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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Antinous Epiphanes

On the fifth day of Saturnalia I gave to all my friends

A bottle of wine for Antinous and Bacchus,

Four shining rings in honor of planet Saturn,

A horn of plenty in honor of the fruitful Ops,

A bale of hay in honor of Epona,

And a golden acorn for the golden age.

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To Antinous Dionysus

Come, Antinous Dionysus! Antinous Epiphanes, come!

Come crowned with ivy and bring surcease of sorrow.

Come shaking and stamping your thyrsus and bring the joy of dance.

Come with amphorai of wine, with sweet grapes sprouting

from your wild curls, and bring laughter, intoxication, and release into sleep.

Come let us see you, let us hear you, be near you,

let us get close enough to touch you, embrace you and kiss you,

taste the wine of your mouth and smell the perfume of your hair.

O Antinous Dionysus, you may be kindly, you may be cruel,

you may be severe, you may be mirthful, but what you never are

is distant, and in your intimate closeness is my ecstasy.

The Opening of the Mundus on Election Day

umbilicusurbi

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.

The Day of the Mysteries: To Persephone

For generations now this mystery has been lost
that we long for: A Mother. Her Daughter.
The grain. The fruit. A cry in the night.
A light in the darkness. And a child, a boy.
Your mother’s son, or yours?

Daughter of the grain, wife of the shadows,
queen and savioress, your face is my mirror.
I am my mother’s daughter and my daughter’s
mother, my husband’s wife, my father’s duty.
I am my self, none other, agatha tyche, divine
juno, sovereign queen.

I pray to Persephone, daughter of the Mother,
queen of the underworld, goddess in two worlds.
I pray to Demeter, mother of an only daughter,
giver of the grain, the old woman who grieved.
And I pray to Iakkhos, the mysterious Child,
Son of two Mothers, Dionysus, Bacchus, Antinous.

A cry in the night. A light in the darkness. The grain.
The fruit. A mirror held by two goddesses. A boy,
a mortal, a god. Demophoon in the fire,
Triptolemus in the field, Antinous with a spear.
The mystery we have longed for. The whole
world holds its breath. The sacred way is opened.

Liberalia

Liber et Libera: A Dialogue

You are my brother.

You are my sister.

You are my husband.

You are my wife.

Your sister, your bride.

My maiden, my tragedy.

You went down into the underworld.

I raised you to the stars.

I thought I had lost you.

I thought I would never find you.

I am parthenos and hetaira.

I am the lover of women and of men.

You have ivy in your hair.

You have wine in your lap.

I have never loved anyone else.

I have only ever loved you.

Every one you have touched has been me.

No one touched you until I came.

Every one that I wanted was you.

You are every soul that I have desired.

We will make the flowers bloom.

We will make the seeds sprout.

We will make the cocks rise.

We will make the grain grow high.

We will pour out wine for everybody.

All the revellers will pour out wine for us.

I give you my heart and soul.

I give you my joy and madness.

I am your sister, your wife, the starry-crowned goddess of the heavens.

I am your brother, your husband, the ivy-crowned bull of the earth.

I am Ariadne, Persephone, Libera.

I am Dionysus, Asterios, Liber.