[also cross-posted from Tumblr, specifically the OfThespiae feed]

eupheme-butterfly:

thequeensclock:

eupheme-butterfly:

everythingbutthekitchensphinx:

So apparently someone made a post recently that stated Aphrodite would smite asexual people for existing. And there are people arguing against that on my dash, which is great! Hooray good for you! But the problem is, how people are arguing against this is gross and actually triggering to me, because these defenses wind up implying she DOES actively hate people like me for existing because I’m not the right kind of asexual.

“Chastity and celibacy are choices, whereas asexuality is not a choice.” – From our last large scale survey, 86% of the asexual people surveyed were not currently sexually active, and only 1% of asexual people reported enjoying sex. Does that mean Aphrodite hates 99% of all asexual people? Or does she only hate the 86% of us not currently having sex – or maybe she just hates the 65% of us who identify as being sex-repulsed or sex-adverse?

“Asexual people can love just as deeply as anyone else!” – 19% of asexual people are also aromantic (that is, they do not experience romantic attraction). Does that mean Aphrodite hates 19% of all asexual people (and maybe 100% of aromantic people)?

As a sex-repulsed, aromantic, asexual person, these “defenses” are only serving to reenforce to me that Aphrodite hates me and would kill me on the spot for existing. Which is the opposite of what was trying to be accomplished.

Also I think people forget about Dionysus?? Like he is the God of sex and wine. Although I don’t think he would out right smite them, but I think he’ll try to tempt them.

And before I get people telling me “oh because he’s a man he has to like sex!?” bitch have you not heard of Eurydice.

I’m gonna be completely honest and say that I have no idea what your post is actually saying, thequeensclock

That is 100% my brain not being able to follow, not your fault

halp?

I don’t know about you, euphemebutterfly, but I think these arguments as a whole fall victim to the fallacy that all deities love all people, including Their worshippers, equally.

Personally? I do, indeed, get the impression that Eros is completely indifferent to the asexual community, cos sex is such a HUGE part of Who He Is and What He’s About that if you’re not engaging in or enjoying sex, or not even feeling any kind of sexual attraction, you’re just irrelevant to Him. I also get the impression (from things He’s actually said*) that He’s annoyed by people who are part of that community and choose to worship Him, anyway, cos it’s a matter of “what are they even getting from this?”

I can’t answer any of this for Aphrodite –yes, Her cult has been linked to Eros’ since ancient times, but as a Boeotian polytheist, most of my research says that was more a thing in Attika, and the use of Aphrodite’s name in regards to Boeotian practises was more of a euphemistic epithet for Nyx, or a syncretism from non-Boeotian writers, so I tend to see Aphrodite as less-relevant to Eros’ cult, with regards to the practises I’m reviving/reconstructing. I doubt the Theoi have any interest in outright smiting those who don’t directly insult Them, but another’s mileage may vary.

My point is, though, in a truly pluralistic belief system, the gods are completely autonomous in every sense –and They don’t have to love or even appreciate Their worshippers, much less anyone else. There are many Goddesses in the Hellenic and other Mediterranean pantheos that explicitly Love Everyone –Hestia, Isis, and Kybele come to mind– but if one is going by the ancient sources, it’s completely valid to believe that other Deities may also be disinterested in, dislike or even despise certain people. If each deity is an individual, then it follows that not Everyone is going to appreciate all of Their worshippers equally. If you were previously unaware, Artemis HATES ME, I can best honour her by not worshipping Her, and I have that straight from Her brother’s mouth (though portrayed as Her words), in absolutely no uncertain terms; She finds something about the very core of me “repugnant and offensive” and that the only option I have to respect Her is to leave Her alone.

There are just some people certain deities are disinterested in, distrust, dislike, or downright despise. One need not worship Every Deity, nor even Every Major Deity Who Gets All the Fan-Fic to be a good polytheist. Yes, if one is taking a more-traditional-minded approach, it’s best to honour an entire pantheon, regardless of what one gets out of it. Yes, there are many facets to most deities’ Being, and certainly Aphrodite is much more than a Goddess of Love & Sex –but it also seems to be a HUGE part of Who She Is; it’s like when Pete Helms has said (and I’m paraphrasing) that people who want to take the War / Martial aspects out of Ares in order to make worshipping Him more palatable to their own personal senses, they’re doing something rather wrong –it’s hard to have a relationship with a mortal when you can’t even acknowledge something HUGE about them that you disagree with, so it’s at least as-impossible to have a relationship with a deity while ignoring something as HUGE as War to Ares or even Love & Sex to Aphrodite or Eros. And yes, sometimes the gods just don’t care for certain people; Artemis hates me, and somehow I’ve survived (mind, I also don’t go around insulting Her or challenging Her boundaries) –maybe Aphrodite feels the same about the asexual community, or maybe She is just as appreciativve of them as She is of anyone else who isn’t insulting Her but affording Her worship? Maybe She can’t stand them any more than Artemis can stand me? The thing to remember about worship is that it’s not about you or your “feels”; it’s about giving a deity Their due, and if that makes one feel good to do so, all the better.

Psychology is for mortal feelings. Worship is for building a bond with the Divine. If a particular Deity won’t adhere to one’s desired bond, then one can’t make Them do so, no matter how much one wants that bond to stick and hypothesises the ways that this bond is possible and will somehow work for oneself or another.

*and other people can believe me or not, won’t affect me or my relationship with Him one way or the other


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.

Oh my…

You should go check out this ass’s so-far unfinished jacket. It apparently took two days to do even just that.

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 20 ~ Hellenismos and my love life

I don’t even know how to begin with this.

I’m a fag. At the current point in my life that I write this in, I have no human love life — in fact, it’s been a few months short of three years since I last slept with another man.

If I’m going to form a long-term bond with another mortal man, would I like him to share my religion? Sure; I’m not sure if it’s mandatory, but it would be nice.

That said, note the careful language I’ve used here. I don’t completely lack a love-life. I’ve bonded with One of the spiritual realm. Only a very small number of friends know with whom — though I’m sure any long-time reader of this blog who uses that mushy grey stuff between one’s ears for more than keeping one’s skull from caving in can easily figure it out. This is something that I keep private for a lot of reasons, but first and foremost because it’s really nobody-else’s business. This bond has been formalised with ritual, and like any pair of lovers, there are ups and downs, but ultimately, He’s my rock, and I’m stronger for it.

I acknowledge that this isn’t something that’s exactly welcomed and accepted by “mainline Hellenists”, and that’s another reason I keep this private: As much as I’ve grown accustomed to an apparently growing number of Hellenists regarding me as “the Eros guy” similarly to how Sannion would be “the Dionysos guy” or Kyrene Ariadne would be “the Apollon lady”, I’m still a polytheist and regularly give at least incense and wine to other deities, a small portion of my own meals — hell, I picked up this adorable little “sea horse” aquarium statue for my fishtank, a few weeks ago, cos it made me think of Poseidon, and I very seldom think of Poseidon (this is especially noteworthy, cos I spent several days after getting it, along with much-needed tank filters, waffling over whether or not I should return it, cos it was more than I really should have spent — but ultimately kept it, cos aside from the cult in Boeotia, my ancestors on the British Isles were surrounded by sea, so maybe I should think of Poseidon more). Basically, aside from what I post here, all anybody really needs to know is that I’m a Hellenic Polytheist, novelist, singer, Mod Revival & Ska DJ, and general all-purpose loudmouth faggot.

Plus, even if I wanted to share more, the messages I get from My Love every time I start waffling all “should I let this banner fly as well, or shouldn’t I?”, are very clear: This is between He and I. This is our mystery, and what He has to share, He shall share with others in the same way — one-on-one.

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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.

30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 14 ~ Pantheon – Nyx & Kybele/Gaia

I tend to regard Nyx and Kybele not as two names for the same Goddess, but as two distinct types of Mother Goddess. Whether “Kybele = Rhea”, I really am not sure, but I know that those who dismiss Kybele’s cult as “foreign” carefully don’t mention that Rhea’s cult is of Minoan origin. There’s also the fact that in Boeotia, Kybele in specific was regarded as a wife or consort of Pan — and if getting a Husband Whose cult can be traced to the Hellenic mainland is good enough to make the Kypriot Aphrodite “Hellenic enough”… Really, some people are major weiners about this, when it’s all really quite logical.

My comprehension of Kybele is also a tad outside the modern “Hellenic mainstream”, and (at least based on what I’ve s-far concluded in my studies of Boeotian traditions), probably closer to an ancient Boeotian understanding — if not a perfect match to Boeotian thought (at least for some poleis), then close enough to be likely accepted, should I finally get that phone booth back in working order. I don’t see Kybele as a match to Rhea, but Gaia, though I honour Gaia and Kybele differently. Let’s compare this Goddess to a a sort of Borg-like entity — They are distinct, but clearly share a consciousness. Where Gaia is the literal Earth, and a living organism, and a Goddess, She’s also rather impersonal1 — this is where Her Kybele form is necessary and also a distinct form for Her consciousness. As Pindar reports of Thebes, I too see Her as a mate of Pan.

As much as Kybele is a nurturing and deeply feeling Mother Goddess, one Who will cuddle you into Her many bosoms, She will sit you down and tell you very frankly what it is. She’s a Goddess of opposites — She’s both a physical and spiritual being, She’s a Goddess of wild things (and indeed, mated with a god of wild things) but Her crown is a city’s walls, and (perhaps most tellingly) Her mythos tell the story of the first surgical “correction” of an Intersex infant because a few gods were offended and disgusted. In part for Her origin mythos, and in part for the story of Attis, Her son, going mad and ritually castrating Himself, Her cult, in ancient times, maintained a priest/ess caste of biological men who willingly submitted to a ritual castration and adoption of feminine identities (and, in modern times, this is often interpreted as having been a haven for trans women and male-assigned genderqueer people — but this is a modern Anglocentric culture’s interpretation, I know of nothing that survives of writings from this priestly caste that articulates their own gender identities), which has given Kybele a special reverence to many transgender and intersex individuals. Unlike Eros, Hermes, and many other Trickster deities, She doesn’t exist in the liminal, in-between spaces — she simultaneously exists on both sides of a divide. Like all mothers, She can be both your greatest ally and worst enemy.

Many modern Pagans and Polytheist have this ridiculously romanticised vision of “nature” and the “natural world”. This idea that an untamed forest is a place of kindness, that the planet will just “give” everything needed to Herself and the creatures that live on Her surface. They forget that Gaia throws tantrums — or, if those fits are acknowledged, it’s always with the adage that “we humans deserve it” — forgetting the ill impact these fits have on other living things. While Gaia tends to eventually sort out Her droughts, and blights, and hurricane devatstations, these events still have impacts on plant life, animal life, human life, and even Her own face. It seems only logical to me that Gaia and Kybele are the same soul — They’re clearly a Goddess of opposites.

Nyx, too, is a Mother Goddess, but also not. She’s the mother of Eros, a creative force, mother of Eris, The Oneroi, the Moirai, Furies and so many other Daimones, but this is not a mother Goddess as we mortals understand the concept.

Queen Alexandra (1844–1925) — widow of Edward VII and mother of George V.

Queen Alexandra (1844–1925) — widow of Edward VII and mother of George V.

It’s like the difference between a fan (short for “fanatic”) and one who just likes something. She’s a goddess Who’s a mother, and She is of great importance to the Gods (on what I gather is a personal level for Them), but at best, we can only catch glimpses, occasional nuggets of how amazing a force She is. She’s a deity for deities — She will graciously accept our worship and sacrifices, but the greatest title Hellenes have ever had for Her is a Goddess of Night — and yet, poetry and hymns exist, and continue to be written for this other Great Mother, whom we’ve only seen in snaps. In comparison, She’s like the Queen Mother to most Amerikans — obviously, she’s of some great importance to some people, obviously a mother, but damned if anybody but very few will ever figure out exactly what she actually does and why she’s treated with such reverence, since she’s clearly not the same as the Queen Regent (reigning queen).

That said, I obviously lack a personal relationship or deeper understanding of Nyx — and unless Eros changes His mind, I won’t need to know any time soon. She’s His mother, via parthenogenesis — She was born with his zygote already inside Her when She and Erebos were formed from Khaos. She’s a Deity that all other Deities hold in great esteem. She inspires the occasional mortal burst of insight to Her nature. That’s good enough for now.


1: But as with all polytheist topics, your mileage may vary.


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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.

30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 11 ~ Patrons – Apollon

As I noted yesterday, Apollon made Himself known to me before all others. As a child, it was the paintings of Apollon that really stood out to me in the D’Auliare book, and it was His mythology that fascinated me the most, and His was the face I often saw as I sang in my choirs. I don’t see the stoic white-marble Apollon that many see — I see Apollon strongest in images like that portrait of Beethoven that I always felt looked half-crazed, or this gorgeous painting of a crazed nymphe pounding on a lyre on the ceiling of the Fischer Building in Detroit. He’s a God of Moderation, and this includes moderating moderation itself — “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, sort of deity. Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

His lesson of “moderation in all things” is less about the austere middle-ground, but more about recognising what is best for the situation, which means recognising that the best choice sometimes really is All or Nothing. His mythology includes the description of a lover some impassioned that he all but lost himself to His beloved.

©Ruadhán McElroy; This was honestly the best I could make this look — the ceiling is at least three stories high.

Some may see this as a lesson in what not to do, a cautionary tale, but if that were the case, then why is laurel sacred to Apollon — and why did Sparta and Thessaly apparently honour Hyakinthos as hemitheos? The the degree of that love is such a disgrace, then wouldn’t such honours logically follow toward shameful? The reality is that this was the proper degree of passions for those instances, and naught but Apollon Himself can change how I see that.

How can the leader of the Mousai be one Who always tempers His passions? Perhaps that makes sense to those who aren’t artists, but it makes no sense to me, and I tend to feel that I produce my best works when dizzy with inspiration, drunk with passion.

But where Dionysos is likened to the lush Jim Morrison, dabbling in anything offered to him, having screaming hair-pulling fits with Nico, growing portly, I think Apollon may be better likened to Derek Jarman: experimenting with visuals, dialogue, and music as it suits projects like Jubilee, expertly casting a completely blind dancer/mime as Caliban in a film version of The Tempest re-worked just enough to impress the most hard-to Shakespeare scholars, taking a biopic project about Caravaggio, and creating a film that serves as a modern tribute to the painter’s once-revolutionary style — and not only that, but approaching his own HIV infection with education and reason, taking to gardening and journalling in his idle hours, and leaving behind a legacy of passions well-spent and well-shared.

Where most people associate grand Wagnerian symphonies or Mozart’s lavish baroque operas with Apollon, I risk, at the very least, an ocean-wave of rolled eyes, perhaps even accusations of blasphemy, and associate the absolutely perfect music of Japan, Brian Eno, and Roxy Music (especially with Brian Eno). I scoff at those who insist that the God of Music has no interest in anything newer than Noel Coward, and apparently little interest interest in anything less grand than Franz Liszt. Such people seem too quick to forget that the music given most readily to Apollon in ancient times was not grand Austrian symphonies, but simple devotional hymns, sung with little, if any, accompaniment. While my first deep connections to Apollon came from singing pristinely orchestrated choral music, the deepest connections I have had in recent years come in the form of performing avant-garde industrial music.

“Music for Un Chien Andalou” is my magnum opus for Apollon and the Mousai. My friend Jason and I created that after each some heavy ritual to our own deities (his to Ganesha; mine to Apollon and the Mousai), and before or since, I have created no equal. It’s so far the greatest offering I have created for any deity. Others, of course, are welcome to disagree, and I’m sure there are some who consider it some kind of sacrilege to offer Apollon any music but the most aureate “classical” pieces by dead composers who wore powdered wigs — and depending on the festival or occasion, I offer that to Apollon, too (especially arias for the castrato Farinelli as performed by intact modern Greek Sopranist Aris Christofellis) — but this is the God of Music, not a specific kind of music, the slayer of the Python, the plague-bringer, He who flayed alive the satyr who dared challenge Him at music. To assume He only has taste for Handel or Porpora is to speak as one whose understanding of Apollon apparently begins and ends with misguided tomes of the atheist Neitzche, or (dare I say? I shall) stale, Bowdlerised versions of His mythology that are barely suitable for small children.

He is the father of pharmacists and doctors, and himself a God of Medicine and Healing. But just as quickly as He can bring Health, He can curse to illness. As quickly as He will praise talent, He will punish pretentiousness. Though His wrath is apparently not nearly enough to warrant a page dedicated to it on Theoi Project, His mythology makes it very clear that it exists, and that He is not a Deity to be trifled with. The painting of Him flaying (skinning alive) the satyr Marsyas fascinates me. Marsyas was a satyr who received a flute from Athene after She invented it and then became bored with it. After becomming adept with it, Marsyas became conceited, boasting that His skills at it were greater than even Apollon’s — forgetting that Apollon was naturally the best at every instrument. When Apollon appeared to Marsyas and said, “yes, you are very good, but if you can play hanging upside-down, I’ll concede that you are my better.” Marsyas knew this was impossible, but his braggadocio got the best of him, and after he hooked his feet onto the branch of a tree, he blew a single sour breath into his first note — then screamed as the God began to peel away his flesh.

His connections to oracles and divinations strengthens the bond I feel with him, for as you may recall from Day 6, I’ve been practising divinations since I was in high school. This, I feel, is indicative that He has connections with the Moirai, which, as I wrote yesterday, would be a connection to Eros. Of course, ultimately, I feel, all comes back to Eros — but I think Apollon’s link is closer than that.

…but then, many link Him very closely to Dionysos, so it makes sense in print to link Him to a similar deity. But also, for a couple years now, I’ve had this post here in my “Drafts” folder that I just can never articulate to my exact liking — one that connects Apollon to Eros as an Erote, as the Patron of the Grieving Lover. Consider how many of Apollon’s affairs (or at least attempts at such) ended in tragedy, typically the death or metamorphosis of the beloved. This would make Apollon’s relationship to Love as quite distinct from Anteros — Love Returned, also the avenger of Unrequited Love — for Apollon’s myths show, quite often, love that is returned, but which ends tragically. This connection could also suggest a patronage over forbidden love — what Eros stirs, Apollon reaches out to console, for He can see that it won’t end well, and He knows this heartache all too well. For this, I suggest an epithet of “Apollon Anteros-Dysdaimon [mutual love, ill-fated]” for His face that holds court with Eros.

Some may find it odd, but I tend to feel closest to Apollon during winter, when those of His cult at Delphi believe that He resides in the Hyperborean lands — the lands north of the frigid North Winds. This, I cannot explain, and probably wouldn’t dare to, if I could. I also tend to associate Him with the phenomenon of the aurora borealis, the Northern Lights, which were described by Aristotle in Meteorology, and which are, on rare occasion, observable from Athens. This, too, ties into Apollon’s associations with Light — though unlike some, I don’t associate Him with Helios or daylight; to me, Apollon is best associated with the flickering candle in the darkened room as I’m scrying, the sun as it reflects off Selene, the dimmer switch that will illuminate all but at a pace He decides is best.

I don’t have any dealings with Artemis; in fact, I had an experience where She specifically asked me to go away. Thinking about it, it makes perfect sense, for She is of wild things, and wild things like their absolutes; their Black/White thinking and are very seldom concerned with greys. I also just plain get the impression that She only wants to deal with those whom She wishes. I also think that my spiritual connection with large cities, and potentially other facts of my nature, may deeply offend Her (which further affirms my belief in the individual natures of the Gods), and while I see a lot of contrasting qualities in Apollon and Artemis, one of them is the notion that where Apollon is the pinholes of lights in the black, Artemis is the heavy cluster of shadows in broad daylight — to better obscure Her appearance for the hunt. But where Artemis rules over all aspects of the wilderness — yes, even the savage parts, Apollon rules over the civilised parts of the world, from the developed farmland, to the suburbs, to the bustling metropoleis — and yes, even its more unsavory aspects. From the clean and well-kept suburban pagan bookstore run by the sweet old lady, to the commune of Anarcho-Socialist hoamsteaders in rural Colarado, to the “crazy” on the Chicago street-corner who swears she knows what’s going to happen to you — the Apollon I know give each of those people and all others in-between their due measure.

My Apollon is neither grandiloquent nor pretentious; he’s not the somber antithesis to Dionysos’ mania; he’s not a shower of sunlight, and His wisdom is often cryptic or just plain cynical. It’s not uncommon for me to talk with Him and get sardonic replies — but at this point in the relationship, I know it’s because He has certain very specific ideas for how things should happen, and He knows that, with me, He can be openly frustrated with His own confines to Psykhe’s weave without scaring me. I don’t have as dark a portrait of Him as at least one of my friends does, but I at least like to think that her friendship was nudged my way so that I wouldn’t have to have one of my own — perhaps, in time, this too will be stitched out for me?

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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.

Before I went to bed last night….

I tend to turn on music (radio, CD, mp3 player) before I go to bed. Either I or my mother has done this for as long as I can remember. Last night (or, more accurately, yesterday at 5am or something), I started to go to bed and turned on the radio — then this neat, albeit creepy little song came on:

[podcast]http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Zambri%20-%20From%20the%20Start.mp3[/podcast]

…and for the duration, until it slipped into Geneva Jacuzzi, I was taken out of my room, all other sensations were relieved of me but Eros’s touch, hands, breath, all possible sights set to focus on His familiar face, hair, wings….

After it finished, I got up to find out what it was (bless you WCBN) and then this led me to their MySpace. That song has since ear-wormed me for a significant portion of the last twenty-four.

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 would I describe Eros

Think of what an urban Dionysos might be like, but with a couple extra points on his Sanity roll.

Think of the taste of milk chocolate and amaretto and give it the sound of a love song by Richard Hell.

Your favourite 60s garage-punk anthem sung by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue.

“Love Is Blue”, vocal version, in the original French — and the feeling of knowing that there’s a vocal version.

A lap warmed by a kitty and a mouth cooled by mint cigarettes.

Ouzo cake.

The original cover of Diamond Dogs held up by the tiny feet of Australian diamond doves.

The first time you ever made love and the first time you had some good ol’ dirty fucking — re-lived simultaneously, over and over.

Feeling a chill when the sun is out, and high heat after it has set.

A lover’s nibbles on your ear hours after you’ve parted for the day.

Many birds are naturally Erotic, the males are lush and wildly colourful, and the females seem almost drab. Many others are serial monogamists, a few even mate for life. Some are even renowned for their same-sex pairings (despite the Abrahamic mythos that it’s “so unnatural even the birds and beasts won’t dare”). Most are extremely social. He’s like a bird.

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.

Boeotian New Year is upon me, and my dreams are getting weird….

So, this December 17th marks the Boeotian New Year (see here for the semblance of a reconstructed / new Boeotian calendar I managed to concoct), and reading a brief summary of a friend’s dream about Apollon jogged my memory of the weird things my brain threw at me last night.

In my dream, I was discussing with Eros a potential Boeotian New Year party, but the idea was still pretty much in embryo and I’d set nothing concrete. But Eros, being who he is, took it upon Himself to send out invitations to all of my friends for a party. The two weeks pass, and I really didn’t think much more of the idea of a party, since I have friends who host a pretty sweet Gregorian calendar New Year party, and that’s only two weeks after Boeotian New Year observances, so I didn’t think chances were high that anybody I could invite would come for an extra party.

…but no, the day of the party, I’m getting out of the shower for Gay Night at the club, and people have arrived for a party — while I’m in a towel, the apartment a mess, no snacks, etc…. I apologised for the misunderstanding, and invited them to come out with me, instead, and then more people show up. And then more. Then still more. And it was getting rather ridiculous, and many of them getting angry with me — some even accusing me of “having no piety at all” and just jerking my friends around.

But Eros wasn’t angry. He said that he thought he told me, and more importantly, he thought I had spoken of concrete plans and not just an idea I had thought about doing maybe. At some point, it became very clear to Him and myself that He was the only one the who wasn’t angry, so we locked ourselves in my room and performed a simple ritual with an offering of wine and fruit and performed divinations for the coming year until everybody had left.

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.

Trust Me, You Don’t Want to Know Eros

At the very least, you don’t want to know Eros like I know Eros.

He’s a possessive Theos. He has this distinction of being one of the oldest of all the Theoi, one of the Protogonoi, yet is in this timeless form, appearing at first glance to be one of the youngest. If you have more than one sibling, you’ll know that the oldest and the youngest tend to get what they want and keep it — at the very least, until they either don’t want it or have no use for it and send it down to the next one or it gets thrown out or given to a charity shop. I don’t see Eros outgrowing me anytime too soon. I also get Him implying all over the place that the only reason I have any sort of relationship with Apollon, and any direct contact with any other Theoi is because He OK’s it. He likes to wave His Proto- status around like half-naked guy with a string of sausages at a Bear Night. Sure, I had my “first contact” with Apollon, but I guess that’s not what’s important — what’s important is he keeps repeating that damned line from the closing cab scene in the Breakfast At Tiffany’s film — and what He says, goes. He’s a billion years old and was here before all of them but Nyx and Erebos. He caused the birth of the Moirai, with the implication that He can steer fate, when he chooses. And if Eros wants you, Eros can have you, and if you think The Others will contest this, you’re wrong.

He’s got a “trickster” element to His personality, so he’s not subtle. He’ll even throw two, maybe three very similar things at you within the course of a week and make you guess which is yours. If you guess wrong, He’ll let you know — and it won’t be subtle. This also means that he’s a tease.

He’s not merely a Lover, He’s a Creator — and you better live up to what he knows you can make with your maind and hands. And like any young human lover, He’ll let you know when he’s dissatisfied with your prezzies. Just like a Starfucker at a WeHo party, he wants his offerings from his adoring creative people to be custom made especially for Him, and if that’s not possible, He wants it expensive. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear He’s been hanging out with Aphrodite for far too long.

One of His epithets, Eleutherios (one He shares with Dionysos), is very telling. He will not only inspire the ever-day worshipper to casting down that which holds them back, but if He wants you to, He can very well make you break out of those chains. He won’t make it worse, no, I’m grateful that He’s one of the gentler ones, but he won’t be subtle, either. He can start with giving you just a little taste of what you’re missing out on, even if “breaking free” from whatever is going to have this long transitory period where things are going to be far more difficult difficult and seemingly heartbreaking, what he will show you will be that good that you’ll be willing to go through damned near anything to do what He knows you should.

He’s also very sexual. He’s quicker than any other Theos I know about to use sex as a metaphor. This makes sense, though — as a liberator, the physical motions of orgasm, tension and release, can be potent. Regardless, prudes need not approach Him. I’m under the impression that He has little use for them, and that they may even confuse him, probably considers them “icky” (though this may be largely due to my understanding of Him).

As much as I love Him, though, He can be frustrating, sometimes even infuriating. If you engage Him in a battle of wills, you will not win. If you don’t keep up your end of the relationship, He will not remind you subtly. Subtle is the last thing that occurs to Him, as is sitting back and just waiting for you to get your shit together.

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.

On the Nature of Patron Relationships with a Deity

First off, I want to make it quite clear that the more I learn of ancient Boeotian practises, the more I love the way the ancient Boeotians did things. The more I see photos of the modern region, the more apparent how beautiful it is. The more and more, the more I start thinking that the best descriptive for my religion of “Boeotian”. That said, what led me to this was Eros — after all, it where there, especially in the ancient city of Thespiae, where His cult was maintained long before any other region.

Would I say that this is a “patron relationship”? In a way, yes.

Unfortunately, I often find myself having to specify what this way is, because there is a certain “fluffy-bunny school of NeoPaganism” (to differentiate from those more serious NeoPagans) who treat the term “patron relationship with deity” as if it has no meaning. I’m not going to say that they’re “actively working to destroy all meaning” because not only is that paranoid, it’s just not true — and anyway, I highly doubt that these people are even thinking that far ahead, in fact, I doubt that they even can.

But regardless of the facts, there are always going to be those who will misunderstand what I mean, for whatever reason, so here’s a quick explanation (as quick as I can make it, anyway) for what it means to have a patron relationship with a deity:

First off, just like any relationship, this is one that takes work to make real (and just like any relationship, it can become either healthy or dysfunctional, depending on how it’s fostered). You can’t just pick a deity like drawing a card from a fan in a parlour trick and make that Deity your patron. Nor can you just pick a Deity who “seems cool” and declare Them your patron without doing anything to foster a relationship — when you do that kind of thing to people, you’re not their friend, you’re merely an “acquaintance”, at best, or “tag-along”, or at worst, a “stalker”. When you just pick a Deity and decide that they’re your “patron”, best that could happen is the Deity will ignore you — worst that could happen is that They’ll actively work to make you go away (oh, just like with people — except that when a Deity is doing it, you’re probably going to like it a lot less).

You can’t “prove” a patron relationship exists just by pointing out a lot of random coincidences as evidence that the Deity likes you — especially when you admit that you’ve done next-to-nothing to foster a relationship. A genuine Deity relationship is generally rather hard for a person to prove, except to those who also have one (especially one with a Deity you’ve claimed is a patron), and that’s one of the reasons that I’m not particularly “loud” about my own with Eros. Sure, I can illustrate anecdotes that make it clear to me, but if you’re an Atheist, or even simply a pagan or polytheist who doesn’t believe that Deity relationships are at all plausible, then chances are good that there’s nothing I can say that will convince you, so I don’t (and anyway, a lot of my “evidence” is very personal and tend to avoid sharing too much of it with others, anyway — keeping arguments to a minimum is, like, a bonus, if you ask me). But if you’re talking to a person who has a genuine Deity relationship, or one who does simply happens by what you have to say, and it strikes them as total bullshit (and they may even say such, politely), then perhaps this should give you pause to think if this is genuine “evidence”, or if it’s just random coincidence or, at worst, the wishful thinking of somebody rather delusional.

Despite what some few and rather vocal polytheistic traditionalists may want people to believe, there is sufficient evidence that the ancients did believe that Deity relationships were at least plausible. The pythai are one example of this. The Vestal Virgins of Rome are another. The eunuchs in service to Kybele are another. The meneads of Dionysos are yet another good and easily searchable example. There are examples in The Iliad and The Odyssey. If I wanted to spend a week on Google Books, I could dig up more examples, I’m sure. What this says to me is that patron relationships, in ancient Hellas, were something that was sort of on the periphery of mainstream practise — it’s no more required of Hellenic (or any other) polytheists of today to have a strong and genuine Deity relationship than it was then, nor should it be. Trust me, sometimes I feel my Deity relationships with Eros and Apollon (especially Apollon) can be downright antagonistic, and wouldn’t wish this on anybody (well… maybe on a few people… just so they can see what it’s like before opening their fat mouths).

The Hellenic religion, in all it’s forms (both ancient-traditional and modern) should be something that encourages people to grow, and hopefully grow up. This is possible without a Deity relationship — but having one just puts a whole new angle and set of expectations on a person. Trust me when I say that I don’t mention mine as a means to “feel and seem special” — hell, I’m a Leo, so I highly doubt I need Eros or Anybody Else to make me “seem special”. Heck, I have two cats, and to them I’m the Supreme Ruler who gives pettins and stinky canned food, so for all I know, I may already be somebody’s hemitheos in need of appeasing. LOL

There is a concept in ancient-traditional Hellenic polytheism, kharis, often translated as “reciprocity, giving with delight” and it works both ways: If you give with delight to the Theoi, They will give back to you with delight. This goes double, maybe even triple or more (depending on the Theos) for those with a patron-Deity relationship. If you think that just getting up in the morning is enough to give your “patron deity”, then the Deity you want that sort of relationship is probably just sitting there and thinking “uh, dude, you should be doing that anyway, only a weak character will simply do the menial every-day things for a God.”

As many differences as I’ve had with Todd Jackson of Kyklos Apollon, he once said on his group’s discussion list:

The story of Abraham and Issac would have looked very different if the God was Apollon and not YHWH. If it was any of the Greek gods, the point of the story would have been to be so devoted to one’s family and community that sacrificing your own son would have been unacceptable.

I have to say, I agree with that. That’s one of the things I never liked about Christianity — weak character is a virtue to mainstream Christianity. The Theoi, on the other hand, want us to be creative, Deity relationships or not, and think beyond the every-day hum-drum of things that we can do especially for Them. The enrichment of our own lives should go along with that, sure, but unless you’ve been bedridden after a major surgery or an accident or something equally traumatic, don’t assume that simply getting out of bed is going to be especially pleasing to Them, when you should be doing that, anyway.

Eros and Apollon, as well as the rest of the Theoi, have enriched my life in so many ways that if I were to thank Them by simply thinking what I would have done anyway is good enough, I wouldn’t be surprised if I started getting a lacklustre response.

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.