Tag Archive: religion

Fluidity of -theisms

When asked what I believe with regard to the number of the gods, my answer is generally simple, that I am a polytheist. I don’t think, at this point, that I need to explain what that means to most readers, but just for the record: I believe that the gods are many, distinct individuals.  For the most part, each is a separate god- Aphrodite is not also Venus, Ares is not also Mars. I think that there are a few exceptions, such as Odin/Woden/Wotan, but I don’t know enough about them to do more than say that I suspect that they are the same deity- and they are exceptions.

Sometimes, I’ll go so far as to mention that I am also a panentheist- believing that god or the divine is within everything. I’ve seen it asked to others in the past how one can reconcile the idea of there being both many gods and god within everything. It’s fairly simple in my mind, though I’ve only recently come up with a clear explaination:

I don’t believe in any one entity called “God”. I believe in many gods. And I believe in something that I refer to as “the divine” (I don’t really like this word for this use, but I’ve yet to come up with something better). I believe that what I call “the divine” is a basic building block of life for metaphysical beings. In other words, “the divine” is to gods and spirits as carbon is to people, goats and great saguaro cacti. I also believe that some of this divine stuff is contained within anyone or anything that has a spirit or soul. No, I’m not going to go so far as to call myself an animist and say that I believe that everything has a spirit or soul. So maybe that makes me a panen(somethings)theist or something. I can deal with that, and if it’s important, I’ll eventually figure the rest out.

What I can’t reconcile in all this- and don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly struggling, I’ve mostly accepted it as an occasional personal experience and while it baffles me a bit, I see no pressing need to justify it- is that from time to time, usually in a ritual or moments of particularly strong religious inspiration, I will abandon all belief in any other gods or any other concept of “the divine”- in these moments, there is only one god, and that god is Apollo. I can’t explain it, I don’t understand it, it just is that way.

Maybe it’s that there are times that His presence is so strong that He eclipses all possibility of any others in my limited human understanding. Or maybe something causes my perception to shift and in those moments, a monotheistic view makes the most sense.

I don’t know how it is that I can slide so fluidly between my normal polytheistic beliefs and those instances of monotheistic belief where Apollo is the only god (and please believe me, in those moments, there is no question in my mind abut it.) and just as seamlessly back to my normal beliefs, but it happens. I’d be curious to know if anyone else gets anything like this.

Note: It’s been a long time since I’ve discussed this online. The last time I did was on a list that was rife with neoplatonists who patted me on the head and insisted that Apollo most be the filter through which I understand The All. I am not a neoplatonist, I am not an emanationist, this is not what I am talking about. I welcome comment and discussion, but I do not want a replay of that.

Devotional Bracelet for Apollo

I made this bracelet earlier today, based on the ritual that I wrote about in my last post. I had been feeling a bit of an itch to swing by my local bead store and possibly put something together for several days now, but I didn’t really know what until I got there. I rememmbered the green oval-shaped beads which sorta remind me of leaves, and several different pink beads which had flowery designs to them. Roses are an item that I frequently offer to Apollo, and I thought it would be a great idea if I could make a bracelet based on the bay leaf devotional- seven leaf beads with rose beads spacing them.

Well, the simple fourteen-bead bracelet that I had in mind didn’t work out. The green beads are rather large, and to string only seven of those together would create a bracelet far too large for my wrist, nevermind the flower beads to space them. Also, to buy fourteen beads of the sort I wanted- seven of the green beads, seven of the flower beads like the large one pictured above would have been extremely expensive.  so I had to look at other options. There were n other green beads to my linking for this project, they had to be the one pictured. There were smaller rose-like beads. So I decided on one large rose bead and two leaf beads,  and for the actual counter beads, seven smaller rose beads. There are twenty-eight smaller spacer beads, their arrangement is merely my aesthetic preference.

(Apologies for the low picture quality- the only digital camera I have at the moment is the sorry VGA camera on my cell phone.)

This is a ritual that I don’t do as often as I really should. It has no particular origin, it just sorta happened on its own and became a somewhat regular thing for me. This is an easy ritual to add things for a longer occasional observance, or to do very simply on a daily or otherwise more frequent basis.


-Seven bay leaves (I prefer fresh leaves. They’re not quite as easy to find as dried, but some larger grocery stores will have them in their produce department- I’ve found them so far in Wegman’s Safeway and Giant in my area. They are far ess expensive- usually around $2.50 for a whole package instead of several dollars more for a small bottle containing far fewer. The fresh leaves keep for several weeks (I think I’ve had them for up to two months in the time) in the refrigerator. I generally try to offer leaves that are undamaged and have found that dried packaged leaves are often cracked or broken. Another source of fresh leaves, if you have one available to you, would be a bay laurel tree.)

-bowl in which to place the leaves

Optional: candles, incense, beverage to libate

I do this at Apollo’s shrine in my temple room. I generally sit on the floor where I have to look up slightly to see Apollo’s statue. I generally start by lighting one or two candles- I have a stash of Mediterranean Cypress votive candles from Yankee (a scent which is, very sadly, discontinued.)

I light these candles and sit down at the shrine. Generally, I immediately then light a stick of incense (I usually use Wildberry brand peach or awapuhi incense. It used to be Green tea before Wildberry stopped producing it. No particular reason for these scents, they are just what I started using a couple of years ago and have stuck. Sometimes I burn cedar or lemongrass incense instead. They all seem to be favorably received.)

After that, I spend some time meditating on what my intention is- the intention of this ritual has generally either been to thank Apollo for blessings, or to make offerings that are more abstract in nature.

When I am ready, I take the leaves one at a time, pick each one up, hold it in my hands, and concentrate on what it is that I’m offering or thanking him for. I mentally place my offering/thanks into the leaf, and place the leaf in the offering dish (you could also write your thoughts on larger leaves with a fine-point pen). I do this for all seven leaves.

Sometimes, after that, I’ll pour a libation- usually white wine)- over the leaves. Alternately, I also sometimes will pour the wine into the bowl first and place the leaves in the wine. There’s no real difference in the order.

After this, I generally will meditate or do other things at my shrine until the incense is burned out.

When it’s time to dispose of the leaves, do so when and how you see fit. I end to let the leaves fill up the bowl and then put them all into a plain wooden box that you can get at craft stores. When the box is full, I re-offer the entire thing by way of burning in a ritual fire.

New Hellenic Web Forum

Well RJ over at Urban Hellenistos decided to make himself a Hellenic web forum.  Asked me to be moderator so he could slack off.

What does that mean?

That, my dear readers means that yours truly is going crazy stickying threads and compiling lists of links and ancient hymns and stuff.  So go “ooh” and “ahh” over my efforts already.

Oh, um, and RJ might have something to do with it too.  I think this is going to be a rather cool forum.  It’s basically aimed at anyone with any sort of Hellenic religious interest from the pure Hellenic reconstructionists to the Hellenic-inspired neopagans to Greco-something else syncretists. And we’ve got a sense of humor about ourselves too. So come check it out.Doesn’t matter if you’re so new you’ve never even heard of Homer, or you’ve been around the block a few times, it’s turning out really well so far and it’s only been a few days.

The Hazards of Devoted Cultus

I ran across this blog post yesterday at Of Thespiae yesterday while surfing blogs. At this point in time, I have no need, want or right to jab indignantly at this post and say “See, I worship all the gods too! I don’t ignore them in favor of Apollo!!!!!”* But I think it’s worth linking because there people out there who are under the impression that everyone or at least most who is highly devoted to a specific deity or small group thereof is ignoring all the rest in the pantheon.

The Hazards of Devoted Cultus

One of the problems I’ve encountered with having highly devoted cult reverence to Eros, Apollon, and The Muses (of course, it seems that Apollon bloggers are a dime-a-dozen these days, heck, I list three of them in my side-bar) is that there are going to be misconceptions amongst co-religionists who do not participate in your cult reverence. Oi Theoi. Here are two of the most highly misconceived things about cult practise:

*I confess myself extremely Apollo-centric, in case you haven’t noticed. I do not worship Him exclusively, but very close to it lately.