Grounding, Daphne, and Elemental Convergence

“Daphne”, by Guangjian Huang.

Back during the early days, I would often mention, though not in any deep way, my affiliation with the nymph, Daphne. And although Daphne, in my understanding and doxa, was a hamadryad, it should be remembered that originally, and before her transformation, she was a naiad, a nymph of fresh Water.

So, as a tree, Water remained an important element in Daphne’s well-being, probably as much as the Earth she was rooted to. I imagine that being grounded in the way that she was, receiving her nourishment from the Earth below, was not exactly the same type of grounding that we understand today in our modern spiritual practices. I also imagine that when the sky opened up to shower her and the other trees with rain, from which moisture was needed, that it helped to wash away her troubled emotions, cleansing her and freeing her of much of the hurt and trauma she was subjected to during the pursuit from Apollon, which itself was the traumatic result of the vengeful Eros’ ire toward the God.

Water is often lauded as a carrier of emotion, and I have found this to be true in my own doxa and experience. Returning for a moment to the lore of Daphne, it is not surprising for me to realize that the pain and fear she experienced during her trial had to somehow be removed if she were ever to truly succumb to Apollon’s will. This necessarily happened after her transformation, because the perspective of a rooted tree, or hamadryad, rather than that of a free-roaming nymph allowed her to finally be embraced by Apollon’s fierce love.

Daphne must have underwent a series of dramatic purifications before she was able to accept Apollon’s love, and thus accept her fate as the vehicle of purification, through Him. In her final state, we see her in a sort of elemental convergence, where Water joins with Earth, and in turn joins with Fire as her leaves are burned to release the virginal essence still residing within her. This essence is then carried up to the realms of the Divine by Air, in the form of smoke lifting away impurities.

This, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of purification, for it is the convergence of all these elements together which fully expresses Daphne’s innate purity, which is then shared with us through the process of simply burning the bay leaves, or in another way by the preparation of khernips, which itself requires Water, sometimes salt, and usually burning herbs or bay leaves, which results in a small amount of smoke before being plunged into the Water, thus joining all of the elements.

So, in these examples, we see the importance of Water as the carrier of the pure essence of Daphne, and the vehicle through which impurities, both physical and emotional, are washed away.

For myself, as one who identifies in many important ways with Daphne, it is little wonder that Water should be so necessary in my own grounding efforts, for it is not only about the cleansing of impurities, but also the release of stagnant emotion, which through Earthen grounding alone I am unable to dispel. Thankfully, however, I was able to figure this out through meditation, trial and error, and some conversations with Apollon in which He all but hammered it into me that I am not, in fact, attuned to the Earth element in any significant way. This is made more evident in the make-up of my astrological chart, which sadly, contains zero Earth.

I’ve known this for a long time, but only recently have I put two and two together. I believe it is important for us as practitioners to be aware of the nuances of our elemental natures, and to take these nuances into account when attempting even the most basic of spiritual activities, such as grounding and centering. If we try to adhere to forms which are less compatible with our natures, we may likely find our efforts wasted, leading to more feelings of inadequacy and other negative emotions. It becomes a cycle of self-deprecation that can never help to improve our capabilities in the areas we wish to improve upon.

So, what does grounding through Water (for lack of an appropriate Water-based term) look like? For me, it may begin with visualization, as do many Earthen grounding techniques, but instead of visualizing a connection to the Earth itself, I see a pool of ground Water seeping up to cover my feet, or my entire body if I’m feeling particularly needy. I then try to synchronize the movement and flow of this visualized Water with that of my blood. Through concentration, the Water which comprises so much of my physical form then becomes inseparable from the visualized Water. It is at this point where I am able to release the pent up emotion, which is washed swiftly away, soaking deep into the Earth, along with the visualization.

There are other, more immediately physical ways to engage with Water in this way, such as running cool tap Water over one’s hands, then releasing the unwanted energy; or swimming, particularly in the ocean and other natural bodies of Water; and even standing outside during a heavy rainstorm. All of these I’ve found to be effective, and I will continue to experiment with other techniques as they present themselves, and as the need arises.

— Columbine

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Touched… or… The Hands of the Gods Touch Others, Through You

By @bryanadamc, on Instagram, found via Google.

When we are called by our Gods, oftentimes our first instinct is to run, to flee from Them and Their immensity. Sometimes we get far, other times not. Sometimes we spend years hiding for fear of being touched. Right now, as I type this, Apollon is within me, and I ride the current of His inspiration. His power is pervasive. I feel it in my skin, and in my breath. It compels me to do many things, to take many actions in this life of mine that perhaps I would not take, otherwise. To be a distributor of His word is one of them.

Oh, I would love Him still, would honor Him still, even without this power coursing through me, for I have loved and honored Him in times when this power was absent. I know, truly and fully, that my life would be made easier without this constant flow of Himself into me. But He is here, within, commanding that I speak His thoughts, and sometimes His words, for others to know.

Even now, after having become His in all possible ways, I sometimes run. I sometimes make walls between Himself and I. Apollon annihilates those walls. There is no barrier that He will not destroy for the sake of knowing that I am His– to hold and to touch, and to command. And in return for my willingness to let Him lead, I receive His boundless love, and His unfettered devotion.

To be touched by a God is to form a reciprocal link with Them. It is to house Their power, and Their thought, and Their smiles and laughter and pain and frustration, also. It is to see inside Them, to learn from Their mistakes, and to know Them in many intimate ways.

They will know you also. They will explore your fantasies and your desires, and They will hold onto your secrets and your hidden emotions. To be touched is to be as one, and to be at home within the halls of Another, as They make a home within you.

And there will be moments when They will ask that you open those halls, both Theirs and yours, to others. Sometimes these will be other Gods, and sometimes they will be human, or spirit– but open the halls you will. By Their insistence, you will open the halls to allow others to partake in your knowing of Them. You will teach by example, and sometimes through direct instruction. But know that though you may be a teacher, it is the God who shall lead the way. Through you, They will touch others.

You may not even always mean to act in such a capacity. For you, the sharing of Their touch may be completely accidental. In such times, you may begin to fear your own mark upon the world, even if restricted by choice or necessity to a small sphere of influence. Actions which you have taken may echo across vast distances and leave traces in the most unexpected quarters. This may cause you to feel that the consequences of your intent are beyond your control. They are. Though we may fear being a vehicle for Their touch, we must not allow the fear to dictate our actions.

Every action that we commit has the potential to be a holy one. Every word that we speak can cause a hundred hearts to melt into Divine hands. Compassionate words and gentle assistance will bring seekers into the fold of the Gods we love and serve. It is not up to us whether this happens, but as vehicles of our Divine Beloveds, we should try to be aware of its potential.

To be touched is to emit Their power in all that we do and are. So, we must be careful. So, we must be wary. Yet also must we be receptive to the needs of our Beloveds, and of those whom They would approach. Because sometimes, we will be the bridges over which They will traverse, in order to grasp the hand of another. And because we are touched, we will feel all the closer to Them, as They extend Their power, and Their embraces forward.

— Columbine

May the Wind Lift Us Up, Rather Than Strike Us Down

“Apollo Bringing Down Arrows of Plague Upon the Greeks”, by Stanisław Wyspiański.

O Lord, who commands the wind in Mastery, so too do You sway with booming Voice, our unfocused minds! God whose turn of phrase is at once enlightening, and terrible, we who have loved You overmuch, who have dwelt with You in peace and contemplation, are here in honored reverence of You!

God of the nimble dance of fingers against lithe strings, Apollon who has breathed life into our mortal exploits, hear us, the beautiful ones enveloped within Your exquisite magnitude!

Hear us, and grant favor as You see fit, to we, the quiet ones who toil in the whirlwind of modern life!

And Lord, do grant favor also to the bold, those who embody Your deep and scathing wrath, for the whirlwind is cruel, and Your people are in need of Your deft care, as brought about by those whom You entrust!

Apollon, Prince of the sword slicing through the air, slicing through ignorance, slicing through all enemies, grant us a hardened defense, and let us remain victorious, from now until all time hereafter!

Blessed is Apollon Telkinios, Apollon Katharsios, Apollon Loxias, Apollon Khrysáoros!

Blessed is Apollon Argyrotoxos, whose aim is righteous!

Hail to You, Apollon!

— Columbine

An Evocation of Apollon

“Apollo and the Cumean Sibyl”, by Noel Halle.

O Lord, Whose presence reverberates throughout the wind and the air;
Lord Who is felt in the vibration of all sound, come forth, if it pleases You to do so!  Hear this mortal voice, Lord, and know that I/we have arrived to greet You here!

I/we whom You have nurtured, Lord, and trained in many arts; I/we who have honored You dutifully, have again come to be taught in the ways of the truly free mind!

Lord of the boundary between thought and word, Lord of Masterful Unraveling, from Whom no lie can be hidden, Apollon of the Orthos Logos, come!  Be welcomed here, O Lord, Who breathes fire and life and triumph into the souls of all who would receive Your Word!

Apollon, Who is the Kind Mentor, and the Firm Instructor, rest here, that I/we may be seated before Your Radiance in reverence and curiosity!  And take refreshment (Libation is poured), dear Lord, before I/we commence, that Your thirst may be quenched, and I/we am/are prepared to receive the wisdom You so generously impart!

Be welcomed, O Lord, and let me/us once more be revealed in the presence of Your Divine Word!

Come, Most Blessed Lord!

— Columbine

On Oracles and Diviners

“The Delphic Oracle”, by John William Godward.

Oracles and Diviners do not carry the final word of any God. They may only give you what they can translate through their own mental, emotional, and spiritual filters, which includes any tools of their trade. First and foremost, an Oracle or a Diviner, is a translator of a God’s Will. The words are not theirs, and should not be followed by rote.

The Oracle’s interpretations of the words should be limited in the beginning, and only expanded upon by request of the querent. If an Oracle or Diviner gives you unsolicited advice or interpretation, politely thank them, but hold onto your own interpretation first. The words are addressed to the querent, not to the Oracle.

If an Oracle insists that you must follow their interpretation, despite your having to walk your very own path, and not theirs, then you have an example of a false Oracle. Not false in the sense that their ability should be questioned, but certainly their well-demonstrated humanity should raise some warning flags.

Because we are all human, and flawed, it is always possible to take ourselves and our abilities too seriously. I liken this phenomenon to a sign-language interpreter being mistaken for the speech-maker during an important event. The difference is obvious to anyone paying attention, or anyone with requisite knowledge of sign-language interpreters.

As it is unlikely that the interpreter has forgotten that they are not delivering the actual speech, it is the perception of those watching which transforms the interpreter into the speech-maker. If no one bothers to question the false reality being woven around the interpreter, it becomes more difficult for those glancing to differentiate the two.

This is a serious issue. Those seeking Oracular or Divinatory confirmation need to be alert, and aware of these types of broken boundaries. I think some of this is due to the informal and anonymous nature of the internet, which is a tool utilized by many Diviners and Oracles, myself included. The ease and convenience of long-distance Oracular work should not be a replacement for the solid and physical exchange of energies needed to discern truth from fiction, and human from Divine. It takes a more conscious effort by the querent to remain focused on the words, and less so on the person delivering them.

Oracles and Diviners are people, like the rest of us– plain and unspectacular. We, our abilities, and our translations of the Divine Will, are not to be placed above the inherent knowledge existing within individuals. In the end, we ourselves are no more than the tools of our Gods and spirits.

A megaphone, for example, has many volume settings. And like a megaphone, Oracles can be turned either up, or down. Common knowledge tells us that the Gods have Their hand on the dial, but what isn’t so commonly known, is that the querent has a volume control of their own. Do not be afraid of using yours.

Another way to ensure that you are not led down an unnecessary detour, is to seek out multiple sources. Do not go to only one Oracle or Diviner. There isn’t only one, and I’m certain that if you look hard enough, you will find at least two translators for any particular God. Probably more. You have all the power in the relationship between you and the Oracle you choose.

Just remember that your interpretation of your message stands above the Oracle’s interpretation of your message. And if they tell you otherwise… walk away.

— Columbine

Move Quietly Through the World

File:Zacharias Webber - A Sacrifice to Apollo - KMSsp602 - Statens Museum for Kunst.jpg
“A Sacrifice to Apollo”, by Zacharias Webber.

This world is a teeming, vibrant world.  A world full of the bitter struggles of life in all beings and forms, wrenching their existence out of the elements before them. The fish move throughout the ocean, but they also are the ocean, as their molecules constantly shift between those of the water, and other sea life.  The land animals dig and scrape the earth for food, sometimes even taking the lives of their Earthly cousins for survival.  They too are mingled in form with their elements.  We, humanity, are no different, for even in our cities of concrete and glass, we feed upon the structures of our environment.

Ours is a society nourished by many sources.  We are of course sustained by the Earth, though in a way that seems almost secondary to the human construct of fame, and its behavioral partner, ostentatiousness.

The desire for a place in the world is one which nearly all people have.  We want to belong, and we want to be valued within the particular social structures we navigate.  We are an animal which needs its own place in the world, both collectively and individually.  Hence, we have occupied many niches, and in so doing, have attempted to elevate ourselves through our achievements.  In celebrating our advancements within the animal kingdom, we have become lost in our potential as a species, forsaking the now, and our Earthly brethren, and also one another.  Such is our way, reflected, for example, in humanity’s conquest, use, and sometimes misuse of fire.

We think of fire as a mere tool too often, and we as its masters, when instead we should see fire as our honored ally.  It has its own life and will, and as long as we respect it, treating and feeding it with the proper care, we can prevent fire from suddenly taking everything we value, including our lives.  But if we do not respect it and its responsible care, we need only indulge in one moment of neglect, and all is lost. In the loss of our once reverent coexistence with the non-human, we have also lost much of our ability to empathize and identify with each other.

We must prevent the loss of these crucial perspectives.  The surest way to do so, is to dismantle the construct of human superiority, and indeed superiority over other humans.  There are no lives which are inherently of more or lesser value.  Each of us, and each individual of each other species, even the tiniest protozoa, has the right to life and respect.  We must protect ourselves in certain circumstances, yes, but self-defense is a far cry from the wholesale destruction of species’.  Because life feeds on life, we must respect life at all costs.

How may we begin to assist in this shift of human consciousness?  How can each of us, as mere individuals, help to end the perpetuation of false ideas of mastery and lordship over the whole Earth? We need first confront any illusions of superiority lying inside us, dormant or otherwise.  And we must be willing to see and accept the inherent equality of all life.

Know also that this is not the dismantling of pride.  Healthy pride is a virtue that all should cultivate within themselves, for one must first know their strengths if they wish to utilize them.  Pride is not boastful, which is a common vice among those seeking an elevated place in society.  Pride is not loud, nor is it domineering.  Pride is the opposite of ostentatiousness, just as quiet humility is the opposite of boastfulness.

One may, and rightly should if circumstance warrants it, visibly champion their right and just causes, and even their personal goals, to those who would listen and contribute.  But we must not let our pride be swept away in this fervor, for to do so may invite hubris to poison our minds.  Sometimes, the easiest and best way to prevent such an occurrence, is simply to choose to move quietly through the world.

In this context, moving quietly means doing right and doing good in small, unassuming ways along with more overt gestures, but also to do so without any expectation of reward or accolades.  When the focus is on the deed and the rightness of it, rather than the audience of the deed, our egos gain the peace of the shadow.  That is to say, we learn that by occupying the background, we may observe the foreground, quietly remaining within the scene while holding our place subtly.  In this position we become more capable of responding to the actual needs of those or what we champion, instead of the opinions of spectators and future contributors, alike.

Imagine what might be accomplished once the ego has stepped aside, what goals might be met quietly, and without controversy.  Imagine how much good can be done when one is focused on the doing, and not the telling.  The gratification of revealing our deeds can be a potent lure, but we have to look past those urges to see what is truly best, and what we truly care about.

By moving quietly, we can attain the perspective needed to see our world in all of its terrible beauty.  In the quiet, truth is found, and once we have attained even a kernel of that truth, we must continue to cultivate it for our own sake, as well as our causes’.   People unknown to us and the world, in circumstances unfathomable, do right every single day, expecting nothing in return.  We can join them if we choose. Then we can accomplish our great deeds, and our vast projects, by moving quietly, like shadows revealed in the burning light of truth.

Perhaps and hopefully, in the quest to better ourselves, collectively and individually, we will begin to reopen the lines of empathic communication between ours and other species.  Moving quietly also facilitates listening, and that is something that we could certainly do more of when it comes to the animal kingdom, and our species, too.

Hail to the Lord Apollon, who provided the images and emotions channeled through me for translation of this article.  May He continue to illuminate our world, while steering us through the chaos which permeates it.

Hail to the Bright One!  Hail to our Prince!

— Columbine

Immersion, and the Revival

“The Household Gods”, by John William Waterhouse.

Every writer knows this little bit of crucial advice. It’s how we manage to convey the innermost thoughts and feelings of our characters without using pages and pages of arbitrary scene description. In this context, we take the reader along with the protagonist, on the journey and into the action as it is happening, not as an afterthought. It helps the reader to suspend their disbelief if they feel like they are a part of the story, experiencing situations while in their midst.

In a way, this could also be applied to religious activities. This is why video and audio contributions from Polytheist authors and bloggers become so popular. People want and need to see how things are accomplished, even if they later decide not to practice in the ways observed. You see, without dedicated land and buildings set aside for the worship of the Gods, we are not readily exposed to the many rich traditions of our pasts.It is true, we have many academic works that we may infer conclusions from, and even scholarly religious works written by Polytheists, for Polytheists, and however grateful we may be for this tradition of scrutiny applied to the roots of our faiths, following the dictates of any written work is limiting. At some point, hopefully, we begin to apply our own intuition to what we’ve learned from the many tomes.

This is the point when we being to show ourselves the true commitment we have, or do not have, for our faiths. If nothing more, practice, offering and simple focus upon the Gods serve to keep us within the fold of our religious traditions, while simultaneously challenging us to make them work, for us.

As opposed to a strict orthopraxy, some may find that building new structure upon the foundation of accepted rites and ritual forms will better suit them in these modern times. I am one of those individuals. My Land is alive and my religion is alive, so why should I be fated to, ever-so-slowly, reconstruct the body of past practices for a location that was completely unknown to the ancient Hellenes?

The answer is I shouldn’t, and I won’t. Instead, I choose to immerse myself in what is now, in the present time.

Some weeks ago, a few of my Treasury Sisters and I were having a chat about names and labels within the various Polytheistic communities, when one of us was finally able to pin down a couple of terms that seem to work for a few of us. One is Revivalism, which speaks to the natural growth within Polytheistic faiths.

Revivalism (seen here in the Roman variety), in my view, is a growth of the spirit which inspired past practices and lore. As opposed to keeping the old ways and stories like we might keep a crutch, the old ways inform how we respond to the very real demands of the Land and its spirits, as well as the Gods, and helps us to devise new but accepted protocols with which to deal with these demands.

I know that many of the things my local spirits ask for may not have been conceivable in the ancient past. Personally, this is why Immersion (the second term to be discussed) plays such an important role in my spiritual practice. In order to become immersed within one’s own local framework, one must be willing to listen, and to be shown what is acceptable to the spirits one works with.

Immersion is the beginning of the path toward a true Revival, thus Camilla has coined the term Immersive Polytheism to refer to this first step, as practiced by those of us who claim the term.

I have talked about this before, though I had no proper name for it then, in my post here. Immersion is seeing from a different perspective. It is seeing, acknowledging, and aligning oneself to this world, as it is, while still maintaining deep ties to the subtle worlds surrounding us. It is allowing those subtle worlds to influence our everyday lives, and the ways we interact with our own world. If witchcraft were the topic instead of Polytheism, I might say that Immersion were equal to living the craft, in each moment of every day.

In this context, living the craft, or practice rather, could mean any number of things to any number of practitioners. Our individuality will shine here as our souls become entwined with those of the Land, and the Gods supporting us. It is important that we accept what is happening. To deny the subtle changes in our awareness will lead to stifled spiritual practices, and a lot of unhappiness on our parts, and the parts of those we claim to serve.

After we have become immersed in the life of our local community of spirits and Gods, the natural step forward would be to record what works, discard what doesn’t, listen, and to watch for what the spirits show us. We are all in this together, and we are all participating in varying amounts of show and tell. This is normal, however, I think that generally we’ve probably done enough telling for the next few hundred years. The future will be built by those who are able to show others their life’s work, and not only tell about it in writing. [Yes, I am one of those people who needs to write less and do more.]

There are so many ways to do this. One could organize rituals for the locals (spirit and/or human), or simply record one’s own rituals for a viewing audience later. One could participate in radio/internet broadcasts discussing important elements of their tradition and practices.

Showing is of course very easily done via the written word, and there are some wonderful anthologies available that give us glimpses into the world and work of others. I am not discounting the power of the written word, but why remain shackled by it when there exist alternatives that some, as individuals, might find more appealing and inspirational to their own practice? Immersion is also embracing modern technology and modern techniques for the advancement of Polytheism.

Once we are in tune with the life all around us, which is participating in this existence along side us, we may begin to find the elusive structure many of us are seeking. We have to build it, though, and that starts within (with help from our a/Allies), as we commit to showing ourselves, and each other, what we’re able to accomplish in this world, as well as the Others.

— Columbine (6/26/2014)