Homestead Plans

So, we bought this land in December of 2015, and started to make trips out here right away. We didn’t move here permanently until March 2016. So we have not spent a full year on the property yet. I think it’s important to not make major decisions about the land until we have been through a full year’s cycle here. The property is 5 acres, but the main part that we live on is only about a quarter to one-half of an acre. Every month or so we walk around our property to see how it’s changed in the season. Most of our land is heavily wooded, and some parts are currently so overgrown that it’s almost impassible. Changes to the heavily overgrown parts will be easier to make in winter, when much of the greenery and brambles die back. The easier way to get rid of all the overgrowth would be to fence in the entire property and to let a small herd of goats or sheep, or both, go to town on it all. But fencing in the entire property is going to be expensive and will probably not happen all at once. If all goes well, by February or so, we’ll have a few paddocks of movable electronetting. We need to get a few goats, most likely meat breeds to start with, like Boers, to help clear everything else. The reason you don’t use a milking breed to clear land is that those big udders are too likely to get injured by brambles and sticks and overgrowth, and if they get an infection that will adversely affect future milk production, even if they pull out if okay. So we won’t get milking goats til the land is cleared. And then we just keep moving the electronet fencing whenever they eat up all the greenery.

In traditional agriculture, only about 10% of the work is planning, and the rest of the 90% is actual hard, physical work. In permaculture, the opposite is true. It’s a “work smarter, not harder” type of ethic. To a lot of people it might look like my brother and I aren’t doing much this year. That’s because we are in the “observe and plan” stage. In permaculture it also is important to let the land tell you what it wants to be. If you have a low-lying area that tends to fill with rain water, why fight that by trying to drain it and plant dry plants there? Go with it, dig a little deeper so it can become a pond, or a rice paddy, or whatever. But how do you know where those areas are until you spend a full year on your land, through all four seasons? The main goal of permaculture is to work WITH your land, not AGAINST it. While there is still an element of taming the wild involved, the mindset of a war against nature (MAN VS WILD!) is instead changed to instead one of cooperation with nature.

It is important to truly to get to know your land before you make any permanent decisions. Changing our minds afterwards will not be easy if we make a big mistake.

We want to pick the breeds very carefully. Besides meat goats, we are going to get rabbits and poultry next year. I don’t want to jump into too many types of species at once, since its better to learn all about caring for one or two types and give those animals excellent care. But financial considerations are part of this, the price of food is raising quickly. Rabbits are the most efficient meat-producers for feed inputs, they breed quickly and require little space. The goats are for other reasons I already talked about; clearing land first. Milk and meat will be later considerations. We will be getting chickens for eggs and meat, and because they eat bugs. Several breeding pairs of guinea fowl will be released into the woods, because in the spring and summer there are a LOT of ticks and chiggers here. And guinea fowl can eat up to 5,000 ticks a day. A large group of guinea fowl will even gang up on snakes and kill them. Eating ticks will be their only job.

Eventually I want to breed heritage breed animals and contribute to their survival. Thanks to industrialization, many once-common breeds of domestic animals are nearly extinct. Breeds like White Leghorn Chickens, which are used for industrialized egg production, are terrible for small farm purposes. One difference is that old-style farm chickens were good foragers, meaning you don’t have to feed them as much because they are skilled at finding their own food. Most industrialized breeds are bred to tolerate being kept in tiny cages, and many lines no longer have the instinct to forage or to mother their young naturally. Another difference is that many heritage breeds, of many species, are dual purpose, meaning that you can get meat and eggs from the chickens. But in industrialized breeds, an egg breed is really too skinny to produce meat, and a meat breed doesn’t lay many eggs. A dual purpose goat would be for milk and meat, while a sheep can actually be triple-purpose, for wool, meat, and milk.

I’m not going to jump into breeding heritage breeds until I get some experience with breeding ones that have more numbers. Basically because their genetics are more expendable so its okay if make the wrong choice. When I’ll be working with a heritage breed that is one on the edge of extinction (there are several different levels of endangerment), then the genetics of each and every individual will be so precious that I’ll need to make the best breeding choices to strengthen the breed as a whole, not just for my own purposes. And in this case, it obviously means that I will not be slaughtering and eating all of the offspring, although I can eat some of them. We are talking about livestock after all. But since the point is make the breed stronger, I’ll need to sell the offspring to spread them around. I’ll be strengthening the breed and gaining another source of income for the homestead. But that’s several years down the road, maybe as much as as much a five years or a decade. I want to be absolutely sure I have good, solid breeding experience first.

What we are doing right now is setting up a couple more of the raised beds for winter greens. In fact we just made the trip to Lowe’s to pick up the treated boards, so that the planks would last more than a season or two. I’m really, really looking forward to eating more spinach and kale. My brother wants to move to more of a Paleo-type diet, but it’s almost impossible on our current budget. Buying greens is insanely expensive when your most steady income is SSI. But spinach and kale is very easy to grow. Back in Indiana, spinach was one of our most successful crops, besides tomatoes. The best thing about leafy salad greens is their cut-and-come-again nature. A good head of lettuce you can just chop off what you need and it’ll grow right back. And nothing compares to fresh greens just picked. My mouth is watering right now, just thinking about it.

The cucumber plants are almost dead. That’s okay, they have just about run their course. At the beginning of September or so I’ll pull up what’s left and put the leaves in the compost bin. The bed will be re-planted with garlic, which will grow under the soil over the winter and be ready to harvest in the spring.

In any case, we will continue to work on the homestead, to make small changes, to observe and to plan the bigger changes, and see what the land and the Gods have in store for us. I’m happy out here, happier than I’ve ever been. It hasn’t been easy financially, but guess what? My life has never been easy financially. I just decided if I was going to struggle anywhere, I’d rather do it on my own land, in the woods, than in the city. And I know I made the right decision.

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GMC poetry: Ganesha Acrostic

Guardian of His mother’s chamber

Assistant in beginnings, remover of obstacles

Noble and sweet, kindest and most forgiving

Elephant-headed God of learning

Shiva’s son, head of the celestial hosts

Housed in the root chakra of every living thing

Always popular is Ganesha

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God of the Month Club: Ganesh

Ganesha_redSo the first Hindu God we’ve had for the God of the Month Club has come up, and appropriately enough, it’s Ganesh, one of the most cross-culturally popular and recognizable of Hindu Deities. Hinduism has the distinction of being the largest Polytheist religion practiced today, and with the added benefit of having an uninterrupted line of tradition from ancient times, although obviously in the last few hundred years they have had to contend with the ravages of Western imperialism.

Ganesh, also spelled Ganesha or Ganesa, is sometimes called Ganapati or Vinayaka. His name is usually prefixed with a Hindu title of respect, “Shree” or “Sri”, so that a few of the variations of His name would be Shree Ganesh or Sri Vinayaka. He is one of the most popular and well-known Gods in Hinduism. His worship is common to Hinduism, Jains, Buddhists, and even Sikhs, and His image is all over India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.

Ganesh is depicted with the head of a one-tusked elephant and human-shaped body ganesh (1)with four arms and a pot belly. In fact, one of His earlier names was Ekadanta, meaning “One-Tusk”. His skin is usually yellow or red, but not always. In fact, the color of His skin changes based on the epithet or name being invoked or meditated on. He is also shown riding a mouse or with a mouse sitting by His feet.

Ganesh is the first son of Shiva and Parvati. In south India, Ganesh is described as celibate, saying that no woman can live up to the perfection of His mother. Despite this tradition, in North India Ganesh is believed to be married the daughters of Brahma, Buddhi (wisdom), Riddhi (prosperity), and Siddhi (attainment). In North India Ganesh is often hp45accompanied by Sarasvati, Goddess art and music, and Lakshmi, Goddess of luck and prosperity. He is the God of wisdom and learning, the patron of art, science, and especially writing and letters. He is the lord of success and the destroyer of evil. He is the remover of obstacles, but He also places obstacles in the path of those that are too high on their horse and need to be humbled or challenged. Ganesh is considered one of the five most important Hindu Deities, Brahma, Vishnu, Durga, and Shiva being the others. Together this group of five Deities is revered as the panchayatana puja, the word “puja” meaning a worship ritual. He is a God of beginnings and remover of obstacles, and so is honored at the start of rituals, ceremonies, and other ventures, especially cultural ones. Usually when a Hindu family moves, the statue or image of Ganesh is one of the very first things placed in the new home.

According to Kundalini Yoga, Ganesh is believed to reside in the first chakra, at the base of the spine, which is called Muladhara. Mula means “main” and dhara means “base, foundation”. This is the chakra that has to do with survival instinct, procreation, the material world, and physical health and well-being. In this view, Ganesh has a permanent place in very person, as He supports, charges, and guides all the other chakras.Ganesha-OM-pin

Ganesh is also considered the embodiment of the primal “OM” sound. The OM symbol looks very similar to an elephant’s head, as seen in this picture of a beautiful pendant of Ganesh’s head in the shape of the OM symbol. ==========>

Although Ganesh is usually considered the son of Shiva and Parvati, there are some traditions that say that Ganesh is the son of Parvati alone. In this version, Shiva did not desire any children, but Parvati did. Her desire for a son was so great that She essentially impregnated Herself, producing Ganesh parthnogenically. There are also some stories in the Puranas that say that Shiva and Parvati found Ganesh as a small child, elephant head and all, and that They chose to adopt Him since He apparently had no parents.

The Elephant Head

There are actually several different versions of how Ganesh ended up with an the head of an elephant. In the most well known story, Parvati created Ganesh while Shiva was away. She wanted to bathe, but found that there were no servants in the house to Ganesha_sandstone_7th-8th_VIETNAMguard Her quarters. So She sculpted the body of a boy from turmeric paste (or “from the dirt of Her own body”) and gave it life. She named Him Ganesh, and told Him to guard to door to Her bedroom. But while He was doing so, Shiva returned from His trip to find a strange person who would not allow Him into the quarters He shared with His wife. Ganesh and Shiva fought, and Shiva decapitated Him with His trident. When Parvati came out, She was grief-stricken, and Shiva felt guilty. He promised He would reanimate Ganesh and restore Him to life. But Shiva’s trident was so powerful that it had flung Ganesh’s head far away, and without the head, He could not be restored. Shiva searched for Ganesh’s head, but finally gave up. He went to Brahma for advice, to see if there were any other solutions. Brahma told Him to replace Ganesh’s head with the first living being that He crossed that lay with its head facing north. So Shiva sent out all His armies (Gana) to look for such a creature. When they found an elephant sleeping with its head facing north, they decapitated it and bought it back. Shiva attached it to the boy’s body and bought Him back to life, and ever after Ganesh has had an elephant’s head, and also the name of Ganapathi, or head of the celestial armies.

Another version says that after a year of fasting so that Vishnu will grant Her a son, Ganesh (2)Parvati conceived and gave birth to Ganesh. There was great celebration and all the Gods were invited to come see the baby. All the Gods looked at the baby, except for Shani, the son of the Sun-God Surya. The gaze of Shani was said to be harmful and could cause instant death, so out of respect Shani refused to look at baby Ganesh. For some reason, Parvati decided to tempt Fate and insisted and Shani look at Her baby like all the other Gods had. He did so, and the infant’s head instantly flew off. In this story, it is Vishnu Who revived Ganesh. When He sees Parvati and Shiva grief-stricken and mourning, Vishnu mounted His eagle and flew to the river. He came back carrying an elephant’s head, joined it to the infant’s body, and so bought Ganesh back to life.

Symbols and Iconography

It’s said that Ganesh’s large ears are because He hears all the prayers of all His worshipers. The elephant, despite being the biggest and strongest animal native to India, in incredibly gentle, intelligent, and loyal, even affectionate to their mahouts, or trainers. These are all qualities that Ganesh embodies, being one of the most loving ganesha_balganeshand gentle of Deities, despite His great power. One of Ganesh’s tusks is broken, and He is often shown holding it like a pen. This symbolizes sacrifice, since He broke it off in order to write the sacred text of the Mahabharata, one of India’s greatest epics.

In His trunk He holds a sweet or candy (laddoo), which some say is because we must discover the sweetness of the Atman. On Ganesh’s forehead is painted the Trishula, Shiva’s weapon, which is similar to a trident. It is supposed to symbolizes past, present, and future, and Ganesh’s mastery of it. His potbelly is said to contain the the whole universe, and to symbolize the abundance of Nature. A snake is often twined around His waist like a belt, or around his ankles, symbolizing mastery of energy in all forms. When around His waist, it shows that the Kundalini energy holds the whole kosmos together, since that is what the belly of Ganesh is supposed to contain. Ganesh is usually dressed in red and yellow colors. Says Kashmir about this symbolism:

Yellow symbolizes purity, peace and truthfulness. Red symbolizes the activity in the world. These are the qualities of a perfect person who performs all duties in the world, with purity, peace, and truthfulness1.

Like many (but not all) Hindu Gods, Ganesh is never shown with two arms. Two arms Ganesh_1_2on Ganesh is taboo. Sometimes He has six or eight, or even as many as fourteen, but the usual number is four arms. There are up to fifty different symbols that He could be carrying. Below are a few of the most common. According to Crystalinks:

The four arms of Ganesha represent the four inner attributes of the subtle body, that is: mind (Manas), intellect (Buddhi), ego (Ahamkara), and conditioned conscience (Chitta). Lord Ganesha represents the pure consciousness – the Atman – which enables these four attributes to function in us;

  • The hand waving an axe, is a symbol of the retrenchment of all desires, bearers of pain and suffering. With this axe Ganesha can both strike and repel obstacles. The axe is also to prod man to the path of righteousness and truth;
  • The second hand holds a whip, symbol of the force that ties the devout person to the eternal beatitude of God. The whip conveys that worldly attachments and desires should be rid of;
  • The third hand, turned towards the devotee, is in a pose of blessing, refuge and protection (abhaya);
  • the fourth hand holds a lotus flower (padma), and it symbolizes the highest goal of human evolution, the sweetness of the realized inner self2.

Ganesh-Parts

Ganesh and the Mouse

In Hinduism, there are some Gods pictured with a mount or vehicle, called a vahana. As I said earlier, Ganesh’s main mode of transportation is riding a mouse. There are different schools of thought on what that might mean. In the Mudgala Purana, Ganesh is described as having eight incarnations. In five of these, He rides a mouse. But as Vakratunda, He rides a lion. As Vikata, a peacock. As Vighnaraja a sacred serpent named Shesha. There are four incarnations of Ganesh listed in the Ganesha Purana. These incarnations use a lion, a peacock, a horse, and a mouse. While the Jain descriptions vary between a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram or peacock. Sometimes the mouse sits at the feet of Ganesh, either gazes up adoring at the God, or staring at 170px-Ganesh_muse_dart_asiatique_de_Berlinthe tray of sweets set near them. Kashmir has to to say about the symbolism of such an arrangement:

mouse symbolizes the ego that can nibble all that is good and noble in a person. A mouse sitting near the feet of Ganesha indicates that a perfect person is one who has conquered his (or her) ego. A mouse gazing at the Laddus, but not consuming them, denotes that a purified or controlled ego can live in the world without being affected by the worldly temptations. The mouse is also the vehicle of Ganesha, signifying that one must control ego in order for wisdom to shine forth3.

In many Hindu Temples, an image of Ganesh is placed near the door, to keep out the unworthy. This gives Ganesh a job similar to the Roman Janus, and recalls His role as His mother Parvati’s gatekeeper.

 

Ganesh Chaturthi

The Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day festival that falls in late August or early September, on the fourth day of the waxing moon of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. Synchronizations like this keep happening during the God of the Month Club, and I’m not choosing the Deities involved, I shuffle a deck of cards I made with Their names on it. The pattern from the seeming randomness is enough to convince me that the Gods are really choosing Who wants to be studied when.

In any case, according to Wikipedia, the Chaturthi festival starts by “bringing in” clay statues of Ganesh, symbolism Him coming to visit.

“The festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi, when idols (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most convenient body of water. Some families have a tradition of immersion on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, or 7th day. In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed this annual 170px-Ganesh_mimarjanam_EDITEDGanesha festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. He did so “to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them” in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra. Because of Ganesha’s wide appeal as “the god for Everyman”, Tilak chose him as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day. Today, Hindus across India celebrate the Ganapati festival with great fervour, though it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra. The festival also assumes huge proportions in Mumbai, Pune, and in the surrounding belt of Ashtavinayaka temples4.”

This year, the Ganesh Chaturthi festival starts on Monday, the 5th of September. I’m included a few links about how to celebrate this festival at home in case anyone is interested. These are all authentic sites written by Hindus. Please remember to be respectful.

 

How to perform Ganesh Chaturthi Puja at Home?

How to Celebrete the Great Ganesha Festival

How to perform Ganpati puja at home

What is Ganesh Chaturthi? Why is it celebrated?

 

Hinduism, Indo-Paganism, and Cultural Appropriation (article on The Wild Hunt)

Just some food for thought.

 

 

1Kashmir. Hindu Deities. http://www.koausa.org/Gods/God8.html

2Crystalinks. http://www.crystalinks.com/ganesh.html

3Kashmir: Hindu Deities. http://www.koausa.org/Gods/God8.html

4Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganesh#Ganesha_and_Parashurama

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To Freyja

This was written for Galina Krasskova’s contest for a poem for the Freyja prayer card. There’s still a couple of days left. If you want to send her your own entry, you have until Monday the 22nd.

——

I hail now Freyja, brilliant daughter of Njord

Lady of the Vanir, Who wears the falcon cloak

Wandering Goddess known to many peoples by many names

As You are the Mistress of Seidhr, may Your magic fill and soothe me.

As You are a warrior, may I become strong enough to fight for what is right.

As You are the Goddess of Love, may I be filled to bursting with love –

Love for myself, love for others, but most especially,

An enduring love for the Divine, for Gods and Goddesses in all forms.

May I be washed in Your tears of amber and gold,

Purified in light of Your radiance.

May I worship You forever.

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GMC Poetry: To the Living Bull

I sing now of the living God of Egypt

Fair Apis, Strong Bull of His mother

Beautiful Soul of Ptah

High of horns, the virile

Herald of the Nile’s flooding

Who carries the sun-disk between His horns

And bestows the strength to rule on the Pharaoh

Gentle protector of children,

But fierce defender of Egypt

Oh, to smell the sacred breath of the Apis!

To be in the presence of so great a God!

Great and powerful is the living Apis!

But even more powerful still is the deceased Apis

Who joins with Osiris, Bull of the West

And carries the soul of the faithful

To the Field of Reeds

Son of Hathor, Who wears the menat-necklace

Great, great is the soul of Osar-Apis!

So great that even Greece and Rome continued His worshipers

And although the modern children of Egypt may have forgotten,

The soul of Apis continues to inspire new worshipers on the other side of the globe

Hail to the Living Deceased One, The Great Bull of Heaven,

Apis the Living Bull of Egypt!
Em hotep!

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God of the Month Club: Apis, the Living Bull-God of Egypt

One of the Gods of this month is Apis, the living bull-God of Memphis. According to the Greco-Egyptian historian Manetho, the worship of the Apis goes back to nearly apis-bull3,000 BCE, to the 2nd Dynasty of the First Kingdom of Egypt. The Apis bull was a God incarnate, a harbinger of fertility, prosperity, and healing, and connected with the Nile. His worship is one of the most ancient, and most likely was originally related to the fertility of grains and herds, but also of masculine power and vigor. Bulls, one of the most sacred animals in Egypt, were greatly revered as symbols of strength, virility, and fighting spirit. Bulls are one of the most useful animals in an agrarian society, being used to plow the fields where grain grows. So the connection to fertility, food, and life is a natural one. Apis was considered one of the kindest, most beneficent of Deities. He was in particular a guardian of children, and any child who smelled the breath of the bull was thought to have the power to tell the future. The Apis was Himself used as a form of divination. He was asked a question, and then offered food. If He rejected the food it was a bad omen, if He ate it that was a good omen.

The mother of the Apis bull was called the Hesis or Hesat cow (or less often, the Isis cow). When the new Apis bull was identified, He was moved to Apieion sanctuary, 200px-Louvres-antiquites-egyptiennes-p1020068next to the temple of Ptah in Memphis. The Apieion had a large chamber for the Apis bull and another for His mother. Both of them were given only the finest feed, never had to work for the rest of their lives, and the Apis had a harem of the best cows. Only the most important, honored guests were allowed into the sanctuary to meet the bull. But there was a window built into the chamber, called a “Window of Appearance”, through which the Egyptians could view the Apis from the respectful distance. At special times of the year, for specific festivals, the Apis would leave the Apieion and be an important part of the religious processions, alongside the priests, priestesses, musicians, dancers, and standard-bearers.

Apis and Ptah, Apis and Osiris

Originally Apis was considered a manifestation of Ptah, the creator God of Memphis, Who brings the world into being through sacred words of power. He was called the “Ba (Soul) of Ptah” and “Herald of Ptah” and “the renewal of the life” of Ptah. Ramses III called Him the “August Son of Ptah” and the “Beautiful Soul” of Ptah. He was also called described as “high of horns, beautiful of names, far-seer and wide-ranger1.”

Eventually Osiris absorbed the functions of Ptah, creating a joint form of Ptah-Seker-Osiris, and so the Apis become to be associated instead with Osiris. After being syncreticzed with Osiris, the Apis took on jobs associated with the lord of the dead. The bull gained the title “The Living Deceased One”, and if a person was under His protection, it was believed that the soul of the dead gained control over the winds of apiscoffineteeeeegsgthe afterlife. The deceased Apis was also believed to carry the soul of dead to the Field of Reeds, one of the choice domains of the afterlife, which is what is depicted in this picture here ==========>

When the Apis died, he was mummified and entombed with great honors in the necropolis at Saqqara known as the Serapeum. In the Underworld he was identified with Osiris, just as the Pharaoh was. Osar-Apis was what the sacred Apis bull was called IMG_6566_v1after His death. Eventually all the dead came to be identified with Osiris, rather than just the Pharaoh. One of the most common titles of Osiris was “Bull of the West” (the Western Lands is the land of the dead in Egyptian belief).

In pre-Ptolemaic Egypt, the cult of Osar-Apis was also primarily centered in Memphis, which is where the Apis bull lived out His life. But by an account in Tactius, Serapis (Greek transliteration of Osar-Apis) was claimed as the local God of Rhakotis, the small Egyptian village that was located near or at the site of the future Alexandria. The Greeks believed that Apis was the son of Zeus and the river-nymph Io, who had been turned into a heifer and driven to Egypt by Hera. There in Egypt, she gave birth to Zeus’ son, who the Greeks called Epaphos, the first Apis bull3.

The Apis and the Pharaoh

The bull became a symbol of the Pharaoh when Upper and Lower Egypt was united under Narmer. So as bulls began to personify the Pharaoh, The Apis came to be Apis-300x193connected to rulership. The Apis is sometimes depicted with the solar disk between His horns, the symbol of the Pharaoh, of Ra, and sovereignty. The virility and fertility of the Apis and Pharaoh are one and the same, and the Apis is a symbol of the Pharaoh’s strength, courage and fighting spirit. The Pharaoh, who acted as a kind of bridge between the world of the Gods and the world of men, had to be able to channel the strength and fertility of the KING OFFERING TO APISApis so that Egypt could prosper. In fact, the Pharaoh was called the “Victorious Bull”, and the “Strong Bull of His Mother Hathor”, which is also a title given to several Gods.

At the Sed festival, the Pharaoh was beloved to absorb the power of the Apis bull by walking with Him in the procession. This was sometimes called the “Race of the Apis Bull” or “Running With the Apis”. It was so important that it was mentioned in the famous Palermo Stone.

 

Other Bull-Cults

There were a few smaller bull cults, including one centered in the town of Armant in the region of Hermonthis. This bull had to be all white with a black face. He was called Buchis, and was the manifestation of the falcon-headed war-God Montu. To a lesser extent He was linked to Ra and Osiris. Reflecting His connection to Montu, a war-God, the Buchis bull sometimes engaged in fights with other bulls. The Buchis bull and His mother were also mummified and laid to rest in a special cemetery called the Bucheum. There are generations of Buchis bulls buried here.

Mnevis, the bull of Heliopolis, was also known as the Kemwer, meaning the “Great Black”. As the name suggests, He was usually completely black. As you may have guessed, since His cult was based in Heliopolis, the Mnevis bull was associated with Ra. What is interesting is that there is a possibly He was also associated with the lunar God Min as well. There is not much information about the Mnevis cult, unfortunately. Only two Mnevis burials have been discovered, both dating to the New Kingdom. Each bull had its tomb. Their burial rooms also included a set of Canopic Jars, much like was used for human mummification in Egypt. However, since these jars were empty, they were both likely included for symbolic or ritualistic reasons.

 

The Apis as Living God

The worship of the Apis continued in the Greco-Roman age, under both the Ptolemies and the Romans. In the Roman times the Apis had its own special guard, a liktor. The worship of the Apis actually continued up until about 400 CE. Of course, the deceased Apis Who joined with Osiris to become Osar-Apis was Hellenized to become Serapis and taken as the patron God of the Ptolemies and of Alexandria. I’m not going to go into Serapis, as I’ve already written a little about Him here. This post is about Apis as a separate Entity. Apis doesn’t get much attention in the modern Pagan community. This might be due to lack of knowledge about Him, but I think there could be something else at it’s heart.

The Apis bull was a God incarnate, not a spirit in the sky, but a living, breathing God that would eat, bleed, and shit. This can be hard for modern people to understand. Monotheism has taught us to think of Divinity as something “up there”, outside themselves, disembodied, pure intellect or soul. Blood and piss and dirt, the acts of eating and excreting and mating, are seen as dirty and filthy. Even as Pagans, this worldview can hard to excise. While some of us are now lucky enough to be second-apisbodyrtrtrrgeneration or even third, most Pagans and Polytheists are still converts, which means that we are still dealing with monotheist thought processes that we have internalized. This is something that we must work to

In April when we studied White Buffalo Calf Woman, here, from the Lakota Native American tradition, I mentioned that the way the Lakota revere the birth of a white buffalo reminded me of the Apis bull. It’s interesting that both the Egyptians and the Lakota, two cultures on opposite sides of the world, saw a manifest Divinity in a living bull (or heifer. In the Lakota tradition it the sacred buffalo can be of either sex). The Egyptians saw the bull as so sacred that there were three (THREE!) separate bull-cults where a God was believed to incarnate Himself within the bull.

Sadly, in today’s expression of Paganism, there is no way to revive this cult in its fullness. Not yet. Maybe, one day, when our traditions have grown, when Paganism can sustain its cost, when there are priests and priestesses willing to devote themselves to caring for a new Apis. There can be a day when we are not a “fringe” religion anymore, if we are brave and outspoken and stand our ground. That is what we are building towards, bringing the Gods and Their worship back into the world again, on a large-scale. I wish that I could live to see it, but I most likely will not. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth doing. Most things that are really worth doing are not easy, and do not yield quick results. We can still worship the Apis, even if He is not yet incarnated in physical form. I believe He still exists, that His immortal spirit is not so easy to stamp out as the physical body that He occupies. But I’d love for there to be an actual revival of His physical cult one day, if the Fates would be so kind.

 

1 Nonnus. Dionysiaca. 32.65

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A Hymn for the Vertumnalia

I told you I tend to write these a little bit late. Anyway.

———

Lady of the Apple, Protector of Orchards and Gardens

Fair ruddy-cheeked Pomona, I pray to You now

She Who carries the pruning shears

And Whose skirts are filled with gathered fruit

May You always be welcome in my home and on my land

Bless my soil and my trees

That they may continue to bear the fruit needed to feed my family

Beautiful bride of shape-changing Vertumnus

Protect my orchard through the coming winter

So they may blossom again in the spring

When Your sweet sister Flora begins Her yearly dance of flowers.

I offer You a portion of this year’s bounty,

Beauteous Pomona and Mysterious Vertumnus,

So that You may bless my farmstead,

And I may continue to offer to You again as the years cycle on.

In the names of all the Gods of Greece, Egypt, and Rome,

May it be so.

 

Leafy Vertumnus of wilds.

Shape-changing Etruscan God, I hail You on this You sacred festival day.

As summer draws to a close, we harvest the earth’s bounty,

The gifts You and Your bride grieously bestow.

Bridegroom of orchard-loving Pomona,

You change Your shape as the land changes with each season

(Or so I think is the Mystery at the heart of Your story).

Fair Vertumnus, Your union to Pomona

Is a marriage of wild Nature with tame agriculture

Together, Etruscan Vertumnus and Pomona of the Orchards,

You are Truly a Blessing for mankind.

May we always remember to honor you.

In the names of all the Gods of Greece, Egypt, and Rome,

May it be so.

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