30 Days of Devotion Meme

So, the Pagan Blogging Project of 2013 is winding down, and it seems I’m one of less than thirty people who’ll see it to the end, which isn’t quite as exciting as I made it seem, but also more exciting than it probably should be. Think about it, I’m on to be part of an elite number of people who not only took this challenge, but managed to complete it! In light of this, I found this other “30 Days of X” pagan/polytheist meme, and I’ve decided to do it, starting on the first of the Boeotian Lunar Year. Remember the first “30 days” pagan blog meme I attempted? I didn’t do thirty consecutive days, but by gum, I’m one of maybe four people out of literally dozens of pagans I’ve seen attempt that one, who has actually accomplished it.

o here’s a list for the Devotion meme:

  1. A basic introduction of the deity
  2. How did you become first aware of this deity?
  3. Symbols and icons of this deity
  4. A favorite myth or myths of this deity
  5. Members of the family – genealogical connections
  6. Other related deities and entities associated with this deity
  7. Names and epithets
  8. Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)
  9. Common mistakes about this deity
  10. Offerings – historical and UPG
  11. Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity
  12. Places associated with this deity and their worship
  13. What modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?
  14. Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?
  15. Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
  16. How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?
  17. How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?
  18. How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG)
  19. What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?
  20. Art that reminds you of this deity
  21. Music that makes you think of this deity
  22. A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with
  23. Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity
  24. A time when this deity has helped you
  25. A time when this deity has refused to help
  26. How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
  27. Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered
  28. Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently
  29. Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?
  30. Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?

It’s been a while since I’ve written specifically about and for Eros, and this seemed like a fine way to re-invigorate that without risking getting too personal.

2012 Of Thespiae WP/Jetpack stats roundup

http://jetpack.me/annual-report/7622517/2012/

I’ve made this public, so that people who might be interested in this sort of thing can go look. According to the stats page on my dashboard, these posts fill out Of Thespiae’s “Top Twelve” posts for 2012, in this order:

Eros & Eris:

Eris is a Goddess who is kind of like a Feminine counterpart to Ares and an “opposing forse” to Eros (in some Hellenic traditions, at least) in much the same way that Ares is an opposite to Aphrodite. Intriguingly, some mythos also pair Her as a “consort” or daughter of Ares similarly to how Eros is paired as a Son to Aphrodite — in that sense, like Eros, She has a “trickster” quality.

I don’t really worship Her in the way that some of my Discordian friends do, but like the nice ladies who already answered your question, I have a deep respect for Her. She’s nothing at all like the Christian view of Lucifer / Satan — she’s not actively malevolent, nor is she spiteful. She’s the goddess of Strife and Discord in the way that Eros is a God of Joy and Harmony — and just because Strife and Discord are unpleasant feelings doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily brought on by malevolent forces — likewise, joy and harmony can be brought about through active destruction (“schadenfreude”, as the Germans would say). ….

Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane and polytheism as a metaphor for homosexuality:

This is possibly one of my favourite films, and not just as an extension of my weakness for ridiculous films about Christian mythos (if you want ridiculous in your Christianity, The Apple is the best yet). While carrying the airs of serious art film, Sebastiane has a ridiculousness to it, don’t get me wrong (from the liberties taken with the saint’s mythos to Jarman’s response to questions about the film’s profuse nudity [“we couldn’t afford costumes after the first scene”] to the fact that it inspired an episode of Father Ted, Sebastiane‘s ridiculousness is hard to ignore), my love for this film has more to do with the fact that the more I watch it, the more I see something that I didn’t before realise was there.

A No-Nonsense TS/TG 101 For Pagans:

This year’s brouhaha courtesy of Pantheacon (or, as I call it: Dianics vs Transies1 2: Electric Boogaloo) reminded me exactly how ignorant a lot of pagans and polytheists are about TS/TG issues, even though we’re E~V~E~Y~W~H~E~R~E!!!! O~o~O~oO~o~h!!!!

No, serious. Trans people? Yeah, we’re pretty much everywhere. Even in the pagan community. Can’t escape us, so do yourself a favour and try to learn something.

James Bidgood, Homoeroticism, and Gay Spirituality:

I don’t remember where or when it was that I had personally first been made aware of Pink Narcissus, the masterpiece of gay erotica that was originally released under “Anonymous”, as the writer and director. The brilliant mind behind this work of art (and o, it is art) is painter and stage costume designer James Bidgood. In the 1950s, Bidgood began working with photography, and by the early 1960s he had already created a distinct and highly recognisable style that caught the attention of financiers for an “art film”. In 1963, filming began on Pink Narcissus, and was abruptly ended in 1970, when the financiers, feeling Bidgood was taking too long to finish, took the completed footage, sent it to an editor, and Bidgood, in possibly his most regretted decision, demanded his name be removed from the film on account of the fact that it didn’t yet match his vision for what it should have been.

Q: What is paganism? A: Absolutely nothing.

At least if you wander over to Tumblurgh. Oh, fuck, I guess it’s not restricted to that pinheaded site..

It’s kind of been bothering me in recent months how utterly devoid of any real meaning the word “pagan” is.

“‘Pagan’ means ‘person of a non-Abrahamic religion’”, says the dictionary. Oh, but here are Christians and Muslims who want to be pagans, too, and here’s some people appropriating Kabballah, guess we can’t say that any-more. See, I used to think that the wormer was called “folk Christianity / Islam” and the latter was “cultural misappropriation”, but I guess not.

30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 11 ~ Patrons – Apollon

As I noted yesterday, Apollon made Himself known to me before all others. As a child, it was the paintings of Apollon that really stood out to me in the D’Auliare book, and it was His mythology that fascinated me the most, and His was the face I often saw as I sang in my choirs. I don’t see the stoic white-marble Apollon that many see — I see Apollon strongest in images like that portrait of Beethoven that I always felt looked half-crazed, or this gorgeous painting of a crazed nymphe pounding on a lyre on the ceiling of the Fischer Building in Detroit. He’s a God of Moderation, and this includes moderating moderation itself — “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, sort of deity. Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

Hearts, the Baby Virus, and Butts

Silphion was an herb popular in the ancient Mediterranean for both its flavour and its medicinal qualities, aiding in ailments such as cough, sore throat, indigestion, warts, and (argueably most popularly) as either a contraceptive or an abortificant (likely the latter). The exact species is unknown to modern people because it was said to have been virtually extinct by the time of Nero, with Pliny reporting that one of the last stalks was given to the Emperor as a curiosity. Some anthropologists with a speciality in related fields suspect that silphion was of the genus Ferula, possibly a relation to “giant fennel” (not a true fennel) or wild carrot. According to some legends, it was a gift of Apollon.

I’m really flattered by the fact that so many of these are… rather old, in blogging years. Think about it, most blogs are lucky to see their first birthday, and most blogs that have been going on as long as this one (since October 2008; with a couple from 2007 cross-posted from LiveJournal and backdated) suffer major burnout, and are often lucky to get a few posts a quarter, just to prove the author is still interested in the topic. Have I occasionally neglected this blog due to illness, seasonal depression, or offline dramas? Yep, can’t deny that; but out of the fifty-two months this blog has been going, I’ve only skipped five of those months, and they weren’t all in a row. That’s a pretty decent track record.

I’ve also (finally) decided to see how long I can go in the Pagan Blogging Project thing that ate everybody’s brains for the first few months of 2012. As I was looking through my “top posts” of 2012, I realised that Sannion was right: I’m one of only a few people ever who started that “30 Days of Paganism” blog meme. Sure, they weren’t all in a row, but that’s my only regret about that. I started it, I’m one of only a handful of people who’ve ever finished it, and I’m kind of proud of that.

I also intend to get back to my ‘weekly’ series on Boeotian Religion, cos really, there’s no reason I shouldn’t’ve finished it, by now.

Start your week off right: A Round-Up

I’m going to try and start doing one of these every Sunday, just to see how easily I can keep to a very loose structure here. If I don’t feel I have a sufficient number of links for one week, what I’ve decided to share will get bumped to the next Sunday —after all, I’m calling it “Start Your Week Off Right”— but I’m defining “a sufficient number” here as just low enough to avoid making a habit of skipping weeks.

Let’s start here:
A Modern Ritual of Adoration for Aphrodite and Eros —I don’t think I got to this the when it was first posted in November, and for that I apologise. 😦

DieselPunks.org is a site and forum I discovered this past week, and I’m in love. Apparently Dieselpunk is based on the era between WWI and the Atomic Age, and has considerably fewer watch parts all over it than Steampunk. Apparently, therte’s also a derivative, Decopunk, which some fans of Nick Ottens’ webzine, The Gatehouse, refer to as “Ottensian”.

These Art Deco computer cases have been on my “Wish Fantasy List” for some time now. I will choke a baby for Decomatic; I will choke two if you can also get me the speakers and portrait (tall) monitor.

Oh, and here’s a bunch of Erté illustrations. I’ve loved Erté since I was twelve.

Dancing for the Gods doesn’t have a whole lot up just yet, but yes, it did inspire my Isadora love from yesterday. Definitely on the blogroll now.

Cult of Haides

CULT IN PHOKIS (CENTRAL GREECE)

I) KORONEIA Village in Phokis

Strabo, Geography 9. 2. 29 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
“When they [the Boiotians] got the mastery of Koroneia [in Phokis after the Trojan War], they built in the plain before the city the temple of Athena Itonia . . . Here, too, the Pamboiotian Festival used to be celebrated. And for some mystic reason, as they say, a statue of Haides was dedicated along with that of Athena.”

Thanatos

Hesiod, Theogony 758 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
“Nyx (Night) carries Hypnos in her arms, and he is Thanatos’ (Death’s) brother . . . And there [near the house of Nyx in the underworld] the children of gloomy Nyx have their houses. These are Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death), dread divinities. Never upon them does Helios, the shining sun, cast the light of his eye-beams, neither when he goes up the sky nor comes down from it. One of these [Hypnos], across the earth and the wide sea-ridges, goes his way quietly back and forth, and is kind to mortals, but the heart of the other one [Thanatos] is iron, and brazen feelings without pity are inside his breast.”

Where Haides is the Lord of the Death, Thanatos is the God or Daimon of Death itself. Though the occasional sacrifice was offered to Thanatos in specific, He was given no temples or public altars and shrines.

The differences between Theoi and Daimons in ancient Hellas seems a bit blurrier than some people believe, and one region’s Theos would be another’s Daimon, or even one person’s Theos would be…, and so on. This is why I don’t whinge about how the word “polytheism” somehow implies a lack of acknowledgement and/or honour given to spirits (and no, this is not a strawman, I’ve seen a few people claim this), and why, most importantly, I don’t describe my beliefs as “both polytheistic and animistic”, because traditional polytheism tends to imply a degree of belief in peripheral daimones. In Hesiod’s Theogony, the birth of Thanatos seems to imply a Daimonhood, but I don’t really have a concrete opinion of one way or the other in regards to Thanatos.

Basically, Thanatos’ existence as a separate entity from Haides is why I specifically describe Haides as “Lord of the Dead”, and ancient thought does seem to have a similar separation of Haides from being “God of Death” and instead describes Him as “God of the Underworld” or “God of the Dead”. Where Haides governs the dead, Thanatos delivers death. Thanatos also, even per Hesiod, seems to exist outside of Haides’ governance, and acts outside of Haides’ order.

Haides & Persephone

Zeus laid with Demetre, wishing to take Her on as a second wife, but Demetre not only cared of Her sister Hera’s objections, but simply wanted Zeus for no more than to become a mother, and so Hera found no reason to be jealous. When Demetre gave birth to Persephone, all rejoiced, and Demetre took to doting on and indulging the young Goddess.

…but time flies when one is having fun, they say, and so Demetre took no real notice of the fact that Persephone had become of age to be wed, and Zeus, assuming Demetre was paying attention, had betrothed Persephone to Haides, who had taken a liking to the girl. On the day agreed upon, Haides took Persephone from the Boiotian town of Livadeia with Him to the underworld, and Demetre asked Persephone’s friend, the naiad Herkyna, what she saw.

Herkyna relayed to the Goddess that Haides had informed the girls that by the arrangement of Zeus, Persephone was to be Haides bride, and so by tradition, She was to leave with him. Persephone and Herkyna were playing with Persephone’s pet goose, and Haides approach frightened the poor bird into the cave of Trophonios. Persephone went after it, assuring Haides of Her hesitance to go with Him to the underworld, at least until She had informed Her mother, but Haides, overwhelmed and impatient, chased the goose further into the cave, causing Persephone to go after it, then further down, down, down…..

In the underworld, Persephone didn’t fear re-crossing the river Styx, for She knew in Her immortal state, She had nothing to fear, but She admitted that She couldn’t remember the way back out, and Haides refused to tell Her, preferring attempts to coax the girl to stay with Him, hoping to assure Her that He meant Her nothing but the eternal love that only the lord of the dead could show — for what is more eternal, save the deathless ones, than death? In perfect love, Haides offered Persephone a pomegranate, which She finally accepted when She realised that Haides had denied Himself so that She could live in luxury as Queen of the Underworld.

Above-ground, Demetre flew into a rage upon learning that Zeus had arranged a marriage for Persephone without Her permission, casting Gaia’s face into an ice age until Zeus finally swore to let Their daughter return to Demetre, but by then, Persephone had already eaten the pomegranate and sealed Their marriage, but Demetre, still furious, insisted that it was only because Haides had tricked Persephone, and refused to accept a life where She wasn’t an active eternal mother.

In compromise, Zeus proposed that for a quarter of the year, Persephone would be with Haides, and for the opposite quarter, She would live with Demetre, and during the times in-between, She could travel freely between the worlds. The result of this that we see is the seasons.

Boeotian Theoi: Haides

I know, I know, it’s cheesy to do the “spooky” deities around this time of the year, but as in most incidents in life, I just re-assure myself: It could’ve been worse. Also: Better to do cheesy stereotypical actions as an insider than as an outsider.

So, Haides, eh?

The cult and temples to Hekate was small, but Haides’ cult is TINY, in comparison. TINY. The primary reason for this is obvious: Death is a spiritual pollutant, so while the Lord of the Dead must be afforded His due measure, one isn’t really given an incentive to do more than that, is one? Those called to His service, even today, are regarded suspiciously or, at best, as “odd, but necessary”. For some reason, the screenplay-writing industry, especially since about 1985, wants to make Haides synonymous with the Christian “Satan”, even though this is probably the sloppiest parallel that could be drawn (the Abrahamic tale of Adam and Eve’s fall from Eden by the aid of the serpent, unnamed in Genesis, but commonly syncretised with “Satan” by most Christians, comes closer to the mythos of Prometheus, for example, — but that’s another story for another time), as Haides’ role in Hellenic mythology? He is Lord of the Dead and His domains most commonly include funerary rites and necromancy. His epithets even include Νεκρων Σωτηρ (Nekrôn Sôtêr), “Saviour of the Dead”. It’s clear that Haides wants little, if anything, to do with human beings until we’ve passed on, so the only reason I can figure why His name has become synonymous with the Christian “Hell” and linked to an Abrahamic daimon that first gives people knowledge, and then tests individuals’ virtue (and by Jewish tradition, this is clearly in a context of testing man for G-d, as Jehovah’s servant) is pure, unadulterated ignorance.

Hesiod described this son of Kronos and Rhea as “strong Haides, pitiless in heart, who dwells under the earth”, and some translators feel that Hesiod’s use of “Zeus Khthonios”, “Zeus Who dwells within/under the earth”, in Works & Days is another name for Haides — which makes sense, as Zeus’ domain is clearly as a Sky-God within Hesiod, and so this could extend Haides’ domain to the fertility of the earth, which logically, He’d also be connected to via the mythos of Persephone, whose return to Demetre’s side on Olympos heralds the spring thaw. This also makes sense biologically, as the decay of bodies both animal and vegetable renews the earth’s fertility; death and decay are thus part of the cycle of life.

Another name for Haides that I see in the works of Hesiod, Aidoneus, is translated by Theoi Project as “the Unseen”. I’m unsure if this is the reason for or the result of the ancient custom to avert one’s eyes when sacrificing to Haides, but either way, it seems fitting; the Host of the dead is unseen to those still living.