Sunday, July 29, 2007

Home, inside and out.

When thinking of home, it is important to think of all of the ways that the word affects us. Home, both from an inner and outer perspective, and, from an inside and outside perspective.

The inner perspective of home is the inner emotion and feeling of safety one feels internally when home. The external aspect of home is what we call home. It can be one's home, town, state, nation, family, etc. or combinations of these. Inside and outside perspectives are different, we are here talking about being at home and being away from home. How do those two perspectives change the way we feel? How does Thea Hestia pull and tug at us as we move about in the world?

I have travelled outside the US. Portugal, Spain, France, Andora, and within them many cities. Within the US I have lived or travelled to many places as well. Dayton, my current home, Stamford, CT, where I spent my formative teen years and most of my twenties, Portland, Oregon, a city I still have amazingly fond memories of, Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Providence, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, etc.

All of these, even when the visits have been brief have left an indelible mark on my being. And part of that mark is the feeling of being away from home. And then, when you return home, either because you live there or for a visit because you now live elsewhere, there is a feeling of relief when returning home.

That sense of belonging is not simple familiarity, in my opinion, it is divine.

This divine connection to a place and a time, sometimes, makes us long for home, even if home can be many different places. depending on the time one references. It is also what draws us to different religions, philosophies, etc. because those can also feel like home. It draws us to her who is the keeper of the sacred flames of the holy hearth, and that hearth is something we carry within us every day of our lives.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Concept of Home

Close your eyes. Remove yourself from your worries by seeking to still your mind so that you are alone in the world. Now, breathe slowly and think about home. Not your particular home, but home as a concept. What does it mean?

When I think of home, the concept, it brings about flashes of places. Some I have called home, like the small concrete block we called a house in Puerto Rico when I was a child. My mother made it into a home by her sheer will, since she had little money to care for four children after my father abandoned us.

I think at an apartment in a slum in Stamford, Connecticut. (Yes, Connecticut has slums) I remember the sound of weapons being fired. The screams of people being beaten, and the fear with which people always spoke about the neighborhood. Yet within that neighborhood there was light. There were friends and fierce protectors. They were not always the most savory of people, but they were like the warriors of ancient Mycenae, strong and proud and protective of their own.

I also see what I have created of what little I have in terms of creating a home. It is not much, but when people enter, they seem to relax and find themselves feeling at home themselves, even though if I must be honest i am not the most welcoming of people, too much of a loner really.

Home is also a feeling, a feeling of security that engulfs you and makes you feel safe in a world. Something like what one imagines the womb must feel like to an infant ready for birth. This feeling is almost maternal, and yet Hestia is never presented as a mother.

As I close my eyes I imagine myself home, and the image changes from tropical island to New England winters to Ohio's corn fields and somewhat ornery and a little uncivilized people (Close the gates, the barbarians here.) And yet Hestia, that sacred center, that sacred fire at the center of the feeling that is home, a feeling we all know but which is hard to put into words, is constant, eternal, a pillar of strength in the hearts of mankind.

I will make a confession, on my way home yesterday I stopped by a local UDF (United Dairy Farmers) store and bought some OJ, milk, and a couple of muffins to have for breakfast during my weekend. I do not have much money, and as I left the store I was approached by a homeless man begging for money. I had to take into account what I had and what I might be able to spare, and I decided I could not give him anything.

As I sit here writing this, I am reminded that I could have given him something, even if just the 85 cents in my pocket, because unlike me, he has nowhere to call home. I am reminded too of the more Athenian or Aresian ways of thought that tend to dominate my thought processes, that if he just spent as much time working as he does begging, and stopped drinking, he could afford a small place here in Dayton, a place that is not all that expensive to live in.

As I sit here writing this I am forced to confront the conflicts in my own mind that I must learn to reconcile. The decision not to give him something because my own need outweighed his to me was logical, but perhaps it should have come from a deeper more emotional place, that place that pities someone who cannot get it together enough to get himself a small piece of what we all want and need, a home to call his own.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Hestia Consciousness

Many people speak of spreading a Christ Consciousness or a Krishna Consciousness (I believe the Hare Krishnas have always spoken of such a thing) and I interpret this as meaning that you allow the attributes of the deity to pervade your being, and especially your consciousness so that you almost become as the deity yourself, acting as the deity might (according to your interpretation, of course) and spreading good will as the deity might.

We who follow truly polytheistic religions or who have polytheistic mindsets, as Hindus and other Vedics do even though their religions allude to a strong monistic quality, have the benefit of being able to choose and explore the religions we are a part of for a deity to follow. In my case, it has always been Athena, but the polytheistic system allows me to balance the influence upon my consciousness by the strong and sometimes overpowering Athena with the softer, gentler Hestia, or the loving and sensuous Aphrodite, or the bright and healing Apollo, etc.

When I speak of a "Hestia Consciousness" I am talking about the willingness to allow the influences of this Goddess to pervade my consciousness and become part of it so that as I walk and breathe I become as if a conduit for her will.

Why would I want to do such a thing and how does it benefit me as a human being, and you as a recipient of that will, since my interactions with everyone else is influenced by that consciousness.

I suppose I should be clear that as a polytheist, I allow more than one deity to influence me this way, and as a result I should be referring more to the "Olympian Consciousness" than to that of any specific deity, but I am in a process here, one that is exploring Hestia and her power over me, so I will try to limit myself to her during this particular discussion.

Hestia Consciousness is focused on the ideas of "Home" and "Fire." These can be rather vague concepts to contemplate, so it is easier to understand them in terms of their specific influences. Home, then, becomes analogous to protection, cave, enclosure, limits, boundaries, walls, etc. Fire becomes analogous to heat, survival, health (cooking certain foods is necessary for health), destruction, fear (we faced our natural fear of fire to tame it for our own use), etc.

Contemplating these is how we come to Hestia Consciousness. But rather than just contemplating these, we must contemplate them in relation to the divine and how these are not just experiential concepts, but concepts of eternal truth.

In Home I am forced to not only look at my home as a sanctuary, but also as a prison of sorts. I am forced to see this body as my home, and my mind as the fire that burns within it, perhaps slowly destroying it in the process. I am forced to examine the walls I build around me, both physical and spiritual, and to break those down so that She can enter and touch me the way I truly need.

So, we proceed...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Divine Connection continued...

The conclusion that man does not have an immortal soul may not seem as obvious to you as it does to me. In a way, the Gods become aware of us as objects of curiosity worthy of guiding not because they took some special interest in our evolution from the beginning, but because we sought them out after experiencing them. Man is the product of evolution, not divine design, and as a result, we partake of the mortal nature of our four dimensional space-time. Or, more precisely, the mortal and transitory nature of matter.

But, before you jump to the conclusion that this makes us unimportant or that it isolates me as a human being in a lonely way, the opposite is actually true. It gives me a sense of power beyond what the implications and limitations of mortality may dictate. Man pulls himself up from the mud of evolution and transcends the animal nature to contemplate bigger things. In a way, we move ourselves closer to the divine by reaching out to it. We don't become divine, but we aspire to it which none the less gives us a sense of divinity that we lay claim to because of our connection to the divine.

Hestia, the lady of the hearth, is not only a connecting force but also a moving force in the mental evolution of man kind. How? I once wrote a piece in which Hestia is characterized as the Goddess that gives man fire. In myth this is actually said to be the Titan Prometheus, who is then punished by Zeus, but in my view this Promethean myth is one of the Great Deity we call Hestia, but which is essentially "The Great Fire God." This distinction is essentially irrelevant, since I worship in the Hellenic context, and that context lays the gift of fire into the hands of a Titan, and that actually makes sense.

Hestia, a name which means hearth, as a figure of veneration, is a very ancient Goddess. Evidence in Mycenaean and Minoan archaeology shows that the hearth cult goes back into most ancient antiquity, and to our species, this makes sense, and mythologically, it goes back into the Titanic age using a Titanic tool, the raging fire, which is then tamed for our use. Hence, the titanic and destructive fire becomes the amiable and humble hearth, and that deity becomes the Hearth Goddess, Hestia.

If Hestia is that fire deity, and she is, then her tending of the fire is linked to her tending of the home, and here we go into the symbolic concept of the human body being the home for the fire that is life, and more importantly, sentience and sapience.

Man's use of fire, which equates to man's reaching out to that deity, is a very important movement toward intelligence and the evolution of civilization. Thus, the human spirit, that part of us that strives for greater things, is sparked here at the beginning when man goes from being just another animal, perhaps a little more wily than most, to a possessor of fire, both physical and spiritual.

OK, so this is, essentially where Hestia has taken me so far. And now, as I continue to explore her, I must move toward what it means for me, today, to live and breathe and experience the Gods, especially this Goddess.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Divine connection?

OK, so I have to step back for a second and explain what all this is about that I am talking about. Like I have already explained I have seen an image in my head, the twelve pointed star, the flame at its center, etc. I have also said that I chose to begin with Hestia, goddess of the hearth.

Now how, you may ask, is Hestia connected to all this? The answer has come to me as I meditate on her, contemplate her or ask her for guidance as I contemplate things. When I say the words contemplate or meditate you may imagine me sitting cross legged on a mat in front of an altar, and yes, I do that from time to time, but I meditate in motion a lot, and I do so to music or to the rhythm of work or to the motions of my body as I work, so more often than not, I am working, having conversations, speaking to customers, etc. and at the same time be contemplating what it means to have a soul.

So, when I first saw the star in my mind's eye I confused the central fire with Hestia. This is not at all hard to do, considering the fire takes the form of a hearth or campfire (which is itself a kind of hearth, a place where fire is held in control) but I was wrong. The hearth at the core of the star was the human spirit, that spark of life that goes beyond the strictly animal, that internal fire that we often call a soul.

So, here we are and at the end of the last post I posted the ominous uh oh! Why uh oh? Well, I have never believed in an eternal or immortal soul, so if this fire represents the soul, it also tells me that the soul itself is not immortal, as fire is not an eternal or never ending thing. But when contemplating these things, the idea of the fire also representing the connection between the mortal and the divine came into play, it became necessary for me to ponder further what it means to have a connection between the mortal and the immortal realms if we are ourselves mortal in the true sense.

So, last night as I was laying myself down to sleep, I sought her out, asked her to guide me in my dreams that I may understand, and as the saying goes, you should be careful what you ask for. I barely slept. My mind just kept turning and twisting around concepts that I cannot properly convey to you here. It is not that they are beyond human understanding or anything, but that my language does not cover these concepts.

In essence, however, the concepts were of the brain and how it is like a computer. If a computer does something, it does so through the mechanism of mathematics, and the brain does too in its own way. If the computer in room A does a mathematical calculation, the one in room B can do it too, and come to the same conclusion because they are designed to do it the same way, but also because as a language, mathematics is very precise. Given a simple addition of 2 + 2, both computers have to come up with 4, but in the human mind, this is different, because while the brain can come up with the same answer, it can also be sparked into new lines of thought by this simple task.

That is to say, the human mind is volatile. It is both highly organized and random at the same time. When man experiences something, in this case the divine, he comes to the conclusion that it is Gods he is experiencing. So far so good, but this experience then creates vast tangents of thoughts, which are themselves random, and then those form what you and I receive outwardly as religious imagery and depictions of the Gods. (The Imagery and attributes of the Gods as envisioned by religion are products of these thought patterns inspired by our experience of them)

So what, you may ask.

Well, the divine isn't forcing these images, and it is not forcing what I call the "connection" between man and the Gods. It seems that we reached out to them. We sought to connect to them, and in so doing, we got what we wanted, an inner connection to the divine.

If this is the case, than my supposition that man has no immortal soul is essentially correct.

Gotta run to work (yes, I work on the 4th of July) but I'll b back later...

Sunday, July 1, 2007


So, the connection to the divine is an internal thing. We express it outwardly just as we express all of our inner self to the world, and because we are social creatures, we seek to express these things in concert with others. We call this religious ritual. That external connection to the divine is a social one, we seek to establish a connection between our societies and cultures and the divine we know exists through our inner connection.

But the inner connection is an individual thing. We all have it, even if we interpret it differently, and nature itself provides us with a variety of such connections to itself, giving us instinct, but the divine connection is different because our connections to nature are an absolute necessity. We have to be connected to nature because we are part of that nature. What about the connection to the divine? If we are connected to the Gods in this internal and fundamental way, does this mean we are also part of the divine nature?

You would think such questions would be fairly basic, but if you know me, either from reading this site or from interacting with me on the Hellenist sites (or other places) you also know that I am a firm believer in the mortality of man. If our connection to the divine, however, implies that we are also divine in some way, then I have to re-examine a great deal of what I believe with regard to human mortality. And if you know me at all you also know how hard that is for me. I tend to be stubborn, but I made myself a promise, and that is that I would follow through with this exploration of the divine connection within myself, even if it means turning myself inside out and my beliefs upside down.

So, the connection is there. There is no denying that at this point, and the Gods often make their will known to us through that connection. But what is that connection?

I find that I can only answer that question by asking more questions of myself, and then seeking to answer those before returning to the original question.

  • If I have a connection to the divine in this matter, and I am part of nature (a given) then does not every other living thing have the same connection?
  • Is that connection one of trillions, or is there but one connection shared by all life? This has fundamental repercussions for me, because this would imply, if a single connection, that all life, here and in the rest of the universe, is part of a whole (or perhaps each planet is a whole, which could make sense to me)
  • This one may seem a bit off, but here we go, is the connection to the divine part of an adversarial nature between the human spark of divinity and that of the Gods? Mortal versus immortal? Olympian versus Titan? (I am going to go into this one a bit after this list)
  • How should the exploration of this connection affect the way I connect to the outer world? This may seem rather easy to answer, but it can actually be a very complex question because we live in societies that demand certain things from us, and as a religion, we Hellenists do not have the same kind of support for the ascetic as do Hindus, for example.

So, the third one I mentioned sparked something in me, something that is not an original thought by any means, but which brings up something that may be important to me as I proceed.

According to one myth, the God Dionysos was killed by "Titans" and they consumed him. Enraged, Zeus destroys the Titans in a flash of lightning and from the ashes the heart of the God is rescued and the ashes are used to form mankind. This story illustrates that man kind is composed of two distinct divine essences, the Titanic and the Dionysian, which is Olympian by nature. Now, the Gods are, in my world view, eternal and the Titans of myth are, in my opinion, just other forms of the same Gods (as are all Gods as seen by all people) but this myth would seem to indicate that man came into being at the turn of things, when the Titanic world shaping aspects of the Gods were waning and the Olympian aspects were on the rise. The one essentially destroys the other, but because they are the same, the two remain and live on in us. Both the Titanic and the Olympian are immortal essences, and the earth, of which the ash itself plays symbol here, is not.

So, I am, we all are, partly divine in the same way that Adam is divine in Genesis by virtue not so much of his being created by God, but by God breathing his essence into him. We are divine not by virtue of being created by the Gods, or divine nature, but because we partake of their essence through the mixture of the titanic and Olympian in us.

If that is so, then mankind's connection to the divine is a in to mankind's connection to the tree, the grass, the deer, and the lion. We are a different order of life from the gods, but we are part of the greater whole that encompasses us all.

In reference to this, the question of how the connection works may also become clear if I understand myself not so much as an individual, but as a single cog in a vast machine. Physics, believe it or not, answers this nicely.

We are three dimensional beings living in a ten dimensional universe (twelve dimensional if you count the Olympian and the Chthonic as the two polar dimensions encompassing the whole cosmos) but even as three dimensional, living in the third dimension, we experience the second and first dimensions as well as the fourth (time), so we must be part not just of these dimensions, but essential of all of them because we are part of the totality.

Here is the connection, it transcends the dimensional perceptions we have, because they are necessary to our survival, and gives us an ability to look beyond the our experiences to a larger world, perhaps our very consciousness is a result of this connection sparking it to grow.

But there is a problem. This does not necessarily satisfy. It makes us all a little too unimportant, and how human would I be if I didn't think of myself as part of the best and greatest of all species? (oy vey)

My humble act aside, the connection seems more than that. Why would nature allow such a connection if it is not intrinsically necessary to our survival?

As I ask myself many questions I keep coming back to a conclusion I don't really like, an which needs to be further explored, and that is that nature allows the connection because we have an immortal soul that requires it.

Uh oh!