Are we sure they don’t mean Animist Planet?

I am not proud of the fact that I watch a lot of television, but every so often, I come across a gem that isn’t reruns of old noirs or other crime drama, or sitcoms so old and influential that most people even my age don’t find it funny because it’s been mimicked within an inch of its life.

While most of the tree houses featured on Treehouse Masters are, indeed, rural or suburban, a few have been featured in the back gardens of detached city houses, which I like, cos it accentuates the fact that the only limit to tree houses is having enough trees that are up to the task of supporting a human structure –and to be frank, those trees can be just about anywhere.

I also love how Pete literally talks to the trees, will openly state that he’s poking around for the right energy, and has a clear attitude that if a tree or small cluster of trees wants or doesn’t want a treehouse there, he’ll not only see physical signs, but feel the vibe, as well.

The Pool Master, a related show following a man who creates naturalistic swimming pools based on the landscape and making use of local materials, is hosted by an equally Animistic designer. Cos designing swimming pools takes out of the patch of land they’re built into, he also takes care to move and re-plant any little native trees or flora, even if it annoys his workers. He always seems genuinely saddened when the workers accidentally injure or kill a plant that he’d rather move, and in spite of the editing done to make this seem like the silly ideas of an eccentric landscape artist, I’m always right there with him.


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.

Eros Oracle Deck

I got this deck from a friend for my birthday. It impresses and amuses me for some fairly obvious reasons, and if you can see, you know that one of those reasons is the integration of 1920s Art Deco-influenced illustration. I’d suggest that the creator was spying on me, but the copyright year is 2007, technically predating even this blog. I’m tempted to file this loose association of mine under Shared Gnosis, but I know nothing about the creator and how they regard Eros, as a deity.

I say that I know nothing about how the creator regards Eros because the deck and little information pamphlet included mention nothing of Deity, but this could just be secularising it for greater marketability. The recommended divination in the pamphlet is also only concerning itself with relationships, but the symbolism is theoretically multi-purpose, and I can already think of other ways to use this.

At first, my favourite thing about this deck is the art —I’m just really not that into cartomancy, because I find the pre-set symbolism kind of restricting, in a way. I understand that some degree of intuition is necessary for any good divination, including cartomancy, but the fact that you’re building this intuition off an only moderately-random (at best) draw of pre-designed and selected images, whereas, say, tasseomancy is completely random in the symbols it can produce (and what those symbols actually are is often up to the interpretation and intuition of the diviner), and hydroscrying is also completely random and utilising no concrete symbolism, but a demi-trance state, I find giving divination from cartomancy harder for myself to trust —as it relies on my abilities to interpret someone else’s symbols in regards to the situation— but at the same time, I also occasionally do the Homeric or Greek alphabet oracles, and those are essentially the same principle of pulling meanings from an incredibly limited range of symbolism.

Here’s a scan of some of my favourite cards:

According to Tarot Dame, this deck is also available with an accompanying (limited edition?) book sold with some decks, which neither she nor I have seen, but I did just find a seller who has it at a price I can do, assuming it sticks around.

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.

Shriekback – SACRED CITY

(yes, this is basically C&P’d from the Hellenistai Media Project)

World Domination Records, 1992

Before I begin, I want you all to know that this wasn’t my original choice for review today — no, that was originally going to be an Ataraxia album that is now being put off for later. Maybe I was “instructed” to review this one instead, cos all I know is that, aside from the car ride to and from MichiCon at Oakland University last night, I’ve been listening to this album for the larger part of three or four days (not all of which has been logged on Last.FM), and even when I’ve been listening to other things, this is what I hear with my mind’s ear.

Shriekback are probably one of the most delightfully intelligent pop-rock bands in existence. Think of what Roxy Music could have been in Brian Eno had stuck around and they absorbed Gary Numan at some point — or maybe that’s just my fantasy? Or maybe I’m cutting Numan a little too much credit?

Now, you may be asking why I’m reviewing this one, after all, Oil & Gold has the song about Nemesis; most likely, though, you’re probably not asking yourself that, and I’m just geeking out. The plain truth is, this is not only one of my personal favourite Shriekback albums, it is my personal opinion that this is probably their most spiritual album.

Most of Shriekback’s albums are just different enough from each-other that each can possibly pass for a concept album, and many really do have loose lyrical themes connecting most of the songs, in which case, Sacred City is an experimental art rock album with songs about spirituality and the city of London.

Much like some of the songs from Oil & Gold, the instrumentation on much of Sacred City is apparently influenced (at least in part) by the same sort of pan-Mediterranean folk music that Dead Can Dance seems to have made their careers on, but unlike Dead Can Dance, the apparent electronics drive this into a set of rock rhythms that evolved from the proto-“post-punk” sound that came from XTC (the band Shriekback frontman Barry Andrews was a part of before Shriekback); don’t get me wrong, Shriekback very much has their own sound, and it’s also obvious how and why they were influential on what would later become techno-industrial (especially their first two studio albums), but the jangling guitars and stealthy bass-lines don’t leave Shriekback out-of-place in a record collection featuring Love & Rockets and Japan.

Of especial note on this one are:

“(Open Up Your) Filthy Heart (To Me)”, a literal love song to the city. The tempo is between ballad and lullabye and addresses the city as an ancient entity, something that has had many expectations placed on it, but rarely, though occasionally, loved for what it is — not just its history and majesty, but its very essence, its soul.

“Beatles Zebra Crossing?” is about the cross-walk featured prominently on the cover of The Beatles’ album Abbey Road. Seems an odd choice of topic for a song, but that little patch of land contains so much history, both personal and communal, back to the era of the Roman Empire.

“Hymn To the Local Gods” probably has the most broad appeal to the Hellenic community, if only because it both paints a romantic portrait of culture-wide polytheism in general, and portrays the Gods as living and very much still alive, suggesting that “they never died, we only lost their number”, and even encourages to “leave a fire in the window, Pour the wine under the underpass” and renew worship and libations, ask back the local Gods.

Album ender, “Every Force Evolves a Form” is a very close runner-up to “Hymn To the Local Gods”, and the message of the lyrics is pretty much the title, but orchestrated in a full-bodied piece ripe for dance.

Again, I admit, this one probably doesn’t have as broad appeal for the Hellenismos community as the album I had originally intended to review today, and if anybody gets disappointed with that I apologise, but really, it could have been worse — my tastes are just varied enough that I can say that, eventually, I’m going to review something of no interest to anybody else reading this, and most of you will probably hate it. But I don’t feel I’m wrong to recommend this one; it has apparent potential appeal to pagans and polytheists, and anybody seeking the sacred amongst the cities.

Sacred City lyrics
Shriekback on Amazon

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.

A Project Long-Overdue

A few of you kind readers may already know (if only because I’ve talked about this to you), but my plan for the hellenistai.com mainpage (no sub-domain, like “forum.hellenistai.com”) has been a media review blog/webzine. The main reasons that this hasn’t taken off yet is because 1) I’m too broke to start this off all by myself (and, having worked for a small-press and very short-lived magazin myself, in the past, “awkward” doesn’t begin to describe the shared feelings between artist and magazine when the topic of review copies of things comes up, especially with a very new magazine), and 2) at first I thought that people would submit to me and I’d post it all myself, but not only did all of one person send anything in, ever (dead serious), it turns out that I’m too lazy to be the lone cheerleader to amass a wealth of material, enough to post regularly, and enough to make for a respectable media blog.

Yes, gentle reader, sometimes I have a kernel of a good idea, but it’s got this husk of bad idea surrounding it. This has been my plight with the Hellenistai Project Media Blog.

Now for the good news: I’ve finally managed to separate that kernel from the husk.

It was really pretty simple; wrangle in a few friends, at least to start out, and let them upload their articles themselves. My experiences of “friends + work” has been about fifty-fifty, and there seems to be a correlation between how much money is involved, and how fast it will destroy the friendship. On the good side, this is so far from a money-making endeavour that I’m confident that people will trust me about site donations (but in the off-chance I’m proved wrong in this, I have PayPal and DreamHost set to send me receipts for everything), and I’d be seriously surprised if people start sending in review copies of stuff (though later this year, I will probably be setting up a P.O. Box just in case), but even then, it probably won’t be until long after we’ve already discussed an established protocol for when review items come in.

I’ve so far confirmed one wrangled-in friend, and I’m pretty confidant that at least one of the other two people I have in mind will be willing and able to participate.

I ask for little from these friends for this project: A minimum of once a fortnight (that’s every two weeks), post a minimum of one review of any media item of potential Hellenic polytheist interest (books – both fiction and non, music, film, games, theatre; hell, even a painter’s body of work is a potential media topic). It doesn’t have to be new, either, since we all seem to be regularly re-discovering old things. I’m not even going to be a big stickler that all media items reviews be “strictly Hellenic”, either, cos that would, at the very least, seriously drive us to running out of articles very fast. I don’t even care if two people want to post contrasting reviews of the same thing, as long as their opinions of the item contrasts enough — in fact, since my tastes with people on the Hellenistai Forum seems to differ so greatly, such reviews could become a regular thing. Hell, enough people have divergent enough tastes, I’m sure mine won’t be the only contrasting voice for long.

Will we take on other reviewers or guest reviews? In time, sure, obviously. Hell, if we want to limit no more than one post per day, this project can easily accommodate as many as fourteen different voices per fortnight. I just think a nice steady start of a core of four people who can post new reviews in their spare time every other week is a solid place to start. People who want to submit a guest review can talk to me about it, and I’m sure something can easily be worked out.

So, by all means, go to Hellenistai.com and click and / or copy the appropriate links to add it to your blog feeds and what-not, cos I’m hoping that within the next two weeks, there will be a review up from at least two of us.

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 Oracle has been received!

You want to know how to make Oliver Stone’s 2007 epic “final cut” of 2005’s Alexander even better?

Well, lacking the technology to digitally replace Angelina Jolie, the method I use to make it better is to watch the Japanese animated series Alexander Senki (Reign: The Conqueror in the U$ — to avoid confusion, I’ll call it “Reign” through this post) first.

The thing about Reign is that… it’s weird. Yes, I know, it’s a Japanese cartoon drawn by that dude behind Aeon Flux, but that only hints at how weird this series is. While Stone took his liberties and glossing-overs with Alexander to make for a better story, so did the Japanese production team behind Reign obviously did their research as an outline of “Alexander facts” have been juxtaposed with “Alexander lore” from The Greats contemporaries, biographers, detractors, etc…. But what makes Reign so weird is the almost “hyper-legendary” liberties taken — things that are so impossiblely weird for Alexander’s time or now or even basic laws of physics.

The Olympias in Alexander was reasonably realistic, all things considered. The common “lore” that she was some kind of sorceress has been tempered down to Dionysian cultist and, as one who grew up with parents who acknowledged me as a “gifted” child, I honestly see her sometimes-kooky reverence for her son as existing within a believable realm. But in Reign, she’s an outright crazed “snake witch” who gives birth one month premature in a pool of water with an impossibly massive constrictor wrapped around her body and sending her into orgasm.

And that’s not even touching on the Pythagorean Ninjas. Yes, I’m serious.

Now, Reign can, and should, be given pass because it’s a sci-fi epic and “the known world” in Reign, well, really is the whole world, as it appears at the beginning of the first episode to be floating, unattached, in space, all Dark City-style. And like I said, Pythagorean ninjas. This isn’t a biopic; this is essentially its own story using names and a loose interpretation of an historical outline for the plot.

…but it’s also just weird enough that I can’t bring myself to calling it “good”. It’s decent-enough; it’s well-done, for what it is. On the other hand, I’m too familiar with the history it pays tribute to consider it much more than a splendiferous pyrotechnic display of weird.

…and in comparison, that makes Stone’s Alexander look like Alexander, or at least Ptolemy himself was the story consultant. What it fudges up from ancient biographical accounts of Alexander the Great were honestly only done out of decent story telling. The casting may have needed a little work (even outside of my opinion of Angelina Jolie, I think Colin Farrell could have either himself done better, or a better actor could have been cast, but overall, he did it decently enough to be enjoyable. Hell, even the direction could have used a little work, but overall, it’s an enjoyable watch and respectful of the history it pays tribute.

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.