Piety and the “conflict” of the gods

On the very long flight from Florida to Alaska I had time to read three dialogues of Plato…that inspired thought on points of which I will likely be rambling on about in the near future, and the first of which was piety as it is discussed in Plato’s Euthyphro. In the text we find Socrates in conversation with Euthyphro during which, due to the circumstance each are finding themselves, the conversation turns towards piety…what is pious and what not. Socrates charges Euthyphro, who claims understanding of divine things, with giving him a clear definition of piety, which eventually comes about to that he replies that piety is that which is pleasing to the gods. Naturally Socrates returns that, if, the gods are as people presume them to be, as divine beings in conflict with each other, then would not what is pious to one god be impious to another? The end result is that Euthyphro is unable to explain to any satisfaction what piety is.

So having concluded reading the dialogue I sat (for I had no other choice being on a plane) in contemplation for a while. Now I must confess that I am not an individual who looks at the myths in a literal fashion. In fact any regular reader of my blog has seen for themselves how I take apart myths and examine them or certain features of them. Therefore, it is safe to say that as I do not take the myths literally, I do not believe either that the gods are conflict or states of war with each other as Socrates mentions. In fact the question, in the manner in which he poses it, suggests that he may have not saw it as very likely either, and we see further clues to this on his later talks about how the gods are good and so forth. Therefore, if the gods are by their nature good and are acting together in the world and cosmos at large. I do think that scenarios of apparent opposition are meaningful, but not in such a fashion in which the gods are at odds with each other…friction between two different matters acts a stimulus, and as such I see no reason to see such relationships to be more detrimental than a naturally occurring stimulus within nature. The gods themselves are working within, and are a part of, the natural world. As such they are unified in that the govern the world.

Therefore piety becomes less about what is pleasing to the gods, are more to the point to what adheres to the laws of nature, or divine law (for these I see inseperable). Humanity for all of its freedom of will and mind, is one specie of all those that occupy the earth that willfully acts against what is natural. Instead of adapting to our environment we go to all lengths to change the environment to suite our needs (and often with disastrous consequences). Humans murder each other, cannibalize each other, enslave each other. We do things to other members of our own species that other species just typically don’t do. Note of course that I did not include warfare in this list…there is a reason for it, though we have a talent for taking it to extremes, fighting over territory, resources, and the ability to survive and pass one one’s genetic material is something that occurs widely through nature.

Therefore, though warfare can be distasteful via the sacrifice of life that it takes (for which we get the poetic references to Ares as being the most detested of the gods), it is not contrary to nature, nor is the activity of warfare considered impious. However, how it is carried out may be impious as we see in illustrations from the Iliad, where impious activity, that which is counter to divine law, is punished. The greed of Agamemnon is punished, the violation of the guest-host relationship on the part of Paris too is punished, and the murder of supplicants. There is a rather long list of activity that goes on within the text in which we have a violation that is rewarded with punishment. To obey divine law, and hence too the established customs, and laws of the land comprises that which is a pious life. We can infer this from the Delphic Maxims which address what one must do to live a good life. If a life is good, then as we know from Socrates that a good life is a pious life which is blessed by the gods (my summation). As such the Delphic Maxims are a set of moral “laws” for leading a pious life…much of which have to do with obeying customs, refraining from the shedding of kin’s blood or violations upon each other such as rape and murder, observing acts of charity, etc.

In short I would say that piety is the adherence to natural/divine law, social law (aka customs and traditions), and the law of the land if it is just. I add that tag at the end there because there is a certain obligation to refrain from participating in something that is  unjust. An unjust law may typically be identified as one which goes against the natural or divine laws…as such laws which punish violation against each other would be, to my thinking, in adherence to natural/divine law. However, if a law is unjust, one who follows the law is equally guilty of being contrary to natural/divine law…and to follow such a law, knowing that it is unjust, is to act impiously.

For this reason I do think that it is necessary to read Euthyphro and Apology together, as the discussion on piety, which occurs before the courtroom into which Socrates is to enter, essentially on the charges of impiety, is more or less expanded in Apology in which Socrates addresses the fact that since he does in fact believe in the gods, no law has been broken…and goes on to address instances where he did break laws by refusing to take part in unjust activity…and revealing himself to be, contrary to the charges of impiety, as a person of great piety. Yet, as we see he does not try to wiggle out of the laws, nor of pronouncements that are made in the legal system. He adheres to them, and rebukes any idea of fleeing or escape from the consequences as we see in Crito. As such he adheres to legal system, which is established by the gods, and the consequences of his challenges to the system of things (for as he said, he would not promise to not do the same as he had been doing before in his interactions and speech) as pronounced by his peers.

Therefore by taking note of all of this mental wandering of mine, I came to the conclusion that to live piously I would adhere to law, challenge that which is unjust or unreasonable in order to promote change, take part in the judicial system and my civic responsibilities, and adhere to the cultural customs (which includes not only that of my homeland but also the adopted culture that I have assumed upon embracing Hellenismos), and to adhere to the Delphic Maximums as closely as I can as an outline of natural/divine law. This, to me, is piety inspired from reading Euthyphro and Apology.

Advertisements

Sex and the Gods

I know I have talked of this before but it seems that this issue like to rear its head every now and then, and when it does it makes me want to reiterrate these points. In fact I am going to be more blunt in this post than I have been in the past, just because I am tired of hearing the argument.

There seems to be a mistaken belief that is floating around that the Hellenic gods champion, patron or are linked to specific sexual identities. Therefore you end up having some members of the LGBT community celebrating certain gods as homosexual deities (examples of this would be Dionysos, Apollon—especially in regards to the Hyakinthos myths, and Artemis, among others), and then you have some heterosexual screaming their heads off that such and such a god isn’t homosexual, and at times even aggressively ignoring the myths (and associated festivals) in which a god appears to be having a homosexual (or in reverse for the other side of the fence…heterosexual) relationship when this was never an issue for the ancient Hellenes. It really is a sign of the modern culture in which we can be so obsessed with sex-identity that we feel a need to *claim* gods as being a part of our own sexual identities.

Yet when it comes right down to it, it doesn’t make sense on either sides of the fence. The gods don’t possesses biological bodies, they don’t possesses chemical hormones, they don’t literally have forms in the way that we think of it….therefore claiming any specific sexual orientation is rather ridiculous. The gods love, they experience attraction through Eros, and the love and union is going to be carried out on a spiritual level. The soul can’t be said to be strictly female or male, for which I think hermaphroditic images is more closely related to our spiritual existance. Truly though when you get right down it to the souls are aligned, in relationship to the gods, with having a receptive nature (therefore being symbolically feminine as we see in the myth of Psykhe) because we desire to receive the union with the gods. Otherwise I must say that we have no spiritual sexual orientation, and we possess many lives in which we may experience life as male or female, and probably a variety of sexual orientations over the course of our lifetimes.

As such to ignore male or female loves of the gods (depending on your stance) is just a matter of cutting off the nose to spite the face. Those of Kyrene, who celebrate the nupitals between the nymph Kyrene and Apollon were known to celebrate in the Hyakinthia. It is a testimony that the gods were not divided upon lines of sexual preference, and I really don’t see why it should be such an issue today that people feel the need to do so. The myths in which the gods love mortals (regardless of the biological gender of said mortal in myths) are those which worshipers should take in delight and reverence because they serve as messages to our own souls. The gods love humanity.

Compassion

Having read this post by Niadis, I was inspired to write more in depth about how passion relates to my spirituality and personal world view, as well as my devotion to Apollon. I never really put much thought into it, but compassion plays a large part in who I am and how identify with the world around me. I really think that is part of what drew me out of the so-called hermitage of my teen years and early twenties into being a part of my communities, because there is a part of me that just feels an instrinsic need to be of some assistance. By all means I can still hermit myself with the best of them and find a necessity in having a certain amount of my time to myself and in peace for thought, worship and study. However, it is funny that these same instinctual needs were ones that caused me to withdraw into myself at a young age.

I have always possessed a degree of empathy for others, and also had sensitive feelings in my childhood. So when others were hurting I also felt as if I were hurting. Even accidentally hurting a friend’s feelings would have me tearing up in a matter of seconds afterwards. But the result was that I often also got rejected by those same people that I felt close to, and in the end I stopped trying to make friends by the time I was a preteen in order to emotionally distance myself from others. Likewise the anxiety of other people affected me something awful. I hated being in a room with full of students during exam time…if my own anxiety wasn’t enough it was compounded by the high level of collective anxiety premeating the room. I also started to feel negatively impacted by crowds in general and would be supremly uncomfortable in a large gathering of individuals by the time I entered highschool. Therefore the solitude of my self imposed type of hermitage in which I spent all time when I didn’t have to be in class locked in my bedroom with a pile of books was something I found by in large preferable. Even the isolations that I incurred my devotional hikes through the woods of the national park that infringed into the part of the city I was living in during my highschool years, hikes engineered to bring me closer to Artemis, acted as a kind of refuge. All of it together worked as a system of refuges to seperate myself from people in general and the need to experience compassion. In some ways it was good to have this period of my life devoted to learning about myself, but it isn’t a state that I would recommend for permanence.

As a follower of Apollon, I see the face of the good in acts of compassion for others. Of course I extend this to include the wild creatures loved by his twin but it is especially particular of feeling compassion towards fellow human beings. He is a god who purifies people and ultimately turns no one away from his temple that have approached to be purified, even if such purifications have attached a sentence of expultion from one’s native home (as in some cases where the gods has sentenced those with blood guilt to remote colonies and so being forced into become a productive members of a fledging society) I have never heard of anyone being permanently turned away who was in need of purification. Well not outside the myth of Herakles that is, but I believe that this myth serves a particular function and is not a commentary on the purifications carried out at the temple. In fact if anything the fact that the hero flew into such a rage about not being allowed purification by the misguided priest shows that such a refusal was unheard of. By I digress.

Apollon’s compassion can also be evident in the way that he supports humanity in general. Not only did he provide a message of Zeus’ will to humanity (though he was constrained by certain limits in what he coul reveal), he is also a god who stood up to his father for the sake of humanity. Such case we can see directly in the myth which Zeus was contemplating destroying all of humanity and starting fresh, yet Apollon by his arts convinced him otherwise. He beseeches on behalf of humanity. And the fact can also be seen in part indirectly in the myth of Asklepios whom Apollon gave the art of medicine so that all humanity could benefit in order to escape sickness and disease that we are able to maintain and regain good health. The rage of rebellion into which Apollon flies when his son is killed by Zeus is actually quite severe too as he retaliates against his father. Though this can be seen as a general anger of a father whose son was killed, I think it speakers to greater levels than that since it was not uncommon for Zeus to kill the mortal children of gods that threatened the order of things…as Phaeton, the sun of Helios was likewise destroyed, so Asklepios was destroyed for “robbing Hades” by bringing back the dead. Apollon’s anger against his father though is terrible, which leads me to suspect that it is the lost of his son’s art and his gift toward to humanity that may also be part of the issue, that he destroys the cyclops which makes his father’s lightening bolts. According to myth, relayed by Apollodoros in his the Library, Zeus was so enraged by this unlikely rebellion from Apollon (who is about as close to his father as Athena) that he is inclined to throw Apollon into Tartarus….except he changes his mind after the intervention of Leto, and so instead Apollon is exiled into slavery.

Slavery to mortals, specifically being inslaved to king Admetus but we can see it specifically that he is under the yoke of mortality, probably promotes the greatest compassion because he is the only god of all the Olympians who is flung into mortal form with all of its weaknesses. And is also, as a slave, is dependent on human spirit and generosity. So he was enslaved to a very good kind, and his goodness caused Apollon to love him greatly and bestow on him all gifts (the multiplication of his flocks and heards…that by which wealth was measured in ancient times…according to the playright Euripedes in his play Aclestis. He even gives Admetus a way to escape death, though the solution itself wasn’t to Apollon’s liking if we consider how he rails at death for coming for the youthful Aclestis. It is through such myths that we can truly understand his generosity and regard for humanity….and particularly in the qualities of goodness within humanity which he rewards among which would be fairness and compassion. Certainly the Delphic Maxims appear to touch on the ideas of compassion. It is therefore quite unsurprising that he is the leader of the muses, who bring great gifts to humanity, the grandfather of Hygeia (good health), nor that in Delphi he was described by Pausanias as holding the graces in his hand.

In fashion I consider my fascination with natural/herbal medicine to be attached to the idea of the compassion of Apollon. Though herbs arise from the bounty of nature, the method of healing by medicine derived from them (the art of pharmacy) is of his domain. He reveals the purpose for each plant in how they may be combined and administered to treat certain ailments. Therefore since my nature is aligned to it, as a mature adult I know embrace the more compassion aspects of my nature, including the displays of empathy which often leave me teary-eyed. Even if I make some people crazy with my spontaneous care-giving. Rather than being much of annoyance to me anymore, I see it as positive thing in my life and in my devotion to Apollon.

Mnemosyne

In myth Mnemosyne is the titanide of memory, represented as one of the springs of the underworld together with Lethe. In the Orphic golden tablets the initiate is bid to drink not of Lethe but of Mnemosyne and so retain all memory in the next world. She is also the mother of the nine muses by Zeus who made time stand still so that he could enjoy many nights in her bed with none the wiser for it. The Muses themselves can be seen as extensions of Mnemosyne in so much that their arts require touching into memory. Thus history is the memory of humanity, and astronomy is the memory of the movement and order of the cosmos, poetry expresses the memory of the heart whereas epic poetry preserves the memory of the culture and the deeds of heroes. The sacred art of dance is the memory of the divine origin of movement.

All of her daughters proceed from the principle of memory and all express the cosmos is various measures as the arts and sciences are in themselves a divine product, a gift to the gods to humanity that we may understand ourselves (and therefore provide spiritual growth) and understand our world and nature (and therefore increase our understanding of our relationship with the world around us which encourages too growth of the civilization). Memory is knowledge, which is further acredited to her as the mother of language for our language is the tools which preserves knowledge as well as formulates bonds between peoples by the degree of communication that it allows. It seems to be believed that this places Mnemosyne in relation to a time before the written word and particularly bestowed her blessings upon storytellers, poets and musicians who by memorization were best able to preserve and impart knowledge. However, I would argue that rather she maintains the record of all things, which includes the record of our own journeies of our soul which is imprinted with in us. It may also refer to what some scholars call world memory, or collective memory of humanity in which we see from different parts of the world the appearance of similar ideas and philosophies which have evolved seperately. I am not sure I follow the idea of the collective human memory, but I do think that there is a divine pattern which  prevades through nature that echoes on a larger scale what occurs within. Therefore the external and internal are as mirrors to each other. Mnemosyne is as the looking glass that we can perceive this reflection. She allows us to see ourselves in the divine order of the world and understand our own spiritual movement and existance through the laws of nature.

So too do philosophers put great stock in the reflection of the mind for one’s spirituality. Pythagoreas suggested that all before sleeping spend time to reflect upon the day that has passed for this mental reflection encourages the internal reflection of the soul. I have even spent hours reflecting on scenes from my life even my youngest childhood memories, drawing up the scene in mind of what I saw, how I felt (even so much to feel the pull at my heart at some painful memory) to preserve in clarity. There are those who even remember things that they believe are connected to their past lives, memories which rise with necessity. The power of Mnemosyne is the greatest gift to the soul, and the soul which is progressing draws from her and denies itself forgetfulness (Lethe). So in our lives we draw on memory, even that which is painful, for our own progress in this life rather than banish things into the shadows of forgetfulness. Sometimes we may want to forget, but forgetting doesn’t teach us anything…and so is the lesson from Clio, the daughter of Mnemosyne, the Muse of History. The one who forgets their history is doomed to repeat it.

Therefor if Mnemosyne is as the clear still water, the looking glass it is natural that her daughters are led by light, by Apollon. For it is the reflection of light on the looking glass that we can clearly perceive. Apollon’s illumination directs us towards this inspection of the self, and the understanding of the self though nature, for he reveals all. Quite appropriate too then that both Mnemosyne and Apollon are associated with the oracle, the divine messages for in acting together they bring illumination to the self, to our souls. And so even if the Muses may celebrate to the presence of Dionysos, the divine soul…the son of Zeus, they follow the path of light in the procession of Apollon. May memory’s interspection illuminated by the holy light bring wisdom upon us.

regarding Fear

Every now and then I see something new where someone is talking about the dark side of nature, and that often gets me thinking about what they mean by this terms, since I don’t see nature as possessing a “dark side”..nature just as it is, with patterns of life and death, evolution and change. But I don’t consider anything of the natural world to possess a “dark side.” Rather the only such darkness that I see as such is the kind that exists by a disruption of nature, whether that is in the natural world or in the nature of the thing. A corruption of the natural state, which I referred to in my post of Apollon as a healing god. Such a dark side, being as it is, isn’t part of the natural world, but is a potential that is carried in imperfect beings. Within people this can exist as a miasma on a person, or willfully blind ignorance that feed potential for aggression and cruelity. The Dark Ages typically makes a great case for this in which knowledge was lost or surpressed, superstition reigned in fervor, and autrocities frequently committed. Examples of Medieval art, with woefully pitiless divine beings displayed, reflects a view of the world encased in a veil of misery. Therefore Dark Ages have been properly named. It is not about the dark side of nature, but a corruption in nature (via sliding backwards and de-evolving of civilization and humanity)  and the reign of superstition and terrors over reason.

Therefore that brings me to what I think that most people mean by “dark side”, that which imbues a sense of fear in mortals. Typically this is addressed to our own state of mortality and the fragile state of our existance. As death is part of nature I imagine that this is typically what is referred to be dark side. However, I will say that death is not a dark side of nature, but rather an unreasonable fear of death that a person can hold within them. I happen to like displays such as from Mexico, which celebrate death and the images of death. They go from the unlooming unknown, to a celebration of life and our connections to our family, our ancestors…and acknowledge that one day we too will be as they are to give way to new life. Therefore this is darkness, this is embracing a light of revelation of the truth of nature….all things of earth must eventually cease that something new can rise. Life must progress forward. By recognizing this, whatever supersitious fear we may have of death and dying flees too, though that doesn’t make us any eager to race into the void of the great unknown.

Now I must confess, that it may seem I am treating this topic of death rather flippantly, but I am speaking also from personal experience. I am not in any hurry to die by any means, in fact I will cling to life as any deep rooted vine (something I have proven in my own life experience). But as someone who has been technically dead for a couple of minutes before being revived (and coming out of coma I was never supposed to come out of according to doctors–even my mother had been advised to fly down and say goodbye because my family were told that I would never come off of life support…..HA I say to them!), I had my own experiences that has led to me being unafraid of the eventuality.

So again I must return to the topic of fear. Fear itself can be a result from ignorance as we have seen, but that does not make fear in itself a evil or dark thing. In fact our own life-saving impulses that nature gave us (the ol’ fight or flight deal) is quite handy for survival. And several gods are attributed to bringing fear, but that doesn’t make these gods dark either. In the Hellenic religion Fear is attributed as a son of Ares, and Fear is often accompanied by his less reasonable brother Panic. In war of course they serve useful purposes. A healthy amount of fear will keep one from behaving recklessly with disregard for the lives of oneself or others, and inspiring fear in the opponent hopes for a hasty end to a battle by the pulling back of the opposing side. Panic on the other hand is another matter for it encourage reckless departure and lacks pretty much no reasoning faculties. Panic is pure instinctual uncontrolled reaction to the presence of Fear.

In short Fear is a response that is triggered by a disruption to our environment. That said, it is also about a mastery of fear rather than being led by fear into potential states of panic (and though this instinctual flight can be enormously beneficial to self preservation that is experienced by all living things when they feel their lives threatened…it is by and far not something noble). Therefore the mastery of fear, and thus also the control of one’s panic impulses, is something I think that is quite vital. In order to progress forward, or even in moments that lay in the balance of success or failure, we all come to points where we need a master our fears (an many of which are quite illogical fears). At this point we are able move forward, and to be victorious.

Naturally, there is also a certain love of fear, or rather a love of being scared in a controlled environment. For ages people have told each other scary stories filled with phantoms, monsters etc. It is no less true today whereas perhaps the campfire ghost stories are a bit less told but horror has a booming industry. These allows us to be able to take our fear out and face it directly, feel the endorphins hit us as the response is triggered, and then let it pass. It is carthatic as much as dramas and tragedies allow us to cry. For this purpose too I am very selective about what I enjoy in horror movies….it is never about blood and gore, in fact I can do without it. Some horror movies are little more than that and all they achieve to do is make my skin crawl with disgust. There can be not a drop of blood involved, but if the story is right then it works. And some of them no longer scare me, but rather give me an oppertunity to laugh at old fears.

So fear has a place, but I have yet to see a “dark side” of nature.

the cup of the gods

This post is inspired from a conversation from an interfaith community regarding a question about drunkeness on Olympos. Though my opinion wasn’t very popular among the general pagan community as far as I could see, I do think it was relevant when taken from the perspective of ancient Hellenic practices and myth. My point is a rather simple one…there is no drunken debauchery-frat party thing that can be or should be associated with the Olympians….because the Olympians don’t need wine. There are few instances where you see Olympians imbibing in wine in myth. One is when Hephaistos fell from Olympos, Dionysos guided him back (presumably wine was involved), and the most tell one in which wine was banned from Olympos because Dionysos made Aphrodite drunk on it and their union produced Priapus. Of course there is nothing wrong with Priapus in general, despite being rather a bit of a trouble maker in myths when it comes to spouses…and he was linked both to the worship of Dionysos and that of Apollon as in some regions Apollon held the epithet Priapos. Rather this speaks from a mythical setting, that wine itself is not part of Olympos…and this may have something to do with the nature of wine itself.

In an earlier post about Dionysos I spoke of how wine is a symbol of the divine essence, and that upon consuming wine a person temporarily was possessed with this essence (for lack of better words) which brought about a mind-altering experience that simulated a closeness to the divine state. That said, lesser gods and divine beings could reasonably enjoy it too in order to feel a temporary elevation to a higher state themselves (Olympus being the highest state which is probably why it is represented as a mountain…it is the summit of being for our world). Plato in his Phaedrus, when he is talking about the companies of the gods he illustrates that there are different levels of height to which different beings can achieve, and that certain beings can only go to so high, but only the chariot of the Olympians can travel all the way to Olympos. Similarly no one can go to Olympos without being brought there by the gods. I recall as a child watching an animated retelling of the story of Bellephron, and how shocked I had been when he decided to take it upon himself to travel, via Pegasus, to Olympos since he was irritated that for all his heroism that the gods had not invited him there. Pegasus represents the possibility of travel to Olympos, though Bellephron did not make it. But Pegasus belongs to the gods, not to mankind, and therefore afterward only journeyed as the gods directed. So in my long about manner this saying that there is a great distinction of the different heights…and the heighest of heights…Olympos. Therefore it is reasonable that wine, the substance of Dionysos..the hier of Zeus, would be enjoyed by non-Olympians (thus enjoyed by satyrs, and even the Erinyes were made drunk by Apollon in order to ease their furious intent and induce peaceful slumber), and especially enjoyed among mortals.

However, this altering substance is not necessary for Olympos. The Olympians infact are described as drinking ambrosia. So whereas wine represented the divine essence symbolically, the ambrosia is divine. When reading the homeric hymn to Apollon we read how instead of suckling from his mother that he was fed Ambrosia…by Themis I believe….and straight away leapt from his infant wrappings and golden chords that bound them. Even in the Iliad we can see ambrosia among the gods being treated similar to the wine among mortals, that it was shared among each other when gathered together, as when injured, Zeus gave Ares ambrosia to drink after his wounds were healed and Ares refrained anymore from the battle. That said the gods prefer wine as their offering from mortals typically, though this doesn’t seem to the case with most goddesses whereas wine as not offered or entered the ritual. The exception may be Aphrodite, who may also be alluded to by the myth of Dionysos getting her drunk on wine. There was also the ritual of Thesmophoria in which women gathered in secret together, with casks of wine (which Aristophanes refers to in his play Thesmophoriazuseia). But for the most part these are rare exceptions.

Of course this also echoes a practice of women often not being permitted to drink wine. I am guessing this has something to do with the receptivity of women. Recall reader that in another post I said that women are more easily engaged in entering a love relationship with the gods. Similarily the first followers of Dionysos were women, and his maenads nearly terrifying with their possession of divine madness. Men were supsicious and slower to embrace the god, which we see from Euripedes’ Bacchanalia, but once engaged they too enjoyed it passionately. Even so, the ancient Hellenes cut the wine with water, because raw wine was considered too dangerous as we can see from the myth of the introduction of the grapevine by Dionysos. But that the Olympians in general (perhaps the male half in any case) show a preference for wine among all other offerngs we can infer from the myth of the contest of Dionysos and Aristaios. Each made their offerings to the Olympians. Aristaios offered honey (also a symbol of immortality) from his bees, and Dionysos offered wine. The gods found the offering of Dionysos to be superior, but thereafter Aristaios was the first who took to combining the two substances together.

However, that the Olympians prefered the wine, doesn’t not necessarily mean that they are drinking it. The wine is offered into the fire…the essence..the vapors that rise…this is what the Olympian gods enjoy from our offerings. The smoke. Therefore they are only receiving a portion, perhaps the better portion, of the wine. When I pour wine as a libation into my oil warmer, it is like a delightful perfume wafting up. But this does not mean that the gods are up on Olympos getting drunk and partying. They exist in a state of bliss and happiness which wine can only echo imperfectly. They may enjoy the offering of the substance, but it doesn’t impact the state that they enjoy. However, this does not mean that they are existing in a constant state of soberiety either. They are in a bliss that doesn’t need alcohol, because they are in the heighest state. Description of the court at Olympos though are hardly boring displays, but filled with music, dance and joy as we can infer from the Homeric Hymn to Apollon. In the end we are unable to understand the perfect happiness of the state of the gods, but for a moment we can feel a little closer with a drop of wine.

regarding god-spouses

There has recently been a lengthy conversation on the matter of what is called god-spouses (a term which I have never been particular fond since I prefer bridal mysticism myself but that is neither here nor there) but I thought to plainly write out my thoughts on the subject since there has been alot of back and forth about it. Alot of this will be repetetive of earlier posts of mine, but you my dear readers who have been around a while will have to forgive me for that…I will repeat for the sake of clarity.

1. What is a god-spouse? My view on bridal mysticism is rather exact. It is not something that I view as particularly special as I think it is a natural evolutionary spiritual matter that the soul at some points feels attraction towards and seeks union with the god which they follow. In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates spends time speaking of the division of divine beings, and souls of mortal followers being at the lower levels of these great companies of the Olympians. He also spends time speaking of the chariot of the soul, and how the influence of Eros causes the soul to become “feathered” in response to love…the soul essentially becomes winged and gains greater ability to rise to higher levels, in order to draw closer to the god in question…the focus of their love. I do believe that attraction works in a manner that influences both ways. False love, related to the so-called lead dart of Eros, but I don’t think it has anything in particular to do with Eros specifically because Eros is love and false love cannot in good conscience be called love and therefore cannot come from Eros, causes the one who is “loved” to reject the “lover”. However the work of Eros logically influences both parties, and therefore the attraction goes both ways, and the soul of loved reflects some small measure of the qualities of the god which is loved. Therefore bridal mysticism is an acknowledgement, as far as I can see it, of the attraction, the work of Eros taking place. It is an affirmation and real world devotion to the god that acknowledges the place of the god within the life of the “follower.”  It is rarely talked about in a very direct manner, sometimes out of fear of attack from other worshipers, but also because it is a very personal experience that the details would be considered no one’s buisness. Some people formalize such recognition through ceremony which they may consider their “wedding” and anniversary, but this is generally not necessary and is done more out of celebration and occassion. This being a god will have many many many “brides” (both biologically male and female, though some believe that this is an easier condition for females to embrace). There is no true wife of any god. This connects to my post about honoring mythic lovers by followers of the god. Any person at any given time may be inspired by Eros. That said in myth it is very rare for a person to be considered a bride of a god until after that person has been removed from their mortal lives (carried off by the god, killed by the god etc).

2. Chastity? This was an issue I was uncertain on for some time, but again Plato had it figured out. Once again we can return to Phaedrus, and he speaks there that the soul, which has been very slowly absorbing some characteristics of the god and has become aligned towards him, will naturally fall in love with another person who likewise exhibits traits of the god. Therein the two souls, by loving the element of the divine within each other, can enhance their own personal development by affirming and adjusting the alignment within each other through coinfluence during life that assists in this process of drawing closer to union with the god which is what the soul ultimately desires.

3. Sex? Sex in myth serves as allegory, the gods are not biological. Humans, as biological beings, however, may interpret instances of drawing closer to the deity…uh moments of inspiration for example if you will…as of high pleasure and happiness. This links in a manner to my post about Dionysos who is linked to divine possession, sex, fertility and happiness. This doesn’t mean literal sex though, and I agree with Plutarch when he says that the gods may dwell with those that they love, but it is not a sexual love. It is the realm of Aphrodite Ourania, heavenly love. The sexual component is an allegory for the influence of the divine upon the mortal soul. Therefore what pleasure one may feel during an intense experience with the gods is a personal reaction. A geat comparison that reflects this is a scene from Agamemnon in which Cassandra is speaking of what she is feeling from the embrace of the god. Apollon is not getting down with her on the palace floor, but rather she is having a physical response to his touch which is overwhelming her.

4. multiple divine spouses? I really don’t feel that this is possible myself for reasons I think are pretty clear above. Since I think it has to do with being in a specific spiritual following to a specific god (like I had spoken of too in my post about priests(essses) I think that other instances of attraction may arise instances of devotion but I don’t think one can possibly experience this kind of drawing towards multiple gods. And since I think the idea of instances of divinely inspired prophecy, poetry etc is also linked to such kinds of relationships in some way or another, it also seems unlikely that a person can be an oracle of many gods if they can in fact act in such a manner. However, it is important to remember that certain traits manifested differently. Apollon had a lover whom he offered his choice of gifts, and his lover chose the medical talents of Apollon’s domain. So that said, not every “bride” of a god will be a prophet of some kind, but may be inspired in different areas of the god’s domain where they may excell.

5. Goddesses? Goddesses were by in large not permitted to mingle with mortals. Therefore there are interesting cases where those souls that are enjoined with a goddess (and therefore may bear some great mythic link to the goddess or bear some representation of her name for instance) dont’ join with the goddess and are unable to, but may be united with a god associated to the goddess. A fascinating thing I came across was another version of the myth of Callisto in which Zeus seduced her, not in the form of Artemis, but in the form of Apollon. This makes an interesting connection between possible relationships between followers of Artemis and her twin Apollon for instance. The soul is attracted to the goddess and loves the goddess, but enjoys union with the god associated to her if we take considerations from the myths. There are after all an equal number of male and female gods among the Olympians which is important.

So those are my views on the subject in plainly layed out terms with omition of personal details which I don’t think are necessary. It is a normal spiritual process, but is a personal experience which everyone may evetually experience at one point or another. It doesn’t give the person involved any great role and presidence in any community really because such close relationships are of a personal impact that has nothing really to do with anyone else. Even in the case of oracles, with the exception of famous oracular centers which were important because of the place rather than the oracle her(or him)self, most diviners and oracles of lesser status probably didn’t garner as mch attention or “buisness” and therefore their personal interactions with the deity were likely kept on a personal level that had little to do with anyone else. This can be said too of great poets and musicians who play out the art that is born of their soul from moments of closeness with the god in which they are inspired….and their art becoming as a child born of these moments….bringing beauty, remedies, new innovations etc, but other than the appreciation of their art do not othewise interact between the deity and the rest of the world. So I think it is a mistake to use the oracle model as an absolute example. Largely such experiences are entirely personally and are often only talked about indirectly or shown even less directly via what is “born” from it.