Men Who Bear Torches

In procession of time
and baleful distance,
bloody-footed they move
from temple to temple.

Arms aching with offerings,
they stain the holy steps ascending
to firelight the faces of foreign goddesses
looking for her—looking for her.

-M.

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GodMail from Hermes: Eternal vs. Immortal

Hermes

We must remember that “eternal” not only means, “without end”, but also, “without beginning”. All eternal beings, therefore, can be said to be immortal, though not all immortals are eternal. Most of them, in fact, are not. Most immortals have specific, grounded geneses.

-H.

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The Great Water Woo Heist

Diamonds on black velvetIt started with me exploring a new house I had been given (a theme in my dreams is receiving houses and property). I had been built in the 20’s but completely refurbished inside. It had wood floors that creaked a bit when I walked, just enough to let me know they had some age. It had big beautiful white trimmed windows that looked out upon a green lawn and great trees filled with secrets they whispered in the wind. The way their dappled light spilled across the floor through the window and moved this way and that was like a secret code in intricate leafy shadow.

The house was all air and space with history to ground it. There was a nook in the wall where an icon might have once resided—or a telephone when telephones were new. One bedroom’s closet connected with the other one through a secret passthrough hidden behind removable boards. The children who inhabited these rooms over the generations must have spent many nights curled up in that space with candles or flashlights, secretes or comic books.

The walls of the largest bedroom, the one that overlooked the street, had a history in them of lovers and lovers’ spats—moist hands held by the bedside in sickness, the mourning of grown children, one spouse left alone in twilight finding the self anew.

I walked from room to room, breathing the house in, all its stories filling my lungs and dissipating into my blood slowly. I belonged here. This simple house. This survivorship of wood and windows. Those years of life. This was my home.

There is a blip in time then me, after a long day, lying down in a warm bath and sleeping there for twelve hours, from 5pm to 5am feeling through the water my sense of power and woo build up so high that I was near to bursting with it. When I woke up, there were a lot of angry people around me. They were all accusing me of having stolen things from them. They said they saw it with their own eyes that, while I was ostensibly sleeping in the bath, recharging, I had stolen things from them. I had rifled through one lady’s purse and stolen a handful of diamonds from another lady. I denied everything. I said I remembered nothing except having been in the bath. I told them that if they didn’t believe me, I would go through my things in front of them and prove I didn’t have what they were missing.

I had a small trunk out of which I kept pulling bits of personal memorabilia. In particular, my prom stuff: the jewelry I wore, the purse I carried, swatches of fabric from my dress, and so on. The final thing was a yellow plastic box in the shape of a turtle. It had been given to me in the 90’s as some sort of promotion for an AIDS charity event. In the box, I had wrapped up three music boxes. One was the tortoise from The Tortoise and the Hare, one was an orange cat in some kind of flying machine, and the third was a gray teddy bear that spun around, (a music box I actually own).

The angry crowd looked at the music boxes and were disgruntled because their cash and diamonds were nowhere to be found in any of my things. They slowly walked away in a great grumbling mass. I took the box full of music boxes into another room, a work room, where a beloved friend of mine had all kinds of pictures and papers pinned to the walls and laid out on long tables. I set the box down. She said, amused, “That was scary,” and proceeded to start wrapping up the music boxes. “Why do you think they thought you stole that stuff,” she asked.

“Maybe because…” I paused and unscrewed the bottom of one of the music boxes in the place where the actual music maker went. A velvet bag of diamonds dropped into my hand. “Maybe because I actually did steal it.”

I put the diamonds into her hand and clasped mine around it. “We’re going to be all right,” I said. “We don’t have to worry.”

She was shocked and thrilled. Those people were distinctly unworthy of those diamonds so the thieving was both exhilaratingly naughty and completely justified. As a Hermes devotee, I explained, it was “ordained by god”, so to speak.

“But wait!” I said. “There’s more!” I walked around the long table to a pile of dusty old greeting cards she and I had stacked there for some reason. They were for all holidays and all addressed to people neither one of us knew. She had found them in a box somewhere. I rifled through them until I found “the one” and pulled a wad of cash out of it. I don’t remember the exact number, but something like $128,000 was in there.

I had stolen that too, along with the diamonds. The greeting cards—another place they had forgotten to check.

She and I decided that instead of flying to New England, as we had planned, (no idea why New England, that wasn’t explained, although the particular place in Vermont where we were going to stay has been in my dreams before as a writing retreat)… so, instead of flying to New England, we thought it would be safer to drive because we didn’t want to run the risk of someone somehow coming across the diamonds in the flying process. Whether they were on our persons or in the suitcases, we felt it was a risk either way.

We were debating over whether or not to take the northern or southern route for the drive across country when two loud lady assholes came into the room talking about how one of them saw this money in the greeting cards and they were going to take it.

They sauntered over to the pile of dusty cards, found the cash, and tried to run away with it. As they did, I reached over the long table and clothes-lined the one of them who had the cash. Instead of catching her at the neck, however, I popper her hard on the nose. I felt it break under my palm. I went around the table and got the cash out of her purse as she sat on the ground clutching her nose and crying.

“Did you think you were going to steal from me?” I counted the money.  “I don’t think so.” I turned my back on her and the dream ended.

-M.

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Inanna, Aphrodite, Venus: Her Persons in Me

long_lapis_lazuli_nugget_necklace_d4a10b9aOne of the first Pagan-y, mystical things I ever bought was a long lapis necklace—a cheap one made of chips something like the kind you get at amusement park gift shops. I was enchanted by the Inanna myths and Inanna at the time and the necklace made me feel close to that energy. I identified heavily with her having to pass through the seven gates and give up a part of her estate, her body, and her dignity at each one before she was eventually restored. That connection is also why I have an eight-pointed star tattooed on my back—Venus: the morning and evening star. But in all the hasty moving I’ve had to do to get out of a very bad time, to a slightly less bad time, to where I am now, I lost the necklace.

-sigh-

It’s no big deal, I guess. I can easily get another one, but it won’t be that one—the one from when I very first left the abusive Christian god and came into Paganism.

As I write this I’m thinking perhaps I should reread her myths and see if the old stirrings are there—because, obviously, I don’t have near enough plates spinning already.

Generally speaking, I don’t favor syncretism. For example: Though Anubis and Hermes have similar job descriptions, (part of the description anyway), they are absolutely different gods. There are some exceptions however. I know it’s very unpopular to say, but the Mercury of imperial Rome and Hermes, for example, are the same god. No doubt about it. Greater emphasis placed on certain roles from one culture to another, but definitely the same fella. On the other hand, ask Hermes if he’s also Thoth and it ends in a scolding lecture.
Inanna 8The most noteworthy exception to my hard polytheist rule, however, is with Aphrodite. She, I believe, really is a goddess who has traveled permutation to permutation through the cultures and civilizations of that part of the world since time immemorial. I believe she was both the Innana of Sumer and the Venus of imperial Rome, and Aphrodite in between, (if not also Astarte, though being relatively unfamiliar with Astarte, I cannot be sure). All of this to say that although my relationship with her is extremely -looks right, looks left- “complicated”, I am a Venus person in my bones. There’s no getting away from it. I know she, like Hermes, has also has been with me for a long time, though perhaps not as intimately.

My feelings for her are not, as of yet, warm and fuzzy. I am not entirely convinced they ever will be. They are difficult and fraught with all kinds of issues. How can I, for example, fully embrace her into my life when I fear to do so would bring more abuse down upon me? Because, of course, all that happened to me was my fault. It was in my nature that I should be used that way. So if my nature is tied to her, then how can I, in my own interest, draw near to her?

But then I think of that lapis necklace and what a comfort it was to wear…

She has told me specifically that it is not she who is pulling away from me, but I am the one pushing her away. She is not the sweet and squishy goddess so many make her out to be, nor is she vainglorious and ineffectual. She is ancient among the ancients and extremely powerful. Sometimes I am afraid of her, though on this she has also spoken—that I am not afraid of her in her own person, I am afraid of her person in me.

This is also true.

-M.

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Hellenists—Be Wise With Your Prayers

InitiationIn my experience, the Hellenic gods do not operate on the level of, “Thank God for unanswered prayers.” If you have their favor and there is a bond of Kharis between you, they will bestow upon you what you ask, whether it is good for you or not. This, as is the aesthetic with Hellenism in general, places the ball firmly in the court of the supplicant. The responsibility is all ours to consider carefully what earnest requests we place at the feet of our gods along with the offerings. I am reminded of the 250 dollars I asked for once during the Mercury retrograde. I got the money, but at the expense of my computer blowing up and my bed being stolen, (yes, my actual bed). I asked the wrong question. Hermes answered it to the letter in a way that is undeniably matched with his M.O. Most of all I got a lesson in how this family of gods operate and in my own responsibility because of it.

I don’t think he would do that to me now… Well, maybe yes, if my question were again ill-considered. Although I haven’t mastered yet the fully fleshed out, best considered prayer, I know, because of the harsh lessons and also the gentle ones to which I have been exposed by the receipt of divine gifts, I am much better at it than I used to be. I hope to grow in this while at the same time managing at least to hang onto my bed.

-M.

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Conversing with Gods: He Might Have Thrown the Book at Me

modern-white-home-library-design-modern-white-wooden-wall-bookcases-an-unique-sculpture-ideasI dream I am sitting in the living room of my apartment in a swivel chair pulled up to a low, oval glass coffee table that is strewn with notes and diagrams. I am in the middle of a lesson. Hermes stands up from the couch across from me to get a book from the shelf to my right. I swivel in his direction and, out of the blue, ask, “What do you think of Thoth?”

With no concern for where the question came from, he peruses the shelf and answers, “Good guy. A bit litigious though.”

“Don’t you mean something more along the lines of ‘officious’?” I ask, (having recently had a short dream about Thoth I am, of course, the expert).

He half pulls a thick volume with a red cover from the shelf, turns his head slowly toward me and looks down, directly into my eyes. “You think I don’t know what I said?”

I give a sheepish smile and quickly swivel back toward the table.

Note to self: In the future, do not ask the Inventor of Language if he was sure he used the right word.

Other Note to Self: One wonders what “litigious” means in the realm of godhood and why one would find that a less than flattering trait in another. Perhaps with Hermes and Thoth, at issue is an overlap in copyright.

-M

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Our Imperfect God

with corkscrew predilections—
wrong-headed temper,

slams his hand down
on a rotten table
buckling its legs
rattling the hubris-stuffed animals
out of their sticky,
rat-eaten skins.

The unsatisfactory
sacramental teacups
filled with badly-pretended
roiling water
spin their insipid fragments
outward in spiral galaxy arms
as they crash against the threshold.

-M.

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