A Perfect April Day

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The Kalends isn’t over, but we’re taking a moment to rest in our day.  For me that means I get to do what seems to be becoming a job, but is still basically a hobby (This is my justification for it today, since I have always tried to not “work” on the Kalends, Nones, and Ides).

Yesterday over at my blog on Witches & Pagans’ PaganSquare, I wrote about my plans to observe the Kalends with my 3-year-old daughter for the first time.  The day is only half-way over, but I’ve been so moved by how the day has unfolded that I couldn’t wait to post.

My daughter had breakfast, and I had coffee with a few peanuts.  I fast for the Kalends, Nones, and Ides from sunset the night before, but my health issues require I don’t do a full fast these days.  I don’t feel that 3 is old enough to fast, but I explained why it was I wasn’t having my normal breakfast to her.

After breakfast we went out to find a stick to make our windchimes with.  We put it together while I explained that it was to bring good fortune and help protect us.

We went out to our front step.  I gave her the little broom she has, and together we swept off the step, making sure it was clean for where we were going to set up our offering.  We sat down the offering bowl.  Then we carried the tray off offerings out.

I showed her how to cover her head with a veil, and offered her a silk scarf I had picked out for this moment.  It’s a smaller one I bought years ago, and it was the perfect size for her.  She was so excited to have a veil to wear like mine that she kept it around her shoulders for quite some time afterwards.

I showed her how to hold her hands while praying, upturned to the sky.  She didn’t keep them that way, but I’ll be sure to demonstrate this position each time I pray in front of her to reinforce it.

And then came the offerings and prays.  I poured a little water into her special pitcher for her to put into the bowl, and she had picked tortilla chips (one of her favorite foods) to give to Janus, Juno, and the Lares today.  I offered the prayer and then directed her to pour and place chips into the offering bowl for each.

I admit that I am rarely moved to tears during rituals.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever cried during a formal ritual.  But as I sat there watching her pour and offer, her sweet face peaking out under her veil, I felt my heart grow 10 sizes with joy and pride.  My eyes welled up with tears.

We hung up our windchimes.

Afterwards we sat on the front step, watching the birds.  She asked me while looking around, “Where are the Gods?”

I chuckled.  I couldn’t help it.  She was clearly disappointed They’d not manifested in a way she could clearly see.  So I quietly explained that the Gods show themselves as birds, as the feel of the wind, that They are everywhere.  They are in the plants and the flowers.  They are inside of us, and They are the love we have for each other.

As I explained this, my arm wrapped around her little body, I understood this on a whole different level than I had before.

I thanked her for teaching me that lesson.

Some Thoughts on Immersive Polytheism

(Edit: I have no idea how comments got turned off on this one!  Sorry if you were wanting to discuss.  It is supposed to be a discussion, after all!)

If you don’t have 20 minutes to watch the video or just prefer the written word, I’ve decided to write something to go with the video.  It’s the same points, but you can see how my brain actually does better with written word than speaking.  They’re complimentary but not fully the same…

“Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

First of all, I want to deeply apologize if I offended anyone or led anyone to believe that my earlier videos were an attempt to draw the line in the sand or create a schism. That was not my intention. These being my first videos and desperately out of practice with public speaking, I may slip from time-to-time and not fully be able to examine the possible consequences of my words. I hope that as I get more comfortable and less nervous with speaking instead of just writing, I will become more mindful in the moment of what I am saying.

I’m delighted that people are picking up on this term and finding meaning in it for their own practices. I do not expect anyone to do so. Personally I call myself an Immersive Polytheist, because this is my focus. This is what was asked of me by Apollon when He made Himself fully known in my life. For me this has come out of a more ecstatic practice as a way to hold that same communion with the Gods in a more controlled manner due to lifestyle change…

I had a baby. I don’t feel in my own life that attempting regular deep trance and using ethnogens is a safe place for me to be in right now. While I am deeply interested in said subjects and continue with an intellectual study of them, I am currently placed more firmly in a more moderate point in my path… I do not really care for the term “mundane” with my own work. While the actions may seem very earthly and unremarkable, when placed within a spiritual context one can find their daily tasks anything but dull or void of the Gods.

So I return to the concept of walking, or in my own background that of walking meditation. Any point in the day, especially the repetitive, boring tasks, can be used as a centering vehicle to quiet our minds and tap into a greater experience. Routine work, especially housework, can be turned into a ritual that allows us to commune comfortably and easily with our Gods.

My life is filled with immersive practices like this. This is very much a monastic life filled with contemplation, though clearly it is not a path of extreme asceticism. It can be quiet. It can be peaceful. This is a fantastic tool with the my role as a spirit worker. I find my life sometimes thrown into chaos by the Work I’m asked to do… The gift of immersion, then, is that I am capable of returning to center and moving to stabilize my entire home and family as quickly as I am able.

I was a spirit worker before I was a mother and a wife. With careful balance, I have been blessed with the ability to maintain equilibrium that allows me to continue on with my Work, albeit at a sometimes slower pace. And this is one of the gifts I hope the current conversations will bring about in our community. You do not have to be one or the other. You can be both if you assemble the correct tools for yourself.

I have also found another place in my own life where Immersive Polytheism has been a true blessing: Art. I’ve been an artist my entire life. In the past, when I was experiencing ecstatic moments that could be classified as hypomania, I was able to tap into energy level that was very useful to the creative process. As I’ve grown, changed, and discovered a few medically-based causes to what easily swung into destructive parts of my life, I found that I was no longer tapping into that pure ecstatic place with creating. However, with my cultivating a more meditative practice, I’ve learned that I’m capable of entering a light trance while working that leaves me able to return to that original creative madness in a much more controlled, less personally destructive manner. This is much more in tune with my home life in that I am able to then balance a divinely-inspired creative practice while still meeting the needs of my family.

I also partially chose the term Immersive, because I believe that the Work I do is an important set of tools for the future. I have a larger goal in assembling these tools and practicing them in a clear manner: I am trying to demonstrate my living religion and its traditions to my daughter in hopes that when she finds herself at a point in her life where she is evaluating her own faith and values, she has had a strong Polytheist foundation to hopefully hold up against other sources that may be influencing her in her life. We simply don’t have enough people at this point talking about this on a practical level.

You see, I’m lucky in that my tradition is heavily Roman. I have a lot more primary sources than other traditions. Still, the problem of the Roman sources is that sometimes in the middle of a great description of a rite, you’ll find the words “done in the typical manner.” Since the Romans were born into an orthopraxic religion, they knew what the typical manner was. There was no need to explain it. Sadly for us, we’re left to fill in the blanks.

In order to return to these practices and values, I have to fill in the blanks if I want to reach my goal: To raise children who are immersed in a living Polytheist religion to the point where the rituals, values, and traditions are so ingrained that there is no need for categories or definitions… There just is their Gods and their faith.

So this world I live in with my religious life may seem utterly mundane and boring to some, but the truth is that I am working on bringing up the next generation of polytheist. I am not more special than the next person who is doing other types of Work. But just because my practice appears to be nothing special to the outside eye, isn’t my work as a polytheist parent important enough that I may claim a name for my practice and toolbox?

Finally, I want to return back to the labeling of this practice and the need to categorize these things. To me, personally, I feel there is a need for it in order to achieve a common vernacular in our community.

On a very, very basic level, it makes it easier for those seeking information, those who are trying to learn, to find what they are seeking. When I first learned that there was a term being used in our community for having a divine marriage with a God, I was relieved. I still didn’t find much out there on a practical level, but after many years of having a relationship I didn’t have a word for and wondering if there were others out there sharing these types of experiences, I was still able to find I wasn’t alone.

For those just learning about Polytheism in a modern sense, when they are searching for tools and answers they regularly reach for the internet. Finding that common vocabulary, terms that we all use, and being able to access multiple sources and view points due to it is an amazing gift we can give those just coming into the world we’re all neck deep in already.