Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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Hail Thalassa

I’ll admit, Poseidon as a sea god isn’t much on my radar. I was born and raised in a desert, so while the ocean was never a present thing in my life. Despite spending many vacations by the sea, and currently living less than an hour from the ocean, Poseidon is not an ocean god to me. He’s the god of horses, his rape of Demeter produced Despoine a goddess with a strong connection. When I rode, it was never with Epona (despite my Celtic family history) it was always with Poseidon. For me the hymn to Poseidon was Xenophons foundations of dressage: controlled energy and movement until the precise moment to release it. In this form, Poseidon still makes an appearance in my practice and I have two horses on my altar.

But if we use the Athenian devotional calendar as a foundation, it doesn’t make sense for me to include Poseidon as my December offering. The Athenians were to a seafaring people, the Acropolis gave the Athenians access to the sea and an advantage over their land-locked competetiors. Their naval supremacy lasted for centuries, and the Battle of Salamis is still taught in military history courses. Athens gets the most rain in December, and floods are at their most likely. To me, this sounds like the emphasis isn’t so much on Poseidon but on his control of water and the sea.

Because the sea was always so far away, it was a deeply inscrutable thing for my childhood and into my adult hood. As a scientist, I know a lot about the sea, more than the average bear. But this doesn’t make it any less mysterious, less the mother of life, or less grief stricken. The sea is Thalassa, and to her I make my offering in December.

Thalassa isn’t one of the more popular sea goddesses, but hear me out. She has the standard mother of the sea and all sea life aspect; and that’s cool. But she has this great sea witch look: a middle aged woman with crab claws as horns, dressed in sea weed, and holding an oar from a sunken ship. YAS QUEEN.

What makes her even better is she’s so salty, pun intended. When a shipwrecked sailor rails stands on a beach and rails at her Thalassa appears and says “Dude, don’t blame me. I didn’t blow your ship to bits. I’m as calm and as firm as the earth; but even the earth is whipped into fury by the wind sometimes.” When the river gods came to complain to Thalassa about they gave her fresh water, and she made it salty; she replied “don’t come near me and you won’t get salty!” When a farmer saw a ship sink into the waves, he scolded the sea calling her the enemy of mankind. To which Thalassa replied “Don’t tell evil stories about me! The winds make me cruel, when there are no winds you’ll find I’m gentler than your dry land.”

Thalassa is a feminist sea goddess. I am what I am, she says. My nature is firm and gentle, she says. The cruelty of the elements, the cruelty of the environment, shapes me into something harder than I am. Thalassa lives in the salt of each woman who is shaped into something harder than she is; no matter how far we are from the shore.

Thalassa I call, with eyes cærulean bright, hid in a veil obscure from human sight;
Great Ocean’s empress, wand’ring thro’ the deep, and pleas’d with gentle gales, the earth to sweep;
Whose blessed waves in swift succession go, and lash the rocky shore with endless flow:
Delighting in the Sea serene to play, in ships exulting and the wat’ry way.
Mother of Aphrodite, and of clouds obscure, great nurse of beasts, and source of fountains pure.
O venerable Goddess, hear my prayer, and make benevolent my life thy care;
Send, blessed queen, to ships a prosperous breeze, and waft them safely o’er the stormy seas.

 


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Happy Wolfenoot!

Woolfenoot is a holiday created by Jax Goss and their 7 year old son, celebrated on the 23rd of November. I think the Goss’ had the right idea, because in this time of darkness we all need a little light and snoot boops. There is something so very pure about a holiday celebrating dogs.

Obviously, I love dogs. I love my two enough to take them on an international and intercontinental adventure (they’re adapting fine and love the heated floor in our new home). But dogs play a role in many magickal traditions and myths. I personally suspect this is because they were the first domesticated animals and we share a unique and strong evolutionary bond with them. From the celestial Bul-gae, Aralez, and Raiju to the guardians of the Underword Anubis, Cerebus, Xolotl and Black Dogs to the hardworking Sarama to the chaotic bois Fenrir, Pan Hu, and the Cadejos; our magickal, mythical, astral, and physical realities have dogs running around. My own magickal practice (again, obviously) involves doggos too.

So, from my good dogs to yours and from me to you, have a Happy Wolfenoot.

So, from


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Hail to Persephone and Demeter, goddesses of agency

Personally, I don’t hold onto myths if they don’t serve me or the world I live in. Yesterday was the offering to Demeter and Persephone, and I decided to share the Persephone myth I believe in.

Demeter, as an earth goddess, spent much time in the beginning underground encouraging the roots to grow; and beloved Persephone often came with her. But since you can only wat your mother work for so long, Persephone began to explore the world underground and the underworld beneath it. On her explorations, she came upon Hades, overworked and overtaxed by the demands of the dead.  Persephone offered help, and Hades gladly took it. The work of bringing justice and order to the dead gave Persephone purpose and in the light of the silent flames, she blossomed. Eventually, she fell in love with Hades, the underworld, and the dead; refusing to leave. Demeter, as mothers do, refused to believe that Persephone (her bright spring child Persephone) would rather stay in the dark underworld and flew into a rage that destroyed the gree growing plants of the earth. Demeter refused to go underground to tend to the roots. The dead flocked to the underworld in droves and told Persephone of the famine and her mother’s cruelties. Kind-hearted Persephone went to the border of the underworld and underground, where the seeds sleep and the roots grow. Slowly, because she had little of her mothers powers, Persephone pulled the roots from the seeds directing them to water and rich patches of soil before pushing tentative shoots up to the sun. During this time of famine, Demeter grieved on Hecate’s shoulder. Demeter mourned her daughter and all the dreams she had for her. With time and Hecates care came acceptance, so when the first brave shoot came through the earth Demeter was ready to begin again. But grief is something we live with, not something we conquer; and on the anniversary of Persephone’s absence,  Demeter falls into deep grief again.

Some men I know, have an issue with this version of the myth. They say I don’t know my gods appropriately, or that I have never bothered reading about them. When I show them my collection of classic writers: Apollodorus, Diodorus Siculus, Hesiod, Pausanias, the Papyrii, Strabo, Oppian, Ovid, Pseudo-Hyginus, Virgil, Cicero, Propertius, Seneca, Valerius Flaccus, Statius, Apuleius, Claudian, and both the Homeric and Orphic hymns; I’m accused of keeping them on my shelf to make myself look smarter. Even though some of them aren’t in neatly bound books, but rather were pdfs I printed and put into beat-up binders.

Those men do exactly what the classic myth does: they take away the agency of the women around them and diminish them to something smaller. That’s why I love my myth so much. It’s pure women’s culture, and you’ll have to pry it from my cold dead hands before I let it go.

Women’s culture is the art and stories women make around their identity as women. Here at the Pagan and the Pitbulls, this culture is intersectional. In the middle of that intersection of gender, sex, sexuality, race, age, ability, and nationality is our agency.

Our agency to live in our bodies, to modify and dress them as we see fit.

Our agency to not only decide if and when we want children; but also to raise those children in a place with good housing, clean water and air, healthcare, and education.

Our agency to choose the careers and jobs we want, to follow our purpose and desires. Without others putting arbitrary barriers to accessibility.

Our agency to choose as many or as few partners we desire, and to form bonds with them in ways that fit our lives.

Our agency to grieve our beloveds fully.

Our agency to call for justice for harm done to us and our communities, and to have those calls be heard.

Our agency to choose our religion, philosophy, or beliefs without them being questioned.

Our agency to simply exist.

Demeter and Persephone are goddesses of agency and to them, I give an offering.

XXVIII. TO PERSEPHONE

Daughter of Zeus, almighty and divine, come, blessed queen, and to these rites incline:

Only-begotten, Plouton’s honored wife, O venerable Goddess, source of life:

‘Tis thine in earth’s profundities to dwell, fast by the wide and dismal gates of hell:

Zeus’ holy offspring, of a beauteous mien, Praxidike, with lovely locks, infernal queen:

Source of the Eumenides, whose blest frame proceeds from Zeus’ ineffable and secret seeds:

Mother of Eubouleos, Sonorous, divine, and many-form’d, the parent of the vine:

The dancing Horai attend thee, essence bright, all-ruling virgin, bearing heav’nly light:

Illustrious, horned, of a bounteous mind, alone desir’d by those of mortal kind.

O, vernal queen, whom grassy plains delight, sweet to the smell, and pleasing to the sight:

Whose holy form in budding fruits we view, Earth’s vigorous offspring of a various hue:

Espous’d in Autumn: life and death alone to wretched mortals from thy power is known:

For thine the task according to thy will, life to produce, and all that lives to kill.

Hear, blessed Goddess, send a rich increase of various fruits from earth, with lovely Peace;

Send Health with gentle hand, and crown my life with blest abundance, free from noisy strife;

Last, in extreme old age the prey of Death, dismiss we willing to the realms beneath,

To thy fair palace, and the blissful plains where happy spirits dwell, and Pluto [Plouton] reigns.

XXXIX. TO DEMETER ELEUSINIA

O Universal mother Deo fam’d august, the source of wealth, and various named:

Great nurse, all-bounteous, blessed and divine, who joy’st in peace, to nourish corn is thine:

Goddess of seed, of fruits abundant, fair, harvest and threshing, are thy constant care;

Who dwell’st in Eleusina’s seats retir’d, lovely, delightful queen, by all desired.

Nurse of all mortals, whose benignant mind, first ploughing oxen to the yoke confin’d;

And gave to men, what nature’s wants require, with plenteous means of bliss which all desire.

In verdure flourishing in honor bright, assessor of great Bacchus [Bromios], bearing light:

Rejoicing in the reapers sickles, kind, whose nature lucid, earthly, pure, we find.

Prolific, venerable, Nurse divine, thy daughter loving, holy Proserpine [Koure]:

A car with dragons yok’d, ’tis thine to guide, and orgies singing round thy throne to ride:

Only-begotten, much-producing queen, all flowers are thine and fruits of lovely green.

Bright Goddess, come, with Summer’s rich increase swelling and pregnant, leading smiling Peace;

Come, with fair Concord and imperial Health, and join with these a needful store of wealth.


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Influential Books: D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths

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So, in the previous post about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe I mentioned that the diversity of mythical creatures and beasts in Narnia was really inspirational to me. And I went looking for more information about these creatures. Today I have several books of myths on my shelves, from children’s editions to academic (and sometimes very dry) editions, and not all of them limited to the Greek. But D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths stands out among all of these because it was the first one I sought out on my own, and some of the illustrations have stuck with me throughout my life. 

In hindsight, I realize that D’Aulaires is mild enough to be acceptable for the evangelical Christian school I was sent to. The layout mimics the biblical layout, and there are some notable artistic similarities in the illustrations of the Pandora myth/Deucalion flood and the Garden of Eden/ Noah’s Ark illustrations in the same library. All said, D’Aulaires isn’t a groundbreaking myth anthology, and sometimes reads like a severely diluted Edith Hamilton. But that is Adult Me talking. Child Me loved(s) it.

D’Aulaires was the first book of myths I looked for on my own, which made it more precious to me than the myth anthologies my family gave me because I liked to read. But it’s the illustrations that really stuck with me. Particularly this one: Screenshot 2018-08-08 at 1.25.17 PM.png

That illustration and caption broke my heart. I remember I was inconsolable for weeks after I read that. Even into my teens, when I learned that there were other Pagans and Witches out there, just remembering that page would send me into a days-long depression.

As I grew and reread D’Aulaires, I developed my perceptions of what the gods are. The gods may seem flawed in their stories and myths. They may seem petty and venal and cruel, and many of them can be harsh masters. But. But, they haven’t always been treated well by incoming conquerors, so many times their myths should be read with a grain of salt and thoughtfulness. We have the time and resources to be thoughtful about our myths, so we should be.

I also came to another conclusion, the gods are more human than human. They are the purest distillation of what it means to be human, in all its messy glory. To run with the distillation metaphor, if the gods are the Heart, humans are the head and the tail: we are both the first to be separated at the beginning and part of which is attained at the end of desire.  Not a bad set of conclusions from a children’s book.