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Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice in ADF, Question 4, Entry 4

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Week beginning 09/04/06 - Reaffirming

It is particularly surprising when you realize just how deep the connection between your religious self and your altar is.

This week, I surprised myself, deeply. My altar has always been intimately mine. Every item on it was chosen by me, and only one piece was not purchased by me (and that only because I could not afford it on my own).

I have never been able to graciously accept a gift intended for my altar (with the exception noted above). The home shrine is, to me, a deep expression of one's personal religion, the domestic cult that cannot be understood, affected, or offered to by anyone outside the personally-defined "domestic."

But on Monday, I was thinking about a conversation with Erien, one that involved locating patrons and hearth cultures. The goddess Epona had come up for her, and I suddenly realized that I had something that might help her.

My home shrine includes a representation of Epona, and it felt not only right, but proper for me to send her the statue on my altar, to give her a chance to see if a connection occurred.

I emailed Erien that night, asking her to call me. Sending someone an altar piece is not something that should ever be done without first discussing it in person (or as close to "in person" as you can get) because altars are such deeply personal things. I also didn't want to put her into a position of not being able to ask questions and get answers immediately.

When she called me the next day and asked me why I wanted her to call, I told her about the statue.

"I'd like to send her to you," I said.

It was that sentence, after I hung up, that would cause such a deep change in my practice.

She accepted, and I said I'd send her soon.

After we said our goodbyes, I thought about the conversation. It had happened during work with a coworker hovering behind me, waiting to ask a question. It had been hurried, quickly executed, and not overly thought through at the time.

But thinking on it, the above-quoted phrase stood out. The gendered pronoun, included in such an off-hand and simple manner, spoke deeply to me. I now saw my relationship with the statue, so superficial and representational before, as a deeper meaningful relationship with a deity.

Epona, I now realized for the first time, has always been within that statue. She was not represented, symbolized, or offered to through the statue.

She was indwelling.

My altar has suddenly become far more important to me in the past week, and all because of a single phrase spoken off-hand over the phone. "I'd like to send her to you."

So now that I seek to send a goddess cross-country instead of a statue, I find myself wondering how to do this.

As I was considering options, I thought back to my class on Greek religion, and the mention of goddess statues being taken down to the waters and bathed. I thought about idea of Poseidon being "away in Ethiopia" in the Illiad. I realized that I was going to be thinking about Epona as "away in Texas."

I started thinking about prayers for Epona, and spent the week seeking to a) write a prayer to say for the newly empty space on my altar, and b) to write a prayer for Erien to say while Epona is in Texas.

As I thought about this over the next couple of days, I continued my devotionals. On Wednesday, I made the following prayer at my altar:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Today, integrity
To be who I am
To know what I want
To speak with my won truth
To show the world myself.

On Wednesday, I also started really writing the prayers for Epona. Cei's A Book of Pagan Prayer was helpful, particularly catching my eye with a horse prayer on page 86 and the prayer for military fliers. I also thought to pack her with rose petals.

Thursday, I wrote up the prayer I wanted to use for the empty space.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Epona, Great Queen and Horse-goddess
You who protects us and guides us to victory
You have traveled far and swift
But are never gone from my heart

You are remembered here
Your place upon my altar empty
your place within my heart shrine
Forever full of love.

I also wrote the prayer for sending Epona off.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I send you because I love you
I pray you will hold her
As you have held me.

Finally, on Friday, I wrote the prayer for Epona that I would send to Erien to be said each day. As I have thought about it, it's more of a start than a finish, but it's a good spot to start.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I light your candle
Make offerings to you
And stand before you humbly.

Protect me this day
No matter how fast I travel
No matter the distances covered
No matter who I encounter

Guide me, protect me, nurture me.

I chose to tend the prayer with "esti" because I felt the need to close with a Gaulish word. "Esti" was the best option I could think of.

Speaking the prayer for the first time on Sunday, after thinking about it for a few days, I noticed it certainly needed some work, but it worked well for me nonetheless.

This week has been amazing and deeply religious for me. The challenges and opportunities afforded by this week's events are unlike any I have encountered before, and I look forward to seeing how they play out over the next few weeks.

I'll send Epona to Texas next week.

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