[Prayer] Blessed are the hands

Blessed are the hands that do Your work –

The work of healing, the work of justice, the work of reconciliation.

 

Blessed are the hearts open to Your words –

Open to beauty, open to grace, open to divine inspiration.

 

Blessed are the heads lifted in Your song –

A song of joy, a song of sorrow, a song of love unending.

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A Prayer for Epiphany

This is another work inspired by the Otherfaith, this time by a spirit named Epiphany. When I started mucking about with Otherfaith mythology two weeks ago the first to catch my eye was the story 5169814 to Epiphany. I’m sure this is in no small part thanks to the alphabetizing of the myths, but I like to think serendipity played a role here too. Epiphany is a spirit who had once been bound by her role in life, literally known only by a string of numbers. She was born a Book Keeper, a type of spirit who eventually dedicates their lives to one particular subject area in the Library and no other. Epiphany was unable to choose and her wonder at all the knowledge in all the worlds lit up every neuron in her brain in a fiery maelstrom. The shame she had felt at not fitting in, at not being able to be a “good” Book Keeper and being shunned by her siblings, was burned away in her immolation. From the ashes rose Epiphany as we know her today – spirit of all knowledge, information, and chance, Lady of the House of Books (sorry, Seshat!) and kind patron of writers and misfits.

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Mallory Speaks

The following poem is under a cut for two reasons: I wanted to explain a bit of context, and there are some trigger warnings associated with its content that my readers should know about.

The spirit Mallory is a being associated with the Otherfaith, a modern polytheistic religion featuring new gods and new spirits. Though I don’t have extra time or spoons in my life right now for devotional practices – perhaps evidenced by my lack of regular updates to this blog recently – I have been helping my friend Aine get the Otherfaith wiki fleshed out. I’m a librarian-in-training and score pretty highly on verbal/linguistic intelligence tests; both of these mean that I love organizing information and making it accessible for myself and others. While I don’t have space right now for prayers and offerings, I do have space for writing wiki pages, analyzing myths, and picking Aine’s brain about all the random minutia involved with the Otherfaith.

I’ve enjoyed getting involved even tangentially because there’s a sense of play and relaxation in understanding the Otherfaith gods that I don’t easily get with other “established” pantheons. At some point I’d like to write about my tangled relationship with The Lore, my gods, and the Pagan/polytheist communities at large. The Otherfaith – being small and new – doesn’t have the same hangups I’ve found with other expressions of my Paganism. Now, one potential downside for myself is that since the Otherfaith is so new, that the direct experience of interacting with gods and spirits seems to be of utmost importance. Despite stylizing myself as a devotional polytheist, I’ve written before on my own troubles hearing/sensing/whatever the gods, including my own Beloved. (Is it because of how I’m wired? Is it because I’m hung up on the idea of “not having a good godphone”? Who knows!)

For me, learning about the Otherfaith has meant reading the myths, curating Pinterest boards for the gods, and playing with mythological fanfiction in my head. Approaching the Otherfaith like a new fandom has done wonders both for my anxiety about “getting it right” and for incorporating these new divine characters into my headspace. I’ve had a few flashes of these deities over the past few weeks: the Dierne, god of pleasure, manifesting as I ate a particularly decadent dessert, and the Clarene, protector of the West and associated with (among other things) medical equipment, who along with Loki kept me calm during my wisdom teeth extraction yesterday. Perhaps this was in recognition of me learning Their myths and thus reaching out to Them; perhaps it’s only in my wishful-thinking head; perhaps that distinction doesn’t matter.

My first contribution to the Otherfaith is a poem for the spirit Mallory. Mallory is an inherently solitary spirit, though I do not think she’d consider herself lonely. She was rejected by her mother Lyra at birth and is connected to the river/goddess Ophelia, known for her melancholy and grief-stricken nature. Mallory’s touch turns all things to death, decay, or rust, and because of this the other beings in the West (the homeland of the Otherfaith) violently reject her. Because of her inherently destructive nature, she’s known as “the calamity of the West” and bides her time in the waters of the Ophelia.

Something that struck me about this spirit’s myths – found here and here – is that Mallory is described as being totally sure of herself. She does not question her own nature, nor does she apologize for it. She does not attempt to be anything other than who she is, exactly. And while her nature is destructive, it is others’ unwillingness to accept Mallory that cause conflict. Death and decay and rot are completely normal parts of life. They are part of the life cycle and without them the world would be overrun with boundless, unchecked growth. Mallory is entropy and rust, the natural breakdown of our bodies after death, the decay that must happen if life is to continue. Things cannot continue as they are now. This is something we must accept with grace and dignity if we are to live life authentically and unafraid. Otherwise we are deluding ourselves and others, and delusion is, at best, a warped mirror through which we view life – and at worst, an excuse to bludgeon reality and those that get in our way for not adhering to our own whim and fancy.

In lieu of all that, I offer the following poem for Mallory. There are trigger warnings for imagery around violence and decay including entomophoba (fear of insects), mysophobia (germs), thanatophobia (dying), necrophobia (dead things), and hemophobia (blood). A lot of these things at one point or another viscerally bother me, so writing this poem was an exercise in confronting that which is discomforting and hard to embrace. Feedback is very, very appreciated! You might also be interested in my Pinterest page for Mallory or her page on the Otherfaith wiki.

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Sunrise Goddess

I see You in the early hours of the morning when I wake up before my alarm

Or when I roll over and hit the snooze button one too many times

Or when I wake up unable or unwilling to get back to sleep

When the house is cool and dark

When the light through the shades is still watery, weak

When darkness pulls back from the land like a lover

Reluctant to leave the warm embrace of her beloved

Soft and slow, taking its own sweet time

Dawn begins its careful ascent above the tops of the mountains

My mountains

Peaks long since rounded and softened with the weariness of age

Trees catching the golden light one leaf at a time

 

You are the scalding coffee and the sizzle of bacon

The bright sunshiney eggs and the tiny furry head

Belonging to the not so tiny dog (not anymore, at least)

Who rests her head in my lap hoping for a scrap or two

Or six or six dozen

Thoughtfully dropped from my breakfast plate

You are the morning paper and the rumble of school buses

The chorus of birdsong that speaks in a language of territory

And mating and family and migration and life

 

You are the diurnal insects beginning to stir with life-giving

UV rays finally spilling down into our valley

Lighting up the flowers like neon signs

You are the little brown bats returning to their roosts

Softly chirruping to each other as they settle in barns

Steeples and attics and rafters and belfries

You are the luna moth and the firefly 

Curled up now in safety until the return of the moon

 

You are the glorious warmth of the heavens

The riot of life even in the middle of winter

The force that turns the flowers to the sun

You are the ripening of the dogwood berries

The long-awaited frost on the pumpkin

The morning glories and hummingbird bush

Curled happily along lampposts and wheelbarrows

In a haphazard spill of color and scent

 

You are my cup of coffee doing battle

With sleep still nipping at my heels

You are the whisper of a dream-fueled haze

Pushing me across the threshold of my home

And into the startlingly clear light of day.

Prayer for Apollon

I wrote this prayer as gratitude and in payment for an oracle given to me by Camilla over at Foxglove and Firmitas. My experience with Apollon is fairly limited (thought certainly worth its own post at some point), though I continually find myself thankful for how His children, spouses, and devotees seem to keep cropping up in my life.

This prayer is specifically licensed through Creative Commons to allow anyone to use, modify, and/or share the text so long as they also allow others the same privilege and so long as credit eventually comes back to me. This is my gift for Apollon and His people, whoever they may be.


Sweet Apollon, I lift to you a breath of thanks
I bask in Your holy light and terrible love
There is trembling and fear in Your presence
Quickly morphing to barely understood awe.

Brother to Artemis, may Your aim strike true
Your archer’s form is pure perfection
As You nock Your arrow, draw swiftly back,
And let fly beneath all the glory of Helios.

Son of Leto, Your care is both tender and bold
May Your heart comfort us within Your embrace
Just as the Aegean lapped softly against
The shores of Delos, isle of Your birth.

Smintheus and Parnopios, You are pure
You are a thousand times pure; is it any wonder
That bringers of healing so often command
The powers of plague and pestilence as well?

Akesios, Maleatas, You tend to humanity’s wounds
Stitching up what is torn asunder, setting bones
Stirring white blood cells to action, encouraging
Society’s healers to good works and good deeds.

You are Alexikalos and Apotropaios
Nothing sullied or uncouth is within Your sight
As you destroy specters, monsters, disease
So too do You banish and turn away evil.

As Kitharodos You are the Singer to the Lyre
Play us a haunting tune, a calming melody
We seek You in cadence, rhythm, and rhyme
Come to us in the brilliance of Your music.

Pythian, may You always inspire and confound
You slew the rotting serpent at this holy site
Here, Your sacred precinct, where You now
Protect the omphalos, navel of Gaia Herself.

Sweet Apollon, I lift to you a breath of thanks
Illuminate my soul, play to me Your lyre’s tune
Cast evil and sickness from my body, that I may be
Worthy of even a glimmer of Your light.

 

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A Flamekeeper’s Prayer

I’ve toyed with the idea of having set prayers to say at the beginning of each Flamekeeping shift for Brighid. The Clann Bhride Book of Hours includes prayers of offering and flamelighting prayers in its Daily Devotionals section, and these prayers are lovely. However, there’s just something special about jotting down your own words (and, if you’re like me, doodling all sorts of things in the margins). Though it’s not my shift yet I wrote this prayer last night; feedback on either content or style is always welcome.

 

Image

 

(Image from CelticJackalope.com)

 

 

Lady of Mercy, of Judgment, of Right,

Priestess of Sunrise, Queen of the Dawn,

Exalted High One, Fiery Arrow,

Grand Illuminator, hear my prayer.

 

I pledge to you from sundown to sundown:

A share of my focus, my worship, my grace;

A sacrifice of my finite time and energies;

A voluntary warding of Your sacred flame.

 

In return I would seek to know You more.

I would sharpen my senses toward Your presence.

I would draw closer as Your heart’s beloved.

I would have the honor of serving You, my Lady.

 

Hail Brighid, three sisters in one!

Hail Brighid, guardian of the well!

Hail Brighid, keeper of the flame!

Hail Brighid! Hail Brighid! Hail Brighid!