Saule

Worshiping Saule: Summer Solstice 2016

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Today is the time for one of my favorite holidays- summer solstice, a day devoted to Saule and her daughters. I don’t really have much planned, but I’ve already left her the first cup of coffee of the day and given her an offering of water, and later I’ll be lighting candles to her and her daughters Zemyna and Ausrine. Truthfully, she has more children than that, but I only have so much room on my altar. I’ll probably light an extra candle that’ll be for her other daughters.

…Truthfully, she has more children than that, but I only have so much room on my altar, so I’ll probably light a fourth candle for the rest of her daughters.

Saule’s been with me for a good two or three years at this point. My relationship with her started… maybe two weeks after my relationship with the Norse gods ended? I didn’t really take my time in moving from one pantheon to another, which is something that I sometimes regret but mostly don’t.

In retrospect, it would have been nice to pick and choose more carefully where I wanted to go religiously. But I was sixteen or seventeen, and making slow careful decisions wasn’t a huge priority. It still isn’t, if I’m honest with myself.

In my experience with Saule, she’s a very energetic deity. She’s a very cheerful deity too; she’s very encouraging, but also very hands off. She doesn’t try to control anything about my life; she doesn’t really ask very much of me, to be quite honest. I’m more than a little grateful; I’m still struggling to be and act like an adult, and I appreciate the time to figure out where I’m at.

Anyway. Here are some of the traits of Saule that seem particularly important to me:

Saule is associated with apples. Apparently, this especially applies to yellow ones, but I associate her strongly with red ones, myself.

She also has a boat. So mythologically, after she gets over debeskalns, the heavenly mountain, she ends up sleeping on a boat that takes her under the earth, over the underground sea, and back to where she starts the day. Kinda like Ra’s barque, I guess, except with more sleeping and rest and less Constant Threat of Universal Destruction. This boat is piloted by Perkunatele, who is a goddess that we really don’t know much about.

…At least, those of us who speak English.

In Lithuanian mythology, Saule is the mother of the planets. I’ve said this before, but it just seems so COOL to me that I’m going to say it again. The sun is the mother of the planets? Doesn’t that just make all kinds of sense? space-1414114_1920

In Latvian mythology, she and her daughters court Deivs and his sons. In Latvian mythology, she has approximately two daughters (father unknown). Dievs, the god of the sky and (probable) creator of Everything has two sons (mother unknown). These families court each other, but to my knowledge, no one actually marries.

In Lithuanian mythology, she and Menuo (the god of the moon) are separated. However, because they both love Zemyna, the earth, they’ve split their time in the sky in half so that both get to see their daughter. 

I’ve always been uncertain about Menuo and Saule’s marital status. So, the rundown is that Menuo cheated on Saule with her daughter Ausrine* (goddess of the morning star), Perkunas sliced him into pieces for his betrayal of Saule, and the two of them parted ways after that.

However, there’s some indication that the two of them are still, in some way, married. Menuo is described as continuing to cheat on Saule with Ausrine, causing Perkunas to perpetually cut him into pieces as punishment. (He’s put back together by Ausrine, by the way. This explains the phases of the moon.)

And there’s also a really cute myth that describes eclipses as being when Saule and Menuo kiss. See, it gets dark because they throw a blanket over themselves so that Zemyna, their daughter, doesn’t see.

…But there’s also the possibility that I’m mixing myths from different areas of Lithuania together. SO. Keep your salt with you, guys.

Saule really likes coffee and hot drinks. This is in no way supported by any mythology or archeology. It’s pure UPG. But in my experience, she likes tea, and I gather that she likes coffee as well, so.

 

Anyway. That’s my piece for today. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that your solstice is beautiful and enchanting.

*For the record, I’ve never seen any indication that Ausrine was Menuo’s daughter, and I’ve seen a little indication that she’s Perkunas’s daughter. So. I don’t think incest has much to do with the story, though I could be mistaken.

Reaching Down to the Core

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What’s at the core of your religion? What is the foundation of your practice? Why is it so important to you?

I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot. And these last few months, my focus has been on stripping back my practice; thinking about why I’m Kemetic, why I worship the deities I do, what it does for me, and how it effects my  daily life.

So, here’s what I’ve found.

The core of my religious practice revolves around two deities.

The first is Ma’at. For me, Ma’at is in the cycles of everyday life; it’s in the rising and setting of the sun, in relationships between people, in supporting one’s community and telling the truth. I try to structure my life around maintaining good Ma’at (which sometimes works out and sometimes does not).

The second is Saule. She’s my favorite deity, and she’s been around as long as I’ve been in paganism. I remember once that I tried to stop worshiping her for a period of six months, during a time period when I was trying to be purely Kemetic. Guess how that worked out?

It didn’t. I couldn’t stop seeing her in the sunlight, or in apple trees, or the sun. I missed her a lot. Which is silly to say about an invisible being, but, y’know, it is as it is.

I’m weak. I need my imaginary friend.

The only reason I don’t put Saule before Ma’at is because Ma’at forms the basis of my worldview. Everything lives on Ma’at; Ma’at is the only way that anything can function well and consistently. (And it’s ironic that I give Ma’at this position because I don’t think I’ve ever done any rituals to Ma’at, whereas I pray to Saule all the time).

Anyway. I’m beginning to see the two of them as working closely together, at least as it pertains to order, love, and functionality.

Now to preface this. I know that there’s a rule among pagans that if you worship two different pantheons, you should keep your worship of the pantheons separate. Because, you know, that happened all the time in antiquity, right? People kept their pantheons and beliefs separate from one another with absolutely no integration. At all. Ever.

I’m being a little sarcastic, but truthfully, there’s no historical basis for the melding of the Egyptian and Lithuanian gods. How could there be? The time periods, areas, and cultures are as separate as they come.

However, even keeping that in mind, I do see Saule and Ma’at as working together.

Saule cares for children and mothers. Saule’s mythos is very cyclical a revolves around birth, death, and formation. Saule brings the dead to the underworld, caring for people even after they’ve passed away. She is the ultimate expression of love. And in this way, I see Saule as maintaining Ma’at.

It’s… probably a little bit blasphemous. The Baltic tribes did not have any concept comparable to Ma’at. How could they? As I said, Egypt was very different from Lithuania.

But… you know… I am a Kemetic. I’m a Kemetic that worships foreign gods. And that means that ultimately I end up fitting everything in my life into a more Kemetic worldview; seeing things in terms of Ma’at and Isfet, maintenance and destruction.

I mean, it’s a little bit weird. But it fits and it works, and Saule’s happy and I’m happy and Ma’at- well, who knows what’s going on with Ma’at- but anyway, everything’s still running smoothly. And with that in mind, I’m going to continue this odd sort of integration that my practice seems to be doing.

To be honest, it pains me a little to talk about this. I know that many people think that part of being a Good Pagan means keeping the pantheons one worships separate. That each pantheon is its Own Thing and doesn’t overlap with any other at all.

But I disagree. Gods, religion, and spirituality are all growing things. And while it’s true that one goes about worshiping the Baltic and Kemetic gods somewhat differently, I don’t think that means that they don’t interact with each other. And I don’t think that means that you can’t worship them together, so long as one keeps an ear out to what they’re saying (and stops if they start complaining about what you’re doing).

Anyhow. That’s what’s at the core of my belief system. What’s at yours?  Whatever’s at your center, thank you so much for reading, and may the sun always be at your back.

Devotional Work

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I’m considering what devotion means for me.

Devotion, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means something along the lines of love, piety, and loyalty. There’s a more exact meaning, but I’m far to lazy to go and write it down today.

What catches me, though, is how well the words “devotional work” fit my practice with Saule.

Every day- or, six days a week- I start the day with light exercise. I shower. I brush my teeth, shave, and get dressed in clean clothes. Then I go to the altar and leave water for Saule.

I’ve been doing this for… a little bit over a year total, and generally worshiping her for perhaps three to four years longer than that. (That’s really up for debate, though, due to things that I don’t feel like sharing here.)

I did take a period of six months or so in which I stopped leaving her water so I could flirt with Kemetism. However, that ended when I realized that She’d never left, and I’d never stopped believing that She was watching over me.

So, while I sort of still consider myself at least somewhat Kemetic, it takes a back seat to my work with Saule.

Sometimes, I wonder if I would have chosen to honor Saule the way I have. It’s not to say that I don’t love Her- I do- but I’ve always had a deep fascination for Egypt, and I sometimes wonder how it could have been if I hadn’t started out where I did. If I’d chosen to work with a deity at all, I’d probably have gone to a Kemetic god, not a Baltic one.

On the other hand, I realize that I did, do, and always will have a choice when it comes to worshiping Her. She’s not a deity that would force Herself on anyone.

Which makes me wonder… why do I continue leaving water for Her every day? Is it just habit? Is it just something that I do? Why do I choose to keep going to her?

It’s not something that I know the answer to. However… on the other hand…

Well, without wanting to sound cheesy or corny, I think She loves me.

I don’t think it’s because I give Her water, either. Or, I hope it’s not just because I give her water. I honestly don’t know why She does, and I don’t know that it’s important.

She fills a lot of my life. She’s like a mother, a friend, a confidant, and a mentor and guide all at once. She’s the cool aunt that you want to hang around all the time, and she’s the gentle woman who literally wouldn’t hurt a fly.

I think I leave water for Her every day because I enjoy connecting with her on a daily basis. I do take days off, so to speak- days in which I don’t do any prayers, libations, or otherwise- but only because I need time for myself  to recharge. (I mean, there’s devotion, and then there’s fanaticism, and it’s important not to cross from the former to the latter.)

So, I guess that I’m currently quite devoted to Saule. She’s not my patron- honestly, I’ve yet to find a word that describes my relationship with Her well- but She’s my Goddess, and that warms me up inside.

Saule, Goddess of the Dead

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Okay, so here’s something that I’ve been thinking about involving Saule.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about this myth of her that I found (you can see it here) that involves her taking the souls of the dead to the afterlife.

Now, if you don’t know Saule (and unless you’ve read my other posts, there’s no reason that you would or should), she’s a Lithuanian and Latvian goddess of the sun, who drives across the sky mountain on her chariot, pouring sunlight from a jug. And apparently, as she goes driving around, she picks up souls as she goes.

I sort of like this myth, honestly. It’s peaceful to think of the sunlight being responsible for taking away the souls of the dead. It’s also a new angle for me on her, as I’m used to thinking about her as a goddess of living and life. However, in a way this makes complete sense- she watches over the unlucky and over orphans, so it only goes to follow that she’d take care of the people that need her the most- the dead.

(Okay, I don’t actually know that the dead need her more than the living. In fact, most of the time, I’d argue the opposite. However, for the purposes of this post, let’s just assume that they need help getting places too, mmkay?)

There are parallels in her myth itself, too. See, in the morning when she wakes up, she takes her jug of light and goes riding across the earth in her cart, pouring it across the earth. When she reaches the ends of the earth, she stops, bathes her horses, and then takes a boat underneath the earth. While she’s on the boat,  she sleeps. There’s another goddess, Perkunatele, who guides her safely to the other side, where she wakes up and begins again.

If one equates Saule’s sleeping with the concept of death (which I am for this post), that means that her myth involves a constant cycle of dying and being reborn. And consider this: in the myths, the sun itself is remade every morning by Kalvis, the god of the smith.

Birth. Travel. Death. I can see parallels within human life, too. Honestly, sometimes, I think of her less as a sun goddess and more as a goddess that takes care of people and who happens to be in charge of the sun. I suspect that interpretation has more to do with the role she plays in my life, though.

(Note: While I certainly think that she’s a goddess of the dead, she’s not *the* goddess of death. That would be Giltine, who we will definitely discuss, but on a different day.)