Sunday, December 30, 2012

Zeus's Affairs Visualized

Zeus's Affairs (launched) | - via @Shareaholic

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Father Zeus

I have touched on the aspect of Zeus that is father. It is the aspect of the God that is, perhaps, the most easy to understand for modern thinkers, for in western tradition, this is the aspect of the sky God that was conflated with the middle eastern father God YHWH. 

It does not escape me, of course, that the primacy of the father in this kind of religion is the result of patriarchal culture, but I'd like to explore the father aspect froma slightly different angle here. What angle might that be? The angle of a man who did not have a father, at least not one that mastered in any positive way.

See, the Hellenic pantheon is organized in a way that made sense to the Hellenes, and is therefore patriarchal, I will not contest that organization, it is what it is. What I want to touch on is that for me, Zeus has often been unreachable, inaccessible, unavailable, and as I sit and ponder the why of it I must admit that I have basically approached him as I do my own father. As absent.

Unlike the ancient Greeks, who saw the Gods everywhere, in the light of morning, the breeze, the sea foam, the storm, I am far too analytical a person to see the world that way. Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes sit and watch the sunrise and it takes my breath away. I appreciate it and and made humble by it, but I do not actually see the Helios there. To my mind, the sun is like a poetic representation of a divine power, but has a distinct existence apart from it. So, the sun is not Helios, it is a symbol of him that we human beings can latch onto as a focus for our worship and/or honoring of his power.

So too it is with Zeus and the sky, the storm, the thunder and lightning. They are but symbols, religiously speaking, and Zeus is not literally throwing lightning bolts or stirring the sky with his scepter to cause storms. In fact, to my way of thinking, everything about the imagery of the Gods, including their anthropomorphism is just symbology while the true Gods, those beings divine and beautiful, are separate and transcend such physical form and function.

But Zeus, more than the rest (Hades too, sometimes) is far and away the most obscure to me. Not because I don’t think of him when I look at the sky, or when I hear the terrible force upon my  windows during tornadic storms, but because he is father, and even more than any of the other symbols. More than the storm, the throne, the eagle, the majestic lightning bolt, this concept of father is one that eludes me, because I have never felt the closeness of a father, the affection, the love. Even today, on those rare occasions when I see my father, I feel a very vast distance between us, and it is not a distance he is putting there, not these days when he is older and perhaps longing to make up for lost time, but me. I am putting up those walls. In my heart there is no space marked “Dad” and there is nowhere for him to go.

So it is I have to ask myself, does this mean there is also no space marked “Dad” for him? For Zeus, sky father, father of Gods and Men, All Father? Is there no room in my heart for a Divine Father just as there is no room for my mortal father?