Sunday, March 30, 2008

The busy time has returned.

But I'm refusing to rush. My new year's resolution was to stop rushing, and although it's been difficult at times, I have kept it. I'm rather proud of myself.

The twins are home and so is sis, all done with their Easter holiday with their grandparents in the mid-west. They had a blast, as anyone who's seen the pictures will tell you! They had three Easters in total, which was just funny. They've eaten so much chocolate lately that it must be in their bloodstream!

Today, we had The Gang over for dinner, to say thank you and just to get together. I roasted up two turkey breasts, which was just the right amount for the 17 of us. We had steamed veggies, salad and all the fixin's, beer batter bread, couscous, gravy, pottage, and other manner of yumminess. It was a heck of a feast, and with everyone helping, it was fairly easy to put on.

Tomorrow, sis goes back to school, the teens go back to school and work, Farnham is home until lunch (he's coming over here for a while), and Gray will be back to job searching. My lovely, relaxing, quiet week with Gray is over, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I missed seeing Farnham, but I did need every minute of my time with Gray, and I wasn't willing to give a minute of it up. I feel somewhat recharged, I will admit. I LOVE being a part of a poly family, with all the people and kids and animals around, and the chaos and the love. But once in a while, I just like to be alone with one of my guys. Farnham and I get it when we run away to go camping or whatever, but Gray and I suffer from lack of that kind of quality time.

So I will treasure this week for a long time to come.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sushi goodness!


This is a White Dragon Roll at the new sushi place near us. Gray and I went for food there tonight, and it was lovely. We were pleasantly surprised by the taste and display, and the price wasn't bad either! I apologize for the lack of quality in the picture - there's only so much you can do with a phone camera.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Next Devotional!

Khairete!

I am pleased to announce that the members of Neos Alexandria have begun work on the third volume in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

To help promote the revival of traditional polytheistic religions we are launching a series of books dedicated to the ancient gods of Greece and Egypt. Volumes will contain essays, poetry, devotional material, original artwork, and even recipes or sheet music, all focused on a particular divinity. The library will be a collaborative effort drawing on the combined resources of the different elements within the modern Hellenic and Kemetic communities, in the hope that we can come together to praise our gods and share our diverse understandings, experiences and approaches to the divine. All of the proceeds for these books will go to help promote the worship of the gods of Greece and Egypt, by being used to put on a Greco-Egyptian religious gathering in 2009, bring out further volumes in the series, or given to charitable causes in the name of the gods.

This volume will be dedicated to Artemis, the ancient Greek Goddess of hunting, animals, and wilderness.

Please consider submitting your work to this worthy cause!

Send submissions to artemisdevotional@gmail.com

* All submissions must be received no later than September 30, 2008.
* All submissions must be the original work of the author.
* Multiple submissions by the same author are fine – and encouraged!
* Material that has been published in other places will still be
considered, provided the author retains their copyright to the work.
* Each author retains all rights to their work after publication.
* For more information about submission requirements or to request further
details about the project, please email your questions to
artemisdevotional@gmail.com

Feel free to pass this information on to anyone you think might be
interested in this project.

Sincerely,
Thista Minai for Neos Alexandria

Thursday, March 20, 2008

To be "special"

"There was more than one kind of occasion when the gods were believed to be present, in feasts, in ceremonial songs and dances, in marriages and funerals. In the world of action their place was often taken by heroes or demi-gods, who would come to the assistance of their own cities, as Theseus and the Aeacids did at Marathon and Salamis. Nor was a private vision of the gods lacking. Pindar must have known what it meant when he told how Iamus prays to Posidon 'at night under the sky' and hears the god's voice in answer. More strikingly, Sappho builds her hymn to Aphrodite on a past occasion when the goddess appeared in immortal, smiling beauty, asked what troubled her, and proimsed that all would be well. Such experiences were no doubt exceptional, but they show that to the Greeks the gods were real persons, with whom they could enter into a special intimacy." -- pp 49

Bowra, C. M.. The Greek Experience. New York: The World Publishing Company, 1957.

The highlighting is my own, for emphasis. There's been a spat lately, of people who feel that no one's allowed to be "special" and that all people who claim to be talking to the gods, or who have had the gods talk to them, should be considered frauds.

I have found myself wondering why some people are so against those they consider "special." If you ask the people who have had contact with the gods, if THEY consider themselves special, I would guess most of them would say yes... with a horribly sarcastic tone of voice. After all, while it's definitely "special" to be chosen to do a god's work, or to be a mouthpiece, or an oracle, or a priest or priestess, it's also a lot of work.

Sure, I've been chosen. I'm "special". Then again, I considered myself pretty special before the gods ever spoke to me in ways I understood. I am special, because I am me. I don't need communication with a god (or anyone else) to figure that out. Regardless of being "special" or not, being chosen by my gods has never meant that I am exalted. In fact, it means that low people often feel the need to fling poo at me (or sometimes my friends), and that I have work to do for my gods, frequently interrupting my life from what might otherwise be a peaceful existance.

I find it disturbing that a few are upset over "some people" being "special." While it isn't anything that affects me directly, because I don't really care what those few have to say, it bothers me on a moral level. There are people who listen to and follow those few, it is upsetting that they are dissuaded from exploring and experiencing different points of view.

What's wrong with being special? All the best people are!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Death of an Era

http://www.space.com/news/080318-arthur-clarke.html

I am sad to say that Arthur C. Clark has died. :( May he live on forever in our memories.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dictatorial Falls

The Hellenic age is counted as the coming of Alexander the Great, to the moment that Augustus Ceaser defeated Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra. It was a time of great warriors, epic battles, and the birth of an Empire. It was also the time of the Republic, the Senate... it's glory time. But within the spacious halls of the Senate house, tyrants were born, and civilizations suffered death throes. The Roman poet Juvenal called it, "bread and circuses," referring to the availability of quality food and entertainment for the masses, which they call for more and more of, bringing about the downfall of their own society.

What is a tyrant? The Greeks consiered a tyrant to be someone who had illegally siezed political control. Julius Ceaser was considered a tyrant by some, even though he was popular and supported by many. Tyrants, in the Hellenic era, were not necessarily evil people bound to do harm. It had no negative connotation as it does today. There were tyrants who were not loved, of course, and who held their political power through control of military arms.

What is the modern equivalent of a tyrant? We can't use the modern definition of 'tyrant' because it doesn't mean the same thing. Yet, people who fulfill the original definition of 'tyrant' do exist, and indeed, flourish. I'm not talking about political leaders, spouting spin-doctored messages to the simpering masses, although there are tyrants there, too. I refer instead to the little people, to the people who want to be large, yet don't know how to do it, and so try to sieze control of everything around them.

The problem now, as it was in historical times, is that people come to dislike tyrants over time. At first, they may be pleased, because they *chose* to be under the tyrant's thumb, because their thinking was alike. If I like A, and The Tyrant likes A, then we can do things together. It doesn't feel so much like manipulation and control if you agree with it.

The difficulty comes when The Tyrant either changes his mind, or they move onto a different topic that the people disagree with. The Tyrant then shows his colors, enforcing his opinions as fact or law, regardless of the feelings of those who have chosen to follow him. At first, his followers may bend to his will, thinking him to be more experienced or wiser. After a while, though, it becomes obvious that The Tyrant is a human being, just like the rest of us, with feet of clay.

When some of the followers express their differences, be it loudly or softly, The Tyrant attempts to stamp out those opinions. We can see this in how Augustus dealt with Alexandria in general, and with Cleopatra's children in particular, and also in the details and particulars of the reign of both Caligula and Nero. The dissenters are painted as horrible people, lies and rumors are spread about them, and the "true followers of The Tyrant" close ranks and eject the dissenters post haste.

At least Augustus and the other Ceasers of Rome chose to deal swiftly and cleanly with their dissenters. They sent death in the form of Golden Eagles, and that was that. It was, in essence, clean tyrrany. Today, The Tyrants have no such options. You can't reach across the internet to threaten or kill someone, and the authorities of the true Tyrants (the government) wouldn't allow anyone to usurp their power anyhow. So they resort to harassment, smear campaigns, and the aforementioned spin-doctoring.

These are poor powers. They bring down the mighty from within, because they focus on the negative. A negative campaign always carries the seed of its own destruction. It's almost sad to watch, as sad as it must have been to watch the proud and mighty Empire of Rome descend into depravity.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Maxims

For the past several weeks, I have been working on a book about the Delphic Maxims. It has been challenging, exciting, and thought provoking. I am almost finished the first draft, now, and I am looking forward to the next stage of writing. I have books on order, which I am waiting for breathlessly. The one I am lusting after most is The Delphic Maxims in Literature by Eliza G. Wilkins. I believe it was the last full-length non-fiction book written about the Maxims, although there are several articles that are excellent.

I have also managed to find a new author that I'm very pumped up about - Lindsey Davis. She writes about a Roman "detective" (similar to Ellis Peters' character, Cadfael) called Marcus Didius Falco that is described by critics as "Sam Spade in a ratty toga." I haven't read it yet, but I'm chomping at the bit to get it open. However, Ms. Davis also has written a historical mystery romance about a young Roman woman, which is based loosely on history, and I started reading that one first. Her writing is very good, better than I expected. However, I suppose I should have realized, considering she is a) British, and b) has written about 20 books which have all been happily and profitably published. Heh...

My reading pile is too large, again. The religious books are beginning to fall over into the altar area. Time to switch things around again. Whew.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oh Great God

This song was done recently by Carrie Underwood, and I heard it while driving sis's car last night. It struck me as very beautiful. It seems multi religious, to me.

Oh Great God

oh, great god, be small enough to hear me now
there were times when i was crying
from the dark of daniel's den
and i have asked you once or twice
if you would part the sea again
but tonight i do not need a fiery pillar in the sky
just wanna know you're gonna hold me if i start to cry
oh, great god, be small enough to hear me now

oh, great god, be close enough to feel you now
there have been moments when i could not
face goliath on my own
and how could i forget we've marched around
our share of jerichos
but i will not be setting out a fleece for you tonight
just wanna know that everything will be alright
oh great god, be close enough to feel you now

all praise and all honor be
to the god of ancient mysteries
whose every sign and wonder turn the pages of our history
but tonight my heart is heavy
and i cannot keep from whispering this prayer
"are you there?"

and i know you could leave writing on the wall
thats just for me
or send wisdom while i'm sleeping,
like in soloman's sweet dreams
but i don't need the strength of samson
or a chariot in the end
just want to know that you still know how many hairs
are on my head
oh great god, be small enough to hear me now

lyrics by Nichole Nordeman

Friday, March 7, 2008

Funeral Rites

Tonight is the night of Hecate's Supper, the night of the dark of the moon. It is the last day of the Greek month, because the first day is always the first day of the new moon (when the smallest sliver of moon is finally seen). Traditionally, tonight is the night when funeral rites are done. Tonight, I will be doing a funeral rite for a girl who died alone in Alaska a couple of weeks ago. The Neos Alexandria community is celebrating this girl's death, to give her a proper send-off to the underworld, because her own community did not do so.

This is one of the things I really like about the Neos Alexandria community. They see things like this as important, much as I have for a long time. It's nice to be a part of something that has its head on straight, and has good priorities.

If you have time tonight, say a prayer for Rachelle.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hail, and well met, GG...

For those who may not know, it is my sad duty to inform you that the original Dungeon Master, Gary Gygax, died on March 4th. I know that I shall kill Orcs and Gnolls in his honor sometime soon.

Goodbye, Gary... You'll be missed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Delphic Maxims #9

Honor Providence (Προνοιαν τιμα)

The term "providence" is an old one, and comes from the Latin word providentia, which means "foresight" (pro- means "ahead" and videre means "to see"). The word is used in modern times by Christians, to refer to the all-knowing presence of God. However, we have to ask ourselves what the translators were thinking when this phrase was taken from Greek to English. It could be that the original Greek reads, more correctly, one of the following:

  • Honor foresight.
  • Honor the Gods.
  • Honor the omniscience of the Gods.
  • Honor the ability for some to forsee the future.
  • Honor people who have good foresight

You can see that the translation makes a difference. When we look at statements like this, "Honor Providence," as Hellenic Pagans we need to be certain of those translations1, and of what those phrases mean to us, in particular. For this discussion, we will use the older understanding of the word, providence, and translate it as, "Honor the ability to foresee the future, both in yourself and in others." This gives us the most scope for discussion and introspection, which is the purpose of this essay.

The Greeks honored providence on a regular basis. Oracles and sooth sayers were visited on a regular basis, much the same way a modern person might approach the clergy of their own religion for advice and guidance. The Oracles at Delphi and Cumae were well known, and information about them has come down to us through archeological digs and written tablets. The first two Maxims are, of course, written at the temple in which the Oracle at Delphi spoke her prophecies. Both Oracles, as well as those scattered throughout the Hellenic world, were given high respect for their work.

In our modern world, it may not seem so easy to give honor to providence. Our Oracles and mantikoi are wide-spread, and their training is much different than that of our ancestors'. It is more important than ever to honour the foresight of those who look to the future of Hellenismos in our world. Those who take the time to dream of the future, and to help put into motion the ideas that are brought into existance, deserve high praise, indeed. They are the people who will give Hellenism the chance to stand as a world religion, once again, along side other religions.

There are many ways we can honor providence. We can utilize the oracles and mantikoi that we have, and listen to their wise counsel. We can take the time to ask well thought out questions for the good of Hellenes the world over, and for the good of our own small communities. We can bring into existance the prophecies that our oracles hand to us, making reality out of the stuff of dreams.

During rituals, we can include former oracles in our blessings, such as those that served at Delphi and Cumae. They are heroes, too, after all. It is only right that they should so be honored. We can also take the time to do something nice for those who give their time and effort to us, for the betterment of the world and our Gods. This might mean offering to help write down what an Oracle has to say, while they focus on their job, or it might be as simple as bringing them lunch once in a while, or dropping by with a new book. It is a sad fact (and has been for thousands of years) that those who give most of their time for their communities, often live on the edge of poverty themselves. While it isn't our duty to support them, it is certainly to our honor to help them when we can.

Try adding this to your practice:

Most Hellenic Polytheists have at least one day a year when they honor and sing the praises of their Heroes. On that day, add in a special prayer and praise session for past and present Oracles who have put their all into the betterment of our world!


Endnotes:

1. Within reason! For the purposes of discussion of the Maxims themselves, the translation does not really matter, so long as all the people discussing it are on the same page and understand the translation being used. Minor differences in translation (or major!) are of true interest to historians and those who are studying what the authors themselves meant, when they wrote the Maxims. For those studying the Maxims as a method of being better people, as is the intent of this book, any reasonable translation is fine. You may find there are endless different translation variables outside of the scope of this book, and they may aid you in your own journey to self-discovery.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Delphic Maxims #8

Help your friends (Φιλοις βοηθει)

Everyone knows this one, in some form or another. It is the precursor to what most of us know of as, "The Golden Rule:" Do unto others that which you would have them do unto you. Help others, and they will help you, is another way of saying it. So many cliches have been created surrounding this Maxim, and others like it.

  • A friend in need is a friend in deed.
  • A good friend is cheaper than therapy
  • It is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as the confidence of their help. (Epicurus)
  • Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need more.
  • Friends can tell you things that you can't even tell yourself.
There are a thousand more quotes that I could post. Friendship is important to us, and is another of those universal things. The modern American has friends, as did the ancient Greek. Some things simply do not change.

Why is it necessary to exhort people to help their friends? To get your answer, ask anyone who's had to move out of an apartment with only a few days' notice. Only the true friend shows up with a truck and three other people, and a case of beer as bait. Fair weather "friends" don't show up even with long notice, sometimes. The real friend is the one you can turn to in the middle of the night.

Helping friends, and helping others in general, is sort of like banking. You make deposits against the time when you may need to make a large withdrawl. In between, you'll make small gains and losses, and that's normal. The reason for helping your friends is not just to get them to help you put together your wife's new cabinets, though. That's a benefit, certainly, but not the main reason.

The reason is because they are friends. Circular logic, I know, but when you love someone enough to call them a friend, that's just the reason you help them. Otherwise, they wouldn't be friends!