The Breath of Boreas

It is getting colder (but hey this IS Alaska after all), noticeably so. The breath of winter is draping everything in a hard frost, which makes that six am puppy walk a bit biting. Thank goodness that the breed of puppy I have is half Akita so she has that thick double coat to keep her warm. They sing songs about Jack Frost nipping at your nose, if that is so then Jack Frost has to be adopted, or unofficially claimed, son of Boreas. Or just Boreas reimagined. For the kingdom of Boreas is one of ice and snow and cold blowing winds (he is after all a wind). He is the very substance of the winter air rather than the season of winter. He flies down, winged, from his high snow-encrusted mountains, his breath all around us in the air, biting at whatever skin is exposed to him. The dew in the air is crystalized by him for which the frost paints patterns on all things and by his breath the rain falling from the sky turns to snow that coats the earth of the northern regions in a thick insulated blanket to protect it from his bitter cold breath. And the trees stand as silent headstones, sleeping throughout the winter.

Apollon is said to venture far beyond the kingdom of Boreas. But why Boreas in particular? Apollon has a noticeable connection to the winds, not only as a god of winds himself, harnessing them for destructive and beneficial ends, but also personal mythic relationships with two of the winds. One is Zephyr in the spring in the myth of Hyakinthos, and in the myth of Hyperboreia we have Boreas. The connections with Zephyr seem more obvious because Zephyr is highly active in Apollon’s season, with the blessing of verdant growth during the mild first half that nourishes young plants. Even in the tale of Hyperboreia we can come back to Zephyr because Apollon’s garden seems to be described as one continually blessed by Zephyr with the mildness of his weather as an eternal spring. And yet to approach this place you have to go beyond the  kingdom of Boreas. Of course Pindar reminds us that it would be in vain to seek out this land, for it does not exist here where we may find it. It is exists beyond the gates of winter, the gates guarded by the griffins. A few days ago I approached this subject in my post on the Purifications and Expiations of Winter, but I wanted to continue more here in my thoughts on Boreas and his relationship with Apollon in particular.

As winter in some areas would be concerned with the sowing of seeds for the next year’s grain and crops, even in more mild climes there is naught much more besides some hardy small flowers that bloom and delight. Many of them, such as pansies, are edible however. But as the rainy season (whether that be actual rain showers or snow showers of the northern regions) it tends to be the indoor season. It is a sleepy and restful season compared to other times of the year, and becomes so the further into winter you go. Winter in many ways been compared to death, not only for being the season in which Persephone reigns in the underworld, but also for the sparse barren nature of the season. Winter is intimately connected to death. So we find Boreas and his kingdom associated with the boundaries of death in a seasonal sense but perhaps also in a symbolic sense as a boundary to the Underworld. One that may be transversed by gods directly into the land of blessed, but not accessible to mortals. It is through this gate that Leto came, and it is through this gate that Apollon travels to his sacred garden. Perhaps it can be seen as his special VIP entrance directly to his private corner of the land of the Blessed where those cherished by him he has directly had crossed in their apotheosis. The garden which was his bridal chamber of Kyrene before it was imagined in Libya.

Even as Apollon himself is a gatekeeper god, Boreas would seem to act as such for Apollon, and the griffins too with which Apollon has been pictured, those gold loving creatures who likely find bliss in the pure gold radiance of Apollon as he comes near. Griffins which are  horse killers, that would seek to attack the soul chariots of mortals. These griffins would be nearly as fearsome as Cerebus himself but far less welcoming to any souls less they be driven in Apollon’s own swan chariot. And if these alone are not dissuasive then Boreas himself is, his bitter breath driving all away, to return to the comfort of hearths, or in the case of souls, to more welcome routes.

The sacredness of the north is also affirmed by the Etruscans who were widely respected in the ancient world for their augury. Etruscans placed the highest of the gods to dwell in the northern quadrant of the heavens. For any to seek to attain this kingdom would have been probably seen as hubric as Bellerophon’s attempt to climb Olympos on the back of winged Pegasus. And what happened to him? A hornet stung the stallion, throwing the rider to his death. Beware those who attempt the roads of the gods. This is no less true, by far, than with Apollon in his northern route. This distinguishes him from Persephone and Dionysos whose routes are clear markers for the way for human souls. Few, does Apollon take upon his sacred northern road. King Croesus being one example whom Apollon took up for his devotion according to Pindar. And Pindar too I would imagine, and all the great poets. Those whom he loves. So I greet the breath of Boreas as reminder of this holy route, for the part he plays.

Impermanense (or material attachment in spirituality)

Jo’s recent blog post, found here, makes some excellent observations regarding material attachment in spirituality that can distract our focus away from our gods. By this I mean icons and little material things that we can invest significant amount of energy and excitement for which can easily distract us from the god that we are adoring in the first place. Not to say that is what was happening in her situation, nor that the painting that was damaged in shipping was directly associated with any kind of material attachment, but her observations strongly resonate to me.

The reason I find this subject so important is two fold, and actually seeming somewhat contradictory. I mean, I am an artist who makes icons, I should be all “yay material attachment, buy my stuff!” But it is more complicated than that. The fact that it was one of my own paintings that was damaged on route does not in fact sit well with me as it has been the first time that has happened out of all the paintings I have mailed out over the years (but I guess it was to happen sooner or later at some point *sigh*). Aside from offering a refund, which I did, there was little more that I could do other than file a claims, which I also did. So the issue at hand is not about how it affects my bottom line as an artist, but rather about the product itself, for even I tend to be a little attached to the things I create.  It would seem that by my own attachment, and also providing goods of spiritual icons that potentially can be likewise attached to that I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face. So why would I feel a need to even discuss material attachment in spirituality?

It is because it is an acknowledgement, as an artist, that the icons, while they are pretty and nice to have, and do have symbolic importance (for which yay buy my stuff! lol) they are still just objects and should never ever become of such high value that they potentially distract us from the relationship we have with our gods. As an artist I have to recognize this. I have to recognize when I am pouring every bit of love and devotion into every statue I create that in the end it is still just a statue (or painting/drawing in those cases). And yes this even happens with gods that I do not have personal relationships with or gods that are outside of my pantheon that I am not even really familiar with as I tap into that idea that there is love and devotion out there for this god or goddess and riding that emotion as I create. As an artist I am creating through spiritual material attachment in many ways. And yet when I am creating I find no fault with that. It is part of what allows me to create something that others see as having very expressive features. Therefore spiritual material attachment is part of what I do. But on the flip side it is very hard for me to let go of stuff after they are created. So as a crafter this is a particular double edged sword. And one that cuts deep when something I have created is damaged. A significant damage can be devastating. This is my weakness.

That said as a worshipper I have found that I have to keep some kind of objectivity, or rather that I have to keep some level of detachment, especially when it comes to icons that I have made gracing the shrines and altars of my gods. I have to separate myself from being the creator of the image and be only the worshipper. I cannot be conflicted by attachment. Unfortunately it is something that I struggle with daily, if only because of the knowledge that I know that I would not be able to be completely detached should one of the icons I made for my gods were to break past repair. But it is something I regularly remind myself. These are cherished symbols of my gods, but they are not my gods and should not be grieved for. Nor should such importance be put on them, such value that it would lead to them being grieved for in the event of their destruction.

This is especially the case as a priestess of a god such as Apollon who highly discourages such  attachment. Something for which he has reminded me countless times. I cannot count how many times cherished icons of his have broken or otherwise been ruined in one freak accident or another. I have said more than once that the Destroyer has often destroyed  just about every image I have had of him eventually. There is that kernel of knowledge in me that  one day I will come to find the images of his shrine broken, and he will be there bidding me to start again. Create again. Sweep away the rubble and give myself in my love and devotion in the creation of his image again. Because it is about my love and devotion to him, it is never to be about how much I love possessing his likeness. And he does not hesitate to remind me of that again and again.

Icons  are beautiful, but they are vessels. They ought to be treasured as one would treasure a cup (albeit a sacred cup), there purpose is only for that which  you put in it for it carry. They have no more value than that.  It is not bad to have icons, it is a positive thing, but perspective is a good thing to have.

P.S None of this is to say that I don’t work my ass of trying to mend broken icons, because I do!

Lykeia’s Botanica and Spiritual Gifts is Open :)

I have had a rather defunct etsy account for years, that I just never really bothered with after trying to sell a couple of paintings there without success. But I have decided over the last few months to brush it off and get it going again. This will have everything from icons, to votive offerings, oils, candles, incense, devotional jewelry etc for honoring the gods (likely mostly Roman and Hellenic..although on the icons end there will likely be several from other pantheons). As I am just starting it out again it is rather sparse. I have a few small statuettes posted, some prints of a few of my older paintings, an oil lamp with Hestia etched on it.

Although I am based in Alaska I am willing to ship throughout the US and Internationally. For locals though they are free to come pick up their purchases and save themselves some expense.

As I will be weekly updating with new products please do check back regularly! I just may have that item for worship that you (or someone you are shopping for, especially around the holidays, have been looking for!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/LykeiasBotanica?ref=hdr_shop_menu

An Outsider’s View of God-Spousery.

lykeiaofapollon:

This is interesting mainly because it is coming from an outside observation. I do not agree with it entirely, especially since not all are celibate or can be described as nuns. But I do think that it touches on the potential value of godspouses, not so much as teachers or leaders (though not rejecting that possibility) but rather as someone who has been in a long term ever changing relationship with their god and can offer a wide variety of perspective and experience. After a decade with Apollon I know I have enough accumulated doxa through experience to fill the pages of a book if I ever wanted to do so, and have seen my lord manifest in my life in a myriad ways. I think the only thing I don’t quite agree with is the comparison with mortal relationships because gods really aren’t comparable with people in my opinion and experience. On the whole, though it is a very interesting look at the concept and how it can be understood by outsiders.

Originally posted on Magick From Scratch:

“Let us go, my Beloved, to greet the Bride
The Queen’s Whole Self shall we welcome”
— From L’kha Dodi, the Jewish Evening Sabbath service.

The term “god-spouse” always seems to carry with it a discussion.

“Can a person really be married to a deity?”

“Are they claiming equality to that divinity, and are they really any closer to them than the rest of us?”

“If someone claims to be a god spouse, I expect them to be exceptionally devoted.”

“I can’t imagine that they gods pick and choose favorites.”

While most of the discussion that non-god-spouses seem to have about the phenomenon focuses on the idea of legitimacy, I have an entirely different question to ask. What does it mean? Why have the gods chosen to do this?

Why am I even exploring this issue? My apologies to all the various and sundry god-spouses out there. You fascinate…

View original 1,724 more words

The Hounds of Artemis

I grew up with dogs, I love dogs (I love cats to but lets stay on topic shall we). We have a wide variety of breeds throughout my childhood, everything from huskies to small terriers to Chihuahuas. Dogs have a special place in my heart, which is probably why after many years I have a dog again. Having a dog in the house has made me somewhat reflective on the role of dogs religiously, more specifically in regards to the hounds of Artemis.

Dogs have a long history as human companion and guardian. Their loyal and fierce protective nature likely made them a good model for various spirits. From Cerebrus who happily greeted the newly arrived dead (and not so friendly if the dead tried to leave because hey he is a loyal puppy), and protector of the entrance to Hades, to what I understand as the conception of eudaemons taking the form of dogs as protective benevolent spirit to individuals that they watch over. Overall dogs belong to Artemis, so it would not be surprising if collectively the eudaemons, as imagined as dogs, would belong to her retinue. Dogs to guard the living over whom she takes great care and nurturers, and dogs to drive the souls of those under their care to greater heights.

Of course I can imagine the protest..”but what of the myth of Actaeon?” Actaeon itself is a curious myth that comes with many interpretations to it. The myth itself is complicated. First you have Actaeon, the grandson of Apollon through his father Aristaios. There seem to be two different versions of the myth, one is that in his visit (paying court with design on marriage to Semele I believe, although one play has him as her nephew) during which  time he happens upon the goddess bathing in a stream with her nymphs, and the goddess, so affronted, transformed him into a deer whom his own dogs tore apart. Another version of the myth as Apollodoros tells us is that according to Arkadian account, Actaeon was playing court on Artemis whom he was trying to woo that she would marry him. Same story follows from there. The very idea of the dogs tearing apart the transformed youth can call into question any kind of idea of the hounds of Artemis as benevolent daemons, never mind that in myth it is typically his own hunting dogs rather than her hounds that do the job. But even so there has been commentary of the actuality of a cult that sprung up around the myth in which Actaeon himself played the role of a sacred sacrifice and the result of his own apotheosis. As such, his transformation into a creature sacred to the goddess, and his own tearing apart by dogs that led to his death would suggest that if this were the case it is probable that the hounds here were a medium of his apotheosis. They served the role for which I stated above, that in moving the soul forward. That these are his own dogs specifically could solidify the idea that the dogs were of nature to be loyal and protective of him, which would make this action remarkable. If we read in between the lines we may find a character not unlike Hippolytus in which we have a young hero who has devoted himself in adoration to Artemis. The primary difference here would be that unlike the chaste love of Hippolytus (or so we must presume from the writing of Euripedes), that the love of Actaeon was of such passionate nature that he desired to be united with the goddess in marital bonds. In both instances we would then have the death and apotheosis of young heroes who adored the goddess and gave her reverence above all others. In such a view, his hounds could very well be representative of the eudaemons that she set by his infant cradle, that were destined to immortalize him.

I do personally ascribe, regardless of what the myth of Actaeon does or does not  tell us, that Artemis as a nurturing goddess (by which she also is serving as goddess of the hunt as provider) is a goddess who directs the hounds, as representing eudaemons, to the care and guardianship of mortals. And that perhaps the images of dogs in the cemetaries may well reflect the eudaemon’s benevolent presence in life as the stone dog watches for ages gone by over the final resting place of the dead. This devotion can be seen even in the myth of Hecuba who became the dog of Hekate because of such love and devotion to her family that Hekate granted her this for the grief  over her loss of her family. This may in part inspired some thought that eudaemons could possibly be the souls of those who have loved you. Some philosophical thought has also seemed  to have addressed them as the higher nature of the individual rather than a separate spirit. Regardless, the eudaemon has been  universally addressed as a being of utter goodness.

While not everyone may not agree on what a eudaemon is or how they appear, for reasons outlined above  to me they are ever in the form of dogs, and because of this whenever I look into the eyes of a dog, I see the benevolent grace of the eudameon reflected there. The dog is the perfect symbol of the  kindly protective spirit and Artemis  is the leader of the dogs, O nurse of all.

The Purification and Expiations of Winter

It has been snowing, although at this hour the snow from last night and this morning is slowly melting away, I spent some time this morning before work watching the large fat flakes of winter scatter from the heavens across the ground. Ah winter, it has arrived. I can clearly understand why once it was considered to be two seasons, rather than four to have been imagined. The season of fruition, of life, that which is the summer part of the year, and that of winter. Not a season of death so much, for death happens throughout the year, with the burning heat of the sun and the dwindling of life in autumn. Death is always around everywhere. Rather it seems more to be about the washing away, the purification (for which we have January named after Janus by the Romans, recognizing that there must be a cleansing before the return of life in the spring.

It becomes about sowing the crop for the next year, with prayers and all hope that the next year be fortuitous . It is the rainy season through which the clouds roll over the heavens. In warmer climes winter is marked by downpours, in cooler climes by blankets of snow. Wash away, O Gods, and prepare. This washing of the earth is simultaneously not only purifying but also fertile. The very season in which men dared not to travel on the sea and offered libations to Poseidon is the same season in which Pan, that virile god, fertilizes the land. He seeks and finds Demeter. Zeus, coiled into the recesses of the soil into the arms of Persephone. In the darkness, that which is cleansed is impregnated. Zeus, the impregnating golden shower. And lusty Dionysos rises just before the dawn of spring with his hallowed festivals which the honorable dead hold dear, and the fruit of the last year is tasted with the first casks open in the dawn of spring during Anthesteria, amid the lambing/calving season in which Apollon’s pastoral birth occurs, he who is lord of the season of fruits.

For all this talk of Purifications and Expiations it begs the question, why is the god of purifications, Apollon, away in the far lands during this season? If we consider that Hyperborea on one level, as was observed by some ancient opinions, was synonymous with land of the west (Elysium), even that which the gardens of Apollon in which even his “Libyan” gardens were confused by Pindar and to which he took Kyrene the lion-slayer, we find that Apollon is present in the winter but acting on another plane. This would likely not be too dissimilar to Persephone in the winter who is away from the company of Olympians but very much present on another chthonic level. If we consider that Hyperborea may have been the equivalent to Elysium, or some specific part of Elysium, and Apollon’s own mother was from this sacred land it certainly draws strong parallels to mystic tradition in which Persephone is the mother of Apollon as Iakhos, master of the winds. The great castle of which were considered all the liminal periphery of the next world even as the house of Helios and Selene, the two luminous bodies of the heavens had castles into the underworld to which they retired. This makes Apollon, in the winter, a chthonic force that acts from within/from afar.

He is not present in the downpour of rain, but within the earth, purifying it, even as the Erinyes, his elders (who Aeschylus has complain of Apollon as a usurper god of their providence as a clear demonstration of his powers and direct relationship to them), are purifying the dead who come into the underworld. He is working hidden, the Letoide (child of Leto, the hidden/obscure) on the fruits of the earth. For he makes fruitful, makes the cows carry twin calves, and the ewes twin lambs. He is as wealth in some respect, the wealth of plenty and crops, a suitable brother for Ploutus, the god of wealth. He is the god, who in the Orphic hymn views the very roots of all things. He cleanses all things at its deepest level. Even as the streams themselves lead to the underworld and the greatest among them (Styx, Lethe and Mnemonsyne) run forth there, Hesiod too, in his Theogony, calls all the streams and Apollon among them as those which are ordained for nurturing the young. The waters nurture and purify, and Apollon is among them.

O Apollon Hyoerboreios, you assuredly are working from afar, from the far places, hidden and obscure, O fiery chthonic lord, O Soranus of the wolfen cap, you cleanse all by your fire, you Lykeios stir the howling winds O Telkinhios. For you have set aside your golden crown, dancing in the night, You who purify even as the rain of Zeus washes all the world. Let us begin anew..

I see why the Dorics considered the onset of winter following the autumn equinox to be the beginning of a new year. It makes a certain sense to me. As much sense as the probable reason why the Romans, who were likely strongly influenced by the Southern Italian Hellenic colonies (Grecia Magna) moved their own traditional new year from March to January. All things best begin with the purifications, as who have given ritual unto the gods well know!

Let Madness Reign

Let madness reign
Let panic pray
to the gods above
In the haunt of the dead
In the grove of the dove.
Let madness dance
Let panic laugh
While the wolf god is away
The saffron lord is drinking draughts
Of liquor honey and spice
Beyond the dragon eye of Koios
Beyond the howling breath of winter,
For now is the hour of Pan
Whose laugh is a whirling tune
Of O that madness that we seek
As we trip merrily along
Adorned in a festive array of color
And the masks are grinning in the dark
As we sip from the cup of his shepherd’s song.
The beer it runs, the wine it runs as blood
And like grinning clowns we drink it down
Our lips stained red with our feast
For the king of day is afar and away
And another day he shall strip from us our flesh;
That coin with which we pay
To attend the banquet of Dionysos.