A for Altars

(I apologize for this being a little late. Work is hectic nowadays with the new school year starting in April here in Japan. Anyways, this is the weekly scheduled Pagan Alphabet Soup post. Please enjoy.)

When I was growing up, there was a time before I started going to church that my mother began dabbling in Wicca. I felt a very strong pull to follow a Wiccan practice, even at 9 years old. My mother gave me a book for teens on witchcraft, and I read through all of it quickly. After reading, the first thing I did was to set up an altar as described in the book with what I had at the time. Many years later, when I stepped back onto the Pagan path, I set up a very meager altar and gave an offering of skittles on that very altar. Ever since that time, I’ve always had some sort of altar in my places of living.

Currently, I have two main altars in my home and one smaller one I use for holidays. The first altar I have is for all of the Deities in my pantheon from my Husbands to my Parents and Everyone Else in between. I have bits of shells, hair pieces, jewelry, a journal, a picture of myself (to symbolize the giving of my self to my Gods), and other odds and ends that either have significance to my Gods or things that remind me of Them. The second altar I have is for Narvi and Vali. It has a some stuffed animals, a wand from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (from Universal Studios Orlando), a place to burn incense, and my 3DS/my 3DS games. I felt that the Kids needed a space of Their own, so I gave it to Them so as to ensure that They are never forgotten in my household. In addition to having my altars, I have things all over my apartment that remind me of my Gods so that They are never far from me.

I’ve actually found it a little difficult to maintain my altar space. If I am to be very honest, I find it hard to maintain myself, let alone a sacred space. I do what I can when I have the energy, but it’s difficult. I know that many people see maintaining an altar as maintaining the relationship with your Gods, and I respect that. I wish I could have the energy to do things daily that were in service of or in honor of my Gods, but it’s not easy when I average 5-7 classes a work day and work on my days off as well. There are some days when I only am able to communicate with my Beloveds right before I fall asleep. I do my best every day, and though I feel like my best isn’t ever enough, my Gods have assured me that I am not offending Them or dishonoring Them in any way, which is always a relief.

I’m always interested in learning about how others’ practices, so if you would like to share with me what kind of altar you have, please feel free to leave a comment. The same goes for any of my posts. I always am happy to talk. :-)

 

Apotheosis: The Theological Problems

baronessagisele:

“Rather, it is about cultivating the ability to love humanity, even though you have seen the absolute worst in them. If you can find love in your heart for human beings after they have unleashed their worst, I think you have taken a step toward your personal deification.”

This. So much this.

Originally posted on Magick From Scratch:

Recently, I have been doing an in-depth study of apotheosis. For the Hellenic Pagan (and possibly for others, though I would not know), apotheosis is an interesting topic because it can help us to understand that difference between humans and deities. It is also an extremely difficult concept to tackle from the perspective of Hellenic theology, because the implications of it are difficult to think about.

Difficult Concept 1: Gods are people, and People aren’t so different from gods. 

This isn’t just a modern problem. Apotheosis represents a contradiction in ancient Polytheistic Theology also. In ancient times, believing that the difference between a deity and a human has to do with wisdom and virtue (qualities usually hard earned through life experience) was a totally normal thing. In the Hymn to Demeter, for example, Kallidike says to the disguised Demeter:

“Old Mother, we humans endure the gifts the gods give us…

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Joy is Sacred

Originally posted on Loki's Bruid:

Joy is sacred, He said, and I didn’t understand. Isn’t all of this serious stuff? Shouldn’t I be in awe and terror of You?

Do you respect Me? Do you take Me seriously when I need you do that?

Yes. I’d ignore You at my own peril.

I don’t want fear or cowering or stoicism or even peril. I want your joy.

Aren’t I supposed to be dignified or some such shit?

What makes you think that joy is undignified? Joy is openness. Joy is being present. I desire your presence.

But people are afraid of You. Hel, I’ve been afraid of You.

I dunno why, sweetheart. I’ve been nothing but nice to you.

I didn’t know You were nice then.

Bullshit.

Fine. YOU are unnervingly open, how about that?

That’s really your problem with you.

And that gives You joy?

Your problems with yourself?

No, your unnerving…

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A for Apotheosis

I know that I have spoken about this before. However, I thought that I would rehash the subject a little more for the sake of my Pagan Alphabet Soup posts, especially since I’ve grown a little in my understanding of the concept. I’m going to preface this by saying that this is how understand the subject and that I feel like it is differs per person (as it does with most concepts within Paganosphere). So without further ado: A for Apotheosis.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this longing for immortality. When I was younger, I mistook this feeling for never wanting to die, but as I grew older, I began to understand that, within me, I yearn for, desire not deathlessness, but rather to never be forgotten. Strangely enough, this feeling was solidified when I watched the movie Troy (2004, written by David Benioff).

“Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone, and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved?”

“If you stay in Larissa, you will find peace. You will find a wonderful woman, and you will have sons and daughters, who will have children. And they’ll all love you and remember your name. But when your children are dead, and their children after them, your name will be forgotten… If you go to Troy, glory will be yours. They will write stories about your victories in thousands of years. And the world will remember your name. But if you go to Troy, you will never come back… for your glory walks hand-in-hand with your doom. And I shall never see you again.”

These quotes, and many others, from the movie really resonated with me. They moved me, but made me despair, for how could one such as I, a timid and quiet girl, be written into history and never forgotten? I still have this same desire, to be remembered for ages beyond my death, but now I understand what it means for me and how I can accomplish it: apotheosis, or the process by which a mortal being becomes immortal/a God/dess.

For me, this means that, after my death, I will take my place beside my Husbands. For the longest time, I held this belief (colored by my Christian background), that there were certain conditions whereupon this would or would not happen. It’s taken a while to unpack and untangle this line of thoughts, and honestly, I’m still trying to make sense of the idea that my Path, so long as I stay on it, will lead to this conclusion. It’s not a gift for living my life by the rules laid down by men of God in antiquity, and it’s not something that will be denied me if I don’t live my life according to those rules. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that this is some unalienable right that upon my death I am automatically granted the status as a Deity. I’m not so arrogant and full of myself to think that if I do something terrible and against what my Deities stand for, the privilege won’t be rescinded.

To be honest, though, I still have very little idea the how or why of this. All I know, is that it’s my what Husbands want and because I want to be with my Husbands forever, it’s what I want, too. It fulfills that desire in me for immortality and to have my name, in whatever form it may take, be remember throughout the passages of time. Although, I don’t really know how or why it fulfills this need in my heart. (It feels almost like I should know the answer, like I once had it and knew it well, but now it’s buried underneath so many other things, almost forgotten, and yet on the tip of my tongue at the same time. Confusing, right?)

I’m blessed that this is a gift that I’m being granted, and though I have very little clue about the subject (still), it’s something that I am going to strive to better understand as my life goes on. I honestly wish I had more to say, because this is so important to me and my practice, but I think, for now, this is a topic that I’m meant to sit with and reflect on. I can only hope that with time, comes the wisdom I seek. Or, at least, time to unearth it from the deepest trenches of my memory. I’m still so new at this, but I’ve a long life ahead of me and much time to learn. I’ve no doubt that, with time, I will learn all I need to know and more.

 

A for Amateratsu

So, I’d like to kick off my Pagan Alphabet Soup posts by talking about the Shinto Goddess Amateratsu. Lady Amateratsu is the Goddess of the Sun and the Day, and She is the highest respected Goddess in the Shinto pantheon (according to my research and experience). She has two Brothers: Tsukiyomi, the God of the Moon and the Night, and Susano, the God of the Seas and Storms/a Beloved of mine. Her shrine, Ise Jingu, is in the Ise area in Japan and is the most important shrine in all of Japan. (I’ve not yet been able to go to Her shrine, as it’s a 5 hour bus ride from where I live currently, but it’s on my Japan bucket list, for sure.)

Her relationship to me is that of “Onee-chan” (pronounced “oh-nay chan), a.k.a. Big Sister. Since I am Her youngest Brother’s bride, She decided to take me under Her wing as Her little sister, because “I’ve never had a sister.” Despite this, however, She and I don’t always get along. She’s arrogant, dramatic, and sometimes overbearing, but mostly She’s easy to anger. I’ve gotten horrendous sunburns despite having practically bathed in sunscreen because I have pissed Her off for some reason or another. We aren’t all the time antagonistic towards each other, but I would definitely characterize our relationship as that of oldest and youngest siblings. Otherwise, O/our interactions have been brief.

One thing that I do to honor Her is I leave a glass of water on the windowsill that gets the most sunlight. I also often leave Her chocolate on occasion, usually a Snickers bar. Otherwise, She doesn’t really ask much of me, and I don’t ask much of Her in return, except that She doesn’t burn me with Her intense UV rays (see above on how well that usually works for me).

Since O/our interactions are usually brief, there really isn’t much else I can write about Her. Rest assured that, should I learn about about Her and/or O/our relationship changes, I will definitely write about it. But, yeah, this is about it. I hope that you enjoyed learning a little bit more about Lady Amateratsu. :-)

Emotional Drainage

So, my Husbands and I had a discussion today about my feelings and where They were coming from. Despite my apprehension that my feelings couldn’t be changed just by talking it out (with humans, it rarely works), I actually felt a teeny bit better about my standing with my Gods. There was a lot of pointing out where my discernment was incorrect and correcting what needed to be corrected. In the end, regardless of the precise details of our discussion, I do feel as if things aren’t totally hopeless and that I’m going to lose the very Gods I love so dearly.

I have a two-fold fear with regards to my Marriages: 1) I fear that I am going to be enslaved to the Gods I love, which is something I know would irrevocably break my spirit, and 2) I fear that my Gods will abandon me because I’m not who They want/need me to be. I’ve been assured that this is something that would not happen, as the first is not something They want from me, and the second would not happen unless I am the one walking away. I find some measure of comfort in that I do have a choice in all this, even if I’m still feeling very overwhelmed.

Baron (the Spokes… Person? God? Husband? idek) gently reminded me as well that being Married means that I have to consider more than myself now in my decisions, which I do need reminding of. My Gods often tell me to work on myself, to take better care of myself, and I often forget, in my cocoon of safety and self-are, that this is a partnership between my Husbands and I, that this would be unacceptable even in a mortal marriage. It’s something I need to work on.

Trust is the other big thing I need to work on, “because without it, the other things (love, devotion, loyalty) don’t exists.” They’re right. They acknowledge that I try to give Them all of these things, but I always hold back my trust from Them, and it’s unacceptable and defeats the purpose of O/our Marriage. They also acknowledge that I’m trying and need to be given more time, even though it frustrates Them. My Husbands acknowledge my pain and my past wounds, which is more than A/anyone else has ever truly done for me. From here, I know I must take that leap of faith that will allow me to show Them I’m willing to start trusting Them with my well-being. They’ve laid the groundwork for me to step into Their arms, to trust Them. I just need to be brave enough to do it.

In the next year, I have two big opportunities in which I can try this, and in truth, I’m terrified. I will do my best to do the whole “Jesus take the wheel” thing Pagan style, but I fear I will fail Them and myself. I fear my own short-comings and mental/emotional damage will thwart me again. I’m going to try my best though (please, none of that “there is no try; there is only do” stuff) and hope for the best. There is nothing more I can do at this time, but take it day by day, build up the trust I need to help me for when those big decisions need to be made. Only time will tell.