The Earth Always Takes Back What Is Hers

Out of curiosity, we paid visit to our backyard — the same farmland that, as I previously lamented, was recently purchased by filthy industrialist pigs.

Turns out, a lot of it is still intact. Hardly any farmland left, but the cows are still there. (Well, for the time being, at least.)

They dug up the earth to make their ugly plastic towns, but the Mother took back what is hers. Life is unstoppable.

They dug up the earth to make their ugly plastic towns, but the Mother took back what is hers. Life is unstoppable.

Something or someone with cloven feet has been enjoying a stroll.

Something or someone with cloven feet has been enjoying a stroll.

A merienda of spinach burgers, coconut water, eggs, and almond biscuits. It's good to be among the spirits of the wild once again.

A merienda of spinach burgers, coconut water, eggs, and almond biscuits. It was good to dine with the spirits of the wild once again.

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A shot of the western sky as we made our way home just as the Sun King made his.

I will truly miss this place. I suspect the spirits are going to stay, no matter what. Maybe they can become guardians? Well, if the newcomers are going to be respectful enough, of course.

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Saying Goodbye for Good Afterall

When I talked about saying goodbye to the nymphs and wights of my hometown, I didn’t mean for good. I mean, even if I am planning to start a new life in Maple Country, that doesn’t mean I can’t come to visit every now and then. Who wouldn’t want to see all this again?

But soon enough, I won’t be seeing the “lush, abundant greenery” anymore. The landlord has decided that it was to the best interests of everyone that matters (i.e. himself) to sell the greenwood. All of it; just as we feared. Every paddy, vine, and tree.

I knew this day would come. It was only a matter of time until some “land developer” took interest over the vast expanse of wilderness (ka-ching!) where the bourgeoisie can build their ugly, boring houses. Who needs to plant tomatoes and corn, anyway, yeah? Concrete is always much prettier than dirt. And who cares about the farmers? We could always import!

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And so farewell to you, Great Green. You’ve been the prettiest I’ve seen. I’ll take these last pictures now, before you take your final bow.

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From green to grey, this land will no longer pay, neither fruit nor grain, even if it rains all day.

We’re planning to hold a rite of honouring for the ‘soon-to-be-evicted’ nymphs and wights this weekend. Perhaps some of them would be willing to come with me? The House of the Two Trees is always open to kindly spirits.

Of Farewells and Beginnings

Even if it isn’t exactly the start of your religious year, I’m sure–one way or another–the secularised Gregorian calendar has remained (or become?) an important part of our lives, if only just for bills or taxes. So, Happy New Year, folks! I hope you had a wonderful and auspicious Kalends of January!

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In other news, as if the winter holidays weren’t busy enough (as they always are), I took the liminality of the season as a good time to bid farewell to the country of my birth and its spirits. Yes, I’m taking a giant leap to go on a journey that’s going to change my life as I know it. I’m not exactly sure when, but I’m hoping to make it happen within this year. In the words of Dionysos through the Oracle of Eugene:

“It is time to go. Make offerings to the spirit of this place so they will let you go peaceably. 

“Light lanterns and release a dozen paper swans into the water and make a feast.”

“Invite all the spirits and the ancestors. Say your goodbyes, speak your intentions to them.”

“They will understand and bless you with the luck and success you will need in the year to come.”

And that I did.

A thanksgiving party for our landwights in the name of Hermês and Dionysos on the full moon.

On the last full moon of 2013, my friend (the Indophile) and I started with a thanksgiving party for our landwights in the name of Hermês and Dionysos. I can’t remember the first time we started acknowledging their presence, but it’s only been a most magical relationship through the years.

On December 16th, I said my farewells to our town patron. I may no longer be Catholic, but the spirits that dwell there have only been good to me and my family. They will always have my praises. [Photo credits: warrenski manuel, EddieMarRico, AspireCavite]

The next day, we said our goodbyes to our beloved town patron at her shrine. She is a beautiful holdover from my Catholic upbringing, and whether she’s the same Mary as other Marian incarnations around the world or an ancient tutelary diwatà of my hometown, she will always have a place in my heart.
[Photo credits: warrenski manuel, EddieMarRico, AspireCavite]

On Christmas Eve, at the stroke of midnight, the family gathered and said their prayers of thanksgiving over Noche Buena. Portions of our midnight meal were then gathered and offered them to the Ancestors in general but to the foremothers in particular. After all, according to old custom, this was the Night of Mothers.

On Christmas Eve, at the stroke of midnight, the family gathered and said prayers of thanksgiving over Noche Buena. Portions of our midnight meal were then offered to the Ancestors, but to our foremothers in particular. After all, according to old custom, this was the Night of Mothers.

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On Christmas Day, we gathered pine branches, and had a small party at the Indophile’s house, and feasted and toasted to our common deities. (It was a small feast, but we sung hymns and praises for a full hour, I think!)

Our last visit to the local Hindu temple for 2013.

Just before New Year’s Eve, we paid our last visit for the year to the neighbouring Hindu temple. Everyone was so beautiful, as usual!

To the Gods of good beginnings.

And then, on New Year’s Day, the All-Gods were honoured. Ianus was given his new wreath and offering-bundles for 2014, hung on the front door, and candles burnt for the Sun King at his seasonal space at the house shrine.

To the Gods of the household.

On January 2nd, the Agathos Daimôn “finger-painting” on our kitchen wall was re-painted, and a new garland crowned our lararium.

On January 3rd, had sweets and a toast for the Professor's 121st birthday. Because men like him get to live for ever.

On January 3rd, had sweets and a toast for the Professor‘s 121st birthday, because men like him get to live for ever. (Also, because he’s an amazing myth-maker, a fellow linguist, and my idol.)

Twelve Nights of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.

Hêlios-Solis Invictus here on the Eleventh Night.

The dark-maned sea

Finally, on the Twelfth Night, we headed to the beach.

A feast is prepared.

A feast was prepared by the shore, and the swans were made ready.

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Each paper swan was crafted on each of the Twelve Days. Now, they’ve finally come together for their team swim.

The swans are made ready.

Some of the food came to us as timely gifts from the holidays: the Spanish wine and Tunisian dates, in particular. Thank goodness for gracious friends and family!

Lanterns.

I couldn’t find any lanterns in the market, so we made one (well, two) from paper cups and candles. Still quite lucky!

Whispering prayers of good fortune.

Whispering prayers of good fortune before letting the swans go.

A most epiphanous feeling.

A most epiphanic feeling (on Epiphany, no less) to stand there, where earth, sky, and sea meet. The world is just amazing.

Praying westwards this time.

Saying goodbye has a bittersweet feeling, but there’s also that promise of adventure, a new life or a chance to come back better and happier.

I’m thankful for 2013, I really am, even if it was a little rough on me at first. Things are clearer now, and I know I’ll be thanking my people, my gods, and my spirit-friends again for this year in 2015. May all be well, may all be fortunate.

Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan

I don’t usually engage with indigenous gods unless I really have to. There’s a certain ‘eerie’ feel to them that’s not quite Olympian in nature. I’m not quite used to it, to be honest. There’s also the unfortunate fact of not having a lot of pre-colonial information about them (except maybe for bigger deities), which is reason enough to be cautious.

If anything, I think they’re rather akin to the daimonai and nymphai than any of the theoi (there’s Dionysos for sure, but that’s stretching it a bit). In fact, it’s often hard to draw the line between god and landwight!

One stark difference, perhaps, is whilst they’re old and powerful like the Olympian gods, the majority of diwatàwhich is how they are collectively known to most Filipinos–do not seem to be ‘deathless’. There are many stories where they are portrayed as slaying or being slain by other divine beings, not unlike many gods of the Norse. They also don’t seem to govern more ‘cosmic’ matters. They feel very local.

Strange enough, there’s been one diwatà who I was bold(?) enough to approach beyond casual pleasantries. To our cousins in the South, she’s known as Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan.

She is one of the “Three Great Beauties”, a triad of sister-goddesses who descended from Maklium sa T’wan. She is portrayed in the stories, as a goddess who rose from the earth with beautiful golden skin, a seductive body clothed in rich golden fabrics and precious gems, with a face of perfection. It was said that her aura was also “golden”, that no man could resist her and her charms.

As a goddess of both [material] wealth and greed, her province is mostly alien to me. I don’t usually approach any of the gods I already worship for either of these reasons, so I don’t know why I felt that I needed to approach her. Perhaps she called me, who knows? Nevertheless, I praised her with these words*–first, in one of the languages of her ancient worshippers (Hiligaynon), and second, in my native Tagalog:

Maghimayà ka,
bulawanon nga diwatà,
Burigadang Pada Sinakláng Bulawan,
bugayan mo ang nagakinahanglan,
kag gaba-an mo ang mga dalók.

Abá, ginintuáng diwatà,
Burigadang Pada Sinakláng Bulawan,
basbasán mo ang mga nangángailángan,
at parusahan mo ang mga ganid.

Of course, I did this in the most polite way possible: with an introduction and an offering. I’ve found it wise to always approach the divine with the same hospitality one would give an honoured guest (perhaps even more so).

Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan as portrayed by Katrina Halili on GMA Network's INDIO, 2013 Photo Credit: Joanne Loya

Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan as portrayed by Katrina Halili on GMA Network’s INDIO, 2013
Photo Credit: Joanne Loya

Art by squeegool (squeegool.deviantart.com)

Art by squeegool (squeegool.deviantart.com)

*The prayer roughly translates to, “Hail thou, golden goddess, Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan, bless the needy, and punish the greedy”.

D is for Daimôn

Yes, I know, I should be on C. But, today is my birthday, and I thought it would be appropriate to share a prayer I wrote last year for my Daimôn.

As many of us already know, daimôn in Greek — and especially, in the context of ancient Greek religion — means divine spirit, and the personal deity known as the Eautou (personal or “one’s own”) or Genethlios (birthright) Daimôn is the guardian spirit who watches over the fate of an individual from birth. They are almost identical to the genius or juno of a person in Roman tradition, and quite similar to ‘guardian angels’ in Christianity.

So, today, as every good Graeco-Roman birthday boy would do, I took my morning bath and broke breakfast bread with my Daimôn with these words:

Eautou Daimôn, be thou increased in power
on this day; the day of my birth; the day of my naming.
As I step into another year of my life,
protect me and watch over me;
guide my feet and my way,
my thoughts and my speech,
that everything I do be according to what-is-right;
that my acts be just, be true, be pure;
that in all this, I may secure for myself and my family
the friendship of the Gracious Ones,
the protection of the Mighty Ones;
the guidance of the Wise Ones;
that in all this, I may honour the names
of my beloved father and our noble ancestors
today and tomorrow,
and for all the days of my life.

May it be so.

More love to you, my Daimôn!

As a couple of slices of bread were not enough, a hearty lunch came right after for the family!

Some baguette à l'ancienne and pandesal dipped in olive oil and served with honey for my Daimôn

Some baguette à l’ancienne and pandesal dipped in olive oil and served with honey for my Daimôn

My whore-style salad

My whore-style salad

Plateful of Mum's roast chicken and potato salad, my tzatziki and my salad

Plateful of Mum’s roast chicken and potato salad, my tzatziki and my salad

Cake from my Aunt

Cake from my Aunt