Monday, January 21, 2013

At Sunrise

There is a moment, every morning, when the sun is about to rise
The earth takes a breath
The night bids farewell
And the gates of heaven are wide open

It is a moment afforded every man
To look upon the world
And search within himself
And find the light hidden within him

There is a moment, every morning, when the sun rises to blinding glory
Each man is made visible
His light once again hidden
And the public face is all we see

It is a moment to wonder
To ponder your being
And decide to not be who they want
But the man you were meant to be.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Since i am on this kick...

…I'd like to touch on an aspect of the Gods, Zeus and Aphrodite in particular, that is often spoken of but is seldom explored because I think it creates an uncomfortable feeling among Pagans who have had to deal with the universalist aspects of divinity as taught by the Abrahamic religions.

The Chariot of Zeus Project Gutenberg eText 14994

The aspect I am talking about is referred to as "Heavenly" or "Higher" among those who have explored Aphrodite and her aspect of Ourania (her title derived from the same word that gives the protogonos Ouranos his name). This is an aspect of a higher order of being, of potential and possible transcendence rather than immanence in nature and the affairs of mankind. 

Zeus, as king of Gods and men, is also seen, at least by philosophers and such, and one can assume (Though if I were a scholar I would never do that without corroborating facts) that the average Greek probably didn't see the Gods as simple super-humans, but as beings of transcendental power and awareness. That the Gods were worshipped throughout "Greece" and that the Greeks believed that the Gods of foreign people were their Gods in different forms indicates that the Greeks did believe their Gods had transcendental and omnipresent properties.

But, my worship is not about what they did, but about how what they may have done informs my world view and my relationship with the Gods, and I have come to believe, for quite some time now, that the Gods are truly universal and that the idea of aspected divinity, that being divinity that can and does appear differently to different people, cultures, and religious systems is the correct form in which to accept the Gods.

Aphrodite has many aspects, of course, but the two that seem to bookend them all are Porne and Ourania. Now, there is no dogma in Greek religion, but these two aspects of the Goddess that seem to be in opposition to each other to our modern way of thinking, are also fairly common ways to see the Gods. The Gods are often said to have Olympian and Chthonic aspects, two aspects which seem to be in opposition to each other, but which to me always speak to a universality in the power of the Gods.

Zeus Pateras, Zeus Olympios, etc., speak to Zeus as a heavenly deity. As a father god, as a god of the highest places (Olympic referring to the highest place or state of being) he is also a God who is everywhere and can always hear your prayers, so, is he not then a universal being? Omnipresent?

It is aspects such as these, omnianything really, that sometimes make Hellenistoi nuts, because while some philosophers seem to agree that the Gods were universal this way, what we know about Hellenic ritual and practice seem to indicate that the Greeks did not believe this, but rather that Gods could be localized. Thus, Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Porne, both aspects of this goddess that were everywhere in nature all at once, are troublesome. 

Zeus statue

I think where the problem lies is in accepting that the Gods are universal, but their aspects don't have to be. You could, for example, be a gay man and accept that Aphrodite is present in your love making (or your crazy fucking, whichever one you enjoy, or both) yet not accept that she is in the sexual exploits of a Dominatrix. The Dominatrix might disagree, but from your personal perspective, this is true. Therefore different parts of Greece saw the different deities in different ways, in the ways that those deities were said to have interacted with or blessed those particular localities. Therefore a Persian man would see the Goddess in a way that was appropriate for his culture and in a way that he believes the Goddess had interacted with his people. So, if the God(dess) of love is said to have punished the people of his land, he might see her as threatening or punishing, yet if he believes that she has blessed his life and that of his people with much love, joy, and happiness, he would see her very differently. 

It is easy, I think, for people to read myth, philosophy, and poetry of ancient times and forget the human component to religious perception.

Zeus the King of Olympus, sitting on his throne, is a distinctly different image or icon to meditate upon than Zeus Chthonios, or Zeus of the Underworld. It is often easy to confuse an aspect like this with that of say Hades, who is lord of the underworld and therefore very much Chthonic in nature, yet it is important to remember that the ancient people did not get confused about this. Zeus who is prayed to by the people for the gifts of the earth, perhaps in combination with a goddess like Gaea or Demeter, is Chthonic because he is being asked to grant gifts that come from the earth itself. Wealth, good harvests, etc., are all things directly related to the earth and therefore chthonic in nature, and so if Zeus is given credit for granting such gifts to a people, he is interacting with them as Chthonios. 

But the aspect of Chthonios is also linked to the house snake, that spirit of protection that is often depicted as a snake in iconography, and is therefore linked to the earth, and as Lord of Hosts (I'm sure you've heard that before, as the God of the Christians inherited this title from the Pagan Era Sky Father God, who the Gods called Zeus) he is also a God of the home and the protection it provides, a domain often granted to Hestia, Lady of the Hearth. 

So, perception makes a God aspected, as the perception of Zeus as "earthy" makes him Chthonios, but that is excluding the will of the deity, and so I have to ask myself, are the aspects of divinity merely human perception and interpretation of the Gods, or do the Gods consciously (if such a term even applies to such beings) decide to be seen this way?

I can't answer that, I will not pretend to know the will of the Gods, but I do believe that there is a will at work when a deity who is sought out is believed to have intervened is doing so because he wishes to, and that these aspects are therefore part of their nature, a nature which is vast and hard to put into categories, but which can be gleaned through a study of their past actions and the myths that grow around them.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

On the nature of myths and science, via the myths of Zeus.

In this argument, and I admit that my arguments are often meandering things, so I will try to stay on topic here and make an actual point.


It is noted, for this is not some sacred revelation I have just had and am imparting on humanity, that religious myth, of most religions, seems to reflect many aspects of cosmology and other philosophical sciences (physics, for example). That is to say that when reading creation myths, for example, they often speak of occurrences in times so ancient that no man could have ever witnessed it, and yet often, the myths themselves speak, in metaphorical terms, of things that science seems to indicate actually happened. No, not the same way they happened in the myths, remember, metaphor, but did happen none the less. 

Because I am currently trying to focus on Zeus, let us use him as an example. 

According to myth, in the beginning there was chaos, and while the word chaos has survived today, and currently means disorder or a disordering, in the myths themselves they seem to indicate a gap (like the Ginnungagap of the Norse Myths) which in a way is an indicator of nothingness.  From the nothingness come certain "gods" who are named things like night, darkness, aether, light, earth, and attraction (Nyx, Erebus, Aether, Hemera, Ge, and Eros) and there is something to be said for this, because as we look back into the beginnings of the universe we see the nothingness, the darkness, the sudden light, the formation of matter and gravity, and so here there seems to be an instinctive, or perhaps revealed, knowledge if the beginning of things. 

But then the earth gives rise the the sky, again, factual in a geological history sense. Together, these two, under the influence of eros, being the gravity that binds them one to the other, give rise to the ocean, the mountains, etc. It is during this divine age that what we know as the Earth is made into something similar to what we know today, a world of water, raining skies, varied landscapes, etc. Eventually the darkened skies clear, and the Titans are released from their imprisonment, and so they see the Sun for the first time, for Kronos is a much more tumultuous being than Ouranos, not the starry sky, but perhaps the cloud heavy sky of the primordial earth. Here, the same forces become more refined, they are Titans rather than Protogonoi, but the Titans are wild, gigantic creatures. Brutal forces of nature rather than the gentler forces we know today. 

Eventually, this Titanic Age gives way to the Olympian Age, and it is here that we meet Zeus. Zeus, the new Sky Lord, Zeus, the storm, the lightning, the thunder god. With him, the children of the Titans, in many ways, nearly indistinguishable from the Titans except that these beings seem to be more subtle, smaller, more down to Earth. It is as if the divine power that began with the Protogonoi has spread itself out into the cosmos, becoming more diffuse, more subtle in its power. One might even say that as the universe itself expanded, so did these beings. But here on Earth, the aspects of these beings, these Gods, that have shaped and given form to our world have also been experienced by the very life that has come into being here. 

In myth, it is not 100% clear who or how life is created, is it there when Zeus ascends to the throne of heaven, is it created by the Gods, that is, by the forces they unleash on the world, or is it brought into being even later, by the death and resurrection of yet another of Zeus' children, Dionysos? Whatever the case may be, we do know this, that earth, sky, and sea were all fundamental in the formation of life, and thus its creation. That the very air, the fluid of the ocean, the elements of the earth, and the spark to fuse them to chemical life from lightning were all part of how it happened, and Ge, Poseidon, and Zeus are all part of how it happened.

That Zeus, the Sky Father, is the great King of Heaven is not at all surprising then, as man dwells upon the Earth, cultivates it. Man may sail upon the sea, fishes from it. But man lives in sky, walking in it, taking it in and letting it out at every moment, and so he is there,  the Father we live within, part of him in a very real way. Could the being we know as Zeus, then, be female? Sure, the Egyptian story has Earth as male and Sky as female, it is essentially irrelevant, these are beings of eternity, beings who lived long before there was such a thing as gender, for even gender is essentially an accident of chance. 

Yet as we ponder Zeus, his coming into power, the great war that shaped the very world, we must also ponder the nature of his myths, and those of all the Gods, with a much keener eye, to understand that within them there is truth, sometimes subtle, sometimes blunt about where we came from and how, and the only real way to understand that is to view them through a mind that can correlate the myths with science and observation, so that we can understand a fundamental reality about the relationship between man and god, that we must put into it as much as we take out of it. Not just read myth and take them at their word, but seek to make sense of them. 

Zeus is not literally the sky, but it is his power that makes the sky what it is, and as you breathe it in, remember him and the stories that can guide you to wisdom.