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 Cyprus, 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 myrrh, 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 cousin, 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 own 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, or act on it.  The laws of the underworld are strange, we are told, but 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.  Father Zeus intervened, and a compromised was reached.  In the dry season of death, 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, the Queen of 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, but 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.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Orphic Hymns

I've been working extensively with the Orphic hymns lately, and retranslating/arranging some of them.  In English, there are really only two trnaslations of any value that I've found.  The first are Thomas Taylor's 1792 translations, which are in lovely verse, and time-tested in ritual, and the second are by Apostolos N. Athanassakis and Benjamin M. Wolkow, which are literal, but not very lyrical.  I've been trying to bridge that divide.  I take some liberties from the original, but try to hew closer than Taylor, but I'm still keeping them in verse.  I've put several below; these are still rough, so they will likely change some.

#7: To Eros Protogonos
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.

#10: For Selene
Hear us, holy Goddess, Night-shining Queen,
Light-bringer, Radiant One, splendid Selene:
Cow-horned moon, racing through the night,
Nocturnal, torch-bearing, maiden of light,
Waxing, waning, male and female combined,
Luminous silver-rayed Mother of Time,
Whose warm glowing orb illumines the Night,
All-seeing, vigilant, beautiful, bright,
Mother of ages, fruit-bearing Moon,
Whose warm glowing orb reflects the light of high noon
The rich quiet black is your eternal delight,
You grant favor and and luck, shining jewel of the night,
Marshal of stars, purple cloaked, silver veiled,
Queen of the Night, Aktiophis, we hail!
Shine on our rites with your all-blessing rays,
O maiden, accept your initiates’ praise.

#56: For Aphrodite
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!

#63: For Justice
Oh, Holy Justice, blessed and beloved one,
You take pleasure in all that is rightly done,
You are honored by all, blissful and bold,
Lofty, right-thinking, you cannot be sold,
Nor bought, for you are inviolate and incorruptible,
You break even those who think themselves untouchable,
Who in their greed attempt to cheat your great scales,
Unbalancing what is right, attempting to grease the rails.
But you are dauntless and all-charming, beloved of all,
For you rejoice in peace, and a life that is stable.
You loath the unfair and delight in what’s right,
You are the crown of the virtues and wisdom’s true light.
Shatter the wicked, mighty Goddess, we pray,
So that all who nurse from the breast of the Earth,
who from the depths of sea were first given birth,
May follow your path of justice and nobility,
Living in harmony and peaceful tranquility.

#80, To Themis:
I call lovely Themis, daughter of Earth and the Sky, Who first spoke as oracle in the recesseses of Delphi, On Pythian ground, above the bubbling spring, You taught the young Phoibos to be a just king, You are honored by all, bringing justice’s light, For you first taught to humans worship’s delight, You howled first to Dionysus with infinite glories, You teach us the mysteries and you tell us the stories, Come, blessed maiden, attend our mystic rites, And rain down your favor upon us, your acolytes.