Blessed Are the Cheese-Makers

Pindar, Pythian Ode 9. 59 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“[The kentauros Kheiron (centaur Chiron) prophesies the birth of Aristaios (Aristaeus) to Apollon :] ‘There [in Libya] shall she [Kyrene (Cyrene), love of Apollon] bear a son [Aristaios], whom glorious Hermes will take from his fond mother’s breast, and carry to the enthroned Horai (Horae, Seasons) and Mother Gaia (Gaea, Earth); and they will gently nurse the babe upon their knees, and on his lips distil ambrosia and nectar, and shall ordain him an immortal being, a Zeus or holy Apollon, a joy to men who love him. And he shall ever be at hand to tend their flocks, Agreos (Hunter) his name to some, to others Nomios (Shepherd), and some will call him Aristaios.’ So Kheiron spoke and decreed for the god his bridal’s dear fulfilment.”

It’s either National Cheese Day or National Cheese Pizza Day (my searches are saying both), either way, it’s time to honour Aristaios, who may not be a patron of Erotic Hedonism, but is a god I hold very dear.

Ovid, Fasti 1. 363 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
“Aristaeus wept, when he saw all his bees killed and honeycombs abandoned incomplete. His sea-blue mother [the Naiad Kyrene (Cyrene)] could scarcely console his pain, and attached these final words to her speech : ‘Stop your tears, my boy. [The sea-god] Proteus will lighten your loss, and tell you how to regain what is gone. But so he does not baffle you by altering appearance, clamp his two hands in strong chains.’
The youth approaches the seer and binds the limp arms of the sleeping old man of the ocean. Proteus uses his art to shift and feign his looks, but soon resumes shape, mastered by chains. Lifting his dripping face and sea-blue beard, he said : ‘You seek a technique to recover bees? Sacrifice a bullock and inter its carcass: the one interred will supply what you seek.’
The shepherd follows orders. From the putrid ox swarms bubble. One life axed bred a thousand.”

Pindar, Pythian Ode 9. 59 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“[Aristaios (Aristaeus)], whom glorious Hermes will take from his fond mother’s breast, and carry to the enthroned Horai (Horae, Seasons) and Mother Gaia (Gaea, Earth); and they will gently nurse the babe upon their knees, and on his lips distil ambrosia and nectar, and shall ordain him an immortal being, a Zeus or holy Apollon, a joy to men who love him.”

cheesesEN

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 81. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
“Aristaios (Aristaeus) was the son of Apollon and Kyrene (Cyrene), the daughter of Hypseus the son of [the River] Peneios (Peneus), and the manner of his birth is given by certain writers of myths as follows: Apollon became enamoured of a maiden by the name of Kyrene (Cyrene), who was reared in the neighbourhood of Mount Pelion and was of surpassing beauty, and he carried her off from there to that part of the land of Libya where in later times he founded a city and named it, after her, Kyrene.

Now Apollon begat by Kyrene in that land a son Aristaios and gave him while yet a babe into the hands of the Nymphai (Nymphs) to nurture, and the latter bestowed upon him three different names, calling him, that is, Nomios (the Shepherd), Aristaios, and Argeus (the Hunter). He learned from the Nymphai how to curdle milk [i.e. how to make cheese], to make bee-hives, and to cultivate olive-trees, and was the first to instruct men in these matters. And because of the advantage which came to them from these discoveries the men who had received his benefactions rendered to Aristaios honours equal to those offered to the gods, even as they had done in the case of Dionysos.

After this, they say, Aristaios went to Boiotia (Boeotia), where he married one of the daughters of Kadmos (Cadmus), Autonoe, to whom was born Aktaion (Actaeon), who, as the myths relate, was torn to pieces by his own dogs . . .

As for Aristaios, after the death of Aktaion, we are told, he went to the oracle of his father, Apollon, who prophesied to him that he was to change his home to the island of Keos (Ceos) and told him likewise of the honours which would be his among the Keans. To this island he sailed, but since a plague prevailed throughout Greece the sacrifice he offered there was on behalf of all the Greeks. And since the sacrifice was made at the time of the rising of the star Sirios (Sirius), which is the period when the etesian winds customarily blow, the pestilential diseases, we are told, came to an end. Now the man who ponders upon this event may reasonably marvel at the strange turn which fortune took; for the same man who saw his son done to death by the dogs likewise put an end to the influence of the star which, of all the stars of heaven, bears the same name [i.e. Sirius the Dog-Star] and is thought to bring destruction upon mankind, and by so doing was responsible for saving the lives of the rest.

We are further informed that Aristaios left descendants behind on the island of Keos and then returned to Libya, from where he set forth with the aid of his mother, a Nymphe, and put ashore on the island of Sardinia. Here he made his home, and since he loved the island because of its beauty, he set out plantings on it and brought it under cultivation, whereas formerly it had lain waste. Here he begat two sons, Kharmos (Charmus) and Kallicarpos (Callicarpus).
And after this he visited other island and spent some time in Sikelia (Sicily), where, because of the abundance of the fruits on the island and the multitude of flocks and herds which grazed there, he was eager to display to its inhabitants the benefactions which were his to bestow. Consequently among the inhabitants of Sikelia, as men say, Aristaios received especial honour as a god, in particular by those who harvested the fruit of the olive-tree.

And finally, as the myths relate, he visited Dionysos in Thrake (Thrace) and was initiated into his secret rites, and during his stay in the company of the god he learned from him much useful knowledge. And after dwelling some time in the neighbourhood of Mount Haimos (Haemus) he never was seen again of men, and became the recipient of immortal honours not only among the barbarians of that region but among the Greeks as well.”

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.

Hedonist priorities….

Thoughts consume me, so I took put every variety of incense I own, libated some Perrier, and asked to use one of the bargaining chips I was offered at the beginning.

might seem petty to some, but the sensual feeds the ascetic. Inhn spite of some of the recent hardships, I am happier now than I have been in a long time, but last week reminded me that I missed something.

You see, the sensual feeds the ascetic.

I want this. I hope I don’t need reinforcement.

Beauty is pleasure.

Pleasure is wisdom.

To possess beauty is to touch Life.

I will pray daily for this, even after I have it, for it will be proof to me that Life has touched me and wanted me whole.

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.

’tis the season to make art….

Like Dver at A Forest Door, winter has oddly been the time of the year I feel most tuned in to Apollon (or well, well, as she did before said devotional relationship ended). This regularly perplexes me, as I’ve made no secret of my seasonal depression (where Winter is my season), nor my chronic back pain (which gets worse in cold weather), but on the better days during the winter, I try to use that closeness to get some time with the Moisai of art. In fact, since my schedule tends to wind down a bit in winter, I’ve been making efforts to schedule in some art time.

As you all probably know by now, I write, paint, and make music, in addition to running my mouth on the Internet, updating a calendar by hand, pressing buttons (some of which I even design, myself!), and sculpting Hellenic Alphabet divination tiles out of polymer clay. Sometimes I also just get a thing of Sculpey and make about a dozen tiny penises. Oh, and if you were at the Polytheist Leadership Conference at Fishkill, NY, this last summer, you just might remember my bag that I took a Bedazzler and Polari to.

I bring this up now because I’m too excited by one of my luckiest finds I ever did find:

At my friend Kelly’s shop, I ran into an old acquaintance. I don’t think he recognised me, but it’s been at least five years (three-and-a-half of which, I was in Lansing) and one public appearance of gender ago, and while we saw each other in a lot of the same places, we were never really friends, but I digress. So, apparently he and his boyfriend are leaving for California tomorrow or something, so he was at Kelly’s shop to see if she wanted to buy, or at least do anything with a small bundle of vintage clothing and five or six mannequin torsos.

Kelly took the clothes, but really had no use for the torsos, as a few of them weren’t free-standing or were “too modern”. Lesley, the employee she had in today, bought the gold one, cos why not, right? And I offered all the cash I had on me (which was only $8) for this one, after it was suggested that he was just going to leave the box of torsos out by the kerb with a “FREE” sign. I knew from walking in at the middle of the convo that he and his boyfriend were going to be driving to California, so I figured the cash could be a help, even if it wasn’t that much, and honestly, while I could’ve waited a few minutes for her to go for free, I didn’t want to risk someone else snatching her up or some jackass student picking her out and smashing her (it may have only been about 6 in the afternoon, but that kind of shit’s been known to happen on a Monday in downtown Ann Arbor).

And I picked her out not just for the clear Erté-influence to her design, but because I got an immediate vision.

A lot of my paintings were planned exactly as they look (more or less), and this started when I went to the store for canvases and went looking through each one until I found one that I saw a painting on. I know that probably sounds nuts to a lot of people, but it’s how I work, and considering that I really love most of my paintings, I’m not going to argue with this process. That’s the sort of thing happened with this mannequin.

My acquaintance named her Prudence, but the vibe I got right away was Aphrodite Melainis. I know exactly what colours I’m going to use, which paints will be glitter and which will be satins or gloss. I know how many rhinestones I’m going to applique and in what patterns. The only thing I don’t know is how long it’s going to take me to find her a lower body and arms (but I know there are certainly mannequin collectors where I can eventually procure these parts from), nor do I exactly know how those parts look (she has sockets for them, so clearly she had them at one time, and can eventually have them again), but I know how I’m going to paint those parts and how I’ll embellish on them.

She’s a project that is probably going to take years, maybe even the better part of the next decade or two, to complete, but it’ll be worth it. It’s also brutally important, at this point, that I sell some paintings to help fund this project. It’ll all be worth it, of course, and the uncertainty of my abilities to complete her is obviously no reason to not start as soon as possible. After I clear her up some, I’m going to take a few clear images and do a thorough search for any identifying marks so I can make it easier to hunt down her maker and model names, if only to streamline my search for her missing lower half and arms. After I’ve got the photos and any other information that can help my search for an “official” identity, I’m going to start working on her transformation to Melainis. I’m also going to crack down on getting my room in order, if only so that I have space for her and her progress.

At this time, this is probably the most important piece of art I’ve decided to take on.

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.

Transgender Elevation of the Ancestors Rite

I’ve felt pressured from a couple corners to say something about this.

I think the whole thing is quite lovely, and a beautiful idea, but I really don’t think I have anything to say about it that hasn’t already been said better by others.

The thing is, I don’t like most trans people, on an individual basis, so except for the occasions where being trans has also intersected with my spirituality in a meaningful way, I try to avoid the topic on this blog, if only to discourage other trans people, who I’m likely to dislike, from finding this blog. That said, I have not always been successful in avoiding the topic of trans people when it doesn’t specifically overlap with my own spirituality, and I’ve got a handful of trans people who seem to think I Trans Polytheist better than Raven Kaldera, who I guess all missed the fact that I actually agree with him on many points they seem to find distasteful when HE says it (maybe the fact that I’m unabashedly feminine gives me a bit of leeway from certain sl/activists who think it’s not actually patronising to hold the words out of my mouth and/or keyboard to a lower standard than they would hold someone who is, for all intents and purposes, apparently more “butch”?) That said, there are also a fair number of trans people whom I do like, but in all honesty, many [read: not all] of them are only “trans” in the broadest definitions, or are those weirdo apolitical non-binary types who don’t give a crap about whether or not neologue pronouns ever enter the common parlance. The combination of generally-binary trans men, alt-pronoun-using non-binary folk, and politic-thumping trans women I actually get on well enough with to call real friends can be counted on one hand, and at least one of those people only qualifies under one of those descriptives by just barely. Multiply that by three or four and you’ve probably got the number of such combined trans people I get on well enough with to talk to regularly. Yeah, truth be told, I really don’t like most trans people on an individual basis, nor am I a big fan of the idea that trans people be given more leeway cos they’re trans –if anything, being trans, myself, I hold other trans people to a higher standard and thus expect better of them.

…but here’s the thing: I still support the right of people to prefer and be referred to with whatever pronouns they so choose, I still agree with the politic-thumpers on ideology, and… Actually, most of the generally-binary trans men I’ve met, in-person or in-real-life, are fucking dudebros and either the most repulsive endorsers of staunch gender-normativity and/or the most pathetic examples of eat-it-and-have-it syndrome who think it’s their gods-given right to be recognised as being uncomplicatedly “male” in every walk of life except when and where they feel entitled to LBQ women’s spaces, even if it means that trans women will be excluded from said spaces “cos [phantom] penis” even when we’ve got FT-douchebags like MRA Tony Barretto-Neto, the post-phallo trans man who attended Michfest, SHOWERED IN THE COMMUNAL SHOWERS and STILL asserts it was his right to do so —so fuck them, and let them die in a fire, just cos they’re “trans, too!” doesn’t mean they have a right to their uninformed and patently harmful views.

I’m still undecided on whether or not I’m going to participate in this Ancestor Elevation ritual even one day of it, but at the same time, I recognise that a lot of people need to do this, and I support their right to. It’s not about me, and while it’s mostly about elevating our beloved dead, it’s not JUST about that, either (a point I think often gets lost when polytheists talk about how “it’s not about Us, it’s about the Gods, Ancestors, and Spirits”); it’s also about those still living who need to forge that connection in a meaningful way with the deceased members of a community they seek the most meaning in connecting with.

It’s like one of the comments I caught hell for on Tumblr a few months ago, a comment I still stand behind: If you’re asexual-identified and worshipping Eros, why? What are you getting out of it? While Sex isn’t ALL that Eros is, it’s such a HUGE part, it strikes me as being like that pacifist who came onto the old Hellenistai forum wanting to know how to take the War out of worshipping Ares (and then, foolishly, insisted that “refusing to fight is a kind of warfare” –no, no it’s not). I’ve no doubt that at least some of the trans people honoured in this rite will appreciate my presence, but I’ve had such a bizarre and uncomfortable relationship with other trans people, I have to ask myself why I’d be doing it, and if it’d be for the right reasons or not. Will I be doing it For Them, or will I be doing it just to spite those still among the living who have annoyed me or to prove some kind of point to those people? If I’m not going to be involved for the right reasons, I should take a moratorium until I can.

That said, I still want to donate my old prayer to Kybele for the cause.

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.

Hail Moisai

Knowledge, mural by Robert Lewis Reid

Knowledge, mural by Robert Lewis Reid

Today, I finally got my library card for the Ypsilanti District Library

This means I live here, now. I never feel like I *really* live somewhere until I have a library card. I can get my State ID updated, I can have my voter registration transferred to my district, but that doesn’t really matter, at least not to me. I don’t live somewhere until I’ve had my library card.

Unfortunately, I’ve lost library cards for many places I’ve lived: Toledo, Ohio; Lenawee County, Michigan; Ann Arbor; Chicago, Los Angeles; Gary, Indiana; Charlottesville, Virginia….. I never had a Lansing, Michigan library card… Perhaps that affected me, in some way? I also never had a library card for Cadillac, Michigan, but I’d always intended that to be temporary, and was really surprised that I managed six months there. LE_SUEUR_Eustache_The_Muse_Terpsichore

Every city of the ancient Mediterranean considered a “cultural hub” was know for, amongst other things, the ways they honoured (whether explicitly or implicitly) The Moisai. Libraries of the Graeco-Roman world, especially the most famous, the Library of Alexandria, were also temples of the Moisai. Public art, in the Graeco-Roman world, was regarded as being guided by a Muse. These are goddesses of civilisation and culture, not only art and music, but KNOWLEDGE.

Many people mistake Athene’s holy places in the modern world as including libraries, but this is based on a misunderstanding of Athene’s domains. Her domains, conceptually, include Wisdom. Wisdom is not synonymous with Knowledge. Knowledge is a collection of things learned, Wisdom, on the other hand, is how one uses knowledge, understanding, and insights. Wisdom cannot be gained from libraries alone –take it from someone who spent his childhood in them, knowing everything about anything doesn’t make one wise, it makes one knowledged; or, to put it succinctly, if knowledge alone granted wisdom, I would not have made nearly the number of poor judgements I had in my life, but at this point in my life, but I feel I’ve gained at least enough wisdom to know that I’m probably not done with those mis-steps in judgement, nor will my accumulation of knowledge prevent it.

Athene’s domain is not the knowledge of history books, but the wisdom of the oral traditions.

This is not to say that knowledge is at all worthless, when compared to knowledge. Knowledge, and the accumulation of it in a referencable form, books, film, microfiche, all manner of recordings, and digital media has only improved not only technology, but societies. Books and other writings and recordings of information have played integral roles in ending slavery, gaining women the right to vote, creating the modern 40-hour work week and minimum wage, and so on. We need knowledge.

While our own experiences are our own best reference points of knowledge, the arts, writing and recording is the best possible way to access the knowledge and experiences of others and relating to them. Human interaction, while invaluable in many ways and many instances, simply cannot convey the nuance of many experiences the way that an articulate essay or a movement in a music composition, or an especially stirring scene in a film or play can; having a discussion is only as good at giving oneself knowledge of another’s experience as that other person is at conveying themself verbally.

Because there is a wealth of human experiences that can only be best conveyed through the arts and the recording of knowledge, the Moisai are, indeed, goddesses of the very essences of our humanity –meaning that those of us who have made the arts and writing our missions in life, are serving not only the very essences of humanity, but the Goddesses Who gave that to us, whether we realise it or not.


Did I mention that this coming summer will feature another Mouseia festival? If you get a calendar, you can keep track of that. As an added bonus, I’ll be holding an online Mouseia Agon; I’ll draw up plans and post about it after the first of the winter solstice.

Also: Patreon.

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.

All in the service of Eros’ radiant Daughter

So I’ve been doing things lately. Things that I have been wanting to do for some years now, but for reasons never went forth to do. Some of it was environmental depression, some of it was inertia, some of it was a touch of fear that i couldn’t, or perhaps shouldn’t.

One item is something that I’ve actually had planned out in my head for about ten years, but for reasons, never thought I could ever do, or should ever do until I moved back to the area and got the “go ahead” from Hedone. I’m currently hoping to raise funds for a quarterly event called The Tomb. I’m mentioning this here for two reasons: First, I’ve only got about a month left to raise the bare minimum of money needed, and two, if this event can take off, I will begin each night with a libation to Nyx and Hedone, seasonal deities, and local spirits and local heroes and ancestors.

I’m also now officially volunteering at the local Ann Arbor “uni station”, WCBN. It’s one of less than a dozen truly free-form radio stations left in the United States. The volunteer position I signed up for will eventually get me an on-air slot, probably very late at night, to start, and it’s encouraged that my demo tape (which has to be done on a compact audio casette —it’s *that* old-school) be as unstructured as possible, with a healthy selection from the WCBN library. I’m planning, once i get on the air, of letting Apollon guide my selections for the block. As I’ve wanted to do this for at least the last six or seven years, I’m also making an offering of incense to Hedone before i go to volunteer my time at WCBN.

(As an aside, especially if you haven’t clicked on the link to WCBN’s official site, yet, you can listen online, and if you have an Android phone, they also have a free app to listen.)

Things have also mostly settled down after the move and I can finally schedule in time for writing and painting and even music!

Also, i know I’ve been going on about it for some time now, but tomorrow I’m going to set aside some time to post all the art I have for sale, and maybe later in the week I can go through some ritual items and see what I want or need to sell and what I want or need to keep, and get those things up, too. I haven’t accumulated much, mostly cos money, but I have reached a point where I might have more than I need right now.

Off to go do my weekly 90 minutes of work! Whee!

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 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.

Eros and Psykhe in song

Mortals hubristicly compare Psyke to a beauty greater than Aphrodite

Aphrodite orders Eros to curse Psykhe’s affections

Eros cannot shoot Psykhe

Zephyros takes Psykhe to Eros crystal castle

Psykhe’s first night with her unseen husband

Psykhe’s sisters cast a seed of mistrust

Psykhe plots to see her husband

Psyke sees

The oil scorches Eros’ flesh

Psykhe cast out:

Psykhe’s trials

Redemption

Apotheosis

Hedone

(selections made more on overall feeling than necessarily lyrical content)


while I have your attention: Were you aware that I only have $170 to go to meet my goal in fundraising for moving next week? I have less than a week to go! I pick up my key on Monday and haul my stuff to Ypsilanti on Wednesday!

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.

Belated post-PLC entry

(I wrote this on the train from Poughkeepsie back to Toledo, on my way back to Lansing, MI, after the Polytheist Leadership Conference, but it got lost in my bag, and I figured I’d posg it, now.)

I did want to mention something that came up during the second Dionysos ritual: I mentioned already that in the first ritual, thing went a little weird for me. During the first ritual, there was a period where people were encouraged to dance, to shout, or otherwise just praise Dionysos in whatever manner seemed best. I then heard Eros’ voice:

“Let go, flower. I’ve always been with you, I always will be, but you’ve been borderline henotheist, lately. I’m not that possessive. Just let go.”

Then from Sannion: “Let go to Dionysos….”

Coincidence? Possibly, though an awfully uncanny one, I should say. I mentioned this to Sannion afterward and he seemed impressed by the timing, to say the least.

I brought this up at the later ritual, during the period for Dionysos stories (before the actual rit, I had a Derek Jarman story to share, you might have heard of it, and I will share that one, later), and then one of my friends made a well-meaning joke, cos I guess my paraphrasing of “gave me the OK to play with other gods every so often” opened it up for “we should see other people” type comments. this seemed headed down a problematic turn, so I saw a need to end it when another person said “it’s not him, it’s you”:

“OK, stop. there are boundaries to take down, and there are boundaries that are there for a reason. Don’t cross that line.”

It’s not a line I think can be joked about, but don’t worry, no-one is “in trouble” cos I worded myself poorly. I may have been less-than-clear in the post, and I know I don’t talk about it much, openly, but I’m Eros’ Property. If I were a female-gendered or perhaps GQ-identified femme person, I might use the word “wife”, but I’m not, so I don’t. I’m not exactly “husband” or “spouse” material”, in my opinion, and that’s one of the few things I get to negotiate with Him, is what I call myself.

I took my beauty mark piercing in lieu of a ring. As soon as I can justify the expense, I’m getting that ring I found on Etsy, the one with raw rose quartz, and tattooing one of His symbols, along with symbols of His mother, wife, and sisters on my wrist. I’m going to get another piercing on mu left ear and have it linked to my nostril ring with a delicate chain.

It’s true, though. It’s true, though. I’ve been acting like a borderline Henotheist this last couple years, and it hasn’t been working, for me. As I said to someone after the second rit: “It’s like when you get married; Healthy people still hang out with and talk to their friends, at least as their schedule allows, and less-healthy people drop all other socialisation for their spouse.” Now, OK, for some people, that might work, and Henotheism clearly works fir some, but a square peg is a poor fit for a round hole, right? As a polytheist, it may be very unhealthy to focus completely on one deity, and while I wasn’t quite that narrowly-focused, for myself, it wasn’t that much better.

Basically, though, there’s a fibre in my thread that is permanently gilded by Eros. My thread may cross with other people, and I will certainly dance with other Theoi, but we’re bonded, permanently.


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.

Love-in-a-Mist

love-in-a-mist_by_lin-bullock

Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist, ragged lady) is an annual garden flowering plant, belonging to the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. It is native to southern Europe (but adventive in more northern countries of Europe), north Africa and southwest Asia, where it is found on neglected, damp patches of land.

The specific epithet damascena relates to Damascus in Syria. The plant’s common name comes from the flower being nestled in a ring of multifid, lacy bracts. It is also sometimes called devil-in-the-bush. (from Wikipedia)

At the end of Psykhe’s trials, for a brief time She became lost in the mashlands, wandering and abandoning hope of returning to Eros’ crystal castle, much less finding favour with Him or His oldest friend, Aphrodite, again. Then She saw the flower and recognised it as one of Eros’. Psykhe asked a nearby bird where it came from, and the bird replied that they grew from her Father’s tears, and Psykhe then realised that She must not be far from the home of Her husband, for tears never scatter far from where they originate.


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.