I Speak to My God in Silence, but I am Not Silent.

Disclaimer: If there is one moment where you can point to this blog and say “And this is where Camilla stepped off the edge with complete faith in her God to catch her; this is it.” (Because you speak with semi-colons rolling off your tongue in my version of the story.)

This, my friends, is the point of no return. This is where I start to shoot off at the mouth (or fingers) about what I’ve learned and been given to work with. As a note, I’m going to try to come back and actually cite things and provide sources, but since this is really just me babbling I may have to follow up with a more, uh, scholarly… Scholarly thing. Yes. Scholarly things. For Revivalism!

(There’s always so much terror in sharing this stuff.  I’m not gonna lie.)

It has been bothering me for a while that, for some reason, it seemed like everyone I know, including my students, prefer to speak aloud to the Gods. Except me. Now that I’m modeling praxis in my home to a 3-year-old, I’m finding myself forced to say with my physical voice. I am perfectly fine saying prayers aloud. But talking, actually having a conversation with my God and occasionally Others? No, I’ve always, always done it in my head.

There are some of you that will say that if I believe the Gods are individuals and not archetypes or facets of my own spirit, then I’m talking to myself. In fact, I’ve had quite a few people kindly explain to me that their Gods require us to physically talk to Them, because that’s what polytheists do.

And I smile, thanking them for the clarification.

And in the back of my head, I’m going “This doesn’t mesh with my experience.”

My experience has been that certain Gods, especially those that are connected to oracular arts, have absolutely no problem hearing me. Or, if a God does not seem to be able to hear me, my God is more than willing to be a translator for me.

This led me to a few different theories…

One, there is quite a bit of Quaker in my ancestry, so maybe there’s something to be said about that and having some natural propensity towards hearing the inner-voice. This has absolutely no backing in my mind, but I’m amused by it enough to mention it here.

Two, slightly less out there, but probably only partially involved… I’m neurodivergent. I’ve got sensory processing disorder and ADHD. Recently it’s been figured out that I fall on the autism spectrum. My brain is simply wired differently, and part of that wiring involves being able to write what is on my mind eloquently and openly… But physically talking is harder. Much harder. Getting words out physically when I’m trying to communicate something important is, more often than not, like swimming in gelatin. It’s possible, but it’s probably going to be ridiculously harder and slower to do. I have no problem assuming that my natural inclination towards a deeper inner-voice than outer voice leads me to be naturally wired towards having an inner-relationship with my Gods.

Except that some people apparently don’t believe that’s possible…

Which was weird to me, and I couldn’t figure out why my experience was so vastly different than others who honor the same Gods as me.

Except, oh right, this God I’m tangled up with has been part of the mysteries I’ve been taught. It’s very much like the Shakti of Kundalini or the Holy Spirit, the breath of life and the Thing that connects everything. Not the air, but the Spirit. When I say He’s not the Divine “One” (if there is such a thing, which even with a decade of exploration I’m still not willing to say yay or nay to), but He is the vehicle from which the very essence of being comes forth on.

He is literally that: inside of me. He is my breath. He is your breath. He is the breath of the world, which is the wind… Because we, in ourselves, are the microcosm of the greater cosmic macrocosm. We are our own universe, and from each of us creation is capable of springing in art, music, and work. We were created, and each of us creates in one way or another, even the simple act of cooking is creation. Our words are creation that come out on breath, and when we cease to breathe, we cease to exist.

He is the Wind-wolf of the Indo-Europeans, though I will likely spend the rest of my life chasing His trail. He is the original psychopomp, carrying up from the Underworld and returning all to that place. He is hiding in many Gods, Gods you and I can both name, but He is, Himself, simply woven through Them as He is through the rest of us.  But when you look at me, you don’t separate my breath into a separate entity from me.  I’m just me to you.  So is my God.  He can be separated, but it’s been so long since anyone has done that that He is honored by many names as a facet of the Gods we know.

And He’s not alone in that, but that’s a story for another day.

What I was talking about was how I realized that perhaps I couldn’t understand that others weren’t having the experience of inner-talking that I do with the Gods, because my life is dedicated to this God, who dwells on the inside as He does on the outside.

So, yeah.

I guess I’m the Quaker version of a polytheist over here…  Not all Gods may be inside of us, but we shouldn’t dismiss that some are.

(insert much throat clearing) Carry on.

The Neighbors

The elderly couple who lived on the other side of our duplex died… The wife first after a terrible fight with cancer, I knew the last time the ambulance left she wasn’t going to be back.  A month later her husband simply got sick and gave up. I never sat with either of them while they were dying. They were private people even in death.  No burial.  No service.  Before they died, they made a final trip to Myrtle Beach with their family instead.

It’s been a bit of a surreal experience, to say the least. Even more so, they’ve both been here to visit since passing. The husband more than the wife. He says he’s hanging around to make sure they get his home cleaned out and rented to someone who won’t make our lives chaotic.  I don’t rush him.  I feel thankful he is willing to watch out for us.  I catch him sitting on the front step, smoking cigarettes. I say “Hey, George!” and then remember he’s not alive anymore. He comes in dreams to tell me stories that he wanted to be sure someone heard.  We laugh about the deer coming through our back yard just as if he were alive…  Me thinking they look beautiful; him thinking they look delicious.

This is my life. I guess it’s always been my life to a certain extent, but it’s become more pronounced in recent years. I no longer can ignore the Dead. They don’t allow for it.

Truth be told, I’m not sure I would really have it any other way.

February Rites: Parentalia, Feralia, and Caristia

Parentalia starts next week on the 13th. In our home, this 9-day festival is one of 3 times in the year where we celebrate our ancestors beyond my daily devotional work in our household. Our other 2 festivals fall on Memorial Day, where currently we’re close enough to family graves to decorate them and honor the soldiers in my family line, and Samhain/Day of the Dead (All Saints and Souls Days), where we have started the tradition of opening up our home to friends and family to come celebrate and feed their ancestors beside our own.

The family in Ancient Rome was considered the very foundation of the civilization, and in our own home that belief in family remains the same. Long before my spiritual practice fell comfortably into the lines of a modern Roman practice, I held family and my ancestors in high esteem. Friends found this curious for a long time, many probably still do, but it is what it is. Now I have the alignment of my religious practice to help cement those I’ve come from as spiritually important.  This is a very meaningful and important relationship to me.

This upcoming week is going to be busy getting our dining room cleaned, swept, and organized for this festival, because you tidy up for honored guests. We will decorate the table, which is being turned into a place of offering for every meal. I plan on tracking down violets (though probably African, since it’s hard to find the real deal this time of year here) and making flower garlands to decorate for the week.

This is the loose plan of what is going to happen in our home during this time:

The First Day, February 13th: Parentalia is said to start at the 6th hour of the day, which I interpret as 6 in the morning. In upcoming years, this means I will be doing the first rites at 6 in the morning. However, it’s rare my daughter and I get out of bed that early in the day, and so we will simply be doing the rites as soon as we get up and washed up to do so. The Ancestors will hopefully understand this.

Traditionally this time starts with a performance of a parentatio done by the Vestal Virgins. I, obviously, have no Vestal Virgins around, and so I’m left to do what I can on my own. I’m unable to get pure water drawn from a spring, so the best I can offer for pure water in this purification ritual will be melted snow or rain water that hasn’t touched the ground. After making breafkast, I’ll wash my hands and offer incense, asking for divine witnesses to attend. And then I will walk around our table 3 times, giving offerings to my foremothers.

An invocation to Vesta and her Vestals comes next. Offerings of milk, red flowers, and honey will be made along with an adoratio done at the same time.

Whoever is home at the time will sit down to eat breakfast then, sharing it with our deceased. Traditionally this is a time when the Romans had a picnic of sorts at their deceaseds’ tombs, but February is freezing here and we have a bit of an open door policy on our home being a welcome place for our Ancestors to visit whenever they please. So they will eat in our home with us should they care to attend, and throughout the day I will keep candles burning for them to help guide them to and from their homes on the other side.

February 14th through the 21th: We won’t have any major rites in the home, but at each meal we will give offerings through sharing wine and cake along with offerings of salt. The table will be decorated with a wreath of flowers, especially violets, still.

Feralia, February 21st: This is the final day of Parentalia and is another meal for the dead. This isn’t a meal for family, though. This is meant for the Manes, the wandering dead. I don’t do rites to the Gods or Lares on this day, as Ovid suggested against it.

This year I will instead be taking a meal outside in the evening to give to any of the Manes who may be passing through. This meal is presented on broken pottery (in my case an unglazed flower pot that broke last winter) and in our house consists of leftovers from the dinner we had.

Caristia, February 22nd: The entire month of February to a Cultore is themed around purification. It’s a little like Lent in the final month of our religious year. We have an obligation to our Dead that we fulfill fully for the year during Parentalia. We have an obligation to the Dead who were unable to be buried with proper rites, who no longer have people attending their graves, and those who were never buried at all… Those wandering and alone. We satisfy our obligations to them with Feralia.

But as I was saying earlier, the Romans placed high importance on the family unit. It was the foundation of the religion, and the household was considered a microcosm for the larger family of Rome, united by Vesta. And so this is where Caristia comes in. This is a time when you get together with your living family and celebrate a meal together in love. Because love, like the binding power of Vesta as the spirit of Rome and that oldies song, is what keeps us together.

This is the meal where you attempt to move beyond your problems with your family. You lay your differences aside. You exchange small tokens of your affection and attempt to mend your own hurt feelings. And if you can’t do that you pretend you can. And if you can’t pretend? Then you don’t invite them. Personally to me, with my giant love of my extended family, means that if you can’t do the work within yourself to forgive them, then perhaps you need to evaluate whether they’re actually family to you or only in blood.

For me, being the only one in my entire family that is of my religion, I do my best to mentally prepare to lay my differences aside with those in my family who are indeed mine. I don’t feel particularly comfortable inviting them to this sort of meal, though they’re aware that I’m not of the Christian faith. On the practical side, our home is simply not big enough. On the emotional side, I’m just not up to trying to explain it all to them; perhaps one day I will be. Up until this year, our household hasn’t practiced the traditional Caristia feast, so it’s not been much of a problem.

This year my mother will be coming. She isn’t of the same religion, but she has always been an ally and welcome guest in my own practice. We observe multiple feasts and festivals throughout the year together, so it’s only natural that this will be one of them.

There are, of course, other purification rites in the month of February, but I feel like I should place them into their own blog posts if I’m going to write about them. Parentalia is the largest and longest for my family.