Dionysos painting for sale! (and a Call for Submissions)


So I’ve finally posted my Dionysos painting for sale up at the Nocturnal Spirits shop, and it’s $55 (before P&P). I offered it to Sannion and/or Galina, first, but unfortunately, while they love it, they had to pass for reasons, but let’s hope that someone will dig it enough to get it –or any of the other paintings currently up.

so for readrs of this blog, i also figured I’d offer a coupon code:

HAPPYNEWYEAR will get you 15% off any purchase at the Nocturnal Spirits shop of $10 or more (which is basically anything except the PDF calendar, right now), and this is good until the end of the month of Boukatios, the first month of the Boeotian year (if you want to know when that is, why haven’t you purchased a calendar, yet? Or you could try asking nicely, I might say….)

I also wanted to give a shout-out to this call for submissions from Burning Heart Press:

Burning Heart Press is creating an anthology of nonfiction essays, poems, and art from queer and transgender pagans and/or polytheists. We want to hear stories about how sexuality and gender influence your practice, your devotions, and your relationships with the Divine. We’d like to create more conversation on coming out as queer or transgender, shapeshifting, the (holy?) silence of not coming out, gender magic, transitioning, and how we do it wrong to learn to get it right. Submissions from people of all genders and sexualities accepted. Submissions from transgender people will be prioritized.

Texts promoting oppressive content will not be considered.

Editor Oliver Leôn Hêrês is a Canadian journalist, poet, and trans rights advocate. Direct submissions to oliverheres@burningheartpress.com.

The deadline is February 9th 2015. The title is tentative.

I am thinking of submitting something, myself, but i can’t decide if I want to polish up something from the blog or write something new.

…and speaking of anthologies, I’m going to be on a writing/editing bender very shortly to get the first volume of the Nocturnal Spirits annual out shortly before or after the Boeotian New Year (depends on how fast I can get shit done and in). And this is also going to be the first book I’ll be publishing under the Arete Kyrene Press imprint (my fiction has been published as SHS Publishing), named for the daughter of Aristippus the Elder.

She is said to have publicly taught natural and moral philosophy in the schools and academies of Attica for thirty-five years, to have written forty books, and to have counted among her pupils one hundred and ten philosophers. She was so highly esteemed by her countrymen that they inscribed on her tomb an epitaph which declared that she was the splendour of Greece and possessed the beauty of Helen, the virtue of Thirma, the pen of Aristippus, the soul of Socrates and the tongue of Homer.

Also: If you want to keep up on my WCBN shenanigans and the local Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti Gothic Gatherings, I’ve got a blog for that. Not sure when I’ll be on the air again, my final apprenticeship email has yet to get back with me, so I’m going to try a few other people; after that is the Broadcaster’s Exam (and it sounds like I’ll have to be an idiot to not pass it), and then I’ll be subbing until they can fit me into the schedule, but if you want to listen online and call up with requests or just harass me at the station when it’s time for that, you can do it!

Love this blog? Want to make sure I can support myself and keep posting more writing and art on here? Please consider donating to my Patreon fund, even a dollar a month can go a long way, especially if I can get a bunch of people in on that. And think about it, even if you only donate $5/month, it’s cheaper than most subscription porn sites. ☺

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.


Well, I’m getting the itch to blog more Erotic and Boeotian polytheistic goodness again, and coincidentally, assuming AccuWeather stays correct, the last super-hot day of the year jusr passed us, meaning it is again reasonable to pick more than one or two days a week to write a load of pre-dated posts to a single blog. I’m probably going to start blogging on here again later this week. In the meantime, since I’m updating from the humanoid meat-based house-mate’s tablet, I’m just going to tell you to go to http://oddmodout.peacockfairy.com and click on the link to the IndieGoGo campaign to raise money for a circle punch for my badgering. I asked Sannion to plug it, and while he agreed if I’d add to his dithyramb project, I’ve been a tad on the uninspired side of Dionysos lately —as in this last two or three years— so I figured I’d say something here, since I’ve got the polytheist blogging itch. Also, check out my new tumblog at http://modpagan.tumblr.com

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.

Demetre and the Palace of Kadmos

When I C&P’d that section at the beginning of the first of my posts about Demetre, I was immediately reminded of my first post about Ares.

Kadmos and the Ismenian Dragon.

In that first segment, it seems that legend has it that Kadmos’ legendary palace became Thebes’ first temple to Demetre, which suggests that —assuming Thebans did, in fact, habitually syncretise Demetre with Erinys Telphousia— that while Kadmos’ task earned Ares’ wrath, it was still within the will of Demetre. This also solidifies my thoughts on Demetre as a Great Mother of Civilisation and sustainable urban planning. It also speaks to the kind of mother She truly is: While She certainly has Her loving and nurturing aspects (as should be obvious), She’s also pragmatic and realises that sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good, and sometimes what She has begotten is standing in the way of progress and must be eliminated.

While Her rural associations are impossible to escape, so too are Her urban aspects, as I noted before. Likewise, just as much as She values tradition, She also wills progress.

I’m now reminded of a bit from Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, suggesting that while every other deity in the Hellenic pantheon was borderline useless to Man, it was Dionysos and Demetre, agricultural deities, who stood alone in being beneficial. As problematic as Hamilton’s dismissal of other deities is, I can certainly see some similarities between the two, especially in Their domains of “opposing” values somehow united in harmony through Their guidance.

This comes back around to Kadmos, who (modern scholars argue) was initially a unique Boeotian cult hero, and later was syncritised with a Phoenician adventurer. From that story, the still-later symbolic mythology arose of Kadmos inventing the alphabet and introducing people to agriculture (further linking Kadmos and Demetre), and also becoming wedded to Harmonia, which is argued to symbolise the union of an “Eastern” love of learning with a “Western” love of beauty. How Kadmos’ mythology truly developed is lost to time, but the symbols clearly reiterate a union of apparent opposites, and also closely associate the hero with Demetre. Considering this, it therefore makes perfect sense that his palas was soon converted to a grand temple to Demetre.

Now, the archaeology only debatably confirms some of the folk beliefs about Kadmos, including the origin of the alphabet coinciding with the founding of Thebes. The Phoenecian alphabet wasn’t introduced to Hellas until after the estimated date for the Trojan War. While the modern Hellenic alphabet is clearly descended of Phoenecian script, a far older text, called “Linear B” amongst those who study these things, is on tablets that have been found in a disproportionate abundance in and around Thebes, and so this may coincide with Herodotus’ relaying of Kadmos’ founding of Thebes, and bringing his knowledge with him, as significantly pre-dating the Trojan War. Unfortunately, few symbols of Linear B, at best, resemble any form of the Hellenic alphabet known today, but clearly the Linear B writing system was widespread throughout Thebes.

Considering that this became widespread in Thebes from a most-direct origin of the palace of Kadmos, again, this seems to symbolically reiterate the associations of Demetre with Civilisation and urban development —no civilisation in Earth’s history, living or extinct, has ever developed cities without a system of writing. By this, we can infer that writing is also sacred to Demetre; oral tradition is too easily manipulated and can be problematic in its attempts to learn history. After all, the Cyrenaic school was on to something in pointing out that the only true source of potential knowledge we can have is experience, but they were also sceptical of this knowledge in that we cannot truly know the experiences of everything that led up to what we experience; thus oral history seems especially superficial. To gain a better understanding, if not true knowledge, of history, we can learn from the paper trails (and, in this modern era, other recordings) of what happened; this experience is, too, superficial, but has greater potential for understanding than oral traditions alone. Again, we see Demetre as a Goddess of balancing Tradition and Progress in a harmonious and sustainable whole.

I conclude that Kadmos was, thus, most likely a unique Theban hero later syncretised, and that this Theban hero, in all the feats attributed to him, was doing Demetre’s Work on Gaia’s face. Though the alphabet he introduced did not stand the tests of time, we cannot blame because a slightly younger script managed to flourish and Theban pride attributed it to him, anyway; the exacts become less important when the intention still manages to flourish.

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 Theoi: Aphrodite


I) THEBES Chief City of Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 16. 3 :
“At Thebes [in Boiotia] are three wooden images of Aphrodite, so very ancient that they are actually said to be votive offerings of [the mythical queen] Harmonia, and the story is that they were made out of the wooden figure-heads on the ships of Kadmos. They call the first Ourania (Heavenly), the second Pandemos (Common), and the third Apostrophia (Rejecter). Harmoina gave to Aphrodite the surname of Ourania (Heavenly) to signify a love pure and free from bodily lust; that of Pandemos (Common), to denote sexual intercourse; the third, that of Apostrophia (Rejecter), that mankind might reject unlawful passion and sinful acts. For Harmonia knew of many crimes already perpetrated not only among foreigners but even by Greeks, similar to those attributed later by legend to the mother of Adonis, to Phaidra, the daughter of Minos, and to the Thrakian Tereus.”

II) TANAGRA Village in Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 2. 1 :
“Beside the sanctuary of Dionysos at Tanagra [in Boiotia] are three temples, one of Themis, another of Aphrodite, and the third of Apollon.”

III) THESPIAI Village in Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 27. 5 :
“Here [at Thespiai, Boiotia] too are statues made by Praxiteles himself, one of Aphrodite and one of Phryne [historic lover of Praxiteles], both Phryne and the goddess being of stone. Elsewhere too is a sanctuary of Aphrodite Melainis (Black), with a theater and a market-place, well worth seeing.”

Aphrodite, as per Hesiod, is not the mother of Eros. This seems pretty consistent with other Boiotian writers. This seems to be of Attic origin, and Attika certainly ensured that myth’s popularity.

Like Adonis’ cult, Aphrodite’s was most likely a Near Eastern import via the island of Kypris, and Aphrodite’s Roxk is still a prominent attraction off the coast of the island, as it’s regarded as the Goddess’ legendary birthplace, formed from the sea-foam created of the castrated loins of Ouranos. Her conception is sort of the opposite of parthenogenesis, which is the conception of a baby without a male counterpart — indeed, She was created of three males: The seed of Ouranos, the skin of Okeanos, and the hand of Zeus. This is probably what lends well to the Second Wave Anti-sex Feminist dismissal of Aphrodite as “every man’s fantasy”, but I posit that She is something deeper than that.

Even in science, parthenogenic birth makes sense, either as a design of the species or in cloning, because females possess a womb, and/or the ability to lay eggs. It is thus that Aphrodite is an impossible thing: Even the ancient Hellenes, in spite of their faulty understanding of how conception actually works, formed mythology that has no shortage of parthenogenesis, and displays at least a squintable understanding that infants need to be nourished by the human body —thus Zeus had to swallow Metis to birth Athene, and had to sew Dionysos into His thigh (which my house-mate insists is code for weiner, but that’s another story for another time). Aphrodite, even by the internal logic of mythology, is thus an impossible thing, and yet She was born as fully-formed as Athene, and exists as plainly as Dionysos; by all reasoning, She shouldn’t be, and yet She is.

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 15 ~ Pantheon – Every-One Else

I’m at a loss for words on this one, so I’m going to do a run-down of as many Theoi and Titans as I can think of, and a quick line or two (or possibly three) on how I see Them, my thoughts, etc…:

Zeus: Mythologically, He’s the God who puts his dick in everything. In real life, He’s a multi-faceted Father God who can be The Stern, Mean Judge one minute, and then crack bad Dad Jokes the next.
Hera: She’s a goddess of marriage, of fidelity, and of traditions. I get the impression that She’s more of a monarchist than Zeus.
Athene: Athene is like the Cool Older Sister who goes to political rallies and fights for civil justice. People who aren’t close to Her also seem to think She’s “kinda butch”, but I get the impression that She doesn’t see Herself that way. I tried to forge something with Her, but it was never meant to be that deep, apparently.
Aphrodite: As I said in my Eros post, I see Her bond with Eros as familial in spirit — They share a lot of common ground, but I’ve never seen them as mother-and-child deities. In fact, that one picture I added to yesterday’s post, with Eros comforting an exhausted Aphrodite, I think that says a lot.
Hermes: A god of the in-betweens: Travellers, story-telling, commerce — which is the exchange of money rather than the acquisition of said. A protector of thieves, but specifically those who are so out of necessity, not sloth.
Dionysos: Patron of theatre, wine, and all in life that proves delicious.
Hephaestos: God of smiths, craftsmen, labourers, the blue-collar working classes. A patron of those who overcome obstacles.
Ares: God of war, fighting for self-protection (rather than sport), and machismo.
Poseidon: Rules of the seas, bringer of earthquakes, creator of horses. A protector of many Hellenic cities.
Demeter: Goddess of the corn (grains), harvest, agriculture. She who prepares for the changing of the seasons.
Artemis: Goddess of the hunt, archery (for necessity, rather than sport — which is Apollon’s domain), protector of children (especially young girls) and all wild things. Always struck me as a bit of a wild thing, herself, and the glimpses of Her I’ve had, She struck me as all but feral.
Hestia: Goddess of the hearth and home; “the rock” that holds families together. Her givt to humanity are the domestic arts, especially cooking and baking.
Hades: Lord of the dead and ruler of all places inside and under the face of Gaea. Perhaps not the cuddliest deity, but certainly not the Hollywood “substitute Satan”.
Persephone: Goddess of changes. She turns winter into springtime, She transforms girls into young women.
Asklepios: Son of Apollon the Healer, and patron God of medicine and doctors; according to legend, He was the first.
Pan: God of shitting in the woods. God of wild things, shepherds, mountains, primitive musics. Consort of Kybele.
Herakles: Steve Reeves. Theban heros. By Thespian tradition, He is the father of all fifty grandsons of legendary first king of Thespiae, Thespius, by each of Thespius’ fifty daughters. By the account of Parthenius of Nicaea, He is also the father of the Keltoi via the daughter of “Bretannus” (though this story is apparently one of backward-etymology, considering that Hellenes had referred to the British Isles [including Ireland] as “Βρεττανίαι (Brettaniai)” for about three centuries prior to the appearance of this story). Herakles is a deity of responsibilities, physical greatness (as opposed to mere fitness), and obstacles.
Ganymedes & Hebe: God and Goddess of youth. Cup-bearers of Olympos.
Moirai: The fates. They Who spin the threads of each individual’s life and then weaves it into an immense tapestry of humanity.
Horai: Two sets of goddesses; the eldest keep the seasons, and the youngest keep the hours
Kharites: The three goddesses of Beauty, Merriment, and Festivities.
Hekate: Goddess of magics, witchcraft, ghosts, nighttime, necromancy; and according to Hesiod, “Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods”. Protector from bad omens and harmful spells. Eternally youthful, but mother of
Kirke: Goddess pharmakeia — often translated as “witch” or “sorceress”, but is the root for “pharmacy” and means “user or giver of drugs and medicines”. Wife of Odysseus. Her cult seems to have been rooted in herbal magics and medicines.
Hypnos: God of Sleep, protector of insomniacs. Older brother of
The Oneroi: The givers of dreams and omens. Older, but only very slightly, than
Thanatos: Bringer of death, typically a peaceful death.
Helios, Eos, Selene, The Asterea: Celestial Titans of The Sun, Dawn, The Moon, and the Stars.

I may add to this later, but for now, will close with a quote from my favourite science fiction series:

“Gods by the bushel! Gods by the pound! When every day is a fight for survival, you need all the gods you can get.” — Londo Mollari, Babylon 5

List behind cut:
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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.

Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane and polytheism as a metaphor for homosexuality

This is possibly one of my favourite films, and not just as an extension of my weakness for ridiculous films about Christian mythos (if you want ridiculous in your Christianity, The Apple is the best yet). While carrying the airs of serious art film, Sebastiane has a ridiculousness to it, don’t get me wrong (from the liberties taken with the saint’s mythos to Jarman’s response to questions about the film’s profuse nudity [“we couldn’t afford costumes after the first scene”] to the fact that it inspired an episode of Father Ted, Sebastiane‘s ridiculousness is hard to ignore), my love for this film has more to do with the fact that the more I watch it, the more I see something that I didn’t before realise was there.

This film is a sometimes shallow, but sometimes incredibly deep metaphor for a closet case (and in case you can’t see it, Jarman has explained this in many interviews and in his memoirs, which span seven volumes). Sometimes the metaphor is so deep, you have to view the film repeatedly to get it.

Ceci n'est pas une pénis.

From pretty early on in the film, its established plot focus is the relationship between Sebastiane, the Christian and one of only two characters who isn’t shown to even surrender to sex with men for lack of women (the other being Maximus, who, on repeated viewing, represents society and the Middle Class that Jarman grew up in, in specific — Maximus is not only disdainful of homosexual preferences [to excuse his own presumed, but unseen, occasional dalliances with boys for “a quick one”], and xenophobic in comparing the openly gay characters to “Greeks”, but he is devoid of genuine spirituality, giving it little more than lip-service and making the rare allegory; his most notable references to the Gods of Rome is to mock the Captain in front of the other men), and the Roman army Captain, Severus, ostensibly a polytheist, and the character with an obsessive and unrequited love and lust for the title character. Severus uses his position of power to force Sebastiane into a debatably S&M relationship (which, interestingly, appears initiated by Sebastiane) in which Sebastiane is the tortured one, and which is periodically interrupted with outbursts of pleading from Severus, because this isn’t what he wants — he wants to love, be loved, make love.

This is all pretty obvious to people who can watch the film and think a millimetre or two deeper than the most literal interpretations of what’s on the screen — which would be a bunch of naked guys running around, mostly shouting at each-other in Vulgar Latin (as opposed to the Classical Latin learned by most people today), and occasionally tying each-other up and throwing hot lamp oil on each-other, and a soundtrack by Brian Eno, because why the hell not? [Aside: All who argue the genius of Eno will be beaten with cement-filled milk jugs, with the exception of Eno himself, as that would be counter-productive to my Eno-veneration.]

One of the fuzzier metaphors is Jarman’s use of polytheistic imagery juxtaposed with apparent homosexual longing and used to contrast Sebastiane’s refusal to give in to this longing and his Christianity. Scene Two opens with Sebastiane showering himself from a well with a large water jug one morning as Severus watches on, and Sebastiane’s voice narrates imagery of an unnamed “young god” conquering Nox before standing in his chariot, “his body glittering” being “like the gold in lapis” as the camera focuses on large areas with Sebastiane’s body covered in sun-sparkling droplets of water. To the untrained eye and ear, as Sebastiane’s voice was heard briefly in the previous scene, this may seem a morning prayer with the unnamed “young god” perhaps being Jesus standing high above all other gods (and I know this, because I’ve had to explain to people, yes, even other GBLTs, that this scene wasn’t what they thought it was); but if you do think just a tiny ways further, it’s apparent that this is either Severus imagining Sebastiane’s voice and such imagery as a manifestation of his own longing, or Sebastiane knowingly indulging Severus this pleasure and thus is reciting it himself, and thus giving himself a measure of disconnect from the scene so that even though he was knowingly teasing the other man, the pantheonic imagery allows him to assure himself that his heart wasn’t in it, absolving himself of Christian Sin.

In one of the soon following scenes, Sebastiane leaves the six other men to be by himself in a secluded pool, and in voice-over from Sebastiane is an odd homoerotic prayer all too careful to eschew not only the mention of a single,transcendental deity, but any of the more obvious Christian imagery (to a largely Christian United Kingdom), in favour of something probably more reflective of Jarman’s degrees in art than anything else:

Hail god of the golden sun
The heavens and Earth are united in gold
Comb your hair in the golden rays of light
In your hands the roses of ecstasy burn
The wheel turns full circle [5]
Cooled by breezes from the four quarters
The swallow has risen in the East
The doors are open
Your body, your naked body
Initiated into the mysteries, step forth [10]
That beauty that made all colours different
Comes forth into the world
Hail god of the golden fire
Your beauty holds my heart captive

I’ve watched this film so many times, this prayer no longer has a concrete meaning. I have reason to believe Jarman wanted it this way. The first line is obviously in lock-step with Jesus allusions, at least according to the fine kooks over at JesusNeverExisted.com(1), but the rest is so steeped in homoeroticism, ostensibly pagan imagery (lines 4, 5, 10?, 13), and the only reliable imagery I can muster up from around that period (~300CE) and that region for swallows would be as a symbol of the household Gods and Aphrodite/Venus. I’d accuse Jarman of intentionally making this pagan if it wasn’t for the fact that I know he was a Christian of extremely liberal philosophies (of course, it’s very clear that Sebastiane is not portrayed heroically in this film, but instead as a creature of pity).

The following scene reveals Sebastiane’s “initiation” of the “S&M relationship” between himself and Severus, by refusing to fight. Following the beatings, Justin, Sebastiane’s sole friend and sympathiser in the film, offers comfort and a vague warning that this could go too far.

In a following scene, Severus watches Anthony and Adrian make love in the sun (and despite 1976’s X-rating, this is tamer than the sex in some episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). He turns to Sebastiane and asks “Are you still a Christian?”
“Then remove my armour.”

No, seriously, somebody tell me what that branch is from.Severous touches Sebastiane’s shoulder seductively, which Sebastiane refuses. As punishment for this, Severus cock-blocks Anthony and Adrian to come over, after which we see the three of them tying Sebastiane up and out in the scorching sun. Following this, we see the other men playing with a time-travelling Frisbee™ (I can’t really excuse that one, either), and this scene is cut short when we see what is presumed a heat-induced hallucination of Sebastiane’s: Standing over and looking down on him is a youth wearing a leopard skin with head, and carrying a large branch I have yet to identify. Identified as “Leopard Boy” in the credits, he says nothing and apparently fades in and out from Sebastiane’s consciousness. (Feel free to click that image to get the full size; I really want to know what that branch is from — I also apologise for the quality of the image, the film wasn’t shot with the best film, and it’s an inexpensive Kino release, this is honestly the best screen-cap I could catch.)

We then see the other men on a “pig hunt” (because no UK-produced film about anything seems truly complete without allusions to Lord of the Flies, wouldn’t you agree?) During this hunt, Justin throws down his spear and goes to Sebastiane, who is still out in the sun hallucinating Leopard Boy; this is also the scene where it’s made obvious that this is Sebastiane’s hallucination. Justin asks “Why are you doing this?”
“His eyes are so beautiful. He has sky blue eyes.” As does the actor playing Severus.
“What are you talking about?”
“His hair is like the sun’s rays. His body is golden like molten gold. This hand of his will smooth away these wounds….”
Justin looks to the blond Severus, who just then stabs the pig.
“Justin… He is as beautiful as the sun, this sun which caresses me… is his burning desire. He is Phoebus Apollo[n].” Delirious cut to Leopard Boy stepping away. “The sun… is his… burning kiss.”
“This is madness,” notes Justin. “Why don’t you run?”
“His beauty is enhanced by his anger. It is his anger which is divine. His punishments are like Christ’s promise. He takes me in his arm and caresses my bleeding body. I want to be with him. I love him. Justin, you don’t understand. Take it away.” Cut to a pool of blood in the sand surrounded by spears.

Later, there is a scene of S&M-like torture for Sebastiane from Severus, which is conclusively ended when Justin takes some food to Sebastiane and pleads, “You must eat. Why are you doing this?”
“I love him. He is beautiful. More beautiful than Adonis.”

First off, after taking notes from this film last night (including lengthy transcriptions of dialogue by hand because all I have is a desktop computer), and especially after writing this all down for my blog, I’m really confused as to why I’ve ever had to explain this to people — it’s very painfully obvious what’s happening in the desert scene — but for those of you who want to hear it from me, yes, it’s Severus who is being referred to as “Phoebus Apollo” in this delirious speech of Sebastiane’s unattainable desire. The Leopard Boy is most assuredly drawing on Dionysian imagery, implying this may be either a manifestation of Sebastiane’s true nature and desires that he’s cut himself off from, or potentially even divine communique, beckoning Sebastiane to release himself from this pain by allowing himself to love, be loved, make love. The ostensibly polytheist Adrian and Anthony contrast Sebastiane and Severus by being both open and unashamed about their love; the only nay-saying they face is from Maximus, who the other characters seem to barely tolerate. This juxtaposition especially stands out because Jarman’s own Christian beliefs make the positive portrayal of homosexual love between Anthony and Adrian, and the arguable “morality lesson” against closeted and denied homosexual desires of Sebastiane a truly unique specimen.

The comparison to Adonis is also apparently intentionally vague: Is Sebastiane referring to “this” as allowing himself to be tortured as a means to keep himself from giving in to desire, thus he is saying it is Christ who is “more beautiful than Adonis”, or is “this” allowing himself to be tortured just to have Severus touch him, and thus it is Severus who is more beautiful? Perhaps it’s both; actually, considering Jarman’s body of work, it’s almost definitely both. The imageries of both Dionysos and Adonis, it probably could go without noting, are not casual references — these are imageries of life-death-rebirth deities known in Hellenic mythology for bisexuality and (at least occasional forays into) effeminacy. Furthermore, I really can’t help but notice that imagery of Adonis and that of St. Sebastian are often eerily similar.

Hey, look. Goats.

Sebastiane’s execution is preceded first with another S&M scene, one that ends with Sebastiane denouncing Severus as an impotent drunk and defiantly asking “[Do] you think your drunken lust compares to the love of God?” This would be basically a portrayal of “suicide by cop” — lacking the ability to make these desires go away, Sebastiane chooses martyrdom as an easy out. The next scene starts with a virtual ocean of goats on the move, and sitting among them is Sebastiane, in a crown of grapes. This, I had to screen-cap on general principle, it was just so blatantly referencing Dionysos, and really, it has to be seen to be believed. The only conceivable explanations I can imagine for this is perhaps Severus laying one final claim — or possibly Jarman attempting to trick the audience into thinking they’ve seen a Christ-figure in a crown of thorns surrounded by “devils” of goats. Thinking about it for a few seconds, and knowing Jarman’s films the way I do, it’s probably both. But what the hell do I know?

It is instead Justin who is crowned in vines, alluding to Justin as the true Christ-figure in this film, and laying down an implication of Jarman’s own brand of Christianity as all-loving when one considers some earlier scenes in the film (none of which had much, if anything, to do with this piece’s perceptions, so I’ve left them alone for a later time) Severus announces Sebastiane’s execution and immediately falls to tears. At Sebastiane’s execution, Maximus also forces a bow and arrow in the thorn-and-robe-clad Justin’s hands, and makes him pull back and release a final shot — one positioned to seemingly aim for another actor’s buttocks — I believe this imagery was also as intentional as it was to put these characters in that specific scene.

When you re-think Justin as the true Christ-like figure in the film, it’s apparent that the film has Christian sympathies despite Sebastiane himself being very definitely a non-hero and debatably both protagonist and antagonist, as was Severus, but looking at and examining the well-placed polytheist imagery (because the Apollonian and Adonian allusions of St. Sebastian alone simply aren’t enough) reveal that Jarman and his film had other sympathies.

As I’d said at the beginning of this post, the film takes great liberties with traditional St. Sebastian mythos — which tends to portray him as a 3rd Century CE Rasputin (id est, he was hard to kill) — to instead create an Anterotic fable about “the gay closet” and its effective cowardice.

It’s also not lost on me that St. Sebastian is probably one of the Christian saints steeped deepest in polytheistic imagery: His patronage includes not only arrows, but also plague, and even Wikipedia’s writers and editors have noticed the correspondences with Apollon. Being also one of the religion’s earliest saints, it can effectively be said that he’s probably one of the easiest examples of early Christianity syncretising martyrs with the old Gods. At least in my own mind, this makes the Dionysian imagery somehow all the more appropriate, and brings to mind an epithet shared by Dionysos and Eros, “Eleutherios – The Liberator”. Which in turn brings to mind Severus’ relationship with Sebastiane as both “Abros – Tender” and “Algesidoros – Pain Inducer”, both engaged alternated in a futile attempt to release Sebastiane from his self-induced prison of repression.

(1) Like all the best kookery, the Jesus Never Existed people have a bit of truth on there, and a fair amount of internally consistent evidence for their purposes; I also generally agree with them that, at best, the dominating and most consistent “evidence” for the existence of “Jesus Christ” is no more “consistent” than it would need to be to support the hypothesis of “Christ” as a composite of a few rebellious, vaguely Platonic Jews from around 20-35CE of the Roman Empire. I’m outing their “truths” instead as kookery cos the crux of a fair amount of their arguments seem to make their “evidence” into something more than what it is, or outright something that it is not. Don’t take my word for it, though; dig around on their site and judge for yourself.

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.

Begin Again

So, now is the time I’ve come to observe as the Boeotian New Year (just downloaded hella PDF files, both something called The Boeotian Project and The Ancient Boeotians, if I can find anything more about the calendar, this may prove different next year). I realise it’s technically long into the AM hours for me, but considering the hours I’ve been keeping lately, it’s actually still kind of like late last night.

The “festivities” began with cleaning up the apartment for the previous two days and part of earlier today. This took the time that it did for a lot of reasons, but mostly 1) I like to do a lot of Noumenia-related cleaning during Hekate’s Depinion and 2) I have serious allergies and keep forgetting to buy face masks — this means I end up needing to take a break every twenty minutes to let the dust settle and to clear my head of snot. In this, i also ended up doing my laundry, including a bunch of things that probably didn’t need it, but the Theoi only know how long these things had been on the floor.

So, for Mnenosyne and Hai Mousai, who boasted a large cult in their own right in Thespiae, I’ve both acquired a rosemary and now it’s festive:

Do you know how hard that key pattern is to do by hand? :-p guh… like stringing pearls, man, I swear.

…and, because I’m a dork, I’ve strung lights around the laurel — pretty much because i can:

Actually, the plants were decorated last week, but whatever.

As I finished up today’s cleaning, I asked the Theoi for their blessings upon the household in the coming year. Afterward, I showered (cos I hadn’t yet — and even if i had, I was suddenly covered in cleaning dust and stuff. I’m still not completely done with cleaning, but it’s clean enough in here for most rituals.

Then onward to the Ultra-Traditional New Year’s Meal™ (hint: I jest) of Whatever Crap i could Find In the Fridge. Actually, i had a rough idea of what i was going to do, but I ended up doing some scrounging to complete the meal.

Often are the times I just decide to throw a bunch of crap onto a pita, toss it in a 400°F oven for ten minutes, and call it a meal. This time, I found a little left-over thing that seemed to contain a tappenade, i think from Macaroni Grill, and so that means, if I think right, this little single-serve portion of finely chopped olives and other stuff cost about $4 — now that’s class:

I then crumbled a bunch of feta on top, halved some pitted kalamata olives, sliced some roasted, marinated garlic i get in this jar in the produce section (this garlic, I swear — almost as good as sex), and chopped up some leftover turkey. Threw some parmesian and the last 1/4oz of shredded Swiss on top so that it all sticks to the bread, and then….

As the timer tick-tick-ticked away ten minutes, I even dished out a festive holiday meal for the kitties:

OK, it’s the same crap they get every night when i have dinner, but it’s not like they know what day it is! [taps nose] I sort of wish i had some of the fancier wet food for the cats, but considering that I didn’t even have the money to throw myself a meal any fancier than Crap I Found In the Fridge, I’m not too worried.

Ding! Dinner’s up, and I settle in with tasty food and libate to the Theoi in gratitude and kharis, then wash my hands for ritual.

Honestly, this was completely unscripted, and I found myself offering praise to Theoi I typically don’t offer additional cultus to, such as Herakles, and whom I have not in quite a while, like Dionysos. And as I scooped up portions of pomegranate with my hand, praised the nymphai Whose springs have founded cities, and the heroes who founded Boeotia, Hesiod whose words influenced the whole of the Hellenic religions, all of Hellas, and even my own family line, both ancient and current generations.

I still have some divinations to perform, but here’s once last photo to satiate you people:

(the far-left dish contains both pomegranate arils and pieces of quince — both of which i only seem to get around this time of year)

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.

Antinoos as Hyakintos — think about it, won’t you?

Recently, I’ve noticed some interest amongst Queer men (and some others) in on-line Hellenic (and Graeco-Roman-Aegyptian) circles in the revived cult-worship of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s deified beloved, Antinous (Antinoos in Greek). To a rather small group of individuals, this mere idea is controversial, at best (though they tend to describe it as “Ew! Icky for-een cultus to a Kept Boy™! get it away from MY Hellenismos!” — oi theoi, I almost wish I was joking). I’m going to ignore them, mainly just for being generally unpleasant, but also because 1) they ignore the fact that within the Hellenic religion, “foreign” cults were embraced often-enough that two rather famous ones, Kybele and Adonis, are generally considered thoroughly Hellenised (and really, it seems Antinoos’ only “crime”, in his veneration, is being born far too late for these people); and 2) even if one doesn’t consider Antinoos of ta theoi, his veneration doesn’t seem out of line with certain schools of ancient hero-worship. That said, well, if certain people wish to continue to breathe farts and talk poopie, I’m hardly going to stand in their way — free country and all that.

Now, I’m on this one Antinoos e-mail list (which I’ve been essentially a “silent lurker” to until about an hour ago) and it hit me as I went back to a few sites of info that, while often likened to Dionysos, I see a closer relationship to Hyakintos in Antinoos. Hell, if I wanted to tke a lead from my Token Hindu Friend™, I may even venture to posit the idea that Antinoos was an “avatar” of Hyakintos.

This is pretty much just one of those ideas that just popped into my head in the last hour, and I thought I’d share, cos there’s no real reason not to.

Also, from that same list, Phillupus had this to say:

Interestingly, Antinous is compared to Hyakinthos (and other flower-boys of Greek myth), but never syncretized to him…In several texts, in fact, Antinous is said to be “better” than these other flower boys (Hylas, Narcissus, Hyakinthos, &c.) for various reasons.

Whether one interprets Antinous’ ancient cultus as heroic or deific, the fact is that he was called “Heros” at some places (e.g. Delphi, Socanica, &c.), and “Theos” (e.g. Rome, Leptis Magna, Mantineia, Antinoopolis, Hadrian’s Villa, &c.) in others…those who dispute this are simply at odd with the facts. His cultus was not a foreign import, he was of Greek ethnicity and culture himself, and he is called a “native god” in places like Mantineia, Arcadia generally, and back home in Bithynia. Again, those who assert otherwise are doing so in ignorance of the facts as they are available on the most reliable sources on this matter.


And, Thespiae does have a definite connection to the cultus, at least as I see it. Hadrian’s bear-hunt trophy was dedicated in the Eros temple in Thespiae, asking for the kharis of Aphrodite-Ourania (patroness of male homoerotic love) in finding a young eromenos, and this was right around the time (c. 123-124 CE) that he would have met Antinous, by most estimates.
–Phillupus, ekklesia_antinoou


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.


One thing that has maintained my interest in the Hellenic religion, no matter how much some of my co-religionists may drive me nuts, is the Apollonian ideal of Moderation and Balance. In fact, this ideal seems to be held by some of the seemingly “saner” Pagan religions practised more widely in North Amerika than Hellenismos. I have to agree that, to the average Abrahamic religionist, Polytrheism may seem a little “unhinged”; I’ll agree that it’s not as common and so those who have it deeply ingrained in their thoughts and beliefs that Monotheism is “normal”, the belief in multiple Gods and Goddesses may seem “abnormal” and in this society “abnormal” often translates to being synonymous with “crazy”.

In my own personal practises, I balance out a lot of the “crazy” (not that I actually think anything I do makes me certifiable, in fact, my therapist even agrees that it doesn’t) with a lot of rationality. I examine my seemingly mystical experiences with logic, just to rule out perfectly rational explanations before jumping to the most fantastical and least probabl explanations, first. Most of the time, something can be explained with something utterly mundane, on rare occasion, it can’t.

Now, acceptance of the mundane does not necessitate disbelief in the fantastic; but the mundane and the fantastic do and should co-exist in balance with each-other. A friend of mine once explained the Apollonian / Dionysian paradigm as sort of a slightly more complex take on the Yin-Yang symbolism — a true Yin-Yang symbol contains a seed of the other within each half of the circle. Logic and Science may be within Apollon’s domain, but so are oracles and mysicism, something that has always been associated with those living outside the realms of “normalcy”. Ecstasy and “wildness” may be in Dionysos’ domains, but so is the ability to convincingly put on a mask, even for a short time, thus necessitating a need for some degree of control.

While Nietzsche painted Apollon and Dionysos in a sort of “yin and yang” fashion, he missed the part where balance is necessary for the two to be complete, and thus painted a picture not to two of the Theoi worshipped widely across ancient Hellas, but two 100% Black/White extremes. Nietzsche’s Apollon isn’t about “moderation in all things”, but about total control over oneself. His Dionysos is closer to the “Jimbo Morrison” in Oliver Stone’s highly fictionalised and exaggerated biopic, The Doors: a near-constant ecstatic, perpetually drunk, out of control. Ray Manzarek has since said that the fictional character based on Jim Morrison in the Stone film was very unlike the Jim he knew in real life — rather than the poet and philosopher he became friends with, the true Dionysos to Ray’s Apollon who, in Manzarek’s words, “[would] kiss and love through the connection made through [their] music”.

Though Dionysos is typically regarded as “rustic” to Apollon’s “urban”, Dionysos’s can be felt in the theatres of the cities, the nightclubs, the basement parties that nobody wants to admit were as planned out as they were. Likewise, Apollon does tend to venture out into the woods to commune with his Nymphai and cry out against the death of Hyakintos and other loves lost. It’s all done in perfect balance, perfect harmony. To let ecstasy overshadow reason or vice-versa is to invite total madness and spiritual impurity. Recognise when you need to reel in one for moderation and strive for the ability to recognise those moments.

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.

Messenger Bag

I was actually inspired to make this post after reading this post from the LJ community pimp_my_altarPimp My Altar. My messenger bag began life as, well, and ordinary messenger/Israeli paratrooper bag that I purchased at Harry’s Army Surplus before their Ann Arbor location went out-of-business (due largely to gentrification and the sudden raise in rent for businesses on that block):

Mine was purchased for under $10 on a 50% off clearance, and I also got a fishtail parka for just under $20, on a 75% off clearance, and an extra-tall “walking stick”-sized umbrella for about $10 even (the latter is no longer a usable umbrella, due in part to Chicago winds, and in part to living with three cats).

This is how mine looks today:

It wasn’t a huge task to transform the paratrooper symbol into a Caduceus, which has been historically used as a printer’s mark. Regardless, as a symbol of Hermes, it seems an entirely appropriate thing to paint onto a bag that I primarily use for carrying notebooks, my agenda, important papers, my chequebook (which has the simpler Caduceus [sans wings] painted on the front), and a few other things that I’m in the habit of carrying with me, including my lyrics book, sheet music, drawing pencils and sketch diary, mp3 player or Walkman, personal phone book, cigarette tin and lighter, and gum. It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from Derek Jarman’s film Caravaggio: “It was through an act of theft that Mercury created the Arts.” I recall that quote not because of theft (though I am frequently reminded of how the push for gentrification has essentially robbed this poor town of its culture before it could truly come into its own, and how the closing of Harry’s and several other down-town stores really solidified Ann Arbor’s gentrification in my mind), but because of Hermes’ long-held associations with the Arts and how I carry in this bag my simplest means of creativity.

All the pin-back buttons on the bag (with the exception of “The Amino Acids – Warning: Tangy Reverb” one) are also one’s that I’ve created. I had a few more on there before I took these two photos just now, but they either fell off or were removed by me at some time or another. [Well, except for a Dionysos button that I’m pretty sure some kid on the Amtrak stole while I was in the on-train restroom; it’s one of those things that I just know, even though I couldn’t prove it. Of course, I didn’t even notice it was gone until I had already reached Chicago. There was just something about the way that kid kept looking at the button when he and his mother boarded the bus, kept looking at me after I came back from the restroom, and the fact that his mother was dead-asleep before and after I went to the restroom.]

Here’s a close-up (albeit, a dark one) of the buttons. I took it without flash to eliminate glare that would have made them unviewable:

left-to-right are: Top – Satyr & Nymphe (from a Roman mosaic), Narkissos (19thC CE illustration)
Bottom – Apollon & Muse, Hyakinthos & Zephyros, Apollon & laurel branch
(gone missing or out-of-commission: Dionysos, Hermes, Adonis, Eros, Caravaggio’s Narcissus, Hermaphroditos, Neokoroi flame, Hellenion flame)

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.