A world full of gods

20180308_101622Vesta’s fire burns on my stove and in the candles on my shrine. She consumes the incense I kindle and crackles through wires as electricity to power lamps, laptops, and everything else.

Apollo gives music, healing, poetry, prophecy, all of which I need. He and Diana shed light by day and by night. Venus and her court bless me with birds and flowers as well as love and desire. Mercury blesses writers as well as merchants and thieves, protects me when I catch public transit or walk across the freight train tracks.

Who better than Minerva to help a single woman further her career, especially in an intellectual field? To whom shall I appeal for just government if not Jupiter, king of the gods? Mars is a protector of boundaries and of the fields we cultivate, not merely a god of war. Juno’s image burns within me, my sacred female sovereignty.

The blessings of Ceres put food on my table. Bacchus entertains me not merely in every glass of wine but in every movie and television show, transforming reality and slipping me meaning and wisdom along with pleasure and diversion. Neptune and Portunus are needed to bless our rivers and our harbor, a center of tourism and of trade. Without Vulcan, would I have a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone? I’m not an artificer, but I need the products of craft and manufacture. With Janus at the door, I sleep safely at night.

Antinous, my beloved boy, god of my heart, carries the gifts of Apollo, Dionysus, and Hermes, as well as of Osiris, and opens the door to all the gods. He is the center around which my sense of the numinous is organized, the heart of the mandala.

There is no god that is not part of my life. They are everywhere. I may not go into the wilderness, but I know that Diana and Faunus are there, just as Mercury and Apollo, Minerva and Venus are not far away in the city. Even a vacant lot overgrown with weeds can be a glimpse of Faunus; Diana’s deer are hiding in patches of woods just off the light rail’s route. Flora blesses the carefully tended yards and gardens no matter how run-down a neighborhood may be.

Other gods are no less real for my not worshipping them. They, too, are present even if I don’t notice them.  It doesn’t seem like mysticism, or magic, or anything but reality. The gods and my relationships with them are woven through my life, my ordinary life. I pay attention to them, and they pay attention to me. Their reality affirms my reality; their sacredness affirms my sacredness. After all, some gods become humans, and a good many humans have become gods….

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The Opening of the Mundus on Election Day

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In the name of Ceres,
goddess of the grain, giver of food,
protector of the poor,
defender of the rights of the plebes in Rome,
in the name of Ceres,
let the mundus be opened.
Let all the spirits fly out.
Let the dead come forth and have their say.
Let the privileged and the disenfranchised,
the rulers and the oppressed, speak their words today.
I call out the Founding Fathers,
Washington and Adams, Jefferson and Hamilton,
Franklin and Madison, and all the rest,
whose words carried greater ideals than they could embody.
I call out with them their wives and their daughters,
the black men and women they enslaved,
Abigail Adams side by side with Martha Washington
and with them Sally Hemings, equally our ancestors.
I call out the native peoples of this land
who saw guns and pestilence,
gifts given and treaties broken,
whose sons and daughters hold the line
against greed and lies to this very day.
I call out the Africans brought here as slaves,
worked to death with less care than animals,
raped and tortured, their sons and daughters
still walking in danger every day.
I call out the Chinese immigrants
who helped build the railroads,
the Irish and Italians who shaped New York,
the Jews who fled pogroms in Russia and
fled again when Hitler came to power.
I call on all the immigrants who came
to this continent looking for freedom,
whether they found misery or success.
I call on all whose labor made money
for greedy men. I call on the children
who worked in factories, losing limbs
and losing life. I call on the women
who held hands and leaped from the Triangle
building to escape the fires, because
the doors were locked to prevent them from stealing.
I call on the women who built guns and bombs
and cars and trucks while the men were at war,
who crunched the numbers and broke the codes
only to be shooed away into the kitchen
when the men came home from war.
I call on Martin and Malcolm and Muhammad Ali
and those who stood with them and marched with them.
Now at last let the disenfranchised dead have their say.
Now at last let them speak against the oppressor.
Now at last let their deaths be seen for what they were,
the spending of human lives to make money,
more for those who have much already,
profit for those whose greed knows no slaking,
power for those whose contempt makes them ugly.
Let the mundus be opened, let the dead come forth,
let the spirits speak freely, and let justice be done:
Let us atone for our past with a better future
where Ceres and Jove together bless the people
with good harvests, clean water, good weather,
abundant food and drink, where Minerva and
Apollo bless education and medicine for all,
where Mercury distributes information and goods
wherever they are needed, where Bacchus
is welcome and Antinous is lauded,
where all gods are honored, but no cult is privileged.
To these blessings I pledge my vote,
I ask the help of the gods, I ask the help of the dead,
I ask the help of the land itself on this Election Day.

Prayer after a blizzard

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The earth is covered with snow, and the birds are starving.
Our cars are buried and frozen, our walkways are two feet deep.
O Sunna, shine on us! Melt the blanket of snow
into refreshing waters for the earth.
Helios, linger overhead, till the bare boughs drip water.
Apollo, sing, and charm the winds into blowing the drifts aside
so that the small birds and the wild deer can feed.
Grannos, heat the earth from within,
make safe our sidewalks and roads.
Vertumnus, turn the wheel, soften the earth
to be sown, encourage the snowdrop and the crocus,
and clear the ground for the birds’ mating dances.
Thor, drive away the frost giants, and protect us
when we burst outside, driven by cabin fever!

A letter from the underworld

I’m not quite ready to resume the 30 Days meme, but I’m happy to share with my readers an unexpected poem:

Persephone writes to her mother

Dear mother, if you are well, I am well.
My lord is well, too, though I know you will not ask about him.
You do not want to hear about our life below,
yet it is of that life I must tell you: It is my life now,
as divine and immortal as the life we lived on Olympos
or in the flowered fields of earth.
Once I thought that I might want to marry Apollo.
He was so bright, so beautiful; his voice was as fair as his face,
his hands as skillful on the lyre as on the bow.
He never once drew near me or offered me any intrusion.
Now I know that brightness can also be cruel
and that dead flesh stinks in the sunlight.
I know that mortals need shade in which to rest,
night in which to sleep, and earth in which to dwell for afterlife.
It is cool here, and dark, and most who come are content to rest
in the earth. For those who have the instructions,
there are pleasant trees and flowing waters,
fruit that does not rot, views that do not pall,
a joy of the mind if little ecstasy for the senses.
But things need time to rot, mother. Without rot
they cannot grow. And I, like fruit fallen into the ground
uneaten, like bread gone stale on the shelf,
I needed time away from you to rot, and then
to grow anew in the cool shade of the deep earth
and the quiet steady light of my husband’s gaze.
I know you miss me, mother, but do not resent my absence.
The woman who comes back to you will love you even more
because the girl she was has died.

Hymn VIII: To Antinous Apollon

You shoot from afar, but your aim is true,
Antinous Apollon, master of the hunt.
You speak from afar, but your words are true,
Antinous Apollon, giver of prophecy.
You sound the harp and the notes ring true,
Antinous Apollon, leader of the Muses.
Where your light shines, we can see what is true.
When you have spoken, we can hear what is true.
When you lead the dance, the harmony is true
between body and mind, soul and spirit, self and other.
Ever-shining one, brilliant by day or night,
let your light shine in me and through me;
let your voice sing in me and through me;
let your truth ring in me and through me, truly.