POEM: Heartfire (for Vestalia)

In the sky above us, in the infinite sky,
Sol the light-giver, life-giver, all-seer,
a flaming fusion furnace 93 million miles away.

In the depth below us, the ineffable depth,
Vulcan the forge-beater, artificer, fire-maker,
a core of molten nickel spinning in the heart of the earth.

Between Sol and Vulcan, between sun and earth,
between globe of flaming gas and globe of molten metal,
our earth, our home, our houses, our hearths.
In our hearths, in our hearts, the fire in our spirit,
the link between gods above and gods below,
the priestess, the hostess, the fire-tender, the focus,
Vesta. Vesta. Vesta. Ave!

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A prayer for Rhodophoria

Pulse-nightclub-memorial

 

Beautiful Aphrodite, hear me.
Gracious Venus, hear me.
Flora and Rosa, kindliest of nymphs, hear me.
Great Isis, who art all goddesses in yourself, hear me.
Today we come carrying roses for those who died of love.
Not those like Tristan and Isolda, pining for each other
after their adulterous affair was interrupted,
nor those sad women who were killed
by men who claimed to love them,
but wanted rather to possess them.
Today the devotees of Antinous come before your altars
carrying roses for those who died because of
whom they chose to love, and because
they wanted to dance.
They wanted to dance in freedom, in joy, in celebration,
in love, in lust, in the fullness of everything that means
life: And they were shot to death.
Victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting,
may you be remembered:
A rose for Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez, 27, and
a rose for Stanley Almodovar III, 23, and
a rose for Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32, and
a rose for Luis Daniel Conde, 39, and
a rose for Juan Pablo Rivera Velazquez, 37, and
a rose for Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40, and
a rose for Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33, and
a rose for Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37, and
a rose for Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35, and
a rose for Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21, and
a rose for Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49, and
a rose for Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24, and
a rose for Franky Jimmy De Jesús Velazquez, 50, and
a rose for Juan Chavez-Martinez, 25, and
a rose for Jerald Arthur Wright, 31, and
a rose for Antonio Davon Brown, 29, and
a rose for Miguel Angel Honorato, 30, and
a rose for Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25, and
a rose for K.J. Morris, 37, and
a rose for Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34, and
a rose for Frankie Hernandez, 27, and
a rose for Akyra Monet Murray, 18, and
a rose for Joel Rayon Paniagua, 31, and
a rose for Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24, and
a rose for Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24, and
a rose for Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25, and
a rose for Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25, and
a rose for Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26, and
a rose for Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22, and
a rose for Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33, and
a rose for Paul Terrell Henry, 41, and
a rose for Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35, and
a rose for Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25, and
a rose for Amanda Alvear, 25, and
a rose for Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30, and
a rose for Angel Luis Candelario-Padro, 28, and
a rose for Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31, and
a rose for Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26, and
a rose for Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19, and
a rose for Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25, and
a rose for Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25, and
a rose for Darryl Roman Burt II, 29, and
a rose for Cory James Connell, 21, and
a rose for Martin Benitez Torres, 33, and
a rose for Luis S. Vielma, 22, and
a rose for Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20, and
a rose for Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36, and
a rose for Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, and
a rose for Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32, and
a rose for every dead lover
who just wanted to dance.

Music for the season

By the time I got to work this morning, I realized I was humming a tune which was not something I heard on the radio, but something I know well because I’ve heard it many times. I started thinking about what it might be from and eventually come up with the album New Britain: The Roots of American Folksong by the Boston Camerata. I then poked around on YouTube until I found a playlist for the album. The tune that was haunting me is “Lady Cassilles Lilt”, but I’m going to give you the track that has a song for today.

A birth and a death

I’m not feeling terribly eloquent today, but I still want to note two holy days occurring.

hermesFirst, the birthday of the god Mercury, or Hermes, divine messenger, communicator, interpreter, and mischief-maker of Olympus. Isn’t this picture of him cute? (I’ve posted it before, but I couldn’t resist posting it again.) I think many pagans ought to thank the D’Aulaires for turning us on to the gods of Greece and the North.

 

It’s also, however, the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the Episcopal Church, he may be commemorated on this day as a martyr instead of or in addition to the national holiday celebrating his birth. Michael Harriot has published a bitter but cogent essay on The Root that reminds us that King was not a national hero in his lifetime, but a thorn in the side of a complacent white majority that was quite contented to see him gone.

What do the god and the martyr for justice have in common? Perhaps just this: They both got in there and stirred shit up.

Two-party politics

A vote for Glykon is a vote for sanity!

No, a vote for Glykon is a vote for insanity!

Glykon Asklepides represents the Foolish Wisdom Party, here to offer you pure and pristine enlightenment.

No, Glykon Apollonion represents the Wise Folly Party, here to offer you liberation through sex, booze, and really bad puns.

Snakes are all about that rising kundalini, amirite? Pure spiritual freedom!

No, snakes are all about getting down and dirty, that phallus, baby!

A vote for Glykon is a vote for a puppet wearing a really bad orange wig. Politicians with bad orange wigs are totally trustworthy, amirite?

No, a vote for Glykon is a vote for a man who will grope your wives and daughters, swindle your sons out of their inheritance.

Don’t vote for Glykon! Vote for Glykon! The two-party system is the best!

(Sponsored by Glykon)

(Not endorsed by Glykon)

(Who the hell is Glykon?)

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POEM: On the Veneralia

Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_Venus_Verticordia

Let us venerate the venerable goddess
who gives us venial favors
and bestows venereal pleasures,
the wish-granting goddess who woos us to venery,
the winsome lady whose presence wins joy,
the mother of Cupid whose other name is Amor
(and Amor is the secret name of Roma),
golden and gracious, desiring and desirable,
who draws us all closer with the bonds of her power:
Ave, Venus! Hail to Venus on her Veneralia!
Lady, may your bountiful blessings and favor always grace us.

A polytheist and the Wheel of the Year

imbolcflowersImbolc has seized my attention. It always does. It’s particularly easy for me to feel the shift from the energy of the winter solstice to the energy of this cross-quarter point. It comes to me as renewed creativity, ideas for stories and poems, energy to carry them out. It manifests as lessened depression, greater physical energy, a desire to open the windows even if it’s cold, to get out of the house while the sun is shining.

I say “Imbolc”, but I don’t follow a Celtic path. (I should have known Celtic options weren’t for me when I failed to make any kind of connection with Brigid.) It’s just that most people know the February cross-quarter day by that name. I could also call it the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as older Christian calendars did, or the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, as it’s generally known now. Both of those titles derive from the story in the Gospel of Luke that Mary and Joseph fulfilled the Law of Moses by presenting the infant Jesus in the Temple and sacrificing two pigeons or doves to restore his mother to ritual purity for religious and social functions.

Colloquially, it was known as Candlemas from the Middle Ages onward. Churches blessed the candles that would be used in the liturgy and in people’s homes during the coming year, associating their light with the hymn from the story of the Presentation: “To be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel”. If your parish is sufficiently high church, it’s one of those lovely occasions when everyone present gets a lighted candle and the whole church is illuminated with their glow.

When I finally figured out that I was a polytheist committed to a particular set of gods, I tried to ignore the neopagan Wheel of the Year. There were plenty of Greek, Egyptian, and Roman holy days associated with Antinous, along with days specific to his life and cultus. But however much I tried to ignore it, the Wheel is just… there. As I’ve said before, while the Wheel of the Year is a syncretic, 20th-century invention, it corresponds to real events in astronomy, astrology, weather patterns, and local seasons, and to a plethora of historical festivals. While no culture anywhere ever celebrated the Wheel, a lot of different cultures celebrated a lot of different feasts that happened to coincide with those eight dates.

In Antinoan cultus, we observe the Stella Antinoi on January 29th. The god’s defeat of the restrictive archons of the underworld culminates in his ascent to the heavens as Navigator of the celestial Boat of Millions of Years. We commemorate the appearance of a new star in the constellation of the Eagle shortly after his death, a confirmation of his divinity. Antinoan devotees frequently observe Lupercalia, the Roman festival of purification and fertility in the middle of February.

fireandiceFor me this season is about fire and ice: Bright sun shining on patches of ice on the sidewalk. Shoots of grass and crocus flower pushing up from the dirt on bitterly cold days. Biting winds and the mourning doves begin to call again, the house sparrows beginning to do their absurd little mating dances. Something changes in the sky, and something in the earth shifts to meet it; the serpent in the earth rises up to meet the bird descending from on high.