Friday, April 18, 2008

The Companion of Sorrows

Contemplating the divine spirit of Hera is difficult for me. I am not likely to ever be married, not in this country, and I am not even sure that I believe in the concept of marriage itself. Family, yes, but marriage?

Yet as the Goddess of Marriage, Hera insists on pushing this issue. She is my companion of sorrows, because she constantly reminds me of the darkness that our society pushes on us with its constant and fantastical images of the happy marriage and the ever so happy yet ever so boring middle class.

Sure, part of that is that I have a sense of bitterness about how unfairly those of us who are different are treated. But there is more to it than that, and I think I am beginning to get a grasp on it as I contemplate her.

Hera does not push people to marry. That is not her deal. She demands that we be true to vows. She demands that we, not only as individuals, but as a society, take marriage seriously and treat it with due respect.

But for a person like me, that is not always an apparent possibility. After all, if I do not really accept marriage itself, what possible due respect is it that I am supposed to show it?

As a gay man, I do not even have the right to get married in Ohio, hell, I don't even have the right to take my shirt off in a club, believe it or not.

So, what? What is it I am supposed to be pushing for? Gay marriage, when I don't even believe in straight marriage?

Or is it deeper than that? Does part of me feel a true sense of loss at not being the marrying type? Am I feeling guilt at not settling down? It isn't exactly by choice, for while I do not believe in marriage per se, I do have respect for my relationships. I am no cheater. But I have yet to meet a man who can truly be said to want to be in a truly committed relationship, and I get it, we are men, and men desire the complex and erotic sensations of life, but men can have those and still be committed.

But my sweet companion of sorrows is pushing me in new directions even as I write this. Pushing me into more sorrowful contemplations on the state of my life, on the state of my being, on the state I live in and how its fundamentalist churning have turned it into an ever more inhospitable place for my kind.

Maybe it truly is time for a change. A change of scenery, a change of venue, a change of reality...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hera, the Companion

I lost a friend this week. Tuesday morning my good friend Hershal died in his sleep. A pleasant enough death, I suppose, and one I hope for myself when my time comes, but this reminder of mortality, of the fragility of life always forces me to take a good long look at the other side of the equation, the immortal, the eternal, and the divine.

Hera has proven something of a companion to me these last couple of days. I have sung her mantra in my head as I worked. It brought to mind that Hera, as Wife, is also a companion. She stands by you when you suffer. Supports you when you weep. Scolds you when you act a fool. And, of course, nags you when you don't listen.

I have been hounded by the many spirits that are associated with her, her many aspects and "angeloi". They remind me to be careful. To not allow myself to continue to fall prey to the demons that haunt me and force me to act, way too often, in a self destructive manner.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hera, Goddess

Hera, queen of Gods and Men. August Queen of Heaven. Goddess.

Hera, as a Goddess, was worshipped throughout the Greek World. Her place was cemented as Queen of Gods and Men in the mythos as wife of Zeus, great and victorious conqueror. But lo, behold that there is a quality to Hera that is often neglected when considering the reality of her Godhood, and that is that Hera also chose Zeus, he didn't simply stake his claim to her, she chose him.

Hera, it is said, refused Zeus as a mate. He was unworthy. Young, brash, and a little too violent, she saw him as beneath her, though he was, according to the Hesiodic myths, her brother, child of Kronos and Rhea just as she was. In the divine sphere, however, such relationships are essentially irrelevant, and they could often differ from myth to myth.

That Hera would consider Zeus unworthy is telling. Her stature as a divine being must be high indeed, and it is said that after three hundred years of turning down his advances, Hera finally gave in, falling in love with him and his persistence, for he caused a great storm and disguised himself as a disheveled cuckoo and endeared himself to her and then wooed her with great passion and vigor.

Hera, it seems, elevates the status of Zeus, making it possible for him to stand as equal to his brothers when they draw lots to partition the world. He wins the heavens and the earth as his right, and in doing so both he and Hera are elevated further to the roles they would be worshipped under.

But this is myth, and while myth is the means by which mankind relates the essentially unknowable or incomprehensible forms of the divine world, they cannot fully explain the nature of divinity and why it relates to us in such wondrous ways.

Hera is a goddess by her very nature, she is worthy of worship for another reason, and that is her influence of the cosmos and us, in particular. As Queen of heaven, she is part of the divine light. The divine power that enlightens and grants great purpose. Hers is a presence vast and powerful, and one that can be hard to grapple with because the Greeks themselves did great damage to her mythos and character. Unlike the much beloved Athena, the Greek poets seem to have taken great delight in maligning her, almost as if she represented something that threatened them. The power of woman, perhaps, or the need to be wary of their own treatment of woman.

When I meditate on Hera simply as a goddess, I am often surprised that I find myself at a loss for words. Because I do not know her as I should, though I offer her my prayers, and am thus left bereft of a capacity to understand her.

While that is not strange when considering a goddess, such being beings so hard to grasp, it is strange when considering one of the most powerful goddesses of the Greek world, and one who was worshipped throughout the whole land.