Daily Devotion

I’ve started working again (two jobs, even!), and I have a huge commute (much longer than I’ve ever had before).  This means that I have very little time to myself during the week.  Some days, I get home from my second job just in time to go to bed to wake up and go to my first job.  There is very little that I do by way of devotion every single day.

The one thing that I do every day is one devotional act for Apollon.  Years ago, I wrote a song for Him.  It was the very first song that I wrote the sheet music for myself (which was quite a feat – I have no musical theory training).  When I take my first shower of the day, which is usually when I wake up, I sing this song while I’m in the shower.  I might sing it very softly if it’s before 5am and I have a roommate, but I sing it audibly if I can (I’ve been sick lately, so audibly is not always possible).  It takes me about two minutes to sing it, and I’ve known it by heart since I wrote it.

That’s it.  No candles.  No libations.  No long litany of praise.  Just one song.  Every day.

I keep a fairly strict ritual calendar, which has days when I make offerings to all the gods who are currently active in my life or have shrines in my home, but this one thing is something that I make sure to do for Apollon.  It has occasionally slipped my mind, and I’ve gotten back in the shower and turned the water back on.  I’m not finished there until I’ve sung this song.

What do you do?

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How to Set Up a Shrine

Shrines are very individual things.  They can be made for one god or several, and they can even be made for particular aspects of one god.  In other words, you could make a shrine for Leto, Apollon, and Artemis, you could make a shrine to Apollon, or you could even make a shrine for Apollon Aphetoros.*

There are a few things that every shrine should have, but after that, there are so many things that are optional.  I really suggest that you start small when you are building a new shrine because shrines grow whether we intend them to or not.  If you don’t find the perfect piece right away, don’t worry about it.  Use the shrine (pray and make offerings), and over the time, the shrine will change and items will seem to appear to you for it.

Required Components (I find these to be required, but this is a guide, not a rule book):

focal point – This is usually, but not always, an image of the deity.  It could be a statue, a figurine, a painting, a photo of a statue, or even just a decorated piece of paper with the deity’s name written on it.

offering bowl – a phiale or patera, or even a wine glass or shot glass.  You can leave it on the shrine all the time, or you can bring it to the shrine only when you are making an offering and remove it when it is time for the contents to be cleaned out.

candle or oil lamp – I consider lighting a candle on a shrine to be the first step in notifying the deity that I am trying to get Their attention.  I light the candle before praying and before making any offerings.  Since we don’t have functioning temples anymore, each shrine becomes a temple in and of itself.  You can consider this Hestia’s hearth in each temple.

Optional Components (or, those things that come with time):

votive offerings – things like keys for Hekate, dried bay leaves or a guitar pick for Apollon, or a postcard of a place where you’ve been or would love to travel for Hermes.  The possibilities are really endless.  Whenever you find something that is not organic (by which I mean something that will rot or evaporate, biodegrade) that you want to give the deity in question, that is a votive offering.  You can use it to decorate the shrine, or you can set out a bowl on the shrine to hold this type of offering.

prayer beads – If you use prayer beads, you might consider keeping them on the shrine of the god for whom they were made when they are not in use.

a cloth – I really suspect that so many of us use cloths to cover the surfaces of our shrines because they are widely used in Wicca and they have sort of seeped in the general pagan unconscious as the “right way to do it.”  You don’t have to, but there’s no reason why you can’t.  They’re also useful as they can catch spills and drips of candle wax.

Incense Holder or Diffuser – Scent is really important when it comes to making offerings to our gods.  Part of the rationale for burnt offerings is that the gods receive the scent of the burning flesh.  I’ve yet to hear of someone offering incense or scented oil (like an essential oil or oil blend) that was not accepted.

If I’ve forgotten something or you have a question about something else that you’ve heard should be on a shrine, please leave a comment below.

*Aphetoros is variously translated as He Who Throws Away from Afar, Giver of Oracles, Arrow-Shooter, and of the Bow.  Please feel free to write about or paint Apollon Aphetoros and submit your piece for the devotional.

Diviner’s Prayer to Seven Gods

Khaire Hestia, First Born
I come before you today to seek wisdom and insight for ___.
I ask that you guard us against hunger and poverty, and bless us,
that we might always have enough to eat and enough to share.

Khaire Artemis, Hunter of Wild Beasts,
I come before you today to seek wisdom and insight for ___.
As you delight in your skill with arrows,
we ask that you guard us against hubris,
while blessing us with the knowledge and utilization of our own skills.

Khaire Leto, Giver of Lights,
I come before you today to seek wisdom and insight for ___.
We ask that you keep from us the stingy and the cruel,
Please surround us with those who care for our well-being.
Please whisper to us of the wisdom found behind your veil.

Khaire Athena, Wise Counselor,
I come before you today to seek wisdom and insight for ___.
We ask that you guard us from those who would seek to manipulate us.
With your immense wisdom and foresight,
we ask you to advise us as we make far-reaching choices.

Khaire Hebe, Fair Princess,
I come before you today to seek wisdom and insight for ___.
We ask that you guard us from those who would take advantage of our service.
Please bless us with hearts capable of serving with joy.

Hail Mani, Smiling Face of the Moon,
I come before you today to seek wisdom and insight for ___.
We ask that you help us to maintain our boundaries and keep out what should be out,
But Mani, with your far-reaching gaze, please help to usher in what should be in.
Please bless us with your grin, that we might remember to look up once in awhile.

Khaire Hera, Blessed Queen,
I come before you today to seek wisdom and insight for ___.
We ask that you defend us from those who would force our hands.
Please bless us with winds that move opportunities into our paths
and clouds that shelter us from blazing heat and shower us with blessings.

Khaire Hestia, Last Released,
I come before you today to seek wisdom and insight for ___.
We ask that you light the way toward home,
May we each find you at the center
and remember you always.

Unique Offerings – UPG

There are some things that we offer to the gods that have a longstanding history of being well-received.  Offerings common to many of the gods that would fall into this category are things like wine, honey, incense, olive oil, cakes, and animal sacrifice.  However, as modern worshippers with access to and familiarity with things that were unavailable in the ancient Mediterranean, many of us have come to understand the gods to appreciate things that were unavailable either during that time period or in that area.

Since it is Noumenia, I spent time today making offerings to all of the gods who have shrines in my home.  I’d like to take a moment to share with you some of the offerings that I have found these gods to appreciate that are not found in the historical record.  I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts and the offerings that you give to these gods and others in the comments.

Hestia – I like to give Hestia a portion of any meal that I cook from scratch.  I don’t give her frozen pizza or take out, but when I cook from scratch either just for myself or for others, I like to give Her a portion.  I sometimes forget, which makes me kick myself, but it’s an ongoing practice that I try to maintain.  Many people (it’s become PCPG – Peer Corroborated Personal Gnosis) say that She likes coffee, but I hate the smell and taste of coffee, so I don’t buy it or make it.  I’ve never felt that I should go out and buy Her coffee or offer Her coffee beans, but I suspect that it’s an offering that She appreciates from people who wake up and stumble to the coffee pot each morning.

Apollon – For a long time, I bought cranberry hibiscus juice from Trader Joe’s every month for Apollon.  Unfortunately, they recently discontinued it, and I haven’t found a substitute.  I haven’t found anything that He seems to like as much.

Hermes – He seems to like candy and artificial flavors.  I’ve given him strawberry pocky and some strawberry licorice candy that had liquid inside.  I also give Him interesting liquor.  If it’s hard liquor, chances are good that He’ll like it, but if it has an amusing label, it’s even better.  Right now, I keep some Rum of the Gods in the freezer for Him.  I used to have a roommate who is a devotee of Loki, and we found that Hermes and Loki often liked the same things.  When one of us would buy something for one god, we often felt pushed to go and offer a small portion to the other.

Artemis – blueberries and spring water

Leto – While I would like to celebrate Leto in Her own right, at this point in time, I offer Her the same things that I offer to Her children on the same days that I offer them, so she receives offerings on all of Apollon’s and Artemis’s holy days, and She receives a portion of whatever I offer to Them.  As I’m writing this, I’m feeling that she might like something dark and rich in a tall glass.  I’ve never drunk amoretto, so I’m not sure if it fits that description, but the name of that liquor just popped into my head.

Athena – I think that everything that I offer Athena has some history behind it.  I don’t recall ever feeling pushed to buy something unusual for Her.

Aphrodite – This is also PCPG: She tends to appreciate the more luxurious items that you can come up with.  Flowers are well-received, but it’s important that they either be or appear to be costly as opposed to just pretty.  Where I would give pretty wildflowers to many other gods, She seems to appreciate roses or exotic and hard to grow flowers more.  The same logic applies to chocolate.  Godiva seems to be a favorite.

Hebe – I am still waiting for my personal push on things to suit Her taste, but I have been told by another devotee that She likes aloe and roses.  I bought an aloe plant to raise for Her, but it’s too small yet for me to harvest much to make an offering.

Euterpe – I am lacking UPG for Her as well.  While I maintain a shrine for Her, I have yet to experience any real interaction.

Mani – Mani is a Norse god, but He has a shrine here, too.  Some of the offerings that I know He likes are PCPG, like marshmallows, sambuca, marshmallow vodka, and meringue cookies.  Personally, I also give him lemon doughnuts and Brennivín.

Skaði – I don’t actually maintain a shrine to Skaði, but I was pushed to offer Her Bombay Sapphire gin.  I thought I’d mention it.

Happy Noumenia!  May all of your offerings be well-received!