A Day for Reflection
I was perusing a couple of sites to see if anything of significance happened in WWI or WWII military history today – because I’ve been feeling very aware of my military dead of late—and in my various meanderings through history sites, I came across a reference that on July 25 in 326 C.E. Emperor Constantine formally and publicly refused to perform proper sacrifices to the Pagan Gods and in fact outlawed them. (1) In doing so, he struck at the heart of Roman polytheism and set the stage for the eventual destruction and dismantling of our sacred ways.
It is a day for mourning yes, but also a day for deep reflection. I don’t think the Pagans of Constantine’s time realize what was going on until it was too late (and it is likely sacrifices continued privately) but suddenly time was running out and Rome was on a collision course with monotheistic take over. It really points up how dangerous it is to mix politics and religion too, or to rely on the insight of one man, even a leader who was none too sacral and was far more interested in bolstering his own power and political position than in rightful service to the Gods. Rome as a power was beginning her slow, ugly decline and it must have been a confusing, exciting, and at times terrifying time in which to live. I think it must have been very challenging to know how to move forward in devotion. The idea that one day—a day not too far in the future no less—such devotion might be against the law, temples destroyed or repurposed, and all the generations old adorations to their Gods suddenly fallen silent. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for the devout polytheists who lived through that transition and what it was like after.
Our polytheistic traditions are sacred things, a gift, a sacred trust given into our hands to nourish and protect, and ultimately to pass into the hands of the next generation. I think days like this call us to be mindful of that obligation in our hearts and minds and spirits. To remember that we carry the weight of ancestral obligation, the tears and horror of thousands upon thousands of our polytheistic dead who watched their devotional worlds be torn to shreds, knowing it was far too late (even with the momentarily light that was Julian) to stop it. We can right that wrong. Every time we work at our shrines, or pray, or pour out offerings we are, in some small wyrd way restoring and righting the desecration done. I think it’s important to let that inspire us in this work because it is hard sometimes, challenging, alienating, frustrating but also joyous and satisfying. It’s important to remember that they are in their way handing off the tattered ends of these traditions to us and we can run with that, together, and make those traditions flourish once more.
As I was thinking about this, I can across this site. I don’t know why it came up in my feed and I don’t know the author of the site but I really like this idea and I think I’d like to encourage everyone to do this for August: thirty one days of devotion to one of your Gods. Here are the questions:
1. WriteaA basic introduction of the deity
2. How did you become first aware of this deity?
3. what are some Symbols and icons of this deity
4 .Share a favorite myth or myths of this deity
5. Who are Members of the family – genealogical connections of this Deity.
6. What are some Other related deities and entities associated with this deity
7. Discuss this Deity’s Names and epithets
8 Discuss Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)
9. what are some Common mistakes about this deity
10 .what are common Offerings – historical and UPG
11 Talk about Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity
12. What are some Places associated with this deity and their worship
13. What modern cultural issues — if any—are closest to this deity’s heart? (this is a question that i”m not overly thrilled with. It presupposes that the Gods give a rat’s ass about our “cultural issues” but maybe some of Them do and if They don’t, we can talk about that too, always with the caveat that it is insofar as we as individual devotees have sussed out).
14. Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?
15. Are there Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
16. How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?
17, How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?
18 How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG) (again, a question about which I could not possibly care less, but I suspect the answers might be interesting).
19. What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire?
20. What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?
21. Share any Art that reminds you of this deity
22. Share any Music that makes you think of this deity
23. Share A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with
24 Share Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity
25 Share A time when this deity has helped you
26 Share A time when this deity has refused to help (i really like this question).
27. How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
28. what are the Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered
29. What is Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently
30. do you have Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?
31 Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?
I’ve done something similar to this for Odin a long time ago, so I’m not yet sure what Deity I’ll talk about come August 1, but I’m thinking about it and very much looking forward to seeing what you, my readers, come up with. (and to the owner of the luxettenebris site: thank you!).
That is all. Let us maintain our devotions staunchly and steadfastly and remember the example of those ancestors who desperately tried too late to do the same.