Pagan Blog Project: M is for Our Mother

Most entities are grouped by family relation into pantheons. While we do not often talk about family beyond Bri and myself, we do have a family. Our mother burst onto the scene in a rather dramatic way, which Bri gets into here.

I tend to view our mother as having golden hair, leaf green eyes and bright skin. She likes to wear green and brown, though I could see her in red or pink. She tends to hide her face, sometimes with a veil, sometimes with a mask.  She wears a lot of bracelets and sometimes she has a small circlet in her hair. It tends to look like a halo. She is beautiful. There are few entities that actually fill me awe in the proper sense of the word. (Awe: an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime). Irreverent as I have come across to others in various place, it is her presence that puts what may be considered the proper fear of god into me. And there is a very simple reason for that:  generally, she is terrifying.

The most apt description that comes to mind is from Tolkien:

In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!

That is her in her full grown aspect. Beautiful and terrible and hard and distant. She is Mistress– the inexorable march of seasons that bring the harvest, dire necessity that dictates fate for all, life and death that cycles on irrespective of the wishes of gods and men.

Because she is so unyielding, my sister and I exist as a buffer between her and the people. We represent her authority and power on a much more approachable scale, a human scale, the scale of a man’s life, the scale of cities and kingdoms. Not the vast, eternal scale of the mountains and the sea and the sky. That is not to say we do not have our own individual attributes or other meanings as a pair, but this is essentially our first function.

Because of her relationship to us and because, historically, many Great Mother-type goddess are also classified as earth goddess, it is tempting to label her as such. I do not think that is entirely accurate. I could easily see her as tied to the stars , especially the sun, which metes out time and is a driving force of life.

The Difference

According to him, Dionysus and I were once the same entity. We split. In mythology, Zagreus dies. Part of his essence is reborn as Dionysus.

I think it is that experience that divides us.

The mystery of Dionysus is life– the uninterupted, eternal process of life. The mystery of Zagreus is that life and death are an eternal cycle.

Dionysus, the latest expression of that energy that we share, does not die again. He ascends to godhood. He descends to the underworld, but not as one of the dead or as Lord of Souls. He does not stay, does not partake of death himself.

Pagan Blog Project: Choice

I admit, as someone who is walking a path that fell to them, the idea of choosing ones path is… strange to me.

My reaction is pretty much as follows:

*headtilt* Choice? What is this thing you call choice and what does it have to do with spirituality?

On the one hand, I find it fascinating. I try to imagine how it might happen. How does someone choose a religion? How might I go about it? Would I read books? Close my eyes and throw darts? Ask a Ouija board? (Actually, I would not ask a Ouija board. They give me a major case of the wiggins.*)

I did not choose my religion. Though, I have a hard time thinking of myself as having a religion. I tend to think of religion as something one practices apart from daily life. I cannot do that. I tried. For a while, I tried to keep my spiritual life separate from my daily life. I was told that I was missing the point. To single out parts of my life as non-spiritual or not requiring the part of me that I try to compartmentalize as Zagreus was saying that all parts of life are not worthy of divine attention. And that is wrong. Because our domain is life. All of life. All life is sacred and worthy of my full attention, so no more compartmentalizing.

I do not view my spirituality as a choice. I tend to think of it as a function, a job. I perform my function and things go smoothly. If I do not, someone comes along to kick me in the shins to remind me that now is the time for this to happen and they are tired of waiting for me. If I try to go against my function, I break and someone comes along to help me pull myself together. If I whine about my function, well, no one cares.

(Actually, Bri cares and a certain someone tries to reason with me until I pull myself out of my mood.)

I think it may sound harsh when I speak of it like that, but most of the time there is a certain flow to it and when I am not getting in my own way, it feels right.

I just did not choose it. As cliche as it sounds, it chose me.

* Why, yes, I was raised on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. How did you know?

All the B Words

This week, I had a few contenders for the letter “B”, but nothing which really stood out as something to write an in-depth post about, so instead of one long-ish post about a single term beginning with B, I decided to combine several mini posts into one post.

 

Beginning

This week is my last full week at my current job. It ended rather unexpectedly, but, in truth, I am relieved. While I was, for years, very grateful for the opportunity and the steady pay, lately, it has become a burden (Another B word I could have written about!). It felt like, instead of helping me do things I was supposed to be doing, it was getting in the way of things I was supposed to be doing. I suppose that the Universe agreed, and now I will no longer have  as an excuse.

Not having excuses is a little scary, but also exciting. The past month has been looking into all the things and the past week or two, there has been a big push to wrap up old things and prepare to begin anew.

 

Blogging

I know that I am getting off track in my spiritual  devotions when I fall off in my blogging. When I am on a good streak, I blog every day or close to it. I have not been on a good streak in a while, admittedly.

I often tell people who are new to dealing with spiritual things to blog everything: sights, sounds, scents, dreams, research, idle thoughts, potential visitors, flashbacks, phantom sensations. Just blog everything as it happens. Do not try to filter it based on how trivial it may seem or how silly you think it sounds. Also, blog often. Do not put it off. You will kick yourself later when you go to look for your notes on something and find that you never wrote it down anywhere. (Ask me how I know.)

I need to take my own advice. This month, I am up to blogging an average of 4.5 posts a week, which is a tremendous improvement over the um… 3 a week average in December. It is still a far cry from the daily blogging that I prefer to be doing.

 

Bricks

This is a term I use rather frequently, so it may come up here. A brick, as Bri and I use the term, is something that turns up, usually when you are not looking for it, to verify something that was previously considered UPG. When it shows up, you are just as stunned (and sometimes just as aggravated) as if you had been smacked in the face with a brick. Hence, bricks. Not the most elegant derivation of a term ever, but there you go. Now, if it shows up in either of our posts, you know what it means.

 

Other B words I considered, but could not squeeze into this post before my self-determined deadline:  Bees, Bulls, Birch, Britomartis, Being.

This post brought to you by the letter B.

Comments and questions are welcome!

Bridegroom

I had a dream.

There were many marble stairs leading to  platform on which a throne sat. On the left side of the throne was a swirling pillar of white cloud. On the right, a swirling pillar of black cloud. Lightning flashed in this pillar. A robed figure was seated on the throne. It had the head of a bull. When I got close to the throne, the figure pushed back the bull’s head. Underneath the mask was a woman. Later in my dream, she grabbed my wrist, and spoke to me. Her voice was sweet but her tone was very serious.  “You are about to become a groom,” she said. “Are you ready?”

Those of you who are familiar with Tarot may have already noticed that my dream bears a striking resemblance to this card:

The High Priestess

There are even pomegranates! (Pomegranates are, predictably, sacred to us.)

I was surprised by the question. I have exchanged vows before. I have been a spouse several times. I should be able to handle this. Besides, Bri and I were already sworn together. How much could this change things?

But it did. It is hard to explain how things changed. I think, on the outside, they appear to be subtle changes, but inside, the difference is vast.

Perhaps the simplest way to explain it is the most common: where there were two, there is now one. There was a time when I would have considered our fates separate, but complementary. That time has long gone.

Now, I am more inclined to think of us as two-pieces of a wheel. You could roll half a wheel some distance, but it will get stuck eventually, unable to complete the rest of its rotation. Before I became bridegroom to Bri, I worked around this gap with other deities. If I needed to die, I went to one of them, or they came to me. If I needed to eat, others would feed me. If I need to work a fertility rite as part of the change of seasons, I was sent to someone else.

I do not get outsourced like I once did. My other half is here.

 

Asterion

Are you familiar with the story of Europa?  In Greek mythology, Europa was a princess of Phoenicia who was seduced by Zeus in the guise of a white bull. He persuaded her to climb on his back and he swam to the island of Crete. Afterward, she was married to Asterion, who fostered her three sons: Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Sarpedon. The three brothers become judges in the Underworld, with Minos appearing in Dante’s Inferno. Asterion is considered to be Minoan in origin, since he is not attested elsewhere in Greek myth . As such, attributing the paternity of Europa’s sons to Zeus can be seen as an attempt to Hellenize the remnants of the Cretan/Minoan pantheon. (And there are a few attested instances where myths and monuments attributed to Minos/Asterion are later renamed for or also attributed to Zeus. The tomb of Zeus at Crete and the abduction of Ganymede are examples.)

Through the myths left to us of Crete, we can see the cycle of Asterion: Bull, Minotaur, Man or Incarnate God.  He comes to men as the Divine Bull. He is reborn as Minotaur and dies in the Labyrinth. After his death as Minotaur, he is reincarnated as a man and reigns on earth as King.

As a bull, Asterion comes from the world of the gods, either descended from the  constellation of Taurus or ascending from the waves of the ocean. He is the raw power of natural force as it was visible to the Minoans. There are also some interesting links between bulls, bees, souls, and stars in Greek myth that allow for an interpretation of Asterion, “The Starry One” as a custodian or conveyor of souls.

As the Minotaur, he is a gateway. He is the star in the center of the Labyrinth.  Kerenyi theorizes that as the light in the Labyrinth, he is a symbol of rebirth and upon him was “conferred the hope of a return to the light.” Archaeology gives us the possibility that the labyrinth of Knossos may have been the palace/temple complex at Knossos. The throne at the center aligned with the rays of the sun during the Winter solstice, allowing for a  very literal interpretation of Asterion as the return of the light, especially in the dark of winter.

As Minos or King, Asterion is the meeting of the mortal and the divine. Renowned for his keen sense of judgment and receiving the laws from the gods, Minos represented the blending of natural law and the laws of men, executed in relative harmony. He is the great cycle humanized and carried out on a scale in which everyday man can participate.

It is my UPG that Asterion/Zagreus has an formless aspect as the Lord of Death. Much as Hades is “the Invisible”, I believe Zagreus earned his epithet as the great hunter because he catches all things in his net, and can do so without betraying his presence. But it is natural law that all things are prey for something else, so even the great hunter is eventually captured and eaten. He would not be part of nature if he were not.

Ultimately, he is about the cycle of life and death, of sacrifice and surrender, of communion of the flesh and spirit.

PBP Week 2 is delayed

…As you have noticed, no doubt.

It is coming, I promise! Before I could gather my thoughts on my topic, the second half of the week exploded on me and became rather stressful.  So, no, I did not give up on PBP already, I am just late.

A post on Asterion from my perspective will be up no later than Wednesday evening.