devoted to the Household Gods. Before breakfast, I light a candle and offer incense. I offer to Janus (who always receives the first and last offerings) for his service in guarding the doors. Then to Apollo for the health of our family, and Juno Custos for guiding my family. Vesta, the Eternal Flame who warms our home, receives her offering and prayers next. Finally, the Genius of the Paterfamilias is thanked for guarding our family.

After I do this, I do my weekly devotions by splitting the various Gods into mornings and afternoons. My schedule is as follows – Monday – Anubis and Hecate (morning), The Lady of Beasts and The Morrigan (afternoon). Tuesday – Freya (morning), Anubis and Hecate (afternoon). Wednesday – Odin. Thursday – Hercules, Neptune and the Roman Pantheon (morning), the Gods of Babylon and of Canaan (afternoon). Friday – Frigga. Saturday – the Penates and Lars. Sunday – the Dead.

Why these particular days? Monday is “moon” day, and those deities prefer that association. Tuesdays is traditional for Freya, Wednesdays for Odin, and Friday for Frigga. Anubis and Hecate asked for Tuesdays, and the Gods of Babylon and of Canaan for Thursday. Since Thursday is Thor’s day, Hercules reminded me that it is his day also. The Roman Gods requested Thursday as well. Saturday is grocery day, which is when the cupboards are replenished. Sunday is for the Dead, since it is a day of reflection for me.

The evening is reserved for the Gods of the Month. Nightly, I say prayers to Them before going to bed. It is a part of my evening routine like brushing my teeth.

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Polytheism Begins at Home

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Roman Polytheism (Religio Romana) is first and foremost a home-based religion. The home is the temple for the family cultus of the Di Familiaris (the Guardian Gods of the Family). This includes the Lars Familiaris as the Guardian of the Family and the Genius of the Paterfamilias (the Protector of the Head of the Household. It also includes Di Manes (the Ancestors of the Household).

At the main altar (the Lararium) I make offerings of food and incense as well as say prayers. Janus receives the first offering and Vesta the second. During my daily devotions (morning and evening), I ask for guidance and help from the Household Gods, Ancestors, and other Gods.

The Goddess of the Hearth, Vesta, who lives in my kitchen, experiences my efforts at cooking. The Penates look out for my food stores. The Lars look out for the general well-being for the family and home. Janus and the other Gods of the Door (Cardea, Forculus, Limentinus, Portunes) guard the inside and the outside. They oversee the liminal places protecting my family. The Lars Loci (Guardians of the Place) who guard the windows are included.

A Polytheist’s home usually has many altars to different Gods. I have two for the Ancestors in my bedroom, and two for the Gods of Indoor Plumbing under my sinks. The altar to Vesta, the Lars and Penates sits in my kitchen. Each altar receives offerings on a daily basis. The Lars receive food and milk, the Others incense and perfume.

The home is where the family and the Gods interact daily on an intimate basis. The altars provide a liminal space for formal devotions. The Gods and Others are not remote, but are with us always.

My Polytheism and Jung’s Archetypes

In Postmodern Spirituality, people found themselves at a crossroads wanting spirituality but finding Monotheism too rule bound to follow. Since Western culture is steeped in Monotheism, people regarded their only choice was between God, Who lives outside of Humankind and the Higher Self, Who arises from humanity. Therefore, it became easy to combine psychology and spirituality to form a new belief system. Human-created archetypes became the root of this new religion.

My problem is with Archetypes comes when people insist that They are my Gods as well. I dislike the notion that those who believe that Archetypes are Gods should be included in Polytheism. I have no problem considering these people being called Neo-Pagan since that religion includes a wide variety of beliefs from the Divine Feminine to Core-Shamanism.

Jungians Caroline Pearson and Hugh Marr say that the sacred myths of cultures are archetypal and not literal. According to them, the ancients projected the Archetypes on the images of their Gods. These religious figures actually symbolize the inner experiences of humans. To me, this reflects the meme that the ancients are unenlightened unlike modern people. This needs to be exposed for what it is – a bias.

I was raised Atheist by dedicated Atheists, who regarded the study of religion as simply an intellectual exercise. Therefore I was not conditioned to think about God or Gods. In fact, I could point to “The Bible” for evidence that God was fiction. In the Old Testament, Elijah dueled with the priests of Ba’al. He taunted them by asserting that Ba’al and the other Gods were made-up. If that was true, then why not the Monotheistic God?

Therefore, Core-Shamans Sandra Ingerman and Harry Wesselman could assert that people are in contact with the “greater Human Spirit (which can be thought of as ‘God’) through their personal oversoul.” (Note 1) This leads to what Katalin Koda writes in her book, “Fire of the Goddess,” the “goddess is a feminine archetype who figures in myth and holds certain quality of power… in the sacred feminine path.” (Note 2) To “ignite the Sacred Feminine,” she suggests following the paths of nine feminine archetypes.

Neo-shaman Linda Star-Wolf writes, “Do the archetypes change under a cosmic plan of some sort? Or are we changing, and so we change our archetypes? Just as the sun keeps us alive, the archetypes are keeping us alive through the planetary influences of intersteller multidimensional beings. Jung said that there are psychic forces within the human psyche. Perhaps these forces are downloading into the human psyche at this time.” (Note 3)

To me, these ideas of Archetypes are a form of ‘having your cake and eating it too.” A person does not need to believe in a God or Gods, but still have the benefits that belief brings. Archetypes are another aspect of the postmodern culture – i.e. being spiritual without having to deal with a God.

Because I kept having unexplained “psychotic” experiences, I sought answers. After many years of working with psychiatrists, I finally came to realize that I was experiencing the Gods. They were the Other, Who are not a part of me. These Gods were not internal archetypes derived from the “collective unconscious.” They were alien. There was nothing human-centric about the Gods.

Notes:
Note 1. Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World,” pgs. 172-3.
Note 2. Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess,” pg. 191.
Note 3. Linda Star-Wolf, “Soul Whispering,” pg. 210.

Works Used:
Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities.”
Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess.”
Caroline Myss, “Archetypes.”
Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, “What Story Are You Living?”
Romanian Association for Psychoanalysis Promotion (AROPA), Resources for Carl Jung. http://carl-jung.net/index.html
Linda Star-Wolf, “Soul Whispering.”
Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.”

Third in a series.  The others are:

Gods and Archetypes: Archetypes and Postmodern Spirituality

Gods and Archetypes: Jung and Postmodern Spirituality

 

 

Shadow Patrons (Gods)

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In a prior post, I mentioned that Apollo is my “Shadow Patron.” (Note 1). In Polytheism, a Patron (Matron) is a God who forms a favorable relationship with a person. Not every Polytheist has a Patron, since each God chooses the level of connection with humans. Therefore, a Shadow Patron would be a God who chooses to have an adversarial relationship with a human.

Why would a God have an antagonistic affiliation with someone? For me, it is because I do two things that Apollo is particular about – divination and prayers. Since in Roman Polytheism, both sacred activities are associated with Apollo, He wants them done correctly. Moreover, He wants me to prove myself worthy to do each.

Since this God is well-known to force Himself on unwilling females, I actively disliked Him. When I was a teenager, I was the victim of unwanted male attention. Hence, I avoided Apollo as much as possible. When I began writing rituals and prayers, Apollo came and refused to leave. Then I started practicing Roman-style divination. At that point, Apollo instructed me on how He wanted these acts conducted. A hard taskmaster, he drove me to hone my craft for both.

As I worked through this difficult relationship, I came to realize that Apollo is my Shadow Patron. Because He wants what I do to be true, Apollo takes me places that I refuse to go. He does not allow me to “spiritually bypass.” (Note 2). That means I have to do deep sacrifices for Him, which usually involve things that my injured brain balks at.

It is ironic that the God of the Sun and of Logic would have me focus on the unconscious realm. Apollo rules the Day, which is consciousness. By doing so, He defines the Night, which is unconsciousness. By standing in the blinding Light, one can see the deepest Night. Why is this important? In divination and in prayer, the force of the hurt, the grief, and resentment is released. This turns Day into Night.

In Polytheism, divination and prayers are sacred acts. To perform each, the human communicates directly with the Holy Powers. The Pax Deorum (The Peace of the Gods) has to be maintained between the people and the Gods. The Dark and the Light must be in balance for the Dark holds the Light as the Light holds the Dark. This seeming binary of Dark/Light is not Bad/Good, but a nonduality (Note 3) with shades of Grey between the Two.

In my perspective, a Shadow Patron forces you to handle the psychic energy of the hurt or grief. You are forced to cope with your wounds in order to do what They require of you. Since this energy is a form of impurity, it needs to be cleansed. You need to be spiritually ready to do various sacred acts for this God.

Notes:

Note 1. Shadow Gods are traditionally the archetypes of the darker aspects of life such as the Underworld.

Note 2. “Spiritual bypassing is a mistaken belief that if we pray enough…eat right, and only think positive thoughts, our life will ascend finally reaching enlightenment.” Linda Star Wolf, “Soul Whispering,” Page 154.

Note 3. “Nonduality” means “non-separation and fundamental wholeness.” It comes from Eastern Religious thought.

Works Used:
Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities.”
Galina Krasskova, “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands.”
Linda Star Wolf, “Soul Whispering.”

God of the Month: Apollo

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Apollo, a well-known Greek God, is also a member of the Di Consentes (the Twelve Great Gods) of the Romans. For the Romans, Apollo is first a God of Healing. When Augustus became Emperor in 27 BCE, he promoted the worship of Apollo further. Augustus claimed that he was conceived by this God. After that, Apollo’s Roman attributes expanded to include his Greek ones, including God of the Sun. (Sol Indiges is the traditional God of the Sun for the Romans.)

When a devastating plague hit Rome in the Fifth Century BCE, the Duumvirs (Governors) consulted the Sibylline Books. Acting on the advice of the Books, they built a temple to Apollo Medicus (Apollo the Physician). Since He is Greek, the Romans built this temple outside the city. Then the priests invoked Him to come to the temple when He visited Rome. Later, families would go to the temple to seek medical attention.

To the Romans, Apollo is also the God of Divination and of Poetry. To invoke Him, poets would “drink from the waters of Castalia.” In Greek mythology, Castalia was a nymph who was pursued by Apollo. To elude Him, she threw herself into a spring. Afterwards, Apollo consecrated her and the spring to the Muses.

Personally for me, Apollo is a difficult God. I regard Him to be my “Shadow Patron.” He forces me to go places I don’t want to. Since I do write prayers and do divination, Apollo is always there. His hardness makes me into a better poet and diviner.

When A God Says No

In monotheism, when God says no, it has particular meanings. Usually, God’s refusal is explained that it is a part of His Divine Plan. The believer is to trust in God’s Love and Judgment since God knows what is best for all. Therefore instead of focusing on God’s contravening the request, a believer should pray to know God’s Will for them.

In polytheism, no God has a divine plan either for any human or for the universe. Greek and Norse polytheists believe that The Fates who live outside of time decide people’s destinies. A person’s fate could be determined by their family’s luck, the deeds of their Ancestors, their own deeds, and those of whom they associate with. For Babylonian polytheists, Enlil, the Great Mountain, holds the Tablet of Destines which links the heavens with the underworld. However, this Tablet is not a divine plan for the universe. Slavic polytheists see Mokosh responsible for weaving people’s fate. As the Mother of Good Fortune, Mokosh is also the Spinner of Fate. Meanwhile, the Romans could appeal to Fortuna, who turns the wheel, for better luck.

In polytheism, a God may attach Themselves to a family to guide its future. A God may sire individuals within the family such as Venus with Caesar’s family. Therefore, these Gods may have input in that family’s affairs.

In my case, Woden (Anglo-Saxon Odin), Frigga, and Freya are my Family’s Gods, with Woden directly involved with my son. He has many characteristics of a Woden-blessed person – a thirst for knowledge, beserker rages, and shamanic abilities. So I usually consult Them for guidance in parenting my son. Since he is struggling to find regular work, I asked these three Gods for help. They all said, “No. They were not an employment agency.”

Following their refusal, I decided to make offerings to the “Unknown Gods of Work” and Fortuna for help. The beauty of polytheism is that when one God refuses, another may accept. So asking another God is fine, but as in all relations with the Gods, offerings must be made and Gods have their own agency.

Hercules, the Roman God/Hero answered me. He was the last God that I wanted to have any relations with. Hercules is too male and too anti-woman for my comfort. However, I decided to accept his offer, after finding out more about Him. I realized that Hercules understood my son, since this God/Hero is given to bouts of depression and insanity. To become whole again, He labored at difficult tasks to restore his sanity.

Roman mythology about Hercules differs from the Greek Heracules. For Romans, He is the Protector of Rome and One of the Original Founders, Patron of Quarrymen, and Friend of the Muses. What I learned from Hercules is how to be a mother to a man. (I now have a home cultus for the God/Hero.)

In polytheism, when one God says no, it can have many meanings. The God could be warning the person of spiritual impurity. The God desires not to be involved with a human. The God simply does not want to answer that particular request. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask another God. Bear in mind that no God is a cosmic bellhop. Each human enters into a contract with each God to do rituals correctly, make sacrifices, and heed divinations. Mine with Hercules is to make particular offerings in series of twelve on twelve consecutive days on his various holidays.

Periodic Cicada: The Nexus of Time

cicada1Right now, my area is experiencing a cicada emergence. I have found these insects to be magical in their own way. Even their singing has an otherworldliness to it.

In the eastern half of North America, Periodical Cicadas from Brood X invade the countryside every 13 and 17 years. Crawling up from the ground, They emerge at once, in May and June, leaving behind their exoskeletons. For a brief month, Male Periodical Cicadas fill the air with a deafening sound, advertising for a mate. These large Insects spend their brief adult lives with only one thing on their minds – mating. When a Female Periodical Cicada is ready, She will “click” to the Males, “Here I Am!” After mating, She lays her eggs in trees. When They hatch, the Offspring will move underground for another 13 to 17 years.

Living longer than any other Insects, Periodical Cicadas emerge as a single Brood. Each Brood is spaced 13 or 17 years between emergences. This long period prevents Predators from timing their activities to eat the Cicadas. The prime numbers of 13 and 17 insure that nothing can adapt to the Brood Cycle.

Called Periodical Cicadas (Magicicada)), these Insects differ from their cousins Locusts. Unlike Locusts, Periodical Cicadas do not jump. They seem like Locusts because of their larger broods that overwhelm predators by their sheer numbers. After spending many years developing underground, They come up for only two months. Then, the Adults mate and die. Then years go by before another mass emergence.

Besides Periodical Cicadas’ size and numbers, what also makes Them outstanding is their song. Male Periodical Cicadas makes the loudest sound in the Insect World. By vibrating the ribbed plate in a pair of amplifying cavities at the base of his abdomen, Male Periodical Cicada can make his sound heard for long distances. A whole chorus of these whirring sounds resembles a deafening roar of hundreds of kazoos played at once.

Many people have heard Periodical Cicadas, and have not realized it. The sound tracks of many science fiction movies that feature UFOs use the Cicadas’ droning to signal the sound of the alien space ships. Think space aliens, and you associate Periodical Cicadas with them.

The lesson of Periodical Cicadas is living at the nexus of time. For Periodical Cicadas, time merges into one Brood. When They emerge in the present, Periodical Cicadas encourage people to remember the past. Also, They prompt people to think about what the future will bring. In the present, their numbers simply overwhelm people. Periodical Cicadas bend time into a prism of past, present, and future in one moment.