I call to the industrious Goddess who collects with her sisters
Sicilian flowers of every hue and fragrance,
and who delights in the musical laughter of the playful Nymphs
that lure lovesick shepherd lads to their ivied grottoes
and sport upon the shores of the warm springs
that bubbled forth to welcome the dusty and road-weary hero
when Herakles first came to this triskelion isle
in search of the wide-ranging cattle of Geryon,
Athene who wove the robe of her lightning-hurling father
Zeus Aitnaios, on which is represented the entire cosmos
he governs like some just and magnanimous philosopher-king,
the continents, the seas, the windy sky and gold-gleaming aither
all rendered so realistically you’d swear
you were staring into the mirror of Dionysos,
Owl-eyed One who wears the Gorgon head over her goatskin cloak,
and proudly bears the distaff and ash-spear,
protector of our beloved city, our dear homes
and the precious graves of our illustrious ancestors and warrior dead,
teacher of Epeios of the skillful hands and wonder-working tools
and clever Gelon who used strategy and brute force
to drive out the haughty Carthaginians.
And may you, Athene, hear my prayers
as you heard theirs, granting what I most desire
– clear sight, pious understanding, boundless inspiration
and a will that never tires of worshiping the blessed Immortals
in the right, true and time-proven traditions of my people.
After yesterday’s burst of creative frenzy I only have four commissioned hymns remaining – to Persephone, Elen of the Ways, Freyr & Freyja and a blank one I’m supposed to fill in with the deity of my choice – which I’m hoping to finish by tonight or tomorrow at the latest. Thank you for your patience and understanding folks. (And yes, I’m still accepting commissions through the end of March if you want to add to my workload. Please do.)
Of course, that’s far from the end of the “Hudson Valley Polytheist Hymnal” project (as we are currently calling it.) Once the commissions are completed I want to do hymns for the following Gods and Goddesses:
- Vali, son of Odin
- Vali, son of Loki
- The Daktyloi
- The Titans
- The Satyrs
- And an assortment of Slavic deities
Pretty neat, huh?
Book’s not going to write itself, however, so I better get back to work. I leave you, dear readers, with this song of divine longing. Be well, and reverence the Gods.
O Penates who hover
round the oven and sink,
fridge and dish strainer,
cupboard and wine rack,
dinner table and television set,
ancestor altar and plentiful shrines
of our family’s many Gods;
all of the important parts of the home
fall under your domain, O Penates,
and your protection.
When you are pleased there is warmth
and good will in all of our exchanges,
what has been lost is found,
luck and wealth vy to see
who can get through the door first,
sleep is filled with pleasant and relaxing dreams,
and sickness, despair and ill-fortune are barred from entering.
But, Penates, should you ever be displeased
with a negligent and impious household
I suspect it will go otherwise for them.
O Penates, may I never find out,
and always bring tasty foods, choice libations
and fragrant herbs to burn on your common altar,
grateful for the innumerable ways you Penates
have helped my loved ones, O kindlers of the flame,
custodians of tradition, and enduring heart of our family.
I pray to the Lar of my family, and to
all of the Lares that make up this household,
you who know the worth and history of the land,
(as well as where all of the bodies are buried)
you who protect the provisions
and bring fruitfulness and wealth
to those who are pious, frugal and industrious,
you who ensure that the ancestors are remembered
and each day’s offerings are divided up
fairly amongst the domestic Gods.
When there are disputes, all turn to you Lares
for a sage and equitable judgment,
for none are as impartial and unbribable
as you, or maintain concord and sweetness
of speech and action within the home
quite like you Lares.
So, I ask, accept these offerings
and incense in gratitude for all you do
to keep our domicile safe, prosperous
and running smoothly,
knowing that we owe you a debt
that can never truly be repaid.
Come, O Daughter of the Sun,
devoted Priestess of the Divine Bull,
Mistress of the rites of erotic ecstasy,
Pasiphaë the root-cutter,
and bather in the milk of poppy,
Pasiphaë who leads the dance,
and weaves probability,
Pasiphaë come and be welcome
in this home that loves the Gods,
you who travel the winding ways of dream
and send airy phantoms to reveal your will
to the pious sleepers in your sacred temple,
to lunatics, and to those who are drunk
on blue-green honey.
Accept the produce of our local fields,
bread baked according to unbroken tradition,
and milk from the best of cows,
and in return we ask you to watch over the pregnant
and ensure that fine sons and daughters
are born to our people, as once Pasiphaë
you bore many extraordinary children in Crete.
Prayerful words I send to you in abundance,
O Hermes who favors a mind both clever and creative,
but never should your shrine bowl be empty of wine,
nor your plate without a pile of offerings and sweet treats,
for you, Lord of the snake-twined rod, uniquely among the Gods
knows what it is to have a belly gnawed by hunger,
and worse, nothing you can give
to alleviate your dear mother’s suffering.
But you turned that paucity into a weapon,
a gadfly of scheming that would not rest
until it saw you counted among the greats
of gleaming Mount Olympos,
elevated even to the position
of mighty Zeus’ confidant and fixer.
And Maia saw it too, for you arranged
for her to be welcomed among the beautiful ones,
the Goddesses who know only joy, and wealth
and light-hearted laughter in the golden dance-hall
where they hold their lavish masquerades;
she is so happy it is as if her humble origins
had been completely forgot.
But you remember, Kindly One,
and that is why you spend so much time
among the beggars and thieves,
or wandering alone the long open roads.
Master of chance, collector of magic tricks,
good with a knife and better with his words,
friend of dogs, guide of ghosts, protector of the outcast,
unrivaled conman and expert seducer, Hermes I hail
with a glad heart, for you are quick to aid
and generous in the blessings you bestow
to your human flock, far-seer and wide-traveler.
Remember me, and I will worship you always.
Hear my prayer, O cunning stealer of cattle,
master of smithcraft and sorcerous songs,
monster-killer and sailor of the wine-dark sea,
Kasmilos who came from beyond the North Wind
in search of his sister, and left with gleaming Axiokersa
as his dear wife and companion in adventure.
They say that you arrived on the sacred island
when it was under siege by Thracian pirates,
and together with Axieros and Axiokersos,
the wolflike brothers, you drove the barbarians
screaming into the waves, their bravest and strongest
left littering the shore. Once the corpses were burned
and the island purified with sulphur, bay and blood
of a sacrificed bull, the torch-bearing brothers
vouched for you and you were admitted into the mysteries
which had been given to their line for safekeeping
by the Sun and Moon, oldest of deities in this part of the world.
During the august ceremonies you beheld the Maiden
with starry veil pouring libations from a horn,
and your stout member saluted her beauty and piety
before the rest of you could even react. She modestly
did not respond, but her brothers laughed uproariously
and laughed so much that the rites had to be begun again.
Once the feasting commenced you rushed
to your ship to resume your journey
and escape your embarrassment – only to discover
slim-ankled Axiokersa waiting for you onboard.
She clasped you tight, kissed you Kasmilos
more fervently than a Thyiad Nymph, and begged
you to take her with and show her the wide world
beyond this small island, the only home she’d ever known.
And as your cock began to rise again, you agreed
and set sail for the Phoenician coast,
where men first learned to dye fabric purple.
Halfway there your ship was nearly destroyed
by a Giant of the sea, loosed by the wrathful Poseidon
to punish the people of Lemnos. You and your
new-won bride would have drowned then or worse,
had beast-taming Axieros and swift-footed Axiokersos
not arrived, hot in pursuit of their sister and her abductor.
The three of you fought in unison,
easily subduing the creature which had
hindquarters like a fish, the head and torso of a bull,
six wildly flailing crab claws and a voice like a thunderclap
ripping the heavens asunder.
Once the thing’s corpse was sent back
deep down to the Ocean Lord’s abode,
the brothers ferried you back to Samothrace
where your marriage to Axiokersa
could be celebrated in proper style
with much feasting, song and dance
rather than through the poverty of elopement
in a fameless foreign land.
And from that day on you have been counted
as the Attendant of the Great Gods,
the reciter of many hymns and conductor of ineffable rites,
Kasmilos with unshorn locks the color of raven’s feathers,
eyes like the Sun in the Underworld, a smile bright as molten metal,
with a leather pouch at your belt full of mystic tokens
and the sign of infinity upon your chest.
Hail, and be with me as I face my own trials,
you who show us the way through the wilds
and how to return home again.