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

Advertisements

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)

Ritual Meal, for the Feast of Leto

For the Feast of Leto, prepare a delicious meal, one that you would have no reservations in sharing with the Goddess, as well as Her Children. Set the table nicely, and in the center, prepare a small altar for Leto, with some space for Artemis and Apollon. Utilize whatever images or icons you prefer when making this space. Include a large plate upon which you will place servings of food for your Honored Guests.

Next, you will want to invite Leto, and your other Guests.

Ex: “Blessed are You, Leto, Sister of Asteria, Daughter of Phoebe! Sweet is Your name upon my/our lips! In all of my/our days, shall I/we ever strive toward Your Grace and Excellence!

“Blessed are You, Leto, Daughter of Koios, Consort of Zeus! Ever shall Yours be the way of cunning! Let all brave women follow after Your example, seizing that which they/we desire foremost!

“Blessed are You, Leto, Mother of Artemis, Mother of Apollon! Starry is the veil which covers Your holy face! Within the mystery of twilight, You are the center, the cause from whom ambition emanates!

“Blessed are You, Leto! Be welcomed here, to this seat made comfortable for You! Partake of this meal that I/we have prepared! And please, accept these offerings given freely by Your people!

“Great Goddess, I/we have come only to honor and praise You!

“Hail Leto, Mother of Wolves!”

“Blessed are You, Artemis, Swift-footed Goddess giving chase like no other! Be welcome to rest here at this table, to make merry, and to feast in the name of Your Mother!

“Blessed are You, Apollon, Prince among Gods, and the Preserver of Honor! Be welcomed here to this table, where You might find comfort, as well as sustenance, in the name of Your Holy Mother!

“Blessed and Divine Twins, be welcomed here in peace and in reverence! Hail Artemis! Hail Apollon!”

Once the food is ready, place each dish upon the table in offering, while saying a few words to indicate such.

Ex: “O Divine Leto, please accept this ______ (name of dish), that it might fill You with the sustenance of my/our love!”

You may also address Artemis and Apollon at this time, though it is really only necessary to address the Guest of Honor when offering dishes. Repeat for each dish offered to the table.

Now, everyone should be seated at the table, and all should offer thanks to the Theoi for the bounty gathered before you, first with a small bit of food offered to Hestia, by burning it in a candle flame, or saving it to be burned or buried later.

Ex: “Hestia, Most Sublime, I/we make the first offering to You, as is the/our custom. May You bless this table, and I/all seated before it, that my/our hearth and home might be ever peaceful and secure.”

Next, food should be distributed first to Leto, then to Artemis, then to Apollon, all upon Their plate at the center of the table. After your Guests have been served, everyone else may serve themselves.

Eating, discussion, and general merry-making may now commence. Examples of this could be songs sung, poems or adorations recited, myths told, or experiences shared.

With the completion of their meal, whomever wishes to leave the table must first address Leto, thanking Her and the Twins for being present.

Ex: “Glorious Leto, Illustrious Twins! Thank You for Your presence at this table, which was prepared in honor of You, for this great feast day! May our love given, accompany You back to the Northern heights of Hyperborea, from whence You have come! O Ladies! O Lord! May You be pleased!”

At the very end, before the last person leaves the table, a final food offering should be made to Hestia…

Ex: “Blessed Hestia, Keeper of the Hearth, again, I/we thank You for the peace and gentleness You have brought into this, my/our home! My/our gratitude hangs thick in the air, like the tasteful aroma which has filled this place of feasting!

“Hail to You, Hestia, and farewell!”

…and care should be taken to clean up the table.

Finally, all participants should return to surround the table, to give final thanks/goodbyes to Leto (and the Twins), for all that She does, and will do, in helping us to further understand ourselves within the roles to which we find ourselves attached.

Ex: “Blessed are You, Leto, and Blessed are Your Children, who enact the very essence of Your demeanor! You, who are bold! You, who are driven! You, who commands life to submit to Your will! Great Leto, I/we thank and praise You!

“Hail Mother Leto! Hail the Holy Twins!  Hail, and farewell!”

— Columbine

Contemplating Leto

Leto is the principle of causality.  In taking control of Her life, first by leaving Hyperborea, the place of Her birth, then by orchestrating the events of Her eventual arrival upon Olympos as Zeus’ Consort, She causes the wheels of fate to turn, by Her will.

This is a Goddess who exercises power, who asserts Herself in ways that are perhaps more familiar and relatable to poor, or otherwise ostracized women, rather than the lofty and oftentimes unattainable glories of Hera, and the domain of marriage. Leto is another side of the nature of a woman’s power, the nature of force which exercises its will on the world through cunning.

Leto tell us, there is a cause to all things, all situations, and if we would not be taken along by the cause of another, we can be our own cause, and exercise our own will.

The fair-haired and veiled Consort of Zeus is much more complex than the face of motherly demure She is so often characterized by, in what writings we have on Her that survive. Which of course gives us very little information on how the peoples of the past truly viewed Her. In this, we must often rely on doxa, both shared and personal, and on our interactions with Her via dreams, and through symbolism.

When we view Leto, we often do not see one who is tied down by conventional motherhood, though a large portion of our understanding of Her comes directly through Her role as Mother of Artemis and Apollon. We see a Goddess of liminality– of twilight– flanked by wolves, which are fierce predators. This sheds some light into the obscure areas of Her personality. which we can see on the periphery.

Leto suffers no insult lightly, either to Herself or to Her Children, and when She rides out during the darkening days, She does so unveiled, revealed, even as Nyx unfolds Her cloak of stars in the darkness. And in Her awful glory, what does Leto reveal to those who meet Her gaze? It is a glimpse, a mere taste of the wilderness that we have left behind. And in this wilderness, few are more fierce than the Mother of Wolves.

This is the Goddess whom Niobe insulted, the Goddess whose honor is defended by Artemis and Apollon, and the traits which spurred Them in these actions are but a few that They have inherited from Leto.

When we view Leto, yes, we see the Divine Mother, we see She who birthed the Holy Twins, but we see also a complete Goddess, a whole Goddess; Someone with a past, a history, a life that began long before the birth of Her Children.

And in that, we may find common ground for the growth of our relationships with Her, as well as for our own, personal growth.

There is much yet to learn from Leto in regard to keeping our identities intact after becoming parents, and also in celebrating who we were beforehand. In our (American) culture, motherhood specifically is easily dismissed as a necessary but trivial pastime, yet is also lauded as the highest pedestal a woman can be seated upon. This dichotomy is of great detriment to society, however, and it is Leto who can help us to reintegrate the disparate themes of motherhood/parenthood, and to find the balance of ourselves within the roles, as She shows us in Her own life, and lore.

Leto, who is often quiet, who is often veiled, is the same Leto who does not flinch in the presence of Hera, or any Other. She is the same Leto who throws off her veil to ride vigorously through the wild– the same Leto who, for reasons of Her own, and with plans of Her own devising, fled Her birthplace to stake a claim to the varied lands and peoples of ancient Hellas– and was well respected throughout.

Therefore, for the upcoming Feast of Leto (Perihelios 9/Jan. 15, 2019), let us show respect for our Goddess, through shared ritual and feasting. And may we be always reminded to look beyond the surface of things. There is depth in what is hidden, and there are lessons to be learned from what we first must decide to seek.

— Columbine

The Beautiful Truth

Lord Apollon, the very pinnacle of beauty, I pray that You lift the shroud of bias, shame, blame, and control that clouds over the eyes of those who wish to see beauty in the world.  I pray that You, Unshorn One, allow these to see the many truths before them, which they shirk from their sight.  Lord of the Light Unceasing, brighten the world before these who are lost, that they will witness the terrible, ugly, beautiful truth of Nature– that which we see and admire, is also that which may destroy us, even as we sit staring in awe.

The many landscapes are indeed beautiful, especially to those who traverse them not.  Those who look from afar and never step foot into the wild lands.  Fear contains them, and rightly so.  The beautiful world is indifferent to their praises, and hostile to their ignorance.  So, Lord, I pray that You tear away the fragile skin which covers them, that which hides their insecurities, and that which implicates them in the ancient scheme of subjugation.

These whose mouths are open only to speak the ancient falsehoods– that physical beauty alone is the compass of virtue– let their mouths be closed so that their ears, hearts and minds may instead be opened to the vastness of this beautiful, terrible, ugly world.  I pray that You open their eyes to rot and death, to pain and suffering, to plague and fear.  Only then will beauty and ugliness be revealed as twin aspects of the Truth:  All that is beautiful is not automatically good.  All that is good is not necessarily beautiful.  Beauty and ugliness are woven between the fabric of matter, space and time.  One may not exist where the other does not also dwell.

Apollon Despota, Wrathful Lord, I pray that You will do these things and more, to facilitate the growth so badly needed.  For only through the cutting away of disease may the whole body be saved.  So, Lord, to that end, do I offer these gifts, that You might be pleased, as well as favorable toward us who keep Your charge to bring both truth, and beauty, into the world.

Ie Paian!

He Comes, Bearing the Fruit of Conquest

Today is Theoxenia on the Treasury’s calendar.  Theoxenia is the day when Apollon returns to us from His abode in Hyperborea, where His focus was no longer upon the everyday needs of mankind, but instead set upon the many, many deeply primal aspects of creation, over which He governs.  It is widely accepted that during this time, Apollon is absent from our world, yet, as many devotee’s of the god will know, He often is most keenly present in our lives during His Hyperborean stay.

This might be due to the nature of the connection that intimate devotees share with Him.  Not only are we in constant contact with Him, what we experience of Him during the Hyperborean season especially, is well below the surface of what He shows to many others.  He is Lykeios and Telkinios, the wolf and the wind, ripping and cutting away the weak, in nature.  He is the blizzard that whites out all before you, leaving you stranded yet totally enveloped by Him.  He is also the spark that dwells in your heart and never fades, its light always there to show the way through the darkness.  And in this darkness, in this reality of the Hyperborean season, we walk a path that He has laid out– a path that leads to Him.

So, as He does each year at the height of the winter darkness, Apollon seizes the hearts of many new devotees.  These will be led through the wilderness of the Hyperborean season, and out through the gates of coming spring.  And then they will know Him in His completeness, as the light grows with the passage of time.

When He arrives at the doors of the House of Apollo, made up of the households and individuals dedicated to Him, He carries the enthusiastic and unfiltered love and adoration of those whose hearts He won in winter, who will be added to the glorious collection of souls that greet Him on Theoxenia.  For, as befits a conqueror, Apollon comes bearing the fruit of His conquest.

May we all celebrate the inclusion of our new fellows among the blessed of Apollon.  May we welcome them openly, and share what we have to share without hesitancy.  And, may we love them under the light of Apollon, as the members of His family that we all are.  For some, walking an Apollonian path may be difficult, and they may desire varying amounts of guidance.  May we be gentle in our interactions with them, remembering always, that once, many of us were conquests, too.

Hail Apollon!  Blessed Theoxenia!

— Columbine