This series, which I hope to publish every Friday, will focus on specific prayers for the Thiasos of the Starry Bull. These prayers may be original creations, chants, translations of ancient prayers, or analyses of modern ones, but all will be useful for members of the Thiasos. That said, let’s get started!
This week’s prayer has a bit of a story to it. During the weekend of the Polytheism Leadership Conference, I had a bit of divination done for me concerning my veneration of Dionysos as the Starry Bull. While most of it was good news, there was a strong indication that some internal work is needed. In common (internet) parlance, I have some shadow-work to do.
The first focus of my shadow-work is my relationship with food. I tend not to make this public knowledge, as it rarely comes up in conversation, but I have an eating disorder. It’s not of the nice, neat variety that fits into a simple box of anorexia or bulimia; it’s my own idiosyncratic obsession-revulsion tango with food and body image. There are reasons it exists, but this post isn’t really the time or place to get into them. Suffice to say that, in order to work with a God who asks me to give up total control of myself at times, I must learn to trust, to open up, to let go.
Of course, surrendering control over oneself is a key sticking point for anyone with a disorder that centers around obsessions, guilt, and compulsions. I joke about being a control freak, but the idea that I may eat in a way that is somehow wrong or disgusting is a very real fear in my life. (Worse still is the fear that I may enjoy eating in a way that is wrong or disgusting.)
The current plan is for me to find a counselor, someone who can help talk me through this and show me ways to navigate the fears that accompany this disorder. I’ll admit to being less than thrilled about the idea of counseling, but this isn’t just about me–this is about my family and others whose lives my own might touch.
That point, though–it not being about me–holds true with religion as well. My religion is not about me. It is about my Gods. Any therapy I undergo must work within the bounds of my practice. I leave you all, then, with a prayer you can use for meal times, and a brief explanation following it:
This food nourishes me so my actions can nourish the Starry Bull.
This food nourishes me. This food–whatever it is, whether it’s the “right” food or not, whether it’s healthy or an indulgence–is giving me the energy to continue living. This energy enables me to honor the Gods of the Thiasos. With that energy, my actions can nourish the Starry Bull. I get an opportunity to worship Dionysos every time I speak, or act, or write. Why should I surrender those opportunities to fear?
Being mindful of an action is the first step to changing that action. I hope that every time I make use of this prayer, I’ll remember that I have far, far better reasons to eat than to live in fear of eating.
Emily Kamp is a Hellenic polytheist, devoted in particular to Hestia, Hermes, and Dionysos the Starry Bull. When not teaching high-school Latin or making horrendous puns, she is the moderator of an online shrine to Hestia (which doubles as a daily devotional for polytheists of all stripes).