Monday, December 26, 2011

Heliogenna Day Nine - Sunrise - To Helios and all the Gods

This is it, the final day of Heliogenna. The Sun set, and we praised him and gave thanks for what came before. The night came, and we missed him. We mourned our dead and fell silent in reverence to that ultimate mystery. Then the sun rose once more, glorious and bright, and we look forward into the future, unknowable yet often a little predictable. We pay them honor, all the Gods, and celebrate this day as a kind of New Year celebration (secular new year being just a week away now) and we make offerings to him, the holy Sun God, and to all the Gods. 

But I also write my hopes and dreams onto rolling paper and then burn them as offerings to the Gods. Promises too, those I mean to keep in the coming twelve months, and as I do, I also give them my fears, my desires for better health, for mental clarity, and all that I wish to change about myself. Perhaps a bonfire is in order.

So here, I make my offering to him, to the undying Sun, watcher of mankind, who sees what we do and judges us not, but rather lights our way so we may see with clarity.

To Helios

Blessed God
You who shines bright
Set me on the right path. 

Blessed God
You who travels West
Set me on the course to righteousness

Blessed God
You who see all
Set me on the road to forgiveness

Blessed God
You who burn like the fires of a star
Set me on the way to inner peace

To you, Helios, I dedicate this day

Blessed Lord
You who give life
Watch as I go forth

Blessed Lord
You who give light
Watch as I make myself new

Blessed Lord
You who burst forth from the East
Watch as I make you proud

To you, Helios, I dedicate this day

O blessed Gods above
O blessed Gods below
O blessed Gods who dwell upon the sacred Earth

To you I make this pledge
To you I promise
To be a better man in every way I know how
To learn new ones as I go forth

Blessed may you all be, now and forever.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Heliogenna Day Eight - Sunrise - To the Olympian Gods and the Chthonoi

Day Eight is the second day of Sunrise, and dedicated to the Olympian Gods and the Chthonoi. The idea here is to send your hopes and dreams to the Gods above and below. Make promises for the coming year you intend to keep (remember, you are making promises to the Gods)

Bright are you
Olympians above
Who dwell in golden splendor

The light of Heaven never fails you.

Dark are you
Chthonoi below
Who dwell in earth darkness

The darkness of Hades comforts you

Grey are you
A blessing to man
Who dwell upon the Earth

The songs of worship set your soul alight

King Zeus above
King Hades below
King Poseidon who encircles

Bless us one and all with the gift of health
Bless us one and all with the gift of prosperity
Bless us one and all with the gift of wisdom

Queen Hera above
Queen Persephone below
Queen Amphitrite of the waves

Bless us one and all with the gift of companionship
Bless us one and all with the gift of long life
Bless us one and all with the gift of flexibility

Come one
Come all
All you Gods who dwell above

Come one
Come all
All you Gods who dwell below

Come one
Come all
All you Gods who dwell upon the sacred earth

Dance with us in celebration

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Heliogenna Day Seven - Sunrise - To Hyperion, Eros, and Hekate

Day Seven of Heliogenna begins the third segment of the festival, with dedications to Hyperion, the Titan father of Helios, Eos, and Selene. To Eros, the primordial God of attractions, love, and especially male eroiticism. And to Hekate, walker of the secret pathways between the dark and the light.

The Sunrise segment is celebratory rather than commemorative in nature, looking forward rather than back.

To Hyperion, Eros, and Hekate

Along the sacred way, I come upon a crossroads

A fork in the dirt path.

There stands a herm, and at its base offerings

Offerings of sweets

Offerings of bread

Offerings of milk and honey poured into the earth


Do I walk left?

To the darker realm of memory?

Do I walk right?

To the lighter path of the future?

To the left I see echoes of times gone by

Where Hyperion shone upon the land

And Eros held sway

It is a time long ago, before the war of heaven

And the fall of the mighty Titans

I hear songs too

Praising the shining lord who saw all things

And the tender embraces of boys in bushes

To the right I see change ever moving

Where Eros holds sway with Aphrodite

And the son of Hyperion shines bright in the heavens

It is a time not too far from now

Where Olympian Gods rule heaven and earth

To Hyperion, once lord of the sun

I leave golden mead

Tasting of honey and colored like his radiant hair

To Eros, who pulls us together

I leave rosy wine

Tasting of grapes and pink like the blush of a lover

And to Hekate, who walks the unknown paths

I leave the picture of a love lost

With the my hopes and dreams for a future

Off to the right I walk

With the memories of Hyperion behind me

The joy that is Eros ever with me

And torch bearing Hekate lighting the way ahead.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Heliogenna Day Six - Night - To Dionysos and Helios

Day Six is for Helios and Dionysos, this time as the reborn Gods. Rejoice for the sun is reborn, and Lord Dionysos has come to Delphi. Drink and be merry and offer up burnt offerings to the holy sun.

This is also a day to make offerings to Persephone, the underworld queen who is also the goddess of hope in resurrection. Call her that she may be reminded that her time to be among the living is not so far away now.

The blazing sun

Helios who watches us one and all
March to your immortal horses

Helios who lights the firmament
Mount your golden chariot

Helios who sees all
Ride high into the sky

The blazing sun

The living vine

Dionysos who intoxicates us
Free us of our inhibitions

Dionysos who maddens us
Show us glory in truth

Dionysos who sits silently enthroned
Let us love with wild abandon

The living vine

Heliogenna Day Five - The Day of Silence

Heliogenna's essential point is to celebrate the Solstice. This is a common point of celebration among pagan religions, most religions, in fact, but I like to think of the Solstice as a dark moment, a silent moment. I like to think of nature holding its breath for a moment and releasing it.

Because this is a kind of "Sol Invictus" celebration, I like to think that that moment when the Sun is still, having reached it's lowest point, it's shortest time of brilliance, as a moment that should be commemorated with silence, but I do not like to think that nothing should happen this day. Rather, I like to think of it as a day to simply be silent toward the Gods, be they the Olympians or the Chthonoi.


If you have daily rituals toward the Gods, do not perform them, hold your breath, if you will. If you are part of a greater Pagan community, and wish to take part in Solstice parties, etc., feel free, but you should not take part in ritual or invocation of the Gods (no matter whose Gods) but celebrate their celebration, enjoy yourself, take joy in the day as a mortal, beholden to no god or goddess.

Tomorrow you will rejoice and welcome the sun god back, tomorrow you will rejoice in a new year and perform your rites and rituals.For today, though, be free of the Gods, even if that seems a bit wrong to you. Be free of your ritual obligations and just be a human being.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Heliogenna Day Four - Night - To Helios and Dionysos


Day Four marks the beginning of the segment called Night, and in night the mood shifts from thanks to rememberance and commemoration of the dead. The Fourth Day is in honor of Helios and Dionysos (Apollo too if you choose to include elements of the Dionysian lordship of Delphi during the Winter) and this day includes an offering, which you can make as you see fit, to the Lord of the Underworld. A friend of mine suggested, if you live in warm climes, a luau with a pig roasted underground, that would be awesome.

I should note that the day of the Solstice itself, the fifth day of the festival, is a silent one. No offerings, no lit candles, no prayers, just a day for man to be as if dead to the Gods.

To Helios and Dionysos

Your light grows dim
The days ever shorter
And soon you will go down into the underworld

The Earth shakes
Maidens twitch nervously
And soon, o mad god, you will come

Down below
Your light is smothered
Man faces the shortest day of all

Revelry is yours
You who have come
You who rule over the Winter at Delphi

We await you
You who will rise anew
You who will be resplendent and envigoured

Come, dark Dionysos
Come and lead the procession
Toward the flowering of Springtime

Come, bright Helios
Come and light the way
The way toward the coming Springtime


Monday, December 19, 2011

Heliogenna Day Three - To the Primordial Gods (Protogonoi)

In darkness, you were born, who set to work in earnest to create the universe. To you I whisper my thanks, for without you we would be nothing.

To you, O Dark Nyx, who spread her wings wide

Who made way for all that would come

Who set the empty universe into its first order

I give thanks and offer my prayers


To you, O Erebus, who remains forever unseen

Who lives in darkness eternal

And brought to all that begins an end

I give thanks and offer my prayers


To you, O Broad Bosomed Ge, who is the foundation of all things

Who made of disparate parts a whole

And made all life possible

I give thanks and offer my prayers


To you, O Dark Hearted Ouranos, who envelopes the Earth

Who shines with dull star light

And made the broad sky

I give thanks and my prayers


It is through you that all came into being

It is by you that all things were set in motion

It is to you we owe our lives.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Heliogenna Day Two - To The Olympian Gods

I light this flame in your honor, blessed Hestia
In your name do I call to them
In your name do I pray

To you, blessed Zeus, I say thank you
For the torrents of rain
For the crazed power of manhood
And the restraint of a king
I thank you, o bright and highest
I thank you, o lord of the heavenes

To you, blessed Hera, I say thank you
For the tug of heart strings
For the loyalty of woman
And the nobility of a queen
I thank you, o lady divine
I thank you, o queen of heaven

To you, blessed Poseidon, I say thank you
For the beauty of the sea
For the shaking of my expectations
And the strength of an uncle
I thank you, o fluid one
I thank you, o lord of the mighty oceans


To you, blessed Athena, I say thank you
For the certitude of knowledge
For the force that is wisdom
And the safety of your shield
I thank you, o grey one
I thank you, o lady of battles

To you, blessed Apollo, I say thank you
For the sweetness of enlightenment
For guiding me when I am lost
And the skills of healers
I thank you, o celestial lord
I thank you, o lord of prophecy

To you, blessed Artemis, I say thank you
For the purity of thought
For your clarity of purpose
And the innocent heart of the virgin
I thank you, o wild one
I thank you, o lady of the mountains

To you, blessed Ares, I say thank you
For the ferocity of your will
For your blessed protection
And your heroic spirit
I thank you, o fierce one
I thank you, o god of soldiers

To you, blessed Aphrodite, I say thank you
For the body's sensual delights
For your gentle hand and firm commands
And the feelings you inspire
I thank you, o terrible one
I thank you, o lady of passions

To you, blessed Hephaestus, I say thank you
For the molding of beauty from ugliness
For your inspiration
And the hard work that makes it real
I thank you, o tired one
I thank you, o lord of the mastered fires

To you, blessed Demeter, I say thank you
For the fruits of nature's bounty
For the grain that makes our daily bread
And the knowledge that makes it possible
I thank you, o golden haired one
I thank you, lady of the plowed fields

To you, blessed Hermes, I say thank you
For the exuberance of youthful men
For the desire to see new things
And the boundaries that make us human
I thank you, o swift footed one
I thank you, o lord of the well worn paths

To you, blessed Hestia, I say thank you
For your steadfast protection
For the spirit of home
And the unending fires that warm us
I thank you, o pure one
I thank you, o lady of the home fires


Friday, December 16, 2011

Heliogenna Day One - To Helios, Eos, and Selene

The sun sets

The moon rises

The sky is rosy, golden, and blue


The eternal lords and ladies of light and dark settle in

See us, O Helios

Guard us and watch over us

Welcome us, O Eos

Offer us shelter and warmth

Shine upon us, O Selene

Guide us through the dark night


The sun sets

The moon rises

The sky grows darker and cooler


The eternal lords and ladies of heaven and earth settle in


Look upon us, O Helios

Watch our toil, our love, our fear

Host us, O Eos

And bid us enter into your embrace


Light the way, O Selene

That we may not fear the night


The sun sets

The moon rises

The sky has grown black


The lords and ladies of the celestial realms settle in

Friday, December 2, 2011

Artemis and the Amazons

I was looking online today, and one of the search terms I used was "The Goddess Artemis". As you can imagine, that search term resulted in innumerable pagan, neo-pagan, historical, archaeological, and even christian sites. Among these were sites that fit into the magical/neo-pagan vein that bugged me. Not because they were magical or neo-pagan, the ancient Greeks practiced forms of magic and had many superstitious beliefs (not saying all belief in magic is superstitious, by the way) that included the Gods and their many "powers". What bugged me was the way some of these site present misinformation, fantasy, and myth as fact backed by historians and archaeologists.

One such site claimed that the cities of the Eastern part of the ancient Greek world, cities like Ephesus, for example, were founded by Amazons, and that it was the Amazons who founded the cult of the Great Goddess of Ephesus. Claiming that historians agree this is the case.

Let's make this clear, while it is possible that what the Greeks called the Amazons were a real culture that was subjugated by the Greeks at some point, and that it being in the Eastern Aegean makes some sense, there is no historian, other than one wearing a tin foil hat, who would make a claim that with absolute certitude they existed and had founded Ephesus. Claiming this is at best a lie, at worst the sign of a truly stupid historian or archaeologist who is simply seeing what he or she wants to see in the evidence of that area.

I am not a believer in presenting myth as reality. I see it as a separate thing, something that is representative, sometimes of forgotten history, but never to be taken literally. Were there Amazons? I don't know, but the amazon myth is not one to be taken literal. Was there a Thesus? I don't know, he could represent a great king of ancient Athens, but one should not take his existence for granted as anything other than a myth.

So, what do I see as myth, and what value do I place in it?

Myths are stories which, told over centuries, gain and lose much detail. Some myths are about explaining the Gods and how the people of a certain area see them. Some myths are the stories of great actions, heroic deeds, and great sacrifices made by real people which gain in them fictional elements, or elements that explain the way the people see their actions as being in accord with the will of the Gods. Some myths are pure fiction, created to explain the world or even to frighten children into behaving properly. Which ones are which is not something we can know with any certainty, except as our own speculations.

I see in myth a variety of uses, and I hold them to different levels of esteem and sacredness depending on what they seem to accomplish. The myths present in larger stories, such as Iliad, Odyssey, or in philosophical works, present to us myth as fiction, or as education. These, especially, become more "sacred" to me than do simple myths, but they all are important to the way we perceive the Gods and the people of the ancient world.

To me, Myth is useful, and I value it as these:




  • Education about the nature of the divine
  • Education about the nature of a god
  • Education about a set of beliefs or philosophies
  • Explanation of the natural world
  • Detailing great heroic deeds
  • Detailing the origins of a people
  • Detailing the origins of a religious belief or system
  • Detailing ritual
  • Passing on culture and language
  • Entertainment

In so far as myths accomplish any of these, or any combination of these, I find value in myth. Where I find myth sacred, however, is in ritual that illuminates the divine in the context of prayer, ritual, or meditation.

Presenting myth as history, however, is a no no. Myth can lead us to history, by asking the question, were there Amazons, we can be lead to explore the history of the Eastern Aegean, but taking the myth itself as proof only makes me question your credibility, and in some cases, your intelligence.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lift Us Up, a Prayer to Zeus

Zeus and Ganymede


Lift us up, blessed Zeus

To the heights of heaven

Where all things are visible

Where all things are clear


Lift us up, blessed Zeus

From our pain and sorrow

Where we so often wallow

Where we too often hide


Lift us up, blessed Zeus

To the starry firmament

Where dark mysteries live

Where eternity stretches her wings


Lift us up, blessed Zeus

From the depths of despair

Where we yearn to give up

Where we want to give in


Lift us up, blessed Zeus

To the bright blue sky

Where clouds dance and change form

Where the pretty birds fly


Lift us up, blessed Zeus

From under the heel of oppression

Where one man humbles another

Where freedom is but a dream


Lift us up, blessed Zeus

To the greatness that is joy

Where there is no pain

Where all but the purity of the soul is forgotten


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blessed Morning

Far in the distance

Where the Earth meets the Sky

There is a palace of gold

And broad gates lead to the stable


There immortal steeds rest

Restless and enflamed

Awaiting their master

Whom they will guide across the bright blue sky


It is the palace of the Sun

Blessed Helios of the glowing crown

Son of Hyperion


There by the gates

Where the world of the living meets the world of the dead

There stands a beautiful girl

Dressed in rosy robes of gossamer


She opens the golden gates

And walks through

The color of her robes

And the tint of her cheeks tinging the sky itself in red.


It is the blessed morning

The time of Eos of the rosy cheeks

Daughter of Hyperion


The cock calls to him

The bull moves in the fields

Man sets upon a day of toil

Watched as always by the children of Titans

Lighting their way.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Artemis, the death dealer

Among the many aspects of Artemis that are seemingly contradictory, is that of the far shooter who brings death. Like Apollo, Artemis is a dichotomy in that like him, she is a protector of life, a healer, especially when children and women in childbirth are concerned, yet she also deals death from her quiver. When a woman died at childbirth, it could be said that she was struck down by Artemis.

Of course, the dangers of childbirth are well known. Even with all our technology, all of our medical advancement today, women often die in childbirth, and as the goddess who is often invoked as part of that ordeal, it seems to make sense that she would be blamed for the deaths that occur during it as well.

Often, we who worship at the altars of the ancient gods will have trouble using negative terminology when referring to the actions of the Gods. The immense Abrahamic influence on our society means that the same kind of fear or feigned respect that they pay to their deity is often manifest in our attitudes toward the gods. The ancient people, however, had a healthier and more realistic appraisal of the gods. They understood that the gods did not simply give us all the good things in life, but that many of the bad things came from them as well. Their reasoning mysterious, for sure, but whatever made such things necessary in the greater scheme of things was accepted and they understood that the gods acted for reasons we did not always understand, and as a result, it was ok to sometimes feel anger at them for the things they seemed to throw their way.

Like the ancients, I do not have an "everything is rosy" attitude toward the gods.  But I have to admit, sometimes I wonder if Artemis is not a bit of a cold hearted bitch. Oh, don't get me wrong, I have a great deal of respect for her, and part of me understands that as a nature goddess, she will sometimes seem cruel from my perspective. After all, is not the lion pride tearing apart the still living deer cruel? But part of me also has to have respect for the attitude. Nature is as nature does, and Artemis, at least in this aspect of divinity of the natural processes of life, must by her nature seem cruel to us.

Artemis' myths make no bones about it. Her demand that Agammemnon sacrifice his only daughter, the tearing apart of the hunter who sees her naked form, the destruction of the children of Niobe, all point to some of the darker aspects of the divine, some of the aspects which we don't like because they remind us of our mortality. They remind us of our place in the grand scheme of things. A place we are sometimes too arrogant to accept without a fight.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To They Who Are...

Time has no meaning

It is but the flow of a stream

Subtle and slight

To they who are eternal

To they who are divine


Space has no meaning

It is but a fallow field

Flat and full of potential

To they who are undying

To they who are holy


Fear has no meaning

It is but a slight breeze

Felt but not perturbing

To they who are ephemeral

To they who are sublime


Death has no meaning

It is but an open door

Empty and small

To they who are infinite

To they who are sacred



Friday, October 21, 2011

Artemis, the nature goddess

In the Eastern lands, where Greeks lived side by side with other peoples of many different cultural backgrounds, the goddess Artemis took on a different aspect and demeanor than that of the mainland Greeks. This is not, of course, odd. The Gods seem to appear to people the way they are needed, so even though most of us look at the Gods with rather a limited view of their domains of influence, I think the Gods themselves share no such idea of limitation.

At Ephesus, the goddess Artemis was worshipped as a much grander form, a much grander aspect than she was in many other places, and this leads me to ask myself a question. If the Gods can each be different things to different people, then why do we need to worship so many of them? Why can't we just pick one, say Artemis, and call to her for her aid in all things?

The answer seems to be there is no reason you cannot, but that the aspects of nature, culture, etc., that a particular deity was associated with were likely those aspects of life that that particular deity took an interest in. If a deity is a living thing, a creature not  of our own making, but a truly living and eternal being capable of independent thought and will, then they must also have interests in the mortal world that we try to fathom but can only ever come partially to grips with.

This is why Aphrodite is seen as "Goddess of Love, Lust, Beauty" etc., because as the ancients experienced her, they saw that it was there that she seemed to express her power. But what if to another group of Greeks, or another culture, she expressed her power in other ways?

Artemis Statue ; Ephesus Museum

In Ephesus we see a clear example of this, but also an example of a potential problem in our attempting to make sense of the Pantheon of the Greeks.

For me, the problem is not in my personal faith. I do not believe in limiting the Gods, only in limiting my own interaction with them. What I mean by that is that I can ask Athena for healing, and I have no problem believing she could aid me in that, but that I turn to Apollo because that is what he is known for. I can ask Artemis to help me find love or a sexual partner, but I know that Aphrodite is best known for that, and therefore it is she I turn to.

Artemis' Ephesian aspect, however, proves a little problematic for me. The Ephesian Artemis seems much more of a "Mother" figure than the Artemis of the mainlanders, or other areas, and so I sometimes ask myself, is the Ephesian Artemis artemis in another aspect as "Great Mother" or "Earth Mother" or is it Mother Earth herself, the goddess we call Ge or Gaia, in an aspect that some chose to call Artemis?

The answer, to my personal beliefs, is always that I accept the deity as it is named, not as I think it should be, so this is Artemis as the Ephesians chose to worship her. It is as Artemis seems to have appeared to these particular people, because they called to her in this way and she responded.

Artemis, of course, has always had clear connections to the Earthly powers. As a Goddess of the wild places, of the mountains, of hunting, both the human and the animal kind, and as a Goddess often linked to the Moon, or some phases of it, she has always been a nature goddess. The virgin woman is, after all, the woman in her original, and therefore natural, state. The Goddess of the hunt is being called upon to aid in a perfectly natural act, that of hunting and killing food. The goddess of childbirth is being called to one of the most important aspects of life itself, reproduction. So, is it really so odd that to some people she would also be a Goddess if the growing fields, of the grain, of the honey, of all manner of things connected with a "Earth Goddess"?

On my central altar, I have a small statuette of the Ephesian Artemis, and there it represents something to me that is fairly central to my beliefs, that just as Artemis can be so many things, seemingly disparate things, to so many people, so can all the Gods, and that perhaps my relationship with them has changed from one in which I expect things from the Gods, like love or good aim or health, to one in which I am starting to dedicate the good things in my life, the good things I do both for others and myself, are the things I do, to commemorate how I feel about them in their glory. That maybe I am starting to see the Gods not simply as one thing or another, but as an omnipresent force in my life that can be so many things that I am humbled by them and made a better person as a result.

Artemis, the nature goddess, has reminded me that my own nature, and ours as people, is one I must also venerate and pay close attention to in order to improve myself.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Artemis the Bear Goddess

I have to admit, my knowledge of the cults of Artemis is severely limited. I have never taken up a study of her the way I have often for say Athena, who has been the subject of many books I have read over the years. I am hoping to rectify this.

To that end I am looking through for hints about where to start, and among the cults of this goddess that struck me was one I had heard of before but never given much thought to. It is the cult for Artemis of Brauron, the bear goddess. Now, as great as is, it is not a research site, it is a site of quotes, like a large bibliography, allowing you to see quotes from ancient sources with regard to a particular deities, heroes, and other mythological characters.

Among these quotes are these:

Callimachus, Epigrams 35 (from A.P. 6. 347) (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Artemis, to thee Phileratis set up this image here. Do thou accept it, Lady, and keep her safe."

Suidas s.v. Lysizonos gune (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Lysizonos gune (girdle-loosening woman) : She who has drawn near to a man. For virgins about to have sex dedicated their virginal lingerie to Artemis."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 23. 7 :
"There is also a sanctuary [at Athens] of Artemis Brauronia (of Brauron); the image is the work of Praxiteles, but the goddess derives her name from the parish of Brauron. The old wooden image is in Brauron, Artemis Tauria (of Tauros) as she is called."

Herodotus, Histories 6. 138 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"The Pelasgians dwelt at that time in Lemnos [C6th B.C.] and desired vengeance on the Athenians. Since they well knew the time of the Athenian festivals, they acquired fifty-oared ships and set an ambush for the Athenian women celebrating the festival of Artemis at Brauron. They seized many of the women, then sailed away with them and brought them to Lemnos to be their concubines."

Suidas s.v. Arktos e Brauroniois (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Arktos e Brauroniois (I was a bear at the Brauronia) : Women playing the bear used to celebrate a festival for Artemis dressed in saffron robes; not older than 10 years nor less than 5; appeasing the goddess. The reason was that a wild she-bear used to come to the deme of Phlauidoi and spend time there; and she became tamed and was brought up with the humans. Some virgin was playing with her and, when the girl began acting recklessly, the she-bear was provoked and scratched the virgin; her brothers were angered by this and speared the she-bear, and because of this a pestilential sickness fell upon the Athenians. When the Athenians consulted the oracle [the god] said that there would be a release from the evils if, as blood price for the she-bear that died, they compelled their virgins to play the bear. And the Athenians decreed that no virgin might be given in marriage to a man if she hadn't previously played the bear for the goddess."

Sanctuary at Brauron


You may wonder what these quotes mean to me, but it is not so much their meaning as their attestation that I was looking for, and that last one, a description of something I always find intriguing about religious ritual, in this case, a ritual for the Goddess Artemis, and that is the re-enactment of an even from the far past. Just as many Christian cultures re-enact the birth of Christ during Christmas, or the Passion during Easter, so too do many Pagan festivals and rituals work to re-enact something of importance to the people in the past.

For reconstructionist pagans, such as Hellenistoi, there comes a small problem, the problem of disconnection. To the people of Athens who celebrated this festival in which girls, quite young, performed this "playing the bear" for Artemis had a special connection to this bear event. To them, especially to a particular tribe or deme, this event in which a bear was killed unjustly for essentially behaving like a bear, had special significance, and while we may seek to understand what it was, apply psychological reasoning to it, or seek to empathize with it, we cannot truly know what it was those people thought or why this partiucular event was of such importance to them that they commemorated it in religious ritual forever.

There is, of course, the pestilence, and the blaming of the pestilence on the unjust actions of the girl's brothers, a common thing in ancient times, and sometimes even today in our own culture, and maybe even a hint of a time when a young girl was chosen as a sacrifice to serve as a scapegoat.

The story of the bear drawing blood from the girl here symbolizes the possible sacrifice of the scapegoat, and the anger of the brothers and the taking of the life of the bear perhaps a transference of the scapegoat status to an animal rather than a human.

I think this particular myth, as with the myth of Iphigeneia, entrusts to us a history of the shift in sacrificial methods of the Hellenic people. From a time when savage human sacrifices or human scapegoating was performed to a time when an animal was used instead, and in the case of this bear, where there was a shift again from the use of a wild bear, taken in and tamed for the sake of using it as a scapegoat, to using a kind of "passion play" instead.

I see in this myth a shift in the relationship between man and the gods.

As for Artemis of the bears, it seems not at all odd to me that Artemis of the bears would send a pestilence to the people after the misuse of this bear. Not because Artemis as a deity has a problem with the killing of animals, but because maybe she has a problem with the use of a wild beast not normally used as food, though it is certainly edible, for something like this.

The girls in the saffron robes symbolize a shift in that relationship. A shift away from superstitious sacrifices to sacrifices based on the consumption of animals, allowing us to share what we eat with the Gods. But also, a shift in the ritual forms, taking them away from the savage and making them more and more an expression of our artistic imaginations. 

Artemis of the bears. The aspect of Artemis that seeks to remind us to pay respect to the world around us, especially to the life that surrounds us.



Monday, October 10, 2011

Different reactions...

I am talking here about a different kind of reaction, and to something physical, not to the Gods, although I guess I could argue that everything involves the Gods in some way. Yesterday, I awoke to a nice day, a Sunday, no work, my birds chirping happily in their cages, and everything fairly normal, the way I like it. I had to do a little cleaning, a little vacuuming, a little dish washing, but that's all a normal part of life. I did some web surfing, some TV watching, listened to some music, meditated, and did a little reading.

But something happened in the afternoon that shook me. I walked into the kitchen and noticed that something was wrong with one of my bids. A female cockatiel who'd taken on the name Missy. Normally, I don't name birds. They do not respond to names, unless they are parrots, and even then I am not sure they do, but as I went on, I found that I was always referring to these two as buddy and missy, so they became Buddy and Missy.

She was not breathing normally, and as the minutes passed, it got worse and worse until finally, I reached into the cage. I knew right away it was deadly serious because she did not try to get away. Missy was much friendlier than Buddy in that respect. If she was out and flying around, she would get on my hand, and she had no problem climbing onto my shoulder, or even my head, but normally when reaching into the cage, both she and buddy would not want picked up. This time, however, she did not move or struggle, and her breathing was a horrible loud wheezing. I tried to get her to drink some water, but she would not take any. Just minutes later I watched as the life drained out of her.

Missy is gone.

My reaction was not subtle.

I am not an emotional person. I am not prone to crying or even lots of any other emotions, but I had some kind of weird semi-crying semi angry mess. I am not sure how to explain it, but this little bird had provided me with something that is now missing, and I find myself saddened.

Friday, September 23, 2011


In this journey, the journey of discovering who I am on the inside by exploring my relationships to the Gods, the reactions I have, conscious and subconscious, to the Gods and Goddesses I am attempting to connect to are what lead me into further exploration. Sometimes, as now, I find myself reacting in ways I did not expect, or which seem opposed to the particular deity I am focussing on.

Since I am currently focusing on Artemis, a "Virgin Goddess", I have to admit to being surprised that one of my reactions has been to become more sexual. To seek out sexual partners and enjoy what comes so naturally to me as a man. It is not a simple coincidence that I am reacting this way at this time. I am a very sexual person, even at my advanced age and being quite ugly, yet of late, I have not wanted partners. I think in some way, this reaction to Artemis has been a reminder to me that often we human beings are extreme in our notions. That we focus too much on a single thing and then disavow or neglect everything else. 

As a goddess of hunters, of the hunt, and of the very animals who are the prey, Artemis is also a goddess of perceptions, something that just now dawns on me. She is a goddess of the senses, of the sharpness of those senses and the well honed instincts that allow them to find and put down prey. This makes her a goddess of the deep instincts, those that come to us through our very genes, that guide us as we live. One of those instincts is sex, and while the "virgin" status of the goddess and the way that aspect of her informs much of her worship can sometimes lead us to forget that, we must be careful not to apply Judaeo-Christian or Puritanical ideas of sexuality on the Gods. Those puritanical ideas about sex are a false human concept, one which has caused much pain and destruction in human lives.

No, I don't think we should include sex as part of Artemis' worship, but as an instinct in our very make up, I think I have to accept that she plays some part in what sex means to us as living, thinking beings.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Poems section...

In the Prayers and Poems section of my web site ( I have uploaded several new pieces, as I have been looking through my directory and putting more of this stuff up. Might as well have people read it. Critiques are welcome, of course...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Leto, Mother of Artemis

"And Leto was joined in love with Zeus who holds the aigis, and bare Apollon and Artemis delighting in arrows, children lovely above all the sons of Heaven." -- Hesios c.8th Century B.C.E.

Leto, Titan Goddess, daughter of Koios and Phoebe was a figure in myth associated with the celestial realm, with childhood, motherhood, and the protection of children. With her children, Apollo and Artemis, she was often invoked at times of need in child bearing and disease. Apollo, who is God of healing and healers, and Artemis, who is, among other things, goddess of childbirth who can also often be seen as the killer of women during childhood.

Leto, it is said, drew the attentions of Zeus, and with Zeus begat the children who would be worshipped in the new age by the people of Greece. Artemis, it is said, is born first, though the two deities are twins, and helped her mother birth her brother, Apollo. The two, it is said, were also born on different islands, because fearing the ire of Hera, Zeus' Queen, the islands of the Aegean refused her a place of respite, a place where she might birth her children. 

Myths about the divine mother's inability to find a place to birth her child, or children, are common. From Greek and Roman myths such as this one, to Babylonian and Hittite myths about the Great Mother, to the birth of the Christ child, this journey of the goddess, or in many cases a mortal woman bearing a divine child, she is refused and eventually it is some poor spot that grants her a place to give birth and is later rewarded with eternal fame or prosperity or some such.

Whether it is Ortygia, where Artemis is said to have been born (In the Mediterranean) or Delos, the islands are later given great renown and Artemis and Apollo both bless these islands with both their presence and protection.

But there are some things of interest and relevance to me in the story of the birth of Artemis, one of which seems to be that Leto was not a goddess to be taken lightly. Whether because of the ire of Artemis and Apollo, or because of her place as a beloved of Zeus, or her own innate divine power, the figure of Leto is one that must be properly attended to as would be any aspect of a God or Goddess. Among the Titans, Leto is one of the few who continued to receive proper honors and worship well into the Roman Age and even beyond, if one considers Leto as an aspect of the Mother Goddess, but that is a discussion for another time.

As you may have figured out by reading my site and blog, I do not believe that every mythic figure we see in the myths themselves is a unique divine figure, but in the case of Leto, as in the case of Helios, another Titan God (son of the Titan Hyperion), has to be accorded a certain level of respect and even worship because of her link to two of the most powerful forces in the Olympian pantheon, the Bringers and Healers of disease.

Leto, here, represents and embodies a facet of life, both human and animal, and in connection to her, so do Apollo and Artemis, and Artemis especially, has a reputation for harshness that is important to take note of.

Is she a figure to be feared? Yes, but in that respectful fear that one gives to anyone who has power over the very reality we live in.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Artemis, the virgin.

As with Hestia and Athena, so with Artemis. An aspect of this goddess that I know I have issues with is the notion of her virginity. I understand, of course, that this virginity can be metaphorical as well as literal, and that is usually the way I take such things, but there is a notion woven into the notion of virginity that has always bothered me, and that is one imposed more by our Judaeo-Christian culture than by the ancients, to whom virginity was a means to preserve the value of a female child, especially among the citizen classes. 

It is the idea that sex is a pollutant, that virginity is somehow pure while sex is somehow dirty that bugs me. Because I am a man, of course, the concept of virginity has always been different for me than it is for a woman in our culture. In spite of the great strides toward equality and freedom, we still teach women that it is not OK for them to be sexually free and liberated while teaching men that is exactly what they should be. Because I am also a gay man, I have not had to deal with this from the perspective of finding a potential mate either, but I have seen the effect that our culture's sexual hypocrisy has on women. The guilt, the shame, the feeling of being dirty that is imposed upon them from our culture. It shames me to see it.


On the other hand, there is also the pressure placed on men, often by women, to be less free and to be the way they want men to be rather than what men are. I don't agree with that either. I don't think we achieve sexual equality by forcing men to chain their sexuality down, but by making it clear that all matters of sexuality are personal. That we all make choices and follow impulses based on our own mental make ups, not on social expectations, and if a man wants to be monogamous, that is his right, and if a woman wants to be polyamorous, that should be her right as well.

Now, although the haughty notion of virginity as "pure" bugs me, I think the metaphorical implications of Artemis and her virginity are very important to us as people, male or female. The virgin nature of a deity, that she is a being, whole and entire in her own right and not in need of being made whole by a mate, is a powerful message. But, psychologically, it is an almost omnipotent concept, one we should all take hold of and meditate on.

You are whole. You are entire. You are capable and well on your own. When you choose to be with someone, be it a marriage or a one night stand, it should be because you seek mutual pleasure, mutual understanding, mutual comfort and mutual companionship, not because you are lonely and need them to fill some part of you that is missing. The same can be said for anyone seeking to have children. You should have them because you want to love and raise children, not because you want to be a mother or because you have some social pressure to do so.

Understanding that her virginity is an expression of self confidence, self assuredness, self worth, is a way in which we can all learn a valuable lesson, but taking the time to truly learn that lesson, to truly take it to heart and incorporate it into your being, that can be the hard part. But totally worth it.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Theme

I've set up a new Theme on, and would like feedback. Not even sure if anyone is reading it, but if you are, let me know what you think of the new look.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Artemis, Lady of the Mountains

Artemis is, it would seem above all other things, a Goddess of natural places and natural occurrences. The forest, the wooded mountain sides, the tidy holes animals hide in, caves, etc. But also, of moon lit nights, of growth, of hunting (a natural activity), and birth, and the dangers that come with it. She is a goddess of children and young mothers, and of the young animals who, often, require much protection in order to survive.

She is a protective goddess, but also a dangerous goddess, because in her pervue is also the death of birthing mothers, or the children they birth. Often seen as a horrible thing, one can also see these as a mercy, though to the families involved it will never seem that way. As a "nature goddess" I have much to be thankful to Artemis for. The beauty of the world and the shifting changes that are its most enduring characteristic, are something we all need be grateful for, even if it also means our aging, our disease, and our deaths.

But therein lies a problem for me, because I am very much a city man, and like most of us, I am rather disconnected to nature and her many many cycles. Yes, I am affected by time, by disease, by the changing seasons, but the effects I perceive in my life seem to be the grander shifts in natures moods. The weather, the sunrise, the seasons. But Artemis is also present in many of the other, smaller shifts in our day to day reality, which we who live in the cities, often neglect or never become truly aware of.

If I am understanding what I am feeling with regard to Artemis as I write this, then I must force myself to move beyond the metaphorical city walls. To allow myself to be exposed to natures smaller miracles so that I can come to, if not an understanding, than an experience of what it means to me as a living piece of nature. The goddess Artemis, Lady of the Mountains, is not the mountain, not the leaves on the trees, not the beasts that move among them, but she is there in the threat of predation, in the changes and little shifts that decide our fate, live or die, survive or fall prey. She is part of that instinctive fear that keeps us alive, but also the fearlessness that allows us to confront our prey, metaphorical or not, and come out the victors. 

Now, how do I embrace this? How do I plunge headlong into an experience of her and her power?

Monday, August 15, 2011


I move to a goddess who I actually have very little experience with. In my personal worship, she is usually linked to my morning candle lighting ritual, tied to the other two virgin goddesses of Olympus on my altar and invoked in this aspect. An aspect of protection, or purity, and of strength. Along with Athena she forms a kind of Virgin Trinity, though not in the Christian sense. She is here not so much Artemis the Great Olympian Goddess, but Artemis the spirit of youthful energy and divine movement, something I also tend to associate with Athena in this aspect of protective purity.


But anyone who has made even a cursory review of Artemis as a figure in ancient Greek religion knows that simplifying Artemis is not an easy thing to do, that she is, in fact, one of the most complex figures in the Greek pantheon of Gods. Seen by the ancients in a vast variety of ways, she was virgin huntress, moon goddess, protector of birthing mothers, sometimes killer of same, and with her brother Apollo, was associated with both healing and disease, though not to the same extent as he was. But across the Aegean, in the Eastern Greek world, she was also worshipped in ways one might find peculiar to a goddess so well known for her youthful virginity. She was a "Great Mother" type goddess, though we have to try and remember that this particular paradigm has been partially discredited. From little girl sitting at her father's knee to the goddess to whom blood was let by youths in Sparta. The breadth of her worship is one that can be daunting, and among the ancients it was not all encompassing, as it is not among those of us who believe in her existence today.


As with all the Gods, Artemis' many aspects do not actually have to be reconciled one with the other, but they must be reconciled with the worshipper if he or she is to properly give her honor and worship. As a worshipper, I must worship and accept the aspects of the Goddess that make sense to me, and I have to find which of those aspects seem to contradict my personal gnosis. When they do, I must either find a way to make them make sense, or relegate them to the cults of others. I found a long time ago that it is not necessary to worship the Gods in every aspect. It is only necessary to worship them in those aspects that touch me, to give thanks for those and if I feel I need, to call on those I need in my life.


With Artemis, it is a difficult road to take for me. I am no virgin. Boy am I not a virgin. I am no hunter, though I do not oppose hunting for food. I am not a healer, or a woman, or likely to ever give birth. I call on her for her protective power, and because part of me wants to protect what is left of my inner child so that I do not let myself get old and crotchety (some will argue it's too late for that) but I do not have many of the qualities in me for which ancient people often gave thanks to her. But these meditations I seek to make on the nature of the Gods and how they affect me are meant to help me to understand them and how they fit into my life better, and to explore and find those aspects of me that I have, perhaps, not allowed to come to the surface.


So, blessed Artemis, I am opening myself to you. Come! Show me! Teach me!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

And so, I move on...

With a lesson learned, but not implemented, I move on from Hephaestos and onto the next point in my meditation star.

It leads me now to Artemis, lady of the wilds, goddess of the hunt, goddess of the crescent moon, and great virgin goddess. Artemis may turn out to be a hard one for me. I am not a girl, I do not hunt, and while I have great respect for her, I have eschewed many of the human activities, like hunting and child rearing, that she is said to patronize. But there are aspects of this goddess that straddle a very important line in our myths, and it is one I hope to explore. What is that line? In due time...

Monday, July 11, 2011

But, one more thing about Hephaestus...

Hephaestos' myths include a conflicting relationship with his parents. Myth tells us that Zeus and Hera were so disgusted by the imperfection of Hephaestos that they threw him from Olympus.

Crashing down upon the Earth he was saved by Thetis, and in her care and that of Eurynome, he was hidden in a cave surrounded by Ocean (An Island) where he learned to work metal and stone to create magnificent pieces of art and practical utility.

The myths vary, of course, all myths do, and in some cases he is the son of Zeus and Hera and in others the son of Hera alone, who bore him in anger against Zeus. But regardless, it left him with, if not a hatred, a disdain for the actions of his mother.

I can relate to this, though in my case, it is the actions of my father that I associate with this spirit of abandonment and rejection.

I know, I am old enough to be over this, and in most aspects of my life, I am, but in others, I know the disdain I feel for my father informs a great deal of what I feel toward my family as a whole.

My mother is not at all pure and innocent, she was abusive as well, but his abuse, his lack of concern for us, and his abandonment of us combined drove a steak in my heart that I find hard to let go of. I can't love him, even when I try to be civil, I just can't love him, and I think, perhaps, the reason I am having trouble moving on from Hephaestos is that he wants me to let go of this. I think, maybe, he wants me to reconcile with my father, even if I can't love him.

It's not something I can manage any time soon, and so I am going to have to work on my inner self, my thought processes, in order to get myself to a place where I can do that.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Am War

I go out for you

To the slaughter and the suffering of the battlefield

Where you ask me to kill or be killed

To murder and rape and pillage in your name

I am forgotten, displaced, and mistreated on my return


I have feinted in the heat of the day

Born down to the earth by the weight of this armor

The blood pouring from parts of me I can no longer feel

The fear and release of exhaustion reminding me I live

The shit on my legs no longer bothering me


I have killed children

In the torching of cities, they have died

I have watched as mothers hold strong to their children as arrows pierce their hearts

My heart aching to see my own children who have likely forgotten me

My adored wife a distant memory, her face no longer clear in my head


I have suffered for you

And at my return I see your scorn

I see in your eyes the distaste for what I have done

I see in your face the distaste for what was asked of me

I see in your posture the loathing of the reminder that it was you who asked it of me.


I am war, your companion

I am war, your protector

I am war, your enslaver

I am war, who you hate

I am war, without whom you do not thrive.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Taking stock...

So, I have been at this point in the star for some time, and part of me wants to move on, but, I still am not sure I get it. Yes, Hephaestus has shown me things about me, things about how I react to stresses, ideas, and to the environment that surrounds me. Hephaestus has given me a different, though not pleasant, perspective on work, and he has given me a glimpse into the fiery depths of his being.


But in forcing me to essentially take stock of myself, I have also been forced to take stock in them, the Gods, and what it is I need from them, want from them, can expect from them, and how all of these actually manifest in my reality.


For one thing, Hephaestus has shown me, I think, more clearly than ever, that the Gods are not manifest solely in a single place and in a single form. The Gods manifest throughout the world and throughout history in a great many ways. We know this. We see it in the mythos of the Greeks as surely as we do in that of the Romans, Hindus, Chinese, Japanese, and even the Christians. The divine sphere does not make for an easy and simple translation, ever.


But to me, it means that Hephaestus has shown me that it is OK to see him in a God of the Hindus if a Hindu meditation is what I need to quiet my mind. That it is OK to see him in a Chinese form if the prayers of an ancient Chinese philosopher seem apropos to my dilemmas today.


Not that I am becoming eclectic or anything, mind you, I still believe, and I think Hephaestus has helped me to deepen this belief, that the context of a mythic and religious system is at least as important as the myths and philosophies themselves.


That I am more willing to listen to and be enlightened by Hindu or Buddhist philosophy today than I might have been five years ago is, I think, something Hephaestus has guided me to and helped me to realize in my life. That I am more willing to listen, to hear, and to digest that which another has felt and made manifest in his own life is something he has guided me too as well. But also, how to be strong within my own convictions even as I continue to evolve.


That is to say,  to keep the fires of the forge burning, and the embers steady, even as I busy myself forging the iron that is my soul into a new and more pleasing form.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My New Babies

My new budgerigar. Haven't named her yet. She's a bit quiet, and I think she needs a friend, but that will have to wait a few weeks. She's very bright of color, so I am thinking of calling her Venus.

My new Cocatiel. She is a bit aged, but healthy, and is a bit on the quiet side. She still has no name, but I am thinking Juno.

And here's the male, noisy little bugger, younger, and cheerful. This little bugger actually sings. I don't mean he sings like birds do, you know, calls in the morning, chirps. I mean he sings, like listening to a person hum. Sometimes I put on music, which they all seem to like as I sometimes catch them swaying to it, but he sometimes starts to sing. Not along with the actual tune of the song, mind you, but it does sounds sometimes like he's trying to mimic it. It is the cutest thing.

I think he will be Jove, but I have not really decided yet, because his singing makes me think Phoebus or something like that. Still, if he is in the cage with Juno, he should be Jove, no?

Monday, June 13, 2011

They Love Each Other

True to his own heart

True to her own desires

True to their own feelings



They love each other

Aphrodite binds them

Hera sanctifies them



True to her own emotions

True to her own needs

True to their own passion



They love each other

Aphrodite draws them together

Hera hallows their union



True to his own lusts

True to his own longings

True to their own honor



They love each other

Aphrodite ensorcels them

Hera makes consecrates them



Monday, June 6, 2011


Athens is, perhaps, the one city everyone thinks of when they think of ancient Greece. To a Greek, this is not necessarily so, as they are aware of the vast richness of ancient Greek architecture, art, and literature that originated in many places all over the land we call Greece. To those of us who are not Greek, however, Athens is the shining glory that was ancient Greece.


It is in ancient Athens that we see the ideals come to flowering that we hold dear in the West. It is in Athens that we see the flowering of philosophy, democracy, and the ideal of equality. Oh, we are not blind, of course, we know that women, slaves, and non-Athenian born free men did not have the same rights as the citizens, and that Athens had a strong and powerful aristocratic class that often made a mockery of the democratic process, but the truth is that we recognize in that society something very much a kin to our own.


When the United States were founded, it was with an ideal that would need centuries to come to a greater flowering. The founders of our nation saw in Athens and the systems they set up as ideal, and they sought to write into our constitution a system that would grow and change while retaining that unique characteristic we call democracy. That they needed to use the Republican system to make it workable is understandable. Like Rome, the United States would prove too large, even in colonial times, to rule with a truly democratic system, but where the Athenians had lead the way, and the Romans had tried to follow, America wanted to continue.

Like Athens, we had an imperfect system. We had women who could not bring their voices to bear on government, slaves who were counted, but only as cattle might be, and other people who, while free, were not to be given the same rights as the citizen class. A class which, at first, was very aristocratic in nature. The founding of our nation was, in almost all ways, a reflection of the Athenians who had lit the light of democracy so long ago.


For many of us who worship the Gods of Olympus, it is ideals such as democracy and liberty, the love of art and architecture, the desire to know as embodied in the Greek arts of philosophy and science, that drew us. We were drawn to the Gods who had presided over the birth of these ideals, and would seek to worship them again in an effort to once again allow their influence into the world.


The glory that was Athens, with its art, its architecture, its science and philosophy would call to us and lead us to the very Gods who once fought over her land so as to claim it. The same Gods who would inspire them to achieve, in sometimes miraculously short amounts of time, such incredible things that to this day man kind has not met their challenge.


We who wish to see the influence of the Gods once more alive in the world, however, must not allow ourselves to be stopped from bringing it to light. We must not allow our conflicts, and the influences of the Abrahamic faiths and nationalistic endeavors to stop us from embracing the truth. The truth that the Gods live, and in large portions of the world, man has become blind to their presence. That the Christian and Moslem faiths, with their hate promoting zealotry must not be allowed to kill off the power that lies in the realization that the Gods, in all their names, in all their glory, can lead us to live in peace while embracing our diversity, not by destroying it.


That as the Athenians learned to build a system that gave a greater voice to its citizens, flawed system though it was, we can learn to create a system that will give the Gods a voice in the world that will bless us all with that same spirit of freedom and liberty we have often aspired to in our nation. A system in which all men and women, no matter their race, their religion, their sexual orientations can have a voice that sings in pride to the blessed Gods who dwell in splendor.