This is a shrine update post. If you haven’t followed this blog for a while: One year into the pandemic, I finally decided to hang the wall shelf cubby that I have had since college and that usually just sits as a prop on a shrine for items. The purpose was to make a professional shrine by my desk. For orientation purposes, I use a drafting chair with a bar-height table as my desk, and it is positioned on the wall just above where the drafting chair goes when I am not using it.
In the original post, I said that I didn’t know how the shrine would evolve. Truthfully, some elements were not quite right, and while it was good to pray there before and after work, I was having a “scope creep” issue — I pray to these Gods for creative projects, so why was it just about professional life when everything about my life seems to involve words? (Words seem to be my hyle.) When onsite work resumed, I wasn’t praying at it every day before work anymore because I was rushing out the door three days each work week, and at home, sometimes I was so stressed that — like with meditation — I put off praying at it to “feel productive,” which wasn’t productive at all.
Today, I cleaned it, and I made a few changes.
After everything was all set up, I rang the bell twice and prayed. I offered River Path incense and filtered water. I read a prayer. I rang the bell twice again when I was done and let the scent of the incense infuse my living space. It’s such a delightful incense blend, and I offer it sparingly because it’s expensive.
Let’s talk about the changes.
First, I felt uncomfortable that Mnemosyne wasn’t represented.
Second, after a weird experience on Etsy yesterday, I am investigating Belesama (spelled Belisama more often, but epigraphically, it’s Bηλησαμα, and that feels more correct), a Gaulish Goddess. I was browsing Etsy yesterday to look for a gift for my new stepfather or whatever he’s called given that I’m an adult already (my mom got remarried on Zoom in November). My mom said he plays bass and likes meditation, and he just joined her coven, so I was looking at a variety of things. Along the way, I started looking at agalmata and prayer beads, both for Gods I worship and those I don’t. I opened things up in tabs and was browsing. I looked at some prayer beads for Belesama at one point because they looked pretty and went to another tab.
Chrome, at that point, started to freak out. I only had eight or nine tabs open (my limit is twelve; I get anxious with more) and every other Etsy page I was browsing started trying to reload, then turned into the x_x Gray Chrome Death icon. Only the page with prayer beads for Belesama was working. I tried reloading the other pages, wondering if my Internet had suddenly stopped working. And then I went back to the tab that was working. I pressed Add to Cart and suddenly, everything was working again. It was a weird experience, and one that belonged in a pagan sitcom, so I started laughing. I looked up a bit of info about Belesama and found out that she’s often syncretized to Minerva and Athene, but with more solar and light stuff going on. It made sense then. One of the eerie things I’ve got going on is that I learned two years ago that most Hellenic deities I worship closely (due to fondness and/or UPG) are Gods who were syncretized to Roman deities who were syncretized to three or four deities in the part of France my paternal family is from. (My maternal family is Scandi, and curiously, I relate to my mom’s side a bit more.) It’s uncomfortable for several reasons to have realized this, but the pattern keeps persisting. But the immediate result of yesterday is that I am exploring praying to Belesama now.
When I don’t have it in my budget, or if I just don’t like any of the icons out there, or when I don’t have the space, or when I don’t worship a God enough to investigate a more intricate icon, I use the names of Gods instead. As I have mentioned before on this blog, I came up with this very early on in my adulthood based on reading that names inscribed on sacrificial altars were extremely important for signaling who the sacrifice was for. In my youth, it was harder to find agalmata in the United States, and especially at my college-student-followed-by-recent-grad price point, so I wrote Gods’ names on clean popsicle sticks with colorful pens that I found around the home. Briefly after I shared this on my old blog, someone who liked the idea was selling something similar on Etsy, which was nice, as it made me feel useful. People are welcome to take this concept and do what they like with it, to be honest. I’m not an artisan. I’ve thought about commissioning wood-burnt name sticks eventually because they’re less prone to water bleeding.
This time, I got out some paper, markers, pens, and a ruler. I am out of popsicle sticks, so I cut some stationery in the vague shape of bookmarks. I made guiding lines with the ruler and a pencil, then wrote out the names. You can see in the God-sticks above that I have some images on them, too — for example, Persephone’s stick has a pomegranate and three seeds on it, Helios’ has a sun, and Hephaistos’ has a suggestion of fire.
To Mnemosyne’s, I added the suggestion of water and a few bright (neon yellow) stars reflected in it, an image that many may remember from Acts of Speech. If I were fancy and enjoyed crafting, I would have bought black paper and those bright inks that show up on it, as it would have made the effect look nicer. For Belesama, who is associated with light and water, I added the suggestion of a stream and a few suns. I pasted them to the wall within the cube with washi tape that has laurel branches on it. I usually use washi tape to seal letters to friends and family because it’s fun and colorful, does not involve me licking an envelope, and they come in cool patterns. It’s also sticky without being damaging to walls. The effect? I had some nice, inexpensive focal point images for prayer. In this case, it’s also useful for exploratory worship.
And I feel optimistic and better about this shrine now. I know how I plan to pray at it, and nobody is missing.