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.

[PBP2013] Urania

Pindar, Dirges Fragment 139 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“But in another song did three goddesses [Mousai, Muses] lull to rest the bodies of their sons. The first of these [Terpsikhore] sang a dirge over the clear-voiced Linos [demigod of the lamentation song]; and the second [Ourania] lamented with her latest strains Hymenaios [demigod of the wedding song], who was seized by Moira (Fate), when first he lay with another in wedlock.”

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 33. 55 ff :
“Hymenaios [in a game of cottabus against Eros] . . . put up as a prize for the victor something clever made by his haughty mother Ourania (Urania), who knew all the courses of the stars, a revolving globe like the speckled form of Argos.”

Urania, meaning heavenly one, is the Muse of Astrology. Her attributes include the astrolabe and the celectial globe, both instruments are still in use today.

Contrary to popular belief/misconception, the sphericity of the earth was established in the 3rd Century BCE, and the oldest known globe of the earth has been dated to the 2nd Century BCE, and was created by Crates of Mallus, the Stoic philosopher. And while Copernicus and Johannes Kepler are both credited as being among the “first” to propose a heliocentric astronomical model, both Copernicus and Kepler referred back to the Pythagoreans (the former to illustrate that a non-geocentric model was neither new nor revolutionary an idea, the latter, though, hypothesised that the Pythagorean “central fire” actually *was* the Sun, and explained this apparent contradiction by pointing out that many Pythagorean teachings were kept secret as a mystery). On the other hand, Aristarchus of Samos, in the 3rd Century BCE, was the first to propose, in no uncertain terms, the first heliocentric model.

These early discoveries were surely influenced by Urania.

When we consider that the ancient mythographers revealed Her sons as Linos and Hymenaios, I see again a clear link back to Eros –and moreover, considering the scarcity of of marriages for love among the ancients (with the likely exceptions possibly most occurring among the lowest of the free workers and amongst slaves), between the Moisai and the Moirai.

Which reminds me: I need to get back to posting the Stargazer videos. Seriously.

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.

[PBP2013] Triads

Unless you’re the newest of nubs in Hellenic polytheism (in which case, you shouldn’t start with this blog, you should start with most of the info I have under “Hellenismos Resources”), the you probably already know that the Triple Goddess of Maiden, Mother, Crone is pretty much an invention of Robert Graves. Graves is also author of The Greek Myths, typically published in two volumes, and it’s full of some really weird ideas that are largely dismissed by Classics scholars and pseudo-etymology that seems more based on the kind of “feels” and “truthiness” that Kaldera and/or Schwartzstein lept to in Urban Primitive than any sort of scholarship of the ancient Hellenic dialects. Now, as mythological poetry, it’s no more valid or invalid than some of the “UPG-based” stuff I’ve read from people less-read on the Internet, and he certainly writes better than most of them. That said, the idea of Persephone, Demetre, and Hekate being unified in some Maiden-Mother-Crone tryptich is purely from Graces’ own imagination and the only basis for it in Hellenic mythology —if you squint— is the fact that all three play a role in the mythology of the Elusinian Mysteries, but even then, Hekate is still clearly the “Maiden” She has always been in classical Greek thought. Yes, by some mythology, She is also Mother to Kirke and others, but the menopausal dowager of popular Neopagan religion is in no way a manner in which the ancient Hellenes depicted Hekate.

That said, the idea of goddesses in particular grouped together in triads certainly is an ancient concept, and was no stranger to the ancient Greeks. So, just from memory, here are all the triad deities in the Hellenic pantheon that I can think of –it might not be literally all of them, but oh well– and this is not counting groups of more than three, like the Pleiades or the standard Nine Olympian Moisai.

Moisai Titanades: The three “Titan” Muses; by some accounts, the Moisai Titanades are four in number with Melete being the only common name and Theoi Project says the two groups are essentially the same three plus one, but my own gnosis says literally all named Muses exist. Their names are Mnene (Memory), Melete (Practise), and Aiode (Song), and by some fragments, They’re the daughters of Gaia and Ouranos.

Moisai Apollonides (as per Eumelus fragment): Daughters of Apollon, They are Kephiso (of the river Kesiphus), Apollonis (Daughter of Apollon), and Borysthenis (Strength). I’ve found no narrative mythology about them, and only Borysthenis is named for a virtue of the creative process, though it’s easily arguable that Apollonis would embody much of the same command for music that Apollon Himself does.

Moisai Apollonides (as per Plutarch): Nete, Mete, Hypate –they rule, respectively, the lowest, middle, and highest octaves of the lyre. On a personal gnosis bend, this extends to the octaves of music, in general. While I have found no ancient narratives about this set, either, I have one in my draft folder; I’m not happy with it at all, but most of the stuff that I post in spite of thinking it’s complete shit seems to get kinda popular, anyway, so maybe I’ll post it some time, anyway.

Moirai: While there are certainly others named, and I do, too, believe I have knowledge that that not only are all named as Moirai are Moirai, but also Tykhe and Psykhe are among their numbers, classically only three are named: Klotho (She Who Spins our Threads) and Lakhesis (She Who Measures Our Threads) and Atropos (She Who Cuts Our Threads). The primary three are the daughters of Nyx, and the Moirai in general are believed to preside over all births, both mortal and Divine, dispense major life lots before they’ve ever happened, and even assign domain to the Deathless Ones.

Kharites: Again, many are named and I personally believe most, if not all of Them exist, but they’re typically depicted by ancient and modern eyes as a triad —while modern eyes tend to lean Them almost always in attendance of Aphrodite, there is no shortage of surviving ancient accounts of Them being worshipped outside of Aphrodite’s cult, and as I recall, one of Pindar’s accounts, they were worshipped alongside Apollon, and in Delphi and Delos, They (rather than the Moisai) were depicted in the hands of Apollon, and They have been depicted in ancient art as attending Hera, Dionysos, Hermes, Eros, the Horai, and the Moisai. Their worship originated in Boiotia, by way of the legendary king of Orkhomenos, Eteokles, who also numbered them as Three, but apparently, even by surviving ancient accounts, They weren’t named until later. The most common name of the triad of Kharites is usually Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thaleia.

Erinyes or Praxididai: The Erinyes, “murky ones”, avenging crimes against the gods, homicides, and abusive child-parent relationships. By some accounts in narrative mythology, They are assigned by Hades and Persephone to torture the damned amongst the dead. The Praxidikai, “avenging ones”, is a Boiotian grouping of three similar goddesses. Unfortunately, having interacted with these Goddesses minimally, I’m just going on gut here, but I personally approach these two names for the “sets” as a regional difference for the same class of goddess triad.

Erotes: You know, I almost left this other common triad out, cos a good three or four years ago, I just stopped thinking of this grouping as a triad altogether at the behest of Eros. There FAR are fewer extended names for the Erotes than there are for Kharites, but I dunno, somehow it’s easier for me to think of the Kharites, though They are far more than Three, as simply travelling in threes –maybe the spirit of Eteokles is simply overriding what would normally seem logical to me about that. That said, the most common triad of Erotes tends to be Eros, Himeros, and Pothos. This is also an unusual triad, as triad deities tend to overwhelmingly be female in nature, and this seems to be a habit that even extends into the Celtic and Norse pantheons.

Again, going only by memory, the only other male triad of deities I can think of are the judges of the Dead in Hades’ employ. By Platonic accounts, the “demiurgic triad” of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades is a rather loose one, in that unlike the others that are usually depicted in art as almost inseparable, They’re seldom depicted together in that way (another reason I hesitated toward adding the Erotes, as Eros Himself, as well as others associated with that grouping, are just as, if not more often, depicted without the triad).

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.

Moisai & Moriai: A Love Story

We who are driven by music, conducted by Apollon and the Moisai, tend to hear the music we’re meant to when we’re meant to hear it. We may even dismiss something we stumble upon too early as “not [our] thing”, but be it years, months, or even weeks later, we can hear the same band, artist, album, or even song as if it’s for the first time, and it will be life-changing, life-affirming, or however we’re meant to hear it. I hated Scott Walker five or six years ago, and had barely heard one song when i dismissed his work; lately I cannot live without his music.

If free will was at all a part of the equation, we might realise at that pivotal moment, “hey, wait, this is the same thing I’ve dismissed for years, why does it sound better now?”, and we could choose away the importance of that music. Sure, some songs or suites may lose importance with time, that’s only natural and is no more in our control than the burning feeling that this song, at this moment, is keeping me alive, or similar burning feelings. Our desires and choices don’t matter here, and they never will. What matters is that we entertain Her and all Her children and grand children, and great, greater, and greatest grands…. What matters is that the story of love that we’re here to tell called for us to hear that piece, by that muso, at that moment, and place importance on it for that length of time.

And that’s all this is: It’s a story of love, told with love and out of love, for the Mother of Love (Eros) and divine mitochondrial of all Divine beings. We are but marionettes carved lovingly to tell Her stories is love and joy and spirit and creation — of herself, her eldest boy, the youngest Fate to Whom He was betrothed, and Their shining daughter who puts the smile on the face of every child, the sweat of the brow of every orgasm, the delirium on the tongue that has tasted every dessert, and the pure unadulterated bliss on every mind that has enjoyed any great work of art, literature, music, and philosophy. They’re very close, you see, and They are truly in charge —Zeus is but a figurehead that keeps the uninitiated mortals in order. Some day, perhaps in a future lifetime, they, too, will come to understand this.

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.

[PBP2013] Creativity

Mine is a religion of Creation.

Eros, god of Beauty, Love, Sex, Desire, and ultimately, Creation. All other theoi, ultimately, create things. Even the Goddesses Parthenos.

The path of the hoi polloi is to work, procreate, and pass on.

The path of the hero is to use one’s gifts to create from one’s life a legacy that outlives, outshines one’s mortality.

The path of the artist is to hone one’s craft and create, create until one can do so no more. This, too, brings immortality. Artists live forever through their creations and the desire of those who love it to keep it alive.

Is creativity, in any of its forms, integral to a pagan identity? I’d say yes.

If one’s gods do not create, then what incentive is there to worship Them? If one is going to say “oh, I worship nature”, then what is a seed? Water and fire don’t necessarily destroy, they just create smaller objects from bigger ones. If you’re not passing on your path, either via initiation, familial procreation, or just engaging others and teaching them, then you’re destroying it. If one can’t even muster up the courage to be not just inspired by their Deities, but to make something that future generatons can enjoy, then one might as well set fire to the Louvre, for one who does not act on that creative spark, ultimately, destroys it.

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.

Isadora Duncan: Touched by Terpsicore

“The dancer’s body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul.
The true dance is an expression of serenity;
it is controlled by the profound rhythm of inner emotion.
Emotion does not reach the moment of frenzy out of a spurt of action;
it broods first, it sleeps like the life in the seed,
and it unfolds with a gentle slowness.
The Greeks understood the continuing beauty of a movement
that mounted, that spread, that ended with a promise of rebirth.” Isadora Duncan

I’ve been fascinated with the 1920s since I was a little kid and delighted in the occasional Chaplin film on cable, so it’s not at all surprising that I’d come across the career of Isadora Duncan.

Duncan is regarded as the creator of Modern Dance (though in dance communities, this is sometimes hotly debated). While Modern Dance performances are clearly similar to ballet in some ways, the Modern Dance movement in the early 1900s was born from a distaste that many dancers had with what they perceived as a rigidity and “unnatural movement” in classical ballet. While there are now several schools of Modern Dance, Duncan’s dance was based on the dance depicted in ancient Hellenic pottery, sculpture, Graeco-Roman mosaics and neo-Classical Renaissance art and sculpture.

If we seek the real source of the dance, if we go to nature, we find that the dance of the future is the dance of the past, the dance of eternity, and has been and always will be the same… The movement of waves, of winds, of the earth is ever the same lasting harmony.” Isadora Duncan

Though she did have formal teachers giving her a background in classical dance, she ultimately rejected much of this training for improvisation and a sort of Neo-Pagan Romanticism. She once famously proclaimed that the Goddess Aphrodite Herself taught Ms Duncan in the art of dance on the beaches of California.

Her parents were once wealthy, but became rather poor shortly after Isadora’s birth, when her father lost his bank; her parents later divorced when she was seven-years-old. The experience of growing up impoverished, she and her mother and sister giving music and dance lessons to support the family, likely bred her Communist ideals, which would later lead her to defect to Russia. In spite of gaining Russian citizenship, she lived her last years in France, as well as a significant portion of her life prior.

“There are likewise three kinds of dancers: first, those who consider dancing as a sort of gymnastic drill, made up of impersonal and graceful arabesques; second, those who, by concentrating their minds, lead the body into the rhythm of a desired emotion, expressing a remembered feeling or experience. And finally, there are those who convert the body into a luminous fluidity, surrendering it to the inspiration of the soul.” ~Isadora Duncan

Despite being clearly a subversive influence on the world of artistic dance, she never completely fit in with Bohemian crowds, but her free-spiritedness and natural draw to shake up convention kept her from truly assimilating into high society. In some respects, her nature could be seen as Dionysian.

Though posthumously, she’s been idealised by some as a sort of radical femme-inist of the school of “sisters doin’ for themselves” because her dance schools were famously all-girl, early on she sought to include boys amongst her pupils of dance and philosophy, but ultimately, it was financiers who made the decision for her single-sex education in dance, and men trained in a lineage that can be traced back to Isadora Duncan herself, while increasing in number, are still rare; I know of only one male dancer to have ever been directly taught by Duncan herself. While examinations of her personal life definitely show many feminist sympathies (and also a bisexual with at least one noteworthy and passionate affair with another woman), she refrained from identifying her socio-political ideaologies as anything more than Communist, Socialist, or Marxist, which is easily argued to be inherently feminist, if not explicitly, much less radically so. The ultimate downfall of her schools, though, was her idealism; even her school in Moscow at a time of the early days of Russia’s totalitarian form of Communism suffered financially because the state had not yet made a suitable provision for the arts that could keep the school afloat, and Duncan was so firm in her belief that commercial performances cheapened the artistry she taught students to value, that she’d just as soon close a school left in the charge of a star pupil than tolerate her students performing on a commercial stage. In honour of her value of art over money, Duncan legacy dance troupes are largely non-profit.

Love is an illusion; it is the world’s greatest mistake. I ought to know for I’ve been loved as no other woman of my time has been loved. -Isadora Duncan

Her style of dance she always stressed to be very natural in its approach to the movements of the body, and improv is a major element to Duncan’s style of modern dance (though the choreography is often surprisingly intricate). Emotion and the expression of through the whole body with dance is another defining characteristic of Duncan’s style. Unlike ballet, which tends to place greater value on women dancers who are especially light-weight, and often with an unspoken mantra of “the lighter the better”, Duncan dance values any body that can move with the natural grace and convey the emotions integral to a piece; though this often means fans of ballet and some other dance regard Duncan dancers as “fat” and “out-of-shape”, the inherent athleticism in Duncan dance illustrate that Duncan dance not only keeps one in good physical condition, but also that the movements celebrate all shapes and sizes of graceful. Typically performing in bare feet, hops, skips, leaps, and arm movements tend to be regarded as the most basic elements of Duncan dancing, and Grecian-inspired dance costume is clearly preferred by Duncan herself, and those continuing to dance in her lineage.

The only surviving / known film taken of her dancing is not only extremely short, but clearly gives more attention to Isadora’s costume adjustment than her dance, which is shown as little more than a few hops. The circumstances under which this film was shot, I do not know; it’s likely that it was an experiment taken by a friend, or perhaps setting up the equipment took so long she had become tired. This is certainly not representative of the great dancer that shook up the art world and caused a sensation in the Early Twentieth. For more representitive video, there is no shortage of video of dancers of the Isadora Duncan legacy.

Interestingly, for all of Duncan’s glorifications of the Greeks, Aphrodite, Eros, the Moisai, the Khairetes, and all her applause for the wisdom of the Greeks and the inherent natural beauty of her reconstructed Greco-Roman dance, the music she selected, and that is still popular with dancers of the Duncan legacy, is movements by Romantic composers, and often music not written with dance performances in mind. This rather odd choice, all things considered, still lends to a graceful and beautiful interpretation of the music, I can’t help but wish to see Duncan dance performed with reconstructed Greco-Roman music.

Off the stage, Duncan was a flamboyant character, being practically immune to the typical ill effects of scandal, and a well-regarded eccentric. She rejected Christianity for Classical and Neitzchian philosophy, eagerly entertained Romantic Neo-Pagan imagery of her own character, and often read tarot cards for friends, strangers, and herself. Still, for all her fabulous life, it was marked with great tragedy; her marriages ended bitterly, her children died in a tragic automobile accident, her own life cut short when her excessively long scarf she regarded as something of a trademark wrapped around the axle of her Amilcar, choking her, then snapping her neck, then nearly dragging her body down the street just as her lover realised what was wrong. She died at fifty, but not before leaving an indelible impression on not only dance, but all of the arts (having inspired painters and sculptors).

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.

Upon Cupid

by: Anacreon (570-488 B.C.)
translated by Thomas Stanley

As lately I a garland bound,
‘Mongst roses I there Cupid found;
I took him, put him in my cup,
And drunk with wine, I drank him up.
Hence then it is that my poor breast
Could never since find any rest.
[source]


This little poem has really resonnated with me the last couple of days, even when I’m not re-reading it, I’m frequently reciting it in my mind. I really wanted to think of something more substantial to post, but this is all I’m coming up with.

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.

Erato

Your result for The A-Muse-ing Test…

Your muse is Erato!

30% Erato, 20% Euterpe, 10% Calliope, 0% Thalia, 0% Urania, 0% Clio, 10% Melpomene, 20% Polyhymnia and 10% Terpsichore!

Erato is the muse of love and erotic poetry. She is also known as the muse of lyrics and songs of marriage. Her title is “the amorous one.” It is from the tales of Erato that we get the saying about carrying a torch for someone, as she has been seen with a torch while with the god Eros.

Call upon Erato when you are seeking or wish to be inspired by love or erotocism.

Think about a sensual description using all of your senses… what you see, what you hear, what you can feel, what you can taste, and what you can smell regarding the one that you most desire. Allow yourself to be free and think of the passion they inspire within you. Allow Erato to help you as you put into words these feelings that can start with something as simple as a kiss and then end with an imagination that has no limits. To live fully and sensually is a true and rare gift.

Take The A-Muse-ing Test at HelloQuizzy


This is fairly accurate, for an Internet quiz.

Erato information can be found on Theoi.com and Wikipaedia.

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.

Urban Theoi

One thing that I always loved about Hellenismos is that many of the Theoi (Gods and Goddesses) have both urban and rural aspects and many others are neither inclined toward one place or another; the few Theoi that may even seem “strictly rural” are still very important to urban life. Basically, Hellenismos is a religion that, unlike some other Pagan or Polytheistic religions, makes no pretenses about the alleged virtues of rustic live over city life; all directions of human living are spiritually valid on an equal playing field, so to speak.

Still, though, I like to think that the ancient Hellenistai had been quoted as saying “the Gods of Hellas are the Gods of civilization” for a reason. 😉

One of the most obvious Theoi “of civilization” would be Athene: The namesake for the very large and very ancient city of Athens. The legends behind the founding of Athens state that Athene and Posiedon were feuding over who the city belonged to, and Athene won this dispute with the creation of the olive tree. Also being the Theon of wisdom, Athene seems a natural comrade of large universities and museums, halls of learning and collected wisdom of generations passed and present.

Museums themselves are named for the Mousai, and statues of the Mousai graced the entrance to the Library of Alexandria — Alexandria being the largest city in the world, in the days of the ancient library. The Mousai are the companions to Apollon, a Theos whose domains include education, medicine, and the arts — all institutions that typically experience greater growth, development, and cultivation in large urban areas before such is experienced out in the countryside.

Hestia (and her Roman “equivalent”, Vesta), in ancient times, was believed the heart and hearth of not only every home, but every polis.

Lykia Poet has written a very interesting article in her own blog citing the presence of Aphrodite in every city by way of common doves (commonly known as pigeons). The Cult of Eros and the Cult of Aphrodite have been heavily entwined with each-other, in both ancient and modern times, and while more often pictured with hares on ancient pottery, doves are another animal commonly held sacred to Eros.

Hermes is traditionally associated with messengers, commerce, and living by one’s wits. Urban life is brimming with all of that — not so much in rustic areas. And while city folk depend on farmers and keepers of livestock (another one of Hermes’ domains being cowherds) for food, rural dwellers benefit greatly from the money brought in from the cities — Hermes is a sly one, isn’t He?

Dionysos was honoured both in the woods and in the theatre. Theatres are typically best off in large cities, packing an audience in from wall to bloody wall, bringing in just enough of a din to make the make-believe on stage (or even the screen at our modern cinemas) all the more lively.

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.