Why Couldn’t Cybele Just Restore Attis’ Dick?

Why Couldn’t Cybele Just Restore Attis’ Dick? This is an actual conversation that I’m having with a Christian relative. (#polytheistproblems). This relative asked to read the papers that I’d written over the last semester so I printed them up, per her request and sent them off. Foremost amongst them was my recent article in issue 5 of Walking the Worlds: “Ecstasy and Identity in Catullus 63. This piece talks about Attis sacrificing his manhood in devotion to Cybele and what that meant to him (her?) as a Roman.

Here is the email I received in response:

“G., I just finished reading this paper.  It is a wonderful example to everybody to avoid the occult. Messing with the so-called gods (actually demons) is dangerous physically and spiritually.  Attis totally destroyed himself in his 

ill advised “devotion” to Cybele. 

If Cybele is such a great and powerful “goddess,” why could she not have restored Attis’ manhood?  A devastating and true statement: You cannot go home again.  I believe that in many situations.”

(the rest of the email talked about another paper on Augustine so I didn’t quote it here. Nor did I point out to her that her comments about the Gods being demons isn’t even biblical. The bible after all, acknowledges other Gods.).

Now, this relative knows that I’m a polytheist but it’s like some mental tick. They just can’t help themselves from calling our Gods demons. Interfaith work at its finest, isn’t it? Interfaith work just has a polite veneer over this, but it’s still there.

So what did I respond?

“You took the article where I did not intend. I think it’s a powerful example of devotion. May Cybele be venerated forever. 

It also tells you that it’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a living God. 

As to why Cybele couldn’t restore his manhood: obviously She didn’t want to. That is the price of initiation into Her priesthood and Attis, despite his later existential pain, paid it willingly. 

Nor was Her religion “the occult.” It was an international religion openly practiced. It’s still practiced today — there’s a Cybellan monastery not far from me (well, three + hours). 

My article was not in any way meant to imply that She should not be venerated, but to point out that all transformations come with a price, that we must understand this when we plumb sacred Mysteries: that they transform, irreversibly.

Asking why Cybele didn’t restore Attis’ manhood is like asking why Jesus didn’t save all the martyrs. Did he not have the power to do so? Did he not care? Or was it more a case of not invalidating their sacrifice, devotion, and faith and the example they provided for the rest of their community. These are mysteries. It’s pretty foul to denigrate them.”

We disagree but I’m not going to suddenly punch this poor relative in the face. One can have decorum in such disputes. Still, this is the type of mental brainwashing with which we all must cope when we engage in interfaith dialogue. Here it is, in black and white. (#checkyourmonotheistprivilege). I have said before that I consider monotheism to be something of a mental illness. It eradicates a person’s ability to see reality and to function in a healthy society. You want to change all these problems we’re dealing with today? Reject the secular (which is really just monotheism taken to its natural conclusion) over-culture. (#fighttherealpatriarchy).

If you have any doubt about this, the situation going on with patheos right now is a good example of what happens when you’re around ‘tolerant’ Christians. They’ll keep you around so long as you’re making them money through your click bait titles and engineered community conflict but the second you turn on them and question their motives you’re gone.

It doesn’t come with a cool pussy hat, but this is the real revolution. (#makinghashtagswontbeenough)





About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on February 1, 2017, in community, Interfaith, Lived Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. A friend of mine, Classics Prof was asked “What if Achilles wouldn’t have been mad?”


  2. Dealing with people like that is sure a hoot and a half. :p

    The only thing that keeps me smiling and polite is remembering that their atrocious beliefs have been so ingrained over time that they honestly believe they’re doing the right thing and helping people who are their friends/relatives etc. They truly believe that twisted shit, and are so frightened of the idea of hell that they’re kept in line, so to speak.

    Funny, shouldn’t love of a deity be about LOVING them, not what will happen if you don’t?

    It came up in conversation with a friend that if I was alive in pre xtian Scandinavia, if my sacrifice to the gods was a thing wanted of me, I’d have done it without a second thought. I have no fear of such a death.

    I see similar things with the recon variety heathens – some of them prefer their neat paper gods who can be reduced to archetypes, metaphors, virtues, lessons etc.. Devotion is a good idea in practice to such people but when faced with the more intense examples of devotion, they run screaming..

    Liked by 3 people

    • and there were plenty of ways to venerate Cybele in the ancient world that did NOT include becoming a gallus/galla. We even see other types of Cybellan priests who were not galli (there’s one in the Aeneid for instance — i forget his name).

      and you nailed it: “when faced with the more intense examples of devotion,” people ‘run screaming.” That’s the crack to jump on. why is that? what does that say about our own commitments to our Gods? how we’ve been indoctrinated? the unconscious messages we carry?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sorry, that bit above about sacrifice should have said, if it was a thing the gods I love wanted/required of me. Not just if anyone wanted me to do it. Lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One of the troubles with modern people is that they invent and venerate their own “gods” in the form of crass materialism, nationalism, all the ilk that serves to stand between them and their own God/dess awareness.

    I had the nerve at one time to ask God if I could see His face, being a sort of a christian then. And I’ve been meeting Gods and Goddesses ever since. Kind of fascinating really. And there are those that I really bond with. Then the devotional practices come in with genuine love and humility.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I wonder if your relative knows anything about Origen, who did the same as the Galli did…granted, he’s considered something of a heretic for certain reasons now, and his decision in this regard was considered extreme at the time, but nonetheless, he wasn’t excoriated by many of his contemporaries or later tradition. Or what about the passage in Matthew (if I am remembering correctly) in which Jesus speaks of “there are some who are born eunuchs, and some become so for the sake of the kingdom [of heaven]?” Why didn’t Jeebus bring their dicks back, too, then?

    Also, thanks for the info on Patheos’ latest transgressions. You were right to get out of there before any of us did…I never had full access to my own account there, which is kind of interesting, considering mine was the first queer-related blog of any sort in any part of Patheos. I am now in the odd position of feeling bad for John Halstead, too! (Who, deep down, I don’t think is a bad person…if his religious ideas work for him, what business of it is mine to deprive him of it or disparage him on it? But, I’d prefer he not try to meddle in my religious practices, nor will I his [and such has been the case with my experiences of him, or lack thereof, for the past several years], just as I expect such would be the case with anyone of any religion that I meet.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • She mentioned Origen. I just told her “yeah, if there was ever a time to take Matthew 19 allegorically…” *snickers*. (i think it’s 19).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Viktoria Whittaker

    Hi Galina! Being a priestess of the Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater, I figured I would weigh in here. You are right about personal sacrifice and veneration. I find it kind of baffling that your christian relative does not get this, given that that is all they seem to talk about in their worship services. (unless they are basically just giving lip service to the idea of veneration of a deity and have no idea of what that actually means in practice.) Yes, Cybele is an extremely demanding Goddess but she is very generous with her rewards as well.

    However, there is more to the story of Attis than sacrifice and veneration. There are a number of versions of this myth from that period and the one that we use is the one where Attis is resurrected as a woman afterward. It has to do with honoring the divine feminine within oneself. That’s a very brief and simplified way of putting it.

    Also, a couple of points on terminology: we are a convent, not a monastery. We also use the feminine versions, galla and gallae instead of gallus and galli. Also, it’s Cybelline, not Cybelan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • while i tend to default to galla/gallae as well, it’s important to note that Latin sources use galla/gallae, gallus/galli pretty indiscriminately. As to the rest (Cybelline, convent) do you know how pissed off I was responding to my relative? LOL I’ll remember that for next time.

      and yes, I tend to find Christian obtuseness baffling. I later asked my relative, “So, why couldn’t Jesus heal the martyrs” and she tried to switch the ground of the debate, “well, does Cybele heal? Jesus heals?” course I had to call her on that too. More and More i really do think monotheism is mental illness. They’re just incapable of reason.

      and of course there is more to Attis, but the article I wrote, to which my relative was attempting to respond was concerned only with Catullus’ poem 63.

      Attis’ story is about devotion and sacrifice. I find it boggling that Christians find that so hard to comprehend. Their little death cult is all about sacrifice after all. I think they have this ingrained knee jerk reaction to make sure that no one talks about how the Gods can bring blessings and rewards…after all, why the fuck would anyone follow their repugnant religion if they knew there were better Gods out there, if they knew they had choices?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m also going to take a moment to give a shameless plug: The Maetreum of Cybele in Palenville, New York welcomes all seekers.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Also, the person assumed that God would take care of all their needs. Well that is what is a part of Christian doctrine or what gets passed around amongst laity – God will provide all our needs. Usually that translates into God being a cosmic bellhop, instead of think more objectively.

    In Attis’ case, it could be interpreted by a Christian as God needed him castrated to do God’s business. In other words, human agency is denied and explained away. Not that the human dealt with their castration. But somehow, it is all God’s idea what happens to humans as part of His eternal plans.

    When you have those thoughts banging around in your head and you become Pagan, it shows up in taming the Gods or in being frightened of them, and turning away. At lot of people seem to run away from The Morrigan, for that reason. Or you explain bad things happening because such and such a God ordained it. Not that you make bad decisions or that the universe is random.

    People seek coherence in their lives, and monotheism gives them that in spades. Polytheism not so much.

    Liked by 2 people

    • good points. the conversation went farther than what i posted above and one of the comments I made was that ‘the Gods are not there to solve our problems for us, and to give us endless ‘do overs.’

      Liked by 1 person

      • i think there’s plenty of coherence in polytheism — you just have to work harder.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know that but to the average person raised as a Christian, there has to be a reason as to why bad things happen to them. Even though, Christ Himself said that buildings fall on innocent people, with no reason. It comes from being the centre of the universe.

        Putting Gods first, you don’t need explanations as to what happens to you, since the universe do not revolve around you.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. The shock and horror is actually probably related to patriarchy in a twisted way. Not only is Cybele not undoing the severing of male genitalia, but modern culture tends to venerate male sexuality and virility. So it’s the double-whammy of the sacrifice and the horrified fascination with a discarded status symbol. It’s also that Attis chooses to do it. A lot of martyrdom, as an outsider with no personal background in Christianity, seems to be related to being a victim without agency.

    I wonder what she’d think of the Germanic Jesus who walks up to the cross and orders the Romans to strap him on, so to speak. My Old English professor back in college once mentioned that story, although I haven’t seen it in person and can no longer read Old English.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Martyrs had plenty of agency. they could have remained polytheist. Also, martyrdom was not universally revered in the very early church. there was huge debate over it (and then what to do with those who lapsed). and hey, I venerate male genitalia. it is one of my favorite things. 😛

      omg, i should so send her the Heliand. LOL. I bet she’d be confused.

      good points all. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. “I know that but to the average person raised as a Christian, there has to be a reason as to why bad things happen to them.” yeah. poor judgement. After all, they could be polytheist. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

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