Looking Back at January

As I write this, snow is making dappled patterns on my windows as clumps catch in the screen while the wind blows and heaves outside. It’s an exciting close to a month that has gone well, a time of renewed and deepening connections to the Gods, and a time in which I have honed in on the goals that matter to me for the first quarter of the year.

During the first week of January, I started using an app called Fabulous to work on some bad habits. On my religious blog, I rarely talk in detail about my bad habits, but one reason I gave up coffee in favor of green tea is that I’m prone to racing thoughts, and coffee just couldn’t stay part of my days with everything going on right now — I have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, and managing inputs is very important to me for having good quality of life. This is another reason I’m taking social media breaks on weekends and reorienting towards more “broadcasting” activities on weekdays when I do use it. Fabulous is a useful (and notification-annoying in a good way) app for driving me to deal with correcting some things that I would place in the “habitual virtues” arena, like actually exercising in the morning, getting quality sleep, being realistic about task prioritization during the workday, and managing bad-habit triggers.

One thing the Fabulous App asked me to do this week was to select two larger project goals to work on — no more, no less. I have eight creative projects going on outside of work, and at work, I have two or three this fiscal year that are outside of what I would consider my routine work tasks. It’s a lot to juggle. Picking two — one personal creative project and another work-oriented one — to focus on until partway through March was a good step for me.

The app asked me to say why I wanted to do things. The personal project I chose was to churn out is The Soul’s Inner Statues, the open access-licensed resource I’m working on so people can go through a useful orientation to worshipping Gods — a lot of which comes from blog posts I’ve written over the years and practical experience I’ve gleaned over time. Working through the why of the project this week led me to realize that the reason I’m doing this is to have closure. I’m tired of how Western polytheistic communities online have fused with the Influencer Era, and finishing this will allow me to check out in good faith.

In life, we rarely have opportunities for closure — Plato’s Laws is left on the wax, Keats’ Hyperion incomplete — so it can be very fulfilling to take such opportunities when they present themselves. I want people who work through the chapters of this open access project to come away empowered to do their own practice without feeling like they have to become a follower of a person — we are each in the series of a God, and people who clout themselves up based on having that and that alone are gunning for followers. Being connected to a God is like breathing. Yes, we often forget how to breathe properly as we grow older, and it’s useful to have someone teach us and remind us of proper breathing techniques (credentials, after all, are the acknowledged possession of this knowledge — definitely not an exclusive relationship with a God). However, the potential to have a healthy and deep relationship with the Gods — who are as naturally present to our souls as air is to our bodies — is available to anyone willing to put in effort.

“Check out” and “closure” here mean a sort of death and rebirth — leaving behind a phase of my life that should be let go, followed by bringing forth more of what I want. In my public presence, I want to refocus on poetry, (obviously) continue to gush about Plato, hang out with Friends of the Forms, and find parasocial peace. Privately, I want to deepen that state that sometimes happens in prayer when everything seems to slip away and become indescribable and beautiful, like slipping across an event horizon where the God’s eyes are ever-following and one has the sense that one is bare. Checking out, and leaving that work of closure for others to use without staying tied to it, is a good way to avoid creating the very kind of cult of personality I want to avoid and to ensure that I prioritize what matters. What matters is knowing that, when I pray to Apollon for his assistance in guiding me through the ladder of virtues, and when I pray to the creative, intellectual, and professional Gods I hold dear to find truth, fulfill my obligations excellently, and express light-scattered fire in the best way possible, that I am making my best efforts to make these aspirations a reality, taking the lesson of Aesop’s “The Shipwrecked Man and Athena” to heart.

Currently, the project is in a private repo on GitHub. I don’t have GitHub pro, so I can’t show deep stats, but here’s my commit history — it’s a bit skewed because often, the lighter-colored commits are times when I’ve written out a bigger chunk of material, and I don’t do commits every day. I’m going to make the repo public once I’m ready to share the initial work in March, and I’ll give it a few months on GitHub before I do revisions, bundle it up in ePub, and figure out how to do an at-cost print-on-demand book for people who prefer something solid.

Otherwise, I’ve found praying to Belesama to be fruitful and nourishing in a way I had not anticipated, but probably should have given the circumstances in which I came across her, although Apollon will always be central. Driven by childhood nostalgia, I’ve been praying to Ourania more over the past two or three weeks. The fact that I view Apollon in such a cosmos-oriented way, with novel epithets related to black holes and singularities and spacetime and the harmonization of everything that interweaves like streams, and my childhood fascination with that Muse are probably related. I’m planning to make my own prayer beads for Ourania soon, as most prayer bead sellers use crystals, and I’ve long felt awkward and wrong about some of the ethics. I found some beads made of river-stones and just ordinary tumbled and shaped rock, which are less likely to be a byproduct of modern mining slavery. Honestly, over the past two years, I feel like I’ve been shedding layers of accumulation from years of toxicity in recon communities I’m no longer in, and with the shedding of that weight is a lightness of being.

I bought a Perjohan bench from IKEA that has, no joke, been the only furniture purchase I have ever made that I am truly thrilled about. It’s so practical.

It has a handhold to be taken wherever it’s needed, and I’ve been using it as a place to sit during some contemplations after prayer or doing some types of prayer bead recitations — specifically the one I give to the Gods of holy wisdom, Οἰγνύσθω ψυχῆς βάθος ἄμβροτον· ὄμματα πάντα ἄρδην ἐκπετάννυμι ἄνω. (Let the immortal depths of my soul be opened; may all eyes stretch wholly upward on high.) I use the buckwheat hull meditation cushion when I give prayer beads to Apollon at the second-shelf shrine, usually Βίος Βίος Ἀπόλλων Ἀπόλλων Ἥλιος Ἥλιος Κόσμος Κόσμος Φῶς Φῶς. I find it so lovely and perfect that he’s the second part of the Truthy Triad (the life position), and this chant starts out with that, and the whole thing contains fractally anything I could ever say.

And a new agalma came in from Greece after waiting for over a month. Someone posted something on Twitter months and months ago showing a new shrine image he had put up for the twelve major Phaedrus/Olympian Gods. I loved it and went to the Statuescrafts Etsy shop, where I found a portrait version of the image in a smaller size that is much more suitable for the amount of space I have. For months, I held off on getting it, but splurged during the holidays. There’s a bit of this that wasn’t painted well (a bit of paint dribbled off of Hestia’s clothing during the painting process, it seems), but it’s been a powerful focal point, and I can always get that little bit fixed. My girlfriend worked in art restoration (albeit paper) for a bit and is great at color matching, so I’ll probably ask her at some point.

To get it to fit, I had to move some things around. I really love how the organization worked out and don’t know why I didn’t move the Athene and Hermes agalmata sooner. I dedicated the image by lighting a stick of frankincense, and I recited the part from “Prayer to All of the Gods III” about the twelve Gods in the Phaedrus.

Finally, I’ve been listening to a few songs on repeat because they seem very fitting.

  • “The Last Exit” and “Mystery Road” by Still Corners (journey songs)
  • “Pray” by Hælos (are we on the ascent or descent?)
  • “Sky Blue” by Peter Gabriel (so, so Phaedrus)
  • “Bones of Man” by Equador (very soul’s journey)
  • “Growing Up” by Peter Gabriel (the part about the soul acknowledging they chose a life just kind of haunts me?)

Have a good end to January, and may February bring you happy things.

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