Monday, June 25, 2007


OK, so now that I have a path to follow, and I have chosen to begin with Hestia, I must come to terms with my own assumptions about who Hestia is. What Hestia is is simple, for she is a deity, but who she is is a far more difficult thing to answer. The cult of Hestia was home based, for the most part, and as a result there is little information on her worship, except that as a home cult of pan-Hellenic proportions, hers was probably one of the most wide spread of all religions in Greece.

This is not, however, strictly about worship. This is about finding her within my own soul, and making the links that will liberate me to take refuge in her without allowing myself to become imprisoned by my reliance on her. So, to do that, i must come to terms with her aspects, both historical, and those I have come to understand from my own UPG, or Personal Gnosis.

Sources for this are varied, but the more important are:

The first place I must, by force of tradition, find Hestia is at the very center of my home. I have a shrine, or altar, set up in her honor in my non-functional fireplace. I call this my altar to the virgins, for upon it I have both a statue symbolizing Hestia, but also Artemis and Athena, the other two virgin goddesses of Olympus. My first inner connection to Hestia is, again, by force, an external one. This altar and the place of honor it holds in my home and in my life. It has always seemed rather logical to me that this altar was so important to me, but ow as I seek to explore my own motivations and inner desires with regard to the Gods, I find that the logic is not so clear.

As something of a homebody, it makes sense that my home and the goddess that is its protector are important to me, but there is, it seems, more to it than that, especially in light of how I have come to understand the revelation of the star. If it is the human soul, my human soul, at the center of that star, then this altar and my connection to Hestia is like a tether, like a lifeline to something my soul desires and needs more than anything else, connection with the Gods and with she who connects us all to them.

But when I say connection, what exactly is that? At this point, I think I don't know, except that my spirit seeks it more than it seeks anything else. Neither the admiration nor love nor validation of others does it really seek, yet this it seems to need. This desire to be touched by and touch the divine world is something that it requires if it is to grow, like a plant needs sunlight and water.

I need to contemplate this further, perhaps try to discover the nature of this connection that I need more than I need family, friends, or love.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Meditations on the Star

As I have already said, I am attempting to look within myself, to explore different aspects of my own personality, but I have also been faced many times as I contemplate the Gods or pray at their altars (I actually have 4 of them in my home) with an image of a contiguous star with 12 points. When Hellenion was forming, I remember submitting the image for consideration as the Hellenion Logo, but Hellenion decided to go with the non-contiguous star because it looked better as a logo, offering more room at it's center for the Hearth Icon, which was a nice touch and one that was consistent with the way I pictured the fire at the center of the star.

This image seems persistent in my mind, for some reason, and I have come to accept it as a sign, if you will, as a symbol of what I need to do in my life.

The star is three fold, one star below the central one, another above it, and at each point one of the Olympian Gods. The Hearth at the center represents Hestia, of course, but it is more than Hestia, it is actually a unification. When I first concluded this I thought perhaps I was going a little nuts, as it would suggest, in some way, a kind of monism as one might find in Hinduism, but I actually came to the conclusion that that fire was not so much a representation of Hestia, the Goddess, but Hestia who sits at the center of our being, the spark of life, the flame that is mortal life, surrounded by the eternal Gods in their many aspects.

The fire is the soul and the body the home, if you will.

If the center is the human spirit, then the road to self examination and discovery does not really start with Hestia, in any dogmatic way, but by stepping onto the road that is the star and following it where the spirit needs to go.

However, once I start, I must follow where the star leads, and this is where it gets complicated, because it forces me to face a deity even if I am not quite ready.

Why is this?

OK, picture the Clock with it's twelve points. The names of the Gods arranged around it are as follows

12: Hestia
1: Hermes
2: Ares
3: Poseidon
4: Zeus
5: Apollo
6: Hephaestos
7: Demeter
8: Aphrodite
9: Athena
10: Hera
11: Artemis

If you picture this in your head you will notice that one side of the clock is Gods, the other Goddesses, and that the God/Goddess opposition is as follows


This is important because if you draw a contiguous line to form the 12 pointed star and follow that line starting at the 12 position (you might start elsewhere, but I started at 12, with Hestia) your next step after you have found what you feel you need from contemplation of Hestia, is to follow the road to the right, which leads you to Apollo at the 5 position, after that it is Hera at the 10 position, then Poseidon at the 3 position, etc.

Now, I normally don't let matters of "dogmatic correctness" stop me, I tend to worship as is fitting to me, but in this case, I think there is a clear purpose for this image. That the image is trifold could be a limitation in my own ability to visualize this star pattern as a three dimensional object, but I also think it is a representation of the three fold aspect of the Gods, not that all gods have only three aspects, but that these aspects fall into three categories. The Ouranic, or heavenly, the Chthonic, or dark and earthy aspects (as in the underworld) and the Earthly or elemental aspects (elemental referring to the physical interaction between the divine and the mortal realms) which I call Daemonic (I tend to think of the Daemonic aspects as those aspects of the Gods that speak to us in our own minds and suubconscious, the way Athena talks to Odysseus all the time in Iliad and Odyssey)

So, in order to follow through here, I have to face each god and allow myself to be guided by them into all three of their aspects, and this could well prove to be a life long process, and being essentially American, I hope I have the patience not to break down and give up.

So, t this point, I have started with Hestia, as the home (the body) and looking at the body as a kind of border between the inside and the outside, and seeking to break with my inherent tendency toward locking myself away from the world, which in itself is a danger many of us probably face, but also looking at the inner self and learning where those barriers are between the divine and me, the barriers that they will not topple for me, but which I must be willing to break into and allow them to enter...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Meditations on the core...

So, the star points me to its center, and within that center, to the heart of the fire that is the human soul. Like all fires, that fire dies, and yet it burns brightly. Even at the end, that fire burns brighter than any star in the sky, for it burns with hope and tenacity brought about by the will that drives us to struggle to survive, even when we know we cannot.

As I grow into my forties, I find myself facing a distinct reality in my life, and that is that much of it has been wasted on a search for some external source of happiness. Dreams about wealth, sex, and more sex have cost me too much time. I have found myself in worship of the Gods, but have I sought them out in the one place that really matters, my own soul?

So, what does this mean to me?

This attempt to look at my own spirit from the two perspectives, from the inside out and from the outside in, will, I hope, give me a look at myself in a way I have, perhaps, neglected until now, and it has to begin where the star leads me, to the very center of my being, where the flame of my being connects with the flame of she who dwells with us. Hestia, the Lady of the Hearth, and it comes as no real surprise that I find myself confronting a being of immense power who we, usually, take for granted.

She is the protector of the home, and in so far as we carry home with us in our hearts, protector of man as well. And here lies a dichotomy, because in Hestia there is also safety in the four walls of our "home", be it a physical home or the walls we build around ourselves to keep ourselves safe from the outside world. Here at the core, I have seen the walls I have built, and have found myself suffocating within them. Pushing people away as they approach and perhaps lay hands on the wall, hoping to find a door, or even a window.

Those walls are not impermeable any more than the walls of your home are. They offer a false sense of security, and can come tumbling down on you as you hide away in safety. The Lady of the Hearth is warning me, I think, and as I seek to connect with her aspects in the coming days or even weeks, she will, I think, poke at me harshly as forces me to see myself as I really am, and how, perhaps, she sees me, and I only hope it is an imnage of myself I can live with...


This is not about Marcus Aurelius, but about some things that have
been happening to me in the last few months, thoughts, musings, and
occurrences that have, I think, lead me to some conclusions about my
place in this religion and how it affects me, and, more importantly,
how I might affect others around me.

I am becoming a Christian!

OK, that was a joke, but in all seriousness, I have been reading up
on some of the ideas and subject matter that have been pondered by
Hindus and Buddhists through the centuries because I feel that, as
living pagan cultures and religions, they can offer me insight. Not
into the Gods, as I believe that insight into the Gods must be
pursued through the context of the religion they are embodied in, but
into the methods by which we as human beings can commune with the Gods.

I have come to the conclusion that the praxis of the Greeks was only
at the beginning of its development into more intimate methods.
Methods such as meditation, which we know many ascetics in Greece did
apparently practice, and internalized prayer and introspection can, I
think, prove to be the way in which we move beyond this almost
childlike exploration that most of us have been indulging in, and
into true communion.

Pondering such ideas, things began to come to me, and in one
particular story I read from a Buddhist work, I saw that, perhaps, I
was on the right track.

As the story goes, a man who sought enlightenment was confronted by a
goddess who taught him many things, and then she guided him to
another goddess, who also taught him many things, and so forth.

This story came into contact with some forming, and inspired, ideas
in my own head and I was soon presented, in my own mind, with an
image I have discussed before, the contiguous 12 point star. But this
time, something else became clear, the image of a home, and the
varying levels at which "home" interacts with us, from the protection
of the walls from the elements, to the sense of internal safety we
feel when we feel at ease in our own homes.

What does this mean? WTF is this image supposed to teach me?

That's when I finally saw it. The story is true of all of us. We all
seek some kind of "enlightenment", and while we do not seek the same
things that the Buddhists do, we all seek it none the less, and here
I was, sitting in front of her altar, thinking on things and images
that seemed incongruous to me, and she was knocking on my head,
perhaps with a hammer, trying to get me to see. She is the first guide.

Hestia, the fire of the hearth, the protector, the inner safety, is
the first guide, the one who points out to us that encircling
yourself with "home" and the safety of "home" is an error, and,
perhaps, as a way of telling me that I have to break free from my own
inner safety and explore what she is trying to tell me before I move
on to another deity who will lead me further and further away from

But the star in the home also has that peculiar fire burning at its
center, and if I follow the lines of the star I will always be lead
far from the fire by each of the Gods only to once again be lead back
into proximity with it as I move along the lines toward the next
teacher, and, that I will eventually end up where I started.

That scares me a little bit, because in a way, I have always though
of spiritual exploration as something that is supposed to lead me
away from the demons that haunt me, yet here she is telling me that
no matter what I do, what I learn, I must return to where I began, to
confront those demons, perhaps...