H is for Hestia

Hestia is the Greek Goddess of the hearth and home, and my Goddess of the home.  I feel like I’ve been neglecting Her recently, so I decided to do this post about Her.

Hestia is the first Daugher of Cronus and Rhea and the eldest Sister of Zeus.  She is a maiden Divinity, Who, when pursued by Apollo and Poseidon, swore to remain a virgin forever.  As a Goddess of the hearth, Hestia is associated with fire.  In the Hellenic tradition, offerings to the Gods were fed to a fire.  She is often invoked first when giving any sacrifices to the Greek Gods by those following this tradition.

I have a statue of Hestia in my living room with an LED candle that I always keep on for Her unless I light a real candle to offer to Her.  I have recently started to leave her a libation of water in the morning which gets poured outside into the garden the next day.  Orphic hymns were often recited as offerings to the Gods. I am going to try to read Her Orphic hymn or write Her a prayer to read to Her in the mornings when I come home from work, before I do my “nightly” devotions at my main altar.  I also offer my cleaning efforts to Hestia.

Note: Below contains some of my UPG.  YMMV.

I’ve been getting a sad feeling of sadness from Her recently.  I don’t know if it is guilt from me neglecting Her or neglecting my house, but I plan to work to change that.  I find Hestia to be a gentle and loving Goddess.  I have heard Her referred to as a loving Aunt by other devotees, and I think this description fits Her.  She inspires me to battle the apathy that comes with my depressions in order to take care of my surroundings.  The chaos around me affects the chaos of my mind, and She wants only peace for me.

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G is for Going Forward

Trigger warning.  There is mention of a suicide attempt.

G is for Going Forward.  Around this time last year, I was in the hospital after a failed suicide attempt.  I’ve always had a decent job and a loving family, but my bipolar disorder clouded my vision.  I was a “not-church-going” Catholic and definitely missing a spiritual connection in my life.  My life felt empty and pointless.

Today, on different medications, I’m fairing much better.  I’m dealing with my symptoms as they arise instead of letting them build up.  I’m creating a fulfilling spiritual life for myself and finding an online community of people doing the same thing.  My marriage is stronger because we both attempt to work on the weaknesses.  I’m working overnights, creating a lot less stress and anxiety and giving me more autonomy.  I started writing again, something I hadn’t done in years.  The relationship that I’m developing with my Gods is creating the groundwork for a satisfying life.  I’m looking for exuberance, and I think I’m on the right path.

G is for Good Food and Drink

I know, “offerings” starts with O, but I’m fudging here a bit.  Working between pantheons, I struggled with how to dispose of my offerings.  When I started in the Hellenic pantheon, I just offered liquids and poured them out front in the garden.  A side note, be careful to aim for the actual dirt because red wine on the garden wall will leave stains.  As I got more involved with the Kemetic pantheon, I considered reverting offerings and eating/drinking them.  I spent a while trying to decide.  Should I just revert the Kemetic offerings?  If I give the Kemetic Gods food, then I should give the Others food, and what do I do with those offerings?  I eventually decided to revert almost everything.  Occasionally I’ll feel a pull to pour something outside, but usually what gets offered gets consumed.

So, what do I offer?  My standard nightly devotion includes wholegrain bread with honey.  I started off offering crackers because that is what I had, but I don’t think that went over too well.  The bread seems to satisfy Everyone.   I’ll add or replace it with strawberries, grapes, black olives, a blueberry muffin, or chocolate.  I think Sekhmet-Mut really likes the strawberries and the chocolate always seems to go over well.  The black olives are mainly for Hekate’s preference.  I offer my food on a small plate.  I don’t currently have a plate that I keep separate for food offerings, though maybe I should.  I don’t have specific glassware set aside either, though the wine glasses and coffee/tea mugs that I use don’t actually get used for anything else.  Initially, everything got offered into the same cup.  Then I felt pulled to other pantheons and felt separate cups between pantheons was required.  (“Felt” . . . Sekhmet-Mut insisted . . . one of those things.)  Finally, it just seemed like Everyone wanted Their own cups.  Five cups, every night, unless there are “Guests”.  There hasn’t been a “Guest,” however, since Anpu showed up, and He has become one of the regulars.  Djehuty, Sekhmet-Mut, Hekate, Anpu, and Loki.  They don’t get filled all the way up because I have to drink them, but Everyone gets a bit.

What do They like to drink?  Well, it depends.  Sekhmet and Hekate usually get V8 V-Fusion Light Pomegranate Blueberry juice (yes, it’s red) or red wine.  Everybody has had the juice or wine at some point, but I don’t think either is Everybody’s favorite.  Occasionally Sekhmet will get a whole Killian’s Irish Red beer.  I bought some red roobios tea to try with Her, but I haven’t yet.  Hekate and Sekhmet got straight pomegranate juice once, but that tasted awfully strong to me, so I might save that just for special occasions.  Hekate seemed to really like it.  Djehuty prefers chai lattes.  He seems to like chai tea a lot, but before bed (which happens to be early in the morning since I work overnights) I drink it in latte form.  If I have straight tea during the day, I’ll offer him a cup.  Sometimes the latte gets split with Loki and Anpu, though Loki prefers caramel coffee.  I usually won’t drink coffee before bed unless it’s the weekend, so sometimes I’ll go out during the day and get one.  Also, I’m not made of money to go constantly buying lattes and coffees.  I had a bottle of Rum Chata from Christmas, so sometimes Djehuty, Loki, and Anpu will just get a shot each from that.  Loki really seemed to like the Rum Chata when I put it in his chai latte.  I’ve also offered water, though that’s not usually my standard offering.  I try to stick with juice, but it seems that there is rarely a night when Everybody is on the same page.  I suppose that is another reason for the separate glasses.  I just go with my gut and what I have on hand.

Individual Deities will get offerings during the day, depending on what I’m having and Who wants it.  Right now, though, my “nightly” devotions are usually when Everyone gets Their offerings.  It definitely makes going to the grocery store more interesting.  When I go out to eat, occasionally I’ll order something with Someone in mind.  One Saturday morning after work I wanted to celebrate, so everyone got a full allotment.  A 20 oz chai latte, a 20 oz caramel coffee, 2 beers, and some wine.  I spent the whole next day (Saturday afternoon after sleeping) reverting the offerings.  It takes a long time to drink that much liquid.  I don’t think I’ll ever offer that much all at once again.  My usual drink of choice is Diet Coke, so I’ve had to expand my palette to appease the Gods.  Who knows, maybe one day they’ll even get me to cook.

F is for Foundations

Lately, it has become apparent to me that I have spent a lot of time comparing myself to those who have spent years building their relationships with their Gods.  Buildings require solid foundations if they are to withstand the tests of time, and relationships are no different.  There is one relationship of which I am proud, and that is my relationship with my husband.  We have been together for 11 years and married for 5.    A solid relationship is like a building, it requires a good foundation.  My relationship with my husband takes continuous work from both of us, and though it is never perfect, it brings us both joy.  Looking at how I have built my marriage, I can use it as a guide to building meaningful relationships with Deities.

Part of the foundation of a relationship for me is working on myself.  The more I face my fears and faults, the more I open myself up to the Gods.  No one is going to achieve perfection, but I can always strive to be better.  This requires both self-work and asking for help.  Sometimes improving oneself is knowing when to ask for aid from others.  A second part of the foundation is learning about the Deity.  This includes research about the culture and myths, talking to others who have relationships with that Deity, and simply trying things to see what works and what doesn’t.  Learning to trust my intuition is a third part of a solid foundation.  It is my relationship, and there are certain parts that only I will be able to judge.  This requires a level of discernment, but that can be learned.  Time is a fourth part of the foundation of any relationship.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  Even people who get “thwapped” have to take time to build a productive rapport with the Deities who contact them.  Time is the hardest part for me.  I’m not a patient person.  I want an end product.  Relationships, however, are constantly changing and growing.  I have to take my time and realize that building a stable foundation for my Deity relationships will make the future that much more rewarding.   Some of the best things in life have taken time to develop.  From what I’ve seen, it’s worth the wait.

F is for Fierce Compassion

This is my first try at writing a post for the Pagan Blog Project 2014, so please bear with me.  This post includes UPG and my own opinions, so it is okay if you disagree or would prefer not to read it.

I have been honoring and working with Sekhmet for a few months now, so I thought I’d write about her fierce compassion.  A few nights ago, however, She let me know that it is Sekhmet-Mut with whom I’ve been working.  I don’t know much about Deity Syncretizations.  I know that Deities were sometimes worshiped in combined forms, but I’m not sure how I think that translates to the real world.  I’m a hard polytheist, so I’m not exactly sure how to view Sekhmet-Mut.  That topic is for a future post after I’ve had some time to digest it.  The paragraph below I wrote before She told me She is Sekhmet-Mut, not just Sekhmet.  It doesn’t feel right to change it, but I thought I’d just add this little disclaimer.

Sekhmet represents fierce compassion to me.  Yes, She is just plain fierce.  She devours my anger and hunts down those that destroy ma’at.  She can be unforgiving and harsh.  I wouldn’t want to cross Her.  She is a Goddess of Retribution and Healing.  She demands that I do the best for myself, but She has compassion for all of us as imperfect human beings.  She reminds me that humans are imperfect in general and deserve the opportunity to correct their mistakes.  Sekhmet reminds me that we all have failures.  If we strive to uphold ma’at, we should not be beaten down by our fallacies.  I’m not saying that no one should be held accountable.  I think Sekhmet would be the last one to back that.  We are all responsible for our actions.  Fierce compassion doesn’t excuse the destruction of ma’at.  It offers understanding to those who falter but try to get back up.  We all slip.  It is far more useful if we spend our time helping each other back up.  Would you rather have a helping hand or a chastising laugh when you are on your knees?  We all fall to our knees at some point.  Sekhmet offers me a hand to help me back up.  Sekhmet brooks no excuses, but She is always there with a fierce compassion for those who work to lift themselves up.