Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Symposium

It all began with a discussion among some friends about Plato.  We were talking about our favorite books, and it turned out that we all really loved the Symposium.  (Yes, my friends and I are all dorks.  You know you're jealous!)  And so, by the end of the evening, the invitations went out:

"In the 4th century BC, Plato wrote one of the most influential works of all time: the Symposium. A series of speeches to Eros, god of Erotic Love, this work has shaped, if not directly influences, almost all of what we westerners think about love and romance.
But times are a-changin', and we're no longer in the world of ancient Athenian (oligarchical, patriarchal) aristocrats. Since love is a fixture of the human experience, why not update this work? Moreover, why not update this work *by actually holding a symposium of our own*?
So let's dedicate a night to Modern-day Eros, get boozed up, and hold a symposium of our own? On February 9th, we'll gather at Witch House with good food, the intoxicants of your choice, and a prepared speech, poem, or other presentation on the nature of love as an offering to Eros.  Wear red."

The evening went better (and worse) than I think any of us expected.  It turned out to be an exceptionally powerful, healing, contentious, fun ritual.  I strongly recommend you to try it with your own circle.  Not everyone at the table has to be a magician, but I'd recommend at least 2 solid magician who can maintain the energy and flow.  We had several spontaneous possessions (mostly by Eros himself, but Alcibiades, the drunken student of Socrates and military genius also showed up).

We began with pasta primavera, wine, liquor, brownies, and music while we waited for some late people, who arrived just in time for the hour of Venus.  We made opening invocations and offerings, which you can find below.  The three hymns to the gods are my own adaptations of the Orphic hymns to Protogonos (#5), Aphrodite (#54), and Eros (#57). You may substitute other offerings.

Open Space/Time in your usual fashion. Aspirgate with basil.

Player One: Light Eros incense (buy that here or make your own)
(myrrh, roses, erontas, cinnamon, honey, and amanita mushrooms)

Player One: Offer Honey & Light Gold Candle

O Eros Protogonos , we ask you heed our prayer!  
Twofold, Egg-born, and Wandering through the air;
The roarer who glories is fine golden wings,
from whom the race of mortals springs.
Erikapaios, you celebrated power,
ineffable, occult, all-shining flower.
From your darksome swirling mists to the purest sight
All-spreading splendour, pure and holy light,
Hence, Phanes, called the glory of the Sky,
On wavering pinions through the world you fly.
Priapus, dark-eyed splendour, to you we sing,
Genial, all-prudent, ever blessed king:
Look with joyful aspect upon these rites divine,
And give your holy consecration and your all-propitious shine!
Player Two: Offer Brownie and Light Green Candle
Ourania, beloved, laughter-loving Aphrodite,
Sea-born, birth giver, night festival queen,
Crafty mother of needs, you make mortals to mate,
Fruitful mother of the world, you cause the Kosmos to procreate.
You are the sovereign of the three worlds and the origin of everything,
The Heavens, the Earth, the Ocean: from you they spring.
Holy companion of beloved Bacchus,
You delight in festivity, mother of Erontes,
Seductive Beauty, who loves to make love
Joy-giver, Secret Aristocrat and Hidden Dove,
Romantic companion at the table of the gods,
You are love’s true sire, bearing reel and rods,
You give us our children, our loves, and all loving actions,
Desirable one, life-giver, you couple up mortals in unbridled passion.
Every wild beast is frenzied in your arms,
Heavenly daughter of Cypress, lend us your charms,
We behold you, royal Goddess, splendid of countenance,
On your Syrian throne, redolent of frankincense,
Or riding the plains in your iridescent chariot,
Flanked by your priests in the bathtubs of Egypt
Riding swan-driven carriage upon the waves of the Sea,
Delighting sea-creatures as they dance in your breeze.
You bring joy to the Nymphs of the Earth and the Forest,
And those who leap lightly to the song of your sea-foamy chorus.
When seated in Cyprus, oh Queen Most Divine,
where your blessings are spoken by maidens most fine.
They sing for you, blessed one, and immortal Adonis,
He the grain god, and you the Green Goddess.
We summon you now with fine words and pure souls,
Hear our words, drink our wine, and smoke of our bowls!

Player Three: Offer Wine and Light Red Candle
I Call now great Cupid, source of sweetest delight,
Holy and pure, and most lovely to our sight;
Darting, and winged, impetuous fearsome desire,
You play with both gods and us mortals like wand'ring fire:
Cautious, and dual-natured, you’re the keeper of keys
Of heaven and earth, of the air, and the seas;
Of all that Demeters fertile realms can contains,
whence the Great Mother Goddess all life sustains,
And all whom dismal Tartarus is doomed to keep,
The chthonic expanse of the wide-sounding, deep;
Your commands, all Nature's various realms must obey,
You alone rule the heart, with universal sway.
Come, blessed power, regard our magical fires,
And help keep away the most maddening desires.

Player Four: Offer Water and Light white candle
We call the great philosopher heros to us, to join us in our Symposium:
Plato, Great Teacher, be with us now! May your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Phaedrus, Beloved of Jupiter, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Pausanias, Beloved of Mercury, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Eryximachus,  Beloved of the Sun, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Aristophanes, Beloved of Venus, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Agathon, beloved of the Moon, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Socrates, Great Teacher of Teachers, Beloved of Saturn, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Alcibiades, Beloved of Mars, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!

Diotima, Great Teacher of Teachers, Beloved of Jupiter, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Hypatia, Blessed of Mercury, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Medea, Beloved of Sun, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Helen, Beloved of Venus, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Sappho, Beloved of Saturn, may your Wisdom be a Blessing!
Hypolita, Beloved of Mars, may your Wisdom be a Blessing! Next, we each made our presentations/speeches. Our circle happens to be composed primarily of writers, so there was a lot of poetry, but you could also give speeches, sing songs, preform dances, or whatever feels right. The important thing is for each person to try to evoke their own personal Eros. Mine, an original hymn to Eros Protogonos (Firstborn Eros, or Primordial Eros) is below:
Hymn for Eros Protogonos

Hesiod tells us, as only he can
That long before begetting began,
Long before the birth of the Earth,
In the beginning, “Xaos came first”.

In a sinuous spasm of shuddering, shivering,
Shimmering, jiggling, quickening, quivering,
As a voluptuous void of thick viscous mist,
Howling and moaning, Xaos came to exist.

Xir ragged breath shaking in gasps and in grunts,
Xe ejaculates seed from Xir infinite cunts,
Crystalline crumbs of uncut actuality,
Coalescing, condensing, into our reality.
Great Mother Matter whom Hesiod called,
“wide-bosomed Gaia, firm foundation of all.”

Next, we are told, by our Muse-tutored rhapsode,
“Eros shone forth”, from his cosmic abode,
“The fairest of all of the immortal gods,
Who unnerves the limbs and sets minds all at odds,
Eros shuns reason, refusing wise counsel”,
He makes sinners behave, turns saints into scoundrels.

Eros, Sex-Love, third-born from the Dark,
the gravitational force that draws quark close to quark,
His shuddering orgasm was that very Big Bang,
Mathematical symphony the first angels sang,
He gave passionate atoms their nuclear fire.
Eros, the Lucifer, god of Naked Desire,
Lit the spark of the stars and warmed the cold Night,
Giving heat to the universe, he let there be light.

Then Eros awakened the womb of the Earth,
And out flowed the Sky, the very first birth.
Gaia and Ouranos, united in love,
The Earth’s firm foundation, the Heavens above,
Their waters were joined, the primordial soup,
their commingled essence, that amino-laced goop,
The  roiling ocean from which all life springs,
Eros instigator of the Ten Thousand Things.

Evolution went slowly, in those early days,
Until Eros taught Life His creative ways,
Igniting the yearning for recombination,
Eros taught us the arts of sex and flirtation,
Dividing the genders, as woman and man,
beginning begetting from whence you began.

Now, there are some things you have to be prepared for: First, we made a conscious choice to not invite couples, because we were afraid that their energy would create little mini-circles, and break the cohesiveness of the circle. Second, this perhaps should have been more obvious to us going in, but it turns out almost everyone has a lot of conflicted feelings, and a sizeable amount of anger, at Eros. Everyone is intoxicated, there's a lot of magic going down, and you're working with powerful, passionate, complicated forces that everyone yearns for, but whom everyone has been done wrong by at least once. Some of the speeches/poems were very personal, and some very political. Things got heated. There was yelling and crying and laughing. Someone stomped out. This isn't work to do with strangers. This is work to do with people you can fight with and still love the morning after. This is work for a real circle, done in perfect love and perfect trust.