Posts Tagged ‘isis’

I’ve recently realized I am properly a dumbass polytheist. A dumbass polytheist is one who buys a nice bottle of wine, with a cork, as an offering to the gods, and then discovers the corkscrew went to her ex.

(I bought a new one this weekend.)

Now that I have that out of my system…. I did something yesterday which I’ve been meaning to do for weeks, namely, to visit the museum and look at the ancient art with an eye to god-spotting and ancient religious practice.

I’m pretty familiar with the collections at my museum, but it was eye-opening to look specifically for and at religious themes, religious art (with a couple of side tours into ancient jewelry… *sigh*). The Egyptian collection has a lot of representations of deities, all of whom I greeted sotto voce. In one area, two statues of Isis suckling Horus and of Osiris, each twelve to eighteen inches high, face one another, forming a quartet with the busts of a pharaoh and a priest. “Mery”, the museum’s resident mummy, lies in her painted coffin accompanied by four Canopic jars capped with the images of the sons of Horus, a box for the jars that also depicts Isis and Nephthys, and an array of amulets depicting or symbolizing Thoth and other gods. I saw images of Bes, Hathor, Amun, and Taweret in addition to the deities already mentioned, and the entrance to the Egyptian rooms is flanked by two images of Sekhmet as a couching lion.

The Greek and Roman exhibits have covetable jewelry but fewer divine images. I had hoped that I might see Hadrian and/or Antinous, but there seemed to be no representations of them at all. I saw Diana, Venus, Athene, Eros, and some other deities, but the highlight of the Greek and Roman collections was a splendid large head of Serapis. Even missing his basket crown and body, his image was beautiful and moving. I snapped a halfway-decent phone picture of him, thanks to the natural light in his location.

Altogether it was a worthwhile trip and a good way to get out of the house on a lazy Sunday. Hail to the gods and goddesses of Egypt, Greece, and Rome!


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Thorn Coyle asks:


What do I call myself? 25 years ago, I would have said a Witch. These days, I might say I am a Pagan Mystic seeking to spread joy and unfold the Mystery. Twenty years from now, I will likely say something else. Twenty years from that, perhaps I will cease to need any identification at all….
I do not care what you call yourself or by which label you identify. What I care about are these: Do you love? Do you practice? Do you spread joy and seek out Mastery? Are you attempting to know yourself? Are you strong? Are you kind? How do you deepen? What is your commitment? 

As for the rest, I barely care anymore. I feel grateful for my training. I feel grateful for the beauty that traditions give rise to, just as I feel grateful for any great art or science. But I also feel grateful for poppies and lavender, and laughter, and well made hummus with raw vegetables, and chocolate pot du creme. I feel grateful for deep thinkers, and bright lovers, for stone circles on hilltops and drinking tea in bed during a rainstorm.

My religion is connection. What is yours? How do you identify?

A lot of people answered. Their answers are well worth reading. I replied:

Oh how I wish I had a simple answer to your questions. 

I have been struggling for about a year with the paradox of having taken refuge in the Three Jewels, and finding in Buddhism an overarching system that makes sense of *everything*, including Western religions/wisdom traditions, and still not feeling ready to *identify* as “a Buddhist”.

And struggling with the reality that every other religion or path I have tried, before the Dharma, has somehow let me down.

My motivation is bodhicitta: getting myself together, getting myself free, so that I can help other beings get free. One for all and all for one. My practices are Buddhist, Hermetic, devotional, creative/artistic. Trying to be aware of what’s happening, to remember my motivation, and to do my practices and take the practice attitude into the rest of life.

When I sit at my desk at home, I am facing a gathering of objects and images. My desk is an altar, or a shrine. I don’t always write there or sit there to do inner work, but it is my space, my own. I face a gilded statue of Tara, the great bodhisattva who liberates from fear, who vowed to achieve enlightenment in a woman’s body or not at all. To her right and left are a smaller Tara statue of black resin and a tiny Ganesh of painted clay. Ganesh is the Remover of Obstacles; we talk over offerings of chocolate, and he helps me find my way.
There are two abstract statues by Abby Willowroot, a black Goddess and a white God decorated with spiral and tree patterns. There is a small statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a slightly larger one of the Buddy Christ from the movie Dogma. A black Buddha sitting zazen and a clay-colored Isis offering her breast. Feathers from my birds, stones, shells, a cauldron for incense, a blue clay cup of water, candles. At various times my wand, my ritual blade, my pantacle for magical work have joined the display.
On another wall in the same room is a Buddha shrine in Tibetan Buddhist style, with a brocade covering, statues of buddhas and bodhisattvas, seven small offering bowls filled with water. Icons of Christian saints line the walls of the hallway. How do I identify? what do I call myself?
Where I sit is where I stand. I have symbols of what has been sacred to me, what is magical, what is helpful, what points me to spirit and helps me practice. I look at spiritual practitioners around me, blogging on the Internet, appearing in the news, passing through my life, and ask: What is your motivation? Do you have the mind-heart of enlightenment, the altruistic drive that Buddhism calls bodhicitta? Are you in it just to biggify yourself, or do you seek your own freedom and fulfillment in order to share that with other people, with all sentient beings? Do you show patience, kindness, compassion? Do you offer wisdom or just buzz-words? Do you come back to your ideals when you fail of them, or do you just rationalize it for yourself?
You might call me eclectic, or syncretic. But where I stand is the Mahayana perspective of the bodhisattva vow, the motivation of bodhicitta, one for all and all for one, and how I move, how I practice is the accelerated means that the East calls Tantra or Vajrayana and the West calls Magic: Enlightenment in this lifetime. Or not long after, I hope.

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