Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Adonis has two mommies

Yesterday, in a sorcery group, I mentioned the myth of Adonis, and was surprised how many didn't know it.  It's true, like many other stories that conflict with the dominant patriarchal theme, this one was largely sidelined my the more mainstream Olympian oligarchy.  Short of being slang for a very attractive man, we've lost the story of Adonis, of the abused boy, almost entirely.  I'll tell the story, and then I'll talk some more about it.  The version below is largely based on Ovid's telling, although I have woven in others' takes, particularly that of Sappho, as well, in an attempt to tell the story for modern listeners.

On Cyrus, the island of Aphrodite, King Cinyras had sex with his daughter, the blameless virgin Myrrha, and then blamed her for seducing him. This is a story as old as time, and one doubtless playing out in your neighborhood right now. Aphrodite looked kind on the girl, and transformed her into a tree, so that she could not be further abused.  The tree, called Myrhh, cries even today, and her tears smell of longing, and grief, and magic.  Myrrha gave birth to beautiful boy, who screamed and caterwauled beneath his tree-mother.  The boy was the most beautiful thing Aphrodite had ever seen, and she picked the boy up, and dandled him, and nursed him at her own breast.  But then,  she grew bored of him.  Aphrodite isn't the mothering sort, and so she gave the boy to her sister, Persephone, to raise below the world.  There, in the silent darkness beneath the world, the boy thrived, growing more and more beautiful every day.  When he was full grown, he was, undoubtedly, the most beautiful human the world had ever seen.  With Persephone's blessing, he walked up out of Hell and into the living world, where Aphrodite saw him again, and she desired him.  Persephone, his mother, did not approve of this mating.  Aphrodite had, after all, turned his mother into a tree, rather than just smiting her rapacious father!  Aphrodite, had, after all, nursed this boy at her on breast!  It just wasn't right.  That was Persephone's stand.  Just not natural.  And also, it wasn't fair.  For Persephone also lusted after the boy, although she would never admit that.  The laws of the underworld are strange, we are told, and all-together just.

The sides were drawn up, with the Queen of Life on one side and the Queen of Death on the other.  The world was coming apart at the seams.  And so a compromised was reached.  In the cold season, Adonis would be with his mother, Persephone, below the world, among the shades, deathless and immortal, and there he would continue to learn at her side.  In the hot season, the wet season, Adonis would be with Aphrodite, as her human lover.  And the last third of the year, he might spend as will.  The two Queens agreed to this bargain, and then they told Adonis his fate.  Some say that he chose to spend that third with Aphrodite, and some that he spent it wandering the world.  In any case, years passed, with Adonis commuting back and forth from his mother in Hell to his lover, the Great Green Goddess.  And then, one day, the young man went hunting with his companions, who slew a sow, the sacred animal of Persephone.  Adonis gaped in horror, and still was gaping in shock when the wild boar's tusks entered into his belly, and he dropped, bleeding, to the forest floor.  The laws of the underworld are strange, we are told, and all-together just.

Aphrodite, on Cyprus, cried out in pain.  Adonis is dead!  Adonis is dead!  And she taught all the women to weep for him.  Adonis died that the plants might live, it is said.  Adonis's blood waters the fields. 

-----------------------------------
The myth of Adonis, and the cult surrounding it, was almost undoubtedly of eastern origin.  Adonis is the Greco-fication of the Hebrew title Adon, meaning "lord", and nearly all modern scholars are in agreement that this is a Greek retelling inspired by the much older myth of Ereshkigal (Persephone), Ishtar (Aphrodite), and Dmuzi (Adonis).  There is no question that, as a deity, the figure of Adonis is intimately linked, both etymologically and magically, to the Phrygian Attis, the Semitic Tammuz or Baal Hadad, and the Egypian Osiris. 

"Attis, beloved of Cybele the Queen.  Attis, the fruit and the grain.
Attis the Christ who could have been.  
Attis the lover of Life.
Julian calls you the Substance of Mind which draws forth Creation to Being.  
You push up the plants from below the black earth, you bring down the light from the stars.
Attis, beloved, the lover of Life, enliven, enlighten, inspire.  
Open to me the seal of the church, make open our way through the hills.
Open within us the seal of the church, make open our way through the hill.
We come in the name of the Mother of All, from the cave in the deep of Her womb.  
We come from the cave at the heart of the Mountain, miles north of the Meander’s mouth.
We come from plains where Artemis reigns, from the city of Sardis last week.
We come from Philadelphia, the city of family love.
Our ancestors stand behind us, descendants we are of the gods.  
The horseman, the king, the duke of our war stands ready to press our case.
Attis, Adonis, the lover of Life, make open the way through the hill." From the fourth gate of Apokalypsis, a game of initiation. The fourth gate is the last public gate.

No comments:

Post a Comment