An Appeal to Modern Writers, Mythologists, Seers, Oracles, Diviners, and Devotees of the Gods

iced coffee

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been silent here since I started my MFA program, largely because the moũsai (muses) and my work ethic have given me little rest.  But I was deeply moved to return when I came upon the stories of a modern writer.  I just can’t wait to share this!  Let me introduce him:

Eric Burns of Banter Latte described why and (perhaps more importantly) how we need to create our own mythology in a way that it can live in harmony with science (or at least not contradict it too badly) and reflect the world today.  At risk of obscuring his message, I’ll simply quote his first article on the subject “Mythology of the Modern World: Introduction and Coffee” in its entirety below.  I recommend starting there, and then checking out all of his modern myths.  Also check out the comments – they’re both amusing and enlightening – he often explains his choice of names for particular gods and loci.  My only regret is that he seems to have stopped writing in 2007, which leaves me both unsatisfied but also compelled to carry this on further.  You can find more of his stories and essays on modern mythology in the side panel there under the Blogroll or under the Must Read! header, but I’ll probably repost my favorites here too.

When you’ve read this appeal, consider your role in modernizing mythology.  What myths would you tell to explain modern mysteries?  How would you retell the old myths in a way that’s relevant today? Continue reading

Autumn Update

You may have been wondering what happened during this lapse of time since the last article posted to Helleneste kai Grammateus.  The truth is there has been a lot.  Happening, that is.  I won’t bog down this article with the full details of everything, but this will be an overview for upcoming posts…

Hellenion had its Annual General Meeting which kept my hands, mind, and emotional capacity more than full.

Concurrent with that, our family lost a strong friend of 14 years which sent me into a deep immobilizing funk of guilt and regret.  Our friend was one of the two family cats my husband and I took into our home four years ago when my side split households across the country.  He was declining sharply due to kidney failure and we were forced to decide to put him down.  It felt like pulling the plug on a child, but one that couldn’t communicate his pain.  We are still coping with the loss.

I’m also now in my last two weeks of a class on digital painting.  That is, painting on the computer with Corel Painter.  I promise I’ll post a link to one piece I did which Hellenic Polytheists will enjoy: Hestia.  I felt moved by Her to paint it.  I’m considering selling prints of it to those in the polytheistic community if there’s enough interest.

I am also applying to the graduate program at the Academy of Art University in SF for a MFA in Illustration (Concept Art track).  This has required a lot of attention to cultivating my portfolio.

And then there was Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday.  Perhaps its approach was why I was compelled to paint Hestia as it is certainly Her holiday.  Family and friends gathered to give feast and give thanks as winter approaches and they spend all day over the oven cooking together.  What could celebrate the hearth more?  My husband and I went out of town for the week and celebrated twice with his family (his parents are divorced) and spent time with his brother, brother’s fiance, and our nephew (who is now three years old and both charming and brilliant).  Then we flew back and entertained my parents and family and friends for a third Thanksgiving feast (well, three of those really as friend and relatives came at three separate times).  What can I say?  We have much to be thankful for.

Now I am taking a deep breath and getting back into the groove.  As usual, I post not by a schedule or routine, but when something of interest begs to be shared and discussed.  Next, I’ll share some advice I posted at MisticWicks concerning finding a patron (or matron) deity.

From Atheism to Paganism

Atheist Badge

Atheist Badge via Wikipedia

The issue of returning to Paganism from Atheism came up in a thread on MysticWicks.com:

…It’s been years since I’ve been a “practicing” pagan, and I largely consider myself a non-theist these days. However, I don’t particularly want to be.

I was happiest when I felt a strong spiritual connection, and I generally had a positive outlook, because I felt in control of my life via magic and ritual, and cared for by the Divine.

I first started falling away from it when my husband and I moved in together. (I officially considered myself a pagan at 16, moved out of my parents house at 19, and am currently 25.) It seems so strange, but living with my conservative parents, it was so much easier to do rituals… even if most of my supplies and books were hidden away, I spent every night alone in my room, and had all the privacy I wanted. Not that my husband minds, but I just don’t like the idea of running off to the bedroom (or sending him and the cats to the bedroom, as he has suggested) if I want to do a ritual. I feel timed, and a bit awkward knowing someone is aware of what I’m doing, when I consider it private. (A bit like talking through the bathroom door…)

I’ve spent so much time as a cynical atheist, and defending the (shocking!) idea of not believing in God to a few nosy co-workers, that I almost feel… too stubborn? to go back to believing in a higher power. I feel like it’s conceding or something.

I’m not opposed to the idea of non-theist witchcraft, as there are still some “spiritual” things I believe in (karma, energy, etc.) without believing in God, but believing in magic without a higher power seems almost blasphemous to me. Egotistical, at least. When I would do rituals, I would consider it a prayer or a request, not “controlling” the energy and elements myself… – humangirl

My advice for her, and others, considering returning to paganism:

It took me time to adjustment to practicing rituals while living with my husband and negotiate the space-sharing issues. So I know what that feels like – to feel self-conscious while living with another person, even one who is supportive and understanding of your practices.

There is a bit of pride wrapped up in being Atheist because that involves a level of certitude; it’s a personal certitude that takes the place of faith in one or more deities outside of oneself, and that can require significant pride to maintain. I say this having been an Atheist.  It was indeed a humbling experience to first doubt that there is nothing outside of the concrete physical world, and later to believe in something more.

If you are not certain about the existence of any deities, well, then you’re Agnostic. And that’s fine.  But if you don’t believe in gods in any way, shape, or form, you can still have other ideas about how the world works.  Example: belief in Feng Shui for example doesn’t involve any kind of deity, yet it’s nearly magical the way it functions through the direction and cultivation of Chi.

It’s really going to take some self-reflection for you to find out what you believe. Neither I, nor anyone else, can tell you what to believe.  But once you do realize what your belief is, then you just need to come to terms with it. If you are changing your mind, what is there to be embarrassed about? People don’t stop learning or growing, they continue to do so throughout their entire lives.

Would you consider yourself a Theist?  Atheist?  Monotheist?  Polytheist?  Agnostic?  Have you ever changed from one to the other?  How would you advise someone experiencing a crisis of faith (or crisis of lack of faith)?

Honoring Athene Ergane Agoraia, Patron of Craftsfolk

Pallas Athene

Pallas Athene via Wikipedia

I dedicated my artistic labors to Athene today and asked for Her to be my patron and give her blessing.  With barely cleansed with khernips and an olive oil sponde, I fed an ink-and-watercolor painting I created of Her to the hearth fire as an act of dedication.

This is the ritual outline I designed, based on Old Stones, New Temples by Drew Campbell and hymns researched on theoi.com.:

  • Wash hands and face with lustral water (khernips).
  • Process to the altar or shrine in a respectful manner.
  • Light incense.  Frankincense is generally applicable.
  • Read or recite a hymn.
    • [Orpheus] XXXI. TO PALLAS [ATHENE]A Hymn.
      Only-Begotten, noble race of Jove, blessed and fierce, who joy’st in caves to rove:
      O, warlike Pallas, whose illustrious kind, ineffable and effable we find:
      Magnanimous and fam’d, the rocky height, and groves, and shady mountains thee delight:
      In arms rejoicing, who with Furies dire and wild, the souls of mortals dost inspire.
      Gymnastic virgin of terrific mind, dire Gorgons bane, unmarried, blessed, kind:
      Mother of arts, imperious; understood, rage to the wicked., wisdom to the good:
      Female and male, the arts of war are thine, fanatic, much-form’d dragoness [Drakaina], divine:
      O’er the Phlegrean giants rous’d to ire, thy coursers driving, with destruction dire.
      Sprung from the head of Jove [Tritogeneia], of splendid mien, purger of evils, all-victorious queen.
    • [Homer] XI. TO ATHENA  Of Pallas Athene, guardian of the city, I begin to sing. Dread is she, and with Ares she loves deeds of war, the sack of cities and the shouting and the battle. It is she who saves the people as they go out to war and come back. Hail, goddess, and give us good fortune with happiness!
  • Plunge a burning twig (of rue if possible) from the hearth (hestia) into the clean water.  Sprinkle this water (khernips) over the offerings.
  • Place offerings (olives, flax, wool, crafts, & intellectual labors) before the statue or other sacred symbol.
  • Stand erect with palms up and make your own prayers.
  • Call upon the deity to listen to you, evoking as many epithets as are applicable.
    • Pallas (forename, as in “Pallas Athene”)
    • Glaukopis (Grey-Eyed, Owl-Eyed)
    • Ergane (Workerwoman)
    • Agoraia (of the Market)
    • Khruse (Golden)
    • Meter (Mother)
    • Nikephoros (Victory-Bringing)
    • Polumetis (of Manny Counsels)
    • Promakhos (Champion)
    • Soteria (Savior)
    • Sthenias (Mighty)
  • Remind Her of previous assistance.
  • Make your request and state what you will do in return when it is fulfilled.
  • Pour libation (sponde) into a cup or bowl and place on the altar.
    • Wine (best mixed with water)
    • Milk and Honey
    • Olive Oil (especially appropriate)
  • Process away from the altar.
  • Place offerings in the hearth fire or else outside in a sheltered place by the door or fence.

You are welcome to use this ritual, or modify it, as you like.

What rituals have you performed for Athene?

Dedication to Pallas Athene, Patron of Craftsfolk

Pallas Athene Statue

Pallas Athene Statue via Wiki

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. Continue reading