I am only now really starting out on a path of relationship with Elua and his Blessed Companions, though I have felt a strong connection with them for years now. I think I was afraid to explore it because of how people might perceive me, worshipping fictional gods.
I don’t really give a fuck now.
I’m going to talk about each of them as best I’m able to, this early. Each entry will be a mix of headcanon and canon. I feel a need to reread the books I’ve read already, and to read Moirin’s trilogy as well. There’s only so much info on the Kushiel wiki, and really not enough to build any sort of practice around the Companions. So as I reread those books I will likely post more here about the Companions and how I’m working to honor them in my life. Also my practice might expand to include non-D’Angeline deities portrayed in the books, though I’ll likely still refer to it as D’Angeline Recon.
Naamah was first to be truly acknowledged by me as real, I think. She appeared as part of Aphrodite, and yet separate. I understand Them to be sisters, syncretized, and yet Their own beings. Deity individuation is complicated. Where Aphrodite wants me to focus on loving myself in all forms, Naamah seems to be telling me to find back the sacredness in physical pleasure — whatever emotions are associated with it. To find the sacredness in slow lovemaking sessions with my partner, the sacredness in quick and dirty fucks, the sacredness in saying ‘no, not tonight’, the sacredness in surrender, in sacrifice. All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. Love as thou wilt. Sex as sacred. These are the lessons I am learning from Naamah.
Naamah’s servants bear a marque, a tattoo signifying their service, and I have been thinking of creating one for myself for a long time now. It wouldn’t go on my back, because that space is Reserved, but there are other places it would work. Right now I’m leaning towards an Eglantine based marque, but that may change.
Kushiel I think arrived with Naamah, or perhaps before, back when I was still too scared to approach fictional deities. Back when I was still practicing BDSM with mortals I found a cleansing in being whipped or flogged. The pain was a release for me, an act of forgiveness for my sins. It was always spiritual for me, on some level. I no longer feel safe practicing BDSM with mortals, and so keep it to my religious practice. I have flogged myself for the Morrigan, but not yet for Kushiel. It’s a different thing when I flog myself for the Morrigan; there are different feelings associated, because there’s a different relationship there.
Right now flogging of any sort is impossible where I live, because it makes a pretty distinctive noise, and I can’t risk getting evicted for practicing BDSM or paganism (either of which is possible). But I am having ideas about milder forms of purification in honor of him. Whipping lightly with branches dipped in salt water — a combination of flogging and asperging that will make far less noise than the former.
Shemhazai, as mentioned in my post on Patrons, is all about knowledge and learning. All knowledge is worth having is his creed. Something I didn’t go into on the Patrons post is that his shrines sometimes have mechanical statues of him, so it wouldn’t be so far of a stretch to see his purviews including things with moving parts that have been built by humans — cars, computers, etc. Computers make sense doubly — moving parts, and written language.
Cassiel I find the hardest to relate to, personally. He chose to obey the One God’s laws, he remained celibate, and it is said that when the Companions walked to the Terre-D’Ange-that-lies-beyond, he is the only one who looked back in sorrow. Yet there is something compelling about his devotion to Elua, and something I can feel in myself. So it is with that devotion I start: this year, for Longest Night, I will be holding my own version of Elua’s Vigil, in honor of Cassiel and his devotion.
Anael taught D’Angelines the secrets to growing things, to animal husbandry. He led them out of the wild and into cultivation. He’s known as the Good Steward and the Star of Love. To work with plants and animals is to honor Anael. Give thanks to him for the growing green things of the earth, and he will reward your diligence with life within your hands.
Azza stands with a sextant in hand and teaches D’Angelines about navigation, about finding their way in the world. According to the Yeshuites his sin is pride, but there must be some pride if you’re to find your way across the wilderness. Pride lifts you up, keeps you from self-doubt and despair. Know what you’re good at, and feel no shame in excelling.
Followers of Azza try to sublimate their individual pride before his. This doesn’t mean falling on the ground and shouting “We’re not worthy!” It means learning to balance your pride with humility.
Camael carries a flaming sword and protects the borders of Terre D’Ange with his martial nature. He is the marker of boundaries, in my eyes. He draws a line in the sand and says “Up to here, and no further.” He founded Terre D’Ange’s first armies, because even a land that lives under the motto of Love as Thou Wilt will have enemies, and he knew that. He is a protector.
Eisheth gave healing, music, and story to the D’Angeline people. She also rules over children, and, indeed, the very continuation of the D’Angeline people — a D’Angeline woman will not be able to conceive until she lights a candle to Eisheth and asks her to open the gates of her womb, and once this is done, it is done for forever. As well, her purview over story and music is part of the continuation of D’Angeline culture. She gave them things to pass on; she gives them the power to continue.
I saved Elua for last, because I think it might be easier to talk about him once I’ve talked about his companions. Elua is the child of Yeshua ben Yosef (Jesus Christ) and the Mary Magdalene, born in the womb of the earth when the Magdalene’s tears met Yeshua’s blood. He was mortal, yet experienced apotheosis and became a god in the eyes of the D’Angeline people, along with his angelic companions. Elua refused the One God’s offer to let him into heaven, scoring his hand with Cassiel’s dagger to show the blood that dripped from his skin. Heaven, being bloodless, had no place for him. This led to the creation of the D’Angeline afterlife, the Terre-D’Ange-that-lies-beyond.
Elua travelled with his Companions from Persis to Terre D’Ange, where they settled and formed the City of Elua and the various provinces that make up the country. Elua’s temple has no ceiling and is open to the sky. Plants are allowed to grow as they will within, and you are required to walk barefoot if you visit. His precept is Love as Thou Wilt, and it is the basis for D’Angeline society.
Born of the death of Yeshua ben Yosef and Mary Magdalene’s great sorrow, Elua is evidence of the transformative power of love. He shows that, with love, there is life after death. With love, we are immortal.
Love as thou wilt.