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. 🙂

 

Water for the Sun and Tea for Love

I’m personally not very big on elaborate rituals, as I prefer the small day-to-day things to honor my Gods and Goddesses. This way, I can be mindful of Them without being overwhelmed with the trappings of overt libations and offerings. (Not that this is bad; I just get way to anxious about everything to do much that is big and elaborate.) So, in this spirit, I conversed with my Deities, and They suggested two of the following things for Them.

First, I leave a glass of water on the windowsill in my kitchen for Amateratsu. I leave it out all day and let the sun shine on it as an offering to Her. That night, I drink the water (in the interest of not being wasteful) and refill the glass for Her. This also, I’m Told, helps me drink more water and be mindful of myself/my needs, while also being mindful of the Sun Goddess.

Second, along the same lines as above, I’ve recently started to leave a cup of tea out for Oshun, when I don’t make myself a cup. Usually, She takes Her offering from the cup that I’ve made for myself, but when I don’t want to make tea for myself for whatever reason, I will make Her a cup and fix it to Her preferences. I’ve even gone so far as to start putting honey in my own tea, which She tells me is for my own good, as well as what She likes. (“You use less sugar when you put honey in your tea, which is a good thing for you, My dear.”)

So, yeah, these are both very small things I do, and both sound very selfish, but since I often neglect myself, my Gods have helped me devise ways to both honor Them and to honor myself, which is something my Gods tell me is very important. I do sometimes forget, as I have a depression- and anxiety-impaired memory, but I’m usually reminded gently when my brain has untangled itself from whatever it had blocked it in the first place. Anyways, this is just a couple of the things in my daily practice. 🙂

The Struggle is Real

The struggle is real: while, to most, this is just another hashtag; for me, it’s truth. It’s reality. It’s life. Depression is a daily struggle, and I have more bad days than good. Waking up is a monumental feat; getting through the day seems insurmountable; and at the end of the day, I resent myself for not being able to get more done than the bare minimum, even though my spoons count was mostly used up just trying to get out of bed. This is life for me, and coming to terms with that is still difficult for me. Having an invisible illness is tough, and I suck at managing it.

I have been told, from several different people, that I need to do more self-care. This is not something that comes easily to me. My upbringing taught me that to focus on yourself only is an act of selfishness, and being selfish is tantamount to abandoning your family. Despite the lowliness of my birth, I was taught to put my family first, even though my family’s ideals are far removed from my own. (Think of me as the white sheep in a field of black sheep.) So, being told that I need to do self-care, then having my Gods Tell me I need more self-care… Let’s just say there was a lot of pouting and whinging involved, as per usual with me.

So, now, I need to begin to do the self-care thing, and despite is being Explained to me as it being a way to honor my Gods and Husbands (“Honor yourself, and you Honor Us.”), it still smacks of selfishness and laziness to me, but My Gods/Husbands are putting the proverbial foot down, and I can’t say no this time. This is a thing They are very serious about, “because you are of no use to Us if you cannot do more than get out of bed everyday.” We’ll see how this goes. It’s hard to do self-care when you find yourself to be intrinsically worthless, but I digress.

It’s time to prepare for the upcoming winter (Winter is coming.) and the SAD it brings. No more whinging and no more crying. It’s time to put my big girl panties on and hunker down for this self-care thing. I have been assured that building a blanket fort and hiding from the world with my Kindle is, in fact, a form of self-care for me, so I have my mission. Now is the time to put it in action!

Tomorrow, when I have renewed my spoons.

Halloween and Los Dias de los Muertos

I decided earlier this year that I would honor my Khalisar (the Ghede, if you are so inclined), during the three day interval of Halloween and the Days of the Dead. The first two days I would honor my Khalisar and the last I would honor my beloved Baron, Whom is traditionally honored on this day. I couldn’t do much this year because I had work, but I did what I could to live up to my promise to my people, as their Khaleesi and as a Wife of Gods.

I lit white candles and burned incense; I left an offering of alcohol for them; and on the final day, I made a huge meal and shared it with them. A friend of mine, Canadian, was with me for the last day of my celebrations, so it made it a little difficult to celebrate as I would have wanted because he is a staunch atheist and snarks at most religious observances. I was assured, though, that my offerings of food and the burning of candles pleased my people and my Gods, so I couldn’t be happier.

Because this was an experimental holiday for me, I have some things I would like to change for next year, but I will continue to ponder on what is feasible for me when the time comes.

My Personal Pantheon: A Comprehensive List

Over the last two years, my practice has grown from just one Deity to many. My mind is blown every time I think about where I started to where I am now. I have no doubt that my practice will continue to grow and morph as time passes and as my Gods will, but for now, I’m comfortable with where I am. (This might be Loki’s cue to come in to shake me up and push me outside of my comfort zone. Again.) So, in honor of my recognition of my comfort and some confidence in my practice, I would like to make a list of all of the Deities in my personal pantheon, from The Big Four* to my Mothers and etc. Here is where you can find the schedule I have during the week for Them. Please enjoy!

– Baron Samedi: He is my Loa Love, my Beloved, my Husband. Baron was the second Deity to come into my life. He is the first of the Big Four. He calls me His Baronessa, hence my blog url.

– Loki: He is the third Deity to come into my life and is the second of my Husbands. The persona of His that I work with the most is the crazy aspect of Him, the aspect that represents the madness He felt once He was finally loosed from His bonds. Some may call this aspect of His as Worldbreaker. He calls me “The Bride of Madness” for this reason. Loki is the second of the Big Four.

– Poseidon: He is also another God whom I love deeply. He came into my life through my friend Shamaness. I am His in a way that I can’t really explain yet and have been since the very beginning of my lives here on Earth. He is the third of the Big Four.

– Susano: He is the Gods that has been my Caretaker since arriving in Japan, and I have come to love Him as well. I approached Him just before coming to Japan at my Husbands’ bidding. He presented me with an Enmusubi comb the first time I went to His shrine. Susano is the last of the Big Four.

– Oshun: She is the first Deity I approached when I decided to try being a Pagan.  With her guidance, I am learning self-confidence and self-love. Oshun is one of my Mothers.

– Sekhmet: She came into my life very suddenly just before I came to Japan. Since that time, I have learned that She is the Goddess that made my soul, which makes Her the Mother of my soul. I love her dearly, but She terrifies me too. We’re working on that.

– Sigyn: Not long after Loki burst into my life, I approached Sigyn to get to know Her more, the more I liked her. I now consider Her to be a very dear friend and a Sister of sorts.

– Amateratsu: She is the older Sister of Susano and is the Japanese Goddess of the Sun. While She and I may not always see eye to eye, I consider Her also to be like a Sister to me.

– Odin: He came into my life shortly after Loki came into my life, and He came in like a tidal wave. It was His presence that helped me learn of the true power and complexity of the Gods. For now, He is a Teacher to me, but somehow I feel that He will always be more than that.

– Hel: With my affinity for the dead, it only made sense to me that I should honor Hel, not only because she is Loki’s Daughter, but also as a Death Deity. She is also Someone I would equate with the term Sister.

– Narvi and Vali: I don’t worship these Two, but I do honor Their spirit and mourn Their passing. I give Them honor in what way I can, including taking Them with me to Disney World. I also have an altar for Them as well.

Alright, so I think that this is a pretty good list of the Gods and Goddesses that I regularly pay homage to. So, now it’s time for me to go party with Baron and the Ghede (since it’s Saturday, ya know?). Adios!

 

Boom baby!

* The Big Four are the four main Gods that I have devoted myself to. They receive the most attention, and I am personally bound to Them for the rest of my days.

My Holidays

So, I have been a Pagan for almost two years now, and I still have yet to make a holiday schedule in honor of my Gods. There are a million reason as to why this is, but it has been a terribly difficult two years for me. However, since I am on “vacation” between jobs, I have been thinking about bigger ways to honor my Gods and my people, which means I have made tentative plans on holidays for myself, in addition to anniversaries and such. Here is what I have been thinking about:

1) New Year: One very big Shinto tradition is the tradition of going to a shrine for New Year in order to ask for favor in the new year. It is also customary to do go through the house and do major cleaning (not unlike Spring cleaning) to symbolically clean up the previous year’s dirt in order to have a clean slate for the new year. One part I intend to add to this for my own benefit is to ritually clean myself so I, too, may have a clean start.

2) Beltane/May Day

3) Midsummer/Summer Solstice

4) Obon: This holiday is the Japanese holiday that celebrates/honors the familial dead. Since my practice involves working with the dead, I would like to use this holiday to honor those that are not only my familial dead, but also the spirits I am Queen over (<===more on this later). 

5) Halloween/Day of the Dead: This is to honor Baron and the Ghede. This will also serve as my Paganniversay as well.

6) Yule/Christmas

So far, this is all I have, and it’s not totally fleshed out just yet, but when I know more about how the Gods wish me to celebrate in addition to what I can do for these holidays (I feel pretty limited by being in Japan, to be honest), I will write it here. 🙂

A Day for Poseidon

Today is Poseidon’s day, as is every Tuesday, but today I feel Him especially close. Perhaps it’s because the weather is finally starting to get better, and the idea of going to the beach to commune with Him doesn’t seem so, well, gross. It’s hardly swimming weather, but it would be very feasible to go and relax on the beach, which sounds fantastic after staying inside all winter.

I am truly lucky to finally live close enough to the ocean that I can go visit whenever I would like. Even before I was in touch with the Gods, I always longed to live near the ocean. For as long as I can remember, it has called to me, and now I know why. According to Poseidon, I have been under His care for many lifetimes, and I feel that this is true. The connection I have with Him is stronger than it would be if we had just met, and with Him, I never went through the begrudging growing pains that I went through with the Others that I worship. He came into my life and just fell into place like He belonged there, which comes as a surprise to me because I had never really thought about it much before.

I am going to try very hard from now on to find a way to honor not only Poseidon, but also the rest of my Gods, in a mindful way on Their designated days. That is the goal for this year: solidify my practice.