Generational Trauma, Dolphins, and Neptune

Odin, the Norse All-Father, recruited me into Polytheism. Since outside of Odin, no other Norse God seemed interested in me, I questioned my baffling experiences. Later I found out that there is a Group of Gods (Sekhmet, The Morrigan, Odin, Hekate, and Dionysus.) who recruit people into Polytheism. (Recruiting Gods will often leave the person once they become a Polytheist.) However at the time, I was frustrated and disappointed at having no rapport with anyone.

During my struggles, I attended different rituals held by other Polytheists. When I went to a Roman one, I met Neptune. During this rite, I felt a 1,000 volts of electricity coursing through me. My head was on fire and my hair stood on end. Neptunus Pater (Father Neptune) made Himself known to me. I was welcomed into the Roman Pantheon of Gods. I felt as if I had come home. Later, I realized that the Roman Gods wait before introducing Themselves to practicing Polytheists.

It turns out that my family had a long relationship with Neptune. For generations, they thrived in union with the sea. Mariners, boat builders, and fisher folk received their livelihood from the ocean. However, like all reciprocal relationships, both sides require sacrifices.

The rupture with Neptune came when my grandfather’s father lost his entire family in a horrific storm. They were fishing on Georges Bank in the Atlantic at the time. Following the news, his sorrowful mother made him (her youngest) promise never to go to the sea again. She cursed it for destroying her life. Afterwards, she would chide laughing or happy people with, “Remember you were born to die.”

After that, his father took to farming and was miserable. He passed that misery onto his family and to future generations. Since we are not independent of our ancestors, this transgenerational trauma becomes a part of us. The sickness in my family came out as abuse and addiction.

Since ever I could remember, I disliked dolphins. I could not abide people gushing over these ill-tempered bullies. Dolphins symbolized the deep trauma of my family losing an entire generation. Instead of saving the drowning men, the dolphins acted as psychopomps guiding them across the water to the Afterlife. Neptune had wanted his offerings from my family.

After years of living inland, my father settled us next to the sea. Then the healing could begin. In middle age, my father discovered joy in puttering about in his small sailboat, a blue J. Sailing in the Long Island Sound between New York and Connecticut, he had fun. Sailing with him was an exercise in not caring if we were lousy sailors or not. We had finally made peace with the sea.

Repairing my family’s relationship with Neptunus Pater has been healing for me. The trauma that my family carried is now dissipating. My relationship with Him now is one of sacra gentilicta – keeping rites for the God of my family. It is my sacred duty to make offerings on behalf of my family including the Ancestors lost at sea. I have weekly devotions to Neptunus Pater, and an annual rite during the Neptunalia in July.

Ritual is an ideal way of healing transgenerational trauma. It offers a container to hold the grief. By reconnecting with Neptunus Pater, He allowed me to move the trauma from the present to the past. Stoicism had allowed my family to survive this tragedy. We never mentioned their names again. I released the trauma through radical inclusion by acknowledging those lost at sea.

Meanwhile, I have also made peace with the Dolphins, His Messengers. I forgave Them for not saving my family, and understood that guiding my family to the Afterlife was equally as important. The name of the blog is our reaffirmed relationship with each other.

“Sea Fever” by John Masefield (1878 – 1967, English)

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Works Used

Patricia Kathleen Robertson, “Connect With Your Ancestors.” 2017. Peaceful Possibilities Press: Calgary (CAN).
—, “Let Your Tears Flow.” 2017.
—, “Step Into the Light.” 2019

How Babylonian and Roman Gods Recruit Followers

The Roman Gods do not actively recruit from the greater population. I was recruited into Polytheism by Odin, the Norse All-Father. After following the Norse Gods for some time, Neptune of the Romans showed Himself to me. Since then, I have encountered people who have become Roman Polytheists after being Norse. They said it was a natural progression from the “chaotic” Gods to the more “orderly” Ones. Different pantheons have different expectations of their followers. Roman Gods prize order and structure, whereas the Norse are comfortable with chaos.

Since there is overlap with Greek Gods in many people’s minds, the Roman Gods would rather leave the followers of the Hellenic Gods alone. I have noticed that conflation occurs for various Gods such as Poseidon and Neptune in discussions about Gods in general. Recognizing the differences between the Two Gods can be difficult.

Moreover many Celtic followers are resistant to Roman Gods because of the Romans’ war with the Druids. There are Celtic-Roman Gods such as Sulis but their worship does not seem to extend to Roman Gods. Then there is the “coolness” factor of the Norse and Celtic pantheons which people find exciting. Perhaps this is because of all that exposure that people have to Greco-Roman myths and none to these other pantheons.

In my observations, Roman Gods refer people who are already practicing Polytheists. From my experience with Roman Polytheism, it requires daily and regular practice. Since These Gods are “Romans,” They do prize organized over ad hoc devotions. Perhaps that is why the Roman Gods are more reluctant to actively recruit, since many Pagans have eclectic practices.

The Babylonian Gods have a problem in attracting many followers. They and the Canaanite Gods are often first encountered in a negative light in the Old Testament of “The Bible.” Therefore, it is hard for the average Pagan to want to know any of these Gods since they associate Middle-Eastern Gods with Christianity. Also, the Old Testament treats these Gods as figments of people’s imaginations. For these reasons, Marduk, Nanna, and the other Gods do not seem as “real” as the Egyptian Gods. Often the Babylonian Gods will fade into the background.

Another problem for the Babylonian Gods is the meme set forth by the late Zecharia Stichin that the Anunnaki are space aliens who created humans to be their slave species. Stichin took various Babylonian myths and re-invented them to fit his theories. These aliens come from the planet Nibiru (“the 12th planet”) which supposedly passes by Earth every 3,500 years. At that time, they come to earth to bedevil humanity. The meme goes downhill from there and into ancient astronaut theories and alien-human hybrids.

The popularity of Inanna (Ishtar), the Goddess of Love and War often impede people from knowing the other Babylonian Gods. (A popular chant includes Her Name with others Goddesses.) The Pagan devotion to Inanna is often divorced from the other Babylonian Gods. Usually, it is centered in Goddess Worship, whose followers see the Goddesses as individuals and not rooted in particular pantheons. Therefore, Inanna becomes attached to Isis and the other Goddesses.

The devotion to Inanna does not usually transfer to the other Babylonian Gods. This is in contrast with Isis and Hecate, who followers will become acquainted with other Gods from their respective pantheons. I think it has to do with the Babylonian Gods Themselves. More formal in their relations with humans, these Gods expect a sense of propriety from their worshippers. Moreover, They want to be their worship to be rooted in their culture, which makes These Gods reluctant to deal with Eclectic Pagans.

My experience with the Babylonian Gods came from studying mythology and comparing various myths to popular culture. At that point, Marduk decided that I understood the “Enuma Elish,” the Babylonian Creation Epic. From intensive studying of that epic, I developed a devotion to this pantheon. The Babylonians, from what I can infer, prefer people who have little or no Christian residue, and are willing to take their myths seriously.

How Gods Recruit Their Followers

Since I follow several Gods, who are not as well-known as the Norse or Celtic pantheons, I often wonder how They get followers. Why are some Gods or pantheons are more popular than others? How do the lesser known pantheons go about getting devotees? Many Pagans follow Gods who are from the African Traditional Religions, Egyptian, Celtic, Greek or Norse pantheons. Meanwhile, various other Gods such as Inanna (Babylonian) and Astarte (Canaanite) are usually followed as individuals separate from their respective cultures.

One factor is that some of the more popular pantheons have Gods who actively recruit such as Odin and The Morrigan. Also, Sekhmet of the Egyptians recruits from the general population as does Dionysius of the Greeks. Within each of these pantheons are popular Gods such as Isis and Apollo, who also attract devotees. People will shift pantheons in their spiritual lives as some Gods come to speak to them, while other Gods leave. Odin and Sekhmet will often leave the person once they are settled in Paganism.

Another factor is that people are introduced to popular Gods such as Hecate in “Goddesses” books. These books often do bring people deeper into Paganism. However, many focus on the Goddesses as archetypes for self-empowerment, while others present the various Goddesses as aspects of the Great Goddess.

I have come to realize that the focus on individual Gods (Goddesses) in general Paganism hinders knowing some of the more obscure pantheons. Furthermore, Pagans often see Them as archetypes representing a part of a whole. To me, this is a paradox of extreme individualism and non-differentiation between Gods.

My experience with the Acheulian Goddess reflects some of the common problems faced by the more obscure Gods. I was approached by the Acheulian Goddess because of my work with the Early Human Dead. I see Her in that context, as a Goddess of Homo erectus, the Goddess of Beginnings. I know of only few people who differentiate between the various Neolithic Goddesses. I suspect that it is because in general culture, They are lumped together. Moreover, few discussions of Neolithic religion present each of these Goddesses as being discrete from each other.

I have met people who follow the Goddess Path, who venerate Her with the other Neolithic Goddesses. They tend to think of Her as a facet of the Great Goddess. Outside of the Goddess Worshipers, She attracts few people.

My experiences with lesser-known Gods is that They often wait until the person is firmly entrenched in Polytheism. These Gods are often from pantheons that require more structured practices than what eclectic Pagans often do. They are not usually accessible to the general population of Pagans.

The Bedrock of Roman Polytheism: Pax Deorum

My polytheism centers on my efforts to maintain the Pax deorum (the Peace of the Gods), which is the center of the Religio Romana (the Roman religion). This is the harmony between humans and the Gods. Affirming the Pax deorum is the basis of pietas (Roman piety). What does this mean? Piety entails ritual purity, doing the rituals correctly, making daily offerings, and saying daily prayers. It is rooted in deep respect for the Gods.

Another part of piety is ius divinum (sacred law). This recognizes what is rightfully the Gods’. A part of keeping the right relations is understanding what the rights of the Gods are. Do They have the right to be as They are? Do I insist that apolitical Janus, the Doorkeeper of the Gods, be involved in the affairs of humans? Do I tell Ceres of the Aventine Triad to ignore the rights of the poor and downtrodden? To ignore Their Rights is an act of impiety and promotes ira deorum (the Anger of the Gods).

Another part of pietas is do ut des (I give that you may give), which is the reciprocity between the person and their Gods. This is a cycle of gratitude for each other. I give to the Gods expecting that They will return in kind. I give in gratitude for what They give to me, and so the cycle of gratitude continues between us. Since the tradition of Religio Romana is having a client-patron relationship with the Gods, I do for Them what They cannot do for Themselves, and They do the same for me.

These three principles – Pax deorum, ius divinus, and do ut des govern my Roman polytheism. It may seem restrictive and businesslike to some but it suits me. I embrace the Gods as They are, and They me. Order and structure in my polytheism gives me the freedom to love Them.

One of my practices is to follow the Roman festival calendar. From that, I developed a system of “Gods of the Month” to focus on for that month. It helps me to keep my devotions for the month and to celebrate the various festivals. I would include the Gods of the Month in my morning devotions and afternoon ones, repeating various prayers that I wrote.

Of course, from “Gods of the Month” comes “Gods of the Day.” Each day, I would write a short prayer for the God of the Day, after my breakfast and before morning devotions. My prayers do include Gods from other pantheons, Who have requested that I make offerings to Them such as Marduk of the Babylonians and the Gods of my Anglo-Saxon ancestors. For example, September and October, when squirrels are active, I write prayers for Ratatosk, the Squirrely One of the World Tree.

For me, being a Polytheist means daily devotions to the Gods. Like many modern Polytheists, my Gods do not all belong to the same Pantheon. Although I consider myself a Roman Polytheist, I do venerate Other Gods. Because of my brain injury and devotional work with the Dead, Anubis, Hekate and the Morrigan have requested devotions. Meanwhile, my Anglo-Saxon Ancestors want their family Gods honored. Finally for reasons unclear to me, the Gods of Babylon and Canaan have asked me for devotions.

To accommodate all the Gods Whom I honor, I had to set up a schedule. How did I go about doing this? First, I read the lore, and then did divination which days would be appropriate for which Gods. Finally, I broke my day into three parts – morning, afternoon, and evening for my devotions. Since we all have our daily rituals such as brewing coffee or checking our phones, including one for devotions seemed reasonable.

Mornings are devoted to the Household Gods. Before breakfast, I light a candle and offer incense. I offer to Janus (who always receives the first and last offerings) for his service in guarding the doors. Then to Apollo for the health of our family, and Juno Custos for guiding my family. Vesta, the Eternal Flame who warms our home, receives her offering and prayers next. Finally, the Genius of the Paterfamilias is thanked for guarding our family.

After I do this, I do my weekly devotions by splitting the various Gods into mornings and afternoons. My schedule is as follows – Monday – Anubis and Hecate (morning), The Lady of Beasts and The Morrigan (afternoon). Tuesday – Freya (morning), Anubis and Hecate (afternoon). Wednesday – Odin. Thursday – Hercules, Neptune and the Roman Pantheon (morning), the Gods of Babylon and of Canaan (afternoon). Friday – Frigga. Saturday – the Penates and Lars. Sunday – the Dead.

Why these particular days? Monday is “moon” day, and those deities prefer that association. Tuesdays is traditional for Freya, Wednesdays for Odin, and Friday for Frigga. Anubis and Hecate asked for Tuesdays, and the Gods of Babylon and of Canaan for Thursday. Since Thursday is Thor’s day, Hercules reminded me that it is his day also. The Roman Gods requested Thursday as well. Saturday is grocery day, which is when the cupboards are replenished. Sunday is for the Dead, since it is a day of reflection for me.

The evening is reserved for the Gods of the Month. Nightly, I say prayers to Them before going to bed. It is a part of my evening routine like brushing my teeth.

©Virigina Carper 2019

Polytheism with a Brain Injury

Having a traumatic brain injury (TBI) complicates my life in a myriad of ways. For instance, I lost my sense of time. How do I know what day it is or when to plan something? I developed a system of using a calendar, a timer, and a day-planner. I write everything on the wall calendar and in my day-planner. Then I work out the day in my planner, and use my timer. Another part of my system is to anchor my days with regular activity and weeks in the same way. Monday is ironing, Tuesday banking, etc.

How does this work for the Gods of the Month and regular festivals in general? I put the festivals on the calendar and work out the Gods for each. Then I have the God of the Day list in my planner for my daily prayers. I have daily devotions that entail a schedule of regular “Gods of the Week” such as Neptune is always Thursday. This helps me to remember the changing Gods of the Day.

Doing meditation and other things is trickier. I have times when I go into an involuntary fugue state (a form of an absence seizure). When that happens, I need someone to help orient me back to the present world. In that state, I do sometimes have encounters with Gods that I have to piece together. I usually look for daily signs that the particular God did contact me. Once The Morrigan spoke to me in my fugue state. When I brushed the incident off as my imagination, She threw me out of bed. (I landed on my rear.)

Because of my traumatic brain injury (TBI), various forms of meditation are interdicted for me. For example, to meditate by watching a candle flame causes seizures from the flickering. Also, imaging myself a tree reaching to the sky and the earth removes me from reality. The result is that I cannot find my way back. The meditations that are encouraged for people with TBIs involve physical activity that uses both hemispheres of the brain. These types of meditations encourage a healthy brain while being rooted in reality.

What I do daily is cursive handwriting. According to Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Waldorf Schools, writing in cursive can be both meditative and character changing. Writing a page of Lacy Ls does calm down a racing brain. The repetitive movement across paper by the hand is soothing and serene. It frees the brain while keeping it tethered to reality.

I meditate using activities that anchor my mind to my body. Walking is ideal since it calms me down and promotes better brain health. From my walks around my neighborhood, I learned how to be a nature mystic. Watching squirrels in the trees, as I walk, becomes a meditation on Ratatoskr of the World Tree. Walking keeps me grounded and yet allows for contact from the Gods.

During my weekly walk up and down a long, steep hill, I pondered the houses nearby and their lawn ornaments. As I did, I kept getting messages from my House Lars (Family and Home Spirits) that They wanted a kitchen altar for Their devotions and offerings. The House Lars wanted me to recognize Their efforts to keep my family and home protected.

To ensure that I was not imaging Their Voices, I looked for signs in nature. I kept seeing chipmunks gathering nuts, which I associated with the Lars and Penates (the Keepers of the Pantry). When I got home, I set up altars to both Groups. The one for the Penates is on top of my refrigerator, and the one for the Lars is next to the stove. (I also have one to Venus Cloacina under my kitchen sink. She is the Goddess of Sewers and Purification.)

©Virigina Carper 2019