Connecting with Ouranos, Gaia, and Pontus

So a while ago I was thinking about grounding exercises and how they often focus on connecting specifically to the element of earth, or use a four element system (five if you count spirit). While the concept of the four elements is fundamentally Greek there was also the understanding that the world was divided into three powers, Sky, Land, and Sea – Ouranos, Gaia, and Pontus. As a result of this train of thought I sat down over the course of several lunch breaks and wrote up different meditations with the goal of connecting to these powers.

Ouranos

Go somewhere you can see the sky largely unimpeded by buildings. It doesn’t matter what the weather is so long as you are comfortable. Sit down in a position you will be comfortable in for a reasonable period of time. Look up at the sky. What color is it? Are there clouds? What kind of clouds are they? Notice everything else in the sky but don’t focus on it. Focus instead on the sky itself, and focus on the air around you.
Close your eyes and feel the air moving. Note the temperature and how it changes when the wind blows across you. Notice any sounds or scents the wind carries with it. Feel the wind filling and exiting your lungs as you inhale and exhale. Your breath connects you to Ouranos. Take several deep breaths, feeing your chest rise and fall with each one.
Open your eyes and again explore the vast dome of the sky above you. There are things to be seen even in an empty sky. Think about the stars, hidden by the light of the sun but still present, the way the color of the sky shifts as the sun makes its path across, the way a total covering of clouds shifts in the air currents, find something to explore. Keep focusing on your breathing and close your eyes again.
Imagine yourself as a bird. Feel the air currents under your wings. Notice what is below you, notice how high up you are. Imagine what it feels like to almost be part of the sky, your wings holding you apart from the world below. Explore that connection to Ouranos, and hold onto it. It is part of you as well.

Gaia

Go outside and walk barefoot across the ground. Find somewhere you can comfortably sit for a reasonable period of time. Settle yourself on the ground. Pay attention to how it shifts beneath you as you move. Look around you; is the ground dry or damp or muddy, is it covered with grass and plants or is it bare and rocky? Explore the area, are there any animals or insects nearby? Are there any people? Notice them, but pay attention to the earth below you.
Close your eyes and feel the ground below you. Lay down if it helps you feel more connected. Notice how the ground feels against your skin. Notice the way your body presses against it. Explore those points of contact in your mind. Your body connects you to Gaia. Shift your body however feels comfortable, make whatever movements you need to to to explore that connection.
Open your eyes and again explore your surroundings. What plants grow here? What animals do you see and hear? What are you sharing this space with? Find something to focus on and explore how it connects to the earth. Continue to move your body however you need to and close your eyes again.
Imagine yourself as a plant. Feel your roots cradles in the earth, drawing nutrients and water from it. Imagine how it feels to be partially submerged and sheltered in the earth and reaching for the sun. Explore that connection to Gaia, and hold onto it. It is part of you as well.

Pontus

Sit near a body of water of any size, this can be anything from a lake, to a bathtub, to a glass of water. Make yourself comfortable and notice how the light in the water changes as your perspective changes. Notice what colors and shapes are reflected in the water. Is it clear, murky, silt-laden? Is there anything floating in it? What surrounds the water? Notice these things, but keep your focus on the water.
Close your eyes and listen to the sound the water makes. Pay attention to the smell of it, the feel of it on your skin if you can. Notice the way I moved, framed by the solidity if the world around it. Think about how it compares to the blood in your veins. Your blood connects you to Pontus. Focus on the beat of your heart, and envision your veins and arteries as rivers and streams.
Open your eyes again and observe the water before you. Let your mind catch on the way the light reflects off of it. Let your mind get lost in the way the images refract in it. Find some element of it to focus on and explore the flow of the water. Keep your mind on your heartbeat and close your eyes again.
Imagine yourself as a fish or other aquatic animal. Feel the way your body is surrounded by the water. Imagine the feeling of being as part of the water, feel the currents that surround you, explore them, follow them as feels right to you. Explore that connection to Pontus, and hold onto it. It is part of you as well.

These can be expanded on or shortened as you see fit. The idea here is to provide you with a framework for connecting to these energies.

One Year

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my dedication to Apollon, which seemed like a good opportunity to do some reflecting. My dedication was a small affair, myself and three friends passing bottles of wine between us up in the mountains. It was dark, and cold, and we cooked meat over an open fire and libated into a fire pit. We filled the back of a car with blankets and fake furs and huddled together until late at night, talking, trancing, and doing our best to honor Apollon with what we had.

Last night I had friends over to my house. I made roasted mushroom caps, potatoes, dirty rice, and salad. There was cider and vodka, and tiny vegan cakes. We were inside, warm, and had a fair bit more freedom of movement than was afforded by the back of the car. It was a far cry from the lonely mountainside campground I had oathed myself to him in a year ago. But that didn’t stop me from feeling him there.

I called him with an invocation that I wrote myself, full of my experiences of him and my emotions for him. I libated into a ceramic vessel consecrated to him, and I felt him standing behind me, like his hand was resting on my shoulder as I poured out to him. Even after seven straight days of work I felt energized. I felt happy, even though my depression has been making things difficult and my lover is on the other side of the country. I put on music and danced like an idiot and I felt him dancing with me. We passed around hard ciders, and sparkling apple cider spiked with vodka. We got drunk and swapped truths. It was a small group, six people at the most, winnowing down to three at the end of the night, but we were together as a community, just as much as the four of us had been a year ago.

This year has been a rollercoaster, I started a new job, moved into a new home, started a new relationship, my partner had a baby, and I’ve been offered a promotion at work. My mom was also diagnosed with MS this year, and one of my housemates has had medical difficulties. So much of this year has been overwhelming and throughout everything Apollon has stood beside me and supported me. When things got to be too much, I could turn to him knowing he would offer what support he could and that he would do what he could to ease my worries.

I am, as a person, inclined to anxiety and second guessing myself. My brain will dredge up decisions that I made in the past and remind me about all the negative consequences of those decisions. Since moving to California I’ve had less of that. I don’t regret my decision to move here, except in some of my grimmer moments. But overall this move has brought me some of the best things in my life, including my relationship with Apollon. While I worked with him before moving here, I can guarantee that he and I would not be so close if I had stayed where I was. The person I was working with at the time did little to assuage my doubts and heavily contributed to my tendency to second guess. I can say with come certainty I wouldn’t have allowed myself to believe that this relationship was even a possibility if I hadn’t moved here.

Over the past year Apollon has helped me deal with the anxiety that was slowly taking over my brain. He has supported me as I navigate all the changes this year has brought. He’s been far from my only support, but his presence has meant a lot to me in this past year. On the topic of regret, I have no regrets about my relationship with him. While it has some ups and downs, it’s like any other relationship in that sense, and I’m more than happy to put in the work to keep the relationship moving forward.

Here’s to many more years to come.

Thoughts on Selfishness

This week has been rough. I’m going to say that right off the bat. My lover has been gone for a little over a week and it sucks. Half of the state of California is on fire and even with respirator masks I still feel dried out and like I’m carrying smoke in my lungs. Also the gas in our house was off so there was no heat or hot water for half the week while we got a leak fixed. Everyone around me is stressed, I’m stressed, hell I think even our cats are stressed.

So today, while I was grumbling to myself about one annoyance or another I caught what I thought was a sense of disapproval from Apollon. Specifically I caught it on the end of me thinking I was being hella selfish and that I really ought to stop thinking only about how things were impacting me, that the people around me had their own struggles. I interpreted this as Apollon agreeing with me that I was focusing too much on myself and got back to my job. Which, appropriately enough, had me giving out Thanksgiving good bags to low income individuals today.

When I got home I sat down and apologized to Apollon about my self-centered thoughts through automatic writing since I wanted a slightly clearer channel than my muddied up thoughts. What follows is a slightly edited discourse from Apollon about selfishness that I thought it might be a good idea to share.

Thinking about yourself is not, in itself, a selfish act. Weighing how things impact you and whether or not you like that impact is not inherently selfish. If you only acted on those thoughts then, maybe, you would be selfish, but the thoughts alone do not make you selfish. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being selfish occasionally. Being selfish can help you find your center of power. Finding what drives you and what matters to you sometimes necessitates being selfish. Knowing yourself sometimes means focusing on yourself rather than others.

Being selfish once in a while doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you a person. When you work yourself to exhaustion to please and help others you also need to make time to make yourself happy.

Balance is something that comes up a lot in my conversations with Apollon. Balance and taking better care of myself. This conversation became about both. Our society puts a lot of pressure on people who are socialized as female to always be giving and to take care of other before ourselves. I’m struggling to learn that I’m allowed to take care of myself before others. Apollon is trying to teach me that lesson.

I enjoy helping people, it’s fulfilling to me. So much so that I make my living doing it. The problem with this is that between work and my home life it’s too easy to give to others until I burn myself out. Over the last few days I’ve been trying to be better about finding that balance, and telling people “No.” It helps to have Apollon around to remind me sometimes, or to nudge me with questions about whether or not I actually have the energy to do something. At the end of the day though, I need to be able to do this on my own.

Project Avatar – Part 3: Hera

In between my installations as an Avatar of Artemis both myself and J, the designated guinea pigs for this project, were simultaneously installed as Avatars of Hera. While I’m exploring working more closely with Hera, J is not. J has very little in common with Hera. Not that Hera and I are a great fit, personality-wise, but we are both devoted to family and community and this seemed like a good step for me. I’m going to tell you right now this is going to be a very short post. Neither J nor I made it even a week as an Avatar.

My experience of Hera was initially her sort of poking around in my head and figuring out how I perceive the world and how things work. She was initially very close to the fore and asking lots of questions and watching me do my job. My understanding of the experience was her observing the absolute disaster that my particular area is. I deal with staring poverty in the face and helping provide people tools to cope with it. She was, frankly, horrified at the state of things. If nothing else came of this experience Hera seemed to gain a better understanding of our reality after seeing it through my eyes.

The downside was I found myself more on edge, and more tense. I did notice more energy, but I was also more sensitive to heat and felt really on edge. We uninstalled Hera from me after 4 days.

J had similar experiences in terms of being tired and tense. He reported his hearing being off, feeling tense and edgy, and not being able to focus as well. We also uninstalled Hera from J after 4 days.

We decided that it would be best moving forward to try and keep the values and virtues of deities and mortals as close as possible after this, or to be sure we keep the installation period short. It gave Hera and I good insight into each other, but it was not necessarily an experience I would repeat.

Project Avatar – Part 2: Artemis

The second stage, and for me the current stage, of Project Avatar, was setting me up as an Avatar of Artemis. The consensus within the group was that our personalities and basic values were the most compatible.

Following the installation I noticed a significant change in my mental health. I struggle with anxiety and depression and being installed as an Avatar of Artemis seemed to have a near-instantaneous impact on my depression, significantly decreasing it, and a slower impact on my anxiety, making panic attacks less frequent and less severe. I felt more grounded and more focused following the installation as well.

I stayed installed as Artemis’s Avatar for a week, then took a break to determine if there was a way to achieve a similar impact on my mental health without having a deity plugged in to my brain. There were several experiments involving planetary and elemental forces, none of which seemed to have the same level of impact on my mental state. Working with Matial energies helped my depression on a smaller scale, and Lunar energies helped my anxiety be quieter, but did not lessen the frequency of panic attacks.

After several weeks of experiments with little impact we re-installed me as Artemis’s Avatar. The second attempt proved interesting because it seemed that Artemis was more focused on the core causes of my mental health problems, what I refer to as my brain squirrels, and she began bringing them to my attention to help me process them more efficiently. The downside to this is that when she brings them to my attention this causes them to actually manifest full-force in my brain. This process has been rocky and full of some impressive depression episodes and panic attacks, but after I’ve processed the core issue I feel significantly calmer and more at peace with myself and the contents of my own brain.

I want to make very clear that magick is not a substitute for therapy or medication. I have been through therapy and continue to take the medications I need to mediate my mental illnesses. This process and other rituals I utilize are simply tools to support medical measures and to improve my ability to cope with my mental illnesses when I’m having a bad day. Also if you are looking for a deity that will help with your mental illness I recommend looking up Apollon or Dionysos, both of whom have healing aspects. Artemis is a rather unorthodox choice and was not initially chosen to help with these issues, but simply as an experiment in the efficacy of this particular technique. That this was the outcome is an unexpected bonus.

Project Avatar: Part I – Hephaestus and Hermes

So over the course of the last few months my group has been working on an experiment to install some members as Avatars of certain Greek deities. So far we’ve worked on this project with Hephaestus, Hermes, Artemis, and Hera. For the purpose of this experiment an Avatar is an individual with a stronger than usual connection to a specific deity. The connection between the human and deity allows a bridge to form between the two, giving the deity perspective on the mortal world and allowing the human access to certain aspects of the deity’s powers. We are currently in the process of refining the technique used but so far the experiment has had some interesting results.

Our first experiment was installing one of our group as an Avatar of Hephaestus. While the basic technique was solid, the experiment brought up an interesting point. We realized that having a closer match in virtues and personality made the bond more effective. Which was especially evident when the following week, after being uninstalled as an Avatar of Hephaestus, the same member of our group was installed as an Avatar of Hermes.

This group member, we’ll call him J, reported little connection with Hephaestus following the installation. Which seemed odd given that J’s day job ties in to a majority of Hephaestus’s values and epithets. J reported more energy, but it seemed to be more based on fire in general rather than specifically tied to Hephaestus.

The following week when J was installed as an Avatar of Hermes, he related an almost immediate difference. While we had changed the technique we were using, the connection in general also seemed more vibrant. J reported feeling Hermes as more present than Hephaestus as soon as the ritual was completed. Hermes also seemed to be more invested in the process and was helping J in his daily life, though usually in a more “behind the scenes” way rather than being out in the open about it.

During the course of the experiment is seems to us that even if the connection isn’t perfect, this technique would be useful as a tool for helping people create connections to deities they want to work with more closely. Additionally, there has been talk in our group of using it as a sort of “confirmation” process for people who want to become priests for a specific deity so that there is a closer connection between the human and the deity and hopefully, therefore, less miscommunication.

While we’re continuing to nail down specifically what techniques need to be used to make this work the most efficiently, the basic structure appears to be solid. We’re also continuing to refine what the impacts for the human Avatars will be, which is essentially going to boil down to prolonged conversations with each deity and human involved.

I’m planning to make posts for each deity that we work with, as a way to keep track of my experiences and observations.

About Me

I am a Hellenic polytheist, specifically a Hellenic revivalist. Meaning that I work with the Greek gods but am not seeking to recreate the ancient religion but rather I’m looking to build on the old structures that exist and make something that works for the modern day. My practice is relational, meaning it’s more about how I interact with my deities than anything else. It’s built on a lot of UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) and some group Gnosis built with the people I work with, although I do draw heavily from the mythology, epic poems, and hymns as well. For me, interacting with my gods is like interacting with my friends. The things that I do for them are based on a relationship of mutual respect and friendship. I do them because they ask me as a favor, as a friend. And because there is reciprocity in our relationship, I know that I can turn around and ask a favor of them when push comes to shove.

While I am on good terms with most of the pantheon, I work primarily with a select few. Namely Apollon, Artemis, Athena, Hermes, and Hera. I spend most of my time with Apollon and Athena. Though Hera is gaining some significant footholds lately, and I’m in the process of expanding my work with her. These are deities that have worked with me through difficult times and I have a great deal of affection for all of them. What my practice boils down to in the end is love over obedience. I often call out my deities when they make poor decisions and I believe that they have the ability to change their behavior and learn from their mistakes. They’re not trapped in the myths that defined them in Ancient Greece, any more than humanity is trapped by it’s own past. My experience of them has been one of individuals working to avoid past mistakes and learning how to exist in the modern world. As someone who works with them, I believe that my part includes helping them figure out how to do that.