Eros is NOT the Reason for the Season

©Pierre et Gilles

©Pierre et Gilles

I really have to abandon the inertia I seem to have adopted toward removing myself from a certain e-mail list. This owner/s of the list in question, in spite of repeated issuance from members, including myself, of correct information that points out the Feast of Eros is a springtime festival —not mid-winter— still maintain a calendar that places the Feast of Eros as a replacement for St. Valentine’s Day.

While there is very little surviving information about the Feast in question, there is enough to place this as a springtime festival. Furthermore, there is nothing about Eros’ symbolism that is specific to winter, and plenty that makes a springtime festival seem more appropriate —the cockerel, the hare, eggs, birds, youth.

by Erte

by Erte

Furthermore, the ancient, pre-Christian origins of St Valentine’s Day are well established. Daidala (Attic: Gemalia), the wedding of Hera and Zeus is traditionally held around the time of mid-February. Rome’s Lupercalia, celebrating the bitch wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus. Eros has nothing to do with either day. I’ve explained this at great length before. Yet the pinhead/s in charge of that list still insist “it’s a modern syncretism in line with the ancient practice”.

What ancient practice? There is NO “ancient practice” that can easily link Eros with any mid-February festivals, and the “love” portrayed in the Catholic St Valentine mythology was closer to agape than eros. The “love” we see in the Lupercalia mythos is compassionate, not erotic.

"Winter" by Erte

“Winter” by Erte

The union of Zeus and Hera, even as per the mythology, was one less of passion than of politics.

That said, I acknowledge that people are going to do whatever they want to, anyway, no matter what makes sense or not. Oh well. If you want to celebrate Eros on 14 February, have fun with that. On the other hand, when you call it “The Feast of Eros” you are inviting confusion with the ancient festival. When you insist that “it’s a modern syncretism”, you not only demonstrate a misunderstanding of what syncretism actually is, you demonstrate a gross misunderstanding of the ancient calendars.

I’m willing to make a post like this every fucking year, so that people who are genuinely interested in the ancient practice can learn that this idea of a mid-winter “Feast of Eros” is just borderline eclectic nonsense based more on medieval softcore subversion of Christian mythology than on pre-Christian Græc

Valentinos (Betelgeuce): The Valentine’s Day star

In the grand tradition of re-purposing mythology, I give you this offering, Hedone, who offers us all the simple gift of delight and joy, which can be quite base as much as quite profound.

Valentinos was a keeper at the temple of Orion’s hero cult in Tanagra, Boiotia —at Hyria. He was intelligent, but many saw him as aimless, for after his daily chores of cleaning, fetching and boiling new water, changing clothing and jewellery on the statues that needed it, and collecting the offerings at the timely intervals in order to make room for new ones. After his work was over, he’d go out with his equally youthful friends and take in the delights that the city could offer them, both imported and domestic wines, plays, usually by some Thespian company or another, but often enough with treats from Athens or Cyrene, and on the way home to their apartments over the city’s baths, they’d stop by the old and crooked gentleman who’d park his donkey and cart outside a restaurant that had closed for the evening, selling second-hand and otherwise cheap book — few of the titles were great literature, but every so often, you’d find a second-generation scribe from Pindar’s work, or an illustrated scroll of The Askran Curmudgeon, and every now and again, the boxes of loose racy illustrations of gods and mortals —always four for a small coin— would have some beautifully worked picutres than managed to convey the bliss or an orgasm or the accuracy of how tiring some of those India-influenced positions could be; they’d stop by this cart, browse earnestly, and almost never walk away with more than one good read and a two or three good pictures for each and pair up, either with each-other or the “Akolouthi” women, the free-status versions of the pornai, and so deserved better pay, for they often had earned the skills to earn every last bit of coin nomisma.

Then one evening, Valentinos had become separated from his friends in talking to a girl. He told them to go ahead when he saw her, and then, from no-where, the former pimp from a young-ish girl Valentinos had laid with in the last week spied him turn a dark corner and took the opportunity to stab the youth in the back, slashing his insides, for he’d heard that it was the temple boys buying books and scrolls and pornographos from his former girl’s father that led to her debt repaid, and her freedom won. It was intolerable because she was popular, and perhaps causing despair would work to the old pimp’s favour?

As Valentinos lay bleeding out, he asked his feminine companion if she was alright.

“Oh, Valentinos, that vile creature could not see me. He sees only the children of Eris.”

“Ah,” he said with a cough that expelled a little blood, “he ignored you.”

“No, it’s that he cannot. You see goodness and delight in everything around you, so of course Hedone would show you Her human form.”

“She does, now?” Valentinos asked slyly, as he started to feel himself fade.

“I knew something awful was going to happen to you tonight, but in your heart is the purest feelings of delight. Your family believes you lack ambitions, but what better aims you have for yourself is to be more joyous than they were. They are rich but miserable people, and you take only as much of their money as you need—”

“Well, it’s all they offer. They expect I’ll want more, at which time [coughs hard] they expect me to learn ambition.”

“But you have other desires.”

“I do. I just want to delight in the world around me. I would love to visit Thebes, or Cyrene, or even Athens and Alexandria, but if that’s to be, it will be. All the delights in the world I could want for the moment are here in Tanagra [coughs, sputters]. If that changes, I’ll find a way to seek other delights.”

“And you know this so purely, my friend. You are one of the most natural and pure followers of delight there is in this world today, so I’m here to reward you. What has been your greatest delight, my friend?”

“Today? I changed the cape over the bones of Orion. It’s the softest red wool from Phrygia, and when I affixed it back to the wall…,” Valentinos coughed and wheezed, then spat blood from talking to fast to get his words out with his last breaths.

“Take your time… you have a little more than you may think.”

“After I affixed it back onto the wall over the case of bones, the sun hit it just the right way that it seemed to glitter, even though there wasn’t a bit of gold thread in the wool. I thought to myself, ‘it shall never again look this beautiful, and I have this lovely town and the greatest Boeotian Gods and Heroes to thank’.”

“I know, and so I will affix you to Orion’s cape in the stars, you shall hold it all together, and so Alpha Orionis shall now glow red and pulse like a heart with joy.”

“But why me, Goddess? Surely there are others greater, who’ve given not just delight to themselves, but to others?”

“In relative measure, you’ve given more joy to others than you believe you have. The old man you buy books and scrolls and pictures from used to be a gambler, and sold all four of his daughters for the loan to pay his debtors. Between you and your friends combined, one-by-one, his daughters’ freedom has been bought back, indeed, one of his older daughters is your favourite Akolouthi girl, and the younger such woman you laid with days ago—”

“The one who thanked me queerly? She was his youngest! Oh, Goddess, tell them they don’t have to thank me, ever. Their joy was a pleasure to give, and I give it with no expectations.”

When Valentinos didn’t return to work, one of his friends began looking all over the city, and soon found him in the dark alleyway; his body still there, scraps taken from it by the odd dog for the alleyway was a seldom-used stairway to the city’s Adonis Gardens on the rooftops for the women of the apartments. Valentinos’ friend carried the body toward the direction of his family’s home, and passed the old man with the books and pictures. Soon the old man’s daughters, all now free, caught the sight, and came over to their father to watch with him. When Valentinos’ friend took his body around a corner and out of their lines of sight, the youngest daughter, Phile, looked up at the sky.

She told her sisters and father to look up at the sky. “Don’t you see?”

“Don’t we see what, my dove?” her father asked.

“Orion is higher up in the sky tonight than usual. He must be holding out his arms for His fairest neokoros.”

Her sister Naia, Valentinos’ favourite, then noticed: “And the pin on the Great Hero’s cloak seems sort of pinkish, or a light red, like the sun bleaches his hair in the depths of summer.”

Then their father spoke up: “This is glorious, my girls! The hero of Boeotia sees this youth was of a pure heart, and to take that from this world is worthy of honour. So we shall keep the twenty-first day of Hermaios sacred to the joys and delights that Orion sees this youth has given.”

This year, 21 Hermaios is in 14 February. You may feel free to celebrate Hedone’s gift of the colour of Belelgeuse, a very large pulsating star which, along with the rest of Orion’s constellatiuon, is closest to the midpoint of the southern horizon around early February. And no, I did not make up this nickname for Betelgeuse:

Notes on Hekate of Boeotian mythos

In Thebes, there was a woman named Galinthias. She was a midwife who delivered Herakles from the womb of Alkmene, her childhood friend. Alkmene’s pregnancy offended Hera, and cursed the young woman’s birth pains to never cease. Galinthias, worried her friend would be driven mad, first appealed to Hekate, who concluded that the curse was placed by another Deathless One, and She could not remove those, but perhaps appealing to the right Deity would earn the sympathies of the one Who could. Deciding No-One higher up than the Moirai, for even the other Theoi were bound to Their tapestry, Galinthias then appealed to the Moirai, Who Themselves were becoming exhaused by the sound of the laborous woman’s screaming, and removed the curse in order to hear Themselves think.

When Hera realised Alkemene had given birth to a son, Herakles, She spoke up that Her own curse had become removed because a silly girl took advantage of the Moirai in Their confusion. The Moirai concluded that Hera was technmically correct (the best kind of correct) and it was decided that Galinthias’ fate was to be transformed into a ferret, a creature that looks most absurd in mating and birth labour. Hekate, though, was sympathetic to Galinthias and the girl’s desires to remove Hera’s curse, and did not fault the girl for failing to discover that it was Hera who cast the curse, and therefore only Hera who could be appealed to lift it. Out of kindness, Hekate made the ferret one of Her sacred workers on Gaia’s face, and in Thebes, the animal was held in esteem as the nurse of Herakles, their native Heros.

By Hesiod’s account, Ouranos and Gaia begat Koios (the Titan Theos of the North, also “the Inquirer”) and Phoibê (the “Bright”, the Titan Theon of prophecy); Koios and Phoibê begat Perses (the Destroyer) and Asteria, the Titan Theon of the Stars, astrology, and necromancy. It is Perses and Asteria Who are the parents of Hekate.

As per the playwright Aeschylus, Phoibê is regarded as the previous oracular deity of Delphi, later succeeding Her reign and bestowing Delphi as a gift to Apollon, Her grandson via Leto. Phoibê is also associated with the moon. Asteria, after the Titan war, was pursued by Zeus, but She did not want Him, and so first transformed to a quail, then lept into the sea, swam out, and became the island of Delos, where Apollon was born.

It is through Asteria that Hekate inherited the gift of necromancy and oracles from the dead. Some ancients also may have believed that Asteria was also worshipped as a goddess of prophetic dreams.

Though Hesiod names the mother of Kirke as Perseis (Destroyer) and Her father as Helios; Diodoros Siculus names Kirke’s parentage as that of Hekate and Aeëtes. Some also regard Perseis as an epithet of Hekate, though it seems Hesiod gives Perseis a genealogy distinct from Hekate, and Perseis’ mother is Tethys (“Nurse”) and Okeanos. It’s therefore easy to see Perseis and Hekate as one-in-the-same, as these themes are recurring and may be considered too lofty for an Okeanid. Light bearing. Destroyer. Nurse. Sight.

If one is to syncretise Kirke then as a daughter of Hekate Perseis, this undoubted maintains Hekate’s associations with practising witchcraft rather than merely casting spells and curses Herself for the mortals who supplicate Her.

By Hesiod, Kirke is the mother of Odysseus’ immortal son Latinus, father/ruler of the Tyrsenoi, who have since been identified with the Etruscans, and also Telegonos, Whose story is the subject of the now-lost Telegony, which only exists in summary.

The Scholia of Pindar seem to identify Hekate and Perseis with the name Khariklo (“Graceful Spinner”) who is identified in these notes as the daughter of Perses and Okeanos — and also a daughter of Apollon. Even without meditating on this, this gives the appearance of further linking Hekate and Apollon.

These notes also revive previous themes, as Khariklo is identified as the wife of the Centaros Kheiron, the mentor of a young Dionysos and also Asklepios.

Boeotian Theoi: Artemis

Oi theoi, I’m finding myself at a real loss for words, and finding a whole new meaning to “getting the hard part over with”. No, seriously, I’m finding it impossible to say much eye-catching about Artemis, so my brain is going to the obvious place, first: A quick summary of domain followed by some C&P (maybe this will get my thinker thinking):

Artemis is, first and foremost, the Goddess of The Hunt and protector of wild things, followed almost immediately by Her role as Protector of Women and Children. I’ve written before that Artemis is Herself a Wild Thing, almost feral.

“You musn’t give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get, until they’re strong enough to run into the woods or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree and then to the sky.” —Holly Golightly, Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

She’s regarded as one of the three major “virgin goddesses” of the Hellenic religions, though the Greek term, parthenos, may be more complex than simply “virgin”, as it is also an epithet of Hera.


I) THEBES Chief City of Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 17. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
“[In Thebes] is the temple of Artemis Eukleia (of Fair Fame). The image was made by Skopas. They say that within the sanctuary were buried Androkleia and Aleis, daughters of Antipoinos. For when Herakles and the Thebans were about to engage in battle with the Orkhomenians, an oracle was delivered to them that success in the war would be theirs if their citizen of the most noble descent would consent to die by his own hand. Now Antipoinos, who had the most famous ancestors, was loath to die for the people, but his daughters were quite ready to do so. So they took their own lives and are honored therefor. Before the temple of Artemis Eukleia (of Fair Fame) is a lion made of stone, said to have been dedicated by Herakles after he had conquered in the battle the Orkhomenians and their king, Erginos son of Klymenos.”

II) AULIS Town in Boiotia

Theognis, Fragment 1. 11 (trans. Gerber, Vol. Greek Elegiac) (Greek elegy C6th B.C.) :
“Artemis, slayer of wild beasts, daughter of Zeus, for whom Agamemnon set up a temple [at Aulis] when he was preparing to sail on his swift ships to Troy, give ear to my prayers and ward off the evil Keres (Death-Spirits). For you, goddess, this is no small thing, but for me it is critical.”

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 19. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
“Here [at Aulis, Boiotia] there is a temple of Artemis with two images of white marble; one carries torches, and the other is like to one shooting an arrow. The story is that when, in obedience to the soothsaying of Kalkhas, the Greeks were about to sacrifice Iphigeneia on the altar, the goddess substituted a deer to be the victim instead of her. They preserve in the temple what still survives of the plane-tree mentioned by Homer in the Iliad. The story is that the Greeks were kept at Aulis by contrary winds, and when suddenly a favouring breeze sprang up, each sacrificed to Artemis the victim he had to hand, female and male alike. From that time the rule has held good at Aulis that oil victims are permissible. There is also shown the spring, by which the plane-tree grew, and on a hill near by the bronze threshold of Agamemnon’s tent. In front of the sanctuary grow palm-trees, the fruit of which, though not wholly edible like the dates of Palestine, yet are riper than those of Ionia.”

For the MYTH of Artemis & Iphigeneia see Artemis Favour : Iphigeneia

III) TANAGRA Village in Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 20. 1 :
“Within the territory of Tanagra [in Boiotia] is what is called Delion on Sea [temple of the gods of Delos, Artemis, Apollon and Leto]. In it are images of Artemis and Leto.”

IV) KYRTONES Village in Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 24. 4 :
“[At Kyrtones, Boiotia there is] a temple and grove of Apollon. There are also standing images of Apollon and Artemis.”

V) PLATAIA City in Boiotia

Plutarch, Life of Aristides 20. 4 (trans. Perrin) (Greek historian C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
“In admiration of him [an historical war-hero] the Plataians gave him burial in the sanctuary of Artemis Eukleia, and inscribed upon his tomb this tetrameter verse:–Eukhidas, to Pytho running, came back here the selfsame day.
Now Eukleia is regarded by most as Artemis, and is so addressed; but some say she was a daughter of Herakles and of that Myrto who was daughter of Menoitios and sister of Patroklos, and that, dying in virginity, she received divine honors among the Boiotians and Lokrians. For she has an altar and an image built in every market place, and receives preliminary sacrifices from would-be brides and bridegrooms [i.e. as the goddess of good repute].”

Many Boeotians of ancient times apparently regarded Her as syncretic to the Kharis Eukleia, and this seems mostly to be a Boeotian quirk, rather than one of much widespread recognition. This definitely gives me something to consider, as it’s a challenge to my own personal habit of thought of completely separate deities, but this is clearly in conflict with my work order to Boeotian revival.

I’m going to take a walk on this thought; what is it about Artemis that could make Her seem one-and-the-same to one of the Boeotian Kharites (Their primary cult centre was in the Boeotian town of Orkhomenos), in the eyes of so many ancient Boeotians?

30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 14 ~ Pantheon – Nyx & Kybele/Gaia

I tend to regard Nyx and Kybele not as two names for the same Goddess, but as two distinct types of Mother Goddess. Whether “Kybele = Rhea”, I really am not sure, but I know that those who dismiss Kybele’s cult as “foreign” carefully don’t mention that Rhea’s cult is of Minoan origin. There’s also the fact that in Boeotia, Kybele in specific was regarded as a wife or consort of Pan — and if getting a Husband Whose cult can be traced to the Hellenic mainland is good enough to make the Kypriot Aphrodite “Hellenic enough”… Really, some people are major weiners about this, when it’s all really quite logical.

My comprehension of Kybele is also a tad outside the modern “Hellenic mainstream”, and (at least based on what I’ve s-far concluded in my studies of Boeotian traditions), probably closer to an ancient Boeotian understanding — if not a perfect match to Boeotian thought (at least for some poleis), then close enough to be likely accepted, should I finally get that phone booth back in working order. I don’t see Kybele as a match to Rhea, but Gaia, though I honour Gaia and Kybele differently. Let’s compare this Goddess to a a sort of Borg-like entity — They are distinct, but clearly share a consciousness. Where Gaia is the literal Earth, and a living organism, and a Goddess, She’s also rather impersonal1 — this is where Her Kybele form is necessary and also a distinct form for Her consciousness. As Pindar reports of Thebes, I too see Her as a mate of Pan.

As much as Kybele is a nurturing and deeply feeling Mother Goddess, one Who will cuddle you into Her many bosoms, She will sit you down and tell you very frankly what it is. She’s a Goddess of opposites — She’s both a physical and spiritual being, She’s a Goddess of wild things (and indeed, mated with a god of wild things) but Her crown is a city’s walls, and (perhaps most tellingly) Her mythos tell the story of the first surgical “correction” of an Intersex infant because a few gods were offended and disgusted. In part for Her origin mythos, and in part for the story of Attis, Her son, going mad and ritually castrating Himself, Her cult, in ancient times, maintained a priest/ess caste of biological men who willingly submitted to a ritual castration and adoption of feminine identities (and, in modern times, this is often interpreted as having been a haven for trans women and male-assigned genderqueer people — but this is a modern Anglocentric culture’s interpretation, I know of nothing that survives of writings from this priestly caste that articulates their own gender identities), which has given Kybele a special reverence to many transgender and intersex individuals. Unlike Eros, Hermes, and many other Trickster deities, She doesn’t exist in the liminal, in-between spaces — she simultaneously exists on both sides of a divide. Like all mothers, She can be both your greatest ally and worst enemy.

Many modern Pagans and Polytheist have this ridiculously romanticised vision of “nature” and the “natural world”. This idea that an untamed forest is a place of kindness, that the planet will just “give” everything needed to Herself and the creatures that live on Her surface. They forget that Gaia throws tantrums — or, if those fits are acknowledged, it’s always with the adage that “we humans deserve it” — forgetting the ill impact these fits have on other living things. While Gaia tends to eventually sort out Her droughts, and blights, and hurricane devatstations, these events still have impacts on plant life, animal life, human life, and even Her own face. It seems only logical to me that Gaia and Kybele are the same soul — They’re clearly a Goddess of opposites.

Nyx, too, is a Mother Goddess, but also not. She’s the mother of Eros, a creative force, mother of Eris, The Oneroi, the Moirai, Furies and so many other Daimones, but this is not a mother Goddess as we mortals understand the concept.

Queen Alexandra (1844–1925) — widow of Edward VII and mother of George V.

Queen Alexandra (1844–1925) — widow of Edward VII and mother of George V.

It’s like the difference between a fan (short for “fanatic”) and one who just likes something. She’s a goddess Who’s a mother, and She is of great importance to the Gods (on what I gather is a personal level for Them), but at best, we can only catch glimpses, occasional nuggets of how amazing a force She is. She’s a deity for deities — She will graciously accept our worship and sacrifices, but the greatest title Hellenes have ever had for Her is a Goddess of Night — and yet, poetry and hymns exist, and continue to be written for this other Great Mother, whom we’ve only seen in snaps. In comparison, She’s like the Queen Mother to most Amerikans — obviously, she’s of some great importance to some people, obviously a mother, but damned if anybody but very few will ever figure out exactly what she actually does and why she’s treated with such reverence, since she’s clearly not the same as the Queen Regent (reigning queen).

That said, I obviously lack a personal relationship or deeper understanding of Nyx — and unless Eros changes His mind, I won’t need to know any time soon. She’s His mother, via parthenogenesis — She was born with his zygote already inside Her when She and Erebos were formed from Khaos. She’s a Deity that all other Deities hold in great esteem. She inspires the occasional mortal burst of insight to Her nature. That’s good enough for now.

1: But as with all polytheist topics, your mileage may vary.

List behind cut:
Continue reading

30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 13 ~ Pantheon – Adonis & the Flower Boys

I love Adonis.
AphroditeAdonisLouvreMNB210 Though there’s Peanut Gallery commentary decrying any worship of Him and Kybele in a Hellenic context as “un-Hellenic”, it’s pretty obvious that Their cults had been thoroughly Hellenised by the time of Hesiod (if you haven’t seen people making such ridiculous claims, consider yourself lucky; in fact, I consider myself a lesser person for even mentioning it). I find myself especially fascinated with Ptolemy Hephaestion frequently linking His love as shared with Aphrodite and Apollon, which may seem unusual to those who are only familiar with the versions of Aponis’ mythos that link Him with Aphrodite and Persephone. AdonisLouvre

“Adonis, having become androgynous, behaved as a man for Aphrodite and as a woman for Apollon.” – Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Bk5 (as summarized in Photius, Myriobiblon 190)

There’s a fragment from Hesiod that describes Adonis as the son of Phoenix (son of Amyntor), and most primary sources name His mother as Smyrrhna, who had a metamorphosis into the tree from which myrrh resin is harvested.

In myth and in cult, there are many easy comparisons to Dionysos — from a position in life-death-rebirth cults, his apparent links to sexuality, vegetation, and Khthonic deities (especially Persephone), Adonis-Dream-Print-C10032791 academic and ancient syncretic likening to Osiris, and the public face of His cult was decidedly female (though this is where things begin to differ — male Dionysians existed in ancient times as much, if not more, than in modern — male Adonians, at least in the ancient Hellenic world [I haven’t a clue about the Phonecian or Syrian world where it’s clear His cult originated], seem apparently non-existent and, even in modern times, seem few, at best). adonis_northcote But at least in the Hellenic world, it’s very clear that they are not the same — in some mythology, Aphrodite bore Adonis a daughter, Beroe, who is one beloved of Dionysos.

His cult likely came into the Hellenic mainlaind through Kypris, the birthplace and local name for Aphrodite, and by about the 6th Century BCE, was already well-known in Hellas. This is not insignificant: This not only cements a relationship with Aphrodite’s cult, it also really shows the aforementioned Peanut Gallery where to stick it — MWAHAHAHAHA!!! 😀

adonis Seriously, folks, at this point in time, I think it’s safe to admit that the Adonis cult was thoroughly Hellenised. The academia really tries to “un-Hellenise” Adonis, and indeed, many of these arguments seem to make sense, until you get into several glaringly apparent facts:

1) Adonis is a central part of Aphrodite’s Hellenic mythology — and I word it this way because a significant amount of Her mythology and cult is clearly “imported”, comparative mythologises easily link Aphrodite to nearly every Near Eastern Goddess from the Babylonian Ishtar to the Zoroastrian Anahita. adonis001 If one is going to conclude that Hellenic polytheists should worship only Hellenic deities, then there is an awful lot of archaeology that could easily reason that Aphrodite’s cult is not “indigenous” to Hellas any more than that of Adonis’.

2) It’s absolutely likely that Adonis’ cult was “imported” at the same time as Aphrodite — and even the much-touted Walter Burkert (apparently Greek Religion is a veritable gospel to some people), sure seems to agree with this idea: AdonisNaples

The cult of the dying god Adonis is already found to be fully developed in Sappho’s circle of young girls around 600 [BCE]; indeed, one might ask whether Adonis had not from the very beginning come to Greece along with Aphrodite. For the Greeks it was well-known that he was an immigrant from the Semetic world, and his origins were traced to Byblos and Cyprus. His name is clearly the Semetic title adon, Lord. For all that, there is in Semetic tradition no known cult connected with this title which corresponds exactly to the Greek cult, to say nothing of a counterpart to the Greek Adonis myth. (pp176-177)

Indeed, investigating Near Eastern mythology, the closest deity with a cult matching the Adonis cult is we see named is “Tammuz”, not Adonis. Perhaps “Adonis”, in this instance, is merely a loan-word made name? Death of Adonis

3) The name Adonis, while clearly being the sticking point for identifying His cult as “foreign”, as a language arts major I can clearly see as a mere convention on the same level as “Kytheria” or “Kypris” as a name for Aphrodite — and one clearly accepted as “Greek enough” for many scholars for centuries — indeed, Thomas Taylor takes “Kypris = Aphrodite (= Venus)” for granted in translating the Orphic hymns — and indeed, Cyprus was Hittite land until fairly late Bronze Age; which would be roughly the period estimated for the import of Aphrodite and Adonis cults. return_of_adonis-large Indeed, in most mythological traditions, Cyprus is also the birthplace of Adonis, not merely His cult — so it obviously flabbergasts that somehow this can make Aphrodite “Hellenic enough”, but not Adonis.

One can clearly only begin to imagine the whys and such for the reluctance to accept Adonis cult as “Hellenic enough”, when all evidence clearly shows that it is so. adonis5633 One idea may simply revert to etymology — though clearly acceptable early on in the Hellenisation of Adonis cult practise, later it became a sticking point due to what would now be called racism or nationalism — kinda the same logic “birthers” use to accuse President Barak Obama of being born well-outside U$ soils, in spite of all clear evidence to the contrary. Another idea being that since His cult, in ancient times, was dominated by women to the point of apparently becoming female-only kept the cult well outside the “mainstream” of the civic religion, and so, in a sense, “foreign” to ancient writers, who tended to be men — it could therefore arguably be sexism that kept the Adonis cult regarded as “foreign”; if one considers that many often wrote of the Adonis cult and its symbols with a hint of derision (it’s arguable that the old idea of “green leafy salad = women’s food” is an idea started in ancient Hellas — not only is lettuce sacred to Adonis, but one writer once joked [or perhaps seriously believed] that lettuce causes male sterility), this hypothesis makes a lot of sense on paper. Untitled-1
But perhaps I digress….

I was initially attracted to Adonis as an extension of the “flower boys” — His floral associations include roses (in some versions of the mythos), windflower / anemone poppies, and the “adonis” genus of flowering plant. I make no secret of my veneration of Narkissos as a Daimone and Hyakinthos as hemitheos. Even Krokos, Paeon, and narcisses,_hyacinths_and_nasturtiums-large The “flower boy” myths intrigue me on many levels: For starters, think about what a flower is — not what it represents in this culture, but what it is. It’s a part of certain plants, but which part? The genitals. In a certain light, it can seem kind of perverse how much —severed plant genitals— er… cut flowers play a part in (especially heterosexual) romance, courtship, and marriage. The boy gives the girl a cluster of severed, essentially hermaphroditic genitals to show he likes her. A few centuries ago, especially the middle classes, the boy’s visit would then only really last as long as it took for girl to pluck the protective petals from around the reproductive centre. Near the end of the wedding ritual, where people especially like to be surrounded by these hermaphroditic plant parts, the bride throws another bushel of genitals on her friends, with the hope that the cycle will start anew. JohnWilliamWaterhouse-Narcissus_JW And if that’s not enough for you to handle? In many flowers, it’s the especially phallic-looking bit in the centre that’s the “female” part of this hermaphrodite.

It’s clear that Western culture is seriously obsessed with sex and sex organs — even when it tries to pretend it’s not, it’s filling children, especially girls, with an onslaught of symbols of fertility and virility and Martha Stewart is joyfully arranging severed genitals in various vases, often with the especially phallic lady-bits, right there on daytime telly (that woman seriously seems to love her lilies and callas — which aren’t lilies, they’re arums, and their “male bits” are typically attached to the “female bit” — now THINK ABOUT THAT). narcissus001

I find it hard to get close to Aphrodite. Not for lack of trying, mind, but perhaps she senses something about me (In Real Life™, I tend to be generally more comfortable getting emotionally close with men, while women I tend to befriend more casually — and the few exceptions to this kind of prove the rule, in their own unique ways), and either decides to maintain that distance, or simply appoints any and all contact to be through one of “Her Boys”: Either Eros, Whom I’ve already become especially close to, or Adonis, another Flower Boy for my bouquet.

Narkissos, I consider especially precious. My own views of His mythology apparently differ from the mainstream, and the versions of His mythos I hold most dear Narcissus003 (and indeed, there are dozens of ancient re-tellings and re-imaginings — the Battlestar Galactica franchise has had fewer re-interpretations by a wide margin) seem rather obscure, even if they’re versions that still seem to maintain the dominant trappings of the popular versions. To me, He is a holy daimon: A spirit of self-love, and a protector of those unloved. His namesake flower is sacred to Him, as are mirrors and reflecting pools; the species narcissus poeticus is especially sacred, as this is the exact flower He gave form to. He comes to you in a form reminiscent of you see yourself, perhaps a daimon of the Ego Ideal. He is the son of a nymphe and river god of Thespiae. Narcissus_Mazarini_Louvre_Ma435 His spurned lover, Ameinias, became anise; you can help to heal the tears Narkissos shed for both His own cruelty and for Ameinias with an offering of anise. Also, a bit of anise in a coffee for a reading may shed light on who loves you. Popularly, at least historically, He seems to have an especial link with gay man, and “narcissism” was initially used as a term for the “sexual perversion” of male-male love.

Hyakinthos’ flower, contrary to modern assumptions, is the delphinium larkspur. He is the son of the Moisa Goddess Kleio and Magnes’ son Pieros (Magnes being the first, now legendary, king of Magnesia, and a son of Zeus), and in some mythological traditions, He is either brother or cousin to Daphne — and perhaps the common-enough urge to link their myths is part of the collective consciousness trying to remind people of this (presumably?) once-ancient connection. hyacinth-statue-large By Spartan tradition, Hyakinthos is identified with the Thessalian Hymenaios, the God of marriage and the wedding bed, carrying associations with virginity, True Love, and legitimate partnership — again, I have to voice flabergastion that at the fact that so many modern Hellenic polytheists insist that only heterosexual partnerships have a right to spiritual or ritual legitimacy. Did Apollon not love Hyakinthos in the mythos? Is a god’s love not legitimate? Is the love felt by a mortal somehow unture? (If so, then logically, no marriage with a base of love, which is indeed what the overwhelming majority of Western marriages are, can possibly be ritually legitimate within Hellenismos — and I seriously doubt that very many people would want to get behind a fringe religion with self-proclaimed “authorities” who endorse a return to strictly-arranged het marriages based in social-climbing and dowries.) Delphinium-Larkspur-1 Or would people rather wax philosophical about “symbolism” and “metaphor” in myth rather than accept that the best symbol of a thing is the thing itself — and the mythos she the thing itself as a deep love and bond that was met with a tragic end. Though mortals may be imperfect, even flawed things can be true, legitimate — death is the greatest, most glaring flaw that mortals have, when compared to the Theoi, but our deaths are overwhelmingly true, a truth that is glaringly obvious.

Apollo And Hyacynth Benvenuto Cellini And again, we come back to blues — immortal blues for Love Himself. From “…something borrowed, and something blue,” to “L’amour est Bleu” (perhaps is is not insignificant that this song rose to fame via the Hellenic singer Vicky Leandros? LOL). The first I saw Hyakinthos, I knew the Spartans were onto something with their associations with Hymenaios, for the first time I saw Hyacinth (in a dream, mind), He was at a small pool or spring, sitting on a rock at the centre of a thick round of His flower, peacock feathers tied into His hair (giving allusions to Hera, a Goddess whose domains include marriage), and Apollon identifying this breath-taking youth as His beloved Hyakinthos, who He “fought the West Wind for, and won”. Their love, as I see it, is a wedded one that is renewed annually with Hyakinthos’ death and rebirth. George_Rennie_Cupid_Rekindling_the_Torch_of_Hymen_at_the_V_and_A_2008 He is therefore arguably, too, an Erote of Love Renewed, of Tragic Love, and a god of rebirth from tragedy.

Because of my interest in Boeotian traditions, especially of Thespiae and the surrounding area, I often revert back to Hesiod. Hesiod names a beautiful Thessalian boy beloved of Apollon, Hymenaios — or at least this is the Evlyn-White translation of the relevant fragment. The pseudo-Apollodoros notes a Thessalian Hyakinthos was seduced by Apollon away from Philammon, and that this Thessalian youth was accidentally slain by discus. Clearly this mythology is an example of one-in-the-same, simply with different names. At this point, I’m convinced, and urge: Whether you call Him Hyakinthos or Hymenaios, call on Him to bless the bond of love.

List behind cut:
Continue reading

30-Day Paganism Meme: Day 3, Beliefs – Deities

I’m at a bit of a loss on this.

Why didn’t I change this one?

See, I’ve been putting this one off because I’m not sure how to essay this.

The simplest and most bleeding obvious would be to explain that I believe in multiple deities and multiple tribal pantheons, but that’s pretty obvious from previous posts. I guess I could extrapolate on that….

See, when I first started looking into Celtic mythology, I first tried to think of ways to compare them to Hellenic deities — and that was full of fail on my part. First off, there is no one Celtic mythology; you can say that there are two main Celtic mythologies, Gaelic (Irish, Scottish, and Manx tribes) and British (Welsh, Cornish, and Briton tribes), though some would argue that the Gauls were Celts, as well, and then there are some deities that seem quite apparently Pan-Celtic, even moreso than certain Hellenic deities, but if you ask around, there are still distinct tribal names, even if the differences between names seems minute to a non-speaker. Trying to put Celtic deities in a Hellenic model is asking for headache. Some are easy, like Aerten/Aeron (Welsh/Cornish Goddess of Fate) is easy to correlate to the Hellenic Tykhe, in domain if not narrative mythos. Then you get to Brighd/Banfile, and She’s the Goddess of both the hearth and of martial arts, of fertility, and of “all feminine arts and crafts” — which Hellenic Goddess is she most like? Athene? Hestia? Hera? Ask five different people, I doubt you’ll get the same answer from every single one of them. Lugh/Llaw Gyffes is another one like Banfile — He’s got sun and light, and that’s easy to sync up to Apollon, but He’s also a “god of many skills”, which just screams “Hermes” to me (indeed, the Romans likened Him to Mercury), and He’s a god of metallurgy, which brings to mind Hephaistos; he’s also considered chief of the Tuatha de Dannan in the Irish cycles, which is an easy similarity to Zeus. This is where certain brands of syncretism and / or “soft polytheism” fail me; the important thing to remember about polytheism is the “poly-“, the many — really, it’s far too easy to look at a deity worshipped by another culture and pick some of that deity’s aspects, but not truly learn about all of them (much less get up-close-n-personal with said God/dess) and say, “oh yeah, your deity A is like our Deity Z”. Maybe this gave some common worshippers among the ancients a neat little frame-work to have at least some peace with their neighbours, and maybe it gave the “Educated” Elite of Hellas (who pretty much dominated the philosophy scene) some kind of ego-stroke to believe that it was truly their Gods who were worshipped everywhere, and the Hellenic form is the purest of these deities — and hey, by hand-picking a few of Brighd’s traits and assigning them to the notion that “Brighd is Minerva and/or Athene”, it creates the illusion of knowing about your neighbour’s culture without actually troubling yourself with getting down with them and really and truly learning about their culture.

And this is where I have to disagree with a lot of ancient writers, who commonly made a habit of taking a deity from another pantheon and likening Them to one of their own. Now, technically, I’m rather forgiving of this practise amongst Hellenes, and maybe that’s where my arbitrary line is drawn, but this is an opinion piece, of sorts. In my own experiences, Lugh and Apollon, Hermes, Hephaistos, and Zeus are all very different from each-other — and most importantly, I get pushed away by Lugh. Plus, the number of people I’ve encountered who have similarly experiences separate entities far outnumber those who are happy to believe that Lugh is Llaw Gyffes is Apollon, and I do believe that means something.

I will say, though, and maybe this is me “outing” myself as “not a pure recon”, but though I’ve yet to find any rituals to perform to Him, I do connect with Oengus Og, indeed, He’s the only Celtic deity I ever really have, and I feel Him very differently than I do Eros, but then, I’ve mentioned this before, haven’t I?

There are deities everywhere, and for everything. Some of their spheres of influence will overlap with that of several others, some tribal deities will be perfect matches with others.

I believe each deity exists in Their own right and their own form, but this form is largely incorporeal and They may shift form to better relate to mortals — still, I see some constants among those who have become close to one deity or another, probably so that humans may become closer through that bond (like Hermes with red hair).

I believe that each deity, though ultimately incomprehensible, does have a range of relatable emotions and personality traits that we, in our egotism, ascribe as “human-like”.

I believe, ultimately, that They love us.

0. Intro to meme
1. Beliefs – Why Hellenismos?
2. Beliefs – Cosmology
3. Beliefs – Deities
4. Beliefs – Birth, death and rebirth
5. Beliefs – Sacred sexuality
6. Beliefs – Divination, mysticism and various woo shit
7. Beliefs – The power of prayer/reciprocity
8. Beliefs – Festivals
9. Environmentalism
10. Patrons – Eros
11. Patrons – Apollon
12. Pantheon – Mousai
13. Pantheon – Adonis
14. Pantheon – Nyx & Kybele
15. Pantheon – Every-One Else
16. Nature spirits, Khthonoi, & The Dead
17. My ways of worship
18. Community
19. Hellenismos and my family/friends
20. Hellenismos and my love life
21. Other paths I’ve explored
22. Hellenismos and major life events
23. Ethics
24. Personal aesthetics and Hellenismos
25. Favoured ritual tools, and why
26. Any “secular” pastimes with religious significance, and why
27. How your faith has helped you in difficult times
28. One misconception about Hellenismos you’d like to clear up
29. The future of Hellenismos
30. Advice for seekers