Monday, June 23, 2014

Poseidon, Do-Over

My plan to honor the Hellenic deities one at a time is underway. After good rituals offering to Zeus and Hera came a disastrous one to Poseidon.

I read up a bit on him and wrote a few words, making an offering of Nori (seaweed sheets used in sushi). The omens made it clear that the gods didn’t think much of the ritual and the effort I put into it; you can’t reap what you haven’t sown, was the gist. Even the suet block we put out for the birds (nature spirits) has gone untouched.

I was duly chagrined by this, but determined to redouble my effort. Rather than moving on to the next deity on the list, I approached Poseidon anew. I read more, including some original material from Homer as well as secondary sources. And I composed a poem, the first time ever that I’ve written an original bardic offering. (For now, I'm not going to share it, as it was an offering for him; I may in time.)

When it came time to draw the omen, I asked (as I had last week) the single question: Have we honored you well?

The first tile, Lamba, slipped out of my fingers, hit the altar and bounced to the left into the liquid offering bowl. Its meaning:

“The one passing on the left bodes well for everything.”

Next, Alpha:

“The god says you will do everything successfully.”

Finally, Sigma:

“Phoibos (Apollon) speaks plainly, ‘Stay, friend.’”

After that we drew three more, one for each of the three kindreds: Ancestors, nature spirits and gods. They also were positive, and for the gods I drew Psi, which is shaped like Poseidon’s trident and means “You have this righteous judgment from the gods.”

Overall, I take this to mean: Poseidon was pleased with the second effort, happily accepts our offerings, and the gods overall share this judgment.

The gods ask us to approach them as the powerful beings they are. They are not coming over to help us clean the garage, they attend our rites, if they do, to accept honor, worship and offerings. They are not buddies (though some, like Hermes, can become pretty chummy with time), and rightfully require some respect.

The experience reminded me of a principle I’ve long held to: It’s better to not do a ritual at all than to do it half-assed. The ritual I put together last week was fine from a ritual mechanics point of view, but lacked any sort of personal connection. I had no real reason to call Poseidon except that it was turn, and he had no reason to respond to the call. The second time, I found that personal connection and built the ritual around it. It made all the difference. 

Hail Poseidon! And thank you for the firm hand.