Completely inappropriate

It was a nice, warm spring day and I was feeling well for a change so Galina and I went into town only to discover “Closed for the Holiday” signs on all the storefronts.

Not cool, man. So not cool.

What kind of town shut’s down for Hitler’s birthday?

As we were getting back into the car my barbarian consort growled, “We’re Heathens. We don’t stand for this racist horseshit.” Revving the engine we tore out of there, nearly running over a little blond girl in a pure white dress carrying a basket full of what appeared to be large, brightly colored pellets of Zyklon B.

For those who are planning to attend the Polytheist Leadership Conference in July don’t worry – we’re hosting it a couple towns over in Fishkill.

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An absolute monarch is an absolute evil

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In response to my post on Constantine, dunkelza shared these insightful remarks:

Interestingly, I fault Constantine more for what he did to Christianity than for what he directly did to polytheism- as you point out, he was not baptized until he was on his deathbed. My concern is that he took a mystery religion that was largely about helping the oppressed and turned it into an expansionist state religion for the sake of unity.

While he certainly didn’t establish Abrahamic monotheism (thanks for that, Deuteronomists… :P ), he harnessed it for military gain. The end result being that he militarized the Filter with the might of a superpower. Worse, he hijacked an entire religion from its owner and gave it to Someone else- I’m still not sure Who.

The world would likely have been better off if Christianity has remained in Jesus’ hands and Constantine had simply incorporated His worship into the pantheon of Powers venerated by the empire. On the one hand, as you point out, that is what he tried to do. Unfortunately, on the other, Constantine convened and strong-armed the First Council of Nicaea, which standardized Christianity in ways that made its violent colonialism almost inevitable.

The following millennium and a half of religious genocide are not directly his fault, but he does bear some responsibility for setting the stage- just as Curie, Wells, and Einstein have some precursory responsibility for nuclear weapons and the world those weapons created.

Which demonstrates the wisdom and prudence of the Romans, for it is extremely difficult to balance temporal and spiritual power well:

Why is the so-called rex sacrorum, that is to say ‘king of the sacred rites,’ forbidden to hold office or to address the people? Is it because in early times the kings performed the greater part of the most important rites, and themselves offered the sacrifices with the assistance of the priests? But when they did not practice moderation, but were arrogant and oppressive, most of the Greek states took away their authority, and left to them only the offering of sacrifice to the gods; but the Romans expelled their kings altogether, and to offer the sacrifices they appointed another, whom they did not allow to hold office or to address the people, so that in their sacred rites only they might seem to be subject to a king, and to tolerate a kingship only on the gods’ account. At any rate, there is a sacrifice traditionally performed in the forum at the place called Comitium, and, when the rex has performed this, he flees from the forum as fast as he can. (Plutarch, Roman Questions 63)

Indeed, just because I argued that Constantine was a Dionysian figure does not mean that I believe that he was an admirable man or that he made the right decision. I think he tried to do what he thought was best for his country in a time of crisis but acting for “the greater good” rarely turns out well. I’d go one further and say that the closer one gets to Dionysos the more likely one’s actions are to have tragic consequences. And I use that word in the specifically Greek sense:

One of the essential elements of tragedy is harmatia or the fatal flaw in the hero through which he brings about his reversal of fortune and suffering. Very often in trying to avoid performing an evil act he inadvertently commits an even greater evil. The complex, contradictory emotions this rouses in the audience and what it forces them to confront about themselves and their society is what makes something a tragedy. Without that moral tension – a mix of pity and revulsion – you’ve just got a terrible, sad situation. In other words there’s no tragedy without a good person making wrong choices.

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If we’re not supposed to eat animals why are they made of meat?

In addition to seafood (and especially fish) I must now aphosiousthai all of the sacred animals of Dionysos, which means that:

Cows
Buffaloes
Goats
Deer
Sheep
Snakes
Spiders
Lizards
Geckos
Lions
Tigers
Panthers
Leopards
Lynxes
Foxes
Peacocks
Elephants
Bears
Donkeys
Dolphins
Humans

Are all off the menu, except on festival days when it’s permitted to transgress this prohibition, particularly if I’m doing some kind of ritual consumption of the animal to absorb the god’s dunamis. Though this severely restricts my diet it doesn’t mean that I’ve gone vegetarian (vegetarianism is a distinguishing mark of Pythagoreanism not Orphism, especially not the more Bacchic strains of the tradition) as fowl and swine are still permitted. That last one surprised me a bit as pigs are one of the animals commonly sacrificed to Dionysos and they played a role in the Eleusinian mysteries so I was assuming that they’d be verboten but I checked with him and it doesn’t seem to be an issue for me.

Part of what led me to suspect that my purity requirements had developed in this way is that any time I’ve eaten meat other than chicken, turkey or ham over the last couple weeks I’ve gotten massively ill. Of course any time I’ve eaten pretty much anything since Liberalia I’ve had pronounced gastrointestinal distress but consuming beef and goat seems to take it to a whole new level of horrible. After an especially bad bout of sick kicked off by a dinner party I attended on Friday I finally broke down and consulted Dionysos about this and got the confirmation I’ve been dreading. (Hence my avoidance of performing divination on the matter – if I didn’t actually know I could go along pretending I didn’t have such a restriction no matter how strongly I suspected.)

Oh well.

On the other hand, eating these animals only during ritual is going to make them powerful tools for the alteration of consciousness and bringing me into alignment with Dionysos so I guess there’s that!

Plus there’s plenty of animals that have no association with the god – yeah, I’m looking at you emu and zebra! Wander into Beacon and I will eat the hell out of you, simply because I can.

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Constantine chose wisely

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I forgot to mention why Constantine chose Byzantium as his imperial capital – the city was sacred to Dionysos. According to Herodotos (Histories 4.87) when the Persian Dareios set up a stele in the city commemorating all of the nations who had been absorbed into his empire he did so in front of its most important building, the Dionysion, so that everyone would be able to read the dual Greek-Assyrian inscription since they so frequently gathered there.

And then there’s this delightful anecdote which Athenaios (Deipnosophistai 10.59) relates:

And Phylarchos, in his sixth book says that the Byzantines are so exceedingly fond of wine that they live in the wine-shops and let out their own houses and their wives also to strangers: and that they cannot bear to hear the sound of a trumpet even in their sleep. On which account once, when they were attacked by the enemy, and could not endure the labour of defending their walls, Leonidas, their general, ordered the innkeepers’ booths to be erected as tents upon the walls, and even then it was with difficulty that they were stopped from deserting, as Damon tells us, in his book on Byzantium. But Menander, in his play called the Woman carrying the Peplos of Athene, or the Female Flute-player, says-

Byzantium makes all the merchants drunk.
On your account we drank the whole night long,
And right strong wine too, as it seems to me,-
At least I got up with four heads, I think.

Though no longer the patron deity of Constantinople, Dionysos remained a prominent god in the city up to its fall at the hands of the Turks. Indeed he frequently appears on Byzantine works of art and was openly honored during the Brumalia and Kalends festivals. In fact one of the later Byzantine emperors staged a Dionysiac triumph with revelers costumed as satyrs and nymphs attending him as he rode through the great basilica on the back of a donkey to shame the greedy patriarch and his scheming, overbearing mother.

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Hope to see you in Fishkill!

And as a follow-up to the last post I’d like to remind folks that the Polytheist Leadership Conference is filling up fast. We only have three presentation slots left and a lot of folks are registering to attend. If you’re interested in sharing a room or carpooling, be sure to check out this post where folks are connecting and making such arrangements.

Just a couple months left! Everything’s going to be different after Fishkill.

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I know I’m not one of your favorites, and I’m not welcomed in your house, but I could use a little attention, please.

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I’ve been seeing a bunch of stuff about Constantine the Great in the pagan blogosphere the last couple days in anticipation of Easter.

Unlike a lot of folks I don’t get my hate on when it comes to this Emperor since he was basically an opportunistic devotee of Dionysos who exploited the potential for social cohesion in the nascent church to bolster a floundering Rome. At this point the empire had been greatly destabilized by close to a century of petty foreign wars and civic strife, and was on the brink of economic collapse. There had also been massive droughts and famines and a plague that wiped out close to a tenth of the population. He attempted to reform Rome’s institutions from within to address these problems and met with little success since the senatorial class was deeply entrenched and resistant to change lest they lose their power base so he looked outside to the church as a model for social and political cohesion, repealing the ban on the religion and granting it official imperial patronage. This eventually proved a disastrous move, but it’s unfair to fault him for making it considering the problematic situation the empire found itself in. He was pretty much fucked no matter what he did. So he made a deal with a devil – a deal, by the way, which permitted the Western Roman empire to limp along for another hundred years or so and the Eastern branch to persist until the fifteenth century. In that light his efforts must be seen as something of a success.

But the man himself was no conventional Christian – he continuously put off receiving baptism until his deathbed, at which point he was too weak to protest further and the sacrament may have been performed on him without his consent. When he rededicated a city on the site of the ancient Byzantium to serve as the new imperial capital (the first fully Christian city according to tradition) temples to Tyche and the Dioskouroi were built. A court panegyrist hailed him as being under the divine protection of Apollo and Jupiter years after the incident at the Ponte Milvio and the court historian Zosimus (himself a pagan) recounted how Constantine erected numerous statues to Apollo. Even after he began using the Chi Rho symbol Constantine minted coins with the image of Sol Invictus. Though he made legal concessions to the growing Christian elites (for instance substituting hanging for crucifixion for capital offenses and passing laws that privileged the church with state support and outlawed magic and divination) his primary goal was fostering religious tolerance. He permitted sacrifice in the temples and the celebration of festivals, provided that they were non-compulsory, and gave local, regionally specific cults imperial sanction:

“Let no one disturb another, let each man hold fast to that which his soil wishes…”

But his true allegiance was to the cult of Dionysos, as his grandson the Emperor Julian made clear. In his satirical piece The Caesars (written for the occasion of the Saturnalia) Julian has the great emperors of the past summoned to a feast of the gods with Dionysos advocating for the inclusion of Constantine:

In the silence that followed, Kronos turned to Zeus and said that he was astonished to see that only martial Emperors were summoned to the competition, and not a single philosopher. “For my part, he added, “I like philosophers just as well. So tell Marcus to come in too.” Accordingly Marcus was summoned and came in looking excessively dignified and showing the effect of his studies in the expression of his eyes and his lined brows. His aspect was unutterably beautiful from the very fact that he was careless of his appearance and unadorned by art; for he wore a very long beard, his dress was plain and sober, and from lack of nourishment his body was very shining and transparent, like light most pure and stainless.

When he too had entered the sacred enclosure, Dionysos said, “King Kronos and Father Zeus can any incompleteness exist among the gods?” And when they replied that it could not, “Then,” said he, “let us bring in here some votary of pleasure as well.”

“Nay,” answered Zeus, “it is not permitted that any man should enter here who does not model himself on us.”

“In that case,” said Dionysos, “let them be tried at the entrance.  Let us summon by your leave a man not unwarlike but a slave to pleasure and enjoyment. Let Constantinus come as far as the door.”

Constantinus was allowed to speak next. On first entering the lists he was confident enough. But when he reflected on the exploits of the others he saw that his own were wholly trivial. He had defeated two tyrants, but, to tell the truth, one of them was untrained in war and effeminate, the other a poor creature and enfeebled by old age, while both were alike odious to gods and men. Moreover his campaigns against the barbarians covered him with ridicule. For he paid them tribute, so to speak, while he gave all his attention to Pleasure, who stood at a distance from the gods near the entrance to the moon. Of her indeed he was so enamoured that he had no eyes for anything else, and cared not at all for victory. However, as it was his turn and had to say something, he began:

“In the following respects I am superior to these others; to the Macedonian in having fought against Romans, Germans and Scythians, instead of Asiatic barbarians; to Caesar and Octavianus in that I did not, like them, lead a revolution against brave and good citizens, but attacked only the most cruel and wicked tyrants. As for Trajanus, I should naturally rank higher on account of those same glorious exploits against the tyrants, while it would be only fair to regard me as his equal on the score of that territory which he added to the empire, and I recovered; if indeed it be not more glorious to regain than to gain. As for Marcus here, by saying nothing for himself he yields precedence to all of us.”

“But Constantinus,” said Silenus, “are you not offering us mere gardens of Adonis as exploits?”

“What do you mean,” he asked, “by gardens of Adonis”?

“I mean”, said Silenus, “those that women plant in pots, in honour of the lover of Aphrodite, by scraping together a little earth for a garden bed. They bloom for a little space and fade forthwith.” At this Constantinus blushed, for he realised that this was exactly his own performance.

While Julian is harsh in his judgments on his grandfather (and gets in a couple good swipes at Jesus later in the piece) it’s important to keep in mind that τρυφἠ was an essential quality in the Dionysian model of kingship promulgated by the Ptolemies and other Hellenistic monarchs. (Plus Julian had an axe to grind since a lot of his family had been executed and he himself was forced into exile early on during the dynastic squabbles of Constantine’s sons.)

Another indication of Constantine’s Dionysian character was his choice of location when he summoned representatives of the Christian churches to iron out their theological and personal differences. The ecumenical council (where he basically locked the bishops in a room and told them that if they didn’t reach consensus he was going to have them all killed) took place in the Anatolian city of Nikaia which had originally been founded by Dionysos himself:

This city is named after the nymph Nikaia who is said to have been the daughter of Kybele and Sangarios, the ruler of the country. Preferring virginity to cohabitation with a man, she spent her life hunting in the mountains. Dionysos fell in love with her, but she rejected his advances. After his rejection Dionysos tried to achieve his desire by a trick. He filled the spring, from which Nikaia used to drink when she was worn out from hunting with wine instead of water. She suspected nothing and, acting as normal, took her fill of the deceptive liquid. Then drunkenness and sleep took hold of her, and she submitted to the wishes of her lover. Dionysos had intercourse with her, and fathered Satyros and other sons by her. (Memnon, History of Herakleia 28.9)

One wonders if this naiad was involved in Constantine’s famous vision while crossing the Tiber, when the words Εν Τούτῳ Νίκα appeared before him in the heavens.

A church built by Constantine to celebrate the miraculous healing of his daughter from a disease very similar to the one suffered by the Proetides was later mistaken for a temple of Dionysos, further attesting a link between the two. But the real cincher for me is Constantine’s posthumous activities, primarily his involvement in the Orthodox Greek festival Anastenaria:

The Anastenaria is a traditional ritual of fire walking which dates back to pagan times. Barefoot villagers of Ayia Eleni near Serres, and of Langada near Thessaloniki, and other places, annually walk over hot coals. As there are variations in the ritual from place to place, the following description is largely based upon the performance of the festival as celebrated at Ayia Eleni, the most authoritative Anastenarian community, and the illustrations are from the ritual at Langada. On the eve of the feast of Saints Constantine and Helen (May 20th) the Anastenarides gather in the konaki, where the participants dance and sing to the music of the Thracian lyra, and a large drum. After some time, the dancing generates extreme emotional and ecstatic phenomena in the devotees, particularly in those dancing for the first time. This manifests itself in the form of violent trembling, repeated rocking backwards and forwards, and writhing. The archanastenaris hands out icons from the shelf to some of the dancers. The Anastenarides believe that during the dance they are “seized” by the saint, and enter a state of trance. On the morning of the saints’ day (May 21st) the Anastenarides gather at the konaki before leaving together in procession, accompanied by musicians and candle bearers to a holy well, where they are blessed by the holy water. Next, they sacrifice one or several animals to the saints. In Ayia Eleni, the animal must be over one year old, and of an odd number of years of age, the most acceptable being seven. The beast must also be unmarked and it must not have been castrated. It is incensed, and then led up to a shallow pit excavated in a place previously indicated by the Archanastenaris in a trance, usually beside the roots of a tree or at the agiasma. At one side of the shallow pit candles are lighted, while, on the other stand pots of holy water and the sacrificial animal. The beast is turned upside down, with its head tilted upwards, at the edge of the pit. Its throat is cut in such a way as to allow its blood to soak into the earth. The carcass is hung and skinned to the sound of music, and the raw flesh and hide cut up into equal parts put into baskets and distributed, amongst the families of the village in a procession from house to house.

Though attached to the name of one of Christianity’s greatest saints, the church attempted to suppress these practices as a survival of Dionysian ecstatic worship:

Among scholars the origins of the Anastenaria, as opposed to what the cult has become today, are a matter of considerable dispute. Although there is no evidence in ancient literature of fire-walking rituals associated with the god Dionysos, most scholars connect the Anastenaria with the widespread cult of that divinity. This association was also made by the Church authorities when they condemned the practices of the cult. Folklore scholar George A. Megas observes that “the cradle of Dionysiac worship was precisely in the Haemus area where the Anastenaria are danced today, passed down by the Greeks to the neighboring Bulgarian villages.” This latter point is made clear by the fact that the prayers used by the Bulgarian Anastenarides are recited in Greek, and that the transmission of the rites from Greeks to Bulgarian settlers in the area is a matter of historical record. Moreover, the evidence of mid-winter and carnival customs is that much that was associated with the Dionysian cult has survived throughout northern and central Greece. Katerina Kakouri has established a close connection between these customs and the Anastenaria in Ayia Eleni.

There are some amazing videos of Anastenaria on Youtube that you should check out if you’re interested in seeing the Dionysian parallels for yourself.

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We’re watching the big tent catch fire

Galina Krasskova posted a very interesting conversation she had with her colleague Kenaz Filan. I was going to quote a tantalizing excerpt from it to excite your interest, but how do you choose when the whole thing is so damn good? Go read it for yourself.

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More on the religious life of Lokroi

Though I tend to emphasize the cults of Dionysos, Persephone and Aphrodite in this polis (the second most important in Magna Graecia after Tarentum) plenty of other gods, heroes and spirits were honored there, as this passage from Justin’s Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus demonstrates:

The Locrians, seized with alarm, had recourse to the Spartans, begging their assistance with humble entreaties. But the Spartans, disliking so distant an expedition, told them “to ask assistance from Castor and Pollux.” This answer, from a city in alliance with them, the deputies did not despise, but going into the nearest temple, and offering sacrifice, they implored aid from those gods. The signs from the victims appearing favourable, and their request, as they supposed, being granted, they were no less rejoiced than if they were to carry the gods with them; and, spreading couches for them in the vessel, and setting out with happy omens, they brought their countrymen comfort though not assistance.

This affair becoming known, the Crotonians themselves also sent deputies to the oracle at Delphi, asking the way to victory and a prosperous termination of the war. The answer given was, that “the enemies must be conquered by vows, before they could be conquered by arms.” They accordingly vowed the tenth of the spoil to Apollo, but the Locrians, getting information of this vow, and the god’s answer, vowed a ninth part, keeping the matter however secret, that they might not be outdone in vows. When they came into the field, therefore, and a hundred and twenty thousand Crotonians stood in arms against them, the Locrians, contemplating the smallness of their own force (for they had only fifteen thousand men), and abandoning all hope of victory, devoted themselves to certain death; and such courage, arising out of despair, was felt by each, that they thought they would be as conquerors, if they did not fall without avenging themselves. But while they sought only to die with honour, they had the good fortune to gain the victory; nor was there any other cause of their success but their desperation. While the Locrians were fighting, an eagle constantly attended on their army, and continued flying about them till they were conquerors. On the wings, also, were seen two young men fighting in armour different from that of the rest, of an extraordinary stature, on white horses and in scarlet cloaks; nor were they visible longer than the battle lasted. The incredible swiftness of the report of the battle made this wonderful appearance more remarkable; for on the same day on which it was fought in Italy, the victory was published at Corinth, Athens, and Lacedaemon. (20.2-3)

Afterwards they always left room in their battle formations for the Dioskouroi, who brought them great victories.

Apollon (being the preeminent god of the Dorians after Herakles) was extremely important and several month-names throughout Magna Graecia and Sicily were derived from his Hyakinthia festival, which I’ll be discussing at length in a future post.

And here’s another interesting anecdote by Justin about Aphrodite, showing that her martial aspect was recognized in the area:

The Locrians, being harassed in war by Leophron the tyrant of Rhegium, had vowed, if they were victorious, to prostitute their maidens on the festal day of Venus; and as, on neglecting to perform the vow, they were unsuccessful in another war with the Lucanians, Dionysius called them to an assembly, and advised them “to send their wives and daughters, as richly dressed as possible, to the temple of Venus; out of whom a hundred, chosen by lot, should fulfill the public vow, and, for religion’s sake, offer themselves for prostitution during the space of a month, the men previously taking an oath not to touch any one of them; and, in order that this should be no detriment to the women who released the state from its vow, they should make a decree, that no other maiden should be married till these were provided with husbands.” This proposal, by which regard was shown both to their superstitious observances and to the honour of their virgins, being received with approbation, the whole of the women, in most expensive dresses, assembled in the temple of Venus. (21.3)

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United

I just saw this post by Alyxander Folmer over at Patheos and wanted to draw attention to it:

I have NEVER been more proud to have to scrap an article. The Heathen community acted both quickly and decisively. Several organizations, including The Troth and Heathens United Against Racism, were quick to speak out against Frazier, contact CNN with corrections, and even start a petition to CNN. As happy as I was to see our community step up and make a statement, one effort in particular caught my attention more than the rest. H.U.A.R. started a benefit to donate money to the victims’ families. I am elated to see so many Heathens speaking up, but I am even more thrilled to see our community backing its words with ACTION: not just distancing ourselves from a madman, but trying our best to make amends for the wrongs done in our name. That is the kind of community I want to be a part of, and the kind of community I knew we could be. The benefit has already raised over $1800, and I want to see that number grow. To that end, I offered a Fund Matching Drive through Huginn’s Heathen Hof (my personal page) to support the H.U.A.R. benefit. As of the time this article was posted, nearly the entire $150 has been matched, but the drive isn’t over yet. I realize that not everyone has enough to give, and many of those who do can’t give much. Any donation helps, no matter how small. Thank you all for your support.

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Can anyone help?

A friend of a friend has a niece who’s in some real trouble at the moment and I wanted to help get the word out in case anyone could offer assistance or knew someone who might be in a position to do so. This post will be forwarded to the person so just leave a comment here and they’ll be in touch with you. Keeping names and personal information out of this to protect privacy. Thanks.

I’m writinng to you because I am desperately seeking a solution (or solutions) for my niece. She lost her job after she had GRS and her apartment shortly afterward. She lost her car after that. She has nothing now and is truly homeless. She spent the last two nights sleeping on the floor in the apartment of an acquaintance in Bed Stuy, and will have to leave that place in a couple of days. My partner and I have told her that if it comes down to our place or the street, she should, of course, come here, but that’s not a long term solution (she’ll probably need to sleep on the floor here, too, since our couch is more like a love seat and she’s over 6 feet tall.) Those family members who have greater resources (like her father, who lives by himself in a huge house) have rejected her because she’s trans. So, I’m just reaching out to everyone I know who might be sympathetic and have some resources or ideas. My niece is very skilled at repairing computers, phones and other gadgets (she has some high level IT certification) and is also a skilled handy-woman; good with tools. She’s also a neatnik who doesn’t mind doing house work (even sort of likes it.) So…maybe there’s someone in your circle who would barter a room for the sort of work she can do, or even offer a job? It’s extra hard for her because even with GRS and hormones, she can’t “pass” for cisgender due to her height and the fact that, while she has worked on her voice, it still doesn’t sound all that cisgender feminine…

Thanks in advance for any ideas you might have.

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Starry Bull chat tonight at 10:00pm

We’re going to have the postponed discussion on Euripides’ Bakchai tonight, which should be a lot of fun. We’ll be using Zoho (which lets you sign in through Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.) and I’ll be around early to make sure everyone gets in the room and any technical glitches are worked out before we start. And remember, you don’t have to consider yourself a member of the Starry Bull thiasos to join us. Really looking forward to this!

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On the next episode of Wyrd Ways Radio

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On May 7th our guest will be Lee Harrington, who is:

an internationally known spiritual and erotic authenticity educator, gender explorer, eclectic artist and award-winning author and editor on human erotic and sacred experience. He’s been traveling the globe (from Seattle to Sydney, Berlin to Boston), teaching and talking about sexuality, psychology, faith, desire and more, and is grateful for the journeys and love he has found along the way. His many books include Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond and More Shibari You Can Use: Passionate Rope Bondage and Intimate Connection, and has been blogging about sex, spirit and energy since 1998. Check out the trouble Lee has been getting into, as well as his own regular podcast, tour schedule, free essays, videos, coaching, and more over at http://www.PassionAndSoul.com.

We’ll be discussing topics such as sacred sexuality, erotic ethics and using kink as a tool for inducing altered states of consciousness. Though we booked him months ago recent events make this a timely and relevant topic for conversation.

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ἀγεωμέτρητος μηδεὶς εἰσίτω

We had an incredible conversation with Edward Butler, one of the intellectual heavyweights of the polytheist movement, which you can listen to here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/witchschool/2014/04/17/ptrn-presents-circle-talkwyrd-ways-live-pagan-music-project

Unfortunately we got so caught up in it that by the time we thought to open the phone lines there were only a couple minutes left of the show. So if you were hoping to get in some questions with the man who has been described as “the greatest proponent of Platonism since Marsilio Ficino” I guess you’ll just have to attend the Polytheist Leadership Conference where he’ll be presenting on the Gods and the Good and ask him then.

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hermeneusis

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Another thing that I’m doing as part of my observance of Anthesphoria is reading the Interlinear Translation of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter which contains invaluable annotations. Reflecting on the Doso scene opened up for me a whole new level of understanding of this myth – especially because of the parallels with the Homeric Hymn to Dionysos.

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Not because we are responsible, but because we can

Harrison K. Hall writes:

For now, however, it falls upon to see that we respect the victims of that crime as well as those they left behind. Not because we are responsible, but because we can [...] Some of us have put together a fundraiser to assist those effected by this tragedy. If you can give, give. If you can afford to, spread the message so we can find more people that can. Than, once the dust settles on this, it’ll be time to have some very important conversations. Conversations that have waited for far too long, and cannot wait any longer.

As of posting it looks like they’ve already raised a truly impressive and substantial $1,292 but they’ve still got a long way to go towards their $5,000 goal. If you can, please help out. This is a wonderful opportunity for not just Heathens but polytheists of all stripes to come together and do some good and necessary work in the world.

That said, as a Dionysian, I must disagree with how people are characterizing this incident as tragic. It’s unquestionably a horrible, senseless, brutal act but there’s no hamartia, peripeteia, anagnorisis or catharsis involved which makes it a calamity or catastrophe not a tragedy.

Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t support this most worthy of causes – you absolutely should! – just that we must be careful not to lend this pathetic shit’s deeds a dignity and grandeur they don’t deserve through our imprecise use of language.

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Not here. Not among my people.

Galina Krasskova, as head of House Sankofa, has released a statement on Sunday’s racially motivated shootings which the Wild Hunt is reporting was committed by an Odinist:

This is a problem that we cannot continue to ignore or downplay. It’s not enough to simply distance ourselves from racist Heathens, to paint them as a small but vocal minority on the fringes of the community. We must provide no room for this insidious evil to take root and be uncompromising in our intolerance for the intolerant. When we cowardly give these racist wingnuts a pass in the interests of avoiding conflict and maintaining “frith” we make ourselves culpable for their actions. If we don’t stop them from speaking for us, we must live with the consequences of them doing just that. We’ve seen what’s happened in Wicca and contemporary paganism when people look the other way, make apologies and try to sweep the nasty stuff under the carpet for the sake of appearances and harmony – we Heathens can and should do better.

Not only, as Galina points out, does it make no sense for contemporary Heathens to adopt such views since their cultural ancestors didn’t hold to modern notions of racial purity but it’s particularly mind-boggling to attach Odin’s name to this since it was one of his primary functions as Allfather to sow his seed as far and wide as possible – including among gods, giants, dwarves, humans and any other biologically compatible species. Of all the Heathen deities I think he’s the one least likely to care about a little melanin.

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Continuing the thread

Speaking of which, here’s an in progress painting that Galina shared at her art blog, which was inspired by the image of Persephone in the last post:

persephone-3

Notice the eight-point star? That’s a detail I’ve overlooked all the dozens of times I’ve examined the original image – but she caught it and included it in her painting.

In case you’re wondering why that’s significant, here’s a story I told a while back:

Walking down eighth street I remembered another time many years ago. It was winter in Montana and I gave my favorite leather jacket to a cold stranger who had nothing, a fellow traveler on a Greyhound bus. Shortly after I got home from that trip Hermes began mentoring me in magic and introduced me to Spider who at first I thought was just a helper-spirit but in time became so much more. Then I glance up and see a flyer for an upcoming showing of The Doors’ 1968 Hollywood Bowl concert. Circles. It’s all fucking circles, isn’t it?

Between the start of my relationship with Hermes and his introducing me to Spider he gave me a magic sigil that would help open me up to the spirits if I tattooed it on the back of my neck.

Anyone want to take a guess at what that sigil is?

Yup. An eight-point star.

One of the many coincidences that I looked back on and laughed at once I’d been working with Spider a while. Because sometimes it’s a choice between laughing or screaming until you shed tears of blood.

I mean, it’s downright hilarious how the Orphics have this whole tradition of a weaving Persephone and Tarentum (the city tarantism is named after) revered an Iakchos with a distaff.

My gods and spirits sure do have a sense of humor. One of the confirmatory signs I was sent when I started piecing things together about the being Hermes was introducing me to was this U-Haul truck passing by at just the right moment:

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Since then I’ve considered these trucks to be omens-on-wheels and they tend to show up whenever I’m at a cross-roads.

I saw one on Sunday after stumbling across a bunch of floats and musicians getting ready for a Nowruz parade. I first became aware of this festival while doing research on Coptic and Moslem folk traditions in Egypt. A number of scholars have drawn parallels between this festival and the triumphant processions in honor of Dionysos. I was thrown at first by it’s being celebrated in April as opposed to March but it turns out the organizers decided to move it a couple years back due to regular inclement weather.

I was amused at first since I was on a meditative walkabout with a friend and hoping to find a statue of the Maiden in an antique store. And, you know, Persephone and Persian share the same root – which also links them to Medeia and Perseus – plus this being a festival celebrating the return of spring and all.

But later on I decided to go back and see if I had made any posts around the traditional date of Nowruz that could possibly be significant. Bookending March 20th was this:

In order to gain admittance into the cities during his Indian expedition, Dionysos dressed his troops in white linen and deer skins, instead of gleaming armour. Their spears were adorned with ivy, and the points of the spears were hidden under a thyrsus. His orders were given by cymbals and drums, instead of trumpets; and intoxicating his enemies with wine, he engaged them in dancing and Bacchic orgies. Such were the stratagems which that general practised in his conquest of India, and the rest of Asia. (Polyaenus, Stratagems 1.1)

And this:

In the period of the Molossian Alexander 334-330 B.C. however, the plump child form appears with a flower-like topknot on his head, and a distaff with spirally twisted wool. These figures may be compared with that on a celebrated krater represented in the Archaeologische Zeitung (1850, taf. XVI) described by Gerhard, p. 161 seqq. The figures of Iacchus mark the great influence of the Chthonic mysteries upon the older national cults of Poseidon and Apollo. These plump little figures may be compared with the terra-cotta votive figures found in tombs at Tarentum, some of which are crowned with Bacchic ivy-leaves. Conf. Hellen. Jour. 1886. What did the distaff signify to the mint masters who placed it as a symbol in the hands of the figure of the founder in 530 B.C. ? From the fact that we see the kantharos in the hand of the founder on some coins and on others the distaff, and on others the distaff in one hand and the kantharos in the other, we naturally ask whether the distaff can be looked upon as a symbol of Dionysiac or Chthonic rites, or whether it has any associations with the mysteries.

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This is a clear collocation of the chthonic and the playful.

korc3a9-674-c3a9poque-archac3afque-acropole1

Each day of Anthesphoria (which will be going on until the 18th of April on the model of the Roman Cerealia) I’m setting aside an hour, at the least, where my thoughts are fully turned towards Persephone.

Tonight I was thinking about the αἰσχρολογία which were part of the festival she shared with her law-giving mother:

Thesmophoria: a festival of the Greeks encompassing mysteries, also known as Skirophoria. It was held, according to the more mythological explanation, because when Kore, picking flowers, was being carried off by Pluto, one Eubuleus, a swineherd, was at the time grazing his pigs on that spot, and they were swallowed up together in Kore’s pit; wherefore, in honor of Eubuleus piglets are thrown into the pits of Demeter and Kore. The rotten remains of what is thrown into the megara below are recovered by women called “dredgers” who have spent three days in ritual purity and descend into the shrines and when they have recovered the remains deposit them on the altars. They believe that anyone who takes some and sows it with their seed will have a good crop. They say that there are also serpents below about the pits, which eat up the great part of the material thrown in; for which reason they also make a clatter whenever the women dredge and whenever they set those models down again, so that the serpents they believe to be guarding the shrines will withdraw. The same thing is also known as Arrhetophoria and is held with the same explanation to do with vegetable fertility and human procreation On that occasion, too, they bring unnameable holy things fashioned out of wheat-dough: images of snakes and male members. And they take pine branches because of that plant’s fertility. There are also thrown into the megara (so the shrines are called) those things, and piglets, as mentioned above—the latter because of their fecundity, as a symbol of vegetable and human generation, for a thanksgiving offering to Demeter; because in providing the fruits of Demeter she civilized the race of humans. Thus the former reason for the festival is the mythological one, but the present is physical. It is called Thesmophoria, because Demeter is given the epithet “Lawgiver” (Thesmophoros), for having set down customs, which is to say laws (thesmoi), under which men have to acquire and work for their food. (Scholiast on Lucian’s Dialogues of the Courtesans 275–276)

While in some locations men performed rites of their own for the Two Goddesses during this festival, it was predominantly a woman only affair and I’ve respected that for as long as I’ve been on the periphery of Hellenismos. It’s not just that female-identifying people deserve to have their own space: some mysteries simply have a gendered expression. And just to clarify – with few exceptions I believe that the genitals one was assigned at birth have precious little to do with this: an effeminate male can participate in certain rites that it would be inappropriate for a butch female to and as far as I’m concerned transfolk are whatever their inner reality is, including gender that transcends binary conception. In other words, it’s not about dictating identity – it’s about maintaining harmonious flow or being, as the Greeks would have said, συμπαθητικός. Cause when you’re not? There’s vomiting. Oh, so much vomiting.

I am about as solidly grounded in my masculinity as you can be without getting all neurotic about it (having sucked cock and regularly painting your nails is totally a manly thing to do – the Spartans combed each other’s hair until it was silky smooth before going into battle, are you going to question their virility?) so even though it sounds like a lot of fun I’ve never done more than note when Thesmophoria falls on the Attic calendar. In Sicily (which doesn’t have the same climate and agricultural cycle as Central Greece) it wasn’t held in autumn but rather fell earlier in the year. And note that this was an entirely different festival from the Anthesphoria, which was also celebrated on the island. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to track down enough information to say how Thesmophoria was observed there and the internet is no help. You can find this piece ostensibly about the Magna Graecian form of the festival but which instead repeats a lot of tired old tropes about how opium and ergot were essential ingredients in the mysteries (what do you want to bet the person waxing so poetically about those entheogens hasn’t actually tried them?) while all we get of Kate McLardy’s The Sicilian Thesmophoria: A Unique Example of a Classical Festival? is this tantalizing proposal:

The importance of Kore-Persephone in the region of Sicily during the Classical Period is well attested, and there are many literary references linking her mythologically to the region. Amongst the many locations competing for the site of the rape of Persephone, Sicily is a popular contender in ancient source material. Given her important links to Sicily, it would be expected that the Thesmophoria festival, held around the Greek world in honour of Demeter and Kore-Persephone and itself closely linked into the myth of the rape, would have been celebrated in Sicily. In this paper, I wish to consider the evidence for the Thesmophoria festival in Sicily, and whether this indicates a significant divergence from the standard scholarly reconstruction of the festival, which is based primarily on Athenian evidence. Following a consideration of the evidence for the worship of Demeter and Kore Thesmophoros in Sicily and Southern Italy, I intend to focus on the two main points where the literary evidence indicates a disparity between the Sicilian and Athenian festivals; that is, the length of the festival, and the shape of the aidoia cakes offered to the goddesses. The literary evidence will be adumbrated, and archaeological evidence and evidence of the festival from elsewhere in the Greek world will also be taken into account. In so doing, I hope to establish whether modern scholarship has overemphasised the importance of the Athenian model or whether the Sicilian Thesmophoria was indeed a unique version of the widespread festival.

What’s interesting is that although Sicily laid a rival claim to being the place of Kore’s abduction they are generally far more dependent on the Eleusinian model than the Locrians who are basically working from a completely independent mythological tradition. It’s stuff like this that makes regionally-specific polytheism so much fun!

So, anyway, αἰσχρολογία have been on my mind, and in particular this famous incident from Tarentine history.

The Emperor Julian demurely (and one might even say laconically) observed:

Once upon a time the citizens of Tarentum paid to the Romans the penalty for this sort of jesting, seeing that, when drunk at the festival of Dionysos, they insulted the Roman ambassadors. (Misopogon 355d)

There was a bit more than just obscene jesting and random insulting going on.

Compare what Dionysios of Halikarnassos wrote:

Postumius was sent as ambassador to the Tarentines. As he was making an address to them, the Tarentines, far from paying heed to him or thinking seriously, as men should do who are sensible and are taking counsel for a state which is in peril, watched rather to see if he would make any slip in the finer points of the Greek language, and then laughed, became exasperated at his truculence, which they called barbarous, and finally were ready to drive him out of the theatre.  As the Romans were departing, one of the Tarentines standing beside the exit was a man named Philonides, a frivolous fellow who because of his besotted condition in which he passed his whole life was called Demijohn; and this man, being still full of yesterday’s wine, as soon as the ambassadors drew near, pulled up his garment, and assuming a posture most shameful to behold, bespattered the sacred robe of the ambassador with the filth that is indecent even to be uttered.

When laughter burst out from the whole theatre and the most insolent clapped their hands, Postumius, looking at Philonides, said: “We shall accept the omen, you frivolous fellow, in the sense that you Tarentines give us what we do not ask for.” Then he turned to the crowd and showed his defiled robe; but when he found that the laughter of everybody became even greater and heard the cries of some who were exulting over and praising the insult, he said: “Laugh while you may, Tarentines! Laugh! For long will be the time that you will weep hereafter.” When some became embittered at this threat, he added: “And that you may become yet more angry, we say this also to you, that you will wash out this robe with much blood.” The Roman ambassadors, having been insulted in this fashion by the Tarentines both privately and publicly and having uttered the prophetic words which I have reported, sailed away from their city. (Roman Antiquities 19.5.1-5)

With the more elaborate account of Cassius Dio:

Lucius was despatched by the Romans to Tarentum. Now the Tarentines were celebrating the Dionysia, and sitting gorged with wine in the theatre one afternoon, they suspected that he was sailing against them. Immediately, in a passion and partly under the influence of intoxication, they set sail in turn; and thus, without any show force on his part or the slightest suspicion of any hostile act, they attacked and sent to the bottom both him and many others. When the Romans heard of this, they naturally were angry, but did not choose to take the field against Tarentum at once. However, they despatched envoys, in order not to appear to have passed over the affair in silence and in that way render them more arrogant. But the Tarentines, so far from receiving them decently or even sending them back with an answer in any way suitable, at once, before so much as granting them an audience, made sport of their dress and general appearance.  It was the city garb, which was in use in the Forum; and this the envoys had put on, either for the sake of dignity or else by way of precaution, thinking that this at least would cause the foreigners to respect their position. Bands of revellers accordingly jeered at them — they were also celebrating a festival, which, though they were at no time noted for temperate behaviour, rendered them still more wanton — and finally a man planted himself in the way of Postumius, and stooping over, relieved his bowels and soiled the envoy’s clothing. At this an uproar arose from all the rest, who praised the fellow as if he had performed some remarkable deed, and they sang many scurrilous verses against the Romans, accompanied by applause and capering steps. But Postumius cried: “Laugh, laugh while you may! For long will be the period of your weeping, when you shall wash this garment clean with your blood.” Hearing this, they ceased their jests, but made no move toward obtaining pardon for their insult; indeed, they took to themselves credit for a kindness in the fact that they had let the ambassadors withdraw unharmed.

Meton, failing to persuade the Tarentines not to engage in war with the Romans, retired unobserved from the assembly, put garlands on his head, and returned along with some fellow-revellers and a flute-girl. At the sight of him singing and dancing the cordax,a they gave up the business in hand to accompany his movements with shouts and hand-clapping, as people are apt to do under such circumstances. But he, after reducing them to silence, said: “Now it is our privilege both to be drunk and to revel, but if you accomplish what you plan to do, we should be slaves.” (Roman History 9.39.5-10)

Even though this is an externally verifiable historical event it totally reads like the plot of a hilarotragoedia or Phlyax play, a genre of burlesques on tragic themes pioneered by Rhinthon of Syracuse at Tarentum. These plays, which contributed to the Roman Atellan farce and the later Italian commedia dell’arte, was immensely popular in the region and seems to have had religious significance in the cults of Dionysos and Persephone, as Bonnie MacLachlan relates:

As in the Grotta Caruso, we have in Syracuse the collocation of death, nymphs and theater. We also have water: today, the water still flows from a spring through the alcove of the central cave. Before the construction of the Syracusan theater the niches in the rocks (some artificial and some natural) afforded places for votive deposits to the nymphs who provided fresh water. Even earlier, the pre-Greek population used these niches for burials. When Paolo Orsi excavated the nymphaeum in 1900 he found female busts, nymph-plaques with three small heads, a relief of Pan and a silen mask: the nymphs here were poised to play. The collocation of theaters with springs, fountains and nymphaea is remarkably common in the Greek Mediterranean world: examples are found in Sicily at Agrigento, Akrai, Morgantina, Segesta, Tindari and Taormina. And the collocation in various sites of votive artifacts representing Demeter/Persephone with comic figures and masks is no less striking. Perhaps the most impressive collection to date was unearthed on the island of Lipari, off the north shore of Sicily. (These are described by Bernabò Brea in Menandro e il teatro Greco nelle terracotta liparese, 1981.) Here, in the necropolis known as Contrada Diana, was a Koreion. Busts of Persephone were found in the Koreion together with silens. From tombs in the necropolis came a stunning and precious collection of terracotta masks, of characters from Attic tragedy and satyr plays, from Middle Comedy, phlyax plays, and New Comedy. Lipari was clearly devoted to the theater in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.E., and the theatrical life appears to have been continued after death. In many tombs were found eggs, a universal symbol of death and renewal. Eggs also appear to have been tied to the phlyax theater. On a Lucanian crater from the 4th century a phlyax player holds up a platter with five eggs (P. Claudio Sestieri, Dioniso 7 [1940] 191-95). In another Campanian crater a phlyax player converses with Dionysos; the god holds his thyrsos, the actor a torch in his right hand and an egg in his left (Gennaro Pesce, Dioniso 7 [1939] 162-65). This is a clear collocation of the chthonic and the playful.

It also had an influence on the ludi scaenici that formed part of the Cerealia.

Because circles.

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Tune in this Wednesday

Procession-of-the-Bull-Apis

Our guest on Wyrd Ways Radio on Wednesday April 16th is going to be Edward Butler who

has been been a practicing devotional polytheist for something like 25 years now. He got his doctorate in philosophy from the New School for Social Research in 2004 for his dissertation, “The Metaphysics of Polytheism in Proclus”. Since then, he has published numerous articles in peer reviewed journals on the subjects of Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophy and on the philosophy of religion, specifically polytheism, as well as several essays for devotional volumes from Bibliotheca Alexandrina. He’s also published a bit in Egyptology, most recently a major article on the demotic “Book of Thoth”, in addition to writing and publishing on his website “theological” encyclopedia entries for over 150 Egyptian deities. You can find his work at http://henadology.wordpress.com/

 

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Look at what you made!

Here are the communal prayers for each day of the week.

Dionysos – on Sunday
Dionysos, god of all things wild and free,
I call out to you this day.
Dionysos Lysios, the Liberator,
deliver me from burdens that I may draw closer to you.
Dionysos, god of all things wild and free,
I call out to you this day.
Hail to the Midnight Sun,
who lights my dreams dark and deep.
To Dionysos I give my first words today.
Let the Bull’s breath come from my mouth,
Let the fire of the Lightening Born be in my hands,
Let the sacred blood of the vine flow through my veins,
And let the sacrificial Earth be always under my feet.
Mother, lover, and the rending hand,
As you are all that man can be, let me live that cycle every day.
Give me eyes to see the beauty and the decay.
Give me a mind to comprehend your will.
Walk in this world through me.
Hanging Lord, garlanded in strange fruit,
you whose face peers from the twilight amidst the trees,
may we dance through your forests bloody-handed,
may we swing from your boughs with fresh wine upon our lips.
May my spine be like a thyrsus,
may my eyes reflect the dancing stars
for my heart belongs to the mad god, the bull horned Zagreus,
Dionysos, you who are both wild roaring and gentle,
as you lead us through the ivy,
I will seek You, always, in the fullness of life, each day,
so that I will be worthy to join you at my last breath.
I pray to Dionysos,
who liberates and saves us,
who offers an eternal feast to those who know the Mystery.
I [take action] for Dionysos, who is the Starry Bull.

Persephone – on Monday
Queen and Maiden, maiden and slave,
abducted into a kingdom to be hers,
you understand what it is like to be taken from one’s family and home,
you embrace us in a new land and new family.
Sweet and dark, dark and deadly,
console us in our fears of what we cannot see,
comfort us in our initiation of what we cannot know.
Maiden of light and shadow, whose secrets ripen like the darkest fruits,
first mother of the Starry Bull and last mother of my becoming,
protect the souls of my ancestors,
and welcome me to your meadows at my last breath.
My soul rises at your name,
like the flower coming through the snow,
like the earth splitting to reveal Death,
like the fruit splitting to reveal Life.
I bow my head and bear my neck –
beneath your scepter, oh Queen, may I serve;
beneath your garland, oh Kore, may I rejoice.
I pray to Persephone,
the Iron Queen of Erebos,
who welcomes and transforms the reveler.
I [take action] for Persephone of the Starry Bull.

Ariadne – on Tuesday
Ariadne, wise and clever daughter of Crete.
You go where others dare not travel.
When we are troubled or worried,
be there to give us your wisdom.
Help us when we are lost,
or take the uneven steps on our path.
Remind us there is hope at the end of our patience.
Unlock the puzzles we find ourselves in, Mistress of the Labyrinth.
Swinging, spiraling dancer of the shadowy in-between–
your love and your wildness can only be contained by the stars.
I will grasp the thread you offer, the one that snakes through my heart,
and I will not be afraid.
Axe-dancer, swinger on the vine, net-weaver, mistress called wife,
you that make the trees grow erect and fruit,
you whose face is sweet and fierce by turns,
ferocious hunter,
hidden behind meek face ripped and torn by the beaked monster within,
mad and maddening paradox in the skin of a maiden none too maidenly,
bless the land with the blood you shed and that shed by your followers,
may it stream through the labyrinth as water from the earth.
Betrayal was neither your intent nor your sin, our Lady,
but for surpassing love and mercy were you punished.
For helping those in need, you were helped in yours,
forsaken then reclaimed queen among mortals!
Deep love can lead us into danger and despair;
lead us from danger into the safety of divine embrace,
lead us from despair into the hope of divine love.
I pray to Ariadne,
who guides the way to the Starry Bull,
and returns from under the earth.
I [take action] for Ariadne of the Starry Bull.

Aphrodite – on Tuesday
Sweet, soothing Aphrodite
Heavenly One, Earthly One
whose power takes root
In gods and men alike
Hear our prayers!
Grant us the grace and gift
Of your beauteous sight!
Come and dwell amongst your people
Show us the ways of overpouring Love
So that we may be filled unto the utmost
And burst like grapes, like world-creating fire!
In every face and every smile that ever launched ship
or let loose hound, we see the beauty of your depths,
breaker of men, eater of hearts, healer in the dark,
we cry out to you whose warrior sons drive weapons deep in our breasts,
let loose your wiles, terrible and strong as the tide,
Show to us the passion that is your gift to life.
With long hair, wild yet beautiful, smooth yet fierce,
wearing rubies and pearls and all manner of gems,
give us love and lovely things, lady of the sea and all waters!
Mother of our births, for without you no union can be made,
Seducer of our hopes, for by you we fly across seas of desire.
Our sweat is salty; we come from your oceans.
Our tears are salty; we cry for and because of you.
Oh divinity, how beautiful you lie open before our eyes!
Goddess of sky and sea, such radiant glory makes mortals cry.
One glance from you, dare one sweet kiss,
I would willingly die! Aphrodite, thy name is Love.
I have only gratitude for the One who caresses and wakens us into longing
All history may be measured by moments of passion.
Through love, I embody my humanity.
Through love, I become more divine.
Open me further, Great Goddess, to this higher purpose,
touch me again! I await the next collision.
I pray to Aphrodite,
who brings together what is separate,
who inspires the action of the night.
I [take action] for Aphrodite of the Starry Bull.

Hermes – on Wednesday
God of guides and guide of gods, men, spirits, souls, and heroes!
Be kind and lead us to our goals and ends,
not just lead us on in your jokes and wiles!
May we honor you as door-opener, gate-crasher, road-walker, schedule-helper,
May we be blessed by you as thinkers, writers, speakers, commuters.
Traveling trickster, dearest stranger,
your talents are many, and no paths are closed to you.
May your luck move through me
as I move through life, in harmony with the gods.
In your honor, I will speak with eloquence and greet the unexpected with grace.
God of the Road that is all roads, above the earth and beneath,
protect the travel-weary souls on your Road, no matter where it takes them,
twist and turn the road beneath our feet to guide us where we must go,
drive us as the stolen cattle to the will of our fate-woven cords,
and carry us as messages to Hades when our road is done,
may we recognize you on the darkest paths
that your work may be carried out in full.
Swiftest of gods, messenger divine.
As you carried away the crying child,
guide and save the souls of the Forgotten!
May they find blissful life after dying.
I pray to Hermes
of the staff and the fleet feet,
who guides us down and sets our feet on the path.
I [take action] for Hermes of the Starry Bull.

Hekate – on Wednesday
Torch-maiden of the mysteries,
you who hold power alongside but unbound to the Lords of the Earth,
Night-wandering leader of dead hosts, mighty Hekate,
lead us along the path to the crossroads.
May we honor you there, may we honor those in your train,
and may we choose well which way to turn.
Crossroads mistress, of Earth, Sea and Sky,
flanked by dogs and serpent-girdled…
Saffron colored your untouchable gown
two your torches, fires of the night
hear our prayers as we pour you red wine
and help us sooth the Unresting.
I bow to she who holds the key,
who knows the hidden magicks of plant and beast.
Hekate, some part of me is at the crossroads
some part of me is lost in the dark,
where all possibilities collide.
Wandering Queen, protect what is in transition.
I pray to Hekate,
who brings the dead to the feast,
who dances in revels lit by her torches.
I [take action] for Hekate of the Starry Bull.

The Heroes – on Thursday
Fathers of our fathers, our ancestors of glory!
your blood flows in our veins,
your breath fills our lungs,
your journeys forge our paths,
your death brings us life.
We stand on your shoulders in all we do.
May we honor you by being honorable in your names.
Hail to the Dionysian Heroes, whose lives burned so brightly,
like meteors tumbling from the whirling heavens -
celestial martyrs, messengers of divine will –
I remember you, mortal and yet god-struck, alone and yet many.
May I live in your example, in glorious paradox.
I pray to the Heroes,
those who have walked these paths before,
and feast forever at our Lord’s side.
I [take action] for the Heroes of the Starry Bull.

The Heroines – on Friday
Hail to the Dionysian Heroines, beloved of the god,
with ivy in your hair and beasts at your breast,
you would revel and sing in the face of despair,
weave beauty from suffering,
and carve yourselves into yet deeper vessels,
the better to be filled with his wine,
may I live in your example, in sublime surrender.
The throng that follows the Starry Bull,
above the earth or below.
The throng that knows the Starry Bull
as sister, as lover, as friend.
The throng that loves the Starry Bull,
pray admit me to your number.
I pray to the Heroines,
who have sorrowed before us,
and will rejoice beside us when we follow them.
I [take action] for the Heroines of the Starry Bull.

The Satyrs – on Saturday
Arise, Arise, you drowsy goats,
it’s time for the hunt, raise up your horns, and drink.
Sound the call with lusty voice, and run,
run with the wine in your veins, run with us!
I tremble beneath the weight
of my own ridiculousness.
The childish absurdities of my soul
cry out to you, and you answer.
Your laughter bubbles up in my throat.
Your stomping dance leaps in my feet.
I am unbound and filled with joy
beyond all reason and madness.
Great and terrible are the blessings of the Satyrs,
graceless and beyond beauty.
Insatiable gluttons for the greatest pleasures,
may you be honored in the absurd pursuits
of our deepest desires.
Seek pleasure, seek greatness!
Seek whatever you will, seek whomever you will!
Let us chase you as you chase us,
let us take you as you take us.
Let us enjoy you as you enjoy us,
let us open you as you open us.
Pour your hot, heady wine into our throats and hearts.
Erect your thyrsi, wild Satyrs,
Hircine tricksters!
Tongue the last drop of wine, and pluck the last grape,
always calling out for more!

The Nymphs – on Saturday
Every tree is a dancer, every mountain a myth, each river a song.
Beautiful Nymphai, you protect life in its most elemental expressions,
I ground myself in the divinity of this place,
knowing wherever I go, I can feel the wind and water pulse and thrum
like the echo of a tympanon in the god’s eternal bacchanal.
Dwellers in the waters of the world,
haunters of caves,
you who’ve life-giving sap singing in your veins,
Protean lovers of gods and heroes,
blessed are they that find you,
wise are they that worship you, the holy Nymphai.
I pray to the Nymphs and Satyrs,
His eternal companions,
those who dance with him above and below.
I [take action] for the Nymph and Satyrs of the Starry Bull.

With special thanks to our authors

Narkaios Alepou
Joy Carter
Matt G
Ibgreenie3
Jessie Lynn
Rebecca MadGastronomer
Aridela Pantherina
Polyphanes
M.A. Rivera
Teresa
Wynndark

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