Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Earth Shaker

In ancient times, the ideas about how the world was formed, how it takes shape, what land was in relation to the sea, etc., were all far more fanciful than any we might believe today. From lands that grew out of the sea at the behest of a goddess in need of a place to birth her children to lands that floated on the seas.

That conception of the relation between the sea and the earth gives fair mythological basis for another of Poseidon’s well known aspects, that of “Shaker of the Earth.”

The Gods is said to sing an entire city state, a nation, into the sea in Odyssey when the God became angry that the people had willfully aided the mortal he had decided to punish for his crimes against the God. This is an aspect of the god as Earth-Shaker.

The idea that the Sea God is also the Earthquake God is not that odd when one considers the notion that the land floats upon the ocean or that the Sea encircles the earth as if in an embrace, and that the god can cause the earth to tremble by his motion or by his squeezing the earth.

Strangely enough, however, Poseidon was not, mythologically, married to an Earth Goddess, but to a Sea Goddess. Might this embrace of the earth be something a kin to a mother/son relationship? A child throwing a tantrum at his mother’s knee? Perhaps such an idea is “sacrilegious” or disrespectful, but on a mythological level it is worth pondering, for in many ways, Poseidon was often shown to be a petulant being. One who was a wee bit fickle and a tad bipolar.

In pondering Poseidon, I think I must use him as a means to understand that inner child that is petulant, turbulent, and often unwilling to accept the actions of others as theirs to own and therefore wanting to lash out at them in order to release the anger within myself.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rivers... Continued

When talking about Poseidon as a God of Rivers, we can only use the idea of Poseidon, not so much the ancient sources as a guide. The reasons, as I have already said, is that the people will use their local representations and their personal ideas about what that god is or is not when describing the river deity.

So, for example, the main river that goes through the town I live in is called the Great Miami River, which is a tributary to the Ohio River, which is a well known and rather major river in this part of the U.S. This river, the Ohio, is also a tributary to the Mississippi River, perhaps the most well known river in all of the U.S. This River, the Mississippi, of course, empties into the Gulf of Mexico, which is part of the greater Atlantic Ocean which, of course, is part of the great World Ocean, since the oceans of the world are a single contiguous mass of water, the divisions of which are man made.

When one thinks of a river in this way, one is struck by the unity of it. Waters that fall from the heavens, some absorbed into the Earth, are released into streams which flow into small rivers which flow into large rivers, etc. Is the divine divinity of fluidity then not also thus diversified?

These are aspects. And aspects can be of more than one deity, just as rivers can have more than one name, as the Amazon River is not called Amazon by the natives who have not assimilated into the Spanish and Portuguese cultures which inhabit the lands that surround it. Poseidon too must be called by peoples all over the world by those names with which they are familiar.

This river, the Great Miami, then, is a local aspect of the god, a local epiphany of the great Lord of the Seas, God of the Waters.

This aspect of the Water God has many aspects of its own. Rivers are life sustaining features of the land we live on. Without them, life as we know it would either not exist, or be so different as to not be recognizable. In this aspect, then, the river is a giver of life. As a means of transport, rivers have been indispensable in the history of man kind, and as such, this aspect of the god is also a bringer of civilization. In the same aspect, he is also a god of commerce and, further, assisted in the spread of man kind from his humble beginnings in Africa to the entire world, in which the god's oceanic aspects was also instrumental.

But rivers are also treacherous things. Many a life is lost every day world wide, drowned in the waters of strong and powerful rivers which are so often underestimated by humans who too often grow complacent with their presence. In this aspect, the Water God as River God is also a taker of life, and in this way a balance is struck.

The River God, who I see as an aspect of the Ocean God who is an aspect of the great God of Fluidity, is instrumental in the life of man, and as such, man has always venerated him in some way or another. Throughout history rivers, lakes, and springs have all been venerated as Gods, spirits, eve, in post Christian times, as sacred sanctuaries to Saints and Angels.

The veneration of the waters that give life, help us spread out into the world, and allowed for commerce to flourish in ancient times is, then, not only understandable, but a necessary aspect of human interaction with the divine world and how that world interfaces with our own in the epiphanies of the Gods.

Monday, July 14, 2008


The God of the Sea is, by force of his dominion, the God of all of the Earth’s waters. All that is fluid on the Earth and moves and shapes the world that contains it by it’s power. The oceans, the seas, the lakes grand and small, the rivers and streams and even the great glaciers whose movements shape the world so profoundly.

For the ancients, rivers, lakes, streams, springs, etc. each had their own attendant deities. A river God is a very local God, contained by the very river that he is responsible for. The nymphs that inhabited wells and springs were also thus localised and contained by the nature of that which they represented. In my theological view, these are all representations of two specific things. One is the human acknowledgment of the rivers as sources of life without which human existence would be extremely difficult if not impossible. The second is a more abstract concept in the religious ideologies of polytheistic religions, and that is the concept of apsected divinity.

The concept itself is fairly simple. The idea is that a deity can manifest to a people, or person, in a variety of forms, and that those forms are often, perhaps even always, dependent on the people’s or person’s ability to comprehend it. A being who has never seen the vastness of the ocean or a large sea may not have the conceptual ability to see the deity as vast and powerful, rather, he may only be able to identify such a deity with what he is familiar with, a river or small lake or ven a pond or spring. So this person, or these people, may only see the God of the Seas as a God of River X or a nymph of the local springs which are so important to their survival.

The Greeks adopted a form of address that often, if not always, took into account this aspect of their religious system. Gods were often named with epithets that gave an inkling of what that aspect of the deity was to them. How they perceived and called upon that deity until such a time as their view of that deity was expanded.

Poseidon was known by many such epithets, and here are some:
Basileus: This means King or Lord, and Poseidon was very much a king.
Asphalius: He who secures safe voyage.
Epoptes: Watcher or overseer. This is a protective aspect.
Gaeochus: Holder of the Earth or he who bears the Earth in his hands.
Ennosigaeus: Shaker of the Earth, in his aspect of God of Earthquakes.
Phytalmius: He who nurtures plants. A sign that he was associated with more than Sea Water.
Laoites: Of the people.
Patrus: Father. Esecially when seen as father of the clan.
Hippios: Of horses.
Prosclystius: He who dashes against, as when ships are dashed against rocks or when sea storms dash objects onto the shore.

There are many others, of course, and many of them can be found at, an excellent source of quotations about the Mythos of the Greeks.

I will continue this later...

Saturday, July 12, 2008


The wheel turns. The walk along the path I have chosen to walk these last months has not been arduous, but it has placed a few challenges before me. It started with Hestia, virgin goddess of the hearth, and moved to Apollo, the Lord of Light, Music, and Artistry. From there to Hera, Queen of Heaven, and now to one of the three ruling deities of our pantheon.

Myth tells us that after the great war in heaven, the Titanomachia, the Olympian Gods were victorious and the three brothers, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades drew lots to decide who would rule what part of the world. To Zeus fell the heavens and mighty Olympus. To Hades fell the gloomy Underworld which would for ever more bear his name. And to him who is now to be my focus, Poseidon, fell the sea and all the wonders therein.

Poseidon, like Hera and Hestia, is one of the Kronides, the children of Kronos in our mythos. His place as the ruler of the second kingdom, the fluid kingdom that is always in motion, always changing, places him closer to us in many respects than Zeus. His place in the pantheon as Sea God places him all around us, and by means of the sea, the people of the earth were both separated and in time able to once again connect to each other. And so the Greeks, who’s tribes made their way onto the Greek mainland soon found themselves in contact with other people, many living as part of large powerful cultures, such as Egypt and the Hittites, who were related to them in the grand scheme of humanity through the Indo-European migrations, and lesser yet closer cultures, such as the Minoans, who would leave their indelible marks on the culture of the people who would one day come to call themselves Hellenes.

Religiously, Poseidon is very much a kind of father figure. His presence is a vast one, like the Sea itself, and in so being it creates a sense of awe that one can easily equate with the feeling one gets from one’s father. A feeling of a figure that is both protective and punishing at the same time. Even in the earliest extant works of the Greeks, those of Homer, we see Poseidon as an elder God, a God who is feared for his power, and a God who is willing to punish with great and disastrous effect those who will not abide by his laws or dictates.
But what does this mean in the grand scheme of things religious? Does it mean that Poseidon must be obeyed without question? Is Poseidon truly to be feared, or does he simply demand respect? What, in the end, is the difference?

Before continuing, I want to either introduce, or perhaps reintroduce, my idea of the structure of the cosmos as a religious concept. The universe is like an onion. The ten dimensions of the universe are layered as an onion, and we exist as part of the third dimensional plane, this means that we partake of the first, second, and third dimensional planes. The Gods exist as part of the 11th and 12th dimensions, which are actually a single dimensional plane which is a transformative dimension. The universal balance is maintained by the entropic forces leaving through the South pole and as they travel through this divine dimension, they are transformed and once again enter. This happens at the smallest levels of our cosmos s we perceive size.

Poseidon represents, in many ways, this fluid interchange of energies. This fluidic aspect of nature is part of his domain, and it is a transformative power. Ask anyone who has never seen the ocean how it feels to stand on its shore for the first time. How it feels to bear witness to its power, both subtle and abrupt. It is a feeling of transformation.

Poseidon, according to myth, did not start out this way. He was the son of Kronos, the sky god, king of the cosmos, lord of what would later be called Olympus. But his domain was not decided by his nature, it was decided by lots. In other words, Poseidon became what was necessary for his domain to function. He became a transformative power rather than simply being that from the beginning of things. In other words, again, he was himself transformed by the needs of his function in the cosmos.

This leads me to a fundamental difference between me and what is probably the majority of the Hellenistic and Pagan communities, and that is that I do not really think of the Gods as manifestations of particular aspects of nature. I don’t think of Poseidon as actually being the sea, or Helios as actually being the Sun, or Ge as actually being the Earth, but rather, I think of these aspects of nature as epiphanies or objects that inspire the epiphanies of the Gods. The sea is not Poseidon, but it inspires an epiphany of the God. It inspires us to feel his presence near us.

Yet the God can also be present in other things, all depending on how you associate the world around you with him. Thus that traditional epiphanies of the God, the sea, the horse, the earthquake can also be accompanied by boating, the joy of riding a horse, or the heroism of people coping with the disaster of an earthquake. Or perhaps you see Poseidon in a different light, as the sea-storms, what we call Hurricanes. What does the Hurricane symbolize to you in relation to Poseidon, and why?

Poseidon stirs.
The Earth shakes.
Boulders fall into the sea.

Poseidon awakens.
The sea quivers.
The waves crash onto the shore.

Poseidon walks.
The trees tremble.
The leaves shaken from their stems.

Poseidon rests.
The ocean calls.
The waters reflect the Moon

Poseidon angered.
The land crumbles.
The hearts of men tremble.

Poseidon is merciful.
The sea breeze blows.
The ship reaches the far off shore.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Concluding my time with Hera

My time with Hera has come to an end, and I am a bit confused by her. Of course, I am fairly confused by all the Gods in one way or another, but Hestia is a difficult deity to get a handle on in the scheme of things because the Greeks laid out a fairly rigid domain for her, yet ne that could be interpreted to include almost all of the other domains in one way or another.

We think, today, of love and marriage as being indellibly linked, yet in their time, the Greeks did not necessarily think this way. Surely we know there were stories of the romantic entanglements that gods and mortals alike fell into, but marriage itself was so often a matter of familial duty that one has to ask, are we doing it wrong?

Hera forces us to look at these things in ways that also force us to sometimes consider whether marriage, her domain, is one we even want to continue to foster in our current society. After all, it no longer serves the same function in society that it once did. But marriage is not going anywhere, and recent developments lead us to believe that marriage is expanding to a whole new function in society, one that is part of an elite class. Do we really want that?

But if our current definition of marriage is one that Hera has absorbed into her realm, then love, Aphrodite’s domain, becomes entangled in her domain as well.

As Queen of Heaven, her domain becomes entangled with almost every other domain except, perhaps, that of Hades and Persephone. She commands, as Zeus does, and she is a warrior, as Athena is, a protector of cities, as many of the Gods are, and a Great Goddess in her own right.

As a Great Goddess her role in Greek society, and in our modern revival of Hellenismos as a religion divorced from its parent culture, was one that also brought into the Hellenic cultural environs traditions and ideals that predated them. She brings with her a certain earthy quality that is not like that of Demeter, but more of a type that is of the people. Hera, as Great Goddess, is the very spirit of the people, and she binds them together not only in marriage, but as a society, as a culture, and with her guidance, the culture of the Indo-European Tribes that migrated into Hellas were married with the indigenous people into a new family unit, the Hellenes.

For that, we owe her much, for without her we would not know the Gods as the Greeks knew them, and that would be a great loss indeed.

I now move on along the star pattern to Poseidon, and it may be a little while before I can make my first post on him. There is much to think over in him, and many new ways in which I must consider him and his place in our religion, so I will write and rewrite some of what I feel about him from the onset.

See ya soon...