Monday, August 12, 2013

Moved to Wordpress

I have moved my blog over to Wordpress! All my posts have been migrated, so I suggest you come and check it out! New blog!

This blog will remain up though, for posterity mostly.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Noble Hearth [Poetry]

Oh Hestia, you noble hearth
I bear my breast to you
From your heat sweat drips down my brow
A trickle down my eyes, burning them
Down my neck, preferring to rest on my collar bone
Till a movement I make

This hearth I tend not for me
And not for who I know or knew
For someone yet to be known to me
For someone known only to you

Burn away hostility noble Goddess
I feel your flames lap at my face
Purify me oh noble Goddess
No pollution has touched my soul
But do away with the inhospitality within it
Let me be a vessel for your kindness
For there is no joy without you

Once Upon a Time, Conor was in a Frat.

Once upon a time I was in a fraternity.

I know, I know, you must have fallen out of your chair at that sentence, so I'll give you a minute to compose yourself.

Done? Okay.

It was my Freshman year of College. I had never really thought about fraternities or joining one, I thought it certainly wasn't for me. At my Freshman orientation I found out about them and found out about all the wonderful opportunities they could afford me. I though well, maybe there is something to it. I carefully began investigating the available fraternities, I checked their pages, scoured for photos, and basically saw what kind of air they gave off. Did they seem aggressive? Douchy? Friendly? Kind? I rushed and only went to one fraternity's events, Phi Kappa Tau.

They seemed like good guys, they had a good mixture of folks. Some were geeky like myself, some were conservative, some were gay, some were liberal, but none of them were 'bros'. I was enthralled when I received a bid from them.

Two other young men also received bids


Bid day was interesting, it was surprising to see how many other folks received bids from the different fraternities and how diverse they were. There were some guys who were clearly destined to become the bro-esque guys that swim in alcohol and party all the time. There were other guys who looked like skater punks. There were exceptionally flamboyant men, there were exceptionally manly men. Men of every stripe, creed, race, and orientation were there to receive bids that morning. Going up on stage and accepting the bid was kind of exhilarating to be honest. 


Then came the pinning. Being pinned was. . .definitely an experience. It was the first act of initiation into the group when I became recognized as an associate member (and thus not fully initiated.), Three other men were pinned with me (one was picked up shortly after the formal pledge period). I wore that pin with pride. I was proud to be a part of the group, proud of what we were doing and what we would do. I saw success in our future. You see, at that time we were what is known as a 'colony' meaning we didn't have a charter yet but were working towards getting one. At the time of the pinning I was convinced we'd have one very soon.



Homecoming rolled around shortly after I got pinned and I got to experience the pleasure of pomping a float. In case you don't know, pomping is an insanely tedious and repetitive task that will eventually result in you getting pomping tissue stuck to your jeans due to the spray on glue. It was a lot of work, and I didn't even do a ton of pomping when compared to the lovely ladies of Kappa Kappa Gamma (I tell you, they wanted to WIN that float contest.) I even got to ride on the float and wave to little kids, make eagle shouts. It was a great deal of fun.


Eventually though, some conflicts with other people and disagreements with where some of the leadership was going led me to drop. To this day I'm not entirely sure if that was the right decision on my part. I had a lot of fun with these guys though, and being in a fraternity gave me some experiences and some particular perspectives.

There are a few things I learned from this. 

The first one is that organization is not a bad thing nor is leadership. Sure, when you have this stuff you have a lot of petty politics that occurs and a bit of tiara chasing occurs but you also are able to get more work done than an individual person. We volunteered and cleaned up parks, staffed SUSAN G KOMEN events and worked at a charity haunted house and in each one of these things our group did more work than an individual could do by themselves. We were able to do this through communication and organization, and we had people volunteer that normally wouldn't to help make the group look better.

You also look out for each other and support each other. When I and another member where in a terrible car wreck (not our fault. Was rainy and a guy smashed into us) they came and got us from the hospital (luckily no life threatening injuries for this, but the car was totaled). This was in the wee hours of the morning, after they got us they took us out to eat. Like any good community of folks they supported us when we were at a low spot and did so with no hesitation. Likewise, the 'Greek' community supported each other in some small way, be it by going to each others events or donating to each others philanthropies. We competed with one another but we also helped each other succeed.

It also taught me that the stereotypes were not true except for small populations and that stomping out the stereotypes were essential and vital when we encountered them. One non-Greek thinking that all Greeks were alcoholics was harmful not only to my fraternity but to every fraternity, and when someone would complain about Greeks and then cite a specific fraternity some defense of the members may have been in order. Or maybe just the assertion and reassurance that all fraternity men were not like that.

There is strength in numbers. There is no doubt about that. There is a reason that despite all the bad press, the bad media, and the fuck-ups that fraternities around the nation have made they still continue to thrive. It is because they stick together. Regardless of what council they belonged to or what fraternity they were in they didn't allow themselves to be divided and conquered.

Out of all the lessons I learned, strength in numbers is the most critical lesson of all. Sannion recently wrote a post called Polytheism Without Borders in which he issued a call to Polytheists of all stripes and cultures to be stand and counted and to help one another. To band together and be strong and support one another. With that notion in mind, I hafta ask.

What can I do for you? Contact me in the comments below or at fathergia@yahoo.com

I am here to serve.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Deipnon [Haiku]

No moon in the sky
Offerings at the crossroads
Your dinner is served

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lament to Athena [Poetry]

Hear my cries dear Aegis
Be my strength and my landing shore
Oh how, you cold-eyed goddess?
Do I sustain myself?
On the hopes of generations
And on the soil of dead and ruined men.

Hear my cries great Goddess
Be the sharpness of my tongue
How then, will I begin to build?
When given no tools
Nor source of light
Oh Savior, a forest of trees yet no axe.
A quarry of stone yet no pick.
A clear-sighted man fumbling in the dark for matches

Hear my cries Daughter of Zeus
Be the deftness of my hands
I beg tell, when will I see warmth?
When my fellows are not fellows
When the friends are only friends
When the union of faith is not met at the hearth
Not consummated by consuming flame
When the only voice lifted in song is my own

Hear my cries dearest one
Be the beating of my heart
Oh how, Mater Athene
Do I know peace and security
When my roof leaks and my door does not lock
When faith does not make friends
And when I fear perpetual solitude

I've almost forgotten
When peace was not an illusion
When I could smell the scent of friends
Voices lifted in worship to a jealous god.

I kneel in front of you
You clasp  your hands in mine.
Together we raise our voices.
For a second my heart and mind are quiet
I have answers to my questions
They are not the ones I want

Only shall I know peace
If I carve it out myself.

Lend me your spear, oh war-like Goddess.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Impiety and Magic

This whole 'magic is hubris' bullshit needs to stop.

Seriously, I have seen it tear apart group after group, get people's feelings hurt and just destroy harmony and the notion that we might be able to talk with others in an open and honest way. It drives people away and scares them off for a start, and all of it is entirely unnecessary.

The folks that I see often claiming that 'magic is hubris' usually have one thing in common. They either came to Hellenismos after a stint in practicing Wicca or look up to/heavily admire a person who has done so. It seems to me that many of those folks who rail against magic so hard are the kind of folks who are trying to put as much distance between themselves and their Neo-Pagan background as possible. They seem to be terrified that Hellenismos might somehow get lumped in the Neo-Paganism (surprise guys, it already is by outsiders) and as such rail against common elements in Neo-Paganism, especially the over-emphasis on magic. It seems to me that they have something to prove, so they try to prove it by bashing on 'magic-users' and 'rooting them out' from Hellenismos like they are some kind of Athenian Inquistion squad.

Firstly, whether or not someone is Hellenic is not contingent upon whether or not they practice in magical acts or arts. Individual practice is not really that relevant to the 'classification' of the person. Are they performing the household rites? Yes? Are they performing them in the traditional format? Yes? Are they following some sort of lunar calendar, be it reconstituted or directly drawn from? Yes? Do they honor all the Olympians? Yes? Okay, as far as I'm concerned that person is pretty damn well into the "Is an adherent of Hellenismos" category. The general rebuttal to this assertion though is "well magic is impious! You can't have an impious practice and be a real Hellenist." Now, I'm going to call that bullshit spewing from your mouth and break it down for you right now.

I'll pull this post since he pretty much just regurgitated the most common arguments that I see people spew.

He first asserts that magic is a way that a person attempts to exert and force his or her will on the Gods and cosmos. Firstly, seeing as I've talked to and am friends with a number of these 'magic users' I can pretty much tell you right now that the very statement that they are trying to 'force' the gods or cosmos to do ANYTHING is bullshit, at least when the individual in question is a polytheist. Generally I have seen them try to get a particular god's assistance in this or that (much in the same way that your typical Hellenist might try to get a god's assistance by petitioning them). When they don't 'invoke' or 'invite' a God for the spell, they generally say that they are sending out energy into the world to help them achieve their goals. This is not an act of 'manipulation'. These people also don't think that they are somehow better than or above the gods. They know the gods are greater than they and they will admit to that in a heartbeat. The notion that they think they are above the gods is a disgusting straw man.

However, our lovely Flemish friend also seems to think that the Gods are in control of every little aspect of the universe as he says:

"Magic is seen as a way in which someone, man or women, attempts to influence the Gods or the kósmos based on ones own will and power, by means of sympathetic or other connections. It constitutes a manipulation by means of which one seeks to impose ones own will on the Gods and kósmos, and attempts to subject them to ones will in order to achieve a certain goal.
Quite obviously such an attitude is utterly unacceptable in Hellenismos. The Gods are the fundamental powers that cause, keep, sustain, harmonize, transform, etc., the kósmos, and they are far beyond human understanding. None can ever completely understand their entire being and greatness. The thought that a mortal even could ever manipulate the Gods or the kósmos in such wicked ways is beyond ridiculous, this preposterous attitude places oneself above the Gods who cause our very existence!"

which is all fine and good I suppose, but such a view necessitates a few things. He either has to think that all other pantheons are 'false' to some degree or the other OR he has to admit to there being a 'universal pantheon' of gods that expresses itself in each culture. Folks who adhere to the first viewpoint I have nothing to say to. Folks who adhere to the second can't possibly claim that magic is impious as there are MANY cultures throughout history and even in the world today that practice some form or the other of sympathetic magic or other variants who are considered perfectly pious, and wonderful folks, and apparently their gods don't give half a damn about it. From the stance of the universal pantheon then, we can conclude that the 'impiety' of magic is simply a human construct, one which the gods don't care about, and thus practicing magic is not in of itself impious.

He then goes on to say:
"Others within the (neo)pagan movement claim to “work with” the Gods to help the kósmos or fate unfold, when they practice their magic. From a Hellenic point of view this is only marginally better than the previous attitude, in that one doesn’t place oneself above the Gods. But one does place oneself on the same level as the Gods. Which is only marginally less preposterous."

Hold on there buckoo, step back and have a cigarette. I don't think 'working with' someone places yourself on the same level as them, last I checked just because I am a co-worker with my manager doesn't mean that I see myself as equal to him within the company. Working with also automatically has implications of hierarchy, but does not implicate status IN the hierarchy. The dribble that he spouted is yet another example of a fallacious strawman set-up by a person who refuses to think about things and who only wants to spout what he has heard others tell him.

For modern day persons and their magical practices it seems that it is not an act of manipulation or coercion, deception or force. It is simply something that is done, a variant on prayer and ritual, and honestly when you stop to think about it is something that is very difficult to define. They are not impious folks, and I'm sure that if the Gods had a legitimate problem with them practicing magic as well as being a Hellenist, they'd let them know about it.

One last quick note, magic is not an intrinsically Hellenic practice, really and truly. However, just because it is not *intrinsically* Hellenic does not mean that a Hellenist can't practice it. Hellenismos is not a religion in which the actions of the individual are the sole criterion for 'belonging'. It is, as I stated before, a household religion, and thus by performing the household rites and observances in the traditional fashion (or as close to it as you are able to get) you are clearly a Hellenist. Personal non-Hellenic practices should be a non-issue. If I choose to divinate by orthinomancy or by casting lots or by using the tarot is of no concern to you. Two of those are traditionally Hellenic, one is not, however it is an individual and personal choice. If someone was a Hellenist for 25 years, if someone erected an altar to Zeus and Hera and built them a temple, if this someone suddenly decided that they wanted to use the tarot for their own *personal and private* divinatory sessions would you suddenly throw your hands up in the air and shout "YOU AREN'T A REAL HELLENIST!". I wouldn't. So it goes for magical practices.

And to pre-empt certain objections, no I don't practice magic. I just would like to see us stop devouring, berating, and driving away good and pious people because they have one personal practice that is 'non-traditional'. I'll bet you dollars to donuts we ALL do something that is non-traditional, because last I checked we aren't having processions to Mount Olympus.

We have two choices my fellow Hellenists.
Grow the hell up or we die.

Pick one.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Devotional to Apollo

I would like to note that all this was/is hand-written in a blank journal so I can't just copy/paste things for y'all. I feel that writing it down in a journal first is a great thing, because it makes you think very carefully about what you have written and selected to include in the devotional.

A few more notes, as I have typed this as I have it written a few personal assumptions are made, because I wrote it myself. This is mainly evident in the THUSIA section. I assumed that incense would be burned, and libations would be made. Also be aware that this is designed to be performed at a personal shrine, hence why there is no procession and why the purification is more simple. I have not designed it to be performed at a blazing altar, but it could easily be altered (see what I did there?) to be done as so.

PURIFICATION 

Sprinkle yourself and your worship space with khernips.

HYMNODIA 

HOMERIC HYMN TO HESTIA

[Light a candle or other flame source]

Hail, daughter of Cronos, now I will remember you and another song also.  

HOMERIC HYMN TO APOLLO

How, then, shall I sing of you who in all ways are a worthy theme of song? For everywhere, O Phoebus, the whole range of song is fallen to you, both over the mainland that rears heifers and over the isles. All mountain-peaks and high headlands of lofty hills and rivers flowing out to the deep and beaches sloping seawards and havens of the sea are your delight. Shall I sing how at first Leto bare you to be the joy of men, as she rested against Mount Cynthus in that rocky isle, in sea-grit Delos, while on either hand a dark wave rolled on landwards, driven by shrill winds---whence arising you rule over all mortal men?

HOMERIC HYMN TO APOLLO 

Delos, if you would be willing to be the abode of my son Phoebus Apollo and make him a rich temple. For no other will touch you, as you will find, and I think you will never be rich in oxen and sheep, nor bear vintage nor yet produce plants abundantly. But if you have the temple of far-shooting Apollo, all men will bring you hecatombs and gather here, and incessant savor of rich sacrifice will always arise, and you will feed those who dwell in you from the hand of stranger. For truly your own soil is not rich.

HOMERIC HYMN TO APOLLO 

Now, when Leto had sworn and ended her oath, Delos was very glad at the birth of the far-shooting lord. But Leto was racked nine days and nine nights with pangs beyond wont. And there with her all the chiefest of the goddesses, Dione and Rhea and Ichnaea and Themis and loud-moaning Amphitrite and the other deathless goddesses, save white-armed Hera who sat in the halls of cloud-gathering Zeus. Only Eilithyia, goddess of that sore travail, had not heard of Leto's trouble, for she sat on top of Olympus beneath golden clouds by white-armed Hera, who kept her close through envy, because Leto with lovely tresses was soon to bear a son, faultless and strong.

HOMERIC HYMN TO HESTIA 

Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one-mind with Zeus the all wise. Draw ever near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.

PRAYERS

Give prayers and thanksgiving.

THUSIA 

Give to Hestia the first, then give to Apollo incense, food, and make libations. Then give votive offerings. Finally give to Hestia the last.

CLOSING

Have a drink at the shrine, contemplate Apollo and the various blessings he has graced your life with. Extinguish the candle/flame source.

Unknown [Haiku]

I shudder at the
Thought. Something so dark, unknown
I simply fear it

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Show today 7/31 at 5:30 PM

Have a show today, 7/31 at 5:30 PM. I will be re-telling a variety of Greek myths!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/storyeyedyouth/2013/07/31/the-castration-of-uranus

Have a listen, it'll be fun!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dare [Poetry]

How dare the waves crash upon the shore!
How dare the tide roll in and out!
When you've lost all you've known
How dare the world continue on its own

How dare the sun rise in the east!
How dare the moon be full and bright!
Death is the harshest mortal plight
The darkest midnight a man ever knows

How dare I continue to live?
How dare they continue to give.
The asymmetry of experience and lifetimes
Uneveness, of this we can be certain

Oh Gods, wonderful and great
A boy so wicked I never did see
Than that handsome fellow in the mirror
Who dares pose as me

Monday, July 29, 2013

Know Your Opportunity (Καιρον γνωθι)

(DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to be an expert on anything. I'm merely giving my opinions and interpretations as I see them as being applicable. We are not an absolutist faith, nor do I personally regard the maxims as infallible)

Maxim: Καιρον γνωθι or "Know your opportunity"

How many times have you missed out on something great (or at least something good) merely because you did not hear the faint knock of opportunity at your door? I know that I have had this happen time and time again. The reasons are many and varied, but the most common and tragic reason for missing out on something wonderful is simply fear.

It is one of the eternals of the human condition. To survive and thrive we must be cautious and plan carefully, but to truly prosper we have to take a chance and take advantage of the opportunities we are given. Oftentimes doing this can be hard and scary. We have to wade into cold and sometimes unforgiving waters where we may have to struggle to fully take advantage of the situation we have  been given.

In this maxim there is also a warning to be cautious. When you take it into conjunction with the "Know yourself" maxim that we previously looked at, it is a clear call to truly know what opportunities are and are not yours to take. Sometimes we get greedy or overambitious and get ourselves into places and things that are more than we can handle and we end up damaging ourselves (mentally or physically) and more often than not damaging those around us. Hence being honest with yourself is essential in assessing and determining if you should or should not take a chance.

Think twice, leap once.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I'm a Jerk

I'm a jerk.

For real. When I play Monopoly, I go for blood every time. Be I in first place or last place, I am merciless, conniving, and absolutely eat my opponents alive. I hold no prisoners, everyone is executed on the spot and as soon as possible. When someone is terribly, terribly, terribly incorrect about something, I just don't let them know, I let everyone else know too. I once bullied a girl in high school because she was weird and had a mustache.

Oh forgive me father, for I have sinned.

See, the thing about the internet is that you only know as much or as little as I am willing to tell you. I can paint the portrait of myself however I please, be it what I write on here or what I write on social media. The above paragraph could have just as easily been lauding my own virtues. I could have made myself seem like a caring and nurturing person. A lovely and compassionate boy with nothing but goodness in his heart.

But I'm not. I'm human.

So is everyone else you read and interact with online.

Everyone is painting a picture of how they want to be perceived and looked at, whether they or we are aware of it or not. We are all shooting for a particular image, be it the compassionate and contemplative wanderer, the mindful druid,  the savior of the faith, or the crazed priest of Dionysos.  We are all making an image.

Now this isn't to say that these things are fake or not real. Often times our image is an outward and acted expression of who we are inside, but we do do things to reinforce, repair, salvage, or establish certain traits that we want to have associated with our personal image. Whether the image is true or false time will eventually bare witness to it, but online you can go for years (truly, years) without your image being exposed as phony. You have more time to think about actions when you are online, to think about posts and points. When you meet someone in person you get a more balanced view of who they are, a deeper fullness of character. The more time you spend with someone, the more you fully realize who they are fully and wholly. It is why two people can be madly in love and then six months later be repulsed with one another, and why two people can feel no chemistry at first glance and be getting married three years later and then staying married.

It is why they say never meet your idols. Their humanity destroys your idealization of them. It tears down the image that they have created and that you have credited as being their wholeness. You realize that what you thought you knew was merely illusion, with certain traits being upplayed and others being cast into shadow. Throughout this all, through this realization, I ponder, what kind of image have I created? Do I care? As much as I would like to say I don't, a small part of me does. Another part of me wishes that my readers could see me as who I am more fully. I wish I could sit down and have coffee with many of my readers and many of the people I read myself. But I can't, not yet anyway. Maybe someday.

Remember, even Oprah poops.

by Joe Crimmings Photography on flickr

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hymn to Zeus [Original Hymn]

Zeus, much honored king
Bringer of Justice
How shall I sing of your gifts?
How shall I know your justice?
Father of many
Proud and terrible God
How many before me have called to you?
How many after me will?
Only you know, glorious king
Hail, loud-thundering Zeus.

Zeus taken by crafterm on Flickr

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Equate with Care

Recently, I've been seeing some talk on if deities like Helios, Ra, and Sol Invictus are all the same God or entirely separate Gods. The biggest driving force behind this seems to be the small little fact that we only have one sun. If we only have one sun, then it kind of makes it hard to maintain a completely hard polytheistic stance for certain individuals. Therefore, they equate solar deities with relative disregard for whether or not those deities share the same domains or fulfill similar roles. You also run into the fact that in some cultures the sun deity is female and not male. The most two prominent examples for me are Sunna and Amateratsu. So if your logic is simply "All Sun deities are the same deity" and you equate Ra with Amateratsu then you are generating a bit of a problem.

Generally when folks equate two deities they equate deities of the same gender. Hence why people don't tend to say that Hera is the same as Indra or that Isis is the same as Apollon. However, by saying that Amateratsu is the same as Ra you 'break' this 'rule' and therefore have to open yourself up to other interpretations. If we are equating gods only on what natural phenomena they are associated with, why don't we equate say Zeus and Pele? Maybe Brigid and Hephaestus? Even equating based on role and function can get kind of messy, Brigid and Hephaestus are both smithing Gods, can we equate them on these grounds? I think most people would say no.

Then what does it mean for these Gods who rule over domains that there is only one of?  How do we potentially reconcile this dissonance? Well, I don't know how much this will help you, dear reader, but this is the ways in which I can reconcile it.

In the case of ruling over things which there are only one of, such as the Sun, or ruling over phenomena, I think it is best to look at those things as symbols of the God's power. For Ra the Sun represents his immense and mighty power, for Helios the Sun represents his watchful eye (and those two examples are way oversimplified, I know.) I have seen folks use the symbolism explanation for Zeus's association with lightning and rain taking those as symbols for his might and fertility (respectively). I just don't see why they can't do that for Gods so obviously different as Ra and Helios and Amateratsu.

In the same vein as this, they could very well 'share' the role. The example I saw used was Hades and Anubis, does that mean that there are different afterlives assuming of course, that they aren't the same. I'd have to answer with a resounding 'yes'. We don't give the gods a lot of credit sometimes, is it so hard to believe that beings with the power and ability to act with agency on our lives wouldn't be capable of 'creating' multiple afterlife scenarios? Does that mean I think that there is an afterlife for each and every Death God and Goddess? Absolutely not, however I wouldn't be surprised if there were in fact multiple possibilities for the afterlife. 

In the case of having similar roles, I think it could very well be an expression of a different God in a different culture, however I think that you have to examine that God or Goddess in their entirety and really meditate on whether or not they are truly the same entity and not make snap judgements by going "Hearth Goddess, Hearth Goddess, definitely equal". You must examine the God or Goddess fully and then really decide if it is the same as a God or Goddess within your own pantheon. After all, just because I am a student doesn't mean that all other students are me. Likewise, we know each doctor is an individual. Dr. Martinez is not Dr. Li simply because they have the same role in life.

So then, that comes to the question of how many Gods and Goddesses exist. I have heard some Hellenists state 12, 24, or 36 with all other Gods being aspects of those. Some Hindus state that there is only one God with all other Gods being aspects of that one God. Many Shintoists would state that there are 8 million gods(kami), if you translate the phrase literally at least. Colloquially it means that they consider there to be a practically infinite number of Gods(kami).

How then do you decide who is right? Most people simply go with whatever their particular faith says or model the number off their faith's 'central' Gods. Though many faiths don't require the adherent to 'come up with' a number. That is something that is completely and totally going to vary from person to person. Me? I'm going to just say I flat out don't know, and am only equating when I just feel really strongly about it. So far I've only equated Neith-Athene-Saraswati and Hanuman-Hermes-Mercury and Sol-Helios. That's it. I used to equate Freyja and Aphrodite but I've since pulled that back for further examination. Regardless of the equating I have made though, I won't begin to worship Athena in an Egyptian or Hindu fashion. I will treat them separately and as if they are all distinct individual goddesses, because at the end of the day I'm just incapable of being one hundred percent certain. I'd hate to rob a god or goddess of what they rightly deserve because I've made a mistake and confused them for some other deity.

Our ancestors used equating the gods as a means to understand foreign gods and cultures. I'm also sure that there must have been some dissonance in finding out that someone else also believed that their gods and goddesses had absolute control over the universe. Instead of taking the route of 'shared power' they took the route of 'same gods, different names'. I personally suspect that the first answer is right for some gods and the second is right for others. Which is which for which particular god and goddess is up for us to deduce on our own.

I guess if you could take anything from this it would be two simple things. Treat each God and Goddess as if they are distinct and equate them with care. 

Athena by nattywoohoo on Flickr 


Neith and Amun by risotto al caviale on Flickr

Saraswati by Delphine Wa-Dag on Flickr

Monday, July 22, 2013

Heat Struck

I sit here, my head throbbing from being out in the heat too long today. I've had two glasses of cool water and some acetaminophen, they've taken the edge off, sadly they haven't done more than that.

I sit her in relative silence, my roommates have left for the summer and so during the week I'm alone. The only noise I get is from my Netflix  movies, the video games I play, and the cicadas outside my window. I don't get to interact with people much lately, at least not on the level of friends. If I'm lucky I will get to before my labs, but during the week I just don't speak to folks much. Thankfully, on the weekends I get to see my boyfriend.

So all these things combined together, it means I get to think a lot and I get to read a lot. I get to think, relatively uninterrupted. I get to think about all manner of things too. My relationship with the gods, their actuality, how I am, how I'm happy, how I might strengthen my community, the ambiguity of words. Sometimes, the ambiguity of polytheism itself. The  strangeness and uncertainty of things.
My place in this world, my place in my own faith, my place in the pagan community.

I think about folks who have helped me grow, who have angered me and frustrated me. Folks I've treated with contempt for saying just downright stupid stuff. Folks who I haven't given as much due as they should have gotten. Folks who I've fawned on too much.


There is something that is almost magical about waking up each morning and doing my devotions. There is something magical about spending a lazy Sunday afternoon in your lover's arms. There is something magical about a person in your organization taking the time out of their day to chat with you and help you sort your own personal stuff out.

Even in all the turmoil, the stress, the failures, the money problems. Even in all this I realize how truly lucky I am, and I am truly grateful to the gods, to my friends, to everyone who has helped. I have a lot to be grateful for. When I express this sentiment and someone quips "Well yeah, but you still have to put up with those things though. They could be so much better." Yes, they could be, but they could also be so much worse. Only by the chance occurrences, have I made it through any of this okay. My own actions have harmed me, but the small little things I've done and the tiny choices I've made have helped me, and likewise the tiny choices others have made have helped me. I'm incredibly blessed.

Call it luck, I'll  call it kharis.


The Weapons of Zeus [Haiku]

The triumph of Zeus
In the thundering rain we see
His mighty weapon

Friday, July 19, 2013

Game of Choices

In life you must make lots of choices.
Make lots of little sacrifices and decisions. What you are willing to do without for something or someone. What you are willing to give up, not for the benefit of the self, but rather for the benefit of the other.
Yes, life is about choices.

Often times we make a choice thinking that we might get to have it all, but the fact of the matter is that we don't get to have it all. Sometimes when we make a choice we must deny ourselves certain pleasures and luxuries. When we proclaim certain things sometimes it comes with a sacrifice or a sort of abstinence that we were unaware that would be required. Sometimes our choices come with added requirements and stipulations we knew nothing about. Sometimes we are the illiterate farmer scratching an X on a document.

When I first entered Hellenismos, I wasn't aware of there being so few people. I wasn't aware that overall, we are a pretty damn small community, we are a minority within a minority. Where Kemetics and Heathens seem to be able to band together and have at least one meet-up in a state, Hellenists seem very lucky to have one regular group in a three-state region. When I made the choice to be a Hellenist, I wasn't quite aware that I was also making the choice to feel religiously isolated and alone in my own faith, however untrue my logical brain knows that to be. Now, to a lot of people this doesn't seem so bad. A lot of people seem perfectly capable of managing on their own, I am not a lot of people. I need some regular form of interaction. I would like some knowledge that my faith isn't going to be struggling for survival fifty years from now (because, lets face it, we are.) and it scares me. Yes, I'll admit it, it does scare me quite a bit.

But, I did make a choice, and now knowing full well what lies in wait and what the consequences are, I continue to make a choice. Every single new moon I make the same choice, whether I know it or not. Only in ruminating on choice did I realize this. Every new moon I am making a choice to choose loneliness, and choose uncertainty about the future of my faith. Why? To what end? Most rational people I suppose would simply say that the best option is probably to turn to something else, something that fulfills more of my needs. As I told a friend though, simply put, I can't. It would be like forcing yourself to fall out of love with someone you are madly in love with simply because you saw someone fifteen percent more attractive.

I have these struggles with feeling alone and isolated about every two months I've noticed, and I've realized that is okay. Because each time it does pass. Each time I do get better. It is only in this time that I've realized that I have choice, totally, fully, and completely, and every time I am choosing of my own volition to continue doing what I'm doing. And I take a certain weird kind of pleasure in denying myself.

I feel like I may just have to accept that lack of community may be a part of it for a very long time. The sooner I make peace with that, the happier I will be.

After all, what will happen, will happen.




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Music

Watch this video first




What did you feel? How did it make you feel? Did you find it easier to empathize with Ceres and/or Demeter? Has it given you any ability to better understand that story? Listen carefully to the lyrics once again. How did it make you feel? Leave your answer in the comments

Music is an important religious tool. Music can help us come closer to our Gods, it can make us better to able understand them. It can be an expression of devotion and adoration. Music is a wonderful gift that we humans have in understanding divinity. It aids us.

What is more beautiful? This song, or one sung by a woman by herself while pouring out libations? Which one do you think the Gods rejoice in more?

I'm beginning to understand why a couple of folks elder than myself have told me that the best music at a ritual is that music which you make yourself. Even if it isn't beautiful or breathtaking, music we create ourselves is an offering from the heart to the Gods. Music carefully selected for a rite is one too, though in my opinion a lesser one, and music picked haphazardly isn't one at all.

This isn't meant to discount beautiful songs like this one though. On the contrary. Music like this can help us draw closer to the Gods when we are by ourselves and better able to immerse ourselves fully into it, when we aren't making it as an offering to the Gods, and when we are just trying to understand them and meditate on them. It can be a huge help.

Remember the power that music can have.

Early Mornings [Haiku]

Sleep follows me down
The road early in the dawn
Please sleep, stay at home

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sacred Band [Lyrics]

(Currently looking for a musician to bring these to life) 

Gentle water upon my brow
Gentle rain upon my cheek
I smile towards the sky
Gentle rain on the scorched earth

We don't have much time
And I can't quite say it
Lets stand side by side
As the giants slay us
And we take our place
Deep inside Ge

The heavens opened up
And the rain became a pour
And the pour became deluge
All light in heaven subsumed

We will not win this war
We both know that, don't we?

We don't have much time
And I can't quite say it
Lets stand side by side
As the giants slay us
And we take our place
Deep inside Ge

We never stood a chance, did we?
You and I, as we fought
Overpowered, outnumbered
We never stood a chance, did we?

Now for you I swear it
Tonight if you die here, I will too

We don't have much time
And I can't quite say it
Lets stand side by side
As the giants slay us
And we take our place
Deep inside Ge

Gentle water upon my brow
Gentle rain upon my cheek
I smile towards the sky
Gentle rain on four tired eyes

These last few moments
I could not be happier

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Earth [Haiku]

I see your sprigs now
Poking through the gentle Earth
Hello Demeter

Friday, July 12, 2013

Zeus [View on the Gods Series]

I have realized that it would be quite difficult to analyze the Gods relations to each other unless I first analyze how I relate to the Gods and view them, and have come to know them at this time in my life. I'm sure that as I grow older and gain more experience with them and more knowledge of them my views will change, but here I go anyway.

First I am tackling what should be tackled first, the King. Zeus is a multifaceted and complex God as is reflected by his various epithets, a few of which include "Of the Rain" "Savior" "Giver of Good" "Warlike" "Of the House" and "Contriver" to give you just a very shallow and quick idea of the diversity of his roles. They extend beyond these though, and his epithets are many and varied.

Who is Zeus then? He is the King of the Gods. Through Zeus things come to fruition I believe. This is not to say that he is all powerful, but the other Gods do not do things if they go against his will and desires (whatever those may be). He is regarded as a very wise and just God, so his decisions are to be trusted. Now, this does not mean that I think Athena and Aphrodite and Dionysos are all checking in with Zeus 24/7 for every single one of their actions, but I do think that the Gods are wise enough to know what would and what would not violate the will of Zeus and thus because of his position as king they respect and obey his decisions. So I, in turn, definitely see him as king of the theoi and I trust that he makes fair, just, and wise decisions most of the time.

I also find him to be a very difficult God to understand. In worship and when I simply pay respect I often feel nothing during the rite (except for gratitude of course). I feel no stirring or presence within me usually, and whenever I do whatever stirs up is just a confusing feeling. Sort of like I can't understand something or comprehend it, but not quite that. From that, I've come to see Zeus as a very mysterious and powerful God, yet also a distant one. I'm sure there are folks who feel quite close to Zeus and frequently feel his presence at their rites, but I am not one of those folks. For me he is almost as distant as Yahweh was, except Zeus has actually graced my rites with his presence on a couple of occasions.

In terms of function I largely view Zeus as the protector of my house, I believe he has the ability to influence (but not control) the weather. I believe he (like most of the Gods) can give us courage and strength, and can help us pull through times of intense hardship or other extremely difficult situations (one of his epithets is Savior, remember?). He, with Hera, also governs marriage in its more pragmatic aspects, the functional aspects of it that while perhaps not as exciting or as passionate as love, are none the less vital to a marriage being successful (at least from what I've seen of relatively happy and lengthy marriages). I also view him as having some influence and sway on male virility and potency. And to these things a number of other things, such as protection, wealth, prosperity, luck, happiness, and justice.

All that aside though, Zeus is Zeus, and even him I make certain lines and see him as certain things, I'm certain he is much more than that. I, after all, am but a man and he is a God. I'm almost certain he exceeds the things I've assigned to him, and I'm quite satisfied with knowing that my understanding of him will continue to change and grow. I do, after all, love to learn.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

[Movie Review] Sita Sings the Blues

So due to some groups I'm in I stumbled across this charming little movie titled "Sita Sings the Blues".

Now where to begin? I guess from the start right? Well, the movie makes its style seen and heard at the very top of the film where (I think it is Lakshimi) emerges from the water accompanied by a peacock record player which begins spouting Annete Henshaw. When she fixes it an explosion happens and we go through the cosmos and creation then to Earth.

Oh yeah, and it is animated in quite a beautiful style. The whole film is, in fact. 

That sets the stage and tone, and if that sounds uninteresting let me know because it really is kind of a cool scene.

The movie has two story lines, it follows Sita's story from the epic Ramayana. It is a tale of loss, duty, rejection, and devotion that really is quite intense and heart breaking, yet the serious tone is set-off by the director's choice of having many key moments and plot points expressed by Sita singing Annete Henshaw's songs (get the title yet?) which really helps detract from things like Rama killing millions of demons. The second story is that of Nina and Dave, a couple. Dave eventually gets whisked off to India for a job. I won't give away too much, but lets say that Nina's story mirrors Sita's in some ways. . .

Along with this we also have 3 shadow-puppets who pop-up and narrate the story for us from time to time, setting the stage, explaining things, that sort of stuff. They really are QUITE hilarious and narrate in the matter of three very confused puppets trying to sort this story out, bickering a bit and correcting each other. It really is just some brilliant work that they do.

The animation is stylized and strange, and beautiful. I can't really describe it since I don't have the correct terms, but it is an adorable and unique kind of cartoony. Layered in-between these segments we have animation that heavily draws from more traditional Hindu art and culture, which is usually used when the shadow puppets are explaining things. The cartoony style is usually used for when the characters (Sita, Rama, Nina, Dave, Hanuman etc) are acting as themselves Nina and Dave also have a different animation style than Sita and Rama, which makes everything clearly delineated.

I really have no true complaints with this movie, it stands out, it is unique and charming, and it does its job of entertaining while giving us a truly moving story.

Watch it, it is free on Youtube and questioncopyright.org. I'll make it easy and even put up the video for you.

Rating: 8.5/10


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Worldviews, Nationalists, and Anger

So lately around the ole internet I have, for whatever reason, been seeing a HUGE increase in the amount of Greek Nationalists co-opting the religion or people claiming that you *must* be Greek to be a True Hellenist™. This argument usually centers around the claim that they are a True Hellenist™ and everyone else isn't because (they claim) that they have reconstructed an 'authentic' Greek worldview, culture, and religion that has experienced the kathartic release from the Greek Christian and Modern Greek culture. Allow me to be blunt, I call bullshit, for a variety of reasons.

First lets look at this whole 'worldview' claim and that anyone else with a deviating worldview isn't a True Hellenist™. The claim usually centers around the statements "The Athenians had a particular worldview, we have it too. Anyone who disagrees with us and doesn't share our worldview isn't a real Hellenist" or something pretty dang close to that. First, there is no *way* that you have the same worldview as the Athenians or *any* other Greek City-State. Worldview is HUGELY shaped by culture and religion (which in turn shape each other) and is also heavily dependent on external factors such as is your group worried about getting enough to eat, are you under constant threat of war, is there a lot of good drinking water in your area, and what is the prevalence of disease in your region to name just a few things.  This means that likely each generation will have a *slightly* different worldview from the previous, and even if Hellenismos (though it wouldn't have that name I suppose) had survived into the modern age, the modern Hellenistai would have a different world view than their predecessors 2300-2500 years ago and this is assuming that a large portion of the worldview was preserved through societal reinforcements. The worldview from 2500 years ago is NOT going to be the same as it was today.

Now lets get onto the cultural bit which is really important. First let me tell you about a good friend of mine though. He is a 72 year old man, bright, intelligent, and Canadian. He has traveled all over the world, but has settled in America. He has LIVED in America for quite some time (40 or 50 years I think) and still does not have a good grasp on American culture, on our nuances and subtleties, as well as certain parts of our own worldview (If you think this is out of place, re-read the above paragraph). It simply doesn't make sense to him sometimes, it confuses him, and this guy is no idiot. I know, we've had conversations spanning a couple of hours that just make my head spin and I'm no moron. This isn't an isolated incident though, even when you move to a country that speaks your language, most folks never fully integrate or understand the native culture even if they are living in the country for decades. Baring this in mind, the fact that some folks have the audacity to say that they have reconstructed the Athenian culture, embraced it, and shed themselves of their old culture is the absolutely most ridiculous claim I have ever seen in my life. It doesn't matter how many books you read, how many things you try  to imitate, you aren't going to bring back that culture fully. You may augment your own cultural background with these things, generating a distinct hybrid of culture by discarding some of the nasty things but to say that you have a 'genuine' Athenian culture is disingenuous and quite frankly ludicrous. When you can't get it be living in a country for 50 years you sure as hell aren't going to get it by reading books for 30.

Moving onto the last point, the religious bit. Many of the folks making these claims are from YSEE I have noticed. Which is kind of funny since I have seen YSEE members in the various Yahoo! Groups come in and outright say that they aren't recons but following a tradition that can be traced back to the 1600s.

So what do we do?

There are some things to consider here. The first is that American Hellenismos will differ from Greek Hellenismos and Australian Hellenismos because we are from different countries and have different backgrounds. Shinto heavily varies from region to region, it does not make one person less of a Shintoist because they practice in an Osaka fashion instead of a Kyoto fashion. The same goes for Hinduism, different regions have different ways and viewpoints. This should be expected, it is just an effect of geography and distance. There is NO need to bring ourselves in line with our Greek brethren because we are not Greeks. We do not live in Greece and we were not born there. We do not need to defer to them on matters, we do not need to seek their opinions on everything, and we do not need to look at them as some kind of god damned chosen and 'special' people for our faith, because they aren't. And you know what, if we keep treating them like they are, we AMERICAN HELLENISTS are going to lose some good folks, we are going to miss out on some good people joining the faith and sticking to it because they don't want to defer to somebody simply because of where they were born geographically.

Our worldviews will be different but have commonalities for certain. That is perfectly okay and to be expected. It would be unnatural to expect the worldview of an American Hellenist and a Greek Hellenist to be the exact same. This does not make me or my coreligionist here any LESS of Hellenistai than those over in Greece. Because guess what? We don't have to defer to them.

We American Hellenists are Americans, we do not need to defer to the Greeks. We are our own branch, and things will develop as they will. 

I don't need a Greek to confirm or approve things for me.
You best believe that.

Zeus by takbggg on flickr

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Have a show Sunday 7/7!

I am going to be having John Beckett about Druidry on my show tomorrow at 5:30 PM

I'm really looking forward to having him on!

Show Link:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/storyeyedyouth/2013/07/07/john-beckett

John Beckett photo by Tesa Morin

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Life with Death

At a very young age I realized I would die.

I recall at the time I was around five years old, and we were living out in rural Virginia. I awoke in the middle of the night once from a bad dream, I had seen myself as an old man in a casket. I looked like I lived to a ripe old age but five year old me didn't care about that. I woke up with a jolt and realized (at the age of five) that someday I will die. I recall bursting into tears and waking my mom up. She came to where I was sleeping (which if memory serves correctly was on a pallet in the living room) and asked me what was wrong. I told her I had a nightmare. She asked about what and I wouldn't tell her. I don't remember why. I just wouldn't.

When my mother died I took the news with mixed and confusing reactions in only the way a child can. I was saddened and upset, yet after I had my moments I went along playing like nothing happened. I understood that her being dead meant she wasn't coming back and that I wouldn't see her, but I didn't quite think about the whole picture. Again in the course of my early childhood I realized that I was going to die someday, but the second time around it didn't make me cry. It made me a little sad, but the second time I didn't cry.

After my mother died some years later I last more folks and pets. Three of my dogs died ( one his chain got wrapped around a tree when we took a day trip and he dehydrated to death, one got out of the fence and got offed by neighborhood dogs, and another got killed by our neighbors out of revenge). I also lost three more family members (my great-grandmother, a cousin, and an Uncle.) I was in a wreck that if the vehicle had been a different model I would not be writing this right now. Death has been present enough in my life to make me keenly aware of it (Though thankfully not as present as it could be. Still haven't had siblings, friends, or a lover die on me yet.) So I ruminate on death a lot.

It changes how you look at others for a start. I find that it makes it almost impossible for me to take my lover for granted. Each moment we are together living, breathing, smiling, laughing, having sex, and talking to one another is a divine gift which I am thankful for. I am distinctly aware that when we part there is no guarantee that we will see one another again which is why even when we argue or get into little spats when we see each other I try my damndest to make sure we end on a good and pleasant note. If something happened to either of us it might wind up being a heavy burden to carry around the regret that the last time you saw one another you were cross with that person. That is what happened to my dad when my mother died. It happens. Never end on a bad note regardless of whether the person is a lover or friend.

It also makes you realize that there is really no appropriate thing you can say to a grieving person. The only thing you can do for them is be there and provide support and comfort as best as you can, but nothing you say can make it better. They are going to be hurt, angry, confused, and maybe a bit lost. Do not tell them "Well, James is in heaven now" in the hopes that it will make them feel better. It doesn't change the fact that a mother no longer has her child in her arms. Do not tell them "Everything happens for a reason" because even if everything DOES happen for a reason, that fact isn't going to help the who has to sleep alone now. It isn't going to change the fact that he still refuses to change the sheets because the left side of the bed still smell's like his wife. It will not make him feel any less disoriented and confused and bewildered. To him there is no reason, and the sun still rising each morning perplexes him because to him it feels like the world has ended. Sometimes the best thing to say is absolutely nothing at all.

Most recently though, it has made me ruminate on how my Gods relate to death. I've been struggling with the traditional interpretation of the Gods association with death and the rejection by the gods of death miasma. Save for a few Gods the traditional (non-philosophical accounts) seem to imply that aside from Hermes, Dionysos, Pluton, Persephone, and Demeter most of the Gods have little to do with you after you are dead. That. . .just doesn't sit well with me, and still doesn't. Surely the Gods that I have felt great compassion from, great wisdom, guidance, and tutelage from aren't going to go "LOL! BYE" when I draw my last breath, right? So, I've been sorting things out, searching and looking. I've begun looking at the Gods from the angle of a dead man because that is an inevitable thing, and I will be dead far longer than I will be alive. How will I relate to the Gods and they to me after I die? I have decided that I'm going to start seeking answers to the issue of death. Maybe the answer lies in a philosophical school. Maybe the answer lies within another faith (in which case I would become two faithed). Maybe the answer lies in some esoteric practice or magical system. Maybe no answer will suffice or ring true and I will have to cast my lot with the traditional interpretation.
Who knows, I certainly don't. I go into this with no expectations and an open mind.
If you have some idea or resource leave a comment (if the comment module isn't working, check back later).
I'll never know for sure until I die, but I need to find something that rings true to me and that I can agree with. Something that at least provides some hope that my Gods will not leave me. I need this.

Do you?






Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sonnet for Aphrodite

(Note: This is not a TRUE sonnet since it doesn't follow the iambic pentameter)

How fair are you Aphrodite, fair rose?
I rejoice in your presence great goddess
For your gifts provide, in this world, repose
They give man the greatest joy, true goodness

And through you we come to know great pleasure 
Through you we are graced with the purest love
As our lovers consume all our leisure 
Let your beauty consume us from above

Let our souls rise as you rose from the foam
Unique, renewed, and knowing grand purpose 
Let our hearts be for love like fertile loam 
For men and women you are an axis

All of humanity longs for your gifts
To you, I and they and she and he drifts


Monday, July 1, 2013

The Cornerstone of all Virtues

The cornerstone of all virtues that one can exhibit is simply this, honesty.

Honesty is required for all virtues, be it being honest with yourself or being honest with others. Moderation (which is an important virtue for many hellenistai) requires introspection and the ability to honestly and freely admit to yourself what you can and cannot have. For an alcoholic no alcohol at all is the correct amount, for someone who handles their liquor well, maybe they can handle seven drinks. For some it may be two or three drinks. When you are on a diet and want that extra slice of cake and insist that you will 'be good tomorrow' or something like that you have to really ask yourself 'do I mean it?'. Whenever you say it, you know what you mean and whether or not you will keep that promise. It is being dishonest if you say you will and then decide not to, therefore being honest about your motivation and limits helps you act temperately.

For being a good host you must keep an honest heart. You must not over-exaggerate on what you can provide nor can you offer your guest less than you can afford. You must exhibit full candor to be a sufficient host and therefore fulfill the obligation of xenia.

Piety too requires an intense amount of honesty, and where this should be self-evident it is not to some folks. You must look inward and truly examine the gifts that the gods have bestowed upon you and sacrifice as is appropriate. If you have been neglecting sacrifices and the honors due to the gods you must have the ability to recognize this and make amends. When you have wronged the Gods or have otherwise behaved unfairly towards them you must be willing to admit this and correct it.

In order to properly revive and carry on the traditions of your faith you must be able to analyze and admit to what you will and will not be able to physically do. If animal sacrifice is not possible to you for moral or environmental reasons then don't do it. Likewise if you can do it, have the proper training, and have no ethical qualms about it then you should be doing it -assuming your faith calls for it-. Do not make your faith out to be something that it is not. Those saying that they are practicing the faith *exactly* as the ancient Athenians did (Or Thebians or Spartans or Teutons or whoever) are outright lying to you and lying to themselves. It is extremely similar perhaps, but it is not the exact same, nor should it be. Admitting and accepting this will lead you down the path to properly reconstructing (if you must) reviving and/or carrying on the traditions of your faith.

Honesty before bravery, before moderation, before wisdom.

Cultivate a spirit of honesty first, then work on the other virtues.

by Vasta on flickr

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A few changes to the program

You may have noticed that the radio program has not aired on schedule very much this month, you may be asking why. Simply put, I WAY underestimated how much time it would take to record and edit the myths for your listening pleasure. As such, I'm making another revision (for the time being) for the first few months, until I really get a handle on things, I'll be doing an interview for the first Sunday of a month, and re-telling myths for the last Sunday of a month. This new schedule will take effect next month. I do apologize if I have disappointed anyone, however sometimes you gotta fumble a bit before you catch the ball, so for July, let's get at this again, shall we?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMA is Overturned

Glory to Athene for granting the justices due wisdom

Glory to Hermes for granting us a good case with strong arguments

Glory to Zeus and Hera for bringing things to fulfillment

Glory to Dike for bringing about proper justice

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Exceeded 30K Views!

That's right, this lil' ole blog has gotten more than 30,000 views! To all my readers, thank you! As a thank you present, here is something stupid I drew.


[CD Review] Plans

Plans by Death Cab for Cutie



Overall Score: 9/10 

Death Cab for Cutie's album Plans does a wonderful job of raising questions and exploring what exactly love is, it takes you on a philosophical journey regarding this powerful and sometimes destructive emotion. Something that a lot of albums can't even come close to doing. 

The opening song "Marching Bands of Manhattan" touches on what it can be like to be in love with someone who is suffering from depression and who has withdrawn, and how the lover can too be consumed by the sadness that the beloved is experiencing. Next on the list comes "Soul Meets Body" a rather up-beat song invoking the imagery of music filling the air and some natural imagery to express the union of love. Then it slides into "Summer Skin" a sad down-tempo song about a summer fling running its natural course, even if one person has a lingering sensation and desire for it to last just a bit longer. 'Different Names' is a curious break from the rest of the CD, a mellow crackling song about traveling by one's self across different countries.

"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" is PROBABLY the most well known and well liked song on the album. The song is frequently played on the radio, and has had a lot of staying power for obvious reasons. The sound itself is very gentle and soft, and the lyrics poignant, discussing what love is, and the potentially eternal nature of it, with the singer promising to follow their lover into 'the dark' (death). He discusses what isn't love (fear, as he learned in 'Catholic School) and acknowledges the inevitability of death ("You and me/Have seen everything to see/From Bangkok to Calgary/And the soles of your shoes/Are all worn down/The time for sleep is now/Its nothing to cry about/Because we'll hold each other soon/in the blackest of rooms) and reassures their lover that s/he will not be alone in death (though, the singer is not implying suicide I believe)

The next song "Your Heart is an Empty Room" is about a listless and lonely man trying to find love but tied down by his obligations and responsibilities. Upon his house burning down he feels a sense of relief, as he finally is opened up to having a chance to love.

"Someday You Will Be Loved" is a rather sad song that I can (and I"m sure most can) relate to on some level. The song discusses the singer leaving behind a girl that was just a good and kind person ("Eyes all beauty and truth") but who he could not love. So, he leaves her. He leaves her a note saying that she doesn't need to feel too bad, because one day she will meet someone who makes him seem like a bad dream, and that her broken heart will someday. The affection the singer has for the jilted lover is true, though he knows it is right and for the best.

"Crooked teeth" is a slightly quirky song discussing regrets about starting a relationship that the singer knew was doomed from the start and that just doesn't quite work.

"What Sarah Said" is another one of the more touching and emotional songs on the album. The sound of the piano at the start reminds me of fingers tapping in succession on a chair (pinky, ring, middle, index) when a person is anxious about something. The song itself is actually the titular song(And it came to an end, that every plan, is a tiny prayer to Father Time), and for good reason. It discusses the truest test that any love can have is watching and waiting and knowing that your partner is dying and that all you can do is watch and by their for them, and not regretting a single second of being with them and though it pains you being there with them for the whole process of their death. It is poignant, and touching, and asks the listener "Whose going to watch you die?" or rather, who loves you so much that they could endure the experience of watching you pass. The song raises some difficult thoughts and feelings in me personally.

By contrast, "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" is a different kind of sad. It speaks of a couple whose passion has faded away due to the constant pressures of life, the monotony and the simple passing of time. How they sleep next to one another, not as lovers, but in the platonic way that two brothers might sleep in the same bed. The singers acknowledges that his age and the changes he has gone through may be the cause of the passion fading, It explores the melancholy of middle-age and struggling to realize that your youth has faded.

"Stable Song" is a slower paced song, which honestly, I had difficulty drawing meaning from.

I have to say that if you don't own this album, you should pick it up and give it a long listen. It is beautiful, touching, and makes you think about what it really  means to love, to hurt, to feel, and to simply just be human.

Music Video for "What Sarah Said" (some parts are 'muffled' unlike in the album) 




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Undoing Ties

After giving it much thought and conducting some divination I have made a few decisions.

The first one is that I will no longer be attending the Unitarian Universalist Church. This has nothing to do with the people being mean (because they aren't) everyone at my local Unitarian Universalist Church were all very nice and kind and good people. I'm electing to cease going altogehter for a few reasons, the first one being that it just isn't meeting my needs. When I first started attending I was hoping to develop my own spirituality and get some insights into the spirituality of others, I thought it would be a good place to attend to learn more about other faiths in-depth, but I ultimately realized that Unitarian Universalists do have a certain kind of faith homogenity with some garnish on top. Really though, the Church is more about Social Justice issues and Humanitarian causes than anything, which ISN'T bad, it just isn't what I'm seeking out.

I'd also like to thank everyone at the Denton Unitarian Universalist Foundation for showing me hospitality, for talking to me, and for being my friend. I will not forget the coffee we shared and I definitely won't forget the teens that I had the pleasure of watching develop and come along on their own ruminations about God and faith. Reverend Pamela Wat was wonderful and I'm sure she'll bring the Foundation to even greater successes and heights

This lead to the next thing that I had to think about. Do I continue attending CUUPS? They are the only Pagan organization around really, but really I don't have more than a sprinkling of kindred spirits in the group. They are all fine and fabulous people and they at minimum pour libations to the Gods and Goddesses (even if occasionally  they just resort to the generic 'Lord, Lady, and Ancestors' ). However, I find myself cringing when I get into social situations with more than a select couple of people and there is a lot of attitudes held by many members that grate on me and that I don't feel I really have place to address or discuss heavily as it will just result in tensions, hurt feelings, and lets be honest, I am of a different faith than the majority of CUUPs goers. In fact, as far as I know I'm the only recon in the group currently. I've had a lot of fun with the group too! They have been a source of socialization, and connection and not feeling isolated among the vast wide world and the sea of Abrahamic believers.  However, I also feel that it is wrong to attend events solely for socialization and entertainment purposes. So I was (and still am) conflicted between what I want for myself and what I feel is right, pious, and proper. If you know anything about me, you will know what I have elected to do.

So it is with a heavy heart that I also bid a goodbye to CUUPS

Now that brings me to the last thing that I really had to grapple with. Do I want to be involved with the Pan-Pagan community? If so, why? If not, why? The answer I have ultimately come to is a relatively dejected 'no, but I have to'. I have too many connections with the Pan-Pagan community, plus Pan-Pagan events are great places to raise awareness for Reconstructionism and Hellenion. I have decided that I'm going to limit interaction though, I'm not going to try to engage in debates and many of the gen Pagan blogs I read I'm going to stop reading. I'm also  not going to attend Eclectic/Wiccan inspired rites and stick to rites, rituals and festivities performed by and for folks who employ the Reconstructionist methodology. In other words, a lot of my interaction will be on a person-person level, and I won't be participating in holidays like Beltane, Samhain, or Mabon (unless they are conducted by a Celtic Recon of course!). The internet flame wars get real ridiculous real fast and in person I find that most Pagans use terminology and have viewpoints that really are against the grain for me (again, going back to the fact that we aren't the same faith, but separate and distinct ones). So I hope to make some events and bring a Hellenic presence to these events, but I won't be attending Circles any longer.

I'm getting deeper into my own faith and realizing that I do need to discard some things and pursue others. I think that is okay, fine, and necessary. I need to get my ass in gear for Xenia and I need the feelings of loneliness to drive me to develop it further I think. I think this is for the best, and I think this is good, though it doesn't mean that I won't miss these things.

Deer Cave by loupiote on flickr

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why Hellenismos? Because Athena.

This past few weeks I've been going through some very personal changes which have resulted in de-realization and then an awakening of sorts. I wound up ruminating on why I am a Hellenist.

Why? That is always the question isn't it? Why?

Unlike some Hellenist, I have no love for Plato or Aristotle or Iamblichus or any of the other various philosophers. I was not drawn in and captivated by the myths more than any other mythology. Greek Theatre is amazing and fascinating, but not enough to embrace the religion. I have no Greek blood in me (at least that I can prove. A group of cousins claim we do, but I think that is a bunch of bullshit honestly)  I had (at the time of becoming a Hellenist) zero interest in Greece, no like of Greek culture, and a disdain for the country even. (I'm coming to appreciate Greek culture, very slowly). Why then did I become a Hellenist?

I ask myself this frequently enough. The answer is simple

Athena.

Of course, I have grown closer to other Gods too (like Aphrodite and Hermes) but the root lies with Athena. In love of her I sought out her original faith and worship. In love of her I opened my first Burkert book and it grew and grew from there. She was the thing which caused me to open the door and step inside. From Athena all this grew.

I've always had an obsession with her, a fascination and an inclination. From the first time I read the myths (in the 6th grade) through High School and into college. I've always had this inclination towards Athena.  Seeing art of her was awesome, I liked vase paintings of her, depictions, paintings it didn't matter what as long as it was of her. So, after I got out of my Wicca phase and was searching for something deeper and more grounded in history Hellenismos seemed to be the most natural choice.

Through Athena I've come to the Gods.

Through her I do not stay though. It takes more than just one God or Goddess to make one stay and dedicate the time, energy, and effort it takes to reconstruct a religious practice. In Hellenismos I've found a love for their particular festival cycle, I've found an extreme liking for the ritual structure, I've found that the other Olympians are wonderful and awe-inspiring as well. I've found a comfort in the pouring of libations and all the little particulars I have found to be wonderful (even if there are some particulars that still confuse me or that I'm uncertain about)

Through Athena I've come to the Gods, and for Athena I want to build a temple.

After all, don't I owe all the kharis in my life to the grey-eyed Goddess?


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One Year

It has been over a year since I've moved into this house of mine.

A lot has happened in that year.

In that year, I've begun to dig into my faith deeply, formulate opinions, and come to know my Gods better. I've erected shrines, I've struggled with doubts, and I've developed a fairly consistent daily devotional practice.

In that year I've come more and more comfortable with my own sexuality. I may have come out at 15 but it takes actually being with another man to grow comfortable with it. My dad found out I was gay in this time.

In that year I've been hurt by someone, I've been lied to and felt only what could be called a sense of betrayal. In this same year I've come to date and fall in love with an amazing man who I've had the pleasure of being with for 8 months now. The first person who I'm certain that cares about me as much as I care about them. The first person that I truly and wholly see myself going places with.

In that year I have learned how to manage money a bit better, even if a bit too late. I have learned to budget and correct and to minimize frivolous purchases.

In that year I have failed. I bombed my classes, I did terrible. My GPA went from a 3.2 to a 2.078 I've errored and I've lost aid, I've suffered from true burnout and a mild depressive episode. I've learned to pull myself up by the bootstraps and repair some damage (after all, the classes I made at least a C in are the classes that I salvaged within the month).

In that year I have succeeded. I auditioned for and got cast as the lead in two shows, I got lots of good comments on the first (sadly no one reviewed it) and on the second I got a good review. I completed my Hellenion Adult RE Classes, and I have managed to consistently post on my blog.

In that year I have learned that the kindness of friends and strangers is wonderful and intense and is something unexpected. I have learned that people who you least expect to help may help. 

In that year I have grown. Lets see what the next year of living here brings. I'm sure whatever it is, it will be grand.
(photos not listed chronologically)

My first 'altar'

Libation to Hephaestus

Gamelia

Dionysia ta Astikia

Shrine to Athena

Me as Adam and JP Cano as Serpentem in 'Adam and Eve in the Garden of Delights, or Love'

Me as John Merrick in 'The Elephant Man'

Me as Cú Chulainn and Roq Hodges as Loch at D-CUUPS Beltane Ritual

My kadeuceus

My backyard

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A young man living in North Texas. He is an actor, a Hellenistos, and a proud member of Hellenion.