Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Healing a broken heart

It seems to me that I got this vision of a star for a reason. I got it a long time ago, and have since gotten it more than a few times. I have spoken of it from time to time on lists I belong to, and have often gotten comments of interest and bewilderment. I have been forced to confront two very basic realities of human existence, that my self, home, tribe, and nation are all part of the shell that protects me from the world around me, and that as with all things, relying on it to excess is dangerous to the development of the human soul.

I have, in my life, suffered a great many deprivations. Each one has forced me to rely on others to get through them, and each time i had to rely on others a piece of my self reliant nature was stripped away. It becomes easy as time goes by to simply rely on the world around you to prop you up, hide you, protect you. Then, one day, you wake up, pick up, and move away from the people you know, love, and trust (even though they drive you insane) in order to force yourself to be your own person. In truth, the above should be written in the first person, as it describes me, but I think many if not most of us go through it at different times in our lives.

But the deprivations of my life have left me with what I can only call a broken heart, and by that I am making no reference to love relationships, but to a general broken spirit that has forced me to too often be harsh and cold hearted to the people I encounter. It has, that means, made me rather bitter with the world, and sometimes, with the Gods.

When I think on this, what I am trying to do here, I am astounded that until now I have never made the connection between my need for a tranquil home and the healing of my broken spirit. That this endeavor has forced me to look at my conception of home and then follow it with an examination of the great healer. That is, that I am in obvious need of healing, and it becomes clear as I go forth, have been for a long time.

Here's hoping I learn well from Apollo as I move forward into his domain.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Epithets of Apollo

Apollo is known by many titles.

Akesios: Averter of evil. (Akestos and Alexikakos)
Aigletes: The radiant.
Agetor: Leader (Leader of men, Leader of souls, etc.)
Agonius: Helper in struggle and contests.
Agraeus: The hunter.
Agyieus: Protector of streets and public places.
Archegetes: Patron, founder, protector of colonies.
Isodetes: He who binds impartially.
Loxias: Prophet of Zeus.
Lykeios: Wolf like, wolf-slayer.
Marmarinus: God of marble.
Moiragetes: Leader or guide of fate.
Musagetes: Leader or guide of the Muses. (Inspiration)
Noumius: Pastoral.
Paean: The healer.
Phoebus: The shining.
and many many others.

Now, clearly with Apollo, or Apollon, we are dealing with a god who was worshipped in an amazingly varied number of places, cults, and ways. As a prophet, Apollo was the god called upon in Greece's most famous and most respected oracle in Delphi. The prognostication and odd sayings of the prophetess there were very highly sought after and, according to the stories, at least, very accurate, even if not in the way people interpreted them.

As a healer, Apollon was also the god of disease, and he was often shown punishing mankind with plague. As a god of civilization he was seen as a protector of cities, colonies, and countries. and most importantly, perhaps, he was seen as a bringer of light. The light of healing, the light of prophecy, the light of civilization and art. He was a god who inspired among the ancients, and remains seen as that today among those who worship him.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Going to the next point...

Moving on means moving on to the next point in the star. Going clockwise and following the line of the star itself, the next deity to contemplate as I try to understand this vision is Apollo. This will not be easy, for though Apollo is one of the most well known of all the Olympian Gods, he has played very little part in my spiritual awakening and evolution. In order to explore further I will have to spend a little time refreshing my own understanding of the God's attributes and epithets.

Let me begin with the most basic aspects of this God as we see it in myth, both Greek and Roman, for Apollo made his way into Roman religion almost unchanged (at least in name and iconography) and he did so as a God of civilization, healing, music, and to some extent, dance and art as a whole. Apollo is always portrayed as a beautiful but young male who is resplendent and radiant, and in later times even became assimilated into the solar mythos. The shining one (Phoebus) is Apollo as celestial being who, unlike most of the other Gods, has almost subsumed the Chthonic aspects of his being into the more Ouranic aspects which overwhelm with their resplendent glow.

Apollo is also a "Father God" who, like Zeus, produces popular children like Asklepios, the healer who is killed by Zeus when he arrogantly chooses to break the natural order by bringing the dead back to life. Asklepios, like Herakles, is then worshipped as a Hero God and his temples are places of healing where the practice of incubation, a distinctly Apollonian practice, has people sleeping in temples or other sacred places to either Apollo or Asklepios in order to either be healed or be told by the god how to heal themselves.

This aspect of the Apollonian realm, and I do see Asklepios as an aspect of Apollo just as I see Herakles as an aspect of Zeus, seems a rather apropos reason for me to have to turn to Apollo next in my exploration of my inner self and the world around me. If Hestia forced me to recognize what my true home was (this form, this mind, this being who is me) then having to move to Apollo next will force me to recognize where that home is broken, where it is leaking, where it is too drafty or stuffy, where it needs cleaning, etc. That logic had not occurred to me until now, but now that I see it, now that I have explored Hestia, it seems only logical that to recognize the patient is the very first step in figuring out if he is sick and in need of healing...

Before I move on...

Before I move on, I want to take a minute to explore a concept.

The Gods are often seen as cosmic forces. We often call Hestia the Hearth, Aphrodite we call Love, Ares is War, but I think we often get into trouble when we attempt to discuss this because it tends ot offer our detractors ammunition when speaking out against us as idolaters or simple nature worshippers.

When I speak of Hestia as "The Hearth" or "Lady of the Hearth" or "Hearth Goddess" it is not that she actually is the hearth, the hearth is just a man made fire pit in which to control fire for our own use. What the title "Lady of the Hearth" means is simply that this is where she is worshipped, honored, offered sacrifice. What she offers to us freely, we recognize in the hearth. It symbolizes for us what she has given to us and why we are thankful to her.

Aress is not literally War, we war with each other, it is up to us to take responsibility for it, but Ares does inspire in us a sense of competition, aggression, and even lust, and it is how we have acted upon these things which we can turn to him to help us deal with, that we see Ares as "War" or "War God" or "Lord of War."

The Gods are divine architects, molding the universe, life, and all the lies between, into forms that are somehow in symmetry, in balance while at the same time retaining their chaotic/entropic natures, yet they are not themselves gravity or the sun or the earth. We accpet in these things a symbolism of what the Gods are, since we mortals have such a limited range of perception molded by our evolution, and it serves us well, but we must from time to time clear the board and make people understand that Helios is not really The Sun, but the Sun symbolizes him. We see Helios as radiant, life giving, seeing all that is, and the Sun symbolizes that perfectly.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Putting the Hestia Consciousness into practice

Putting the Hestia Consciousness into practice is a matter of learning to recognize what home is in the world around you. If I am home, if this body is the home of my soul, if home is where the heart is as they say, then what it is I want to carry with me wherever I go? What is it that I wish to decorate this home that is my heart, my body, my soul and all that surrounds it with?

Hestia Consciousness is a peaceful one. She is the fire of the hearth, and that fire calls to you, wants you to come closer, to warm you. It has the potential to destroy you if you fall too far into it, if you cloister yourself, but it's desire is to aid you and succor you, not destroy you.

Bringing her to mind at the right moments, reminding myself that I am not alone even there where it is just me at home, is a miraculous feeling if the feeling is true. And bringing that feeling that when I face the world I do so with the army of Gods at my back, is one of the reasons why man turns to the Gods. We need them, and bringing them into our consciousness and allowing them to work through us is perhaps the hardest thing we face as people. We feel a need to control, not be controlled. Allowing ourselves to fall into their hands and know we will be caught, that is putting this divine consciousness into practice, and it is not something we can take a few weeks to contemplate and then do.

I will seek to move forward now and carry her, Hestia of the Hearth, with me into the tunnel where I hope to see a great light soon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

So far...

So, what have I learned so far?

I have taken to introspection, to looking for the Gods within as well as without. That the vision I had served a purpose, and will continue to serve that purpose throughout my life. The purpose being to guide me in some quest to understand who I am in relation to all that is from the divine gods to the smallest of animals. What is my place, and if not why, then why not.

By starting at the top, with Hestia at the 12 o'clock point, I am forced to start with my immediate surroundings and to look at how they reflect who I am on the inside. Why, for example, does my home reflect a certain calm quality that is sorely missing in my inner soul? Some say it is my desire to be calm, hence my turn toward being so much more isolated, so much more introverted, so much more of a hermit in this calm environment i have created for myself. If I must understand this it is in the understanding that this home reflects what the Goddess Hestia wants me to understand.

I have learned that the fire within is always reflected in my actions, but that is not a revolutionary thought, what is revolutionary to me is that that self same fire and how it is reflected in the actions I take also tend to form the world I see around me because I choose and pick what I want to see, what I want to hear, what I want to experience in life while being guided by an inner conflict that seeks to force me to something while part of me refuses to allow it. This is what the Gods want me to face, do battle with, and even if it means I end up a bloody beaten mound of flesh at the sword of my own demons, I will come out of it better for understanding myself.

Hestia is the first impulse toward that, and this is why it was inevitable that I start with her. It was inevitable that I try to face her, who is so quiet, so seldom heard from even if ever present.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The temple of the soul

I spoke of the body as a home of the soul, but in reality that should read more like "Temple of the Soul" for I see the soul not as something innate to human beings (and other life forms) but something a kin to a gift from the Gods, something we borrow from them and return at our death.

This temple of the soul is something we must take into consideration here, for Myth tells us that Hestia, of all the Gods, abides with us in our homes. that hers is the sacred fire that lights the fires of all altars and temples, and by extension, that makes our bodies something like a temple to this great goddess.

It is a difficult thing for me to have to contemplate because I have not treated this temple well. I have not given it the respect it requires. I have, in essence, let the temple go to pot, and that must seem like a disrespect to the goddess of the home. Just as I would not allow my home to go to the dregs, so too must I take it upon myself to treat this, the temple of the sacred fires of the soul with respect and care for it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The inner fires

We often refer to the inner impetus, the spontaneous nature of thought and emotion, as a fire that lives within us. Hestia is there too, for the body is the home of the soul, but the soul is, in my definition, the point where the animal and the spiritual meet. That spark of the animal that connects with the divine and which draws from the divine that spontaneous creativity that we call thought.

This isn't to say that Hestia is thought, but rather that we as human beings think and feel and all of that happens within this sacred vessel we call our bodies and souls, and that just as we pay a certain respect for our homes (house, apartment, town, city, state, nation, etc.) as the places where we are sheltered, so too we must pay respect to the nature of this form of ours, a form we may owe to the Gods much more than we may be willing to accept sometimes. (I will explore evolution and such in later connections, such as my connection with Ares)

The inner fire is, perhaps, our most prized connection, and one that man recognized and sought to embrace early on. We sought to propiciate the Goddess of the hearth, for she helped us achieve something great, and now it is up to us, who have come so far, to move beyond the simple propitiation and superstition of the past and come to connect to the Gods as beings of mind and spirit, capable of great thought.

This is a great challenge, one that I am trying to come to terms with with this blog, but which I am still having difficulty with. But, as I said before, it is a life long process, and if it takes me years to come to terms with it all, so be it. Perhaps on the day I die I will look back and say, "oh, OK, I think I get it now..."

Monday, August 6, 2007


The proper respect for the Gods is shown through our piety. Piety in Hellenismos, however, is a different set of strictures than it is among the Judaeo-Christian systems in which man must always consider himself subordinate to God, his slave even. Man, in Hellenismos, approaches the Gods, if not as an equal, than at least as deserving of respect.

The Gods are powerful, creative forces, but man is never their slave. Man worships and honors the Gods because it is proper to be grateful and to offer respect, but not because he has to or else. In fact, belief or non-belief in the Gods was never a condition for entering a blessed after life in the Hellenic religion and mythos. A man could choose to worship as he saw fit, honoring the Gods as his tribe and family saw them while not giving much thought to how others did so. At the same time, a man could travel to a foreign land and their offer the gods tribute as the foreigners did and not feel that he was dishonoring the Gods in any way.

With Hestia and her fire, however, I think man always had a bit of a tenuous and reverential relationship. Fire was, and continues to be, at the heart of man's capacity to create and innovate on a grand scale. So long as man could harness fire he could build extravagant homes and heat them. Cook his food so as to avoid disease. And yes, make his offerings to the Gods upon fiery altars of many types all over the world.

Even the dead, in many cultures, are set off upon a pyre.

The cult of the hearth is, perhaps, the most ancient of all Hellenic cults. Attested to in the archaeological record as far back as is possible to call any culture "Greek," the Greeks worshipped at the hearth. This we see in the theological mythos when Hestia is called both the eldest and the youngest of all the Olympians.

Fire, however, must be respected utterly. Man has learned the disaster of his folly in not paying proper respect to fire, a lesson Hestia teaches all too well.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The home fires

The fire of the hearth is the home fire. It is that light and warmth that calls to us and makes us sit still in front of its protection from the night and cold. Hestia is that hearth fire.

Close your eyes, breath evenly and deeply. When your mind feels as if it is slowing, stilling, open your eyes and light the hearth candle, or the fire in the fireplace, and let the light of the fire dull you into another state of awareness.

This isn't easy, but I try to do it from time to time as a way to meditate on the essential nature of this goddess. Not her personailty, but the essence of her. An essence that is both light and warmth and the destructive power of fire. A fire that can not only burn but also burn away that which harms from within.

Imagine, if you will, your heart and soul as a sword being forged. The metal of the sword needing that fire to burn away the dullness, impart strength, and which allows it to gain form from formlessness. So too do the Gods prove to us humans. As the fires that both strengthen us but can also burn and destroy us if we lose ourselves too long in them.

But the fire that is Hestia is very special. One must wonder at early man and how frightening it must have been to tame fire, to control it and worse, to bring it home once he started living in structures. A gift of the goddess of the hearth, one that must be properly respected and maintained. It is a gift we take for granted in the modern world.