Monday, November 29, 2010

To Hephaestos, Lord of the flames.

The fires are lit.

The boys are set to run.

The light of the torches they bear warm the night.


The sacrifices are waiting.

The wine will be poured.

The songs in your honor will bring joy to our hearts.


The barley will be sprinkled.

The altar will be consecrated.

The power of your spirit will infuse it as we pray.


The boys run.

The torches smoke.

The worshippers anxiously await them.


They arrive, smiling and proud.

The altar fire is set to burning.

The priests sing forth to you in the chill breeze.


The song reaches it zenith.

The sacrifices are made.

The glorious scents of the altar rise to his perception.


The God is called.

The God arrives.

The divine spirit of the forge is brought to the hearts of man.


The pious rejoice.

The people feast.

The night rolls forth into day.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

To Hephaestos

It burns, the heat

It gives you pain, the hammer

It folds like a serpent, the metal

And in your hands it is made art


It is a burden, this talent

It is a joy, this gift

It is a curse, this body

And in your chest your heart is heavy


They rejected you, who should have loved you

They belittled you, who should have cared

They threw you down from heaven, who should have protected you

And by the kindness of another you were saved


They did not love you, your parents

They did not appreciate you, your brethren

They did not know they needed you, all who lived

And with your skill you convinced them


It is our pleasure, to receive you

It is our gift, to know you

It is our shame, should we reject you

And by your divine presence are we forever humbled


Sunday, November 21, 2010

The benefits of work...

Hephaestos is the god of work. In his manifestation to the Greeks as a Smith, he places himself in a position to be a God of hard, harsh, and often painful work. He works at a trade that is capable of producing much beauty, utility, and protection. He can make a sword for the heroic soldier, or a shield for the heavenly lady of battles, or inlay into metal the most astonishingly beautiful of designs, but in doing so he may also hurt himself. His pained hands, his burned forearms, his bent back as he works tirelessly to create as if from the very fires of creation, that which he must.


We all experience this kind of thing. We all go to work and bring to our minds and bodies stresses that, unfortunately, can also harm us tremendously even as we seek to create or serve. In Hephaestos we have the spirit that allows us this, to dedicate ourselves to a task and be happy, or do one grudgingly and be miserable. We get to choose.


As I was working yesterday, a job with which I have a love/hate relationship for sure, I noticed something important, and which now prompts me to ponder this further, and that is that the same job, doing the same thing, with the same obnoxious clientele, can be both pleasant or miserable all at the same time, and that it isn't the job that decides that, it's me. By bringing to bear a certain mindset, by running that internal program that slows me down and makes me think most clearly, I make the job enjoyable. I do it.


And so it is that today I am hoping to dedicate myself to training my mind to do that, to bring the spirit of Hephaestos into my heart as I toil away and give myself over not to the misery of it, but to the surprising pleasure that having something to do everyday can bring, and while I would still rather be home writing a blog entry or playing Angry Birds, I can take solace in knowing that what I am doing is allowing me to work my way through life rather than depending on others.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In sickness...

I have been sick this week. Well, actually, I have been sick since I moved to Ohio 12 years ago. Moving here has brought on a plethora of allergies and health issues that I never knew I had. I don't know what it is about this area that causes this, but I am assured by the people here that it is not uncommon for people to move here to suffer from a variety of issues, especially sinus and respiratory ones.


I suppose it would be a bit fallacious of me to pin the cause on the level of pollution here, or the way this area, known as the Miami River Valley, sits at some kind of weird crossroads of weather that brings so much stuff from both the North and the South to bear, but I think maybe the way the people in this area seem to care so little about things like the ecology might have something to do with it.


Sticking with my current mentor on this path along the star, Hephaestus, I remember a story told of our God of Smiths, a story in which the God makes himself part of the land, and by doing so, brings industry to it.


As the story goes, Hephaestus is an ugly God. This is, of course, a rare thing. The Gods of Olympus are of the most utterly beautiful of forms, but the God was hurled to the Earth in anger in a battle between his parents, and his landing upon the Earth rendered him broken and ugly to most eyes.


Thusly, Hephaestus was also a lonely God, and in his desire to love and be loved, he sought to make Athena, the great virgin goddess of Athens, his wife. To you and me this would, perhaps, entail a courtship and a very special question, but in a time long ago, when women were often simply taken, this meant something a kin to rape.


He spied Athena, lovely virgin goddess, and attempted to take her. But this is not just any goddess, this is Athena, goddess of war, favored daughter of Zeus, she who protects and defends with both strategy and action, and so it was she fought him off, and in his attempt, this frottage, Hephaestus spills his seed upon her leg. In disgust, she wipes away the offending seed with a piece of woven wool cloth, perhaps woven by her own hand, and tosses it to the ground.


There the divine seed takes root upon the eternally fertile Earth, and from it is born the snake footed Erichthonios. Athena takes the child as her own, and raises him. It is said she places him in a box, and in the land of Athens he is raised and protected and eventually becomes the first King of Athens.


Now, why this came to my mind this week as I pondered my own illness is, perhaps, a clue to how I think. Hephaestus is a god of Smiths, of industry, and Athena is, in many ways, a personification of the spirit of the people of Attika. She is Athens, he is industry, and through the connection they share to Erichthonios I see Hephaestos, and industry, as coming to Athens.


But along with industry comes the byproduct of industry, pollution, and from pollution comes much illness, and in this area, the not so clean air has lead me to be far sicker than I ever was in my previous home in Connecticut. So the idea of industry came to mind and how, as a nation, we have allowed it to ruin so much of our birthright. The very land that maintains us, nourishes us, keeps us safe and alive.


At which point do we wake up and say enough, and how do we do so while allowing the manifestation of the force that is Hephaestus in our lives, the desire to build, create, and profit from our labor?


I won't claim to have the answers to this, but I do need to take a better look at my own spending habits, and by doing so put my money where my mouth is. Buying things I know are good for me and my environment, not buying those things I know are harmful, and trying my best to avoid buying from businesses that are abusive or destructive.


Now, where do I find that information?



Tuesday, November 2, 2010



I must admit that Hephaestus is going to be a hard one for me. I long ago seem to have left my artistic sensibilities behind, and I do tend to see Hephaestus as an artist. A god who inspires us to achieve great beauty with even the most seemingly ugly of materials.


I was once an artistic type. I even did a stint in art school, but that was before the darkness took me and I struggled for years with almost debilitating depression and even suicidal tendencies. I still struggle, you see, with the pains in my head. Most are real, and some are imagined or postulated by my mind and held onto so that today I find myself wondering which were real and which were figments.


That my mind was thus tortured is not something I am proud of. I feel very often that if I had just been stronger I could have become something great, but that too is speculative imagination. There is no way to know such a thing, and besides, I wouldn't be me had my life gone different, and I have grown to rather like me, even if I still have tremendous issues with my ugly exterior.


But those artistic sensibilities make their way to the surface from time to time, thanks to Apollo, and in so much as I often make my living space a thing of beauty even with thrift store materials, I feel that Hephaestus is active in my life. Seeing what might come of a thing lacking in value or intrinsic beauty. Working beyond my own handicaps even as the god himself is said to do to bring something of beauty into being, even if it is only beautiful to me.


So there it is, the first lesson Hephaestos has taught me.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Prayer

Standing at the precipice

where light meets darkness

and the moon weaves her spell over the night.


They stand, torches in hand

waiting to guide you across

To the land where shadows dwell.


You who this year made your way there

You who will be always remembered

You who will pass from the world.


Down into the depths of our Mother

where the waters of forgetfulness await you

and the Ferryman lights your lonely voyage.


Across the mighty Styx

and into the darkness of dissolution

into Oblivion's welcoming hands.


You who will hold a place in our hearts

You who inspired us

You who brought joy to us.


To this place you will be guided

by lovely Hekate who protects

and heavenly Hermes who guards the boundaries.


You of the pleasing smile

You of the comforting tears

You who have passed this year.