A while back (probably a month or more now), MT asked me about my daily practices, and if I could describe them. This is one of many posts I’ve been meaning to write if and when there is time, but I have to admit to some reluctance in doing so, not because I don’t want to share this or anything, but because what I do on a daily basis is really simple, basic, and doesn’t involve anything very fancy, nor is it (despite what you might suspect from this blog and if you know me otherwise!) very wordy at all…in fact, almost all of it is wordless, with a few exceptions. It will take a lot longer to explain what I do than it actually does to do any of it, which I find to be problematic…and yet, appropriate.
Some of the topics I mention here will be getting their own posts as well in the near future, so be ye warned…
When I get up in the morning (or the afternoon, depending on the day involved, what’s going on, how long–if at all–I’ve slept, etc.), I take care of my physical necessities before doing anything, which would include eating breakfast, washing, and getting dressed; sometimes, this takes longer than expected, or gets put off for a while for various reasons, but when I am ready to do my morning practices which officially declare that this is the beginning of the day, I proceed…
What it involves currently is an “around the world” circumambulation, to a certain extent, between five separate shrines I have in my room. I start with my main shrine, which is primarily Antinoan, and thus Graeco-Roman-Egyptian, hosting (almost exclusively) deities who are from or were honored in those cultures, with Antinous dominating the center of it (as seen above, which is how it appeared in early January of this year–there are small variations in it periodically).
The first thing I do when I approach the shrine is to take the Antinous pin that I wear on my outermost garments every day and put that on; it goes over my heart, so that periodically throughout the day I can look at it, but also feel it on my skin at various points. This is who I am representing in the world, and I keep that in mind throughout the day.
Then I collect the various small amulets and tokens that I leave on Sabazios’ offering tile during the night. These include the following things: an amber and wolf-bone bracelet that was a gift from Anomalous Thracian (I carry this for all sorts of reasons that I’m sure avid readers will be able to guess!); a pouch I was given by Lupa after the Bear shamanic healing ceremony she did at PantheaCon in 2010, which I carry to remember my physical health, and because my surname at birth has “bear” as a part of it (so it’s a kind of “ancestral totem” connection, if that makes any sense; a small green hardened wax (I think) image of the ancient Nilotic goddess, which I got as a “free sample” at PantheaCon handed out by some random pagan tchotchkes vendor during another person’s workshop (on amulets, it turned out!), and despite its mass-produced-ness, I cannot bear to discard such a thing, so I have used it ever since as an amulet for Hathor, who is one of the goddesses to whom I am closest, and who has been with me for the longest on a personal level (since 1994, in fact!); and, a pocket knife that belonged to my maternal grandfather, in an effort to remember my ancestors (though that is an area of my practice that is still “under construction,” and I’m just beginning to sort out some of the problems I’ve been having with it). A few other deity-specific amulets are nearby, and if it is appropriate to bring them with me on a given day, I do add them to the mix at that point.
Next, I take up most of the various coins, which I usually kiss before I put them in their pouch. (I also kiss the knife and the Hathor token when I take them up or put them down.) The first I always pick up is the Antinous medallion made by Shawn Postoff and sent to me in 2010 when I was in Michigan–obtaining that piece really set in motion the form of daily practice that I have adopted ever since, and added to gradually as materials and necessity resulted. I usually place this medallion on the lips of Antinous’ main icon (bust) on my shrine before kissing it myself. The coin right beneath it which gets added next, and both sides are kissed, is a replica coin from Alexandria, showing a bust of Antinous on one side, and the syncretized horseback-riding form of Antinous-Hermes on the reverse, which also brings Hermes into the overall constellation of the divine presences I carry with me each day. Next is the first of three Hadrian coins I carry, which has Hadrian on the obverse and an inscription to Disciplina on the reverse, both sides of which I kiss; as she is a goddess that I attempt to honor every day with my disciplined actions, that is very important. Next is a larger Hadrian replica gold coin, from Britannia, which I obtained in Newcastle-upon-Tyne during my pilgrimage in 2003, and I also add a further one that I likewise obtained there after that. The first two of these then each are placed so that their obverse faces (with Hadrian on them) are facing the obverses of the Antinous coins in the pouch; the third one is placed first in anticipation of who is about to join it, i.e. Diva Sabina Augusta, whose coin rests on a small stack of Divae on one part of my shrine. The various coins that are Antinous or any of the deified emperors or empresses rest in front of a replica of Hadrian’s Gate in Athens that is toward the front of my shrine, while the Hadrian coins themselves rest in the “gateway” of it. If there are other Divi or Divae honored on a given day whose coin images I have, I add them to the pouch as well at this stage, before proceeding to the next phase.
The next shrine I visit is my Indian shrine, where I obtain a small box showing the Drona-Mountain-carrying Hanuman on it (which I described recently and alluded to before that), which was a gift from Erynn Rowan Laurie sometime between 2008 and 2009. When I pick this up, I first praise Ram (Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram!) before kissing the box and praising Hanuman (Jai Hanuman! Jai Hanuman!). As Hanuman is the one who has taught me more about devotion than any other being, divine or living, this is important; and, Hanuman has often been the most helpful deity to me when I’ve been traveling, so that’s often a concern as well.
The next shrine I visit is my newest, which has six deities on it, but the specific one I am concerned with here is Artemis of Ephesus/Upis, from whose feet I obtain the Ephesia Grammata, and I speak their names as I pick up the leather pouch containing them, I shake the bag, and I put it in my pocket. This is for protective purposes mainly, but also serves as my primary divination system if and when needed later in the day. I’ve written a book about it, you know. ;)
The next shrine that I visit is the “Celtic” shrine–and while I am usually the first person to point out that not all Celtic cultures are the same, and they should be distinguished in various ways so as not to give the misinformed picture that they are “the same” any further purchase, the simple fact is I don’t have enough shrine space at present to give the three (and, I hope eventually, five) cultures whose deities or ancestors are honored on it their own individual spaces. From here, I collect the last of the coins to add to my coin pouch, which is the coin of Cú Chulainn. I kiss this, and once it is added to the pouch, I close it up and put it in my pocket.
The final shrine I visit in the morning is my guerilla Shinto shrine–it’s not a kamidana, by any means, but it is kind of the place-holder for one until I am in a position to get one. I put a variety of Shinto-related things there, including ema images of Sarutahiko-no-Okami and Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, the zodiac year ema from the last few years, the zodiac year bells for the past few years, a white kitsune image representing the Inari which I was given a few years ago, and some wheat stalks from the Shinto shrine. I leave my omamori there, if I have one (which I do at the moment), and likewise any ofuda I might have are placed there. I do the Ni Rei Ni Hakushu Ippai (2 bows, 2 claps, 1 bow) before picking up the omamori and pray as I do so, and then once I’ve picked it up and properly greeted it, I then do the Ni Rei Ni Hakushu Ippai again.
But, that’s not the end of it!
I then return to the main Antinoan/Graeco-Roman-Egyptian shrine, and I kiss four of the images on it: Palaimon/Melkiertes, Bes, Polydeukion, and the main Antinous image. I have a specific pattern of doing the latter, which I won’t detail further here, but suffice it to say, it’s not just a single kiss. I touch the image, and if possible (which it usually is, but I sometimes get momentarily side-tracked), I have my right hand immediately go into the first part of the Ephesia Grammata protection ritual that I do each day, for my own protection as well as that of my shrine in my absence (if, indeed, I am going to be leaving the house that day). A few further gestures and short breathing exercises follow the Ephesia Grammata ritual.
And then I’m ready to go!
If there are offerings to be made on a given day (I only do food offerings on major festival days–even though there’s a lot of those for us, it’s not every single day, e.g. today there weren’t any), I do them after the completion of these basic everyday practices. If there are prayers to be said for a given occasion, I’d also do them after that; but if it is not a major festival, then I don’t do them; occasionally, I do them in a later dedicated ritual period on the holy day in question.
If I am leaving the island for work or some other activity, then the Book of Books must come with me, and it cannot be further than 10′ from me when I do (with some exceptions, which will be getting their own post soon). If I come into work, the first thing I do after I set my things down and take my coat and hat off is kiss my Antinous image at work, and then I say a few lines from “Ave Ave Antinoe” in praise of the Three Aspects of Antinous. If it is the first class of the quarter, or if I expect the subject matter or discussion may be difficult, or if I simply feel I need and/or want to, I do the “Prayer Against Persecution” as well. When I enter and leave the office for any period of time, or when I leave for the day, I also likewise kiss the Antinous image I have therein before going.
If there is a major festival of the day, at some stage I’ll write a new poem/hymn/prayer for it, as I have been doing very consistently (with some exceptions) at least for the current calendar year, which I then share here. They get used later, too, in actual rituals. Because we have so many festivals, this happens a lot, but not necessarily every single day.
At the end of the day, when I am getting ready for bed and know I won’t be going out any more in a given day/night, I do the reverse, visiting the Shinto shrine first, then the Celtic, then Artemis of Ephesus, then India, then the Antinoan shrine I replace everything in a similar fashion to how I obtained them, but in reverse order. If there are food offerings to “revert” at that point, I do; I usually try to leave them until just after midnight, at very least, unless divination otherwise confirms that I can remove them earlier. I may be awake for any number of further hours, and might be doing things on the internet, but I don’t usually leave my room after that other than to use the facilities or get some water or a snack, etc.
I am hoping to do more and better for my ancestors soon, so that will take some further integrating; and likewise, though I often look at Paneros’ image (two tiers above Artemis of Ephesus/Upis), I have not yet found the best way to honor the Tetrad++ Group in this mix on a daily basis yet; my personal hardbound copy of All-Soul, All-Body, All-Love, All-Power: A TransMythology comes with me in the same bundle as the Book of Books; though it is very sacred to me, it’s not quite on the same level as the Book of Books itself–yet–but may get there eventually.
Really, when you get down to it, all of the above takes only ten to twenty minutes a day (though sometimes prayers, rituals, or writing takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours longer), but because of the very physical nature of these practices, and the fact that I’m literally carrying something of weight and value on my person as a result of them, I am constantly reminded of the presence of these deities when I feel an amulet jangle in my pocket, when one of the drawstrings from the hoodie I’m wearing clinks lightly against the Antinous pin I wear over my heart, or when I am constantly checking to make sure that the Book of Books (in the Bag of Bags!) is where it should be, etc. Far more than praying or meditating every day, having these physical reminders of the presence of my deities is exactly that: having a physical reminder of them, to make it plain that these beings are not only in my head and only present for me when I’m focusing my attention specifically on them. How these things then impact my day-to-day activities is a concern, and not just when I have to go through TSA at the airport: am I changing clothes at some point during the day, and where do the coins and amulets go during that? How am I sitting on this bus, and is it uncomfortable to do so in this position because of this pocket full of amulets and coins? These kinds of questions come up much more often than one might at first realize, as I have come to find and to expect over the last four years since my practice has been of this sort. It also requires whatever clothes I wear to have certain requirements, including the need for a separate pocket that is only used for all of these sacred items–which is why I prefer cargo trousers, but hoodies with securable pockets can also work in a pinch, as can certain other things (but I, thankfully, don’t have to wear those kinds of things as often).
So, there you go: more than 2600 words on what my daily practices involve, in fairly specific (though by no means complete) detail. If this much attention can be paid to what may appear to some folks to simply be minutiae, then imagine what kind of attention I also devote to full-on ritual, and the preparations for it…! ;) I’d be happy to answer any questions on the above folks may have, and to discuss any of it…however, if the force of your discussion amounts to “You don’t really need to do that” or if you are asking “Why do that” in a way that shows you have no respect for my reasons for doing something, I will kindly hand your question back to you with your arse attached. Most of you who read these things are pretty well-behaved, so I shouldn’t have to say that; but, one never knows who might be dropping by to be a putz, either.