My Hand to Gods
I speak of religious statues, to which I have been addicted ever since I was a small Catholic child. (Well, a child living in a Catholic household, anyway: I don’t know as I could ever call myself a Catholic…)
I had issues with the dogma from the get-go, but man did I LOVE me them statues! And other stuff, like rosaries and medals. Sacramentals, as such things were called. Ritual oojiboos. But the statues were the thing.
I had Blessed Mother statues of all sizes and shapes, and tiny plastic or leather cases with metal statues inside that you could carry around in a pocket, and cute plastic shrines that looked like garden arbors. Once, for being a showoffy second-grader whom the principal, the ever so ironically named Mother Benigna, utilized to taunt an eighth-grade boy with his lack of reading skills, I won a lovely little bust of the BVM carved in salt! (I know ’cause I tasted it…and I was lucky that that lectorially challenged kid didn't beat me up in the playground after school. Still, it was the nun's fault...)
Wasn’t so big on Jesus, though. For some reason, he and the apostles annoyed me. Though I was intrigued by the Holy Ghost, and if I had to pick a favorite trinity member, that would be the one. But Michael the Archangel, Mary, St. Joan…all faves.
My parents encouraged this, mistakenly thinking it a symbol of piety, but it was really just greed, and I knew it then.
And when I returned to being a Pagan, wow, the stuff was EXCELLENT! So I started collecting statues of deities. I must have hundreds by now: some are altar-size and not very portable, and some are tiny—my road gods.
These come with me whenever I travel, a carefully rotated selection according to who's been where last and the requirements of the trip (LA is different than Scotland). They can be no more than four inches high. They cannot be metal, since heads of Dionysus and a three-faced Irish Mother Goddess ran into trouble with Homeland Security, who tossed them around like tiny grenades and kept X-raying them, and laughing as if the grinning idiots had never seen such things before, most disrespectful. So they don’t come with me anymore.
Mostly the road gods live at work, where about 60 of them occupy the entire windowsill in my office. People think they’re just cool art objects, so I don’t have the difficulties a Christian might have with people objecting to religious displays. Besides, most of these actually are art objects, replicas or indeed originals of Old Good Things, therefore MUCH more aesthetically tasteful and pleasing to look at than kitschy Jesus stuff.
(And why IS Jesus always shown in such saccharine and little-girly wussymodes? Hey! The guy was a rough, tough Galilean carpenter and fisherman, who had no problem whipping moneychangers out of the Temple. But his depictors never seem to want to butch him up...could they be, oh, I don't know, AFRAID to show him as a Real Man?)
It’s hard to find small statues, a lot harder than you’d think. I have and have seen a bunch that I would just loooove to have in travel-size (looking at YOU, Dryad Designs Morrigan! I’m needing a three-inch version, not twice that), but no. Though I must say eBay’s been a good source, and none of my acquisitions were outrageously priced.
Still, I’ve been really fortunate: that head of Dionysus is a Roman bronze from the 1st century CE; one of the Celtic Goddess “Senara” (nobody’s sure), same period; terracotta heads of Dionysus and Zeus from Magna Graecia (too delicate to travel); Diana; Ariadne; assorted Zuni fetishes; a tiny silver Brighid that was a gift from MDF sukipot; La Dame de Brassempouy, a replica of a prehistoric Mother Goddess from the caves of France, original in ivory, hair in cornrows, a gift from MDF Phyllis Curott; a delicate ivory head of Isis crowned from the 1920s; solid silver Thor, Frey, Freyja and Odin; a fabulous carved red jade disc with Kuan Yin one side and a stag with stars on the other; a tinted carved bone tablet I had made of the goddess Maeve, copied from the logo of the Abbey Theatre. Good stuff, and soooo much more.
I’ll be passing all these on to my Pagan friends when I set sail, so if anyone has a particular yen for something, do let me know in timely fashion so I can put a tiny sticker on it. (I love doing this, btw; I spend hours and hours figuring out my will, and who gets what. It’s all about control, even as I am leaning upon the taffrail on a grey ship bound to Valinor…not anytime soon, I promise.)
But mostly I just like having these things around. I like looking at them. I talk to them. They’re company, comfort and consolation. Which is all you can ask of a god, really.