Small Packages

small packages

I am not a mother. Yet, somehow, my children are the brightest parts of my day, the sun that lights up my life when I’m in darkness, the very thing I drag myself out of bed for when everything else is utterly meaningless.

This is a blessing, and it came straight from two deities, two powers, shaping my journey. Without getting too much into specifics due to the personal racial struggles & discoveries in my life, within the past year I have found myself encountering the Orishas on my path. Again without great detail, I have indulged myself in honoring them as I can, and allowing them & my beloved dead to influence my path as they will. Who am I to deny those whose blood pumps in my veins, circulated by the irregular, off-tempo beating heart my father gave me?

It was at a very intense, powerful time on this private journey, the en media res of my Imramma, that I was drawn magnetically to my new & current job.

I came from working overnight shifts stocking shelves with food I couldn’t afford, slammed with a bill of my own mental health I could never hope to pay.
On the rising of the full moon in my sign, the Burning Moon of Leo, the tide delivered me a second chance, and I became a 1-1 teacher* for children with moderate to severe disabilities. I spend each and every day caring for, teaching children with Autism, Downs Syndrome, and a myriad of other conditions unknown to the general public that have nonetheless branded them as children who cannot be taught and are impossible to care for. I have been given the express privilege of proving this is a LIE.

Every day of my work week is a gift: a gift from Athene, a gift from Yemaya.

From the Grey-Eyed Owl, I learned utter humility. For someone who always knew, hoped, and prayed she would become a teacher, I found myself at a loss, unprepared for what that would demand of me. Any time I had tried to approach Zeus’ Favorite Daughter in the past, I was brushed aside with the knowledge that I was not yet at Her standard and it was not yet my time. I wasn’t ready for Her. Suddenly I found myself thrust into the position where my life would accept no more excuses. I had to be ready to do my job, and so I swallowed my Hubris and threw myself to Her feet, begging to learn Her lessons so that I may teach others.

From the Bearer of the Aegis, I learned discipline and strength. The strength it takes to teach a difficult child, the discipline to keep a neutral, level head when you’re being assaulted by a 10 year old and make the decisions you are trained to… We are referred to as the “educational ICU” and it takes the calm, cool wisdom of Athene to hold the delicate balance between Chaos & Control. Who better to lead us in this than the beloved daughter of Zeus?

Through Yemaya, I learned the power of my own heart. I learned that my love is a gift, my mothering is a gift, and not only that, but it is a powerful magic that can touch others and spread through the fabric of our lives. Without betraying too much of Her, it is a power that has been passed down from woman to woman since the dawn of time, from the very first Mother.

And if it does take a village to raise a child, then this whole world of a village must take some responsibility for our children, no matter how difficult it may be. When love flows eternal as unbridled waves, and when this love is married with the observation & logic of Grey-Eyed Athene, nothing seems too difficult. There is no peak I may encounter that I would not attempt to climb… and it’s all for my children.

Ω Helena

Tarot: Most Wanted

I’ve been “collecting” tarot decks for about 5 years now, but lately I haven’t been feeling pulled to purchase any new decks. By lately, I mean for about the last two years. Granted, I am more of a Real Adult™ than I was when I began this whole journey and now have bills to pay, food to buy, and a paraprofessional teacher’s hourly rate to live on. With all of these factors combined, it’s hard to justify wanting just one more deck, no matter how gorgeous the art may be or how necessary the theme is to my collection. I have, at last count, about thirty decks on my shelf and few of them are used regularly. There are some decks used once, twice, if ever, a year. But these decks, the ones not on the list to give away or sell, are all precious to me. They have earned the spot on that shelf. Each new deck is a new way to discover the tarot, uncover new meaning in eternal archetypes, to learn about myself as a Reader.

In the past, I may have described myself as a tarot addict, when really I was just a kid with a job, a passion, and nothing  else to do with that money. Now, each deck I look at is seen as an investment in both my business and myself.

And so, here’s the decks I’m currently looking to invest in:

tarot wish list

Tarot del Fuego

Tarot de los Orishas

Modern Spellcasters’ Tarot

Art of Life Tarot

Shakespeare Tarot

 

Ω Your Hostess, Helena

 

Calendar Rants #3 // Hekatombaion

I’m starting to have a better relationship with the Hellenic calendar. While I’ve been a practicing HP for awhile now, I feel I’ve been consistently spinning my wheels in the mud when it comes to understanding , embracing, and enacting any kind of ritual calendar in my practice. But I have to remind myself that this, like everything, is a learning experience. Years ago I learned the seasons of the Theoi by observing the turning of the year. More recently I’ve turned my attention to cementing my understanding of the zodiac and have spent almost a year in observation of these cycles. The Hellenic Calendar, with its many layers & details, seems like the last logical step in what has been a very long process…

Hekatombaion

I am fascinated by the many names of this first lunar month of the year. Originally called Kronia after the observed festival, the name was changed to reflect a more important festival of Apollon. On looking at the calendar now, though, you’ll find Hekatombaion (of Apollon, originally Kronia) is actually the celebration of the holy week of Athene. Amazing how things change, isn’t it?

I’m constantly reminded in my study of Hellenic Polytheism how non-specific the practice truly was. Any time I feel like changing the dates of a holiday to better coincide with my life & it’s cycles, any time I feel called to offer something to a Theoi that may never have been associated with Them, any time I come up with a title of honor and love for my Theoi that is unique to me… I am reminded that this is the foundation of our religion. These purest expressions of love are what our holy house is built upon, and our columns stand to this day due to our express ability to adapt.

Ω Helena

pantheon

Zeusmas Musings, Silly & Serious

Zeus Basileus is & has been an integral part of my path for a few years now. He is everywhere reflected in my hometown of San Diego; From our ports to our bases, to multi-million dollar estates overlooking the sea, He can be found in abundance and I’m often reminded of this passage while driving around my city:

Begin with Zeus, on every man’s lips
The streets are full of Zeus, and all the marketplaces;
The sea is full of Him, and the harbors:
All of us need Zeus everywhere we go.
 x. Aratus

And San Diego truly comes alive at one crazy, perfect day in the middle of summer: The Fourth of July.

4th of july

Every year since high school, I’ve braved the sheer mass of people down to Coronado to watch the Armed Forces parade in honor of Zeus Polieus (Protector of the Polis) and Ares Stratios (Warlike). It’s an extravaganza – an hours long event down the main street with floats, students, costumes, cars, politicians, charities, and more men & women+ in uniform than you could possibly count.

I’ll be honest, it’s bedlam. It’s a never ending sea of locals, tourists, and out of towners alike who start lining up for prime spots on the parade route before 6 am, when the street officially opens. Try finding a parking spot without bursting into tears. I learned my first year to plan ahead and stay on island overnight with a friend or it’s just not worth it. And yes, I know I’m complaining a lot, but that sort of brings me to my point:

This is what Zeus is about. This is Zeus Maimaktês & Zeus Epidôtês, He likes it loud & booming and so I flock to these places when I feel the call to honor Him and praise His sacred names.

Ares is no different. If anyone is at home in a raucous crowd, it’s Ares; especially any crowd extolling the virtues of War, Honor, & Patriotism. I do it all because They love it. I do it because They care.

*  *  *

Every family has its problems, and ours is no different.

Zeus Himself is the one who refers to Ares, at least in Homer’s mythic canon, as the “most hated of the Gods”. Never ending bloodshed and battle crying does not sit well with the King of Law & Freedom. In our modern world, too, the need for war & violence does not always sit well with those who deeply believe in the virtues of Nonviolent Protesting, or who plead the disenfranchised not to “fight hate with hate”/”let hate win”.

Even a house built on strong pillars may fall if it is divided. And so I take this one day each year to honor the estranged bond between Father & Son: How They can come together in times of great human need. In crisis, when the shit must hit the fan, and one party or another must rise up and win the day lest the entire house collapse utterly, Father Law and Brother War will draw close again, to hold what They can together until reinforcement comes.

War is a last resort, a Hail Mary pass, a sinking ship’s attempt to bail itself out of complete destruction. But as any French Revolutionary or cause’s Rebel Soldier will tell you, War can be a necessary price to pay to keep the House standing. I honor this aspect of Zeus & Ares, uncomfortable though it may be, this and every 4th.

Rocking my Grimoire

All of this inspired by the fabulous Molly Roberts (HerSpeak) – if you haven’t seen her famous “Rock Your Grimoire” video, follow the link and go get inspired now!!

rocking my grimoire

I am not an artist. My father is an artist, a whiz with a pencil and rubber eraser, and I spent the first decade of my life living in a room plastered with his artwork, his desk & all his supplies pushed into the corner. He drew my favorite characters, pets that I couldn’t have in our apartment, places I would never go, people I’d never meet… Like everyone else, I was raised by Disney, and the art that had a life of its own. Then, as I got older and discovered my love of History, Research, & Schooling, I submerged myself in classic art like a salt-water pool; teeming with treasures.

Art matters to me. Art is Magic. Art is Holy and Sacred. The most beloved and awesome pieces of visual art across human time have been done in the glory of some god or another. Many cultures hold the belief that it is that piety, that divine quality, that lends true art its greatness. My ancestors tapped ancient symbols full of mana in ink all over their bodies, in honor and reverence to both their progenitors and themselves.

This is intimidating.

I know I’m in the same boat as oh, so many witches. I want my Grimoire to be perfect. My Book of Shadows, my Holy Tome, the Keeper & Protector of my rituals, calendars, spells, and secrets that will hopefully last on this earth much longer than I… that’s the dream. And it’s held me back from putting absolutely anything in my book. The pressure was simply too real.

So the first thing I did was forget about the fancy journals. I hate the blank page – give me lines or don’t even hand me the paper. I know nothing I could do would improve the perfection of a blank page, especially once the power of words have been taken from me. And so, I took an old copy of The Iliad, one of my most beloved texts, with the absolute worst translation, and decided to do a HerSpeak and paint right in it. (Seriously, this translation is abysmal. It’s not even in verse…)

grimoire cover

This decision saved me & my grimoire. Suddenly I was painting over holy (though badly translated) words, and nothing I could ever paint can tarnish their power. I’m inspired by the words on the pages, the cover itself. Simply the act of holding my book and flipping through what I’ve done so far fills me with new ideas and the desire to just work in the book. 

My next big project will be adding a section devoted to the Athenian Lunar Calendar, complete with holy days, festivals, and notes. This is a huge undertaking for me, once I’ve complained about in length on this blog already. But my book has set me free. I’m no longer afraid to rip out pages, paste them together, cover mistakes in scrapbook paper and paint, and allow my path to show on the page.

I think that has been the most important lesson of all: A witch’s path is never straight & perfect, neither are our grimoire.

Ω Lena

 

Fallow Times

The Theoi are not omniscient. A quality that often gets associated with all gods, regardless of whom in particular we are talking about, because of the Abrahamic God, the Hellenic deities are not lauded as knowing exactly what we are thinking, feeling, and experiencing 100% of the time.

None, that is, except Zeus…

cropped-cropped-big-z.png

It’s easy to feel unworthy before the Theoi. The Greek Gods are respected and adored, worshiped, because They are the best of everything. Whatever realm is under a deity’s domain is utterly at Their disposal. None may hunt better than Artemis, fight harder than Ares, shoot further than Apollon. When the daimon of depression comes seeping through my bones, I can’t find it in me to respect the lessons of the Gods. When it takes real convincing from my own mind to drag my body up off the floor, it seems pointless to plant a seed, pick up an instrument, paint a piece… The gods of everything do not know what it is like to suffer mortality, and while They may sympathize with our plight, They cannot empathize with it. They do not know what it is like to walk the road of the doomed, or face the follies of the flawed.

None, that is, except Zeus…

Zeus holds the entirety of, well, everything in His hands. The Father is the one who knows our hearts, desires, and fears, as well as every trial we have faced on our way. As the keeper of Fate & the Wheel of Fortune, Zeus Agathos Daimon knows that it is the lot of mortals to be on top one day, at the bottom another. He knows as the keeper of the very wheel that does this to us, the keeper of balance in the universe. He reminds me that this, too, shall pass, while lending the Father’s strong shoulder to cry on until the pain fades.

“You know how to make extraordinary things suitable,
and how to bring forth order from chaos; and even that which is unlovely is
lovely to You”

x. cleanthes

By His hand, I am made strong.
Drop a golden rope from Heaven, Father, that I may climb…

– your hostess

30 Days: An Introduction

Day 1: A Basic Introduction of Your Chosen Deity

 

Aphrodite is a golden smile.
She is the Lady of Laughter and the giggle that bubbles up out of my chest. Aphrodite is the light on the beach as lithe limbs tan and preen. She is Aphrodite Philommedes, Aphrodite the Laughter Loving, who delights when Her love both inspires and destroys. But oh, does She smile on those who have committed to serving Her.

Aphrodite is a burning flame.
She is the smolder in bedroom eyes, the beacon of love that cannot be ignored in the darkness of night that surrounds us. She is Aphrodite Praxis, Area, Pothon Mater  who drives us forward like wildfire, until we achieve our desires or are consumed.

Aphrodite is a crashing wave.
I am powerless to fight Her as I am to fight the waves from which She emerged.
She is Aphrodite Aphrogenea, born of foam, and oh Meleager, how well did you phrase
“What I cannot see is how,
From the green wave rising
Out of water, Oh Aphrodite
You bred a flame.”

[Note: A “basic” introduction to Aphrodite would be far from appropriate so, saving my long “here’s how I was introduced to My Lady” post for Day 2, here’s a bit of an introduction to some of the epithets that inform my devotion to Her]