One of the recurring themes of my life is that I am intensely focused on whatever it is that I’m intrigued with at the moment, whether it’s religious or food related. Or perhaps something else entirely.
I will obsessively read whatever I can upon the subject.
Then, a distraction comes. A shiny new take on an old interest, or something completely new. And then that consumes me.
I often feel like I’m a bad polytheist because of this.
For a while, I was obsessed with Aphrodite and Hellenic polytheism. I’d made a promise to someone I’d never met at PantheaCon (kinda unwillingly) that I was going to work to rebuild Hellenic worship in Boston. (It wasn’t a vow. It was more of a sacred charge the priestess at the Hellenic shrine in one of the suites put before me.)
I checked with diviners to determine my course of action. I gave offerings regularly to Aphrodite for two months. (I gave either I thought of it as a trial period. I made no vows to Her or any of the gods that I would continue. But my fervor dimmed. Then, I moved and it took a while to set up my altars. In that pause, I don’t want to say I lost interest. But it feels more like an obligation rather than love. I set up my altar to Aphrodite and still give offerings but I don’t feel as into it as I was.
On the other hand, we have Sri Ganesha. Now I’ve been off-and-on in my devotion to Ganesha over the years. Some months, my altar has done nothing but collect dust. Especially the years around my transplant, when I felt like I’d been abandoned by Him (for various reasons).
But I always keep coming back and, as the years go by, I feel the connection growing deeper and deeper. After 16 or so years, I feel a confidence to my Ganesh-worship. I worship in the morning, worship in the evening. I give what I can give, both in time and physical offering.
I see His influence in my life. Are all of my obstacles removed? No. Definitely not. But I have been blessed with a wonderful new apartment, a kind, beautiful, and amazing partner who loves me despite my craziness and eccentricities, a job which can be annoying but is still the best job I’ve ever had. I have the means to support myself and enough time to focus on things like blogging or worship or my cooking experiments. (I recently made my own homemade tofu! I should start a food blog.)
In a way, I see Aphrodite’s influence in my life as well. I am, and have been for all of my life, surrounded by love. Sometimes I’m too caught in my own shit to recognize it, but it’s there. I have been very blessed. I had a brother who gave up his kidney for me. I had parents who spent night after sleepless night taking care of me. (I was a very sick infant.) I have a wonderful girlfriend who has to remind me of things on a regular basis because my head is constantly in the clouds. I have a community of friends (Big F and little f) in the Quaker house I recently moved out of.
If that’s not Aphrodite’s favor, I don’t know what is. And I am deeply thankful for it. That’s what gets me going back to Her altar.
There’s a prayer that I made up for Sri Ganesha.
The image on my altar has a fairly common depiction of Him with four arms. He holds a noose in His upper left hand, a goad (like a dull axe, used to direct movement in elephants) in His upper right hand, His lower right hand is in the abhaya position (which means “fear not”) and the lower left hand carries sweets.
My prayer is “O Lord Ganesha, with your noose, pull me closer to You and what You want for me. With Your goad, keep me away from that which is harmful to me or that which separates me from You. May I always remember that I have taken refuge in You and not fear or worry. May I always be mindful of the many blessings You have surrounded me with, and not take them for granted.”
There’s a tendency to focus on the obstacles in life (and there will always be obstacles). But by focusing on the blessings, and affirming this on a daily basis..or even a weekly one, it helps me to overcome that attitude…which is, in itself…an obstacle.