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

Which Gods Can You Trust?

Pagans, particularly modern Hellenic Polytheists and those of the hard polytheistic bent, will usually agree that the gods have their own agendas. This is clear in the earliest mythos of Homer. The gods take sides, have personal alliances, have varied personalities, and while our prayers are sometimes answered they are also sometimes ignored. So how can we trust them?

I visited a forum recently in which a poster asked this:

Currently, I’m a new pagan, only been pagan for about maybe a year or so, but how did you guys know which gods or goddesses to trust?
I realize that upon entering a relationship with any deity, there will be conditions that you will need to abide by.

It’s a very general question that I’m not sure how to phrase properly. However, how do you find a god or goddess who is open-minded, willing to let you ask questions no matter how irreverent, and just think for yourself? – gracesong

Zeus, the king of the gods, and controller of ...

Bust of Zeus via Wikipedia

My answer is this: Read up on the mythology of the god in question before approaching Them. This will give you a good start.

With many gods, you have to show that you are trustworthy first. That trust is built on exchange, you’re much more likely to develop that trust if you hold true to your side of the exchange than if you don’t. If you offer something in exchange for favor, then be worthy of Their trust and follow-through with your offering/sacrifice.

If you’ve done your reading, and keep your side of the exchange, then the rest is trial and error. Some gods will be indifferent to appeasement. Only They know who They favor.

If you’re not sure what to offer, then ask. If you don’t know which god to thank for something unexpected, you can say something like, “Hear me Zeus, if you are the right god to address, thank you for….” or “To whichever god blessed me with….thank you, I leave this offering for you.”

If you’re inclined towards the Hellenic Pantheon, these gods are known to be approachable:

  • Hestia – The hearth and seat of the home, what could be more inviting than that? She gave way to Dionisos and relinquished Her seat on Olympos when he was recognized as a god.
  • Hermes – He may play tricks on you, but he welcomes all kinds of people.
  • Asklepios – Very kind and known to accept all sorts of offerings (including a child’s dice) for healing.
  • Hypnos – The benignant god of sleep.
  • Which gods do you trust, and why?

    The Difference Between Gods and Demi-Gods

    Hades with Cerberus (Heraklion Archaeological ...

    Hades with Cerberus via Wikipedia

    Gods are immortal and have particular domains that They control/embody/personify. Demi-gods, or heros, are descended from god and mortal pairings. Demi-gods have abilities that surpass mortals, can cross domains that gods can not cross (like descending into Hades – something we don’t see any gods but the Chthonic gods do, because it isn’t Their realm [except for Hermes and Iris because They are messenger gods]). Yet mortals don’t have the power of gods and can be subject to the whims of gods. Mortals often have a special relationship with their parent god and sometimes are blessed with long life or immortality by their parent god or gods in general. Sometimes they have/had cult worship as well (as in, people pray[ed] to them in addition to the gods).

    IMHO, Catholocism adapted the practice of worshiping demi-gods/heros to the worship of their saints (not the same figures in mythology/history, but rather, the very human tendency to elevate certain notable individuals to cult status and ascribing a divine quality to them).

    What do you think a demi god is?  What do you think defines a god?

    Honoring Artemis Potnia Theron Fosoros on Mounukhia

    Àrtemis mata Acteó

    Artemis Image by Sebastià Giralt via Flickr

    The Mounukhia festival honors Artemis as her titles Potnia Theron (the Mistress of Beasts) and Artemis Fosforos (Artemis the Light-Bringer). It begins with a pompe in which the people carry round cakes in which small torches, or dadia, are stuck. These cakes are called amphiphontes (round-shining). They are offered to Artemis in thanks for the lives of beasts that were killed during the hunt, and for the light of the moon. Cupcakes studded with birthday candles make a simple and thoughtful substitute. Glaux Nest

    Mounukhia is an ancient Greek festival dedicated to Artemis. It falls between late April and early May in the month of Mounukhion in the ancient Greek calendar. At this festival, Artemis is celebrated in her titles as Potnia Theron (the Mistress of Animals) and Artemis Fosforos (Artemis the Light-Bringer).

    As with all Greek rituals, the participants are to be cleansed of miasma (negative energy) by first washing their hands and asperging themselves with water.

    An offering of thanks is given to Artemis for the lives of beasts that were killed during the hunt, and for the light of the moon, in the form of a meat offering and cakes called amphiphontes. Amphiphonton (the singular) means “shining-all-around” because the cakes are ringed with lit candles to symbolize the light of the moon. The meat that was offered to her was generally a stag or some type of wild game, though modern reconstructionists have been known to sacrifice meat from the market, or even small cakes in the shape of stags.

    The Mounukhia ritual also may include the reading of her hymns, and the telling of myths associated with the Goddess of the Hunt. Richard – The Pagan Village

    Ritual Outline: Honoring Artemis Potnia Theron (Mistress of Beasts) & Fosforos (Light-Bringer)

    Clash of the Titans 2010 Review

    As excited I am to see Greek mythology in modern media (and media inspired by mythology, like Percy Jackson), and as much as I like many of the actors in this movie, I was underwhelmed by this movie. Warning: spoilers below…
    Continue reading

    New Resource Link for Classical Greek Correspondence in E-mail

    Greek to Me (1)

    Greek Handwriting Image by Kim Scarborough via Flickr

    There has been a lot piling up of late. Big internal transitions in Hellenion, renewals for current members, ten new members (each with a customized membership kit to prepare), the civic holidays with family visiting, a seminar to coordinate for work, and because I’m getting the lay-off I’m looking for new work as well. Never the less, I have been working on some draft posts. Below is a quick update:

    I’ve updated the links in the sidebar and on the links page to include a well-researched reference on how to adapt classical Greek (and Roman) salutations and closings for letters to modern day email.

    I’ve used this to update official correspondence as Hellenion’s Grammatues:

    (recipient-dat) para {PARA\} (sender-gen) = To (recipient) from (sender).
    Tois Joe para Alexandra = To Joe from Alexandra

    and

    erromenon se hoi theoi diaphulattoien = May the Gods guard your well-being.

    Today, I’ll close with this:

    Ta d’ alla, seautou epimelou hin hugiaineis. For the rest, take care to stay well.

    The Nature of the Theoi (Gods)

    Persephone and Hades. Tondo of an Attic red-fi...

    Image via Wikipedia

    1. Do the Immortal Olympians exist? Do other deities exist (i.e. HadesPersephone, Hekate, etc.)?

    All of the theoi exist.

    I would categorize myself under panentheist (gods permeate all of nature, but exist apart from nature as well), animist (I believe some things that are complex enough have a soul, like my car, although it is NOT a god), and a form of “hard” polytheism called henopolytheism (devotion to one pantheon without denying the existence of other gods outside of that set – I believe in, but do not follow, my husband’s path in which he is devoted to the Norse gods of his ancestors). With “hard” polytheism described as believing that there are distinct and literal gods and goddesses (or forces) in multiplicity with unique personalities who aren’t reducible to one force or being. I don’t think They are limited to the Olympians, either.

    2. Of those beings that exist, can they interact with the world (e.g. cause real world changes)? Do they?

    Yes. Sometimes They come to us in our dreams and influence us there. In-fact, the gods of dreams are said in the Orphic hymns to deliver messages from the gods. Sometimes the theoi take the personage of someone we know, or even a stranger, to test or guide us. Sometimes they take the role of natural forces that change the world in a direct way. However, different gods will interact more or less with the world and with us. Hestia is content to stay by the hearth, while Hypnos comes to us nightly to bless us with sleep, and hopefully, I hope I will not meet Nemesis in my lifetime – but acknowledge that She has every right to touch it should I stray from the just path or succumb to hubris. Her sister, Oizys (Anxiety and Guilt), is one that I’ve contended with since adolescence, and has motivated change in my life. Other gods once interacted with the world, but no more, like many of the Titans.

    3. Of the beings that can and do interact with the world, are they concerned with the fate of mortals? Are they concerned with individuals or only groups?

    It depends on the god and on his or her generation. With each generation, Their focus is more specific, and they are more approachable and take more direct influence upon specific mortals. Apollon inflicts plague upon many, while people pray to his son Asklepios for cures.

    4. Has this knowledge of Hellenic history changed (or enlightened) your religious beliefs? Of the beliefs of the different periods, which do you feel is closest to your own beliefs? In what ways?

    Yes. A scholarly approach, and the content gained from it, enrich my beliefs and give them shape and substance. But this is tempered by the practicalities and needs of modern life. I don’t have enough knowledge yet to distinguish very much between the different periods, but I lean towards the pre-Christian and pre-monotheist emphasis that replaced religion with philosophy.