Lore Lessons: A Sacrifice to Apollo

This most recent episode of Lessons from the Lore might be the best. Or worst. It’s the first one where I struggled with something out loud and wound up feeling like I reached the next step in my ladder of understanding.

I could tell you what that was, but they you’d have no reason to listen (except, of course, for the sheer joy of hearing me do voices.)

Everything is the same…

For a long time, I’ve tried to live by the mantra of “everything is the same.” Which isn’t to say, interchangeable.

I do think that the  successes I’ve had in one area of my life can be investigated to look for paths to success in other areas, however. That’s what the mantra is supposed to mean: succeeding here sets me up to succeed there, no matter how disparate the two things might be.

Of course I’m bringing this back around to my blogging and, more generally, my spiritual life. I got busy. But, just as I can tell when I don’t run (I haven’t been doing that, either) because I snap at my kids more, I’ve found that I can tell when I neglect my spiritual practice because I’m more generally dissatisfied.

But, running and my spiritual practice aren’t similar only in that they contribute to my well-being, they’re similar (I hope), in that the strategies I’ve found to make running a part of my life may well help with my spirituality.

First, it’s not a luxury. I had fallen into the trap of thinking that meditating, devotions, taking omens were all things that I did when ‘I have time.’ It’s not how I think about eating, or, for that matter, about running. It’s an important part of my life, and I have to get it done.

Second, success begets success. Keeping to a running schedule for a week makes the next week easier to do. When you hit a month, it’s easier to get the next month in. I need to get a spiritual schedule that’s just as easy to stick to, so that the successes can pile up.

Lastly, it’s a part of my identity. I don’t think that anybody who knows me at all well doesn’t know that I run. Not that I talk about it all the time, but I do talk about it. “I noticed this while I was out running” or “I only know that area from running, I’ve never had to park there” or, most frequently, “I had this idea while I was running.” I don’t talk about my paganism. My wife knows, my kids know I like stories about ‘the gods’ (I tell Bible stories as well as Greek Mythology), and a few close friends and siblings know. But, even though they know, I don’t brag about sticking to a schedule of meditation the way I brag about running. (“Guess who has two thumbs and got three meditations in this week? … “This guy!”)

That last part is a tricky one. Partly, because it seems like a funny thing to ‘brag’ about, but why wouldn’t I talk about the minor successes in my life? Also, I know from  being on the other side of it, that people don’t always want you talking about your spiritual life because it can come off as being evangelizing. Or ‘holier-than-thou.’ (Bragging about running — when you have my figure — just means you’re going to talk about how much you eat, next). Finally, I’m not big on defending pagan beliefs to atheists or, worse, hyper-Christian family members. It’s a fine line.

However, I think that the more I’m a secret pagan, the more my practice will suffer.

Lore Lessons 04

So, it’s been a while since I’ve recorded a Lore Lesson. (Lesson from the Lore? I figure I’ve got to get to ten episodes before I start trying to take the podcast too seriously.) But, it’s been on my mind and, since I had a bit of time today, I got it done.

This episode begins with a reference to washing before sacrifice, but then quickly goes to the ‘prayer’ of Achilles to his mother, Thetis. (I put the word prayer in quotes, because she was standing in front of him.)

Most of what I have to say has been said before, and I’m beginning to wonder if the rest of the Iliad — as viewed through the lens of mortal/immortal interaction — will just be repeating the same themes. We will see.

My Samhain

The first  thing I should say is that I’d really like to find a better name for this than Samhain in the future. I like the wheel of the year, but I feel as though the obviously celtic name and the perennial “It’s not a real high day” that seems to crop up in Pagan social media each year just dampen my enthusiasm, as much as I love the idea of a high day honoring the ancestors and — now, as you’ll read below — their queen.

So, for next year: learn more about Roman holidays or think of my own name.

You might have guessed from the introductory paragraph that I wasn’t really enthused about the high day. I was, however, enthused to finish my Dedicant’s Path. So, I resolved to get it done. However, my lack of motivation made it difficult ot set time aside for a full on ADF ritual. As the deadline (within one week of the ‘calendar’ holiday) approached, I told myself that I didn’t have to do the full ADF thing, I got to celebrate four high days in non-ADF ritual.

That’s what I did.

In the woods, in the middle of a run, I stopped and caught my breath by some water and began to speak to my ancestors. I began with my ancestors of place, and acknowledged that many may not have welcomed me, but said that I would strive to value this place. Then, I invoked my ancestors of the blood and spirit and then, finally the path.

Feeling myself considerably in the presence of my ancestors, I spontaneously asked them to stand with me as I invoked Persephone (I used the Greek name! Generally, I worship with the Roman name!) and I spoke to her.

Here, I don’t know that I felt she particularly heard me. But I did get the sense that I should address her on Olympus, rather than in the underworld (palms up, rather than down). I told her that I knew the separation from her mother was not her choice and that I felt for her not having any voice in the whole matter, but hoped that she’d learned to find some joy in her husband.

Then, I felt called to speak to Hades (again, the Greek name!) and turned my palms around. I acknowledged not feeling drawn to him, or connected to him, but I said I knew that I knew that this was a joyous time for him and that as we moved into the ‘season of dark’ (pretty sure that was a direct quote — this was two days ago) I would try to learn to appreciate his joy, as he, too, was entitled to it.

Finally — again, without script — I felt called to speak to Proserpine again, and I suddenly realized that my sense (is that what UPG is?) of where she was had changed. I felt more compelled to address her in the underworld.

That’s the thing about my Samhain. I really got the sense that my task was to celebrate her return to her husband, to be happy for him, to wish her happiness, and to celebrate them both and, of course, their subjects, my ancestors.

The improvised ritual continued for a while, with me trying to get all the things said that I thought should be said in that moment.

TL;DR: Basically, I wound up enjoying a ritual I didn’t expect to, but mainly becuase it was my first real experience of UPG and I suddenly felt like the holiday had a meaining to me.

Doing the reading

I’m happy to report that I’m making progress towards my dedicant’s path. This is one of the three books I have to read… Though funnily enough, I got two books from this category.

So far, I’m mostly loving it, though it’s a series of interviews and not a well thought out presentation. I’m not liking everyone I encounter in the interviews, but I think that’s part of life.

Connoisseurs of Nature

I’m starting a new book, The Secret Life of Trees, by Colin Tudge and I keep finding parts I want to except here. This one is from the end if the preface:

So this book presents it’s not as it is often presented, as a tribute to human cleverness and power, but truly and spirit of reverence. I like the idea (I found that some people don’t, but I do) that each of us might aspire to be a connoisseur of nature, and conniseurship implies a combination of knowledge on the one hand and love on the other, each enhancing the other.

Is it any wonder that I’m excited to read more? I love both the way he presents science, and also the idea of being a  connoisseur of nature.

Persephone and Demeter – A lesson in flexibility

As I’d been contemplating the stories of Persephone and Demeter — or, by their Roman names which I use in my practice, Proserpine and Ceres — I thought I might as well share the little bit I got from the lore in a Lesson from the Lore.

What really impressed me about the story is that Ceres is really a badass. She has power and willpower, but I wound up most impressed at the one time she choose to yield rather than dig her heels in.