Four Drops of Bay Oil

four drops of bay oil
three together, the fourth
circling as they twisted
smaller circle inspiralling
until they pressed
in contact
like prayer humming
within the mind
light descending

When I prayed this morning, the drops of bay oil I gave to Apollon caught the light, three grouped together, the fourth alone. I watched the smaller bit inspiral until they were touching and was struck by how much it reminded me of what I have been reading about prayer in Proclus and what I had once read about prayer and contact with the Gods in Iamblichus — specifically the idea of drawing close to a God, with prayer a journey made tangible, utilizing what has been sown here in the cosmos to successfully uncover and center the ever-persistent link we have to the Gods or a God. The bay oil thing was a beautiful occurrence, and it grounded me while I used Apollon’s prayer beads to give the familiar sequence of words to him. (I was grateful for it because I had been having an off few days during prayer when I didn’t feel a strong connection because my insides were all restlessness and no steadiness or focus, which is something that happens to all of us at times.)

After praying, it got me thinking of something else — from Hinduism and yoga, not from Hellenic sources (and/or Hellenistic Polytheistic Syncretism) and Platonism. There’s a section of the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali as translated by Bryant in which he goes into a story about an ascetic who had successfully done asceticism by gradually drawing inward and cutting himself off. Then, he accidentally saw two fish copulating, and it awakened the repressed desires within him. The story (if I recall correctly) was being used to illustrate that such things need to be dealt with; otherwise, it’s very easy for the old thought patterns to be reactivated. There’s also a positive sense of reactivating old thought patterns in that happenstance occurrences can remind us of good thought patterns, like recalling previous devotional experiences or seeing something that brings to mind an exceptionally moving and beautiful passage from people discussing the Gods. This is what was at play this morning, and I still feel warm and fuzzy inside from it.

Anyway. Those are just some quick thoughts. I’m planning another Commonplace Book post that will get into some of what I’ve been reading in Proclus, so stay tuned. 😇

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