Cultural Values

Cultural Values

A thread on TC about the effect of one’s culture of origin on one’s path got me thinking about what it really means to be a cultural polytheist. It’s not just about honoring ancient gods, nor even doing it in a “historical context” with traditional offerings and prayers and such. I think at least part of it has to be about making the values of that culture important in your own life and practices.

One might digress a little and remember that just because a culture talks about the value of a thing doesn’t mean they practice valuing the thing, and that sometimes what seems like a good or honorable thing to value can in practice be harmful or oppressive. To use my own culture as an example, the US talks a big talk about equality, but only straight, cis white people with decent bank accounts would look at our country and genuinely see equality. We hold up the idea of “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps”, that anyone can achieve anything if they just work hard enough, as the American Dream; but not only is it wildly untrue, it creates this false dichotomy that anyone who hasn’t achieved simply isn’t working hard enough and that anyone who has something has worked for it- which hurts everyone, because the people at the bottom never get the opportunities they need to succeed, and the people in a position to give those opportunities see no one “deserving” of them. All of this to say, just because a culture holds something dear is not reason enough to adopt it wholesale into one’s practice; we can certainly learn something from the people who came before us, but some if it will always be a good example of a bad example.

It’s hard for me to see the forest for the trees sometimes, when it comes to being from the US, so I’ll start with the ancient cultures I draw from, and see if they help me see my own original lens better.

Alexei Kondratiev compiled a list of “Celtic Values” that I think are very accurate, which I will summarize:

  • Enech, or honor; a communal saving or losing “face” moreso than a personal code of conduct
  • Oígidecht, or hospitality; limited by law to keep hosts from the poorhouse
  • Meisnech or self-control; keeping one’s temper/controlling one’s mood (Kondratiev translates it as courage)
  • Tairisiu or loyalty; trust and consistency in beneficial support
  • Indracus or honesty; integrity, wholeness, right-doing
  • Coair or justice; in accordance with a cosmic/grand sense of rightness

I might argue that the second through sixth values are all facets of enech; not only would violating any of these cultural norms be wrong in and of themselves, but the satire and mockery that would come of the community being made aware of those transgressions would only further damage one’s enech. I do think, though, that the cultural use of satire to shame, and the fact that laws had to be passed to keep hosts from needing the hospitality of others, both might indicate that these two values were of the utmost importance.

That said, I’m not sure that enech is really a value I want to hold above others. Perhaps if my culture utilized satire in the way that the ancient Celts did, it would be a different story; but as it is, we reward awful people with more fame and attention all the time, and when those awful people are a little closer to home, we tend to talk around the issue and make excuses instead of exposing them as we ought. The esteem of my community-at-large (my culture) means very little, and while I’d certainly prefer to be well regarded in my actual communities, basing my behavior on what would earn their esteem creates very little in the way of moral guidelines. I would rather earn their disdain by breaking down harmful cultural standards like binary gender normativity, the rampant sexism and shaming of rape culture, etc., than toe traditional lines for the sake of “saving face.” (I admit I don’t do much in the way of traditional gender role breaking personally, as I am comfortable/enjoy much of what’s assigned to me as a woman, but the fact that it’s assigned is bullshit.) The rest, however, I think are all worthwhile, and don’t raise any particular red flags to me.

I also find it interesting to see some of the Celtic values repeated in the few compiled by Andrew Campbell in his Hellenismos FAQ (reprinted on TC with permission). (Not shocking- very little in the ancient world is utterly unique to one particular culture, I find- but still interesting.) He lists four in particular:

  • Eusebeia or piety; performance of customary acts of respect
  • Xenia or hospitality; laid out expectations for both host and guest
  • Sophrosune or self-control; less about avoidance of temptations as being aware and in control of oneself (historically difficult to translate)
  • Metriotes or moderation; see the Delphic maxim ‘nothing to excess’

Like the Celts, the Greeks valued hospitality (not very surprising, in a world without Hiltons or Motel 6s). In xenia, though, there is equal emphasis on the right actions for a guest as there are for a host, something I think our modern culture tends to vastly overlook or oversimplify. Sophrosune has apparently been difficult to define since ancient times, but it is closely tied into metriotes, and the Delphic maxim “know thyself”; being in control of oneself means being aware of oneself, and makes one more capable of temperance and inner balance.

I think the only value here that I might quibble on is that of eusebeia- which might seem odd coming from someone who has explicitly expressed a desire to be more pious, in the Greek conception of it. I think, though, that eusebeia is the go-to for many modern pagans; indeed, one of the most common queries on TC from newbies is how they can “find/choose their gods”. “Picking” deities is generally the first thing crossing a new pagan’s mind, and while I absolutely understand the impulse- the gods were an early consideration of my own- I think that being properly observant of the gods very frequently takes precedent over all else, excepting perhaps magic, in the general pagan community. And as Kiya has said- the gods don’t need us the way people do. The living breathing community that surrounds us, pagan or not- their needs are surely more pressing than that of the gods. Who will benefit more from a cup of cool, clean water, or a plate of warm food? I can’t discount the importance of eusebeia, but I cannot give it the overwhelming precedence it enjoyed in the ancient world with good conscience.

The ancient Egyptians are the least wordy, when it comes to cultural values: everything, it seems, circles back around to just one word.

  • Ma’at or truth, justice, right-doing, balance, law and morality

A singular, tidy concept that like sophrosune can be difficult to define, but certainly of vast importance; the upholding of ma’at is not only the most important duty of the people, but of the gods themselves. Like the Celtic coair, ma’at is the right action and right speech that brings reality and the community into balance and harmony; as Chabas has said, if an action for one community goes against ma’at for another community, you draw the circle bigger. It’s a tall order to live up to, but at the same time, even the smallest actions can contribute to it, like putting the shopping carts away. It encompasses the good of the community- the macrocosmic community down to the individual- in a way that many pagan platitudes about community touch on but fail to truly comprehend.

This somewhat rambling piece brings me back around to my own culture. What does modern, secular New England America value, that is worth upholding? Nationally, there are a few:

  • Equality; though our country has wildly failed to achieve it thus far, it is a worthwhile effort, and certainly a value that can be brought into everyday life
  • Liberty; though we knowingly or not concede our privacy and liberties bit by bit each day, our personal liberties are valuable and should be fought for; furthermore, the Prison Industrial Complex is a travesty that should be dismantled like a maenaed rends flesh, and the world at large should enjoy the freedom from US soldiers on their soil
  • Charity; while Lady Liberty asks for the poor and hungry, we have plenty of them here at home who are too often neglected and overlooked

The regional level is perhaps slightly harder to pin down, unless one looks at the states’ history:

  • Civic action; the Revolutionary War found its start in New England, both in protest and in battle, and was the center of the strongest abolitionist and anti-slavery movements in the US, and the widely common town-meeting model is a great example of direct democracy
  • Scholarship; some of the oldest schools and universities are located in New England, and are cultural touchstones
  • Creativity; a bulk of classic “American literature” comes from the region, a source of pride

It’s interesting; I’ve never actually sat down before and examined all of these cultural values, and weighed them against my own thoughts. I think something that would be of further, erm, value, would be to go through this list and muse on what exactly living these values in today’s world might look like, but as this post is already rather long, it’s a thought experiment for another day! I do think, though, on brief review, that these values are fairly well rounded, and even without further exploration can be a good set of guidelines for everyday action.

Reading: Greek and Roman Necromancy

Reading: Greek and Roman Necromancy

I’ve just finished reading Greek and Roman Necromancy by Daniel Ogden about fifteen minutes ago, and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a bit! It has given me a lot to think about. Since my practice this year is strongly about stabilizing my relationship with my dead, it seemed an appropriate place to start (though my own practice is more veneration of the dead than evocation). For citation purposes, I have the 2004 paperback edition published by Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-11968-6.

The book is divided into four parts. Part 1 discusses the places necromancy was practiced; part 2 the people practicing necromancy, and their various titles and functions; part 3 the technology utilized, particularly that which distinguished necromancy from regular offerings to the dead; and finally part 4 with the theory and belief surrounding necromancy.

For reference- this isn’t really a review, so much as a collection of the bits that interested me, that I want to poke at in the future, etcetera. The citations are listed by part and chapter at the end. It is also very long- WP’s word counter is clocking it at precisely 3,500 words.


Specific methods of necromancy:

The dedication of double “replacement” figures (kolossoi) was a very old ghost-laying technique. …[To] placate Athene and the ghosts of the dead, and they set about doing this by making an elaborate life-size statue for each of the youths killed, and another one of Athene, too. The material used is unspecified. Learning of this, the men of Metapontum, wishing to seize the peace of the ghosts and the goddess for themselves, tried to get in first by swiftly making miniature stone effigies for the young men and instituting an offering of cakes for the goddess. But both cities were delivered, Croton for its magnificence, Metapontum for its expedition. [11]

While I don’t intend to make replacement bodies for my Beloved Dead, this is an interesting idea for my Nameless Dead- elsewhere in the chapter, Ogden mentions the use of a pair of replacements, one male and one female, to placate unknown spirits. (I am also not being bothered by ghosts, so this isn’t exactly a priority, just an interesting thought.)

A number of [Akkadian] necromancy “manuals” survive under the title “Incantation to See a Ghost in Order to Make a Decision.” The usual method was to smear an ointment, rue (?) crushed in water and cedar oil, over the face of the consulter, or on a figurine or skull that “housed” the ghost. … These instructions do not much resemble old Greek necromancy, but the similarities between Akkadian ghost-laying rites and those of archaic Greece are admittedly rather more striking, as we have seen [in chapter 7]. [16]

The main significance of the basic rites of evocation lies in the fact that their system as a whole (pit, libations of melikraton [honey and milk], wine and water, barley offering, blood offering, holocaust, and prayers) is identical to that of normal offerings to the dead at tombs, as we have seen (chapter 1). Some have argued that this normal offering-system was transformed into a “necromantic” one by additional utterance of some sort of magical “incantation” (epōidē). However, there is no evidence for any such incantation in the Odyssey as distinct from the prayers to ghosts and underworld gods. … Others have argued that the normal offering-system was transformed by being relocated to an underworld entrance. But this renders the phenomenon of necromancy at the tomb inexplicable. [18]

Necromantic consultations normally took place at night, the time of ghosts. Incubation, the usual means of experiencing ghosts at tombs or in nekuomanteia, most naturally took place by night. … Ideally the procedure begins at midnight and endures until dawn, when the ghosts must flee back to their graves or to the underworld… Lucan’s Sextus turns to Erictho in the precise middle of the night, when it is noon on the far side of the earth, and their consultation ends at dawn. Silius’s Scipio begins his consultation when the portion of the night spent is equal to that to come. … The Greek magical papyri schedule a human-skull necromancy and an ass-skull necromancy for midnight. But in Egypt, necromantic rites could also begin at susnset. [19]

For all the importance of darkness, necromancy was ideally performed when the moon was full. … Advance purifications begin for Lucain’s Menippus on the night of a full moon, and the actual consultation takes place on the full moon of the next lunar month. Heliodorus’s witch uses the second night of the full moon. … This timing did not coincide with that usual in the case of general offerings to the dead, which normally took place after the twentieth day of a calendar month. [20]

This surprised me quite a bit; I would have expected evocations to take place in the darkest part of the lunar month.

Animal sacrifice was not essential to the performance of the basic rites. None is made in the evocation of Darius in Aeschylus’s Persians, nor is there any mention of sacrifice in the Euripidean necromantic fragment, which appears to summarize all the offerings being made, and the pankarpeia [“all-fruits”, specifically denoted a cake or potage made with honey and fruits] here is actually described as fireless. [23]

A common way of drawing the attention of the dead was to bang on the ground. [26]

Witches also tended to avoid bindings as they performed their rites (binders should not be bound), and this included the necromantic ones. Thus Canidia’s hair and feet were unbound (i.e., she was unshod), although she did have a belt on her dress. When Ovid’s Medea performed a rejuvenation-reanimation on Aeson, she was unbound in hair, dress, and feet. [27]

Something I’ve heard in passing, but never tied to any particular source- just a ‘witchy’ piece of common sense, or some such.

…then we should look primarily to the tradition of skull divination. The Greek magical papyri preserve a particularly interesting series of recipes for this from late antiquity, but the phenomenon may be attested for archaic and classical Greece, by, for example, the myth of Orpheus’s head. [30]

The myth of Orpheus’s head immediately brings to mind that of Bran the Blessed’s.


On libations and offerings:

Literary and archeological evidence combines to show that despite differences in emphasis and variations in practice across place and time, all four of these categories of observance employed the ritual elements traditional in accounts of necromancy: the digging of a pit; libations of milk, honey, wine, water, and oil, and offerings of grain and flowers, offerings of blood (known as haimakouria, literally “blood-sating”), together with an associated holocaust animal sacrifice; and prayers. [1]

The “necromancy” pots of the Cumaean Painter all show the seated female consulter libating to the ghost from a phialē, onto an altar if there is one, and otherwise onto the ground. Sometimes eggs, appropriate offerings to the dead, sit on the altar, and sometimes the woman holds a platter of food. [5]

Plutarch offers the hypothesis in his Roman Questions that the ritually pure are bidden to abstain from the bean (lathuros) and chickpea (erebinthos) because of their use in funeral feasts (perideipna) and in necromancy. Pliny… explains that beans contain souls of the dead, an idea he ascribes to Pythagoras, and are for that reason used in offerings to the dead. … Pliny’s discussion says that beans fog up the senses and cause dreams; Plutarch elsewhere explains that they are harmful to dreams (as is the head of the octopus), so that those who seek prophecy through dreams are bidden to avoid them. … Indeed, perhaps it was thought that one could experience the soul of a dead person in a dream specifically by ingesting it in a bean. [6]

(This amuses me purely because of my longstanding aversion to beans.)

The libations used in necromancy and general offerings to the dead alike were full ones (choai) as opposed to token ones (spondai). Their principal significance lay in their soothing and life-giving qualities. All liquids used were distinctively propitiating and soothing, as Aeschylus says, or bewitching and thereby able to summon the dead, as Euripides says. Water quenches thirst and bathes. Milk soothes babies. Honey sweetens. Wine is also sweet and ameliorates with inebriation. To Homer’s liquids, Aeschylus adds olive oil, which is also soothing. [21]

This reinforces my instinct to offer comfort foods on my Beloved Dead’s deathdays, as well as the familiar birthday cake on their birthdays.

Since melikraton [honey and milk] was given to the new-born, it was suitable also for the reborn; it further resembled the food of the immortals, nectar and ambrosia. … Additional significance may have attached to individual elements of the libations. The sprinkling of the water, among the other liquids, in a circle around the pit resembles a purificatory lustration. And water was itself regarded as chthonic. Red wine resembled blood, perhaps particularly spilt blood when libated. … White milk relieved ghostly darkness. Antiseptic honey was a preserving agent, and ghosts could be conceptualized as the bees that produced it. Heliodorus’s witch gives extra significance to her grain offering by making it into a cake shaped like a voodoo doll. … Eggs, also particularly symbolic of fertility, were commonly given. [22]

The usual sacrificial animal for necromantic rites was a single black sheep or a pair of them. [23]

Whereas rainwater, which emanates from heaven, summons the gods of heaven, spring water, from the depths of the earth, summons ghosts. [28] … Bathhouses were traditionally haunted, as they were fed from underground water. [29]

A Greco-Egyptian, Apion Grammaticus, is said by Pliny to have called up the ghost of Homer (evocation admittedly, not reanimation) with the herb cynocephalia, “dog-head,” which the Egyptians called osiritis, “Osiris-herb”; the god Osiris has been raised from the dead. [31]

(In a manner of speaking.)


On necromancers:

Psuchagōgoi [“evocators”] were probably based at neukomanteia [“prophecy-places of the dead”] but traveled out from there to lay ghosts when necessary. … The psuchagōgoi of the title, who seem to have been a race, again akin to the Cimmerians, rather than a defined group of experts (“We, the race [genos] that dwells around the lake…”), are based at a lake nekuomanteion, which is probably to be identified as the Acheron one. [9]

Psuchagōgoi were often concerned with the laying of ghosts. Hermes himself, whose job it was to deposit the ghosts of the dead safely in the underworld, could take psuchagōgos as an epithet (alongside those of psuchopompos and nekropompos). In a summary definition of psuchagōgoi, a Euripides scholiast asserts that they “summon up and drive out ghosts.” Paradoxically, it was often necessary to call up a ghost to lay it. …one could often be attacked by a ghost in a form in which it could not communicate meaningfully with one. One would then have to call it up with necromantic rites in a form with which one could communicate and learn from it the cause of its disquiet and the appropriate remedy… [10]

The etymology of the term goēs [“sorcerer”] indicates that psuchagōgia originally constituted the heart of the concept: it is a derivative of goos, “mourning-song,” and goaō, “sing a song of mourning.” The goos was the improvised mourning-song of the dead man’s relatives, predominantly the women, and stood in contrast to the thrēnos, the formal mourning song of professionals. … The original Indo-European root was *gow-, which, as Burkert notes, was onomatopoeic for grief. [12]

This calls to mind the professional mourning women of Egypt (whom I do not know the name of) and the Irish caoineadh (keening) wail first uttered by Brighid at the death of her son.

Goos and goēs are several times associated with the raising of the dead in Greek literature. …[The ghost of Darius was summoned] “in pitiful fashion, making high shrieks with psychagogic lamentations (psuchagōgois goois).” It was these lamentations that persuaded him to come. It is possible that the summoning-song as a whole constituted the gooi: otherwise the term will have referred to the nonverbal noises interspersed through it. … Whatever merits such explanations may have, the fundamental justification for the limitation of the expression of grief is clear: if there is too much of it, one might bring the dead back. The only thing to be dreaded more than the loss of a loved one is that loved one’s return. [13]

The author is reminded of The Monkey’s Paw; I’m reminded of the episode of Buffy directly following “The Body”.


Ghosts and their manifestations:

The most common alternative to conceiving of ghosts as humanoid was to conceive of them as tiny winged creatures. On classical Attic white-ground lēkuthoi, such as those portraying visits to the tomb, or portraying Charon’s barge, they are miniscule black figures hovering on wings, somewhat akin to dragonflies. Ghosts are often black-winged in poetry. Metaphors for ghosts in this aspect were afforded by bats, birds, and bees. [35]

Birds:

[The name Coronides, meaning] “Crow-son,” may suit the girl’s ghostly nature, since disembodied souls could be perceived as crows.

This is not especially surprising, given that crows are carrion feeders, but the repetition of elements present in other culture’s beliefs (in this case Irish) is something I always enjoy finding.

As prophets, the shamans* were close to Apollo. Aristeas was possessed by him (phoibolamptos), and the crow, the form in which Aristeas’s soul appeared, was sacred to him as a prophetic bird. [14]

Again, with the parallels; though I don’t think in Irish lore crows were specifically considered prophetic themselves, but they were associated with the Morrigan, who is at least somewhat associated with prophecy.

Homer and Virgil compare ghosts to agitated flocks of birds. Sophocles speaks of the soul leaving the body as a “fair-winged bired.” … The soul-bird, hovering over or perching on the body of a dead man, is common in archaic and classical art. Tibullus associates screech owls with the ghosts that are to hover around his bawd-witch. [35]

This is also interesting, given the depiction of the ba in Kemetic art.

Bees:

Melissa has a speaking name that consists of the word “bee” (melissa/melitta). … they were held to emerge from the carcasses of dead humans or animals; they were thought to live in caves; they had prophetic powers of their own, and had notably revealed the quasi-necromantic oracle at Trophonius. Swarms of ghosts were even visualized as swarms of bees in necromantic contexts. Another Corinthian Melissa, an old woman to whom Persephone’s mother Demeter had entrusted her rites, was destroyed, like Periander’s wife, by the envy of her peers, who tore her apart. Demeter accordingly caused bees to be born from her body, in a sort of ghostly resurrection. Melissa was also a common title for priestesses of Demeter and Persephone. [4]

The notion that the dead could resemble bees is probably found first in Aeschylus’s Psuchagogoi, where the ghosts Odysseus is to summon up are described as a swarm (hesmos) of night-wanderers (nuktipoloi). It is certainly present in a Sophoclean fragment: “The swarm (smēnos) of the dead buzzes and comes up.” Virgil uses bees in a simile for souls, and Porphyry reports that the ancients called souls waiting to be reborn “bees”. [35]

Snakes:

…Trophonius was identified with the snakes of the reddish-brown pareias variety said to live in his hole (this was also the variety sacred to Asclepius). The honey-barley cakes taken down were variously said to be for these snakes or for Trophonius himself. Snakes, significantly chthonic creatures, were often kept for prophecy and fed on honey cakes in the ancient world. [8]

Cicadas:

[The cicada] sang as a prophet. Just like a ghost, it derived from the earth, it was ancient and bloodless, and it was wise. The Greeks paradoxically attributed the qualities of both blackness and pallor to cicadas, just as they did to ghosts. But at the same time the cicada was immortal, and so resembled oracular heroes such as Trophonius and Amphiaraus, who were at once dead and alive. … [Archilochus] and cicadas alike were sacred and dear to the Muses. … Aesop told that the Muses created cicadas out of pity from men who shriveled to death for neglecting food and drink in their devotion to song. [3]


Hekate:

The required rites strongly resemble the traditional ones of evocation, but no ghosts manifest themselves, and it seems that the function of the rites is simply to acquire the help of Hecate. Jason waits until the exact middle of the night, goes apart from the others, washes in a river, puts on dark clothes, digs a round trench (bothros), piles faggots into it, slaughters a female sheep over it and makes a holocaust of it, propitiates Hecate, and pours libations over the sacrifice. Hecate duly appears in terrifying form with her attributes of snakes, dogs, and torches. [17]

The Orphic Argonautica’s Orpheus sacrifices three black puppies in a similar rite to call up Hecate (black puppies were this goddess’s traditional offering). [24]

Djehuty & Hermes:

Sleep is used as a means of experiencing summoned ghosts also in the Greek magical papyri. … Another papyrus preserves in fragmentary form a hymn to Hermes in which he is praised as an escort of souls and also a rouser thereof, and mention is made of his mantic skill. Hermes is asked to prophesy through dreams. The notion is probably therefore that he will send ghosts in dreams. [6]

Another magical papyrus provides a simple prayer to Thoth/Hermes to bring up the dead. [25]

Much later, a recipe book among the Greek magical papyri calling itself the Eighth Book of Moses contains a brief spell for the reanimation of a corpse that may be used by those initiated in accordance with the book’s rites: “Arousal of a dead body: I adjure you, spirit traveling in air, enter this body, inspire, energize, and arouse it by the power of the eternal god, and let it walk around over this place, for I am the one who acts with the power of Thauth [i.e., Thoth], the holy god. Say the name.” he spell has no explicit purpose other than making the corpse walk around. Collard guesses that the ultimate goal would nonetheless be prophecy. The spell is very concrete in terminology, and does appear to envisage physical reanimation of a corpse, but perhaps even so, as with the talking-head recipes discussed below, one was just to see the dead mean walking in a dream. [32]

The Greek magical papyri contain a number of recipes for skull necromancies. … Pitys appears to be a refraction of the Egyptian prophet Bitys or Bitos, who discovered, Khamwas-like, eschatological hieroglyphics written by Thoth-Hermes (i.e. “Hermetic” texts) in a sanctuary at Said and translated them on a tablet for the pharaoh Ammon. [33]

Dionysos:

Heraclides of Pontus told that Trophonius appeared in a dream to some Boeotians who fled to his sanctuary after being captured by Thracians. He told them that Dionysus would help them, so they got drunk, attacked the Thracians successfully, and founded a temple to Dionysus the Deliverer in gratitude. [7]

Outside the Pythagorean movement, Orphism is strongly associated with Bacchism and Dionysus. Orpheus is now regularly classed as a “shaman,” both for his similarities to the other Greek “shamans” and for sharing with the Tungus shamans the ability to attract animals through music. [15]

Set:

In the second Pitys spell, an ostensible inquiry from Ostanes about skull cups prompts Pitys to supply him with a recipe to raise a ghost by laying (part of) a dead mean out on the hide of a (Sethian) ass inscribed with voces magicae in ink made from an ass’s blood. [34]

I am curious what the Sethian aspect of the ass lends to this rite; he has no particular connection to the dead in Kemetic theology, aside from his ushering of his brother to the underworld.

*Ogden differentiates at the beginning of Chapter 8 between the actual Tungus medicine men, and the Greeks and Romans he discusses; he calls the term “at least superficially appropriate” and retains it “for convenience” which is frustrating, but.

[1] Part 1: Places; Chapter 1: Tombs and Battlefields, p. 7
[1] Part 1: Places; Chapter 3: Heracleia Pontica and Tainaron, p. 32
[3] Ibid, p. 38-39
[4] Part 1: Places; Chapter 4: Acheron Nekuomanteion, p. 56
[5] Part 1: Places; Chapter 5: Avernus Nekuomanteion, p. 72
[6] Part 1: Places; Chapter 6: Incubation and Dreaming, p. 77-79
[7] Ibid, p. 83
[8] Ibid, p. 84
[9] Part 2: People; Chapter 7: Evocators, Sorcerers, p. 96
[10] Ibid, p. 98
[11] Ibid, p. 102
[12] Ibid, p. 110
[13] Ibid, p. 111-112
[14] Part 2: People; Chapter 8: Shamans, Pythagoreans, Orphics, p. 122
[15] Ibid, p. 123
[16] Part 2: People; Chapter 9: Aliens and Witches, p. 133-134
[17] Ibid, p. 142
[18] Part 3: Technology; Chapter 11: Traditional Rites of Evocation, p. 164
[19] Ibid, p. 166
[20] Ibid, p. 167
[21] Ibid, p. 169
[22] Ibid, p. 170-171
[23] Ibid, p. 171
[24] Ibid, p. 172
[25] Ibid, p. 176
[26] Ibid, p. 178
[27] Ibid, p. 189
[28] Part 3: Technology; Chapter 12: Bowl Divination to Boy-Sacrifice, p. 192
[29] Ibid, p. 194
[30] Part 3: Technology; Chapter 13: Reanimation and Talking Heads, p. 202
[31] Ibid, p. 204
[32] Ibid, p. 205-206
[33] Ibid, p. 211
[34] Ibid, p. 212
[35] Part 4: Theory; Chapter 14: Ghosts in Necromancy, p. 221-223
[35] Ibid, p. 223

O&O: July 2014

O&O: July 2014

I’m a little bit behind- I should have done this yesterday! Better late than never.

So, to look back on June! I started off poorly- I only offered fire & water to the Dagda. I wasn’t feeling great so I didn’t bother tuning my harp, and I utterly failed to plan properly so I didn’t have the ingredients for soup. Similarly, I only managed fire & water on the 6th, though my annoyance with my shrine did kick up and foment the post I made the other day. Still, not what I wanted to accomplish. I spent the 13th running around doing errands, and only had the energy and time for fire & water to Set and Dionysos. (I’m seeing a pattern here.) And my poor time management with regard to my schoolwork meant I only did my Kiva donation and fire & water on the 15th. (Though I did say a prayer to Hermes to help me BS my way through the math paper I was writing!) I did better on the 19th- offered fire & water to Djehuty, and actually did some research on Wagy. I didn’t post on his shrine; I’d intended to, but I’ve been rolling around the fact that I didn’t want them to just be miscellaneous posts on their offering days, I wanted them to be a resource to learn about the deity in question. Of course I’ve not much to offer in the way of resources, at the moment. At any rate, I feel like kicking myself over minor content is not helpful. I also got the impetus to do daily devotions, and some ideas on where to take that to avoid burnout and rote-ness. Mask work is being put off until I finish cleaning. I somehow completely missed my grandfather’s Night on the 21st (I also failed to realize it was the solstice until it was over) which I am very unhappy with myself over. My cill shift I cleaned (along with fire & water offerings), and though I didn’t have the spoons to do much on the Jubilee, I did manage fire & water, and painting my nails gold.

I am… I have mixed feelings about the month. I did better than I did in May. I am managing actual fire & water offerings instead of just mindfulness. But they do feel a little token- but on the other hand, building them as a habit is a good start, and I can add to it. As always, I can improve. I can do better.

Onto July! (How in the seven hells is it July already??)

2 July: (4 Hekatombaion) Offering to Hermes. Fire & water, and I’m going to sit my ass down and do some weaving, as I haven’t touched my Lichtfaden scarf in too long, and I can’t make another scarf for my future shop until this one is off the loom.

4 July: Offering to the Dagda. Fire & water, and tuning my goddamned harp. (I should be doing that every day, honestly.) I will also plan to make a large batch of oatmeal, and hopefully soup if I can.

6 July: (6 Shomu 4) Offering to the Beloved & Nameless Dead. Fire & water, and hopefully ordering two of those honeycomb shelves! I’d also like to continue my Dead observance holyday research with Samhain.

7 July: Offering to Seshat. As July is Seshat’s month, I’ll be beginning her monthly offerings. If I can manage to have all my books unpacked by then, I’ll spend some time working on my LibraryThing cataloging; if not, I may spend some time listing the many, many BookMooch books I have for trade.

12 July: Cill shift. Fire & water, cleaning, and weaving, damnit. And hopefully writing.

13 July: (15 Hekatombaion) Dikhomenia. Fire & water, I have utterly no idea what else. None of my previous ideas have really clicked. …maybe a TV marathon, to work on my oracle deck? That’s a possibility.

15 July: Heb Seshat. Fire & water, Kiva donation… I don’t know what else, honestly. I’ll have to give this more thought.

19 July: Offering to Djehuty. Fire & water, and more reading. I’m currently working on “Greek & Roman Necromancy” but if I’ve finished that by this time I’ll probably take another stab at “My Heart My Mother”. Also continuing to work on my calendar and Dead festivals, if I haven’t already finished researching/updating about Samhain, Veteran’s Day, and the Seven Suppers.

23 July: Jubilee. Fire & water, self-care/beauty pampering of whatever sort suits me, and whatever else makes me happy that day.

25-27 July: (27-29 Hekatombaion) Greater Panathenaea. Technically this holyday is not on my calendar for the year, as it’s not a festival for the dead; however, I made a commitment on Khalkeia last year, before my calendar change-up, that I would finish this crochet blanket and offer it to Athene at the Panathenaea. I suspect I will offer fire & water, offer the finished blanket, and maybe spend some time weaving.

31 July: (4 Metageitnion) Offering to Hermes. Fire & water, and I’m not sure what else, right now. It depends on how I progress on my current scarf; though I may spend some time working on my plans for a little bracelet sized loom.

It’s getting busier every month! Hopefully I can keep up.

O&O: June 2014

O&O: June 2014

I missed doing this for May, and I’m not going to try to reach through the depression brain-fog that was last month to do a wrap-up of April. So here’s June, starting with today!

4 June: Offering to the Dagda. Since I’ve set up my hearth, I’ve been doing fire and water offerings with much better regularity, so it will likely consist of that, tuning my harp (since I finally located the spare strings and tuner!), as well as cooking large quantities of soup.

6 June: Offering to the Beloved & Nameless Dead. Fire and water, work on the family tree, and do some thinking about how I want to represent them on my hearth. I may also do some brainstorming on Wagy, which is the first of the Dead festivals this year, and is approaching fast.

13 June: (15 Skirophorion) Offering to Set- I’m not beginning my regular offerings to him until October, but it’s Friday the 13th, so. I will likely keep it simple with fire and water. It’s also Dikhomenia, so fire and water for Dionysos, and I’m not sure what else. One of my overdue Mental Healing posts would be appropriate.

15 June: Eortì Hermes and Father’s Day. (Technically the latter is not on my religious calendar, but I may do something anyway.) Offering of fire and water, Kiva donation; I may do some magic for money, and luck getting a job. I’ll also set aside some time to work on my etsy shop-to-be.

19 June: Offering to Djehuty- fire and water, working on Wagy, working on his mask, posting on his shrine.

21 June: Ray’s Night. Fire and water, family tree stuff; I’m not sure what else. Maybe a particularly messy hands-on project.

22 June: Cill shift. Fire and water, cleaning, weaving, writing.

24 June: (24 Shomu 3) Jubilee- fire and water for Hetharu, spend some time on beauty/pampering (doing my nails, a clay face mask, etc.), dance around like an idiot to some music.

That’s the month! I’m feeling surprisingly positive about it- I know having my hearth set up has done me a world of good. Now I just have to get all the rest done!

O&O: March 2014

O&O: March 2014

First we’ll tackle the February wrap-up: Imbolc I covered in my last post. My shift on the 2nd was filled with weaving, which was amazing. Anthesteria did not go as planned, unfortunately- I felt entirely disconnected and out of sync. I will try again next year, preferably with more preparation, and if it continues to not mesh then it’ll leave the calendar. The 15th was Féile Brighid and Laura’s Night; I made cookies for Laura, donated on Kiva to a woman buying more cows and sheep to support her family, and got Brighid’s temporary shrine page up. (It needs a name, and then it will become a separate blog as Djehuty’s did.) I also finished my scarf, except for the de-looming bit. Absent’s Night on the 16th did not pass by unmarked, precisely- I lit a candle and thought about her, but I didn’t cook anything, and had no idea what to cook. Opening Night on the 18th, I did a good amount of writing, though not as much as I wanted. Djehuty’s offering on the 19th, I got the separate shrine up and updated. My second cill shift of the month was on the 22nd, and I slept through almost the entire thing. (Last days before my depo shot = miserable Juni.) I am not precisely happy, but I’m not kicking myself, either.

Overall: not a great month, and mostly because of my own failure to prepare. Boo.

Onto March! [insert something about how every day/week/month is a fresh start, or something?]

3-4 March: Carnival. I have done approximately zero prep work, and have basically no idea what I want to do aside from make crepes. Bad Juni, no cookie. (In theory I could throw something together this weekend, and may try, but.)

14 March: Cill shift. I will be on a plane to Minnesota that afternoon, (I realized that I mixed up my days- I’m flying out on the 13th. ) so I expect the work of my shift will consist of yarn. Crocheting, yarn store, more crocheting. I may see if I have a battery operated candle, at least, as I don’t yet have a decent flame representation I like. …Though I will hopefully have my mask and fascinator done for the ball the next night, so maybe I could set them up on my dresser or something. Hm.

15 March: Eortì Dionysos. So as previously mentioned, each month in my calendar “belongs” to one of my twelve. These associations are almost completely mine/arbitrary. (The Celtic ones sort of have precedent, sometimes.) March, for me, is Dionysos’ month. It is a month in-between, with frustrating longing for spring, when the stir-craziness of winter really sets in. It is also the month of the thinly-veiled excuse to get smashed, aka St. Paddy’s Day, and though the phrase March Madness is mostly associated with sports, from what I can tell, I strongly associate it with the March Hare, one of several Alice in Wonderland characters who makes some real sense in all the nonsense. Anyway: I will be at Paganicon, and it will be the night of the ball, so there will be some drinking. I’ll make my Kiva donation. I’m not sure how else I want to mark the day, aside from enjoying the general out-of-routineness of con.

15 Elaphebolion: (17 March) Dikhomenia. I don’t know who the Athenians might have honored on the full moon, but the lunacy of the full moon makes it a good day (night?) for a regular offering to Dionysos as far as I’m concerned. I’ll be getting home from con, so it’ll likely be not a huge thing: wine, putting together a temporary shrine page here if I haven’t come up with a name for his separate one.

20 March: Not technically on my observance calendar for the year, but it’s the equinox, so I will likely be involved with Group Keeping with the cill, (the usual- writing, cleaning, crocheting?) and possibly something else? I don’t know?

19 Peret 4: (21 March) Offering to Djehuty; I’ll update Red Ink, Black Tea, maybe finally get around to starting his mask, or at least the base for it. Read.

Fairly light month. Should, in theory, be entirely do-able, though I admit some apprehension- between traveling for con, returning to a two-course term, and looking for a part time job, it’s not going to be short on stress. I will cross my fingers and try to take it a day at a time.