What does a Sannion do?

So it looks like the next big debate is going to be all about piety and devotion. Specifically some people feeling that other people think they’re more pious than the rest and others insisting that they can be devout without actually having to do anything at all.

Yeah … this should be a super productive conversation. No way at all for that to engender misunderstanding and antagonism, right?

But one cool thing I’ve already seen come out of it is people sharing a day in the life of their devotional practice.

I don’t really consider myself all that pious or devout. When I spend more time masturbating than I do actually worshiping the gods and spirits it’d be kind of absurd for me to think that.

But I’ll play along and share what a good day of devotion is like for me. Obviously things are quite different when I’ve got a big formal observance such as the handful of holy days and festivals I keep each month or when I’m doing an oracular session, but I’ll have to save an account of what those days are like for another time. This is just a good devotional day and you should also keep in mind that I normally only have two or three of these a week so I’m not really bragging here. When it reaches the point where I’m doing this every single day and go far deeper than I do now, then I’ll have a reason to pat myself on the back. I’m also not doing this to make myself seem better than you. I already know that I’m better than you. I’m Sannion and you’re not, case closed. What you should be asking is not “How do I compare to Sannion?” but rather, “How can I do better than I have in the past?”

So … I walk through the door around six thirty in the morning, exhausted and reeling from the banal horrors I was witness to during my shift at the convenience store. I strip off my vest and toss it in the corner, eager to be rid of the associations and constraints on my identity that come with wearing it. I take a couple moments to breathe and center myself in the presence of my gods and spirits — whose representations cover most of the available space in my modestly-sized apartment. I turn the computer on so that it can warm up while I prepare my breakfast and then I eat and wind down by checking my e-mail and the assortment of polytheist and arts and culture blogs that I follow. If it’s a spiritual emergency or something I can whip off a quick response to I’ll answer it at this time, but most serious stuff has to wait until I’m more collected. I chat with Dver and Galina a bit, usually about developments in our relationships with our respective gods and spirits or various upcoming rituals or festivals we’re planning or the artistic projects we’re working on at the moment. And then I get offline to putter around my apartment for a while.

I’ll listen to music, watch a movie or read one of the books from the stack I’ve always got checked out of the library. (Usually some kind of academic study of ancient Greek and Roman religion or some obscure aspect of folk Christianity, though I also read plenty of graphic novels and Italian literature.) By ten or eleven I’m usually ready to crash and so ask Spider and Hermes to send me a dream if there’s anything they wish to communicate to me. Then I masturbate and pass out in a stupor.

Around four or five in the evening I usually get up, have lunch, check my mail, decide I’m still not in the proper headspace to answer the serious e-mails (if it takes me more than two weeks to get back to you you should be honored as it shows how highly I value your communication) and then I do some random searches on Google and Youtube of things related to my gods and spirits. This often results in a couple posts here at The House of Vines. By then I’m usually in a pretty open state so I get up and make some simple offerings at Dionysos’ shrine. I light some candles and incense and pour out wine and beer or else water and tea if I happen to be out of alcohol. I pray to him with spontaneous words from the heart or just hail him by a bunch of his epithets if I’m not feeling particularly creative at the moment. If someone has asked me to pray on their behalf or do divination for them, I do so at this time. Then I either put on one of my carefully chosen playlists or let the music go on random so that he can help influence the mood. And then I just spend some freeform time basking in his presence. Sometimes I’ll just sit there meditating or thinking about one of his myths or aspects. Sometimes I’ll get up and dance or just move to the music, clumsy and childlike but relishing my own embodiment. Sometimes I’ll read a book or watch a movie that seems thematically relevant. Sometimes I’ll do more research online or go back to reading one of my books or make some more posts to the blog. Sometimes if I’ve got them I’ll ingest strange mind-altering substances.

After a couple hours of this I start to feel restless and cooped up, so I’ll gather my stuff and go out for a walk. I don’t usually have a firm destination in mind — I prefer to go where the spirit carries me. That can be down by the river or the woods at the base of Skinner Butte or to one of the parks where I do the majority of my writing or a winding, surreal trek through unfamiliar parts of my city. I’m at my best when I’m on the go and that’s often when I do my more intense magic and worship. As I begin the walk I try to put myself into a light, trancelike state where I’m open and receptive to the spiritual currents around me. I try to feel the flow and let it guide my steps to where I need to go. As I’m walking I greet all of the gods and spirits of my pantheon and listen to see if they have anything particular to tell me. I also hail them when I pass places where I’ve had important encounters with them in the past or in the case of the various land and city spirits I honor, when I approach where they live. I also call to mind all of the previous festivals that have been celebrated in these locations, which helps open me up more and feel connected to them.

I mentioned that I try to listen for any message they might have — but listen is perhaps too simple a word for this process. While it’s true that I sometimes hear their voices in my head or that they will communicate to me through the rotation of songs on my iPod or even that I’ll catch a random sentence from passersby that was clearly meant as an answer to some question I put to my gods or spirits, there are plenty of other ways for them to get their point across. I am always on the lookout for signs from them in graffiti or on billboards or things dropped on the ground. Sometimes I’ll catch a whiff of something on the air that will remind me of one of them or I’ll run into one of the animals or birds or plants associated with them and sometimes it’s very subtle and internal like I’ll feel a shift in my emotions or my thoughts will keep returning to a particular image or concept that when I follow up on it later usually reveals something significant about them. Signs like this are everywhere if you know how to look for them and though they may not mean a whole lot individually when they start piling up with a statistically improbable regularity you get the picture eventually. And sometimes they are ridiculously direct like when I found a little spider doll stuck in a tree wearing a Harlequin costume with its head torn off or when I heard Ariadne say, “Take up my ball, fool” and then I came home and found a ball of yarn lying in a pile of leaves outside my apartment. You don’t have to be a sensitive mystic type to figure out that something like that is more than a meaningful coincidence. Assuming that I’ve got to go into work later that night and I haven’t been struck with creative inspiration — which is often a side-effect of these altered states of consciousness — I usually wrap my meandering stroll up after an hour or two and head home. I often stop off at a store to pick up more offerings which I either leave in various places along the riverfront park or I set them up on Dionysos’ shrine when I get home.

I usually relax for a bit at that point — checking my mail and feed reader one last time — and gradually try to shift into convenience store mindset. Sometimes the transition isn’t swift or significant enough and I spend the first couple hours of my shift in an altered state saying weird stuff and doing things to mess with my customers’ perceptions and expectations. I especially like to play odd and devotional music for my gods and spirits or have the same song on endless repeat, which creates a different sort of altered experience for me and anyone who lingers too long in the store. I try to feel out what I should say and do for these people and have found some very peculiar and meaningful things come out of my mouth as a result. A couple times I’ve had a customer come back and credit something that was said to them (which I usually don’t have any memory of later on) with helping them to realize something or make an important change in their life. I also try to remain on the lookout for signs and messages from my gods and spirits during the shift because they can find a way through even in such a terrible and mundane environment. The other night I had a sketchy looking traveler kid from California, with even sketchier looking mutt in tow, ask me for a smoke while I was standing outside admiring the four day old crescent moon. “Sorry man, I’m running real low.” I told him. “Besides, I hate people and don’t practice charity.” He laughed and said, “But would you give me a cigarette if I were a god?” “Of course,” I grinned back. “Then give me one, because I’m a god in disguise!” So I pulled one of my cloves out and handed it over, saying “You deserve this for effort alone.” That’s the kind of shit that happens to you when you’re paying attention. A lot of the time even though I try to cultivate this open awareness nothing significant happens or all I pick up on is random, meaningless “astral junk” but it’s still important to make that effort because the more you’re paying attention the more you’ll notice.

And that’s what a low-grade devotional day is like for me.

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29 thoughts on “What does a Sannion do?

  1. lhwhitaker

    You mean masturbation isn’t a form of worship, especially for Dionysus?

    • Perhaps if Dionysos is your object of desire it could be seen as a form of worship.

      But mostly I just think about Nietzsche’s syphilitic cock or clowns doing unmentionable things to nuns while I take care of my business.

      • Edward

        Nietzsche? It’s the moustache, isn’t it? I can accept clowns. I can accept nuns. But clowns and nuns? That’s just sick you perv!

        • I wrote Carebear/Hellraiser slash. I don’t think perv does my deviance justice.

          • Edward

            I don’t think there’s a word for that. “I don’t know TenderHeart Bear. I think you should leave that puzzle box alone.”

  2. Edward

    Great post! Two questions: “I spend more time masturbating than I do actually worshiping the gods and spirits…” What if you use the masturbation as an act of devotion? Italian literature? Are you fluent in Italian? Wait, that’s three questions. Just curious.

    • No, and it weighs heavily on my soul at times. I pledged to learn Italian and take up juggling and I haven’t made any progress with either of them. :(

      • Edward

        I hear you. My grandparents both spoke fluent Italian, but only spoke English in the home(unless they were discussing an “adult” topic with friends) because they didn’t want to be treated like they had “just gotten off the boat and be treated like peasants”(their words).

        • almost exactly the same situation, though my mom was also the black sheep of the family and completely disowned. (as in they cut her out of the large oil painting in the living room. ouch.) so i was never really exposed to the culture or language.

  3. I think the problem with blogging and the internet, is that things get filtered so that one appears to be doing nothing but spiritual work. Nobody really wants to hear about the mundane aspects of our lives so that gets left out. Then people assume that what is blogged about makes up 90 to 100% of your life.

    And you know what they say when you assume things….

  4. Shadow of Ideas

    So, I haven’t read the whole post yet cause I’m not focused right now but I wanted to say that you semi-proved my theory about Sannions: they walk around with their cocks hanging out cause, you know, it’s better for the skin to breathe and all that. Blessings.

      • Shadow of Ideas

        Yar, I read that back when you posted it. Also read it in your book ‘Strange Spirits’ when I got it a few months ago and reviewed it on my then extant blog. While on the subject of your book it’s good to know that your penis is clean, that is *SO* important!

        • I’m bad at keeping track of who people are lol

          • M.A. Rivera

            Oh, pfft no worries.I’ve been following your blog for like, idk, three years now and I’ve changed my name and deleted blogs frequently so I wouldn’t expect anyone to remember me lol. I was just letting you know that I had already read the post you linked to.

  5. Well, fuck. Here I was, getting ready to post about my devotions, taking my sweet time about it of course, and the rest of the pagan/polytheist blog-o-sphere* is going and doing it. Now, when I get around to making a post, it will look like I am just following the crowd, and that it will be just a part of this whole “piety” discussion that does not interest me in the slightest. That’s what I get for being a slow, procrastinating blogger**.

    *I imagine that this is something like the ball in Phantasm.

    **I imagine that this is like a bugger, only with trees and chainsaws.

    • You should! Ignore the drama. I want to know more about people’s practices and experiences with the gods.

      • Oh, I will and all. I just had to register my displeasure, such as it is*, with the latest round of pagan/polytheist blogosphere handwringing.

        *And it isn’t much. I don’t know if it is outrage fatigue or mature wisdom**, but I just don’t care much lately.

        **”It’s amazing how much ‘mature wisdom’ resembles being too tired.” – Robert A. Heinlein writing as Lazarus Long

  6. I used to notice that the same symbol would pop up, over and over, for a period of time, and I never knew what significance it had but I did note that it was happening. It was common when I was younger. I used to call it “spades,” not knowing what was going on.

    I suspect now that I was actually very confusedly receiving signs I did not know how to interpret. It sounds much like your description of looking around for recurring themes.

  7. Your apartment is inpiring.

  8. (sorry for misspelling.)

  9. Having read both yours and Galina’s posts today I am only encouraged as I am at nearly a year into being claimed just beginning to learn how to shape a life that reflects what has happened and reinforces it. On occasion I get one line of a poem and Someone steps in and helps me write it. I am sharing that because I have been given so much by the two of you that I have to give a bit back.

    Scraping the Bone 06-10-13

    as the tooth that gives me pain talks about bone
    and nerve
    so does this voice in my head
    that tells me that my dissatisfaction lies not in life
    But in forgetting that it is only service and knowledge of the Gods
    and Their ways
    unfolding unwinding through the stillness of my solitude
    that feeds me

    Periodically desire arises
    for a companion
    but if I forget that the Companion
    who I willingly serve and listen to as Teacher and Guide
    is primary inspiration and source of the life blood for me
    I find myself sitting empty and forlorn
    Desire fled as the mirage that it gave vision to fades away

    Nearly a year now
    Since God fire burned me
    burned away the superfluous
    and left me naked and shivering
    as if plunging in that Ocean of Being where They live
    left me hanging onto a life raft made of purpose within Co-creation
    that purpose only clear when everything is silent within me
    When all that is left is Willingness to hear single pointedly
    or to succumb to the unfolding Will of the Universe
    Of which I am a part but not director

    I listen to those I have met with
    Who seek some Holy Grail within a woman’s flesh
    They claim they have knowledge and gifts to bring me
    They claim I have something rare to give them
    Do they not know that I am but a Child walking these silken strands of web
    letting myself lose balance because I know that which is Greater
    Will catch me as it tests my mettle?
    I have had the worst possible experiences as a result of this one pointed dedication
    Only to be shown They can free, heal and restore me from the disaster
    Experienced when all that I sought was to serve Their purpose in the battle

    Only one who has had this experience of being remade
    Can understand the loneliness and the binding of it
    This woman before you is naught but Priestess
    Truly there is nothing else left of her, no desire to be anything else
    No satisfaction equal to that service, to Gods and the whole.

  10. Pingback: Pagan Piety Survey Answers | Introspective Maenad

  11. Galina

    This is so beautiful, Christine. Thank you for sharing it. Thank you. it resonates with the terrible power of what Divine encounters are like and it inspires me.

  12. Pingback: A Day in the Life | Introspective Maenad

  13. Pingback: Either accept me on my terms or fuck off | The House of Vines

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