To My Many Gods

Terence P. Ward approached me a few days ago to appeal to my vanity (I mean, I do like being told I’m good at something.  Who doesn’t?) and get me to write a litany for the contest that he is running on his blog.  I had heard about this contest a few months ago and initially resisted because I knew that I would not be able to come up with a list of all of the gods that I have ever made offerings to in my entire life, and I didn’t want to slight Anyone.  So, I took a different approach.  First, I looked up litany to see what it actually means.  I had seen prayers labeled litanies before and had some idea of another litany I wanted to write, but was I using the right word?  What I found, which may or may not be correct, is that it’s essentially a call and response prayer where the response is the same every time.  Then I decided that rather than write this for all of the gods that I’ve ever made offerings to, I would write this about the gods that I have had direct experience with, gods about whom I could write from a really vivid memory.  I hope I’m not missing Anyone, and if I am, I will update this later.  These memories cover the past 23 years of my life, so… there was a lot to try to remember.

To My Many Gods

To the god of my ancestors,
To He Whose rules I have lived my life breaking,
To He Who exists and persists and yet is not the only god to exist and persist,
Please hear my prayer,
Know that I still revere You, though I do not revere You alone.

 

We praise You!

 To Aphrodite,
the first goddess to whom I ever said a prayer,
Staring out the window at the age of 13,
I wished for love, as all young girls do,
I did not yet know You.
I imagined You as storybooks say,
And I could not reconcile Your reality
with the whitewashed blonde image on the cover,
But I read about you, and I wrote about you,
And with this, I won an award that made me feel seen.

 

We praise you!

To the goddess Whose name I have never known,
She who came to me at night
In the dark
With the light of the moon,
She who gathers the waiting dead
Who holds them and cares for them
Who travels with them
The scent of pine on the wind,
The knowledge of who remembered me
and waits for me,
I’ve longed for Your name,
I am always thankful to You in my heart.

 

We praise you!

 

To Guan Yin,
Your gentleness called to me,
Your floating clouds, your western paradise,
Your place in history and literature and temples
Unfettered by a broken lineage.
I visited Your temples,
I burnt incense and said prayers in front of paintings and
sculpture,
I was accepted because of Your pendant around my neck,
Worshipping You was understood,
Yet I was not yours,
And You removed that pendant
and set it by my pillow,
and told me to come back only when I had a genuine need
for the goddess of mercy.

We praise you!

To Ceridwen,
Who came to me and allowed me into Her space,
To see Her cave with Her fire,
One of the few to give me a visual memory of Her reality,
Who comforted and calmed me for many years,
Until She unwillingly gave me away to the god I love most.
I will always honor you, Grandmother of my heart,
Family in a way that means what we long for that word to mean,
I miss you.

We praise you!

To Athena,
The goddess of my studies,
To whom I turned when concepts were difficult,
and tests were hard,
and books were long,
and your unusual brand of femininity sparked something
inside of me.
You turned me away,
You were there to listen,
to point,
and to guide,
but not to love.

 

We praise you!

 

To Herne,
A god so big we felt you arrive half a mile away,
In Your presence, we crouched as low and close to the dirt as we could
to receive your blessing,
Hounds and prey, we were
in Your hunt.
Your knife at my throat,
something was cut and
a sacrifice was made.
many times.

 

We praise you!

To Freya,
Mistress of seidh, and Master of Herself,
Beauty Who knows no bounds and demands
that we settle for nothing less than we deserve,
I spent my years teaching lovers how
they should be treated,
what they could expect,
what they should demand.
Someday, I pray, the lover I teach will not become the love of another,
Someday, I pray, the heart that I touch will not
use me as a tool of learning, an experience,
that makes them ready for what lies ahead,
Your lesson, the lesson that you share,
is that I am worth more.

 

We praise you!

 

To Artemis,
Goddess who changed my life,
Though when I first stood in Your presence,
Having won an archery contest in Your Honor,
I had no idea what would one day come to pass,
You smiled at me, with a haughty yet indulgent smile,
“That’s my favorite,” you said, as you handed me my prize.
Thank you for favoring me,
Thank you for honoring me,
I am grateful, and I honor you.

 

We praise you!

To Apollon,
I was dancing as You arrived,
Hoping to please You,
I didn’t know You, yet.
I watched You with Your sister,
and noticed the love and care between You,
We sang and danced and tried to entertain You.
When I noticed Your plate was empty,
I approached you with a slice of cake,
I asked if You wanted more,
“Of course, I accept Your offering,” you said,
Your eyes boring through mine.
I hadn’t really known what I was doing,
I only knew Your plate was empty,
And Your plate should never be empty.
I’ve loved you since that day.

 

We praise you!

 

To Sekhmet,
Fierce lion warrior,
Protector,
I prayed to you to help one of Your devotees,
Then I met you in the flesh,
You laughed
When I asked if you’d heard me,
Gentle derision,
In times of danger,
I still turn to you,
I sing and beg for Your protection.

 

We praise you!

 

To Skaði,
As I sat on the chairlift,
And sailed down the mountain,
In the dark with the wind whipping
and moonlight glinting off the snow,
I heard your voice.
As I drove with snowflakes crowding my vision,
to and from school,
for many nights,
I heard your voice.
The song I wrote, I think we wrote.
You called to me,
You offered me a place
if only I could find You.

 

We praise you!

 

To Mani,
the laughing god of the moon,
Childlike and full of wonder
at the moss beneath Your feet
and the sight of Your sister in the sky,
God who touches the feet of humans
to marvel at their art,
Who gives away His jewelry
until His pockets are empty
and His throat is bare,
You who seem to give all you have and more,
I serve You.

 

We praise You!

 

To Sinthgunt,
Regal and upright,
Protector of secrets
and Guardian of ancient knowledge,
You hide what we should not know
or remember.
I honor you.

 

We praise You!

 

To Sunna,
Warm, kind, and gentle goddess,
You who embraced me
without regard for my consent,
but then it didn’t matter.
Your hug was warm, and I was glad
I couldn’t say no.

 

We praise you!

 

To Nanna,
The goddess for whom we have but one story,
and know one thing.
Knowing I would represent You,
I prayed to you for many days and felt your presence,
When the day finally came,
and the people approached,
I felt You reach through me,
I felt your blessing flow through my body
to the people whom I touched.
You blessed them through me,
and I experienced each blessing.
I am forever thankful.

 

We praise you!

 

To Hermes,
The god who watches and intervenes,
Who travels with and guides,
Who has saved my life more than once,
Who has led me unscathed as cars crashed behind me
or as my own crumpled with me inside,
He who has listened as I prayed for the safe return
of one I loved,
And gone between to carry hopes, prayers, and dreams
to the other deathless ones,
with whom I had not yet built kharis,
but wanted to know.

 

We praise you!

 

To Loki,
Who will say anything He pleases,
Who will call you out from across a crowd
in the dark
with the bonfire burning,
to whisper your secrets
in a voice that is not a whisper,
to ask questions that you don’t know how to answer
and still retain the composure that you
don’t want to let go of,
If you don’t answer, He
will answer for you,
will tell the crowd what He knows,
of intimate, private parts
of your life.

 

We praise you!

 

To Hephaistos,
Molten glass turning on the end of a pipe
in the sweltering flame,
I feared the fire,
yet I was also smitten by its beauty
and what it could create.
I saw You in the creations of artisans,
wished to create something worthy of You,
Wished for You to light an artist’s fire in my heart.

 

We praise you!

 

To Hestia,
the keeper of the bright flame that burns
in every home,
and every temple.
Though not the first goddess I was to know,
Each time I make my offerings to the deathless ones,
You receive Your due,
both first
and last.

 

We praise you!

 

To Leto,
I know you as His mother,
Yet I know you are more than just a mother.
You are inner strength and beauty for one’s own sake,
You are secrets kept and treasures hidden,
You are Your own choices and Your own decisions,
You cannot be taken,
or undervalued,
You know Your worth.

 

We praise you!

 

To Athiratu,
I cooked for You, and I served You.
I danced for You, and I bowed to You.
You looked into my eyes and saw beauty there.
My covered head pleased You, though a more ornate style
would have pleased You more.
I was nervous near You,
You felt like some well-respected ancestor come to life
to see me living in a strange new land with a strange new language
and strange new ways.
I’m not what You might have imagined,
but I’ll have to do.

 

We praise you!

 

To Dionysos,
A joyful frenzy, and a reassuring presence,
Dancing and drinking and spinning round and round,
12 cases of wine gone, yet no human drunk when You leave,
You offer us proof of your presence, even when none was needed,
“You are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing,”
You chose to say to me.  You could not have found other words
that would have meant more to me.  “Keep singing,” you said,
as if You knew my dreams.

 

We praise you!

 

To Poseidon,
When I swam in the Mediterranean,
the sea held me, and I knew I was home.
I was overcome with the beauty of Your kingdom,
the knowledge of Your family in the waters that I then shared,
I prayed to You in thanks for allowing my presence,
and I wished fervently to return.

 

We praise you!

 

To Hebe,
Quiet and humble,
A servant, though divine in Your own right,
From you, I seek to learn to serve
with joy in my heart and without
ego.

 

We praise you!

 

To Hera,
Queen of the gods,
Strong,
I was surprised at Your interest,
yet I feel comforted in Your presence.
You might seem cold, but there is warmth in You.
You are not what You are made out to be,
You are more,
You are fierce,
You are regal and majestic,
You hold your head high
in all circumstances,
For You
are queen.

 

We praise you!

Apollon & Hera

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my shrine for Hera, December 2016

Apollon is the son of Zeus and Leto.  Historically, Hera has presented challenges for the children of Zeus by others, but while Hera did cause difficulty for Leto in the time leading up to and during the births of Artemis and Apollon, Hera and Apollon do not have the same adversarial relationship that She has with some other gods.

Apollon and Hera share at least two epithets that I am aware of.  Perhaps one of you bright and creative readers would like to write, draw, or paint about one of these epithets for the devotional?

Κουροτρόφος – Both Apollon Kourotrophos and Hera Kourotrophos are gods who care for, protect, and nourish young children, boys in particular.  When portrayed in this guise, They are usually depicted with a baby in Their arms.  Kourotrophos is actually a goddess in her own right who had quite a following and received many sacrifices in ancient Athens.  When other gods take on Her role, Her name becomes an epithet.

Τελχινιος & Τελχινια – Both Apollon Telkhinios and Hera Telkhinia are gods of the winds.  Now, we know that there are actually distinct gods of each of the winds as well as different types of wind, like breezes, but I see this epithet as meaning more that Apollon and Hera both at times act as a conductor of the winds as if the different winds were members of an orchestra.  They know the score of the symphony, and They tell each when and where to blow.  This epithet stems from worship on Crete and through Crete to Delphi.

 

Colors & Symbols

When building a new shrine, people often ask about the colors and symbols (for use as attributes in art or for votive offerings) associated with different gods so that they can build a shrine that will be most pleasing to that god.  Sometimes we can rely on intuition, but sometimes our intuition fails us, and we need to know what others do.  Today, I’d like to share the information that I have for the gods for whom I  keep shrines in the hopes that it is helpful as you build your own.  If you would like to add to this information or have an additional question, please post a comment below.  Some of the information listed below is UPG (unverified personal gnosis), some of it comes from Hellenic Polytheism: Household Worship by Labrys, and some of it has been learned over the years from other devotees.

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my shrine for Hestia, April 2016

Hestia – The colors that I associate with Hestia are white, yellow, orange, and red.  Symbols include fire, the veil, the hearth and any of its accoutrement, a kettle, and a spool of thread.  The animal associated with or sacred to Hestia is the pig.

Apollon – The colors that I associate with Apollon are sky blue, pale yellow, gold, as well as similar reds and oranges to what I might associate with Hestia.  Symbols include the lyre, the bow, arrows, the tripod, the laurel tree/bay leaves, and animals like ravens, swans, wolves, mice, snakes, and dolphins.

Hermes – The colors that I associate with Hermes are green (light to kelly in shade) and golden yellow (this is the color that you will read about called saffron.  While the herb, saffron, is pink in color, when you cook with it, it actually turns things golden yellow.  Try making some saffron rice for a clear idea of this color).  Symbols include divination tools, dice, coins, the kerykeion, winged sandals, a winged cap, a shepherd’s flute, and a herm.  Animals associated with or sacred to Hermes are cows, rams, hawks, turtles and/or tortoises, and hares.

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my shrine for Artemis, April 2016

Artemis – The color that I associate with Artemis is green.  Symbols include the bow, arrows, a javelin, spear, or any other hunting implements, and torches.  Animals associated with or sacred to Artemis include deer, hunting dogs, bears, partridges, quail, and wild boars.

Leto – The colors that I associate with Leto are light blue and light green, as well as navy blue, and white.  Symbols include the veil and the palm tree.  Animals associated with or sacred to Leto include roosters and frogs.

Dionysos – The colors that I associate with Dionysos are medium to dark greens (the colors of ivy and grape leaves both when it’s sunny and when it’s the dark of night), red, purple, and maroon.  Symbols associated with Dionysos include bunches of grapes, vines, ivy, the thyrsos, phalluses, comedy and tragedy masks or anything else associated with the theater, and pine cones.  Animals associated with and sacred to Dionysos include leopards, panthers, and all other large cats, donkeys, bulls, goats, and snakes.

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my shrine for Aphrodite, Hebe, and Euterpe, April 2016

Aphrodite – The colors I associate with Aphrodite are pink, red, sky blue, and green.  Symbols associated with Aphrodite include flowers (cultivated rather than wild ones), hearts (entirely modern), shells, mirrors, dice, and apples.  Animals associated with or sacred to Aphrodite include doves, geese, sparrows, turtles, and hares.

Hebe – The colors that I associate with Hebe are white and light blue.  Symbols associated Hebe are cups and pitchers.  The animal associated with Hebe is the hen.

Euterpe – I do not have specific color associations for Euterpe or any of the other muses.  The symbol associated with Euterpe is the flute.

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my shrine for Athena, February 2016

Athena – The colors that I associate with Athena are blue, grey, and pale yellow.  Symbols associated with Her include the loom, yarn, the aegis, armor including a helmet, spears, maps, shields, gorgoneions (gorgon heads – an apotropaic symbol), and olive trees and their parts like olives (the fruit) and branches.  Animals associated with or sacred to Athena include owls and spiders.

Hera – The colors that I associate with Hera are teal and light blue.  Symbols associated with Her include crowns, scepters, pomegranates, poppies, lilies, and peacock feathers.  Animals associated with or sacred to Hera include peacocks, cuckoo birds, cows, lions, hawks, and cranes.

Mani (a Norse god, but I do keep a shrine for Him as well) – Colors that I associate with Mani are royal to midnight blues and white.  Symbols associated with Him include the moon, stars, bells and jingly jewelry, music boxes, and night lights.

 

While we’re on the subject of symbols and colors, some epithets of Apollon that some of you may want to consider writing about for the devotional are:

Apollon Akersekómes (Απόλλων Ακερσεκόμης),  He of Beautiful Unbound Hair; the Unshorn

Apollon Argyrótoxos, (Απόλλων Αργυρότοξος) He with the Silver Bow; He Who Has the Silver Bow; Lord of the Silver Bow

Apollon Chrystotoxus, Having a Golden Bow

Apollon Comaeus, Flowing Hair

Apollon Daphnaios, He To Whom the Laurel Is Sacred; laurel

Apollon Daphnephoros, Carrier of the Bay Branches; He Who Carries the Laurel; He who carries the branches of laurel

Apóllon Dikéros (Απόλλων Δικέρως), two-horned

Apóllon Ebdomagenès (Απόλλων Εβδομαγενής), Born on the Seventh Day

Apollon Ebdómeios (Απολλων Εβδομειος), Worshipped on the Seventh Day

Apollon Enolmos (Απολλων Ενολμος), Sitting on the Tripod

Apollon Enthryptos, of the sacred Enthryptos cake

Apollon Eupharetres (Απολλων Ευφαρετρης), Having a Beautiful Quiver

Apollon Hebdomagetes, He of the Seven; Born on the Seventh Day

Apóllon Heptaménaios, Seventh Month’s Child

Apollon Horios, He of the Boundaries

Apóllon Horomedon, Ruler of the Seasons

Apollon Hylates, He of the Grove

Apollon Karneios (Απόλλον Κάρνειος), He of the Cornel Tree; of the ram

Apóllon Khrysáoros (Απόλλον Χρυσάορος),With Sword of Gold

Apollon Khrýsokomes (Απολλων Χρυσοκομης), Golden-haired; of the golden locks

Apollon Kitharohdós (Απολλων Κιθαρωδος), Lyre-Playing Singer

Apollon Klutotoxos (Απόλλων Κλυτότοξος),  the Renowned Archer

Apollon Korynthos, of the sacred Corynthus cake

Apollon Lykeios (Απολλών Λύκειος), of the Wolf (Wolf-Slayer?); of the Light (Light Bringer?); Destroyer; Protector from Wolves; Giver of Light; Wolf God; Deliverer from Wolves; Born of Light; Born in Lycia

Apollon Lykoktonos, the Wolf-Killer; the Slayer of Wolves

Apóllon Lykos (Απόλλον Λύκος), the Wolf

Apollon Marmarinos (Απόλλων Μαρμάρινος), He of the Marble; God of Marble

Apollon Meliai, He of the Ash Trees

Apollon Myricaeus, Bearer of Heath (broom)

Apollon Nomios (Απόλλων Νόμιος), Wandering; Shepherd; Protector of pastures and shepherds

Apollon Parnópios (Απολλων Παρνόπιος), Grasshopper; Locust

Apóllon Phanaíos (Απόλλον Φαναίος), Giving or Bringing Light

Apóllon Phósphoros (Απόλλων Φώσφορος), Light-Bearer

Apollon Pýthios (Απόλλων Πύθιπς), Slayer of Python; Lord of Rot

Apóllon Sauroktonos, Lizard Slayer

Apollon Smintheios (Απολλων Σμινθευς), He of the Mice (Mouse-Catcher?); Lord of Mice; Rat Slayer; Mouse God; He of Prophetic Powers

Apollon Soranus, Guard of the Cemetery

Apóllon Spelaites, Worshipped in Grottos

Apollon Spodios, He of the Ashes; Who Receives Great Sacrifices

Apollon Thermios (Απόλλων Θέρμιος), He of the Lupine Flowers; Warm; of Thermal Waters

Apollon Thymbraios, He of the Thymbrios River; the Sender of Snakes

Apóllon Thyraeus, of the Gate/Entrance

Apóllon Toxophoros, One Who Bears a Bow

(There are so many more epithets that we haven’t covered yet.  I pulled out the ones that gave me a visual image/symbol that an artist might be able to work with easily.  Whatever your medium, please pick out the epithet(s) that speaks to how you know Him and contribute something for the devotional.)