Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Has Officially Sprung

Blue speedwell is blooming (so pretty and dainty, but I keep it outside; old folks say it's bad luck to bring it in the house), and I have a new pot of hairy bittercress in a pot on the deck (keep your potted hairy bittercress outside; those things can shoot their seeds three feet if you accidentally brush up against them when they're ready to pop), and today, I found some Viola bicolor (field pansies) all over the meadow behind my house.

I'm especially excited about the bittercress. It's one of the nine herbs used in the 10th century Old English Nine Herbs Charm against poison. It's supposed to do very well in a pot, so we'll see how it goes.

The ornamental pears are in flower (and stinking up the place), the forsythia is on its way to full bloom, and soon the Japanese pink cherries (my favorite) will be out.

I'm going to try and get some good pictures tomorrow if the rain holds off.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Listen to the Ocean in Real Time!

Many thanks to the bloggers over at Dangerous Minds for introducing me to the LIDO project. From their blog post:
If you ever get fed-up with everyday noise pollution from automobile traffic, construction work or that nauseatingly ubiquitous mall muzak then imagine how such unwanted (and often unnecessary) noise damages marine life. 
Mammals, reptiles, fish and invertebrates are suffering from increasing levels of man-made noise pollution coming from ships, oil rigs, and sonar. 
Now a bio-acoustics laboratory at the Technical University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain has developed a kind of “audio Google Earth” for under the water, which allows people to access a where they can listen to the sounds of the deep blue seas. The project is called “LIDO” which stands for “Listen to the Deep Ocean Environment” has been developed by French scientist Michel André and his team of researchers. The program aims to monitor undersea sounds to assess the affect of artificial noise on marine wildlife.
If you go to the LIDO website, you can click on observatories around the world and listen to the feed coming back from underwater microphones in real time. I am currently listening to what sounds like a pod of whales near Puako, Hawaii. It is awesome and relaxing.

Give it a shot and let me know what you hear!

A Dream of Death and Release

I woke up from a dream in which someone I loved very much had died. Someone had insulted my lost loved one, and I went on a rampage, screaming and crying and throwing things around, wanting to wrap my hands around the offender's neck and choke the life out of them. I collapsed on the floor crying, and that's when I awoke with real tears streaming down my cheeks.

I realized immediately that the dream had been about my father, who died almost three years ago, and that I still have a lot of anger and grief that hasn't been released. The dream, while distressing, had the feeling of one that had been sent to me to teach me something, and I'm taking it to heart.

After I woke up, I rolled over to look at the clock. It was 3:33 A.M.. That number, for personal reasons, has a lot of significance for me, and considering the work I have been doing lately to establish a relationship with Hekate and the chthonic gods, it seems even more significant.

I have been feeling the push to work on the deep, dirty crap I've been hanging on to, but I've been resisting. Ready or not, here it comes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rhyd Wildermuth Says It Better Than I Could

I have been meaning to write a post about what my spiritual life has been like recently, but it turns out I don't have to because Rhyd Wildermuth at Paganarch.com has already written it. Run, go, and read it. It's beautiful and perfectly captures how I have been feeling lately.

Fantastic New Song from Gary Numan - 'I Am Dust'



We were dust in a world of grim obsession
We were torn from our life of isolation
We were pulled from our path of least resistance
And the songs we sang? 'What became of us?'

We are here waiting for you
We are here waiting for you
We are yours, we're waiting for you
We are yours, we're waiting for you

We all prayed for the end, for their God to take us
We were falling down one by one
We were weak and the fear was all around us
The machines screamed from moon to sun

We are here waiting for you
We are here waiting for you
We are yours, we're waiting for you
We are yours, we're waiting for you

We are yours, we're waiting for you
We are yours, we're waiting for you

[Hat tip to Dangerous Minds for making me aware. I love Gary Numan!]

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hekate, Iphigenia, and the White Island of Snakes

This morning I was doing some research on Iphigenia and her connections to Hekate, which are many. I started with this passage from Wikipedia:
Artemis punished Agamemnon after his soldiers killed a pregnant hare. Artemis, being the goddess of the unborn, was livid and decided that she has to punish Agamemnon for the evil deed his soldiers committed. On their way to Troy to participate in the Trojan War, Agamemnon's ships were suddenly knocked violently into each other, as Artemis caused intense winds in Aulis. The soothsayer, Calchas, revealed an oracle that appeased Artemis, so that the Achaean fleet could sail. This much is in Homer, who does not discuss the aspect of this episode in which other writers explain that the only way to appease Artemis was to sacrifice Iphigenia to her. According to the earliest versions he did so, but other sources claim that Iphigenia was taken by Artemis to Tauris in Crimea to prepare others for sacrifice, and that the goddess left a deer or a goat (the god Pan transformed) in her place. The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women called her Iphimede (Ἰφιμέδη) and told that Artemis transformed her into the goddess Hecate. Antoninus Liberalis said that Iphigenia was transported to the island of Leuke, where she was wedded to immortalized Achilles under the name of Orsilochia.
The bit that caught my eye was the bit from Liberalis. He mentions that she was transported to the island of Leuke. Leuke is "White" in Greek, and the Greeks considered the island to be holy. The modern name of the Isalnd? Snake Island. Lots of connections between Hekate and serpents. Coincedence? I'm not sure.

Thetis brought the remains of Achilles and Patroclus to the island to be buried in a sanctuary. Thetis, a goddess of the sea, was the daughter of Nereus. She was said by Homer to be one of the Nereids, who were the daughters of the Old Man of the Sea -- more on that below.

Nereus was the brother of Phorcys, who, according to some myths, was the father of Scylla on Hekate. Nereus and Phorcys were brothers to Eurybia, the strong goddess. Eurybia by Crius was mother to Perses -- Hekate's father. This makes Thetis and Hekate cousins.

The thing about Nereus and Phorcys was that they were both referred to as "The Old Man of the Sea." Nereus seemed to be the gentler of the two, the one sailors could trust, a god of prophecy and good sailing, while Phorcys was the god of the deep sea with all her mysteries, the dangerous places where whole ships could be swallowed up in the dark.

Given that it is conjectured that there was once an ancient god of the sea who was eventually supplanted by Triton, I wonder if Nereus and Phorcys were merely epithets of the same old sea god. If so, that would only strengthen Hekate's connection to both Thetis and the Holy White Island of Snakes.

Connections upon connections.

I'm Confused and Bewildered and I Love It

So recently I have been feeling this huge shift. It comes after about a year of huge blockages (which, it turns out, were easily solved by asking the god who owned me first to let me go -- something he did immediately and with some relief. Long story; I'll tell you later.)

Once the blockage began to clear, I felt a strong pull to the Roman pantheon. "Ah," I thought, "here is where I belong." It was the Magna Mater who sucked me in, along with Diana.

So I start reading and studying, still confused, and then yesterday, a bolt out of the blue. It was to HEKATE that they were leading me. As soon as I recognized it, everything got so much clearer, and so much of what I have gone through over the last couple of years began to make sense. She came through very clearly and demanded attention in a way I have never experienced before. And then she quickly delivered me into the hands of . . . the Greeks! It wasn't Rome after all. I was just refusing to see what was in front of my face.

I'll detail some of the signs and coincidences that accompanied all this later. Let's just say that since I made the connection, it's as if the world has opened up to me in a whole new way. I'm still a bit confused. After all, the Greek myths are a labyrinth in more ways than one. But it all feels right. It feels clear. And I have needed that.

Expect lots of rambling and posts on mythology. And lots more about the Queen of the Crossroads. This is going to be a bumpy ride, I can tell.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fitting Fourth Days

Once upon a time, the Roman calendar was lunar. The fourth day of the month was the fourth day of the new moon. All fourth days (and all things four) are dedicated to Hermes. It's fitting, then, that the Megalesia begins on the fourth day of the month, since it was Hermes who brought the infant Dionysos to Cybele:
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 136 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) : 
"[The jealous goddess Hera would have destroyed the infant Dionysos who was then nursed by Ino:] She [Hera] would have destroyed the son of Zeus [Dionysos]; but Hermes caught him up, and carried him to the wooded ridge where Kybele (Cybele) dwelt. Moving fast, Hera ran swift-shoe on quick feet from high heaven; but he was before her, and assumed the eternal shape of first-born Phanes [one of the first born gods]. Hera in respect for the most ancient of the gods, gave him place and bowed before the radiance of the deceiving face, not knowing the borrowed shape for a fraud. So Hermes passed over the mountain tract with quicker step than hers, carrying the horned child folded in his arms, and gave it to Rheia [i.e. Kybele, Cybele], nurse of lions, mother of Father Zeus, and said these few words to the goddess mother of the greatest: ‘Receive, goddess, a new son of your Zeus! He is to fight with the Indians, and when he has done with earth he will come into the starry sky, to the great joy of resentful Hera! Indeed it is not proper that Ino should be nurse to one whom Zeus brought forth. Let the mother of Zeus be nanny to Dionysos--mother of Zeus and nurse of her grandson!’
Source: theoi.com

Hail, Mountain Mother!

Today begins the Megalesia, the Roman festival of the Magna Mater, the Phrygian Cybele. The Romans, following a prophecy in the Sybilline books, brought her to Rome during their war with Carthage, and she eventually came to be assimilated with other goddesses, such as Rhea, Terra, and Demeter, though she always maintained her individual identity as an adopted foreign goddess.



I was born on the second day of the festival and have always felt a deep attraction to the Magna Mater, though it wasn't until recently that I knew who she was.

Hail to the Magna Mater deorum Idaea, the great Idaean mother of the gods, mother of Sabazios, stone-faced Queen and nurse of lions!



According to Wikipedia:
Romans seem to have perceived Megalesia as either characteristically "Greek"; or Phrygian. In the late republican era, Lucretius vividly describes its "war dancers" in three-plumed helmets, clashing their shields together, bronze on bronze, "delighted by blood"; yellow-robed, long-haired, perfumed Galli waving their knives, wild music of thrumming tympanons and shrill flutes. Rose petals are scattered, and clouds of incense arise. The goddess's image, wearing the Mural Crown and seated within a sculpted, lion-drawn chariot, is carried high on a bier. At the cusp of Rome's transition to Empire, the Greek Dionysius of Halicarnassus describes the procession as wild Phrygian "mummery" and "fabulous clap-trap", in contrast to the sacrifices and games that he admires as being carried out in "traditional Roman" style. Roman citizens can observe the procession, but their own laws forbid them to join it, or to know the goddess's mysteries; and slaves are forbidden to witness any of these proceedings. The Roman display of Cybele's procession as an exotic, privileged public spectacle offers signal contrast to what is known of the private but socially inclusive Phrygian-Greek mysteries on which it was based.
I am not an expert on the Magna Mater. She told me her name in a dream once, but it wasn't until I started investigating Roman religion that I knew who she was. I am taking this opportunity to make this the start of an in-depth study of her. I hope that next year, when the Megalesia rolls around again, I will be able to feast to her properly.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dionysos

Dionysos has fascinated me for as long as I can remember, but I have always avoided him because he scares me. Maybe it's because I've had so much first-hand experience with real-life madness that I don't want to invite any more into my life. And he's always seemed to respect my hesitancy, though I get the feeling that he could break down my walls any time he wanted to and leave me a gibbering wreck.

But he's moved closer lately, and the fear that I feel, while still there, has turned into something more. I feel like maybe I'm ready to see where this leads.

Starting Over at the End

I have been studying paganism for over 20 years. I have considered myself a pagan for a bit less than that, with some random asides into frustrated pseudo-atheism brought about by a vicious depressive disorder.

I have called down the gods, danced with my beloved dead, and worked ritual from books, from the head, and, most effectively, from the bowels. I was going to say, "from the heart," there, but it was from the bowels -- from my gut, from my womb, from my sex, from the deepest part of my lower self, the cauldron of my soul.

And yet here I am nearing 40 and feeling a deep need to start over, as it were. First there is the call to the Greek and Roman pantheons, one I've never really dealt with in too much depth. My religion, such as it is, has been all bones and blood -- deep family line shit. My god is a guardian, red and black, a demon and an angel, the man in black. My goddess a Red Queen in an amber castle.

But I am getting strong signals from Mercurius and Jupiter and Diana and Dionysos and Hera and the Magna Mater and a push to enter into a more formal religious practice. I have been digging my trenches too wide, too shallow.

"Go deeper," they say. "Get some structure; you fucking need it," they say. And I know that they are right.

It's time to make some changes and do some hard work.

And, as always, in the corner of my eye, is my shadow self, the stuff I'm not dealing with. She lurks. She waits. And if I don't take some proactive steps to integrate her, she's going to do it herself, and the results won't be pretty.

My head, thought it might not seem like it, is in a pretty good place now. I am in therapy and back on the meds I need. I have started the shadow work with words, but I think I'm finally ready to rend some flesh, too.

So I'm starting over but not at the beginning. That was a long time ago. I feel like I'm starting over at the end, the end of one part of my life and the start of a new one. Not THE beginning, but A beginning. Things will be loose around here as I tear down some old shit and try to build it back up. I feel like I might need to go a little crazy.