The Other SJW

Salome, Apollo, in Technicolour
I walked on the moon to touch the stars,
A legend in my lifetime.

Today, one of my medications has been on my mind, since I was at the bus stop with my gigantic umbrella, and a pack of obnoxious teenage boys started chanting, on what was a very bright and sunny day “Hey, where the rain at?” –as if they must’ve thought this had been the first in my life I’d been taunted in this manner. The reason for my gigantic umbrella, I’ll get to in a bit, but just in case we met at the Polytheist Leadership Conference, yes, its the same gigantic umbrella.

Some of you may already know that I take St. John’s wort for seasonal depression (and other environmental depression I can experience throughout the rest of the year). Apparently St. John’s wort is named for its aprtropaic properties:

Hypericum perforatum is a yellow-flowering, stoloniferous or sarmentose, perennial herb indigenous to Europe. It has been introduced to many temperate areas of the world and grows wild in many meadows. The herb’s common name comes from its traditional flowering and harvesting on St John’s Day, 24 June. The genus name Hypericum is derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the plant’s traditional use in warding off evil by hanging [the] plants over a religious icon in the house during St John’s day. The species name perforatum refers to the presence of small oil glands in the leaves that look like windows, which can be seen when they are held against the light. [from Wikipedia]

and also:

St. John’s Wort has been valued since the ancient Greeks for its plethora of uses. The colorful common name refers to the red pigment and the German word “wort” which means wound. During the Middle Ages it was believed to have the power to cast out demons.

Traditionally, St. John’s wort has been used as a pain reliever and helps to regulate the nervous system (nervine). It has also served as a mild sedative and antidepressant, astringent for hemorrhages and diarrhea, expectorant, diuretic, digestive aid and cholagogue (by encouraging the release of bile from the liver), uterine tonic (which may relieve uterine cramping) and abortifacient. It is also an emmenagogue (which promotes menstrual flow) and is anti parasitic.

Additionally, as the common name implies, this wonderful herb has been used for wounds, burns, sores, bruises and other skin problems. For topical use make an oil from St. John’s wort by soaking the flowers in olive oil for 2 to 7 weeks and strain. Apply the oil to affected areas.

Recent studies have shown St. John’s wort to work very well for depression which may be the modern equivalent of the medieval demons. These studies support many of the traditional uses, especially the antidepressant qualities. Tests show improvements in antidepressant activity, anxiety, apathy and low self-worth. Antidepressant results occurred after 4 to 8 weeks of use. Another study found that St. John’s wort may be beneficial in Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD).

St. John’s wort has also been compared with pharmaceutical therapies for depression. The results have shown that St. John’s wort is just as effective as the pharmaceuticals but with fewer side effects. As compared to some pharmaceuticals, St. John’s wort increased cognitive functions while some pharmaceuticals decreased them. [from kroegerherb.com]

That said, one of the known side-effects of St John’s Wort is increased sun sensitivity –and i was already pretty sensitive to sunlight, to begin with. While I am (as well as many other Hellenists) inclined to associate all medicinal herbs, especially the ones backed up by scientific studies to be more effective than placebo, with Apollon and Asklepios, the origins of its name (both common English and scientific) suggest that its associations exclude Apollon’s perceived solar qualities which I’ve already been questioning.

So as i tend to do, I decided to search some terms with tags like “mythology” or “folklore” or “ancient greek” –works like “depression” and “shade” that are associated with St John’s wort (the former SJW aids, the latter aids one who needs SJW), and I came across a story that I only had a passing familiarity with, before:

Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 106 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
“In all the throng the cone-shaped cypress stood; a tree now, it was changed from a dear youth loved by the god who strings the lyre and bow [i.e. Apollon]. For there was at one time, a mighty stag held sacred by those nymphs who haunt the fields Carthaean [i.e. on the island of Keos]. His great antlers spread so wide, they gave an ample shade to his own head. Those antlers shone with gold: from his smooth throat a necklace, studded with a wealth of gems, hung down to his strong shoulders–beautiful. A silver boss, fastened with little thongs, played on his forehead, worn there from his birth; and pendants from both ears, of gleaming pearls, adorned his hollow temples. Free of fear, and now no longer shy, frequenting homes of men he knew, he offered his soft neck even to strangers for their petting hands. But more than by all others, he was loved by you, O Cyparissus, fairest youth of all the lads of Cea. It was you who led the pet stag to fresh pasturage, and to the waters of the clearest spring. Sometimes you wove bright garlands for his horns, and sometimes, like a horseman on his back, now here now there, you guided his soft mouth with purple reins.

It was upon a summer day, at high noon when the [summertime constellation] Crab, of spreading claws, loving the sea-shore, almost burnt beneath the sun’s hot burning rays; and the pet stag was then reclining on the grassy earth and, wearied of all action, found relief under the cool shade of the forest trees; that as he lay there Cyparissus pierced him with a javelin: and although it was quite accidental, when the shocked youth saw his loved stag dying from the cruel wound he could not bear it, and resolved on death. What did not Phoebus say to comfort him? He cautioned him to hold his grief in check, consistent with the cause. But still the lad lamented, and with groans implored the Gods that he might mourn forever. His life force exhausted by long weeping, now his limbs began to take a green tint, and his hair, which overhung his snow-white brow, turned up into a bristling crest; and he became a stiff tree with a slender top and pointed up to the starry heavens. And the God, groaning with sorrow, said; ‘You shall be mourned sincerely by me, surely as you mourn for others, and forever you shall stand in grief, where others grieve.’”

…and then I found this:

In Greek mythology, Cyparissus or Kyparissos (Greek: Κυπάρισσος, “cypress”) was a boy beloved by Apollo, or in some versions by other deities. In the best-known version of the story, the favorite companion of Cyparissus was a tamed stag, which he accidentally killed with his hunting javelin as it lay sleeping in the woods. The boy’s grief was such that it transformed him into a cypress tree, a classical symbol of mourning. The myth is thus aetiological in explaining the relation of the tree to its cultural significance.

…and also thisthis:

Spatholado:
St Johns Wort Wound Healing Oil

spatholado, Saint John’s Wort Wound Healing OilThis ointment comes form the Greek island of Kea where it is gathered and prepared by hand in small quantities using the ancient method. The plant is gathered during the flowering season (in May) under a waxing moon. It is then placed in a jars with local olive oil and left in the sun until it turns red. The oil is used to dress burns, cuts, surgical scars etc. It is particularly effective for deep wounds, injuries caused by crushing, or any other trauma associated with nerve damage. St John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) is a rhizomatous perennial plant with gland dotted leaves and flowers containing its healing properties. Though the plant may be known today as an anti-depressant and sedative (opinions vary as to its real effectiveness in this field) – it is historically more important as a healing herb. Indeed, it is mentioned as such by many ancient Greek authors such as Dioscurides and Hippocrates.

St John’s Wort has been known throughout history as a vulnerary (wound healer) and was in its heyday on the battlefields of the Crusaders. In Greek it is known as ‘spathochorto’ referring to its ability of healing sword wounds. It was also credited for keeping evil spirits away, for which purpose it was hung above doors on the eve of St John’s day (June 24), when witches were thought to be most active. Its mystique was confirmed by the way the juice of the plant turns red on exposure to air – a phenomenon thought to symbolize the blood of St John the Baptist.

These three items coupled together all reminded me of much of my aforementioned entry on Apollon from the “thirty days of paganism/polytheism meme” from four years ago, which was also written the last time I lived in this area, at the curiously-named “Spice Tree Apartments” (there were no such things in the complex, which severely disappointed me, as I was hoping for free peppercorns or something).

As for all of this giving insights to St John’s Wort, other than confirming Apollonian associations in spite of heliophobic side-effects, I’m not getting much, but the fact that all signs point to Apollon (especially as the song playing as I was writing this was Gavin Friday’s “Caruso”), I think the subject of my first painting in years has been decided —now hopefully, unlike this week, I’ll have some time to start on it next week.


And while I have you here, it just occurred to me as i restarted “Caruso” and added the epigram to the begining of this post, that where Jesus’ cult was arguably born of Orphic origins with the Christ figure as the Dionysian life-death-rebirth deity, Apollon, especially from my time in Kyklos Apollon (which I was initially thinking of rejoining, but am now thinking of doing my own similar ritual, but at a time I’ll select through divination, as I now believe there is sufficient evidence that the KA cult has been polluted1 —but I’m getting distracted), that Apollon would be the complimentary John the Baptist figure, bringing us back to St John’s Wort. Maybe I’ll rethink the significance of the herb I almost just assumed to be low.

1:yes, I’ve seen most of the FB posts referenced, and I knew about this long before Sannion posted it, just in case anyone was thinking o accusing me of being one of his “lackeys” or some such stuff and nonsense; if anything, this opinion of mine makes me Kyrene Ariadne’s lackey, it’s just that sannion’s post is the most easily-accessable source on this miasma that has been brought to Kyklos Apollon.


In other news, at the bus stop, today, a bee (as I quote myself from FB) “spent an absurd amount of time hovering around my junk”. Make of this what you will.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Deleted Scene from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Goth is like shingles; you never really get cured of chickenpox, the virus just lays dormant until your defenses are down.
When did you get so sarcastic, luv?
Before Sister Cecelia gave me that book
Not many seven-year-olds that cynical.
Not often I have conversations with in incorporeal lover.
Oh, it’s more often than you think. More often than you’d like to admit, anyway.
Not much this last couple years. Ish. Or so.
Such definite language you use, dear. Anyway, you needed some time to yourself; to work things out. Yes, I made that one request of you in the middle there, but only because you needed it.
Do I still?
You’ll always need it. You always have. And I’ve always been. Formalising it with ritual was to cement it in your mind.
Ritual is supposed to be for the Theoi as much as mortals.
Usually. There are exceptions, you just have to have a reason to read the footnotes to know them.
So, this mandatory time off?
You know the answer.
Do I?
You were re-born, you needed a fresh start. A period of gestation is required. A period of developing the muscles to hold the head up on your own is required. You don’t send a newborn off to work as an accountant without something in-between for preparation.
You enjoy your riddles.
It’s not a riddle, it’s an analogy —you know that.
You still didn’t answer my question.
I don’t need to. You know the answer. You’re just stalling. It’s unbecomming.
I always say “it’s unbecomming.” People are going to think I’m just talking to myself.
Where do you think you got it from, yes, even when you were seven or eight. Anyway, you don’t have to publish. It’s not the most private discussion in the world, but it’s not like this is something your friends need to know.
But I want them to know.
Get some sleep now, dear boy.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Parallel Closets

It isn’t impossible to hide one’s sexuality or gender identity, nearly eighteen years of DATD showed us that. And of course trans* service people still have to conceal their deepest selves even today.

What is impossible is having whole and meaningful connections with the world outside your closet doors.

So, I’m reading this post on Bilerico, and I can’t help but remember why I stand firm in my belief that being out is not “privilege” as the shamers amongst the Bourgeoisie want us to believe, it’s defiance —maybe the privilege of a loving family is a hollow one for the price of closeting, but the notion that being “out” is a privilege is a Bourgeoisie lie, designed to create an artificial rift between those enslaved to their closets and those who paid a hard price to be free of theirs. And the whole notion of being closeted “for love” is for only the the most empty kind of love you can get from a person; I mean, what kind of love demands that you keep a heavy door between you, never letting the two of you really see each-other, much less really touch and be touched by?

When Psykhe took the lamp into the bedroom of Eros’ crystal castle in the sky high above Helikon, and the tiniest bit of oil singed the beautiful God’s skin, He ran. He didn’t run from the pain, or simply the surprise of being woken up in such a way. He ran from the lack of trust. But at the same time, can She really be blamed? When we truly love some-one, any-one, we want to know them as much as we trust them. We don’t have to know everything, but we have this burning desire to know them, or as Genesis P-Orridge put it, to completely consume them and be a part of them and have them be a part of you. We cannot love from behind doors, we can only admire. Trust, knowledge… Love needs that vulnerability to exist, and until such openness is allowed, there exists little more than fondness.

From the trials of Psykhe, after breaking open Eros’ own closet of darkness, we learn that true love overcomes, making us more willing and indeed able to take in the whole person, love them even more, as with the more we learn, the more we have to fall in love with —be is romantic or familial.

Some might want us to believe the Capitalist lie, that love is a privilege to be earned, but indeed, it’s what makes the world turn —for Gaia so passionately loves Ouranos, that she twirls about in His arms forever as They dance the dance of Eternity around Helios’ shining orb, for even after that blazing ball consumes Them, they and Their love will live on. It was created freely in the womb of eternal night, and is given freely at alarming rates, often with neither rhyme nor reason. Some actions can cause love to end, but this is the most mortal form of love, and being mortal, we can’t help it when that happens —but the less mortal, more pure the love, the more willing it is to see that which sets us apart and love us all the same, or even all the more.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Valentinos (Betelgeuce): The Valentine’s Day star

In the grand tradition of re-purposing mythology, I give you this offering, Hedone, who offers us all the simple gift of delight and joy, which can be quite base as much as quite profound.

Valentinos was a keeper at the temple of Orion’s hero cult in Tanagra, Boiotia —at Hyria. He was intelligent, but many saw him as aimless, for after his daily chores of cleaning, fetching and boiling new water, changing clothing and jewellery on the statues that needed it, and collecting the offerings at the timely intervals in order to make room for new ones. After his work was over, he’d go out with his equally youthful friends and take in the delights that the city could offer them, both imported and domestic wines, plays, usually by some Thespian company or another, but often enough with treats from Athens or Cyrene, and on the way home to their apartments over the city’s baths, they’d stop by the old and crooked gentleman who’d park his donkey and cart outside a restaurant that had closed for the evening, selling second-hand and otherwise cheap book — few of the titles were great literature, but every so often, you’d find a second-generation scribe from Pindar’s work, or an illustrated scroll of The Askran Curmudgeon, and every now and again, the boxes of loose racy illustrations of gods and mortals —always four for a small coin— would have some beautifully worked picutres than managed to convey the bliss or an orgasm or the accuracy of how tiring some of those India-influenced positions could be; they’d stop by this cart, browse earnestly, and almost never walk away with more than one good read and a two or three good pictures for each and pair up, either with each-other or the “Akolouthi” women, the free-status versions of the pornai, and so deserved better pay, for they often had earned the skills to earn every last bit of coin nomisma.

Then one evening, Valentinos had become separated from his friends in talking to a girl. He told them to go ahead when he saw her, and then, from no-where, the former pimp from a young-ish girl Valentinos had laid with in the last week spied him turn a dark corner and took the opportunity to stab the youth in the back, slashing his insides, for he’d heard that it was the temple boys buying books and scrolls and pornographos from his former girl’s father that led to her debt repaid, and her freedom won. It was intolerable because she was popular, and perhaps causing despair would work to the old pimp’s favour?

As Valentinos lay bleeding out, he asked his feminine companion if she was alright.

“Oh, Valentinos, that vile creature could not see me. He sees only the children of Eris.”

“Ah,” he said with a cough that expelled a little blood, “he ignored you.”

“No, it’s that he cannot. You see goodness and delight in everything around you, so of course Hedone would show you Her human form.”

“She does, now?” Valentinos asked slyly, as he started to feel himself fade.

“I knew something awful was going to happen to you tonight, but in your heart is the purest feelings of delight. Your family believes you lack ambitions, but what better aims you have for yourself is to be more joyous than they were. They are rich but miserable people, and you take only as much of their money as you need—”

“Well, it’s all they offer. They expect I’ll want more, at which time [coughs hard] they expect me to learn ambition.”

“But you have other desires.”

“I do. I just want to delight in the world around me. I would love to visit Thebes, or Cyrene, or even Athens and Alexandria, but if that’s to be, it will be. All the delights in the world I could want for the moment are here in Tanagra [coughs, sputters]. If that changes, I’ll find a way to seek other delights.”

“And you know this so purely, my friend. You are one of the most natural and pure followers of delight there is in this world today, so I’m here to reward you. What has been your greatest delight, my friend?”

“Today? I changed the cape over the bones of Orion. It’s the softest red wool from Phrygia, and when I affixed it back to the wall…,” Valentinos coughed and wheezed, then spat blood from talking to fast to get his words out with his last breaths.

“Take your time… you have a little more than you may think.”

“After I affixed it back onto the wall over the case of bones, the sun hit it just the right way that it seemed to glitter, even though there wasn’t a bit of gold thread in the wool. I thought to myself, ‘it shall never again look this beautiful, and I have this lovely town and the greatest Boeotian Gods and Heroes to thank’.”

“I know, and so I will affix you to Orion’s cape in the stars, you shall hold it all together, and so Alpha Orionis shall now glow red and pulse like a heart with joy.”

“But why me, Goddess? Surely there are others greater, who’ve given not just delight to themselves, but to others?”

“In relative measure, you’ve given more joy to others than you believe you have. The old man you buy books and scrolls and pictures from used to be a gambler, and sold all four of his daughters for the loan to pay his debtors. Between you and your friends combined, one-by-one, his daughters’ freedom has been bought back, indeed, one of his older daughters is your favourite Akolouthi girl, and the younger such woman you laid with days ago—”

“The one who thanked me queerly? She was his youngest! Oh, Goddess, tell them they don’t have to thank me, ever. Their joy was a pleasure to give, and I give it with no expectations.”

When Valentinos didn’t return to work, one of his friends began looking all over the city, and soon found him in the dark alleyway; his body still there, scraps taken from it by the odd dog for the alleyway was a seldom-used stairway to the city’s Adonis Gardens on the rooftops for the women of the apartments. Valentinos’ friend carried the body toward the direction of his family’s home, and passed the old man with the books and pictures. Soon the old man’s daughters, all now free, caught the sight, and came over to their father to watch with him. When Valentinos’ friend took his body around a corner and out of their lines of sight, the youngest daughter, Phile, looked up at the sky.

She told her sisters and father to look up at the sky. “Don’t you see?”

“Don’t we see what, my dove?” her father asked.

“Orion is higher up in the sky tonight than usual. He must be holding out his arms for His fairest neokoros.”

Her sister Naia, Valentinos’ favourite, then noticed: “And the pin on the Great Hero’s cloak seems sort of pinkish, or a light red, like the sun bleaches his hair in the depths of summer.”

Then their father spoke up: “This is glorious, my girls! The hero of Boeotia sees this youth was of a pure heart, and to take that from this world is worthy of honour. So we shall keep the twenty-first day of Hermaios sacred to the joys and delights that Orion sees this youth has given.”


This year, 21 Hermaios is in 14 February. You may feel free to celebrate Hedone’s gift of the colour of Belelgeuse, a very large pulsating star which, along with the rest of Orion’s constellatiuon, is closest to the midpoint of the southern horizon around early February. And no, I did not make up this nickname for Betelgeuse:

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Marc Almond: Non-Stop Erotic Divo

Marc Almond is one of those singers that I’m amazed that I didn’t get into his work earlier, but upon reflecting, I probably did at the perfect time in my life to. Probably best-known this side of the Atlantic for his work with Soft Cell, which is best known this side of the Atlantic for their cover version of Motown artist (and common-law wife of Marc Bolan) Gloria Jones’ song “Tainted Love”, Marc Almond has a career spanning nearly thirty-five years —and I’ve been told that I kinda sing like him, since my balls dropped (meaning yes, this is probably not the most- representative example of my modal singing voice —assuming, of course, my friends are telling the truth, and honestly, most of my friends who’ve heard me sing on a good day have no reason to lie to me).

Marc Almond has been openly gay for most of his career, but dislikes being labelled a “gay artist”, as he feels that opens the door for pigeon-holing and creating the false impression that his work is somehow only important and relevant to the gay community, which it is not, though some of his songs and music videos do engage a clear homo-eroticism, while others simply portray a blatant eroticism. Marc Almond has also been “out” about being a member of the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey; in the last ten years, I’ve occasionally heard that he’s since quietly distanced himself from that organisation, and I’ve yet no confirmation from the Webmistress of his official site (the most relevant contact e-mail I found on his site). While this may just be fan speculation since his accident in 2004 (much like the persistent yet completely falsified story of Charles Darwin’s “deathbed conversion”), I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were true: For every one of the “Ooh, I’m spooky! Hail thyself!” songs of Almond’s, there are at least two or three that display a clear, often urban-based spirituality; while this is technically not completely contrary to the writings of Anton LaVey, the Church of Satan understands the spiritual world to be a manifestation of the human experience, something that only exists within human reality —that is not reality as I understand it, but if that’s what works for another, then more power to them, and all the better if they can understand that this is one of those aspects of reality where understanding and acceptance is any one interpretation of it or another is subject to human experience. I cannot make an Atheist understand and accept reality as I know it any more than he can make me understand and accept theirs as a reality that is not only compatible with my experience but also one that empowers myself.

….but enough about that.

Marc Almond is one of those musicians who wears his influences on his sleeve and manages to do so without being a complete rip-off of those artists. If I had a nickel for every Goth band that or Mod Revival outfit that clearly couldn’t make something that sounded like anything but “Christian Death, only not” or “The Jam, only not” or “Bauhaus, only not” or “The Pretty Things, only not”, I could deposit those nickels into a Cayman Islands account and live comfortably, though not lavishly, off the interest. Marc Almond doesn’t do that, and he’s kind of a Dieselpunk dream singer. His personal style, as shown in his solo career, is clearly in a New Wave / Synthpop idiom, but heavily steeped in a love of Edith Píaf, Jacqués Brel, early Amerikan Jazz and Blues, British music hall, French cabaret, and with the introspective qualities of Rozz Williams and Gitane DeMone with the bite of Siouxsie Sioux and Andi Sexgang. His first solo recrd, Vermin In Ermine practically invented the “dark cabaret” sub-genre about three or four years before Rozz Williams’ Ashes line-up of Christian Death turned up the darkness and threw in a heaping helping of Dada. Yet he’s more than that, he’s one of England’s national treasures.

There’s also a highly Eroic quality to Marc Almond’s life’s work. By “big-E-Erotic”, I don’t necessarily just mean “sexy” (which, of course, it is, but that’s going to be a given —I mean, just look at him), but also hope to imply connotations of that which conveys qualities of Eros and His various epithets: Kallistos, Anikatos, Skhetlios, Eleutherios, Abros, and more. He’s one of the few true music artists, and one of the few who consistently displays a passionate joie de vivre et joi de vie. I can’t help but see, hear, taste Eros when Marc Almond’s music comes on; every single word reveals the folly of Democritus (“Medicine heals diseases of the body, wisdom frees the soul from passions,”).

Of course, to be fair, Marc Almond is of a similar school of songwriting as Prince, where any song that comes into his head is clearly good enough to record, even if this means recording the occasional song that just can’t hold a candle to the rest, suggesting perhaps there is a great folly to following one’s passions, but I know better, for I know that there is greatness even in what at first seems the most trite —from Vermin In Ermine‘s “Ugly Head” to “Money” from the Soft Cell demos, he manages to give light to certain truths, often of a personal yet shared nature, saying things that many have felt and wanted to articulate as something worth saying.

If I were casting an opera based on Hellenic mythology, hands down, no questions asked, my first and only choice for Eros would be Marc Almond; I don’t care that he’s fifty, that sort of thing just would not otherwise work — anyway, he looks very good for his age, and most opera are not cast with singers appropriate to the age of the role, if only cos there’s the art of theatrical make-up to take care of that. His voice doesn’t have the range that Apollon would need, and his emotive qualities as a singer are just “disconnected” enough that the passion for this art shows through, but just emotive enough that one simply cannot help but relate. The Moisai would have to be superb yet subtle emotive singers, as would Apollon, Dionysos would have to master dramatic emotions, as would Hermes and Aphrodite, but despite Eros’ purveyance over emotions, or perhaps because of it, to portray the God even in the throes of emotion, there needs to be a clear and dramatic knowledge and understanding of emotion, but a subtler feeling of it, and as a singer, Almond does that. Eros takes this knowledge and understanding and translates it into passion, which can neither be learnt nor understood, but like anything else one can feel, others can recognise when sensed, and what others want to know and understand when it can manifest as a thing of beauty. Marc Almond is nothing if not a passionate singer, and that is nothing if not a gift of Eros.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 13 ~ Pantheon – Adonis & the Flower Boys

I love Adonis.
AphroditeAdonisLouvreMNB210 Though there’s Peanut Gallery commentary decrying any worship of Him and Kybele in a Hellenic context as “un-Hellenic”, it’s pretty obvious that Their cults had been thoroughly Hellenised by the time of Hesiod (if you haven’t seen people making such ridiculous claims, consider yourself lucky; in fact, I consider myself a lesser person for even mentioning it). I find myself especially fascinated with Ptolemy Hephaestion frequently linking His love as shared with Aphrodite and Apollon, which may seem unusual to those who are only familiar with the versions of Aponis’ mythos that link Him with Aphrodite and Persephone. AdonisLouvre

“Adonis, having become androgynous, behaved as a man for Aphrodite and as a woman for Apollon.” – Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Bk5 (as summarized in Photius, Myriobiblon 190)

There’s a fragment from Hesiod that describes Adonis as the son of Phoenix (son of Amyntor), and most primary sources name His mother as Smyrrhna, who had a metamorphosis into the tree from which myrrh resin is harvested.

In myth and in cult, there are many easy comparisons to Dionysos — from a position in life-death-rebirth cults, his apparent links to sexuality, vegetation, and Khthonic deities (especially Persephone), Adonis-Dream-Print-C10032791 academic and ancient syncretic likening to Osiris, and the public face of His cult was decidedly female (though this is where things begin to differ — male Dionysians existed in ancient times as much, if not more, than in modern — male Adonians, at least in the ancient Hellenic world [I haven’t a clue about the Phonecian or Syrian world where it’s clear His cult originated], seem apparently non-existent and, even in modern times, seem few, at best). adonis_northcote But at least in the Hellenic world, it’s very clear that they are not the same — in some mythology, Aphrodite bore Adonis a daughter, Beroe, who is one beloved of Dionysos.

His cult likely came into the Hellenic mainlaind through Kypris, the birthplace and local name for Aphrodite, and by about the 6th Century BCE, was already well-known in Hellas. This is not insignificant: This not only cements a relationship with Aphrodite’s cult, it also really shows the aforementioned Peanut Gallery where to stick it — MWAHAHAHAHA!!! 😀

adonis Seriously, folks, at this point in time, I think it’s safe to admit that the Adonis cult was thoroughly Hellenised. The academia really tries to “un-Hellenise” Adonis, and indeed, many of these arguments seem to make sense, until you get into several glaringly apparent facts:

1) Adonis is a central part of Aphrodite’s Hellenic mythology — and I word it this way because a significant amount of Her mythology and cult is clearly “imported”, comparative mythologises easily link Aphrodite to nearly every Near Eastern Goddess from the Babylonian Ishtar to the Zoroastrian Anahita. adonis001 If one is going to conclude that Hellenic polytheists should worship only Hellenic deities, then there is an awful lot of archaeology that could easily reason that Aphrodite’s cult is not “indigenous” to Hellas any more than that of Adonis’.

2) It’s absolutely likely that Adonis’ cult was “imported” at the same time as Aphrodite — and even the much-touted Walter Burkert (apparently Greek Religion is a veritable gospel to some people), sure seems to agree with this idea: AdonisNaples

The cult of the dying god Adonis is already found to be fully developed in Sappho’s circle of young girls around 600 [BCE]; indeed, one might ask whether Adonis had not from the very beginning come to Greece along with Aphrodite. For the Greeks it was well-known that he was an immigrant from the Semetic world, and his origins were traced to Byblos and Cyprus. His name is clearly the Semetic title adon, Lord. For all that, there is in Semetic tradition no known cult connected with this title which corresponds exactly to the Greek cult, to say nothing of a counterpart to the Greek Adonis myth. (pp176-177)

Indeed, investigating Near Eastern mythology, the closest deity with a cult matching the Adonis cult is we see named is “Tammuz”, not Adonis. Perhaps “Adonis”, in this instance, is merely a loan-word made name? Death of Adonis

3) The name Adonis, while clearly being the sticking point for identifying His cult as “foreign”, as a language arts major I can clearly see as a mere convention on the same level as “Kytheria” or “Kypris” as a name for Aphrodite — and one clearly accepted as “Greek enough” for many scholars for centuries — indeed, Thomas Taylor takes “Kypris = Aphrodite (= Venus)” for granted in translating the Orphic hymns — and indeed, Cyprus was Hittite land until fairly late Bronze Age; which would be roughly the period estimated for the import of Aphrodite and Adonis cults. return_of_adonis-large Indeed, in most mythological traditions, Cyprus is also the birthplace of Adonis, not merely His cult — so it obviously flabbergasts that somehow this can make Aphrodite “Hellenic enough”, but not Adonis.

One can clearly only begin to imagine the whys and such for the reluctance to accept Adonis cult as “Hellenic enough”, when all evidence clearly shows that it is so. adonis5633 One idea may simply revert to etymology — though clearly acceptable early on in the Hellenisation of Adonis cult practise, later it became a sticking point due to what would now be called racism or nationalism — kinda the same logic “birthers” use to accuse President Barak Obama of being born well-outside U$ soils, in spite of all clear evidence to the contrary. Another idea being that since His cult, in ancient times, was dominated by women to the point of apparently becoming female-only kept the cult well outside the “mainstream” of the civic religion, and so, in a sense, “foreign” to ancient writers, who tended to be men — it could therefore arguably be sexism that kept the Adonis cult regarded as “foreign”; if one considers that many often wrote of the Adonis cult and its symbols with a hint of derision (it’s arguable that the old idea of “green leafy salad = women’s food” is an idea started in ancient Hellas — not only is lettuce sacred to Adonis, but one writer once joked [or perhaps seriously believed] that lettuce causes male sterility), this hypothesis makes a lot of sense on paper. Untitled-1
But perhaps I digress….

I was initially attracted to Adonis as an extension of the “flower boys” — His floral associations include roses (in some versions of the mythos), windflower / anemone poppies, and the “adonis” genus of flowering plant. I make no secret of my veneration of Narkissos as a Daimone and Hyakinthos as hemitheos. Even Krokos, Paeon, and narcisses,_hyacinths_and_nasturtiums-large The “flower boy” myths intrigue me on many levels: For starters, think about what a flower is — not what it represents in this culture, but what it is. It’s a part of certain plants, but which part? The genitals. In a certain light, it can seem kind of perverse how much —severed plant genitals— er… cut flowers play a part in (especially heterosexual) romance, courtship, and marriage. The boy gives the girl a cluster of severed, essentially hermaphroditic genitals to show he likes her. A few centuries ago, especially the middle classes, the boy’s visit would then only really last as long as it took for girl to pluck the protective petals from around the reproductive centre. Near the end of the wedding ritual, where people especially like to be surrounded by these hermaphroditic plant parts, the bride throws another bushel of genitals on her friends, with the hope that the cycle will start anew. JohnWilliamWaterhouse-Narcissus_JW And if that’s not enough for you to handle? In many flowers, it’s the especially phallic-looking bit in the centre that’s the “female” part of this hermaphrodite.

It’s clear that Western culture is seriously obsessed with sex and sex organs — even when it tries to pretend it’s not, it’s filling children, especially girls, with an onslaught of symbols of fertility and virility and Martha Stewart is joyfully arranging severed genitals in various vases, often with the especially phallic lady-bits, right there on daytime telly (that woman seriously seems to love her lilies and callas — which aren’t lilies, they’re arums, and their “male bits” are typically attached to the “female bit” — now THINK ABOUT THAT). narcissus001

I find it hard to get close to Aphrodite. Not for lack of trying, mind, but perhaps she senses something about me (In Real Life™, I tend to be generally more comfortable getting emotionally close with men, while women I tend to befriend more casually — and the few exceptions to this kind of prove the rule, in their own unique ways), and either decides to maintain that distance, or simply appoints any and all contact to be through one of “Her Boys”: Either Eros, Whom I’ve already become especially close to, or Adonis, another Flower Boy for my bouquet.

Narkissos, I consider especially precious. My own views of His mythology apparently differ from the mainstream, and the versions of His mythos I hold most dear Narcissus003 (and indeed, there are dozens of ancient re-tellings and re-imaginings — the Battlestar Galactica franchise has had fewer re-interpretations by a wide margin) seem rather obscure, even if they’re versions that still seem to maintain the dominant trappings of the popular versions. To me, He is a holy daimon: A spirit of self-love, and a protector of those unloved. His namesake flower is sacred to Him, as are mirrors and reflecting pools; the species narcissus poeticus is especially sacred, as this is the exact flower He gave form to. He comes to you in a form reminiscent of you see yourself, perhaps a daimon of the Ego Ideal. He is the son of a nymphe and river god of Thespiae. Narcissus_Mazarini_Louvre_Ma435 His spurned lover, Ameinias, became anise; you can help to heal the tears Narkissos shed for both His own cruelty and for Ameinias with an offering of anise. Also, a bit of anise in a coffee for a reading may shed light on who loves you. Popularly, at least historically, He seems to have an especial link with gay man, and “narcissism” was initially used as a term for the “sexual perversion” of male-male love.

Hyakinthos’ flower, contrary to modern assumptions, is the delphinium larkspur. He is the son of the Moisa Goddess Kleio and Magnes’ son Pieros (Magnes being the first, now legendary, king of Magnesia, and a son of Zeus), and in some mythological traditions, He is either brother or cousin to Daphne — and perhaps the common-enough urge to link their myths is part of the collective consciousness trying to remind people of this (presumably?) once-ancient connection. hyacinth-statue-large By Spartan tradition, Hyakinthos is identified with the Thessalian Hymenaios, the God of marriage and the wedding bed, carrying associations with virginity, True Love, and legitimate partnership — again, I have to voice flabergastion that at the fact that so many modern Hellenic polytheists insist that only heterosexual partnerships have a right to spiritual or ritual legitimacy. Did Apollon not love Hyakinthos in the mythos? Is a god’s love not legitimate? Is the love felt by a mortal somehow unture? (If so, then logically, no marriage with a base of love, which is indeed what the overwhelming majority of Western marriages are, can possibly be ritually legitimate within Hellenismos — and I seriously doubt that very many people would want to get behind a fringe religion with self-proclaimed “authorities” who endorse a return to strictly-arranged het marriages based in social-climbing and dowries.) Delphinium-Larkspur-1 Or would people rather wax philosophical about “symbolism” and “metaphor” in myth rather than accept that the best symbol of a thing is the thing itself — and the mythos she the thing itself as a deep love and bond that was met with a tragic end. Though mortals may be imperfect, even flawed things can be true, legitimate — death is the greatest, most glaring flaw that mortals have, when compared to the Theoi, but our deaths are overwhelmingly true, a truth that is glaringly obvious.

Apollo And Hyacynth Benvenuto Cellini And again, we come back to blues — immortal blues for Love Himself. From “…something borrowed, and something blue,” to “L’amour est Bleu” (perhaps is is not insignificant that this song rose to fame via the Hellenic singer Vicky Leandros? LOL). The first I saw Hyakinthos, I knew the Spartans were onto something with their associations with Hymenaios, for the first time I saw Hyacinth (in a dream, mind), He was at a small pool or spring, sitting on a rock at the centre of a thick round of His flower, peacock feathers tied into His hair (giving allusions to Hera, a Goddess whose domains include marriage), and Apollon identifying this breath-taking youth as His beloved Hyakinthos, who He “fought the West Wind for, and won”. Their love, as I see it, is a wedded one that is renewed annually with Hyakinthos’ death and rebirth. George_Rennie_Cupid_Rekindling_the_Torch_of_Hymen_at_the_V_and_A_2008 He is therefore arguably, too, an Erote of Love Renewed, of Tragic Love, and a god of rebirth from tragedy.

Because of my interest in Boeotian traditions, especially of Thespiae and the surrounding area, I often revert back to Hesiod. Hesiod names a beautiful Thessalian boy beloved of Apollon, Hymenaios — or at least this is the Evlyn-White translation of the relevant fragment. The pseudo-Apollodoros notes a Thessalian Hyakinthos was seduced by Apollon away from Philammon, and that this Thessalian youth was accidentally slain by discus. Clearly this mythology is an example of one-in-the-same, simply with different names. At this point, I’m convinced, and urge: Whether you call Him Hyakinthos or Hymenaios, call on Him to bless the bond of love.

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About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

How Eros has Affected My General Worship: Chloris

Somehow, I think that the especial cult reverence that I afford Eros and the Erotes has helped me to see how the Theoi are connected and interact. One Goddess, Whom I now feel is often overlooked, Chloris (Flora, in Latin), the Goddess of Flowers, is one who I only really noticed after gravitating toward Eros cultus.

After noticing Chloris, it seemed quite obvious why She should be afforded at least some reverence in Erote worship: Many (and I do mean many) love stories in the mythos of ancient Hellas involve a metamorphisis into flowers. Many flowers are sacred to Aphrodite and the Erotes. Even in modern rituals that many people regard as being totally secular, flowers are often given in romance — and, interestingly, flowers are left for our dead. Again, we come to a relationship between Eros and Thanatos, Love and Death, a relationship which is far more pronounced in Gaelig mythology, and as we can see in the sources on Theoi.com, Ovid -in heavily implying Greek origin of this mythology (indeed, he implies it all over the place)- associates Chloris with the Isles of the Blessed in Elysium, and according to Wikipaedia, She is associated with not only Flowers, but also Spring and New Growth — an incredibly apt Goddess to associate with mythos often interpreted as life-death-rebirth mythos, such as Adonis or Hyakinthos, or even Narkissos.

And let us not forget that, botanically, flowers are basically the sex organs of the plant.

In connecting Chloris to Eros, the nymphai of the flowers are next, then the nymphai as a whole, Apollon, Dionysos, Hermes, Artemis… basically any other Theos with strong connections to the nymphai. In connecting Him to Chloris, we bring Him together with the Seasons, the Winds, the Weather Theoi, Zeus. All roads lead to Eros: Love and Creation.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

The Stories of Daphne and Hyakinthos

Re-Told By Ruadhan J McElroy

[Originally published in He Epistole, Summer of 2007, I believe. Edited and revised slightly.]

Once Artemis noted to her twin, “Dear brother, you advise to mortals ‘everything in moderation’, and yet you have lost yourself to the games of Eros at least twice.”

“Ah,” replied Apollon, “this is true. But remember, I advise everything in moderation – this holds especially true for moderation itself!”

This is the story of those instances.

Once, quite a long time ago, Apollon and Eros (who is older than all the Olympian Gods, but still rather child-like in his passions and general outlook), were in a dispute over who was the better archer of the two. Eros mentioned his millennia of years on the silver-bowed seer and how His own abilities of pairing of Gods and men alike had given him much more experience. Apollon scoffed, saying that it was not years, but the time He took to perfect his skill that made Him the superior bowman.

Apollon had decided he had enough of this pettiness and declared he was off to Gaia’s fertile plains to make music for the Nymphai – He may have been Eros’ junior in years, but He was still old enough to know when such an argument was going to go absolutely no-where.

Now Love always has something to prove, and with the encouragement of his companion Aphrodite, Eros simply could not let this go, and his golden arrow struck fair Apollon in the shoulder as the other eternal youth looked up from His lyre to glance at the dancing Naiad Daphne, the nymph of the artesian fountain nearby.

Now it is quite well-known that all nymphai love Apollon dearly, but most of them maintain chaste feelings toward Him, feeling more inclined toward the virile lasciviousness of the satyroi over the God’s refined sense of love-making — the Nymphai are, indeed, quite wild creatures at heart. Quite startled Daphne was when Apollon set down His harp and beckoned her nearer.

“But my Lord,” she replied, “I do not mean to offend, but if it is all the same to you, I would very much rather dance over here.”

“How can you mean that when I want nothing more than to be so nearer to you, sing of your beautiful chestnut hair and whisper sweet nothings in your ear?”

Startled, she began to back away. Unable to see the shaft of Eros’ dart for Apollon’s free-flowing mane, all that she could tell was that this was very much unlike Her God. When Apollon stood up and started toward Her, telling Her of Her beauty, Daphne feared a malevolent spirit was trying to trick Her, had somehow disguised itself as Her dear Apollon, and so She turned from Apollon’s hand and sped off faster than the speed of Eros’ dart.

“My beloved!” the confused God cried out. “Why do you run from your Lord?” Apollon ran to catch up with Daphne.

“You cannot be my Lord Apollon! My Lord knows that my heart belongs to the satyros Argyros, a keeper of hares! Whatever wicked spirit you are, return to where you came from! Do not touch me!”

“How can you not recognise your God? Please, dear woman,” Apollon begged, grabbing a hold of Daphne’s arm. “I beg of you, be done with this nonsense!”

Daphne turned her head and noticed that they had come upon the river of her father, Ladon, and called out to the river-God for help as Apollon held onto her and pleaded with her to allow Him to love her. By the power within Him, Ladon transformed His daughter at her plea that “anything would be better than being pursued by this fiend!”

Daphne’s feet took root into the ground below her as Gaia opened up her pores for the tearful nymphe. Her skin became thick, and like that of a tree as her rich brown hair spiralled up-ward and became covered with leaves thick and flavourful, but sharp to those who should bite them.

At first startled by her metamorphosis, Apollon’s heart then broke at the realisation of what He had driven his old friend to beg for. He then felt the golden head or Eros’ dart under His skin, and realised what the ancient ephebos had done to Him for daring to think Himself better than Nyx’s self-begotten son.

He begged the forgiveness of Ladon for so foolishly pursuing the river-god’s beloved daughter, and asked if He could bless this monument to the fair nymphe. He infused its leaves with the gift of second sight to all who should worship Him. Indeed, even today, followers of Apollon have been known to chew on or burn leaves of the divine daphne, known to the Latin-speaking Romans as “Laurel nobilis” and to modern speakers of the Briton tongue, which some believe is Hyperborean in nature, as “bay”.

Now on another occasion, quite some time after Daphne was but a memory but when mortal men were still in their infancy as a race, and the Gods roamed more freely among us than They do today, Lord Apollon became enchanted by a youth of Spartan nobility. The ephebe’s name was Hyakinthos, and even his mother was so mystified by her son’s beauty and intellect that she, like her neighbours, was hardly above comparing his charms to those of Apollon. Indeed, even His sister Artemis had to look twice when seeing them about, just to make sure that He had not found himself another twin.

“Well, my Brother,” She said when they parted from a playful and loving kiss. “I do believe that you have just proven yourself to not be above vanity. Even your beloved is only distinguishable from you by his mortal aura and the small imperfections in his young skin alone.”

“But do you not see, dear Sister, jealousy is such a waste. I am sure your beloved nymphe could have born Hermes in comfort if only your jealousy did not frighten even our dear Father.”

Artemis knew better that to quarrel with Her twin over the differences between jealousy and the wrath reserved for oath-breakers. He knew the difference, and despite Her wild ways, She was too mannered than to argue with Him in front of His new lover.

Despite his unwavering love for Apollon, Hyakinthos was still mortal and therefore flawed. One of these flaws was that he still could not tell when his own youthful flirting may be taken more seriously than it was intended to be, and this finally was met with sorrow from Zephyros, who had become quite enamoured with the mortal boy.
When Hyakinthos finally realised that Zephyros had fallen in love with him, he apologised to the north wind – he did not mean to mislead Him of his own affections.

“I am gravely sorry, but my heart belongs to Apollon.”

“No! I refuse to believe it!”

“But it is true. And I swear on my life that I had no intentions to make you think I felt that way toward you. I ask that you accept my admittance of this mortal mistake. Just please, I beg of you, dear God, turn your head so that you may see the truth.”

“Why should eruthibios Olympian have the heart of all the lovely young men of the world? Am I not myself attractive?”

“You are indeed fair in your own right, but it is impossible for me to share my heart with two. If I were to even try such a feat, one would become favoured over the other. No mortal can love more than one in the way that I love Apollon. If he tried to, he would fail. There are polygamists who take as many as they can financially provide for equally, but one wife is always awarded the lion’s share of his heart, meaning that his provisions can never be truly equal. Even great Zeus obviously gives more of his heart to Hera than to those he unites with in passing fancy.”

As the boy ran toward Apollon’s beckoning, Zephyros cried out in heartbreak, “Mark my word, fair mortal – if I cannot love you, than neither can He!”

Apollon, honoured by men of the gymnasia, was teaching his young paramour to throw the discus and were now playing an old catching game with the throwing circle as Artemis and Hekate sat by and watched as their dogs ran about with the masculine beings of golden hair.

Then just as Hyakinthos ran to catch the disc as he had been, Hekate could see from the corner of her eye Zephyros, with a jealous look in his.

Hekate cried out “Wait, stop!” but Apollon had already thrown the discus. Zephyros then blew the weighted toy off its course, and quickly did Hyakinthos’ neck snap as the heavy circle beat the mortal youth across his brow.

Where his blood fell, flowers did begin to sprout and take root, as Apollon lifted the boy up, tears pouring down his own face.
Where the story ends here for many people, offering them nothing more than an allegorical tale of the death of childhood. But in Sparta it was said that the fair boy, who was one of their own, by petition of Apollon and the will of Hades, whose heart was softened by his wife Persephone – so girlishly romantic, deep down inside – was reborn as a demigod and every summer in Sparta, they would honour this death with solemn feasts and his rebirth by offering fine clothes to Apollon, singing songs of He and His beloved Spartan boy, and some were even inducted in the mysteries of Apollon and His favourite of all youths.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.