Eventful Octobers

It seems like Octobers are almost always eventful, and usually involving the Mothers.

The beginning of the month was especially blessed with the welcoming of a new member to our household pantheon, Nossa Senhora de Fátima:

A gift from a friend from far away makes Herself comfy in Her new home.

I’m not quite sure yet which godly power is behind the Lady of Fatima, but something tells me that she’s older than the biblical Mary. This stunning statue of the Lady comes from Galina who was kind enough to send it over as a gift. Here She is, bathing in bukhoor incense, a traditional gesture of hospitality in the Arab world.

Shortly after, our town fiesta happened, which is always a blessing of joy to our people, Catholic or otherwise:

Nana Pilar

It is always an honour for any man or woman to carry Her, our loving town patron of many years. She was exceedingly beautiful this year, our dearest Mother of wild dances.

[I will be posting a couple of videos later in the week.]

The Queen is finally home after an entire afternoon and evening on the streets. Truly, a Dancing Queen.

Here She is again, home after an entire afternoon and evening on the streets. Truly, a Dancing Queen.

Another festival honouring a divine mother followed right after as we celebrated the Maha Navratri in our home:

God is a woman, a fearsome mother. Jai Mata Di! Shubh #Durga #Navratri!

As the new moon of Ashvin rose, we welcomed Durga into our homes once again. Jai Maa!

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Of course, no Navratri is complete without a visit to the local mandir. She was especially beautiful this year in bright crimson.

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The other gods were just as beautiful in their new clothes.

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We are a relatively small temple, but the place is full of stout hearts. It’s always nice to be in a sea of devotees.

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Shiva’s coat was especially fab. (No living tigers were harmed in the making of the coat.)

Come late October, I revamped the house shrine:

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Our Agathos Daimon now sits comfortably between the Holy Child of Atocha (dubbed ‘Baby Hermes’) and Ganesha, the ‘Hermes of Hindustan’.

And, of course, never a month without the customary thanksgiving dinner:

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Of all the things we owe the Gods, this is but a small feast. This feast was dedicated not only for a month full of events, but also for our dear friend, Sannion.

Another eventful October, indeed, and by the looks of it, next year will be just as busy with the twin Great Mother festivals coming right after the other. Hail, the Spirits of October! Hail, the Two Mothers! Hail and hail again!

But Wait, There’s More!

At the risk of making this a photo journal (if it isn’t already), I’m sharing some photos from the last few feast-days we’ve had at our House (just so I can relieve myself, at least partially, from blogger’s guilt):

pronghorn86Happy #calends of July! May Janus open up the way to all things beneficent and auspicious! #beginnings

Offerings on the Calends of July

Celebrating #FathersDay with my bloodsister and our #dearlydeparted fathers (mine to the left and hers to the right).

Celebrating Father’s Day with my blood-sister and our dearly departed fathers (mine to the left and hers to the right)

pronghorn86Born in a time when the Church dominated the Empire, Julian, emperor and philosopher, sought to legalise the practice of religions other than Imperial Christianity, especially the then-forbidden paganisms of his ancestors. For this, he was called the

An offering of wine and honey for our beloved Emperor Julian on his 1,562nd death anniversary

A night of gratitude (and blessing) with the Old Ones in ancestral fashion. #pagan #polytheism #mosmaiorum

Gifts from my good friend, Murmur, from his nth trip to Little India in Singapore: Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Ganesh murti for the House of Two Trees

Remover of obstacles, pop-ups, and Trojans. Jai #Ganapathi!

Up close: Remover of obstacles

A feast of fruit, seeds, and bread on a rainy afternoon for the Thunderer, the Queen of Heaven, and the God of High Plumes. #dates #calabash #raisins #apples #pears #strudel #challah #Hadadu #Min #monsoonseason #toomanytags

Celebrating the return of the monsoon season with a feast of fruit, seeds, and bread for the Thunderer, the Queen of Heaven, and the God of High Plumes

pronghorn86Hail, Bull of the heavens and Bull of the earth! May both rice paddy and lettuce garden (wink, wink) be well-fed this #monsoon season. #polytheism #syncretism #fertility #doubleentendre

Up close: Hadad, Athirat, and Min

pronghorn86Two Sundays of intercultural feasting in honour of the gods of Naukratis and Alexandria. Belated happy #Naukrateia and have a safe #monsoon season ahead! #polytheism #syncretism

Two Sundays of intercultural feasting in honour of the gods of Naukratis and Alexandria

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Up close: Celebrating Naukrateia evening at home in honour of the Gods of Naukratis and Neos Alexandria

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You know what, better yet, follow me on my Instagram for the more-than-occasional devotional photos.

PS: Special thanks to PSVL for many of these beautiful statues!

Did You Bathe Your Lingam in Milk Today?

Well, not yours, exactly. I meant Shiv’s!

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Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lingam handy, but I did have this really beautiful murti of Mahadev that I bought from Bangkok last year. It goes without saying that the Lord of the Dance was invited to our house for a nice milk bath.

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We visited the temple, too, and bathed an even bigger lingam. (These were taken from a couple of months ago, though, as I wasn’t able to take pictures last night.)

Everybody was beautiful, as usual, and the bhajans were extraordinary.

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If you didn’t get to celebrate this year’s Maha Shivratri, there’s always next year. Mark your calendars!

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.

To the Great Mother of Wild Dances

Sorry for the delay, it’s been a very busy October so far. (Well, actually, it hasn’t been un-busy for me since Wep Ronpet!) But, yes, we did dance to two great mother goddesses the past week (well, technically, one goddess and one saint, but you get what I mean).

Whether you see these two ladies as different forms of one ‘Goddess of ten thousand names’ or two distinct personalities (one divine and the other human, or both divine!) isn’t important. The non-Catholics who couldn’t help but dance to the Señora’s brass band didn’t seem to mind their religion’s prohibitions against deifying the mother of Christ nor did the Sikhs at the Hindu temple hesitate to join their polytheistic brethren in celebration despite their staunch monotheism. I suppose all is fair in fiestas and pujas. After all, who can resist the rattle and the drum, and swaying hips in praise of the ‘Great Mother’, Durga or Mary be her name?

¡Viva Señora del Pilar! Jai Durga Mata!

PS: As these things are better seen than read, I uploaded a few clips over at my YouTube channel. Although watching them doesn’t compare to actually being there, I hope you can still enjoy what I could afford to capture!

¡Viva! Jai!

Dancing for the Great Mother

Two very exciting things happening today and tomorrow:

The annual karakol (ritual street dance) for my city‘s Patron, la Nuestra Señora del Pilar …

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Our Lady of the Pillar, Protector of Imus
Source: cfcfflcavite.webs.com/dioceseofimus

Source: flickr.com/photos/44877083@N05/

Our Lady of the Pillar, Lady of Zaragoza, Zamboanga, and Imus
Source: flickr.com/photos/44877083@N05/

… And the eighth night of the Maha Navratri where the Great Goddess is celebrated as Shri Durga Devi, Slayer of Mahishasura.

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She with the strength of a thousand lions

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Slayer of Mahishasura

Hail to these two great goddesses! Hail Great Mother! Ave Magna Mater! Jai Mata Di!

G is for Ganesha

This entire week has been all about Ganesha (Ganapathi), the “Hermês of Hindustan” (a personal moniker à la interpretatio graeca I’ve reserved for the jolly god of beginnings and good fortune), as Hindus and Indophiles around the world celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi:

Ganesha Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrated on the birthday (rebirth) of the god Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati.

The festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi (“festival of Ganesha”) is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).

Despite being completely overwhelmed by devotion for the elephant-headed lord, not to mention the intoxicating smell of butter and sandalwood, I managed to take a few pictures of this Monday’s opening ritual:

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Opening of Ganesha Chaturthi 2013 at the Manila Hindu Temple

Although the festival lasts for 10 days, the community is going to hold the Visarjan (immersion ritual) for Ganesha tomorrow, the ninth. Naturally, I’ll be there. Anything for the elephant-headed Hermês!

May the old gods of these islands, once ruled by great rajahs of the Majapahit Empire, rejoice at the coming and going of Ganapathi, their lord! Jai Ganesha! Jai Ganapathi! Morya!