Señor de Sonrisas

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A collection of Santos Niños at the Indophile’s house, January 2016

The Feast of the Holy Child or Pista ng Santo Niño is one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines. The fiesta, which supposedly celebrates the arrival of Christianity in the archipelago, has become a showcase of syncretism of the Christ Child and other, much older spirits (but don’t tell this to the Pope). There’s a Farmer Niño, a Policeman Niño, lucky green-robed Niños for shops, and protective red-robed Niños for homes. (I’ve even seen a cross-dressing Niño! Don’t tell the Pope!)

Much like St Patrick, who could only convert a few Irish chiefs to his Christianity, the Santo Niño is a symbol of this false triumph of the Cross in the Philippines. It wasn’t until several years later, when the galleons returned, that the country was truly overrun by evangelists. What emerged in between those years, however, was a vibrant syncretism of Catholic art and pagan devotion, one that is still evident to this day.

Here, the faces of the Holy Child are as numerous as the islands that foster them. They remind us of a time when religion was more child-like: generous, inclusive, and intimate.

Tulad ng sa mga batà, nawá ay magíng palaging maliksí, matuwain, at mausisà ang iyóng diwà. (I have no translation for this blessing, sorry. But it’s a blessing!)

Papurì

I’m not sure if litanies are as popular in other Catholic countries as they are (or were?) in the Philippines, but when I was growing up, every rosary was ended with a litany to the Virgin Mary.

As a child, litanies certainly seemed boring — they’re long, repetitive, and contain fancy, old-fashioned constructions you don’t normally use in everyday speech. But now that I’m all grown up(?), I’ve come to appreciate the intricate poetry (and piety) that goes into them. Litanies are amazing.

The litany I’ve made below follows the traditional Catholic style where each name or epithet is recited or sung by the person leading the prayer, followed by a response from the rest of the worshippers in chorus. The response can be: “Pinupurì Ka namin” (we praise you), “Sinásamba Ka namin” (we adore you), or “Dinárangal Ka namin” (we honour you). Obviously, if you’re the only person available, you’ll have to recite everything yourself, but typically, litanies are recited by at least two people.

I plan to write more, but for now, I’m starting with Hermês (my personal lord and saviour, ha). It will be in Tagalog (as I’d really like to build a solid Tagalog liturgy this year), but I’ve provided rough English approximations in parentheses.

Hope you like this (first ever?) prayer to Hermês in an Austronesian language!

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Litanya kay Hermes

Anak ni Maya, pinupuri Ka namin. (Son of Maia, we praise you.)

Apo ni Atlas, pinupuri Ka namin. (Grandson of Atlas, we praise you.)

Sugo, pinupuri Ka namin. (Messenger, we praise you.)

Tagapamalita, pinupuri Ka namin. (Herald, we praise you.)

Tagapaghatid, pinupuri Ka namin. (Escort, we praise you.)

Taga-akay, pinupuri Ka namin. (Guide, we praise you.)

Kaligayahan namin, pinupuri Ka namin. (Jubilation, we praise you.)

Kaligtasan namin, pinupuri Ka namin. (Sanctuary, we praise you.)

Kasama, pinupuri Ka namin. (Companion, we praise you.)

Kaibigan, pinupuri Ka namin. (Friend, we praise you.)

Gabay sa daan, pinupuri Ka namin. (Guardian of the road, we praise you.)

Kasing tulin ng hangin, pinupuri Ka namin. (Fleet of foot, we praise you.)

Kamay na lumupig kay Argos, pinupuri Ka namin. (Hand that slew Argos, we praise you.)

Tagapagtanggol, pinupuri Ka namin. (Defender, we praise you.)

Tagapagligtas, pinupuri Ka namin. (Saviour, we praise you.)

Agarang saklolo, pinupuri Ka namin. (Ever-our-succour, we praise you.)

Prinsipe ng mga panaginip, pinupuri Ka namin. (Lord of dreams, we praise you.)

Kaibigang tapat ni Dionisio, pinupuri Ka namin. (Faithful friend of Dionysos, we praise you.)

Kaibigan ng lahat, pinupuri Ka namin. (Friend of all, we praise you.)

Tuso, pinupuri Ka namin. (Cunning One, we praise you.)

Mapagbiro, pinupuri Ka namin. (Playful One, we praise you.)

Haring Sinungaling, pinupuri Ka namin. (Master of lies, we praise you.)

Hari ng tuwa, pinupuri Ka namin. (Joy’s king, we praise you.)

Matamis ang labi, pinupuri Ka namin. (Honeyed-lips, we praise you.)

May *ginintuang dila, pinupuri Ka namin. (Silver-tongued, we praise you.)

Mapanlibang, pinupuri Ka namin. (Merry One, we praise you.)

Gabay ng mga naliligaw, pinupuri Ka namin. (Guide of the lost, we praise you.)

Maparaan sa lahat ng bagay, pinupuri Ka namin. (Crafty One, we praise you.)

Ama ng wika, pinupuri Ka namin. (Father of tongues, we praise you.)

Salita ng Dios, pinupuri Ka namin. (Word of God, we praise you.)

Mabuting Pastol, pinupuri Ka namin. (Good Shepherd, we praise you.)

Mapang-aliw sa mga tupa, pinupuri Ka namin. (Solace of the flock, we praise you.)

Pasan mo ang Cordero, pinupuri Ka namin. (Ram-bearer, we praise you.)

Ama ng lira, pinupuri Ka namin. (Father of the lyre, we praise you.)

Sundo ni Proserpina, pinupuri Ka namin. (Persephone’s chaperon, we praise you.)

Sundo ng lahat ng kaluluwa, pinupuri Ka namin. (Chaperon of all souls, we praise you.)

Sinisinta ni Afrodita, pinupuri Ka namin. (Beloved of Aphrodite, we praise you.)

Kilabot ng mga ninfa, pinupuri Ka namin. (Adored by nymphs, we praise you.)

Ama ni Hermafrodito, pinupuri Ka namin. (Father of Hermaphroditos, we praise you.)

Tagapawi ng takot, pinupuri Ka namin. (Fear-slayer, we praise you.)

Hari ng himpapawid, pinupuri Ka namin. (Lord of heaven’s path, we praise you.)

Hari ng lahat ng daan, pinupuri Ka namin. (Lord of all paths, we praise you.)

Nababalutan ng ligaya, pinupuri Ka namin. (Filled with joy, we praise you.)

Aming Panginoon, pinupuri Ka namin. (Our Lord, we praise you.)

 

(*ginintuán actually means golden, but culturally, silver-tongued would be a more fitting approximation in English)

La Vie Avec Les Dieux

Sorry for being out of touch! My 29th year is proving to be very, very eventful, indeed.

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Shortly after the Vialia, the first full moon of the year called for a full table and an intimate dinner with the Two Lords and our household spirits.

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The end of January also called for a feast for those who blessed the opening month with many gifts (and there were many). May every month end with such gratitude!

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Didn’t get a chance to get my fortune read, but nevertheless welcomed the Fire Monkey at the oldest Chinatown in the world, our very own, where Jesus, Buddha, and the Shen have dimsum every night.

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A recent movement at work called for a lovely Wednesdate with Man’s dearest companion, His gifts are generous beyond count.

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Come Anthestêria, things got a little more earthy.

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Even this young bull was drawn.

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Bull meets mask in a perfect display of Dionysian imagery.

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On the last night of Anthestêria, we feasted in Their names.

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And shared the same feast with Them.

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One of the many unexpected but joyous events in my 29th year was deciding to move out from home (on the 29th of February, no less) and living with my dearest friend, the Indophile. It’s a bitter-sweet feeling to leave the place of your childhood to carve your own space in a strange city, but our lords are with us — we shall not weep. Here is our shrine at the new pad, our second home. They are generous beyond count.

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Of course, never a feast without the Goodly Gods in a new place. Here we celebrate the Calends of March, quite appropriately, on our first day at the pad.

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Despite being far away from the town I grew up in, praying with the same fire from home feels like I’m still there, praying with my family. And maybe it truly is so.

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Never forget the Goddess of cities who guards all.

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Old keys and new keys to old homes and new homes.

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Old spirits, new spirits — one fire and one song.

Roughly a month to go until I turn 30. Wondrous things are about to happen.

 

 

 

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

Yesterday marked the end of the transitional holidays — can’t really call them “winter holidays” for us here because, you know, no winter — and now it’s back to regular programming for the rest of us.

(Well, unless you’re from Eastern Europe, in which case, I greet you a Happy Christmas!)

Monday, we celebrated our second Vialia (a festival we’ve adopted from Helio‘s fasti) and made our first offerings to the Traveller and his train of goodly road-spirits. May the path be opened to all things beneficent and auspicious, and may no evil ever cross our path!

Here are the new wreaths we laid out for them:

And the sweet offerings we shared for breakfast:

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Always auspicious to have your kathiskos jar bursting with grain.

We also baked our own version of libum for the Gods of the household:

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I used cheddar, though, not ricotta.

More pictures from the New Year where we cleaned the hell out of our house and re-painted the altar:

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After an intimate dinner with Father Janus and the laughter-loving Sons of Zeus, we also painted our individual daruma dolls with their right eyes (thank you, Murmur, for the gifts), signifying our goals to chase this year. Before the year ends, I pray that the dolls will see with two eyes the fulfillment of our promised goals.

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May we always pray with a good fire and ever share good food with Her.

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Our newly painted house shrine c/o the talented Laya.

May all our comings and goings this year be swift and safe and may we make many good memories. Also, more money to go places and travel the world!

Salve, Mercuri! Salvete, Lares viales! Χαίρετε!

MMXVI

Greeting you all a most Joyous and Prosperous New Year! May we all live to our truest to be at our happiest.

And now, for our obligatory photo collage:

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New wreath for Father Janus and our family’s first offerings for 2016

May we see through our most cherished hopes and dreams this year and may they bring us much joy to last ten thousand and one years.

Io Hermês! Io Dionysos!