Poseideia part 2: Zeus, Poseidon and the cosmos

As I was walking home from work (and it was lightly drizzling but I was thankful to be spared a two and a half mile hike through a downpour) I spent much of the trip thinking of the relationship between Poseidon and Zeus, and their interplay in the cosmos and its relationship to the solstice. Part of this thinking was inspired by a question raised by my friend Aj, who queried how Poseidon was involved in this matter of precipitation when much of it is attributed directly to Zeus. I had initially responded that this was due to a overlap in their domains, and that both Poseidon and Zeus had something directly associated to the coming of rain and snow…an interaction in this point. So my first thought was breaking it down into the domains of the three brothers (who have been called the three Zeuses, which suggests an intimate tie and blending between these three gods and their domains).

We know that, according to myth, after overthrowing Kronos the brothers drew lots to see how they would divide the kingdom of their father, which logically enveloped all three of these domains as would have Ouranos whom Kronos had neutered usurped his kingdom as sole hier. The fact that Ouranos, the etheric sea, would have primordially held sway in all three levels we can differ from the fact that Ouranos fertilized Gaia, the first capture of water within the earth, and development of groundwater and the springing of life. Because he could directly embrace the earth we can associate this with the waters and skies that closely touch the earth, and he also presides at the etheric heights even above this. Cosmically this could refer the interaction of ether in three states which includes its development within the solid and liquid states. The liquid state being flexible, transforming, communicative, and intermediary. The solid state being live-giving, solid, transformed by being acted upon, and form as the lowest common state. And the ether being the highest state, transmutable, expansive/big. And this intersects down within the three other levels as ether is within all things. And this is the kingdom of Kronos that the brothers divided among themselves.

Poseidon, as keeper of the intermediary domain and the liquid nature is the connection point of communication between the earthly domain of Hades and the etheric domain of Zeus. For our world this domain includes the liquid-vapor sky, and the seas which are not too distinct from each other. This line seems to blur visually when we look at a sea-line in which the sea appears to disappear into the sky and the often almost perfect reflection, especially in the case of the Mediterannean sea. Ancient philosophy speaking on hunting (which philosopher escapes me at the moment) continues this thought by addressing a commonality between fishing and hunting birds, and specifically refers to birds as creatures which swim through the sky. Likewise a speech of Socrates in one of the dialogues of Plato, I think perhaps Phaedo in which he is addressing the immortality of the soul, speaks of how our skies are like the sea of the blessed isles, and our seas are the skies of lower levels (I am paraphrazing here). This appears to be backed up with later Roman imagery which depicted Persephone rising to rejoin the gods in spring riding on the back of a dolphin, and an ancient poem by Aratos, called  The Phainomena, describes the constellation of delphus (the dolphin) as one which rises with the spring, swimming from the unknown into the heavens again. Thereby we see also the dolphin associated with transference and the process of transformation, which is quite appropriate in the winter season with is the transition between autumn and spring, and an important one in the fertilization of life which I spoke quite a bit in my previous post. And then seems likely that this season would begin with a month named after the god of the intermediary realm, and the movement of gestation which will bring about new birth. It is from these fertile water raises the new sun, and Dionysos is celebrated all the winter long with numerous festivals which celebrate fertility and life.

But as the ether resides in all, and is particular a part of the liquid we also recognize an important interplay between Zeus and Poseidon here. Zeus, as it seems to me, is acting through the domain of Poseidon. The rain is a gift of both gods in a sense, receiving its form and nature via the domain of Poseidon, but initiated in the domain of Zeus, the gatherer of clouds. He is arranging and drawing upon the moisture. It is like the preemptive intelligence acting on the substance in order to cause an action. It is initiated in the domain of Zeus and carried out through the domain of Poseidon where it eventually gathers within the domain of Hades to which much ground water could also be attributed as all things within the earth are so attributed. Therefore the movement of the ether acts upon the liquid to cause an effect upon the matter and the matter in turn transforming. All three brothers are really working within a singular cosmic system.

That we honor Zeus particularly in the autumn proceeding the rainy season during harvest and sewing we are honoring the preemptive domain, divine intelligence acting upon the fertility of the earth. The intent of growing by sewing, even as we may hope that Zeus is sewing the clouds for winter rain or snow. That we honor Poseidon direct after this during the rainy season seems quite natural, even as we indirectly honor Hades in the spring with Persephone’s return to the company of the gods and the earth flourishes with life fed by the ground waters. And the return of the solstice sun just exemplifies the power of Poseidons’ domain (even as intermediary between that of Zeus and Hades) that new life and rebirth is generated. Which seems to be echoed not only by the festival of Dionysos but also by the celebration of Zeus and Hera during the Theogamia which yearly honors their nuptials which speaks indirectly of generation.

So, once more. I wish everyone has had a beautiful Poseideia!


As I am preparing to celebrate Poseideia this afternoon before work (I was going to do it last night after work but caught up doing so much other stuff that I was exhausted by the time I was finished..so we are having it this afternoon) it got me thinking of what Poseideia means and how it is relevant at this time of the year. It doesn’t hurt that I saw a great explanation prepared briefly by Lesley Madytinos about the association of Poseidon with liquid in general and the relevancy of liquid during the winter. And it certainly makes sense as to why Poseidon is greeted with such a major festival in the middle of the winter (not a time of the year to be out on the boat from what I understand) rather than it taking place in the summer when all manner of fish and sealife are pulled from the sea. And while I do not doubt that summer festivals occurred in his honor with this intention the most well known festival celebrated is in winter!

Now it is time to take a minute to reflect on what winter is because different geographic areas have their own idea of what winter means in the northern hemisphere (and the southern hemisphere at the reverse times of the year) and this may cause bias and confusion as to what winter is. But in a nutshell what it is is a gathering and accumulation of liquid in order to fertilize and sustain life through the growing seasons (whenever said growing season is to occur. In more tropical locations this can be instanteously. I was quite startled for instance when I went to Morocco in January, and while there was a bite to the air, it was green with life and delicate little flowers. Not the heavily perfumed hibiscus and blossoms of the summer that I am accustomed to, but delicate little flowers that I would have associated with spring…in the middle of winter. But according to my husband it was winter, not spring. So even then I found myself in a position where I had to reevaluate what I was familiar with in the seasons and not transpose them on another geographic location. Because while I may have associated it with spring, it was not spring and spring in that area brought its own variety and its own flora and fauna…and weather… distinct from winter.

I grew up in Alaska. Now any Alaskan will tell you there are three seasons in Alaska: Summer, Winter and Breakup. We bypass autumn usually (though less anymore from what I understand as winter has been coming later the last decade than it had been during my childhood and young adulthood..but since I am talking of personal experience I will just stick with what I know from when I was there)…it is more of a blink and the trees are bare. And then it snowed from late September until breakup started usually in the beginning of April. Breakup is just that…the snow and ice are breaking and melting in alarming speed. Winter itself though is white and gray, it is wet and cold. Unlike warmer places there are no winter flowers, there isn’t even grass visible except maybe some impressively tall marshgrass poking out from the snow, and the trees are all in deep slumber. Yet even while they are in this deep slumber they are slowly developing (and very slowly..you hardly notice it happening) little tight hard brown buds as they sleep to prepare for spring life. All the while the snow is accumulating and doing two important things. As was pointed out to me, as snow layers, important nitrogen is getting down into the soil which is essential for the fertility of plants and for seeds to grow in the spring. The second is that we were very dependent on meltoff from winter snow. A lacking in snow could cause all kinds of problems. The first problem is that drought will occur which causes wildfires (I recall a rather bad fire around Big Lake when I was in highschool), and the second is related to the first is that drought occurs, drying everything up. Another problem with lack of snow in the winter is dangers of permafrost which causes damage to the ground and delays the growing season until well into the summer. Therefore Alaska is depedent on liquid accumulation (though presented in a frozen form) in the winter.

Now here in North Carolina it is different. There are geese here moving through here in December, delicate flowers, buds on trees, and soft green grass. It is not quite as *green* or flowery as Morocco, but this is also not sitting beside or on the mediteranean sea with the warmer waters, but it is still different that where I grew up at home. Now my first winter in North Carolina was atypical for North Carolina, but now I am seeing a usual North Carolina winter it has caused me to put more thoughts in it. I had some exposure to this when I lived in Arkansas, but Arkansas wasn’t green at all in the winter. Just yellow and muddy (and with all the clay in the mud it was quite a red mess). However small shoots of spring flowers could be seen as early as the end of December. My hyacinth had tiny green spikes poking up from the ground, even though there were few if any discernable flowers. Of course I was aware from a friend’s say so (who had spent all of her life in New Orleans) that in that part of the world where she lived she wouldshake the old leaves from her trees in her yard in the fall and there would be new buds of new leaves growing under the old leaves. But in all cases there is rain, and rain and more rain. Torrentual downpours really in some cases. Flooding can occur, there is a musty smell in the air from wet soil, and this was often occupanied by chilly weather.

So in connecting the commonalities we see one major feature. Water..a liquid welling into the earth. Poseidon’s realm and domain, and place where he overlaps with that of Zeus. And while other creatures and life is sleeping, beneath the frozen rivers of the north the fish are still going on. Sea (and water ingeneral) life is always continuing throughout the year, never sleeping. It may migrate a bit but it is always there. Which is part of what has made them a valuable source of food to people for centuries. Not to mention the fact that it dries and stores easily for winter resources as onhand food. The water and the earth are working continuously with each other to promote fertility for the year, and to give prosperity to us all.

So hail Poseidon, and happy Poseideia to all!