Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The lame duck

In myth, Hephaestos is lame. His feet are damaged and he is seen as being ugly or deformed. This would have been, in the mythic cycle, a set of very distinct features because all of the Gods of Olympus, save he, are said to be of the most perfect form of beauty. They are tall, bright, powerful, and their appearance is such that it brings tears to the eye, so beautiful.


That Hephaestos is ugly and lame makes him the only God of so exalted a position, an Olympian God, who is not simply perfect in his beauty. I find this aspect of the God a hard one, not because I find it hard to accept the idea of an ugly God, but because I find a lot in that to relate to, yet, to be honest, I don't want to relate to it. I don't want to see myself that way, yet I do, and it is not simply me being self loathing, though I suppose there is some of that there, but an honest appraisal.


I am an ugly man, and at one time that was an ugliness that went deep. I was nearly insane in my mind, and it was getting away from my family, though I love them dearly, that has allowed me to heal, or be in the process of healing, my inner self. The outer self now requires some assistance, some care, some beautifying.


When I read the stories of Hephaestos and the way his parents threw him from Olympus and the horrible deformity that caused, I am reminded of my own childhood, the abuse, the loneliness, the fear, and it brings back memories that I find difficult to deal with on an emotional level, though on an intellectual level I acknowledge and accept them.


This whole blog is about me trying to discover things about myself while attempting to understand the divine, and in so doing allowing those two things to sink in and help me heal myself.


As the stories go, and in myth there is never just one version of a story, Hera and Zeus were in a most contentious marriage. Zeus was a philanderer and Hera a jealous being. Either Zeus and Hera had the child or Hera, in anger and out of revenge, decided to bear a child without a father as Zeus had borne the goddess Athena. (He did so from his forehead, and one myth tells of Hephaestos already being there and assisting in that birth)


The anger and fights were legendary in this marriage, and either the child was born with some defect which Hera could not bear, or her anger at the child caused her to throw the child from the heavens and his landing on the earth caused his deformities. Whatever the case, the child ended up on earth and was taken care of by Eurynome and Thetis.


I am reminded here of my early childhood, the abuse of my mother by my father, and the way her own anger was often thrown our way. The beatings and the harsh words would break me, of this I am sure, and among all this the burgeoning knowledge in myself that I was different from other people. I was not only very precocious, something neither of my parents were equipped to recognize (I made rather logical assumptions about my parents fairly early on, at ages 7 or 8 I was aware already that they would eventually go their separate ways, and I was happy about it) but I was also already recognizing that I was not like other boys. I did not like girls the same way they do. (I am sorta 85% gay, but identify as gay) And in the mid 70's in Puerto Rico, that was not a good thing, socially.


Zeus and Hera, of course, never divorce. They are an eternal couple, but in my head, they had a marriage based on status and necessity. Not that there is no love, I cannot claim to know what Gods feel, but the mythic characters based on their divine reality seem this way to me. Their interactions with their children are rarely if ever shown to be loving, at least in a way our modern culture attributes as loving, and in many ways, this is exactly how my own childhood was.


Of course, my early childhood and my later childhood were different in many ways, but that period of my life left me with great scars. I feel, in my mind, that I am grateful that in the end my mother did leave my father and that although the abusive behavior from her did not stop with that, it diminished over the years and through her experiences with us, as well as my eventually growing too big for my mother to abuse and confronting her with the fact, she changed. If the abuse I suffered as a child led to her changing as a person, and my two youngest sisters (from her second marriage, another abusive man, though his abuse was only toward her, never the kids) getting to grow up with a much nicer, kinder, gentler person, I have to say it was worth it.


But Hephaestos gets his revenge on his mother, not in a vicious way, though he does bind her, he does so by claiming his place on Olympus, and by becoming the greatest of all craftsmen, the beauty of his work reflecting the beauty of his interior where his exterior did not.


So, I should look at myself and see the outer ugliness, and seek to do something about it, but to also look at how I express the beauty that may lie within me so that people see that beauty and learn to appreciate it, regardless of what I may look like on the outside.


No comments: