In this month of April, I’ve returned to my roots. I’ve delved into art (particularly production design for media like film, TV, illustrated stories, etc.) through immersion in classes, correspondence with others in the business, reading, and tutorials. The more I learn the more I am energized. This may be my new career.
I am going to pray to Pallas Athene to be my patron, and at the same time, ask for Her blessing. I am going to ask if I can integrate Her symbol of the owl, perhaps as part of water-marking my freelance art, as a way to honor Her. To do this, I will need to perform a ritual.
Let’s back up a moment…
Years ago I went with my family to visit a slice of Europe and my husband-to-be and I splintered off to explore the Louvre. Among many breathtaking sites was the ancient Greek statue of Athene. It was missing the head and arms, but it stood out as more Her than the Roman copies of statues-long-lost. I sat on a bench and focused on it, clearing my mind of all else.
When I opened my eyes, I saw Her.
She was superimposed over the statue. Where the statue’s head and arms were missing, Her head and arms were…like…she was wearing the statue. The statue was carved in such a way that the head would have been looking roughly in the direction of the left shoulder, and that was the way Her head was facing. But when I opened my eyes then, She turned and looked at me.
I was overwhelmed with the impact. A little like the colloquial deer-in-headlights.
I asked many things, all sprouting from the fact that She has always been my favorite deity. As a child when I learned that Paris was called upon to choose between Hera (power), Aphrodite (the most beautiful woman in the world), and Athene (wisdom) and he chose Aphrodite who gave him Helen of Sparta (later of Troy) I was a little upset. Of course he should have chosen wisdom! That is the best gift of all! Power is fleeting, beauty is fading, but wisdom endures.
So at this moment, as She stood over me in the Louvre, I asked how I could devote myself to Her.
She told me to create an image of her and burn it as an offering.
At the time I saw her in the Louvre, I didn’t know much, if anything at all, about ancient Hellenic rites. For all I knew, burning a piece of artwork was simply about giving something up. And yes, that’s part of it. Art is mostly selfish. The artist creates what is most moving to him/herself. The most important gifts I give are art, and that is because I have a personal connection to my creations.
I realized much later the other reasons She had instructed me to do this. Not only is She known as the wise counselor, and crafty in battle, but She is the patron of weavers and potters (by extension visual arts in general). In addition, burning is how Hermes delivers our offering to the gods above. Lastly, by making Her image, and delivering it just to her with no copies or anyone else seeing it, it becomes a completely devotional act. It’s way to understand Her better through studying Her likeness and symbols – through attempting to capture Her essence in an image and imbuing that little part of myself in the creation. It is the ultimate gift to her.
At that time in the Louvre, I wasn’t ready to do this. Not yet. I had a path to follow before arriving to this point, and that included coming to understand what this act meant. She seemed to expect that when I was ready I would do this. Now, I can’t think of a more appropriate time. I am going to commit to it at last.
Is Athena (or Athene) your matron goddess? What are your spiritual experiences with her?