omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Looks like I'm going to be celebrating Autumnal Equinox/Akitu/Mabon by myself this year - Equinox proper is in the middle of the week, and half my social circle, including most of my circlemates as well as the Spouse, are going to a con in Dallas this coming weekend.

Having said that, I have some new deity images from this summer that need to be dedicated, and the altar certainly needs cleaning/purifying/re-consecrating. It's not that there isn't plenty of Akitu-related stuff to do; I just won't have anyone to do it with. I'll probably see my circle elders the night before Equinox proper, but that's more a monthly dinner thing than a ritual occasion.

I did buy some new altarware - plain white ceramic this time, since the local feral cats and the organized crime mob of raccoons and squirrels keep drinking out of the water and wine cups when I leave the altar alone for an hour and occasionally knocking them off. I also got new, less-easy-to-knock-over candles for deity calls and the ancestors, in the hopes that they'll last until decorating the altar for Samhain is truly appropriate.
omorka: (Default)
Still working on what proper private practice looks like for me, given the limitations of the space I have. Poured libations at dawn (technically that would have been 15 Simanu) and at as close to local lunar noon as I could figure, for Shapshu and Shamash in the first place and for Yarikhu, Nanna-Sin, and Selune in the second. In the second case, ended up getting effectively a gesa to finish the organizational work I've already been tasked with; I guess the lunar gods think it's a good idea.

Have mostly been focusing my practice around my two primary matrons lately. Not that I'm any less interested in doing broader, cross-pantheonic work, just that this has felt more like time for deepening existing relationships rather than forming new ones.

The Syrio-Levantine and Mesopotamian deities seem to be oddly fond of cheap red wine. This is fine with me; it means libations won't ever break the bank. (In one instance Hadad asked for a shot of Jack, but that was a special case.) I need to work on proper incenses, though.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Haven't been doing a good job keeping up with the altar log, either online or in person. Probably ought to work on that.

After having let the last set of candles burn out just after equinox, I hadn't replaced them until tonight. Right now I have a pair of tealights for Al-Lat and Baal-Shamin of Palmyra, and a lavender votive for the Beloved Dead and especially Prince. I need to clean out the offering bowl; it's full of old joss sticks and ashes.

My luck trying to grow rosemary continues to suck; the last one I planted died of transplant shock. I do have an apple mint that died back but seems to have survived at the roots coming back nicely, but it's not as magickally useful. (Nice for juleps, though.)
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Fell off the wagon, at least where blogging was concerned. Will write about Akitu later.

Current deities on the altar are Shamash, the Babylonian solar god, and Nanshe, a minor goddess of the sea, the shoreline, and divination. Shamash was specifically invoked as the god of justice and just laws, an extension of his title "the All-Seeing." Nanshe was primarily honored in her aspect as a goddess of divination, dreams, and prophesy away from the coast, but her hymns also describe her as a protectress of the poor, the downtrodden, and the oppressed.

I have occasionally described myself as a Social Justice Cleric. I offer this altar as evidence.

---

Ordering incense via Amazon is not as much fun as one might expect. On the other hand, at least I have laid in a decent supply. I also couldn't find green candles at Fiesta when I went to restock. Not having a decent Pagan supply store whose politics aren't gross around is harder than it looks.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
My outdoor altar has been ransacked. The three candles were all knocked over and off of the altar, smashing one of them - the glass jars on the other two are intact. There's a smear of molten wax from the one that broke, but I think that's from it being in direct sunlight for part of the day before we found it. Both deity images (since this deity set was An and Ki, who are rarely if ever actually depicted in Sumerian art, they were printouts of a NASA Hubble image and a Mother Earth statue in a public park in Georgia) were tossed off of the altar, and one was slightly crumpled.

I have set up the two surviving candles on the folding camp table on the porch, swept up and unceremoniously disposed of the broken candle, sacrificially burned the desecrated images, and am laundering the altar bunting. I'll have to re-consecrate the altar and set out new images; under the circumstances, I might just choose a new deity set.

I don't know if this was accident/random vandalism, deliberate desecration, or the result of our neighborhood squirrels and raccoons (who I know do occasionally steal the food offerings) investigating whether the candles are edible. For the moment, I'm inclined to guess the latter, on the grounds that a deliberate desecration probably would have involved tearing up the deity images and we'd have likely heard it if a delivery person had knocked it over accidentally.

The bright side is that the offertory altarware - the cup, libation bowl, and plate - were not on the altar at the time and thus are safe. I removed them yesterday to wash them and decided to let them drip-dry instead of replacing them immediately; solid intuition on my part, there. But - uggghhh. This is so frustrating!
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Put the orange altar cloth on the outdoor altar (which required some snippage; I cannot cut cloth in a straight line to save my life) and have set out the bright-half altar set with a fresh ancestor candle and some incense. I think I'm going to go ahead and do An and Ki for the deity set, and see what An has to tell me about kingship, power, and the giving up of power.

An/Anu's symbol is also the symbol for any god in cuneiform: four thin wedges intersecting to make an eight-pointed asterisk, or, to unpack that Greek-derived term, a star. In the context of the god-symbol, it's called a dingir and it's the first sign in any deity's name in cuneiform. Now, An is the god of the sky, but it hadn't occurred to me until I was trying to figure out what color candle to use for Him that He'd have been the god of the night sky first - He's not solar, and His symbol is stellar, so it's probably be best to use a black candle. Blue would also work; He's also the god of the day sky as well as the night sky - as would white, the color of the stars themselves. As it happens, the only one of those colors I actually have on hand is white, and finding black jar candles that don't have Santa Muerta's picture printed on them around here is hard, so that's what we'll go with. But thinking of Him as the star-vault god (as well as the blue-sky god) is giving me some theological feels.

Now to find some public-domain images of Them . . .
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
The bowl I've been using for my water-offering bowl on the outdoor altar got broken during the cleansing step between the last set of deities and the new set. I don't know whether to blame the drug-dealing squirrels who live in the live oak next door, the contractors who have been finally fixing the windows that had dry-rot, or the neighborhood feral cats (who I'm pretty sure have drunk from it before). But now I need to find a replacement; pretty much every source is adamant about a proper altar having a water offering in almost every culture I'm drawing from.

The last deity pair was Inanna and Enki. Most of the deities I've been working with, with the exception of Astarte, are fairly obscure by Western NeoPagan standards, so they often seem appreciative of practically every offering I've given. Inanna gets a lot more attention, and Enki is not as obscure as many of the others of his pantheon, so they were a lot pickier. Fortunately, they both seemed to like nag champa incense, cheap white wine, and strawberries. The outdoor altar also sort of took over for a little while; they were being demanding and didn't seem to want to split my time with the broader polypantheon at the indoor altar.

I'm thinking of doing Anshar and Kishar for the next pair, but between the bowl getting broken and us not being here for most of the next weekend due to the con, I may just put out a new ancestor candle for the moment and re-make the altar just after solstice.

I'm also doing what is likely to be my last CUUPs ritual for a while this weekend. I'm doing the story of the Gracious Gods again; that seems to be my go-to for Summer Solstice, partly because I like the story and partly because the act of magick that goes with it is pretty obvious.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
It occurs to me that I've been doing a great deal more theurgy than thaumaturgy lately. I've always been a cast-a-spell-a-month-whether-I-need-to-or-not sort of witch, but usually I depend on the elemental aiwen, or the vibes of different plants and their properties (which I think of as a living subset of the elements, to be honest), for the motive power of the spell. More often lately, I've been asking various deities for their blessings; this has been especially true for the candle spells I've been running for my injured student. I'm really glad I spent the previous month lighting a candle for Eshmun, because He in particular has been invaluable; I've also been calling on Brigid, which is a little unusual for me - She's not from one of my preferred pantheons, and I don't normally mix-and-match like that, but She seemed appropriate for the kid in particular.

I really need to get more incense. I've been going through it like crazy ever since I cleaned off my altar and started doing the daily devotions. This is a good thing; I tend to buy incense when I think about it and then let it sit in my magickal notions drawer until it goes stale. But my stock of a few staples is running low, and I really don't want to go to the local magick shop for more, because some of their clerks are weird old dudes who are creepy when they're not stoned. Anyone know a good incense blender on Etsy or somewhere?
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Removed the burned-out candles for Shapshu and Eshmun from the altar, and ceremonially burned the paper images I'd been using for them. Cleaned out a ton of ends of joss sticks from the burn bowl. Am letting the outdoor altar sit with just the ancestor candle on it for a night before setting out new images and candles.

Bought some grape juice to use as libations, because I don't know a damned thing about wine. Am contemplating whether offering chocolate to old-world deities is appropriate or not.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Ancestor candle burned out of wick with over 1/2 inch of wax left to go. This appears to be the way the candle was designed. Not sure if safety measure or customer screwage.

Have about half an inch or so of wax left in the Shapshu and Eshmun candles, too. At this point, I've decided on Yarikhu and Nikkal for the next pair; they're a nice match for European Beltane.

Oh, crud, I need to decide whether I'm going to the local CUUPs Beltane or not.

Still bummed about missing CMA Beltane. Several of our campmates have been talking about renting a cabin at a state park for a weekend to make up for it, but the hanging-out-with-cool-folks-in-the-woods aspect isn't what I'm bummed about missing. I'm half tempted to start working on Get Sirius again just to have an indoor, somewhat intellectually focused local Pagan event.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Have fallen a bit behind on keeping an altar log. The outdoor altar's candles for Shapshu and Eshmun are nearly burned out, and I should plan on whom I will place on that altar once they're gone. I am currently contemplating Yarikhu and Nikkal, but that would almost make the outdoor altar the Syrian one and the indoor altar the Chaldean one. (On the third hand, perhaps the Canaanite gods are more used to outdoor shrines?)

I need to find a reliable supply for good stick or cone frankincense incense, redundant as that sounds. It seems to be pretty reliable, although so does the cedarwood/lavender combo that the local Pagan shop sells in stick form.

---

Never did make it to CMA; the flooding out there was just too bad for them to let anyone onto the property. First festival I've missed since '97, and honestly I'm pretty bummed about it. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that the overlap between what I'm looking for and what the average festival-goer at CMA is looking for is significantly smaller now than it was ten years ago. It may be time for me to step back a little from CMA and focus my energies on building the Chaldean tradition, although I'll certainly still attend festivals.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
25 Nisannu: Lit ancestor candle well after sunset (so technically the 26th) and lit incense for the three Ladies of the Ugaritic pantheon (Astarte, Asherah, & Anat). Did not perform any other altar work at either the indoor or outdoor altars because I spent most of the evening providing moral support/handholding while Cheshirebast tried to wrestle his taxes into submission. Did read the first three chapters of Diana Paxson's book on building relationships with the Divine, which is both interesting and a fast read, while waiting for him to sort through receipts. I am a bit tired of all of the good polytheist books coming from either Heathens or people whose politics are to the right of Ayn Rand or both (I don't know anything about Paxson's politics, mind; she's in the first category). Where are the Nova Romans and Hellenics? Why aren't they writing these books? Heck, why not more Druids and Celtic Reconstructionists?

26 Nisannu: Freshened water on altar, did brief grounding and centering meditation, lit incense at indoor altar for the Ladies of my altar (Tiamat, Gaia, and Shapshu) and the Ladies I wish to invite (Lahamu and Kishar), lit candles & incense at outdoor altar for Shapshu and Eshmun, and the Beloved Dead.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Whoa, have I not been keeping up the log properly. Have been lighting the ancestor candle daily, lighting the outdoor altar for a few hours per evening every day bar one, & have been lighting incense indoors (usually for Tiamat, Lahmu & Lahamu, and Anshar & Kishar, but occasionally for Asherah, Astarte, or other deities) whenever we did not have guests and outdoors every day.

The incense donated by JK has a lot of trouble staying lit. It must have gotten damp at some point.

I went on a candle restocking run this weekend and now have plenty of candles. I do wish it was easier to find colored non-scented candles, though.

I sent a description of the votive statues I want made to JK to forward on to his artist. Apparently the description confused her. I'm putting a copy behind the cut for my records & in case anyone else has an artist friend who might want to take a crack at it.

Read more... )
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
16 Nisannu: Did not get to tend altar until after we got home from running errands around 9 pm, so technically at this point it was 17 Nisannu. Had an unexpected guest, so only lit ancestor candle indoors. Lit candles on outdoor altar for Shapshu, Eshmun, & the Beloved Dead.

17 Nisannu: Changed water on altar, lit ancestor candle (desperately need to get to a candle store and find some unscented pillar candles; the skull candle is burning rather low), lit some incense labeled "Lunar" (I don't know what's in it, but I love the way it smells) for Tiamat, Lahmu, Lahamu, Anshar, and Kishar, & did very brief grounding & centering. Fixed the cloth drape on the outdoor altar, lit candles for Shapshu, Eshmun, & the Beloved Dead, and left two sticks of the donated incense (which appears to be sandalwood, amber, and possibly some unidentified floral) as an offering.

---

I think from now on I will just use the somewhat archaic English word "hallows" for the Beloved Dead who are not ancestors of body or blood. And I need to start making a hallows calendar, especially for the ones who are sancti in one form or another.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
14 Nisannu: Didn't do much at house altar because I was running a Full Moon ritual, which will go in an f-locked post (although I will say, all y'all need more Eshmun in your lives). Fished out the Sacred Geometry deck and removed it from its box; I'm going to try and work some with that one for a while (it's a non-Tarot cartomancy deck).

15 Nisannu: Refreshed water, lit ancestor candle, lit incense (amber) for Tiamat, Apsu, Mummur, Lahmu, Lahamu, Anshar, and Kishar. Managed to drop the incense stick all the way into the burner, but so far it's staying lit so I guess it's okay. Lit candles on outdoor altar (still set up from last night) for Shapshu, Eshmun, and the Beloved Dead and left two sticks of the donated incense as an offering.

---

Am really liking the use of images for the deities, and am less hostile than previously to the idea of 2D/painted images as opposed to 3d/sculpted ones, although the latter are still preferable. Aniconism can go jump in a well (preferably a dry one).
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
12 Nisannu: (Technically, this happened around sunset, so it might have been early on 13 Nisannu instead) Lit ancestor candle, freshened water. Did not light incense because QD was coming over and he's very sensitive to certain smells. Did brief grounding and centering meditation.

13 Nisannu: (Again, close to sunset, so possibly this overlaps with 14 Nisannu) Lit ancestor candle. It's developing an odd layer of soot on the inside rim; need to see if I can do anything about that. Did brief grounding and centering meditation. Lit incense (cedarwood) for the Sumero-Babylonian pantheon as a whole; incense kept going out. Quit fighting, guys, there's enough for everyone. (I should work out a schedule.)

Need to work on libations as offerings, & find out what these deities want. Honey is mentioned a lot, so I imagine mead would be acceptable. Pomegranate juice, maybe?

---

Went though a pair of decks I'd been given as gifts. One is a Steampunk Tarot, and fortunately the aesthetic is more Edwardian than Victorian, or I'd have actively disliked it. As it stands, I'm just unimpressed. The other is a Faeries' Oracle; I don't work with the fae folk at all (for what may be good reason; there is some evidence that one of my paternal ancestors may have been considered a changeling), so while it was certainly pretty, as a divination tool it mostly left me cold. Well, they can't all be winners.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Replaced ancestor candle with the remaining Dia de los Muertos candle for the moment. Lit with the Brigid candle from Imbolc, since a significant chunk of my ancestors would have at least revered her as a saint. Did brief grounding & centering. Lit incense (dragon's blood & patchouli) for Lahmu & Lahamu, asked them to open up channels of communication & felt like I got a decent nibble, at least.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
9 Nisannu (proper) - Lit ancestor candle, did brief meditation. Still had too many people in the house to light incense. Ancestor candle went out on its own due to short wick after less than half an hour.

10 Nisannu - Refreshed water on altar. Replaced ancestor candle with small beeswax candle until I can get another pillar. Lit new ancestor candle. Grounded and centered. Lit sandalwood incense for Anshar and Kishar, asked for them to open up channels of communication.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
6 Nisannu: Lit incense for ancestors of blood and culture, changed water, lit ancestor candle. Do not remember if I did any meditation.

7 Nisannu: Did brief grounding/centering at altar, did not light incense due to potential guests with sensitivities. Had left ancestor candle burning overnight, which was probably not wise; I need to get a 7-day jar candle if I'm going to do that, not a pillar candle. Have found a piece of fired brick for altar; am leaving it on the altar for a week to cleanse it.

8 Nisannu: Spent evening helping Cheshirebast and then watching silly internet videos; did not have an appropriate time to tend altar.

9 Nisannu: (Late) Changed water on altar, lit lunar incense for those in my blood and cultural lineage who walked this path or related ones, lit ancestor candle. Did brief grounding and centering. Still no word from the friend with the artist friend; I should text him.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Re: dates - yes, I think I like that better.

Lit ancestor candle, cedar/lavender incense for the Goddesses on my altar and the local spirits of house and place. Am having trouble grounding today, probably due to sleep deprivation (have been sleeping poorly since the last couple of days of Spring Break). Must remember to wait until after Movie Night tomorrow to light incense, as several probable guests are allergic.

Have had a lot of lavender popping up in my life since early February. Wonder if this means I should pick up a plant? It doesn't usually grow well here - too hot for too much of the year.

Have not heard from JK regarding potential artist for votive statues. Should probably find placeholder images for the deities in question (Lahmu, Lahamu, Anshar, Kishar) and add them to altar dedications.

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