Post that won’t get me any friends

A picture with just eight words is worth a thousand of them. In this case one that nails a common feeling on this side of the Atlantic, following the US presidential election and as captured by someone’s camera on a European street:

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Hopefully, French and Germans will show a greater maturity in their elections next year – or at least their electoral system will be enough of a safety valve. And the reason why I’m sharing this here, in a blog that’s not about politics, is because this week’s events have added to the feeling of alienation, of being unable to see myself in what’s said and done by an important part of US polytheists, as voiced here and elsewhere on multiple occasions since early January. Fair to say that 2016 has been a year of fracture. Which is why, in all honesty, I’m very happy about my decision to set up a blog in Portuguese, aimed first and foremost to the specifics of a Portuguese context, so as to mentally – and emotionally! – distance myself more effectively from the polarization of US society and focus instead on the idiosyncrasies of mine. I actually made up my mind about it two months ago and I won’t open the new blog until January 4th – not a randomly chosen date – but given the victory of Trumpism, I needed to get it out of my chest. There’s something of a “fuck it, I’m out of here” feeling to it (pardon my French), so there you have it. One more push in the drifting away of the stone raft. I’ll keep this site active – English does reach a bigger audience than Portuguese – but it won’t be the sole focus of my blogging attention. I really, really need a change of air.

A man died, a god was born

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Today, David Bowie died at the age 69. He was already a star when I was born and he impacted my life. Some of the songs I grew up with were his, some of tunes and lyrics that still resonate in my mind since my childhood and teens have Bowie’s voice. Not to mention his role in the 1986 movie Labyrinth . And I’m not alone in this. He was truly an artistic giant, multifaceted and multigenerational, a source of inspiration for bands, singers and fashions we all too often take for granted. He paved the way and rose to the stars. So by joining his ancestors, he becomes more than an awesome household god for his family. His influence vibrates far beyond the domestic walls and reaches millions – past, present and future. In many ways, we stand on his shoulders. And by his death, natural and inevitable, a god was born.

So hail, David Bowie! Hail, Artistic Lar! Thank for you your work, thank you for your magic! May you shine bright and bless us with inspiration for generations to come!

Take a deep breath!

On the matter of Daesh (aka, the so-called “Islamic State”) and the destruction of Palmyra, there are many things that could be said, but a call to arms is not one of them. Nor is believing in Daesh’s boasts or judging the west as weak for not intervening in full force. For multiple reasons, as I explain in my latest piece at Polytheism.com (my first article is here, by the way).

Be mindful, be practical, be optimistic. Rise above the media frenzy and pierce through the screen. Don’t play into Daesh’s game. Instead, breathe deep, take a long-term view and pour a little something for Lady Spes.

In the meantime, in the spirit of honouring deities whose physical memory is being erased by Islamic extremists, there’s a small empty shelf in my room that I might turn into a domestic shrine to the Middle Eastern god Nabu or Nebo. More on that in due time, though. Still wondering if it will house Him alone, more deities or be a second domestic shrine to Mercury to host “hermetic guests”. An epithet linked to hospitality would go well with that, now that I think about it. And I would have to make new cult images, which, adding to the plan to reorganize my Vanic shrine, means I have a lot of clay work or Minerva and Khnum moments ahead of me. Polytheism – I love having so many gods!

Speaking of divine dead

Here’s someone who became one today and started a new journey.

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Leonard Nimoy passed away today, at 83 years old. He would have been 84 next month, on March 26th. Of course, you all know him as Mr. Spock from Star Trek and that is perhaps his most enduring legacy: a much loved character who’s become a part of popular culture. The Vulcan salute, the logical take on things and Spock’s famous greeting, all have been constantly emulated at some level by multiple generations and even if you’re not a trekky. For many, he was and still is an inspiration of sorts, from stargazers and astronomy lovers to students and researchers, including the folks on NASA, who acknowledged as much today on Twitter. Fellow polytheists have also been showing their feelings towards Leonard Nimoy and I reckon there are some who wouldn’t mind granting him an apotheosis. Which would be fitting, if you think about it, since some of the ancient heroes were given a constellation and the man who gave life to Mr. Spock is a fitting candidate for a place among the stars. In fact, feel free to suggest the International Astronomical Union to name a constellation or galaxy after Leonard Nimoy, either by email, Facebook message or tweet. And if you want to add him to your pantheon of heroes and divine dead, feel free to do so as well. From a polytheistic point of view, there’s nothing wrong with that, as explained before. This is not monotheism, where being a god is a monopoly of one entity or an issue of restrictive dogma. A landwight, one’s ancestors and even a deceased with whom you have no family ties are gods too. And as someone with an enduring legacy that touches millions in a positive way, he’s certainly a fitting candidate for divine honours outside his family.

So live long and prosper!
And have a safe journey on your new adventure, Leonard Nimoy. Thrusters on full!

Any haruspex in the house?

Coincidences do happen. This may sound like a truism, but it’s always a good thing to keep it in mind. In the past, too, there seems to have been a similar notion, for if someone reported a uncommon phenomenon, it was up to the Senate to analyse the information and determine if it was neglectable or a sign from the Gods. A prodigy was only a prodigy if the senators declared it as such and only then would the Romans set about the task of discerning divine will and act accordingly. It’s a bit like asking someone wiser or older (an elder or senex) about something strange in order to determine if you should be worried or forget about it. Nowadays, in the absence of the religious and formal institutions of ancient Rome, cultores are on their own and must either teach themselves what’s left of the old traditions or resort to each other with a healthy doses of scepticism (or both).

It is well known that Europe is at a dangerous juncture, not just financially but also politically. Like in the 1930s, economic woes may spell political downfall and Greece may be the first victim: expect a military coup if a stable government doesn’t come out of the next (and second-try) elections and the country leaves the Euro. It may stop there or it may go on and take (part of) the European Union with it. It is also known that the EU has its earliest origins in the Coal and Steel Community, which was founded in 1951 as a Franco-German agreement aimed at sharing vital resources, preventing a new war between the two countries, and make way for a united Europe. The leading role of France and Germany in the current crisis is not accidental and derives directly from the first steps of the European Union. So, given the context, how should one interpret this?

Harmless coincidence? Well, lightning is fairly common around the world, with around 40 cases every second. Planes have been struck before and no doubt that will keep on happening, as it’s a natural consequence of flying through rough weather and it’s no more of a divine sign than a beach house being hit by a wave. It’s there and sometimes the probability comes true for no special reason. And yet, what makes this case particular is when and what the lightning struck: a plane carrying the newly elected President of France for an official visit to Germany at a time when Europe may hang by little more than a thread; and it happened on the Ides of May, i.e., the monthly day dedicated to Jupiter. That’s more than you can say about the average lightening strike, so what is it: a prodigy or a neglectable coincidence? Any haruspex or fulgurator out there?