Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hestia, Days Twenty and Twentyone

20. Art that reminds you of this deity.
21. Music that makes you think of this deity.


The first thing that comes into my mind is the veiled Vestal Virgin statues (in particular, the one shown), perhaps for obvious reasons. I remember learning in art class that to those studying sculpture in years past, making such a veiled sculpture was almost a final test of sorts, as they are especially difficult to do. (Art class was over a decade ago now, so hopefully I'm remembering that right.) Perhaps less obviously, often when I see a warm autumn or winter fire scene, those tend to remind me of Hestia, as well.

Veiled Vestal Virgin
Raffaelle Monti (1818 - 1881)
As for music, there's not really any music in particular that reminds me of Hestia. Perhaps some Christmas carols, as they always remind me of being much younger, at home, bringing up good winter memories of family for me.

To add on some extra, I see scent is not mentioned on the 30 days, but scent is such a huge trigger for memory for me. The scent of baking bread, of baking sweets like apple pie, pumpkin pie, mincemeat, cinnamon rolls, ginger cookies... all those warm baking scents remind me of home and the hearth. Amber, as well, is a scent I have come to associate with Hestia, and with a few other hearth goddesses as well. I forgot to mention this on the day for offerings, but amber incense is something I occasionally offer to Hestia (occasionally, as my kitchen doesn't have a window, so I don't like to burn too much incense there as it bothers my partner), but I also keep a small box of amber resin tucked away that I bring out to hold and smell when meditating on the hearth.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Hesta, Day Nineteen

19. What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?

Hestia is an interesting deity, because, to me anyway, there's not much to find troubling. Unlike some deities who have questionable myths, or sides to them that are hard to mesh with, I do not feel that with Hestia. I mean, the biggest thing for me would be that Hestia has ties to bread baking, and carbs aren't good for me. Even if I love them. Stop tempting me with delicious carbs!

What I admire about Hestia is that she is stability. She is the home. She is the warm hearth fire. She is welcoming and hospitable, but she will not be trampled on - disrespect a fire and see how well it goes for you. Yet she is forgiving, understanding, compassionate. She is unwavering in her dedication to follow her own path and purpose.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Hestia, Day Eighteen

18. How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG)

Oh Hestia, I have not forgotten about you! After a two year pause (where did those years go?!), I am finally committing to finishing this project for Hestia.

Historically speaking we know Hestia chose to remain a virgin, unmarried, never having children. We know that her Roman counterpart, Vesta, was served by a group of virgin priestesses. But that is all we know.

We don't know how Hestia felt about those who did marry, those who did not, those who had children, and those who did not, those with many partners, those with few, those with none. We don't know about how she felt about people attracted to their own genders, another gender, we don't know how she felt about gender in general. We can know what was the cultural norm in parts and particular times of Ancient Greece, but we do not know, in particular how Hestia feels. It's just never spoken of. It does not come up in myths. It doesn't seem to be addressed in hymns. And in my opinion? It's because she just doesn't care.

Hestia made the best choice for herself, and she wants you to make the best choice for you, period. Hestia wants you to have a happy and stable home, whatever that might look like for you. Not what it might be for you your culture, your neighbors, your parents, or anyone else, only what it is for you.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Physical and Mental Illness in the Pagan Community

Lupa Greenwolf recently wrote an amazing article inspired by an image I've seen floating around the community. The original image showed a forest and labeled it as an 'anti-depressant,' then blow that an image of anti-depressant pilled labeled 'shit.'

I have had a very hard time trying to put into words why this sort of stuff is so frustrating, and so thankfully, someone has done a wonderful job doing something I haven't been able to!

I will say, though, as someone who spends a boat load of time in the deep woods, in grain fields, at rivers, in meadows, etc. - I still need my anti-depressant medication because that's not really how depression works for a lot of people. Thanks.

And I always want to stop and say, hey, if someone had a physical chronic illness you wouldn't tell them not to take their medication, would you? That hugging a tree would cure them? But... yeah, a lot of people would. I know, because having a chronic physical condition as well, I've heard it plenty of times.

And hearing, well, just cure yourself! But that's not how it works... Or even worse, hearing people say that anyone with any sort of mental or even physical illness shouldn't be a witch, or even a pagan. (As if any sort of ill person should be banned from religion?) What in the world? Look, I've been a witch and a pagan for well over a decade, and the idea I shouldn't be doing this because someone else, who doesn't have any idea what it's like to deal with one of these illnesses, thinks they can make that call for me? Fuck off with what nonsense.

Not all mental illnesses are the same. Not all people dealing with even the same mental illness face the same situations. If you've never been in that situation, and you're trying to make that call for someone else, maybe you need to step back and actually listen to the people who are actually living with it - and there are plenty of us in the community doing just that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is in two days here in the US, and I think this is the first Thanksgiving in a few years where I am basically free from kitchen duties! Usually Thanksgiving is at my grandparents, and I help them cook. This year my partner and I are in Denver with her family, and she's the one who gets to help with most of the cooking. My contribution is a bag of frozen meatballs dumped into a crock pot with some whole berry cranberry sauce, and some cocktail sauce. Might sound strange but it tastes good. Thank the Gods for crock pots, let me tell you. Even my grandmother gets a year off, since she is going to my Dad's where he will have done the work. (He bought a new house earlier this year which actually fits guests!) It's not that I don't like cooking, but who doesn't want a break now and then? I'm sure after a million years Mama feels the same.

Since I'll have more free time this year, I've decided to take the time to properly honor Hestia, and make the offerings for a safe winter, since I did not do this during Samhain as I normally would (and it's finally getting cooler out). Since it's Thanksgiving, it seems like an appropriate time to, you know, actually give thanks and all that.

Speaking of Hestia, my hymn was accepted for the devotional to her that will eventfully be coming out, so that's quite exciting for me!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Moon Phase Wall Calendars

I have a product to plug for today's post - nothing I'm selling or anything like that, just something someone recently told me about, and I think it'll be amazingly useful for me, so I'm passing the info along.

I'm sure these are old news for some people, but they're new to me, wall calendars that have the moon phase pictured on every day. The one that was originally shown to me was this one Lunar 2017 Wall Calendar: A Glow-in-the-Dark Calendar for the Lunar Year. Each month has a photograph of the moon as it's image, and each day has the moon phase drawn out, rather than just a percent listed. Also, it apparently glows in the dark, which is always a bonus in my book.

Another I found was Lunaria 2017 Lunar Astrology Wall Calendar. This one has various classical paintings, with poems, myths, folklore, and so on. This calendar also has the moon phases clearly drawn on each day, but it also includes more astrological information on each day. This one is also actually laid out in lunar months, meaning it begins with the new moon (0% illuminated), rather than following calendar months - although each standard calendar month/day is listed as well.

I like the simplistic approach of the first, since I don't really need all the extra astrological information, but the art and such of the second appeals to me more. (As well as actually being laid out by lunar months!)

I know there are various apps and the like out there, but for me it's nice to have something paper that I can flip through to plan out festivals and such, since most of them are calculated by the lunar date. Should be a helpful item to have.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hekate's Night?

So, apparently yesterday was the festival of Hekate's night. I've read about this a bit before, but it's something I chose not to incorporate into my practice. Since my personal practice has a mix of modern and ancient holidays, I thought I'd write a little about how I do choose to bring in festivals, using this as an example.

First, I like to look at the details and history of the festival (be it ancient history, or more modern). In this case, Hekate's night does not seem to be an ancient festival, either Greek or Roman. Perhaps it comes from some other culture, but I have found no evidence for that.

I have sometimes seen this festival called Hecatesia, with an alternate date of August 13th or 16th, but again, there doesn't seem to be any real information on this festival. Sometimes the August 13th festival is presented as something different. Since I have seen Artemis mentioned with this one, I wonder if it stems from the Kourotrophos festival? There are also possible Roman origins there, but again, in those cases it would be something other than what is presented on November 16th.

All of this kind of hits on a personal pet peeve of mine, which is modern 'made-up' information being passed of as something with legitimate history behind it... but of course, the history is rarely really there.

So, looking to the modern practices, information is kind of scarce there, as well! Hekate is described as wandering that night with her hounds and other spirits, and suppers are left out for her, which sounds no different from the Deipnon - which is a monthly festival I already celebrate. (Actually, a theory I have seen is that the date comes from a misunderstanding. Someone wrote about celebrating the Deipnon on that night, but did not note that it was a moveable lunar festival, and copy and paste, copy and paste... and so Hekate's night was born.) The only additional tidbit I can find is it's apparently a night that witches are initiated into her cult, but again, there never seem to be sources to dig into this deeper. Also, this wouldn't fit in with my particular practice anyway.

Another aspect to celebrating holidays in general is fellowship, knowing you're celebrating something other devotees are, but... well, again, I get that with Hekate's Deipnon each month. Aside from that, I feel more called to the modern Rite of Her Sacred Fires when dealing with that aspect - that's the real fellowship night of the year for me, since a large part of the festival often involves sharing your altar and experiences with others. I did consider that a celebration in November might be an interesting counterpoint to Sacred Fires, which is held in May, but that's basically what Samhain is acting as these days.

One last thing to consider is that the more parties, the better, right? Well... my personal calendar isn't exactly empty, you know? (I should blog the whole list, some day...) That's why I consider which festivals to celebrate a bit more carefully. If it's not adding something different or particular for me, there are other things I could be putting my energy towards. That's how I feel in this case. There's nothing particularly special about this night, it is too similar to other aspects of my practice, and I don't feel I'd get much from it. It doesn't mean that no one should celebrate it, of course, but for me it's a no go.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Full Moon Ritual for Selene

This is a simple little ritual that I try to do each month when the moon is full. I prefer to do this ritual outside if at all possible, even on cloudy nights, or inside at a window from which the moon is visible if outside isn't an option.

I begin the ritual by lighting some incense. I often just use sticks or cones of jasmine, gardenia, or other white flowers. For those who prefer lose incense, the Orphic hymns recommend burning aromatic herbs such as bay, lavender, basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, lemon balm, and chamomile.

I take a few moments to focus myself, and then I recite the Orphic hymn to Selene (hymn number 9):
Hear me, O Divine Queen,
O light-bringing and splendid Selene,
O bull-horned Moon,
crossing the air as you race with night.
Nocturnal, torch-bearing,
Maiden of the beautiful stars,
O Moon, waxing and waning,
feminine and masculine,
luminous, lover of horses,
mother of time, bearer of fruit,
amber-colored, moody,
shining in the night,
all-seeing and vigilant,
surrounded by beautiful stars,
you delight in the quiet and in the richness of the night,
you grant fulfillment and favor as, like a jewel, you shine in the night.
Long-cloaked marshal of the stars,
wise maiden whose motion is circular,
come, O blessed and gentle Lady,
lady of the stars,
through your own light shine and save, O maiden, your *initiates.
(Original line is new initiates. I also sometimes replace initiates with devotee/devotees.)

After reciting the hymn a small libation is poured out for Selene. I often just use cool water. While pouring I say something along the lines of, O Selene, may you be well pleased with this offering.

I follow the libation either with my own personal prayers, or more often, silent meditation. After I thank Selene for her presence, and leave the ritual space.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Support

Tonight I went to an interfaith meeting at the reform Jewish temple my partner's family sometimes attends. It was specifically an event for the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities in the area (the Jewish and Christian groups actually share the temple/church together), but you know, secret agent pagan? In truth I've attended a lot of events there and never felt unwelcome, and the same goes for tonight.

The meeting was a support group of sorts? It was a night for the three communities to come together, share some prayers and songs, and speak a little on what the future would bring, and so on. There were potions where we spoke to those around us about our fears and hopes for the coming few years. There are, understandably, a lot of worries. And there is, thankfully, hope to be found, and communities coming together to lift each other up.

This is the beginning of something bigger for this group. Unfortunately, not living in the area, it's not something I'll really be able to participate - but it does make me think about seeking out these sorts of things at home. Now is a good time for it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Oh, America...

I don't usually get into politics here, but you know what... I just feel so disappointed in my country right now.

I'm queer. My partner is trans. We, along with many others in the community are quite worried about what Trump/Pence will be bringing. This morning my own mother tried to tell my sister (not her daughter), who is a lesbian, and myself that Hillary would have been worse for us. What? Worse than a guy who outright says he wants to roll back marriage equity, who wants to do away with protections that are in place... And, you know, a guy who, from all the people he could have picked, picked Pence. The guy who wanted to defund HIV programs and use that money for conversion therapy. (And that's just one of many nasty things on his record.)

This morning I had a little moment of panic, maybe we should get married right now! But then I remembered, if it goes back to the states to decide, we don't live in a shit state (at least in that sense). My heart goes out to all the people that do, however.

NH isn't doing great in other ways, however, and I am likely to lose my healthcare. I am thankful that I got the surgery I needed before it became an emergency that would put me deep into debt. I don't know what I will do about the medicines I need.

If I can go back to my mother for a moment, I saw her earlier saying strong women don't get sexually assaulted - this was to excuse some of the things Trump has said, and did. For obvious reasons, she does not know about the fact that I have been sexually assaulted.

And of course it's not just these things. There are many, many communities out there right now who are very nervous about what the future will bring. I can't blame them at all. Everyone says it will be fine, he won't really do X or Y, but as of right now we have no idea what he will or won't do. Maybe he will be an amazing President, wouldn't that be something? But we can't know right now, we can only know what he has said he wants to do. If you're reading this, and you care at all, please stand up for these communities, fight for them. Fight for yourself. Don't let these things happen without a fight.

Everything that is going on right now is making me sick to my stomach. I'm going to spend a long, long time outside looking at the moon and praying to Selene tonight, because I really need her peace right now.

(And I'm pretty sure this whole thing just caused my relationship with my mom to crash and burn. She wouldn't let up on Facebook, so bye. We were never super close, she didn't raise me, and we've lived in different states for the past decade. I'm not as torn up about it as I imagine I should be. I mean I love my mom, because she's my mom, but I'm an adult with my own boundaries, and she's crossed them over and over today. I do not need that in my life.)