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The Foundations of the Temple

In the soft glow of the lights framing the four Gates, the Gods breathe gently. Wave upon slow rolling wave of presence drips from the icons, the altars, overflows the offering bowls. We sit drinking presence. Time happens elsewhere in the rush and jostle of the event. Here there is only glow, presence, stillness, power, communion, memory. The prayer beads turn in my fingers. Sid co nem, nem co doman. Sid co nem, nem co doman.

A worshiper comes in, genuflects, turns to the largest shrine, catches her breath, reaches her knees. Her friend stops and stands, hand pulled to his heart. I sit in stillness, eyes half-lidded, one heartbeat here in this Temple, one heartbeat in its counterpart in the Otherworld, watching in both. Visitors come and go. A woman whispers urgently on her knees before the Great Queen. Another worshiper stands with the gaze of rapture, smiles, pours out whiskey. Another weeps achingly. I begin to sing.

This was the Coru Temple at PantheaCon last weekend. On Friday afternoon, we began building the Temple as soon as we arrived at the convention, first purifications in a nearly-empty room before building the altars. All afternoon and into the evening the priests gathered, swirling about the space, raising the shrines, laying out the regalia, preparing the offerings. That night with a room full of worshipers, we consecrated the Temple of the Morrígan and the Tuatha. We invoked the Gods, heroes, ancestors. Opened the Gates to the cities of the Otherworld. Poured out offerings, chanted, prayed.

I thought that night that the Temple felt full of holy and Otherworld power. I thought that night that the Gods were present, vibrant, alive, speaking.

But that was only the first night. As the hours and days slipped on, and further waves of machaworshipers came through the temple in singles, handfuls, groups; as offering after offering were poured out, the bowls filled to overflowing, emptied at the feet of the birch trees outside, and filled again; as prayers filled every shrine… The presences only grew stronger, brighter, more resonant. By afternoon of the second day, the Gods were so numinous I could feel the wave of responding presence wash over me as if the air itself moved whenever a fresh offering was poured. By the third day, They stood like pillars, outreaching the Temple itself, as tall as the whole building, it seemed.

Sleeping in there was an adventure, let me tell you. We drifted in and out of Otherworld shadows, Gods looming over us, listening to the muttered talk of heroes and ghosts. Yes, ghosts. It turns out that if you build a spiritual refuge in a busy crossroads place, wandering spirits will find it and take solace there. They too were greeted, tended, given hospitality, and sent on their way.

I like to imagine a time when being at a Pagan convention doesn’t just mean big rituals and big parties. I like to imagine a PantheaCon where there are Temples and shrines for all our various pantheons. I like to imagine a whole floor of suites where instead of just hospitality rooms and parties, there are Temples in every suite. I like to imagine visiting my cohorts in other devotional traditions, paying my respects in their Temples, priests introducing me to their Gods in a more intimate and personal way than a big group ritual allows for. How beautiful would that be?

One word to the wise, though. If this idea inspires you and you’re contemplating establishing a Temple like this next year – it may be a bit of a Devil’s bargain. Once your Gods have had a Temple of Their own and the opportunity to be bathed in offerings and worship in this way, They may not settle for anything less afterward. The joy and the burden of service.

The statues, icons and regalia have been carried back to the different homes of the Coru priests. My tiny bedroom is full of huge Gods now, every available surface converted into a temporary shrine until I find places to honor Them all properly. The vessel of earth that contains the foundations of the Temple is heavy, heavy, heavy. I carried it with awe as I unpacked it, acutely aware of what I held in my hands. The joy and the burden of service.

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11 Responses to “The Foundations of the Temple”

  1. Cheryl March 13, 2014 at 2:42 am #

    That sounds like a wonderful event and I know that it gave many more blessings than it took sacrifices. I would love to attend such an event one day, and I hope such events will continue on. It is quite a euphoric thought to imagine temples to pagan Gods and Goddesses and various belief systems having their own temples and perhaps one day being as accessible as the temples of larger religions.

    One day, I would like to build the Morrigan a temple as well, though there are many hurdles. I very much wish I were not so far and that I could visit and learn from your temple.

  2. Yewtree March 7, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Ooooooohhhhhh it sounds wonderful

  3. RevAllyson February 21, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    What a beautiful thing! This is how I see cons… a few large rituals yes, to allow people to mingle and such, but singular areas where people can learn. The Alexandria of cons, if you will. Doors open to all, but with the caveat that you BEHAVE when in another religion’s temple, and you follow the basic rules. Such a great way to introduce people to the many, glorious, amazing ways to worship the myriad of Deities that encircle and enshroud our lives.

  4. P. Sufenas Virius Lupus February 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    Oh, I wish I had more time, and knew more of who was enshrined therein…

    Nonetheless, the few moments I had (which I’ll be writing about in the next few days) were quite wonderful. Thank you for making this available to the community!

    Indeed, I’d love to have a hospitality suite at some point for the Ekklesia Antinoou, and a temple…he’s not had a working temple for 1500 years or so.

  5. Brenda February 21, 2014 at 2:55 am #

    The temple was absolutely beautiful. I highly admire the dedication and work that went into it. It was inspiring and I am grateful to have had the chance to see it.

  6. JoBeth Sexton February 20, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    I must tell you that this brought tears of reverence, of awe, of inspiration to my eyes. I so wanted to be there this year. But, the funds for travel are being channeled into a new home, one that will be a covenstead.
    Still, as I read your words, I had such intense visuals and and incredible sense of living and breathing Gods and Goddesses, that I could not help but catch my breath. What an incredibly beautiful picture you have painted of the temple where you were. You have a gift for that.
    Thank you for sharing this with those of us who could not be there.

    • Darien Revel February 21, 2014 at 6:00 am #

      “I like to imagine a time when being at a Pagan convention doesn’t just mean big rituals and big parties. I like to imagine a PantheaCon where there are Temples and shrines for all our various pantheons. I like to imagine a whole floor of suites where instead of just hospitality rooms and parties, there are Temples in every suite. I like to imagine visiting my cohorts in other devotional traditions, paying my respects in their Temples, priests introducing me to their Gods in a more intimate and personal way than a big group ritual allows for. How beautiful would that be?”

      That idea spun into action would be GLORIOUS. The Coru Temple was possibly my favorite place at Pantheacon for precisely this reason. The presence was undeniable. It was an honor to be able to meet the Morrigan in Her own consecrated space. I only wish I had had more opportunity to linger longer, commune more deeply. Many thanks to your priesthood for hosting such a temple, and I hope that others take to the idea as well and in the future add their sacred spaces to the mix.

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