When Family “Matriarch” Goddess is Different from Your Personal Goddess

This may not be an issue that comes up for everyone, or even that many people…but it is an observation that I have had over the years. Those who are familiar with Hellenic religion certainly known that regions had certain paternal or maternal ties to specific deities that they are said to be descended from. With gods this usually manifests in the title Patroos which we see for Apollon and Zeus particularly. However I don’t find it the least bit strange for a family to develop a spiritual relationship of descendant that is connected to a particular deity or deities. For instance, as the new first generation founding of my familial cultus, Apollon has taken a position in the household divine hierarchy that relates to my children and family members of my household as Patroos. Aphrodite has seemed to have a longer matriarch claim in the family dynamic, likely passed down in attachment to my Italian paternal line (Romans, recall believed themselves to be descended from Venus), which may be a relationship that transferred to the familial relationship with Aphrodite given the Hellenic focus of the household. I have stated on this blog many times that I never chose to worship Aphrodite, and was never in any fashion called to or attracted to the worship of Aphrodite….she was just always there.

It is perhaps of little surprise that a baby polytheist who is feeling out what deities that they want to give cultus to would easily overlook an influential deity already present in the familial atmosphere and household for deities that they admire or feel a particular calling to worship. This is normal for any kind of personal relationship that is developed between the worshiper and gods, but when you have a principle deity (or deities) that don’t include the already present familial deity one can imagine how that would cause friction. For years I considered the problem to be rooted in the fact that I was a young devotee of Artemis who actively spurned Aphrodite whom I considered soft and ineffectual compared to such a strong and independent goddess as Artemis (which I won’t lie probably added fuel to the problem). However it is dawned on me that the actual root of the problem initially with Aphrodite, had more to do with the fact that while I honored and followed Artemis on an individual and personal level, that I did not give honor due to her to Aphrodite over Artemis on a household level. I have narrated before how this led to years of hostility towards the goddess, as well as significant relationship problems and short-liveliness of said relationships. I also had problems maintaining emotional attachments long term (what I would consider in love with the idea of being in love without experiencing lasting love), and regular disenchantment towards the social world. Despite being a fervent devotee of Artemis and having a good relationship with the spirits of the natural world in the local woods near m home, the sea on the island I was born on and spent my summers, and so on……I was positively misanthropic and disdained the social dependent networks. So there wasn’t just the inability to relate to romantic relationships long term, but a general inability to relate to the social world which I found vain and utterly fake with all of its charms. After my first divorce it occurred to me that Aphrodite was toying with me and in an effort to get her to leave me alone I erected a small shrine in my household. A shrine that I did not maintain well long term (figuring having it there in general was good enough) and therefore still not giving proper respect although having a tentative start to a relationship with the goddess. When I had a second failed marriage in my early 30s I was admittedly angry with the goddess who I felt was instrumental in spinning a match that did not suit. I couldn’t understand what more I could possibly do, even though even after years I still had not invested anything really into her shrine or worship space.

Yet after facing my hostility towards Aphrodite regarding two failed marriage and alot of false starts with relationships, I finally, in the summer of 2013 I believe, held my first Aphrodisia in my home, with plenitude of sweets and gifts to Aphrodite….as well as for the first time in years, actually actively building on her shrine, her seat of worship in the house. Thankfully that same summer…a month later… I met the man I am now married to and have been in the longest committed relationship with. I admit all of these can easily be a coincidence but I do think that coincidence also lines up with the relationship one has with spirits and deities that surround one as well as being part of your own making.  And a foul relationship with a deity can cause an unnoticed psychological removal of the self from everything that deity represents or is involved in. Since I have been worshiping the gods since I was 14 years old it would make sense that a fouled relationship with Aphrodite and the obvious rejection of the prominent role she seemed to try to move into would affect my developing adult relationship with those things which are connected to her.

Now here is where the narrative changes from my previous narratives of my relationship with Aphrodite, I have recently been observing that while Hera has a very honored position in the household as queen of the gods, that Aphrodite herself presides at her shrine like a matriarch of the household overseeing the affairs of the household with a certain flare of authority. As her shrine is now one of the better developed of the household (with the exception of Apollon’s) even now surpassing that of Artemis since Artemis shrine had until recently been plagued with misfortune after misfortune that diminished it from the first time I lost my entire shrine in Hurricane Katrina with the exception of one small statuette that I still have.  Of all the goddesses Aphrodite’s shrine sits in a manner that almost seems dominating. Whereas Artemis’ shrine spot by the door slowly develops in my personal devotion to the goddess, I take care not to neglect the shrine of Aphrodite or to slight it in favor that of Artemis. Aphrodite thus basks at her place within the household and keeps the affairs of the family harmonic, something that I cam grateful for that my husband and I do not succumb to the kind of arguing and fighting that we have both experienced in past relationships.

As such I have finally figured out the formula for dealing with the situation regarding Artemis and Aphrodite, that there is a certain honor and prestige that needs to be given Aphrodite to recognize her place of authority in my family as matriarch goddess and that she is intimately involved in the welfare of the family that must be taken care of even as I take care of my devotional relationship with Artemis and other deities.  I do not have to have a devotional relationship with Aphrodite to give her the accorded proper respect, and this was something that was missing from the way I related to her and gave her worship. I treated her as an after thought, as if anything was good enough with the proper dignity and respect afforded to her place among the gods of my household.  It is different from a devotional relationship but one that is still highly important for the well being of the household, and the relationship the household has with the various gods attached to it. This is the importance and significance of paternal and maternal household deities, the patriarchs and matriarchs of a home regardless if one has one or the other or both) that must take a value of worth and esteem in the familial spiritual practice regardless of what sort of personal relationship you feel towards the deity.

An observation from my experience. Of course it goes without saying that the same can be applied to Patroos deity of the household and one’s personal devotions to another god. It certainly isn’t restricted just to goddesses.

Mixing calendars and When your Deity has Two Birthdays

Most folks who worship Hellenic gods are rather used to the concept of a day being sacred as the symbolic day of the birth of a given deity (such as the fourth day being sacred to Hermes for being born on the 4th, and the 7th of everything for Apollon for his birth on the 7th).  Yet a number of Hellenic polytheists have a tendency to strictly follow one Hellenic calendar, that is to say usually following the Athenian calendar and so rarely have to deal with conflicts in date with major festive occurances. Yet when you are more interested in the overall worship of a deity throughout Hellas rather than how a deity was worshiped in a given polis, it can lead to some interesting “problems” that may potentially crop up…..namely when you have the festival of the birth of the god occurring in different calendars with a huge separation in months between them.

This is definitely the case of Apollon, as I have mentioned before, when it came to two prominent interpretations regarding the birth of the god. The most commonly accepted one among worshipers is the Ionian/Athenian one in which the god is born on the Ionian island Delos in the late spring, at the very time that the green ears of wheat are present on the stocks during the month of Thargelion. This is also accompanied by the Delian myth of the birth of Apollon. Thargelia is so well known and supported by Hellenic polytheists at large that the Boeotian tradition (which Plutarch records as being agreed by Delphi and Sparta particularly (and of course Sparta would agree with Boeotia regarding such an important god rather than the Athenians with whom they were more often than not in some matter of strife with). Like the strong farming characteristic of the Thargelia with its focus on grains given the season events going on, the Prostateria of the month Prostateria (or Bysios in Delphi, which seems to have been Eleusinios in Sparta due to the occurrance of the Lesser Mysteries in the same month which Athenians call Anthesterion) occurred during lambing season in the early spring.

Some Hellenic polytheists may choose to just select one and go with it, but given the different foci of these two birthdays I am motivated to celebrate them both as expressions of births of the god related to the two very important cycles that he is associated with. I have spoken of these before in what I call the Dionysian cycle for the celebration of the major Dionysian festival of Anthesteria and the culmination of the festival for Apollon as herding deity with Dionysos during the Karneia at the end of summer, and the Demetrian Cycle for the obvious grain based association in which Apollon is a protector of the crops. Also given that this is a god, and the “birth” of a god operates as a symbolic devise usually related to something very specific going on as I have illustrated above, it does not need to follow a literalist interpretation of a singular one given birth of the god considering the gods are not flesh and blood people. As such I have no problem celebrating both birthday of Apollon with different emphasis and focus. As such with Prostateria where I honor the season with goats milk, I make the grain thargelos for Thargelia even though I will readily admit that in my region, with as little as grain grows here, that there is perhaps a deeper significant to me on a personal level with the festivities that I undertake during the Prostateria as the doorway to spring (as Prostaterios is associated with Apollon as a doorway god).

This just goes to show that apparent conflicts can end up being complimentary and work together rather than being an either or situation.

Theogamia, Prostateria/Theophania, and Anthesteria

I have a pretty crowded collection of festivals coming up, and honestly I love it this time of the year for that purpose. With much of the winter being pretty slow for me festival-wise, this sudden pickup is like a change in the winds and the beginning of the slow shift of seasons.

First is Theogamia, or Gamelia as I also tend to call it after the month Gamelion. I have a considerably stronger relationship with Hera than I do directly with Zeus. Much of that, as I have noted before in my previous post about worshiping goddesses, developed specifically as a grown woman developing a firm relationship with Hera Teleia with all the maturity and responsibility that comes with being fully grown and comfortable in one’s own power and authority after having departed the naivete and wildness of one’s youth.  So, for me, Theogamia is very much focused on Hera primarily and Zeus secondarily. Hera is the beautiful divine bride receiving the bridal gifts of worshipers on this very special day even as it is a day of mutual love and adoration between bride and groom. This is perhaps *the* day of the year that I really go all out (or try to anyway) for Hera and Zeus. I usually splurge on lovely flowers and sweets, as well as bride gifts for the goddess. The presence of honoring Kourotroph during this festival as noted in Erkhia likely is directly associated with the offerings to the goddess given by groom and bride as they officially leave behind youth. Kourotroph being a title applied in many deities this can refer to Gaea, Hekate or Artemis. I typically honor Artemis myself as Kourotroph, even though I recognize in the case of the marital rites of Hera it most likely addresses Gaea. Like usual I am uncertain how exactly the gifts will form to Hera, and probably won’t have a clear idea until the day before or so….although considering it is this weekend the clock is winding down fast on that! I do have some ideas brewing at least to make the day particularly special way to start wrapping up my vacation from work and my close personal time I am having the advantage of spending with my own husband.

Almost appropriately, the Theban natal festival of Apollon, the Prostateria ( which the Delphinians called Theophania, and was a day that was recognized by Plutarch as being the original day that the oracle was open during the whole of the year until it was opened subsequently every 7th day of the month) follows 10 days later. I have mentioned before that this festival likely was more directly associated with Apollon’s pastoral and herding functions given that it is during the lambing season (and Apollon has been directly associated with bestowing blessings of plenitude upon herds), whereas his later Ionian birthday during the month Thargelion is during the period in which the green ears of wheat are appearing following the ritual honoring Demeter Chloe (the green). It is a time to honor Apollon the herder with fillets or tufts of wool (if possible) and offerings of sweet goats milk and honey (keeping in mind that he was nursed by the Thraea (the bee nymphs) on the slopes of Parnassos following his birth. As with the Thargelia it is appropriate to give of offerings appropriate for natal celebrations, including dance and song if you like. I happen to use the method of the Delian maidens in celebrating the birth of the god (and likely his return too from Hyperborea) by the stomping of the feet which seems pertinent to an idea of waking of the earth to my mind which is why I particular do so during the ritual of his spring return from his exile in the following month. As such it is a time of celebration and hope in the return of new life to the earth and all the promises of Apollon’s ruling time of the year following the equinox upon his official return from exile where he rules, rather than Pan who rules the moist half of the year, over the season of the year which is dry, warm and full of abundance. This represents the first stirring towards that promise of fruitfulness that Apollon holds back his winds on which tends to ride forth the moisture rich clouds, so that warmth and sunshine can increase and ripen the fruits of Demeter and Dionysos. As one who lives in an area that doesn’t grow crops I will admit that this birth of Apollon has a bit more relevance for me on a personal level and given a great deal of love and focus over the Thargelia (although I do observe that too!)

Then just days later is the sacred festivities and mystery program of the Anthesteria as a time when spirits and the dead are honored, and a certain sacred marriage was undertaken with Dionysos for the welfare of the polis. In contrast to the nativity to Apollon, we really get a sense of Dionysos here as robust fertile god, a god who has arisen newly born from the other world, full of life and vigor to bless the new life of the land as the lambs drop and plant life bursts forth. Here is a true transitional period that we can all appreciate as we see winter’s firm grasp being shaken free as spirits are appeased and the dead given offerings and adoration by their living families.

Did I mention I love this time of the year?

 

Establishing a New Shrine to Apollon

Since it rarely occurs to me to detail the process of installing a new shrine, since I decided to put up an individual shrine to Apollon separate from his doorway presence (will likely still get the more regular love just because it is his official seat in the household). This shrine serves as a different kind of foci, more of a celebratory and personal honorific place of worship where the individual relationships can be expressed and nurtured. Also as I established it beside the hearth it is in keeping with certain concepts I have of him as a protector of the hearth even as he has been in one inscription from Lycia region praised as a protector of altars. In short whereas his doorway shrine is about his overall relationship with the household and his primary cosmic role as god of the gates and doors, this shrine focuses largely on particular titles and manifestations of the god which are pertinent to the family individually such as Lykeios and Karneios (hence the main statuary and the goats), With that established as to the why of establishing the new shrine as a principle god of the family rather than as a commonly used household shrine in most Hellenic households, here is how I did it.

First I placed the shrine table where I wanted it and thoroughly washed it off.  After which I cleansed myself.

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I then sprinkled the entire surface with lustral water and barley to purify the altar, whereupon I lit the flame and gave prayers and offerings of incense to Hestia. I decided to use sandalwood, that even while it is not an incense traditionally used in Hellenic religion it is one that I opt to frequently give to Apollon for its cool pure fragrance. I then waited until the incense had entirely burned down before sweeping remaining ash and barley from the shrine.

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Lastly I assembled the shrine and placed the water purified and oil annointed statue upon it, followed by offerings of incense to Leto (as mother of Apollon) and Zeus (his father), and offerings to Apollon himself. The white bowl on the second shelf of the shrine is designed to hold selected bits of offerings through the year to be burned yearly…I am thinking on his Theban birthday in the month Prostateria (Anthesteria to those who follow an Athenian calendar) which the Doric Spartans and Delphinians seemed to agree with. Likely there will be nothing started to be gathered until that festival this year since it is just now Gamelion and that will be his next major festival. the older statue is on the foot of the shrine, mostly for the benefit of being more on one on one level for my toddler (though that didn’t stop her from placing her hands raised together and staring up at the shrine. Also on the second shelf is the sacred box in which the most sacred items that have been offered to the god are kept.

 

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Worshipping the Goddesses

I give a lot of love on this blog to Apollon, but in truth there are many deities in my household that receive adoration and offerings, half of which are goddesses which have a recognized power and authority in my household. This has seemed like a natural thing to me as a polytheist that I would give adoration and esteem equally among the goddesses and gods of my household, regardless of what gender biases were placed upon various cults and may have influenced part of the form of mythic narratives (although much of that rests on interpretation, and I argue that a allegorical approach to myth rather than literalistic-historical approach actually leaves greater flexibility in unpacking the myths and how they (as they were designed to do) inform and impact our relationship with the gods. It has been easy for me, in fact, to forget that there are still matriarchal goddess-centric spiritualities out there just as I prefer to ignore masculine-centric spiritualities as neither of these are part of my spiritual life. Yet every now and again I get reminders, and the last few days there has been a lot of sharing on social media around specific circles regarding the benefits of goddess spirituality and the myth of matriarchy. Now before I go any further, I want to go on record in restating that I don’t view polarized spiritualities that esteems a god OR goddess as superior narratives, nor either being more peaceful or benevolent than the other. Much of the biggest problem with the matriarchal focused goddess centric spiritual narrative is that it views what it considers feminine nature through rosy lenses, and makes huge assumptions of a mythic benevolence of a goddess led spirituality and matriarchal society.

Rather, I have a more pragmatic relationship with my deities in that I recognize the raw power, ferocity, benevolent, martial, parental, destructive and so on qualities that are recognizable in both gods and goddesses. While many myths like to depict many of these more aggressive qualities through narratives that include jealousy (often appearing in myths of Hera) and the feeling of being slighted in some way (typical of Leto myths, but also fairly common appearance in the mythic narrative of several goddesses), it matters less to me the social vehicle of the basis of that fierce nature (and we know well from the texts of Pausaias that the details of mythic narrative have little to do with the actual cult relationship of the deity as for example the relationship of Hera and Io in Argos plays out in worship a lot differently than the hostilities and jealousies in myth while honoring the greatness of the divinity of Hera), and more that it is very present and potentially ravaging…and more so that it often demonstrates with it the autonomy of the goddesses regardless of their mythic relationship with the gods. Hera has no qualms about taking some time off away from Zeus in myth, Artemis may insult and scorn her twin brother (via the war of the gods in the Iliad) and spends much time away from the company of males, as does Demeter by choice.  In fact many actual cults of the goddesses of Hellas, regardless of being a “patriarchal society”, stand on their own or are locally at the fore in their relationship with the their male relatives as much as they may take a backseat in localities that are sacred to the latter. Moreover there is a demonstration of the goddesses not being dependent on a god to act on their part to address their grievances. The goddesses are quick to show both benevolence and punish by their own determination and power without any other deities involved. As such I do not feel a need to push for creating a completely different narrative to address the power of these goddesses, nor any benefit to re-imagine their worship as superior to their masculine brethren.

Actually, when it comes right down to it, most of my relationships with the male deities of my household have the gods predominantly interacting with the household functions in quite a benevolent and calm manner that does not even particularly dominant neither worship or worship space. This doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize or experienced other qualities of these gods, but that the more aggressive and dominating qualities are given less attention. For instance, wherein I honor and appreciate the kinetic strength of Poseidon, the master of the waves and shaker of the earth, there is more focus on his fertile moisture-rich nature that is particularly honored during Poseidonia. From childhood he has always seemed like a loving paternal deity). Zeus likewise takes on more agrarian functions, especially in regard to the food storage of the household as a kind of lord of the pantry and lord of the fruitfulness and goods of the earth as part of his kingly nature as overseer of the cosmos, even though I witness the raw electric power of the lightning that illuminates all the sky and may devastate any that it touches. I have probably experienced more range with the nature and providence of Apollon given that is the god that I am devoted to and have invested the most in my relationship with just as I tend to on a lesser scale with Dionysos, yet it is my relationship with the goddesses (Apollon and Dionysos aside) that have tended to pack more active wallop and authority. Part of this may have to do with as a woman that these goddess still very much shape my life experience and I naturally draw towards them and am more open to experiencing their direct influence. Aphrodite and Artemis were the first goddesses I established relationships with that were very active in my maturing process in my youth, whereas Hera, Leto, and Rhea were more influential in my worship later when I became a mother and wife and a mature woman. In fact I had a difficult time establishing a worship relationship with Hera until I was in my mid to late twenties when I was able to look even better past the myth and understand the power and dignity of Hera Teleia, and appreciate her stormy nature as Hera Telchinia (in fact in wind storms I pray to both Hera Telchinia and Apollon Telchinios).

Even Demeter, with whom I have less of a regional relationship with because of the lack of grains that grow successfully this far north, I have gained firmer relationship in my worship with and now shares a prominant place with Hera and Aphrodite at the household altar as I grew to understand the emotional strains and sorrows of being a mother and watching ones children grow and slowly separate themselves from the familial network and the authority of their parents. This very independence being something I greatly prized and pursued happily in my youth as a devotee of Artemis, I can understand and appreciate the sorrows of it now as I watch my eldest daughter go through the growing pains of being a teenager girl and spreading her wings to get herself ready to depart the authority and governance of the household. This gives a new appreciation to those mystic festivals of Demeter and Persephone that were likely female only by social norm because of these very experiences in which a mother experiences the loss of her offspring, especially as daughters were often married and lived their adult lives very far away from their parental households. Such attachments were deemed in that culture as being particular to maternal parental unit, and yet in this day and age I would say that this makes the worship of this deity poignant and important for mothers AND fathers if we seek a better world in which men are recognized and lauded as loving fathers and establishing deep relationships with their offspring rather than the aloof disciplinarian and guardian qualities that were considered of high esteem in the past. We say that feminism allows boys and men to embrace these “traditional” feminine qualities but we have to realize that when we do it has to change how we perceive the relationship of men to goddesses (and therefore yes downplaying the emphasis on the female mystery once we realize that these deep seated mysteries of the home and hearth are not *female* exclusively) and such rather than rejecting our gods should seek to redefine our relationship with our gods and the way we see them. Seeing the gods as authoritarian aggressive and violent beings produced from a particular interpretation of the myths (including woman hating, just as Artemis is not “man-hating” as she possesses a long history of male devotees) that we as worshipers widen our expectation of experience of the gods and recognize these broader qualities of the nature of the gods that allows what is often classified at “feminine”.

A great example of this would be Zeus as I mentioned above. He gets a lot of flack, and is often nearly reviled among some goddess-centric worshipers. Yet few would probably recognize the agrarian quality of his nature and food/sustenance providing qualities, much less the loving paternal nature of the god who is father of gods and men. That when the household worships him as the serpentine Zeus Kteosis often associated with the food stores, or Herkeios where he is the god of the family unit (and therefore emphasizing familial bonds) as the lord of the courtyard and boundaries of the domicile,  Both Kteosis and Herkeios likewise have regional attachments with the title Patroos which designates this commonly worshiped Zeus in every household was recognized as “father”. This highlights the gentler common nature of the god which is kindly and loving towards mankind. As such, even though I know of no particular household cult of Hera that parallels that of Zeus, more often her cult took on wider public functions, in my household I have adjusted in recognizing the airy queen of the pleasant winds and stable earth, the cow-eyed goddess, as being richly maternal too towards the household as well as aggressively protective in regards to the well-being of the family members. When my husband was out of work, I prayed just as much to her that she extend her hand towards the wellbeing of our family that we would not know any greater hunger and impoverishment, for she is queen and possessing great bounties in her own right and as queen of the cosmos she is as a maternal being to all things (even her whipping Artemis with her own bow in the Iliad demonstrates this maternal alignment as she punishes her as a child, or as chariot driver of Athena during the battle between the gods emphasizing her fierce loyalties to those who are her own. The point I am making here in discussing Zeus and Hera in this paragraph is that adjusting our worship relationship is necessary for both the gods and goddesses as we can appreciate and value the broader domains of these deities. This not require one to laud god over goddess, or goddess over god, but to give adoration to their great individual powers and influences that impact our lives and homes, that which is protective, aggressive, nurturing and loving in both the gods and goddesses. As well as acknowledging the dangerous qualities that are present in each to varying degrees.

As such it is time set aside outdated notions that certain deities were pertinent to specific genders or the life experiences of specific genders exclusively (often due to one being poorly historically informed such as in the case of Artemis when people assume that she is strictly a goddess of women, girls and female life experiences without realizing that historically she had such a large male following). It is past time to appreciate the beautiful balance of our polytheisms which honors such diverse and powerful deities, both goddesses and gods alike that potentially gives an equal table and partnership to men and women should we embrace it. For this I praise Athena and Apollon who are deities who have championed social change and justice under their divine authorities, things which are ever evolving. May Athena embolden our hearts and broaden our minds and Apollon bless us with truth and clarity as they stand together.

Leto: Death and Motherhood

As I am getting closer to the conclusion of my pregnancy, Leto has been on my mind a lot as she was during my previous pregnancy. I have been trying to find a way to work her into the domestic calendar of my household just because she is such an important goddess, and then it occurred to me, given her associations with the underworld and with motherhood, it would be the most appropriate to honor the goddess just prior to the sunset signifying the beginning of Noumenia as the goddess of the previous period that has died and gone and mothering the new month brought forth by Apollon Noumenios even as she mothered him. It would be akin too to a birth of a new day via the night shroud of the goddess who herself has been described as being darkly garbed in a very concealing and obscure manner.

In some ways the close association with motherhood and the dead is kind of an odd one, but yet in other ways it makes sense, especially given just how dangerous of a time child birth was in the life of a woman. So much so that the clothes of mothers who died in childbirth were offered to Artemis at Brauron. Likewise the transmission of new life into being is so like that of death that it requires a certain period of miamatic influence from the presence of the spirits and beings associated with death as would a person upon dying (but perhaps less so since the purification period is considerably shorter than the 30 days following the day of a person). Still the very real link between birth and death as having a common access is one that really indicates strongly the nature of Leto as both an underworld goddess and a mother goddess. Especially in cults that believed in reincarnation, we could see this exemplified as a return of souls via the mother as portal. In some ways this may also be linked to an association with Demeter in which the grain goddess in some versions is also the a mother of the god Iakkhos in the netherworld, Demeter herself regarded at times as a mother of the dead likely in a similar manner in which the stones of the earth are linked to the bones of one’s ancestors. The dead and the tomb is intricately linked to the advent of new life. As a goddess linked to the tomb and underworld she is thus the ultimate mother of life.  Even her mild, often sweet-tempered and calming disposition (when not riled into anger) is very suggestive of her underworld connection as a kindly being that brings rest and comfort to the souls of the dead even as she grants forth the souls of infants to inhabit the wombs of mothers.

It is of little wonder that creatures that go beneath into the hidden realms of the earth are largely sacred to her, such as bees (creators of sweet elixir) who build hives in the roots of trees, in the earth…and in the myth of her grandson Aristaios in the carcass of bulls, frogs which multiply in great numbers beneath the surfaces of ponds and are intimately connected with the underworld as we see in the play “Frogs” where they keep the nursery of Apollon’s reeds (another teasing connection of birth place and the underworld), earth-denning wolves, as well as serpents and shrew (especially in connection with her syncretism with the Egyptian goddess Wadjet) that likewise nest within the ground and spawn numerous offspring from these recesses. Symbolically then it may seem that the earth itself is spawning the young of these creatures from deep within.

As this makes her even more so a great candidate as the mother of Noumenia, even as her niece Hekate closes the month. This will be a great continuation of what I am already doing at the doorway in which she is the deity I address first in my prayers, as mother of the underworld, mother of mothers, mother of the portal and sacred gates. This has become such a significant part of my understanding of the nature of this goddess and it has had a profound impact on the way I am building my relationship with her and her presence in my oikos. Hail Leto!

 

 

 

Agathos Daimon Print Available

I have officially reached my limit of the free account for fineartamerica, so I had to remove one my previously posted prints (just temporarily though! It will be back up once I upgrade to a premium paid account) of Odin and Frigg to make room for this one. I was going to just wait but I really felt a hard push to get it up there, and I know that imagery for the worship of the agathos daimon is pretty limited. So I did the thing and the print is now available.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/agathos-daimon-samantha-sanders.html?newartwork=true