A Day in the Life–Gandillon: polytheist and Maenad

What with the many posts about daily rituals floating around, especially at Gods Mouths 2.0, it didn’t take me long to consider it a good idea to post about my own for a couple of reasons:

  • Considering this is my own blog, there isn’t a lot about my practice detailed here so far.  Over time, that will accumulate, but I should have outlined just exactly who I am and what I do already for readers and passersby.
  • I’d like to be able to look back later and see what’s changed, because if there’s one consistent thing about my practice, it’s that it’s rarely consistent.

The only spiritual activities that are done on a daily basis in our house is worship to the five household gods throughout the day:

Ganesha and Hestia first thing upon waking, because they traditionally receive the first worship;

Ganesha1

Hestia1

Parvati at naptime after I spend some quiet time with the kids before they take their naps;

Parvati1

Dionysos’s worship comes the moment my husband is home from work and I’m free to take a temporary break from being Mommy;

Dionysos1

and Krishna before cooking dinner as a nod to my favorite myth of his – when Krishna fed the world with two scraps of food (my personal connection to that myth is at least partly due to my experience in poverty).

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I have a kind of puja basket that I use for all shrines (with the exception of Dionysos because he has his own set of ritual tools) that contains a bell, tealights, a box of rice, incense, a small hand broom that I made to sweep away ash that gets away from the incense holder, a shawl to wear for when I’m worshiping Hestia and Parvati, and my prayer beads (again, I use these for Ganesha, Krishna and Parvati while Dionysos has several different sets of prayer beads of his own).

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And, because I have no school-age children yet (and we’re contemplating homeschool when we do), my day isn’t usually very predictable. Sometimes naps are late or early, sometimes we have playdates, sometimes someone has a temper tantrum or cracks a sibling over the head with a toy while I’m in the middle of prayers.  I actually struggled with daily practice for a long time until I finally realized that daily practice does not necessitate an hour of meditation in front of each shrine daily.   When I began this daily routine, in fact, I worried about whether it was actually serving a purpose other than to frustrate me, but, after being a parent for four years, that time has finally come that I’ve accepted it: having kids changes things.  It was sweet when my daughter would stand in front of Dionysos’ shrine and talk to him in her toddler language but it was irritating when I tried to focus on mantras while she clung to my leg, whining to be picked up.  It took me longer than it should have to realize that, for a while, I was just going to accept that prayers were going to be different, or it just wasn’t going to get done.  And it had to get done.  I want my gods to know I think of them every day, even if my mind is a haze of things to do and chores to finish and projects in which I’m falling behind.

For the most part, I structure a lot of my practice around many yearly festivals and celebrations.  I find that this has worked best since I became a mother because it gives me more time to focus on the individual aspects of my faith.  My festival calendar consists almost entirely of Dionysian and Hindu celebrations, with of course many observances of natural cycles.  The Dionysian part of the calendar consists of his every historically documented, ancient festival day that I know of, but also relies heavily on Sannion’s and Dver’s personally created festivals that helped guide me years ago when I began learning about Dionysos.  I grew fond of those festivals as I used them to learn more about my god and many of them are celebrated in our house every year.  I observe certain Hindu celebrations such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Janmashtami that honor my Hindu household gods, as well as some Indian cultural celebrations that I feel have a strong connection to my faith, such as Raksha Bandhan and especially Karva Chauth.  And I celebrate certain points on the natural solar cycle (the Solstice and Equinoxes), as well as the phases of the Moon, under which I might file my celebration of Noumenia each month.

The weeks leading up to the festivals serve as time to prepare and to meditate on the upcoming festival.  Where was I last year at this time?  How does this theme tie into my life now?  Am I where I should be?  I focus on the significance of the event – what it means, what it teaches – and spend plenty of time concentrating on it.  The days leading up to the festival are usually heavy in preparation – settling the feast menu or prepping my body for a fast; buying or unpacking decorations or clearing out a space to meditate – and sometimes even setting out on an annual pilgrimage on some occasions.  As a result, my festivals are usually a very big deal and what I’m most likely to blog about because of how much focus those yearly occurrences take.

Generally speaking, with such a hectic day-to-day life, at least for the time being, this system works out best for me.

There are times when I need the presence of certain deities, and I make time for them when this happens.  There are also permanent or semi-permanent declarations of dedication I’ve made to various deities.  From time to time, when there feels a need, or when I feel particularly overwhelmed with love for my god, or when something happens in my life that brings me closer to them, I feel that need to make it a part of myself in a visual and physical way – tattoos for Dionysos (ivy on my ankle) and Parvati (a quote about being a mother near my Cesarean section scar), and a lip piercing for Ganesha (to signify his sacrifice of his tusk, broken off to write the beautiful Mahabharata, and to remind me that sometimes sacrificing something dear to you is necessary to achieve or create something greater).

Some things come and go.  If my thirteen-year-old self saw my current self dedicating so much time to the worship of the gods, she would wonder what happened to me.  Years ago, I was no polytheist – I was a witch and nothing but.  I’m currently trying to breathe some life back into that practice – I just hope I have the time.

You can read more of Gandillon’s thoughts at their blog.

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