EDP3: Honour the All-Gods

You don’t need to worship all of them (you can try, but I don’t think you can have any significantly meaningful relationship through that), however, you can honour them all.

Tess Dawson makes a good point about it in her post on piety. Piety most certainly involves respect and honour towards others’ gods as well as our own. That’s one of the beauties of polytheism, after all. Worship foreign gods? No problem, invite them over for supper!

Most people will tell you to start with only a few gods, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that advice (for most people, I would say the same), but honouring them all at once doesn’t seem such a bad idea, either. Our ancestors, in their childhood, were probably introduced to their gods as a whole before getting to know each of them. Maybe–just maybe–it could work for you, too.

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I’m not sure if there’s an historical precursor to this, whether within the ancient Mediterranean world or beyond, but I make it a point to honour the All-Gods (i.e. the Divine Assembly, the Divine Kindred, etc) at least once a month, usually on the ninth or on the full moon.

I name the ones that are commonly given cultus in my family, then followed by “and all the gods and goddesses my ancestors worshipped; the gods and goddesses of the Aegean and the Balkans, the seven hills of Rome, the Two Lands about the Nile, the white mountains of old Phoenicia, and all of Asia east of Hindustan”. Yeah, I’m wordy like that. Feel free to phrase your pantheonic hymns however you like.

By the way, Sannion has some very nice pantheonic hymns in his book Echoes of Alexandria. I highly recommend it!

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A Birthday Blessing

Happy Calends of September! (Actually, I follow lunar reckoning, but I’m sure a lot of you don’t.)

It was both my mother’s and brother’s birthday yesterday, so I’m thinking a birthday blessing would be nice to start off my little ‘devotionals’ series. They’re both Catholic, but not the frigid, stuck-up-in-the-Dark Ages type, so I’m well sure they don’t mind pagan prayers in the house.

My Catholic upbringing was actually quite “liberal” thanks to my parents, and judging from what I’ve gathered from 27 years of living with them, I would say they’re more of henotheistic-monists. So, rather than being hardcore monotheists (“there is only one god, mine, and all others are false”), they worship one god without denying others and they may very well believe that all other gods are but different names or forms of the same divine power. Heck, I used to have very monistic leanings as a young Catholic!

I’ve also been doing morning and evening blessings on behalf of the entire family bloodline every single day since my father passed away, so I do this out of love and piety (not mutually exclusive, those two).

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This blessing is a petition to all of our gods (mine and theirs) to bless and watch over them for another year. It was said over their birthday cake after yesterday’s lunch and now I’m going to share it with you:

I bless you, mother and brother,
on your most sacred day.
I bless you and your guiding spirits.
I bless you in the name of our family and friends.
I bless you in the name of our ancestors
and our noble dead, heroes and saints.
I bless you in the name of our gods and goddesses,
ancient in name and ancient in power.
I bless you in the name of the One who made heaven and earth.
May the King of the Gods protect you and your house,
and bless you with a good life.
May the Queen of Heaven preserve you and those dear to you.
May sea-born Aphroditê bless your eyes with beauty.
May Hathor bless your heart with love.
May Dêmêtêr provide bounty for your table.
May Poseidôn calm the seas of your soul.
May Athêna guard your mind against unreason.
May Apollôn illuminate your life.
May Horus grant you lordship over every challenge.
May Asklêpios grant you good health.
May Artemis preserve your good nature.
May Sekhmet defend you from all evil.
May Arês shield you from weakness.
May Hephaistos reward your work.
May Ing keep you ‘strong’.
May Dionysos liberate you from bondage.
May Hermes gift you with laughter.
May Thoth guide your speech.
May Ganesh grant you good fortune.
May Hanuman help you each day.
May Anoubis and Wepwawet guard your gates.
May Hekatê grant you safe passage in all your journeys.
May Persephonê and Plouto-Serapis keep your ancestors in peace.
May Isis show you miracles.
May Sobek and Set slay your fears.
May Nephthys wipe away your tears.
May the Shakyamuni Buddha relieve your soul.
May the Mother of all buddhas warm your soul.
May the Christ feed your soul.
May the Mother of Christ shelter your soul.
May St Mary Magdalene assist your soul.
May St Peter guide your deeds.
May St Michael defend you from harm.
May the forces of chaos never bother you.
May the rains fall gently on your head.
May the winds blow to your favour.
May the Sun King illumine your life.
May the Moon and the Imperishable Stars light your way in the dark.
May the Sky watch over your head.
May the Earth, Mother of all things, grant your feet firm ground.
May the Great Mother of all gods keep and preserve everyone you love.
May the hospitable Goddess burn always joyous and bright for you and your home.

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E is for Everyday Rites

I start my days pretty much like any other dutiful Hellene or Roman: I take my bath, I get dressed, then I proceed to the shrine to pray before a day’s work. I light a flame, recite the prayers, and break bread or pour wine (or both) for the Ones who bless. And incense, of course. You can’t miss the sweet-smelling smoke!

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I try not to make it too elaborate, unless it’s a special day. As long as there’s a flame burning, a member of the family praying, and decent food to share — it’s proper and pious enough to bless my family and our deeds for a whole day.

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My prayers can be spontaneous or recited from memory, but they usually follow a pattern, much like this prayer I wrote a month ago:

Every day, I sing of you,
O Gods and Goddesses of high Olympos,
who watch over the kindreds of Men
and the ordering of our world.

Every day, I sing of you
and your deeds.

Every day, I sing of you
and your blessings on me,
my kindred, and our daily affairs.

Every day, I sing of the kindly Daimôn of our dwelling-place —
O Lar familiaris —
and the Penates of my family.

Every day, I sing of the children of Hyperiôn;
bright Hêlios in the morning,
white-armed Selênê in the evening,
and rose-fingered Êôs when the twain meet.

Every day, I sing of well-founded Earth,
mother of all,
eldest of beings who feeds all creatures
in land, sea, or sky.

Every day, I sing of you,
mighty and noble company of my Ancestors,
from my father to his fathers,
to the line of our people back to the beginning.

Every day, I sing of you,
unseen neighbours who share this soil,
this air,
and these waters with us.

Every day, I sing of you,
my genius —
eautou daimôn —
and the guiding daimônai of my family members.

Every day, I sing of you all,
tirelessly,
endlessly,
joyously asking and thanking you
for your unending blessings,
gifts,
and friendship.

Every day, I will rise to meet you all,
as you rise to greet me
and my family.

Accept now these words
and these libations
And bless and watch over us now.

Of course, as it only “lasts” a day, I do this daily around sunrise with hardly any exceptions.

In the rare occasion that I can’t (I could be out of town or sleeping over at a friend’s house), I make sure I recite 1the appropriate prayers wherever I am around the same time. I also make sure to double the offerings and inform the household deities of my absence before I leave.

Here’s a prayer I wrote last year whilst I was on holiday in Siem Reap:

Guardians of our family,
Keepers of our dwelling and land:
hear my prayer from afar;
sweet and clear, may my words reach you.
Look after my family and our home today;
my friends and theirs, too.
Avert all evil and danger from them,
and keep them safe and happy and healthy.
With these words to you,
may all be well in our house and land,
and with our people.

Spirits of this place and Gods of this land:
we make the same prayer for us here;
as travellers and foreigners,
I give you your dues.
Be kind to us, Gracious Ones,
as good hosts do to their guests.

Hail the All-seeing and the Traveller!
To you, we pray for your sleepless watch on home and way.
And to the Gods of this land,
we pray for your affection,
that we may remember our journey here
with only joy and nothing less.

May it be so.

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What about you, how do you greet your deities each day?

A is for All-Gods

For my first PBP post, I thought I’d introduce the All-Gods. Now, I don’t mean all 8 million of them, just the ones I pay regular respects to. Roll call!

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Agathos Daimôn as protective or nurturing spirit of the house (identified with Lar familiaris)

Aphroditê as Goddess of love and bonds in all forms

Apollôn in all his forms, but especially as Artist’s God, Athlete’s God, Scientist’s God, Healer and God of purification, God of excellence, Protector of children, and Averter of evil

Arês as God of boldness and strength, and Defender of the folk

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Asherah (Athirat) as Mother of the Gods (Mêtêr Theôn), syncretised with Rhea

Asklêpios as God of medicine

Athêna in all her forms, but especially as Goddess of learning and logic, and Protector of cities

Ba’al Hadad and Anat as Protectors of Lebanon (Phoenicia)

Dionysos as the unstoppable force of life in all senses

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Dêmêtêr and Korê-Persephonê as Goddesses of the earth’s fertility

Durga as Great Mother, Protector of gods and mortals, syncretised with Rhea

Gaia (Gê) as Mother of all beings (Mêtêr Pantôn), origin of all

Ganesha (Ganapathi) as Remover of obstacles, God of good fortune, and Opener of the way, syncretised with Hermês

Hekatê as Guardian of roads and gates, and Averter of evil

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Hêra as Queen of the Olympians, Goddess of family, spirit of sovereignty, and Protector of women

Hermês in all his forms and syncretisms including Hermanubis, Hermekate, Hermes-Janus, Hermes-Thoth, Hermes-Ganesh, San Pedro, Santo Niño de Atocha, etc.

Hestia as the imperishable flame, Goddess of hearth and home and sacrificial fire

Ingui as God of fertility and well-being

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Jesus Christ (Iesous Christos) as spirit of radical love and compassion, spirit of hope undying

Mary the Virgin Mother (Christotokos or Theotokos) and all her incarnations, but especially as Lady of the Pillar and Virgin of Guadalupe, Protectors of my hometown and the Philippines, respectively

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Mary Magdalene (Maria ê Magdalênê) as my barangay‘s Patron and Herald of the monsoon season (this is a very local aspect of her, which has little to do with the biblical Magdalene)

Michael the Archangel (Taxiarchos Michaêl) as Slayer of devils

Persephonê-Korê and Plouto as Hosts of the blessed Dead

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Poseidôn as God of waters (in all senses)

Rhea as Great Mother (Mêtêr Megalê), Nurse of gods and mortals

The Mighty Dead (Hêrôes), but especially Hypatia of Alexandria, Julian the Philosopher, Myungsung of Chosun, Boudicca of the Iceni, etc.

Zeus as King of Olympos, God of gods and Protector of the home

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Hopefully, I didn’t miss Anybody.