Palms of Our Hands

A Polytheist's Blog


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Gratitude for the Purifying One – To Choranu

Kudurru, or stone document that records a contract.

Kudurru, or stone document that records land contracts, and the gods who enforce it.

O Wise One, he who tames the snaketooth poison,
it is Choranu whom the Lady Mare calls for aid.

She pleas for her children, calls for her young ones,
to ease the scorpion’s sting, to save from harm.

The tamarisk is in your hand, the barbed branch in your grip.
The reed clacks loudly, the woody stems crush the oath-breaker’s skull.
The date palm spreads, sweeps, the fronds an outstretched
hand toward life.

Wise as serpents you are,
Choranu, Snake-Mage!
Renew the body, shred the old skin.

He who is the Purifier, the Hallowed Exorcist
no poison can sting you
the air made sweet by Your breath,

Choranu.

Inspired by writings of:

“The Mare and Horon”, translated by Simon B. Parker. Ugaritic Narrative Poetry (1997). Canaanite myth. 

 “The God Choron: Enchanter, Exorcist, Enforcer”, article by Tess Dawson.  Anointed: A Devotional Anthology for the Deities of the Near and Middle East (2011).

–Spoken curse, “May Choron break  your skull!”. Similar to modern English, “Go to hell!”

Image of kudurru (Akkadian for ‘boundary stone’) depicting the snake god Nirah, representative of Ishtaran, deity of Sumerian city Der. Via Wikipedia Commons.

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Meeting the Ekklesia Antinoou!

The stars and schedules happened to align last weekend: I took a big step to be proactive and meet up with fellow pagans offline!  I almost didn’t go; I’m pretty shy when going anywhere, and I get lost very easily.  Yet I’m glad I did.  What comes next is simply my thoughts on meeting up with fellow pagans, and writing to sort them out.

When I found out that P.S.V. Lupus was going to be in the neighborhood, so to speak, I felt I shouldn’t pass this chance up!  Lupus was giving a presentation and simple ritual of the Ekklesia Antinoou, hosted by Sacred Well Ministries in Redmond. I’ve been following Lupus’ blog, Aedicula Antinoi from last year, when I was beginning to explore my spirituality more deeply instead of standing in the “Cafeteria Catholic” line. I’ve enjoyed following Lupus’ blog posts on es* own and Patheos.  Also, the god Antinous is one whom I’ve not run across often in my pagan research. I felt like I was learning much about him straight from a devotee’s direct experience.

So in the middle of a Saturday night downpour in the Puget Sound (because the rain doesn’t stay in Seattle, ha!), I drove down the 405.  The trip was a little nerve-wracking–the lanes were clogged with construction, and the rain made me feel I was trying to drive through a bathtub! Not to mention fellow drivers, argh.

Nevertheless, I was able to reach the venue just in time.  There were a few other people present from other pagan groups, and Lupus gave me a very kind welcome. 😀  Lupus then gave a condensed, yet clear history of the Ekklesia Antinou’s founding, its gods and sanctified beings (there was a word for this…), its celebrations, and a little of es own journey as a devotee to Antinous.

Then…a ritual for the Trophimoi!

Color me awkward, I’d completely forgotten there was going to be one. Lupus had explained that the Ekklesia has its roots in Greek, Roman and Kemetic/Egyptian syncreticisms; I have no background whatsoever in these traditions.  I felt a bit like a tourist, not from being made unwelcome by anyone, but from realizing I had come unprepared and unfamiliar with nearly everything.  Luckily, the next thought in my head, was therefore, I was there to learn. That thought was extremely specific in hindsight. Also, I learned that the Ekklesia Antinoou  know how to have fun in ritual. I will never forget that rendition of Hadriane!

I would have been happy just watching Lupus lead the ritual, for being able to learn other ways of creating sacred space.  (Which was awesome all on its own, especially how to give offerings to multiple gods. I would try it that way in the future.)  There was certainly a lot of energy; Lupus and other Mystai?/Myste?? felt that the gods had certainly arrived and therefore didn’t have to build “the Obelisk”.  I believed them, there was already a ‘fullness’ in the air.  The Prayer Against Transphobia was very powerful; it’s different to read it to oneself, versus hearing it out loud in the presence of the gods.

Yet there was one point where there was a ‘breakthrough’ and for a moment, I wasn’t a stranger.

Lupus read aloud one of many poems e composed, and I thought, “I know that poem. From the blog!” I was really happy I could recall some of it.  And maybe that happiness wasn’t just my own, because I felt something like very heavy air(??) settling on my head.  It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was very hard to ignore.  If I closed my eyes it would get *intense* and I worried I’d fall over.  What helped alleviate the pressure was imagining my heels rooted to the ground, as I had learned in tai chi class.  (Later I found out that this was grounding). During that time, though, I felt very open, happy. Even though I didn’t understand what was going on, it was very okay for me to be there, as I was, at that very moment.

It makes me think. That connection can be made, whether it’s your ‘home’ tradition or not. It depends on the gods, and then it depends on you, whether to reach out.  Even if I were letting a door of hospitality/familiarity open a crack, that space is enough to make a connection. I believe this because it also turns out that it was a different poem I’d read last month than what Lupus had been reading. My knowledge was mistaken, yet it was enough to let me open up and reach out.

Sadly, the evening was cut short due to the venue’s scheduling mishaps. I also had to head back home, and I wasn’t sure how long it would take with the rain and possible accidents…

I’m glad I made it out to meet Lupus and other pagans, and will hopefully meet them again in the future. Even though I didn’t know what to expect, it had been worth it to find out.  Perhaps Antinous was glad too?  On the way back, I asked myself if that time had been enough, short as it was.  A car in front of me changed lanes as I asked.  It had this license plate: ANT****.

Hmm. Yes. I took that as a yes.

*Not a typo. Lupus refers to emself in Old Spivak Pronouns, which is gender-neutral language.


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Khats’a, and a Window with a View

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arles-abadia-3.jpg

Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Today I decided to set my ass down and actually talk to the Deities that I’ve been trying to speak-with-and alternatively-push-away.  (I keep my very, VERY beginner invitations to ‘Ilu and ‘Athiratu, the Father and Mother of the Canaanite pantheon, the Divine Assembly, to ‘Anatu (the Warrior Goddess and Whose Name scared me so many years ago…and then became the first clue that led me to learning about Them), and Choranu…who seems interested in me for His own reasons.

I’m wondering if my avoidance issues are partly hormonal or chemical, because this backing-away crashes a lot of my life. The general impression I received from speaking with Them was that it was ridiculously easy to accrue khats’a, which in Canaanite religion is regarded as ‘sin’.* Not the ‘sin’ of Christianity, where sinning equals disobedience equals spiritual and eternal death (thanks, Christianity…). But sin as in imbalance of the self and/or soul.  As Tess Dawson writes in The Horned Altar (p. 27),

The Canaanite concept of sin implied that the order of the universe had gotten out of alignment: someone tweaked nature or community the wrong way, or a person had committed a baneful act. The Canaanite concept differs in nuance from the modern Christian idea of disobedience to the church. Khats’a–sin, transgression, or misdeed–results from cause and effect: you commit a wrongdoing, and entropy results.  Although punishment can follow from committing a misdeed, any ill effects usually come of natural cycles.  Correcting the wrongdoing or performing certain activities restores balance, exorcises the pollution, and restores “beauty”.

In the Catholic school I went to, we had our First Confession with the priest.  We could sit face-to-face with him, or go sit behind a screen for some anonymity and privacy.  It was rather formulaic: we had to recall our sins (or think really really hard on what qualified as sin!), and as penance, the priest often gave us a certain number of Hail Marys (or the Marian prayer at the end of the Rosary, the Hail Holy Queen) to recite.  All the way to eighth grade, it was some variation of the same theme.  Did it bring peace of mind and soul? It did.  Did it mean I would never ever sin again, and be good with God forever? Hardly…  This “Confess and recite X number of prayers” did its job in introducing the idea of recognition and rectitude of spiritual imbalance to a seven-year-old.

As an adult, I think of it as a window getting cloudy. Did that window get cloudy from the general comings-and-goings of life?  Did it get cloudy from me throwing dirt or other objects at it in anger/frustration/resentment?  Did it get cloudy because I neglected to clean up after myself where I could?  The difference then is that I developed a near-panicked desire to always keep my window clean, and the first new splotch of dust signaled how unworthy and disgusting I was to God.  Nowadays, I look at it as how I would look at cleaning my own body, or brushing my own teeth or something just as mundane.  The ideal would be to always be clean. But having to attend to a dirty dish, or a dirty body by cleaning doesn’t mean that I am forever a horrible, disgusting creature. Just clean up! How and why the window got dirty, to me, equates to the situation at hand. Spraying Windex on a window is different from having the window shatter and replacing it.  In both situations, action is necessary because leaving it as it is means imbalance.  However, taking the action does not demean the God, or the human trying to return to a right relationship with Them. At least, that is my thought so far.

Through actions (good and bad), and daily living, the miasma of khat’sa clings to everyone.  And as for me, it appears I accrue khats’a like a white shirt at a tomato spaghetti luncheon.  I thanked the Deities and asked Them to help me with living in right accordance, to clean my ‘window’ to Them.

Right after giving my offerings to Them, my brother decided to visit and help mow my lawn.  Right after THAT, my father wanted to come to my house and re-landscape the way he wanted it to look–tear down the old fence and make way for a fresh image.  I grumbled and muttered through the serene Saturday being turned into a construction day, but at the end of it, the yard looked better, if a little ragged at the edges. It also made me wonder if this was a result of talking with the Deities today.

If I had known that there was going to be large-scale earth-moving and weed pulling, I would have told the land and house spirits before my family came over.

Which brings me to another dilemma about myself that I’ll cover in a different post: what kind of pagan am I?

*Excerpt from The Horned Altar.


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Christian-ish and pagan-ish.

I’m what some people would call a Christopagan.  I’m Christian in that I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, from birth.  My parents come from the heavily Roman Catholicized Philippines, so it was no question that I would be raised as a Roman Catholic.  My K-8 and high school education was in private Catholic schools, paid with saved tuition and volunteer hours at the church. In fact, I live nearby my same church now, and drop by when I want to say hello to the Blessed Mother.

But I’m not strictly Catholic anymore.  I look at the natural and elemental world, and I see that there are more powers in the world than what Christianity speaks of.  And contrary to the somewhat benign condescension of the Vatican toward other religions, I believe that other religions in fact have as much faith and power in them as Christianity does.  (When we discussed it in school…and that’s IF we discussed it at all, other religions were simply “not as full of grace” as Roman Catholicism.) If anything, seeing  the world as immanent, full of power, has given me more reason to be a more conscious person/Christian/Christopagan/Pagan, than when creation was passive, and full of sin, in the Christian point of view.

Yet where does a lapsed Catholic go when she is exploring the other faiths? I’m darned lucky that I have been coming of age in the Internet era.  There’s more information available now than even 10 years ago, and I only found as much as I did because I was in college.

I look at my Roman Catholicism as my “spiritual native language”.  I grew up calling God as  Father, and Jesus as the Son of God. With the Holy Spirit being…somewhere in there.  And Mary is the Divine Feminine of Christianity.  The Archangels have also been a constant presence, especially when I had my dark days back in 2008.

So, where am I learning my ‘new language’ now?  Youtube, of course.  I’ve browsed forums on paganism, Wicca, and other witchcraft-friendly forums.  There’s something immediate and real when hearing someone talking about their spiritual practices, the ups and downs, and the lessons they learned from it.

What is so pagan about my spirituality, if my first spiritual learning was in Catholicism?  Giving thanks to the guardians of my home, for instance. Today I offered a shot of beer that I had bought with my dad.  (I am in the broom-closet still, alas.)  I look at it and I see the time I got to spend with my dad shopping, going through the day together on a Saturday afternoon.  I wanted to say thanks–and the offering (with a lit tealight candle) is a tangible way to represent my gratitude.  Would I need to do it, if I was using a strictly Christian framework? Probably not.

My offering:

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(Well, the beer is in the shot glass behind the candle.  The symbol representing the Archangels is a card that a good friend and fellow Pagan sent to me last Christmas.  The other candle, with the red beads that is bowl-shaped, is dedicated to Anatu, a Canaanite goddess.)

These thoughts may not hew strictly to the Pagan Blog Project, but it gets things off my chest.


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E is for ….Eclectically Elemental and Earthy

Faffing on youtube, I found this dazzling dubstep/violin video that mashed the two types of music beautifully. There are many tracks concerning the Elements, but this is one modern paean I LOVE.   

I am still discovering my practice.  Being in and out of paganism ever since I started studying it in college, while I am aware of the Elements, my practice has not exactly been earth-based.  It’s not like Christianity (or Roman Catholicism in particular) teaches special attention to the earth.  It’s a glaring lack in my spirituality that I do want to remedy.

Despite my not being aware or believing in the Elements, I have over the years recognized my ‘native Element’ if you will: Intution, aka Water in many magickal systems.  My awareness of Water/Intuition came early in childhood. I was easily, emotionally, overwhelmed.  Any kind of argument or shouting match felt oppressive to me, and the only way to release that smothering feeling was crying.  My folks often shook their head and told me not to be “too emotional”.  Trying to divorce myself from emotions is as sensible as telling me not to breathe.  Even up to this day, I feel awkward about reading situations through my feelings.

Later on in my life I’ve gotten lots of comments and questions about how it is that I intuit a lot of emotions and motivations in situations.  And so long as I remember not to be too personal in confrontations, most of my emotions remain bottled up long enough that I can escape somewhere private and then let the dam down.

As I am moving further along in my career as a teacher-in-training, knowing where I am mentally and emotionally will be my starting point.  My instinct this year has been to study the Elements, starting with Earth.  My inner knowledge was pretty adamant about “ONLY ONE at a time”.  I decided, while Winter is still clutching the Northwest, that Earth would be the Element to learn.

Earth: it’s stability, it’s ‘earthy’ in that it doesn’t deny the processes of the body. It’s the home, the physical, the food to eat, the bills to pay.  I’ve only done small, off-the-cuff invocations of Earth.  The most recent time was when I was getting over my cold.  My chest and nose were totally stuffed with snot, and it was hard to breathe.  I did a rosary, and just asked to be able to breathe easily.  In that prayer, it felt like the energy of the earth climbed through the floor and into my body. I could picture the various arteries and veins bringing oxygen to my cells. By going deeper into myself, I was coming aware of the forces already inside me.  It pushed the worst of the cold out of my chest and nose.  Seriously, from that point onward I was gaining back my energy and health. It would have happened on its own…but the fact that something I did made it happen sooner, truly convinced me of Elemental energies.

I’m going to start composting in my yard this year.  Also, I want to be conscious of  planting both vegetables and flowering plants, to feed both myself and the bees around the area.  So as spring approaches, I’m excited to get to know Earth–the planet and the element–better.


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One Pagan’s Blog Project

I’ve been browsing and nosing around paganism for a long time. The Pagan Blog Project is what’s finally getting me off my butt to actually explore and keep up with my spiritual practice.  I have a spiritual practice already–Roman Catholicism, which I still share with family and friends.  But the contemporary scandals surrounding Churchianity–that it is ok to defend pedophilic priests, while constantly pointing to a person’s sexuality as a badge or a bar to being loved–makes me ill. Even typing those words makes me realize that I need more from my spiritual life than rules and threats.

Thus, the Pagan Blog Project. Wish me luck.