Friday, February 19, 2010

The night

As I sit on this bus and look at the dark sky outside I am reminded of movies and books in which the world becomes over run by dark forces from the underworld. The night scares us, it Always has, and the light of the sun as it begins to light the world in the morning has always been a sacred time. Humanity has always given the light of day special properties, properties that include cleansing the world of the terrors and evils of the night.

It only makes sense that man fears the night and darkness the way he does, for most of our time as a species we have hunted and been hunted by the other animals of the world, and a certain reticence about it is only logical. But as beings capable of logical and abstract thought, where do we place this fear in our relationships with the Gods, especially those Gods that bring to bear the power of the night?

Hellenismos is a religion, like most Pagan religions, in which the Gods, and the aspects they present to us, bear both light and dark aspects. That means that they carry in them, and present to us, aspects that are both bright with the power of hope and love and dark with the reminder of death and the darker emotions we carry with us every day.

Mortal man struggles with these, the Gods are in perfect balance between the two. The dark Gods, like Hades, Nyx, and Dionysos are joined by Gods like Hermes and Hekate who not only straddle both, but travel the roads between these with ease as they bring the light into the dark and the dark into the light.

But the dark Gods are not dark, they are not wholly of that dark world, for they too bear hope and light in their being. The God of the Underworld, the Lord of the Dead, is also the God of Wealth. The Goddess Persephone, Destroyer of Light, Queen of the Underworld, is also the Goddess of Springtime and with her return to the upper world the world is refreshed with new life.

The Bright Lord Apollo, who shines from afar and who heals the sick, can also bring plague and destroy with his mighty arrows. The Lady of Wisdom, who delights in knowledge and who protects cities, is also a Goddess of war, who delights in battle and whose battle cry could send fear through the hearts of man and god alike.

So as I sit and wonder at the way we fear the darkness for all the things it hides from us, do we also fear the daylight for all the horrors it shows us in too glorious an amount of detail?

Is it better to trust that they know better, that they show us what we can handle, or do we do better to walk the lines between their visions, to travel as Hermes does, from one extreme to the other, seeing the things he does in brief flashes, understanding, but never standing still long enough to be dragged down by any of them. Is this the lesson Hermes teaches? Is this what he steals, a chance at hope from the snatched glimpses of everything?

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