Gods of Babylon of the Month: March/April

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The beginning of the Babylonian year starts at the Spring Equinox. During Nisannu (Mar/Apr) of the Babylonian Calendar), the new moon after the equinox, the Akitu, the New Year Festival is held for twelve days. It starts with purifications and then the Enuma Elish (the Babylonian Creation Epic) is read. This myth begins with the original creation of the world by Tiamat, the God of Chaos, and Apsu, the God of Waters. Later Enlil, a God from the succeeding generation becomes the “Father of the Gods.” Eventually, He cedes his powers to Anu, from yet a newer generation of Gods, who seeks to overthrow the original Gods. After Apsu is killed, Tiamat wages war on the newer Gods. In desperation, Enlil goes to Marduk, the principal deity of Babylon, for help. On the condition that He is made the Ruler of the Gods, Marduk agrees. After killing Tiamat, Marduk remakes the world from her body.

During the Akitu, Marduk disappears. While his and Nabu’s temples are being cleansed, the people search for Him. At this time, they carry the statues of the other Gods to Marduk’s temple. Meanwhile, Nabu, the Scribe of the Gods and Marduk’s Minister, searches for and then frees Marduk from the Underworld. Then in his temple, the priests re-enthroned Marduk as the Ruler of the Gods. Afterwards, they do divination for the coming year. The festival ends with celebrations and the return of the Gods to their shrines.

Meanwhile to begin the growing season, the King would enact a sacred marriage with the temple priestess of Ishtar (Inanna). Their mating is to reaffirm the marriage of Ishtar, the Goddess of Fertility, with her husband, Tammuz (Dumuzi). These marriage rites ensure that the King is accepted as one of the Gods, and blessed by Ishtar, who also blesses the crops.

For Sumerians, the month is called Barazagar (Mar/Apr), the month of first offerings. The Akiti-Sekinku, the festival of harvesting barley, which starts at the full moon. For them, the month’s name – The Goddess of Barley Ashnan is honored as the “good bread of the whole world.”
Note: The Babylonians had a lunar calendar, and added months beyond the 12-month year. They kept their year keyed to the equinoxes. Between 1750 – 1500 BCE, they standardized their calendar – the Standard Mesopotamian Calendar to unify their empire.

Babylonian New Year’s Festival

God of the Month: Marduk of Babylon

God of the Month: Nabu, Babylonian Patron of Writing

Tiamat

God of the Month: Inanna (Ishtar)

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Soul Retrieval and Polytheists

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As a Roman Polytheist, I discovered the durability of my multiple souls (Note 1) when I had my traumatic brain injury. When one soul becomes damaged as what did happen to me, it grows back. A soul will regenerate slowly. In my case, it took three years. My major concern during this time was to prevent anything else from coming in. Therefore, I made offerings to my Juno (female Genius) to watch over me. Also, I wore a bulla (a Roman talisman) to ensure my safety from the “evil eye.”

After my accident, several Core Shamans offered to help me. They wanted to do a shamanic retrieval to bring back my “lost” soul. Although they were well-meaning friends, I had to refuse.

The concept and protocol for Soul Retrieval by Core Shamans was developed by Sandra Ingerman. (Note 2) (Note 3) After suffering a stroke in the 1980s, Michael Harner, who started the Foundation of Shamanic Studies, had Ingerman replace him. It is from Ingerman’s writings that the modern beliefs about soul retrieval took shape.

Ingerman’s background is that of a mental health professional. She bases her theories on the writings of Carl Jung. There is the Higher Self of Humanity/God, the Conscious Self, and the Unconscious Self. Ingerman explains, “When we talk about soul we are really talking about light. In returning the soul parts and lost vitality to the client we are really returning light.” (The “light” is the Higher Self.)

For Ingerman, soul loss can come from daily life. She writes, “A reflection of how much soul loss people are dealing with is evident when so many governments and businesses are valuing money over life.” In her book on Soul Retrieval, Ingerman notes, “Although soul loss is a survival mechanism the problem from a shamanic point of view is that the soul part that left usually does not come back on its own. The soul might be lost, or stolen by another person or doesn’t know the trauma has passed and it is safe to return.”

Ingerman expands on her concepts of soul loss. “The basic premise is whenever we experience trauma, a part of our vital essence separates from us in order to survive the experience by escaping the full impact of the pain….It is important to understand that soul loss is a good thing that happens to us. It is how we survive pain.”

Ingerman’s focus in her ideas of soul loss is to repair the psyche or emotional aspects of a person. Although a shaman, she accepts the Monotheistic tenet of a single soul. Going further, Ingerman assumes that the soul is very fragile.

For a Polytheist like myself, a traditional Shaman is best for soul repair. One of the many souls usually needs to be healed instead of being retrieved. During the first five years of my TBI, I went to a therapist to deal with trauma. It served me well.

Notes:

Note 1. The Romans have the genius, renamed by Christians as the Guardian Angel. Meanwhile, the animus, which is the dynamic force of personality, can exist outside of the body. One soul dies with the body, while another one survives to form its own body. When a person dies, one soul will merge with the ancestral soul, and another soul will go to the underworld. The physical (body) soul that lives on after death is called a revenant.

Note 2. According to Ingerman: “The definition of “soul” is “essence”. Essence can’t be harmed or hurt. When we perform a Soul Retrieval on behalf of another we return to them pure essence that brings the client to a state of healing and wholeness.”

Note 3. Ingerman’s protocols for Soul Retrievals include:
• You want to learn how to help someone who lost a piece of his or her soul as a baby or a toddler and now have a habitual life pattern that runs the life of this person. People often notice that a recurring traumatic theme occurs in life that results from soul loss at an early age. An example of this would be a repetitive pattern of someone who always finds himself/herself being betrayed in relationships. …help a client break old patterns and create a new positive present and future different from the traumas of the past.
• Helping a client fully integrate their soul parts so that the Soul Retrieval creates long term healing instead of short term effects that fizzle out over a short period of time is crucial.
• ….share what was seen in a Soul Retrieval journey for a client in a way that inspires clients to move on with their healing process instead of re-traumatizing them and taking them back into traumas of their past. This is key as I found that so many clients were re-traumatized by shamanic practitioners’ lack of education in how to tell healing stories.
• People today don’t need more bad news. People today need to hear stories of hope and inspiration about the gifts, talents, and strengths that are now available to them after a Soul Retrieval which will improve the quality of their life.
• Frankly this takes simple common sense on behalf of the practitioner to understand the impact of his or her words on another….phrase your healing stories so that you bless each client with planting seeds of love, hope, and inspiration. Words can be used to bless or curse someone.

Works Cited:
Gaia Staff, “What is Soul Retrieval?” 30 March 2017. Web. https://www.gaia.com/article/what-is-soul-retrieval
—-, “The Power of Shamanism to Heal Emotional and Physical Illness.” Web. http://www.sandraingerman.com/sandrasarticles/abstractonshamanism.html
—-, “Soul Retrieval.” Web. http://www.sandraingerman.com/sandrasarticles/soulretrieval.html

Works Used:
Sandra Ingerman, “Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self.”
Sandra Ingerman’s Website: http://www.sandraingerman.com/

Dealing with Fairies (i.e. the Fair Folk)

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My friend Diane sees sparkles in her room in the evening and early morning. Pieces of her jewelry keep disappearing and then showing up weeks later elsewhere in the house. She asked me for advice.

Before focusing on any magical cause, I would first eliminate the mundane. I would have Diane be examined for any medical problems. Sparkles can be a sign of eye floaters, which is serious. Once she was cleared by the doctors, I would then attend to uncovering the magical problem.

First, I would conduct a series of interviews with Diane about herself and the incidents. I have observed that psychic events happen frequently around sensitive people. These individuals are usually psychically and emotionally sensitive. Psychologically vulnerable people tend to have more magical problems than the regular population.

I have a list of standard questions for people having magical difficulties. First, I would ask Diane about her ideas about the occult. Does she or her friends dabble or practice in the occult? Does she watch shows about the supernatural? Does she know anyone who could be a magician? I want to know what types of magic either her or her friends may do. The answers could offer clues to if she or someone has triggered a cascade of events.

In “Monsters,” John Michael Greer offers suggestions for questions including those to detect a hoax. Greer stresses adding whether the person had read about the phenomena. He says that the mind can bring forth entities. Furthermore, Greer includes inquiries about the person experiencing any other phenomena. This is to establish how sensitive the person is or how other events may have influenced this event.

Next I would have Diane flesh out the incidents of the sparkles and missing jewelry. Did she have any physical reaction to the sparkles such as tingling or prickling? Other than jewelry has anything else been taken? Are the sparkles seen elsewhere in the house? Are there other times the sparkles happen? What does she feel about the sparkles? Do they give her the creeps? Do the sparkles happen when other people are there? What is she doing at the time? A part of this line of questioning is to root out hoaxes.

From the description that Diane gives, I strongly suspect that it is some sort of fairy. The times of sighting at dusk and in the morning are liminal ones, when the boundaries between worlds are porous. According to the lore, fairies will come into homes. The items being stolen are shiny, sparkly jewelry, which some fairies are attracted to. The jewelry being returned suggests a non-malevolent entity, at least towards Diane.

Before I conclude that it is fairies, I do several mundane tests first. The entities could also be thought forms or an intelligent ghosts. Ghost and fairy lore have many things in common. Ghosts generally do not appear as sparkles but they do take things.

First I would have Diane put the jewelry in a sock drawer. If it disappears from there, than it is something other than a fairy. Then I would conduct other tests.

In Diane’s case, the jewelry did not disappear, I tested for fairies by putting nails around one set of jewelry and nothing around another set. I noted what gets taken, since iron repels fairies. If the entities behave like what is described in traditional fairy lore, then I would conclude fairy activity.

While conducting these tests, I would consult the Runes to see if there is an on-going psychic attack. Since the answer they give is no, then it is not be a malevolent fairy. (Most fairies tend to be neutral in many events.) Then I narrow down what sort of fairy it could be. Among fairies, goblins and imps steal things as well as pixies.

After consulting the lore, I am left with either an imp or a pixy. Both are common pests but imps have an edge to them because they like being unpleasant. Pixies are naughty but not malevolent. I use a pendulum to divine which one. After the pendulum indicated pixies, I consulted the lore on stopping them.

Diane can stop the thefts by wearing her jacket inside out. It will break the spell. If she wants no pixies in her home, then Diane needs to ring the house with iron or steel nails. If she doesn’t mind them, then Diane requests that they return her jewelry. After that, she puts out shiny objects for them to take instead of her jewelry. (Some people believe that fairies offer blessings to those who help them.)

Works Used:
Bruce, Robert, “The Practical Psychic Self-Defense Handbook.” Charlottesville (VA): Hampton Roads Publishing. 2011.
Carlin, Emily, “Defense Against the Dark.” Pompton Plains (NJ): New Page Books. 2011.
Daimler Morgan, “Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fairfolk.” Winchester (UK): Moon Books. 2017.
—-, “Pagan Portals: Fairy Witchcraft.” Winchester (UK): Moon Books. 2004.
Greer, John Michael, “Monsters (Revised ed.).” Woodbury (MN): Llewellyn Publications. 2011.

Roman Gods of the Month: March

The month of March is named for Mars, the Roman God of War. Besides war, Mars also protected the land and crops. Spring brought both preparations for planting and for war. The Feriae Marti (the Festival of Mars), lasts for nearly the entire month and is similar to the Carnival Season and Mardi Gras.

Traditionally, the New Year for Romans began in March, the first month of the original calendar. After the reforms of Numa Pompilis and Julius Caesar, it was still celebrated as a second New Year’s Day. The spring equinox was still the beginning of the planting and war seasons. The Roman Calendar

Juno Lucina
On March 1, the Matronalia is held in honor of mothers. Husbands and daughters give presents to mothers. Juno Lucina, the aspect of Juno who governs over women and childbirth, receives prayers for safe childbirth and fertility. God of the Month: Juno Lucina

Anna Perenna
On March 15th (Ides), Traditional New Year is celebrated. Anna Perenna, the Goddess of the Returning Year, oversees the celebrations. People would picnic and drink cups of wine in her honor, and offer prayers for a prosperous year. God of the Month: Anna Perenna

Liber Pater and Libera Mater
On March 17, the Liberalia is held. Wearing ivy wreaths, several old women offer cakes made from oil and honey (libia) to Liber Pater. Then a large phallus is taken around to encourage the plants to grow and for a good harvest. Liber Pater and Libera are the Gods of the Male and Female Seeds, respectively. Gods of the Month: Liber Pater and Libera

Minerva
From March 19 to 24, the Quinquatrus is held to honor Minerva, the Goddess of the Arts and War. Since the first day is sacred to Her, no blood is shed on that day. The Quinquatrus is celebrated by artisans and students. Traditional Roman festivities included martial arts contests. God of the Month: Minerva

Mars
Starting the 1st of the March and on the 9th, and 24th, the Salii (Leaping Priests of Mars) danced through the streets of Rome singing hymns, and later held feasts in honor of Mars. Horse races were held, sacrifices made, and trumpets purified. Mamurius Venturius, the Old Man of March, was driven out of Rome taking disease and sickness with Him. Gods of the Month: Mars and Gods of the Month: Mars

Retelling of the Myth of Romulus and Remus for Modern People

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Patrick Dempsey from “Mobsters”

Since myths are theology, a way to understanding them is to re-enact them. By taking different roles in a myth, a person can gain different perspectives and deeper understanding. Hidden aspects often become apparent. Meditating inside a myth can yield further insights.

For my meditation, I decided to rewrite the myth of the founding of Rome. After reflection, I choose to write a crime noir story. I realized that at their core, the Romans knew that they were criminals, who “made good.” Romans were realists about who they were. Their focus was on their destiny through war and guile.

Read the myth here: The Founding Myth of Rome
—–
In the City of Alba Longa, the Numitor Crime Family ruled the criminal underworld. The head of the Family, Don Numitor was so powerful that he had a seat on the National Commission, which ruled the criminal underworld of the nation. The head of the Commission (the Boss of Bosses) was Don Maroni (Mars, the God of War). In addition, Don Maroni was interested in Rhea Silvia, Don Numitor’s daughter.

Meanwhile, Amulius seized control of the Family from his unsuspecting brother. After his coup, Amulius confined Numitor to his home, and forced his niece into a convent. To ensure that Rhea Silvia remained at the convent, Don Amulius bribed the Mother Superior.

After Don Maroni found out where Rhea Silvia was, he also bribed the Mother Superior to ensure that his visits were unimpeded. In a few months, Rhea Silva became pregnant. Therefore the Mother Superior asked Don Amulius to come and fetch his niece. After he arrives, she informs him that the father of his niece’s children is none other than Don Maroni. Not willing to offend the Boss of Bosses, Don Amulius imprisons her with her father in their house.

However, Don Amulius regarded her children to be a different matter. He would tell Don Maroni, that the two boys died at birth. Meanwhile, he ordered one of his men to “take care” of them. The goon dumped the twins into the Tiber River. They floated downstream until a stray dog paddled out and pulled them to land. Since she had lost her puppies, the mangy dog nursed the boys as her own. Then, a passing farmer heard their cries, rescued them, and took the babies to his farm. Faustulus and his wife, Acca Larentia, raised Romulus and Remus as their own sons.

Like many young men, Romulus and Remus longed to leave the farm and go into the city. During a trip to Alba Longa, Romulus and Remus got into trouble. Don Amulius’ men dragged them to the “Padrino,” Don Amulius, since Remus had killed their Capo (Crew Boss). However, Romulus escaped, and formed a gang of toughs to storm Don Amulius’ office to rescue his brother. In the melee that followed, he killed Don Amulius.

The Underboss of the Amulius Family recognized the two brothers as the children of Rhea Silva and Don Maroni. Because of this, he offered them the position of Don of the Family. But, Romulus decided that his grandfather be reinstated instead, and their mother freed. After reuniting with their mother, and learning who their father was, Romulus and Remus set out to start their own crime family, in another city.

Empowered by being the sons of Don Maroni, the two brothers gathered an impressive group of criminals. As they searched for a suitable city, Romulus and Remus fought with each other. Arriving at a likely town, their arguing became more intense about who would be boss of the new crime family. After Romulus claimed that he received a sign from their father, he decided that this small town is the place to start their Family. Moreover, he announced that he would be the Don. Chagrined at being ignored by his brother, Remus taunted him for being so stupid to set up “business” in such a small town. Enraged, Romulus killed him. After ruing the murder of his brother, Romulus gave Remus a magnificent funeral. Then, he became Don Romulus, the head of the Rome Family, his new crime organization.

The Weirdness of South Mountain, MD (US)

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One place that I have had odd experiences is Western Maryland. This mountainous region has vast forests, meandering creeks, and wild rivers. It was first traversed by various Native American nations who warred with each other. Later the combatants of the French and Indian War and U.S. Civil War left their imprint with battles. Besides this bloody history, phantom beasts, unquiet ghosts, and odd people inhabited the area. (The most famous beasts are the Dwayyo, a werewolf-like creature and the Snallygster, a reptilian-avian creature.) The nexus of all this weirdness is South Mountain, which is an extension of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The strangeness of Western Maryland includes experiencing displacement of time and space. Returning home from Chambersburg (PA), I went through an unknown portal. I found myself navigating my car through a herd of mastodons, which were browsing on spruce trees. Dodging the hairy beasts, I kept going until I went through another portal back to my own time. I later found out that my experience was not that unusual for this area.

My first response to the area was confusion, and being out of place. I had a feeling of experience multiple selves in multiple dimensions at one time. Being so fragmented had made me nauseous. Since then, when I do travel through Western Maryland, I carry my bulla for protection and grounding.

Works Used:
Fair, Susan, “Mysteries and Lore of Western Maryland.” History Press: London. 2013.
Rada, James, Jr., “Looking Back: True Stories of Mountain Maryland.” Legacy Publishing: Gettysburg (PA). 2017.

Gods of the Month: February

In February, Romans prepare for the coming of spring by purifying themselves, their homes, and their regions. “February” comes from februum (purgation), and the februa (expiatory rituals). Ceremonies for the Dead abound, since a part of purification is fulfilling the obligations to the Dead. For example, the Lupercalia and Quirinalia have specific purifications rites as a part of their rituals. In addition, the Terminalia and Fornacalia are a part of the worship of the Di Parentes (Parents). Meanwhile, the Feralia focused on all the Dead and the Parentalia on the Lar Familiaris (family spirit).

For Roman Polytheists, the focus on the Dead puts them outside the norm of Pagans, who usually follow the Wheel of the Year. For these Pagans, Samhain, held in October, is when the Dead walk the earth. Meanwhile, Imbolc, which is held in February, is the fire festival of Brighid. This time of restrained joy focuses on the returning of new life. In contrast, for Romans, February is the time that the Dead walk freely amongst the living.

Fornax and Quirinus
The Fornacalia is held between February 5 and 17. At this time, in ancient Rome, people brought grain to the communal ovens to be parched in the ancient manner of their fathers. Fornax, the Goddess of Bakers and Ovens, was invoked to keep the wheat from burning. The last day of the Fornacalia is the Quirinalia, also known as “The Feast of Fools.” This is the time that people who delayed bringing their grain came to fulfill their civic duty. Modern observances involved making bread from scratch, and making offerings to Juno Curitis (Juno of the Curia (Wards)).

Quirinus is thought to be the deified Romulus, and represents the Romans in their civic sense. “Quirites” is what officials addressed Roman citizens as. In their military capacity, Romans were called “Romani.” Gods of the Month: Fornax and Quirinus

Di Parentes and Di Manes (The Dead)
The Parentalia starts February 13 and runs through February 21. The Caristia on February 22 officially ends this period of venerating the Dead. During this time, the Lupercalia and Feralia are held. Each ritual focuses on a different aspect of purification, families, and the Dead. The Parentalia is a private ceremony that the family does to honor their dead. The Feralia entails visiting the graves and making offerings. The Caristia is a family feast, where all quarrels between family members are settled. Family unity is then cemented with the household Lars. God of the Month: Di Parentes and Di Manes

Faunus and Inuus
On February 15, the Lupercalia is held. Traditionally, sacrifices were made at the Lupercal Cave in Rome, where the She-Wolf nursed Romulus and Remus. This was followed by the Lupercii (young men) running through the streets striking women with the februa (goatskin whips). This was to insure fertility in the women. Traditional Gods of Fertility, Faunus and Inuus preside over the Lupercalia. Modern observances entail prayers for purification and fertility, the cleaning of the house and self, and offerings left in secluded areas. Gods of the month: Faunus, Inuus, and the She-Wolf of Rome

Terminus
The Terminalia, held on February 23, honors the God of Boundaries. It is a time of purifying the land and redefining the boundaries between homes. The “beating of the bounds” which entails walking around the perimeter reestablishes the boundaries for another year. Cakes and wine are offered to Terminus during this activity. God of the Month: Terminus