Category Archives: hellenic things
A friend of mine is currently working in Beirut and had the opportunity to visit Baalbeck, which is home to a temple complex in stunning condition. The city was known as Heliopolis in ancient times (a quick look at wiki confirmed this) and the temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has a Temple to Bacchus and a Temple to Jupiter. My friend was kind enough to allow me to share his photographs with you, though he wishes to remain anonymous. These are just breathtaking (esp. the plaque with the image of Bacchus).
He of the crooked and twisted foot,
Master of smithcraft, sorcery, and beauty,
He born of the heavens and tethered to the earth,
Mighty One and wise. I hail Him.
That would be Hephaestus and while I don’t have any particular devotional practice to Him, I will honor Him whenever the chance presents itself and I will do so by His ancient titles, including Κυλλοποδιων: lame/of the crooked-foot. The epithets of a God are mysteries in and of themselves. They are doorways into a unique and particular experience of that God and contain keys to understanding – in as much as any human may—one small aspect of a Holy Power. It is never for us to discard an epithet because we feel too “woke” for devotion. To do this is a disgusting display of arrogance, stupidity, and impiety.
Yes, folks. This issue is coming around again. I’ve written about it twice before here and here in more depth. Those who pay cultus to Hephaestus should batten down the proverbial hatches because this idiocy is back, running like shit through a goose in the more polluted corners of tumblr (which means, we’re going to have a new crop of converts who have zero idea of how to properly address this Deity, and feel ashamed when they are pulled to honor Him as Κυλλοποδιων. Wooooo. Fun times. *Sarcasm*).
I’m seeing nonsense like, “you can only use this epithet for Hephaestus if you yourself are mobility impaired.” Well, wrong. Anyone may use it whenever that person wishes to connect to Him and gain deeper understanding of His power. That’s what this epithet is about: His power. You do not have to be mobility impaired to call Him by this name.
I’ve also seen this one: “even if you’re mobility impaired, if you choose to use this, be sensitive to our feelings.” NO. Your feelings simply do not matter here. Not where devotion is concerned. They are yours to manage, not ours. Your feelings do not take center stage in the matter of devotion—especially when the devotional relationship has nothing to do with you– and certainly not in the relationship between a devotee and his or her Gods. You go on feeling oppressed by a title – this is what, in part, an epithet is: a title, an expression of a God’s power—while the rest of us will go pour out some offerings.
I’m done even trying to be conciliatory or nice about this. The people who spread this bullshit are spreading pollution, lies, and wickedness to newcomers too new and inexperienced to know any better and they’re peddling their pollution through the vehicle of being socially aware and “woke.” It’s foul and disgusting and so are those who push this crap.
It is not our place to start removing, burying, and ignoring the most sacred epithets of our Gods. Instead, we’d be better served by contemplating what those epithets mean, what they teach us about the Deity in question, and how we can better honor the Holy Powers in our lives. Of course, that’s not going to get you a pat on the head or allow for the acquisition of oppression points.
Now this crippled bitch, who belongs to a one-eyed God, is going off to bed. Good fucking night.
ISAW, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, currently has a fabulous online exhibit about Galen up. It talks about Galen’s life, education, and contributions to the field of medicine, what medicine was like in the ancient world, the pharmaceuticals, tools, and surgical techniques available to physicians, women’s medicine and female physicians, and Asclepius among other things. I had a blast going through it and learning things last night. For those interested, Check it out here.
I occasionally will write prayers on commission for folks. It’s one of the services I offer at my etsy shop. I want to share several of the more recent ones that I have done, though none of these Deities form part of my own personal devotion. I also want to share a little bit about my process in preparing for and writing these devotional pieces, especially those Deities to Whom I don’t have any personal devotion.
It can take me some time to write these prayers. First, I like to spend a few days reading up on and meditating upon the Deity in question. Sometimes insights will come to me through this – often through contemplation of particular epithets of the Deity—that I’ll later work into the finished prayer. I usually set up a small, temporary shrine and make nightly prayers, not rushing but taking time as I would with any prayer cycle. I make small offerings – nothing excessive but usually flowers or incense, fresh water, or alcohol where it is appropriate. I make sure to cleanse before approaching the shrine – especially if I do not know the traditional protocols around that Deity’s cultic practices. Some Deities desire stronger purificatory protocols than Others. Usually that takes about two weeks and then I will look up as complete a list of the epithets of that Deity as I can find and I’ll pray for inspiration, make another small offering, sit down and write the prayer.
Over the past month, I’ve had several commissions so I want to share the last three that I wrote. I like the way they turned out, and the first, to Imhotep, reminded me of one of the first Kemetic Deities that I ever honored after Sekhmet. I had forgotten how intrigued I once was by Him but it’s only now, writing for someone devoted to Him, that the devotional connection opened up. I am grateful for the momentary grace. (If any one of my readers honors Imhotep, feel free to comment below. I would love to hear a bit about your practices).
Prayer to Imhotep
By Galina Krasskova
(For C. for personal use only)
[Before praying, cleanse yourself ritually, even if only by a token washing of the hands and face. If you can, set out a glass of water in offering, to be discarded later respectfully. Water is the most basic of offerings and almost always appropriate).
Hail to You, Architect of Peace.
Hail to You, great and wise Physician.
You, Imhotep – come in peace, I pray!
Great servant of Ra,
You are a conduit for His healing rays.
You good God, restore balance and health.
I pray You turn Your benevolent gaze upon me,
my household, my land, and those dear to my heart.
Restore us and protect us from all iniquity,
as You ever restore the richness of the red and black land
Oh, Wisest of Physicians,
both firm and gentle in Your counsel,
hear my petition I pray.
Restore my ka.
Protect my ka.
Ward me from all evil.
Refresh my soul with Your healing waters.
Stretch Your hands over me, oh sweet and gracious God.
Bring my soul into alignment with Ma’at.
Bring my will into alignment with the will of the Gods.
Bring me, heart and mind, body and spirit
into the true health of reverence,
and let me never falter in my devotion.
You, Who are patron of scribes,
teach me to write the names of my Gods
immutably and always on the walls of my heart.
You, Who are patron of architects,
may my heart ever be ordered and aligned
to the ways of goodness, industry, and virtue.
You, Who are patron of mathematics,
teach me to know my part,
in the harmony of creation.
You, Who are patron of medicine,
may my hands bring healing to my world.
Beloved of Thoth,
Beloved of Ra,
Beloved of Ptah,
Beloved of Sekhmet,
Friend of Asklepios,
Counselor to Kings,
Bless our growth as You bless the rising of the Nile.
You Who were the best of temple priests,
guide us in our devotions.
That which comes from Your hands is good.
Please lay those healing hands,
upon the body of our souls,
that we may learn always,
to walk in reverence.
You are preceded by the ibis bird
and holiness follows in Your wake.
All the souls of those buried
at the holy land of Saqqara praise you.
Always, I will praise You too.
Come in peace, oh great and wise God,
Come in peace and please, I pray,
bring peace to my world too
Hail to You, Imhotep.
Hail, mighty Healer.
Now, I had never before honored Tawaret. I’m not a mother. I’ve never wanted children (though I like them well enough). I had erroneously thought that was all She was about. Instead, when I began to honor Her now, preparatory to writing this, I discovered a Deity who, like Sekhmet drives back evil, drives back pollution and protects with a fury and fullness of power that nothing unholy would dare to challenge. I may actually be integrating Her into my household veneration, I found myself so moved by the power of Her presence.
Prayer to Taweret By G. Krasskova (for C. for personal use only) copyright 2020 Hail to You, Life-Giver to Gods! Hail oh Goddess, Who nourishes humanity, Hail oh Goddess, Who nourishes us in our humanity. You are the richness of the Nile, the fertility of the rich, black soil, the promise of the endless waters rising and falling, filling the land with abundance. You are fullness: of blessing, of grace, of glory. Please hear my prayer now. You, oh Great One, guarantee the fertility of the land. You are ferocious, even as You nurture and protect. Oh Mistress of the Horizon, Goddess of the Northern Sky, You Who protect the vault of heaven, Who clears the way for the passage of Ra, He Who drives the dawn forward in His boat of Millions of years, raise high the ankh, the symbol of life, above our heads and rain down Your blessings, I pray. Oh terrifying One, You Who take the form of the lion and of the hippopotamus, great horse of the waters (1), You Whose name means ‘Great,’ protect us from evil. Drive out wickedness. Protect us from peril. Wield Your gleaming knife in our defense, and keep us clean of all pollution. You are mighty, and under the great shield of Your protection, no malignancy may find purchase in our hearts. Protect us, I pray, I and my friends, my family, and household, protect our world too from evil in all its forms. Grant us the space, the opportunity, to go to our Gods clean. Grant us the grace that we may always walk rightly in reverence. Oh Great and gracious Taweret, You are the Protector of all young and vulnerable creatures. You protect pregnant women. You protect laboring women. You protect their children too; and where You have turned Your gaze, no evil spirits may enact their evil intent. When you are present in the birthing room, You are a guard and a ward to the laboring woman. The birthing bed is Your sanctuary. You protect us now, and Your care ensures our next generation too. Offerings of milk, I shall bring you, offerings of figs and bread, incense with my head bowed low, for You restore and connect the circle of being, bridging the passage into life and death into life again. As You protect the living, so too You protect the dead. You assist souls in their journey to the gentle embrace of Osiris. You guide their way in rejoining the ancestors, --may they eat honey from the hands of their dead. You restore the soul, --may You wash us all in Your refreshing waters. I praise You as Taweret, (2) Great Lady of the heavens. I praise You as Ipet, and as Reret, for You are the ever-birthing One, restoring the order of heaven and earth through Your labors. Friend of Isis, Friend of Hathor, Friend of Sobek, Preserver of all that is holy, Make us holy too. Let nothing impure or wicked twist the integrity of our souls out of true. May we always be guided in the best ways to honor You and to honor all the Gods in ways pleasing to the heavens. Mistress of pure water, Lady of the birthing house, Lady of heaven, Yours is the power to ward off evil. Friend of Hedjet, Yours is the power to protect the household. Grant us peace, great Goddess. Let us rear our children in peace. Guard our house against evil, and always, turn our hearts to the ways of devotion. Hail to You, Taweret, now and ever. Notes: 1. Hippopotamus is from the Greek for ‘river horse.’ 2. From this point on can be taken out and used as a smaller, shorter, prayer of praise. Two for the price of one. Lol.
Finally, I was asked to write a prayer to Artemis (this was actually the first of the latest three, though I have a few more in queue to do, which I hope to get to this coming week).
Prayer to Artemis (For T., for personal use only). Copyright 2020. I pray to You, most gracious Goddess, and I ask that You hear my prayer. Daughter of Zeus, Daughter of Leto, born radiant with Your prophecy-loving Brother, You are fierce, and none may equal You in the focused fury of the Hunt. Under Your watchful eye, babes are birthed, children thrive, girls grow to adulthood, woodland creatures are nourished, and those who celebrate Your mysteries are protected. May I be nourished too. These things I know: You brook no offense toward Your pious Mother. You brook no violation of Your sacred groves, Your grottos, Your wooded glades, and sacred places. To gaze upon You is a privilege granted to few, yet Your protection is offered to any young girl who needs it, and You guard their integrity like a She-bear with Her cubs. In this, You are unswerving like the arrows You wield so keenly. None dare trespass the boundaries You fiercely lay. Rightly, it brings only woe. You are called Aeginaea, huntress, Weapons-wise with javelin, bow, and every killing tool. You are called Agrotera, blessing the land with the grace of Your hunt. You are called Amarynthus, Apanchomene, and Aristo, because You are supreme in all the arts that are Yours to govern. You are called Astrateia, greater than any amazon; Brauronia, most ancient Goddess, Receiver of Sacrifices, Diktynnaia, the huntress whom none can escape. You are called Chrysaor, golden armed Goddess, and You receive victory dances. You are called Phoebe, Cynthia for the moon, Delia and Limnaea for the land upon which You were born, and a thousand other names drawn from places where You were venerated by those wiser than we. You are the leader of the woodland hoard, Hegemone, and You take maidens and married women alike into Your service, Hymnia, Glorious, You are celebrated throughout Arcadia. You are celebrated throughout the world. You are called locheia, Upis, and women cry Your name when giving birth. Your blessing falls on every child, and woe betide those wishing them harm. You are called always Parthenia, because You will never yield Your liberty to any man. All Who have recourse to You call You Soteira, savior, for Your hand preserves and carries us away from harm. By these and many other names are You known, but today, in this place, and in the secret bower of my heart, I call You Artemis, for this name is sacred, and rings like a trumpet’s blast through all the rough places of my soul, bringing renewal. I thank you, Great and Holy Lady, and ask only this in return: may I serve you well and better each day. May I never do that which would make me ashamed, to place myself in Your presence. May I learn and do all that You would have me do; and in the end, may it be enough. Hail to you, Artemis, Holy One, Child of Zeus, Favored of Your Father. Child of Leto, Beloved of Your Brother. Hail Great Goddess, Beloved by me too. I thank You.
I enjoy doing this type of work. Even if it’s a Deity that I don’t personally venerate, it gives me an opportunity to enter into devotional headspace more carefully than I sometimes do – it’s easy to get into a rhythm with one’s own Gods and that can sometimes lead to cutting corners or becoming careless – taking it for granted. Having to approach a Deity Whose protocols I don’t know keeps me on my toes. It makes the experience fresh again, and that in turn highlights the areas that I need to better in my practice with the Gods I do regularly venerate.
What a beautiful thing! Someone did a bit of guerilla art: this person put up a shrine to Hermes in the Brooklyn subway. My friend M. sent me the link yesterday and you can check it out here. I think this is just wonderful (and I particularly like that it looks like some offerings have been made). We need more of this! May Hermes and all our Gods ever and always be loved.
Here are some pictures from the link above of the shrine. May Hermes smile upon whoever did this. Bravo/a.
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Ὦ ξεῖν’, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
κείμεθα, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.(1)
I love this movie. I got my start in Classics, and stories of men and women like those depicted in this fictionalized account of Leonidas and his defense, with three-hundred fighting men, of a pass called Thermopylae (the “hot gates”) never cease to inspire. While the movie is somewhat fictionalized, the event it depicts actually occurred. In 480 B.C.E., Greece was facing invasion and erasure by Xerxes I and the Persian empire. There was no unified Greece at this time, only independent city states many of which (like Athens and Sparta) were relatively hostile to each other. They came together, in part inspired by the battle of Thermopylae, to repel the Persian threat.
This battle stands as one of the defining moments of Greek (and Roman heroism), even though it was in and of itself a bloodbath. The story of the 300 is just that: a story of heroism, and we need those stories. They inspire us in cultivating the same virtues of patriotism and courage, valor and honor in ourselves. They inspire us to preserve our culture and our traditions, to value what we have created, to work hard to sustain it. They unify a people across boundaries and differences, and they teach us the necessity of sometimes sacrificing for something greater than ourselves. Those are good things, necessary things where the cultivation of virtue is concerned. These were the stories passed down to our grandparents, great grandparents, and beyond. They helped form the cultural and moral consciousness of the “greatest generation” that saved Europe from [actual] Nazis – and in 1941, allies defended Thermpylae again, this time against Nazi invasion– and maybe that shared cultural and moral heritage is precisely why stories like this are now under fire in our morally incomprehensible world today. But I digress.
The movie “300” is an adaptation of this story (a loose adaptation I grant you) from a graphic novel and it does take liberties. It is told from the perspective of a veteran of Thermopylae, rallying and inspiring later troops to fight the Persians. Because of that, the Persians are exaggerated in their presentation so that the valor of those that stood against them, may likewise be highlighted. It’s an excellent tale (though I think the original is even better! The most accessible account is probably Herodotus’s Histories,Book VII) (2).
Several people have asked me lately out of the blue, what some of my favorite movies are, or what I’m watching (most recently “Lovecraft Country”) or reading (a lot of Jane Austen atm). So, for those interested, I’ll try to do a post each Monday on a wholesome (by my definition, keeping in mind I really like action and horror – you have been warned lol) movie. I might miss a Monday here and there as school is just starting back up, but I’ll try to recommend some good things. Here’s your first:
- “Stranger, tell the Spartans that we lie here, obedient to their laws.” In the 2007 movie, Frank Miller uses this translation, which I like, “Go tell the Spartans, passerby: that here, by Spartan law, we lie.” There are multiple translations of this epitaph. Cicero even translated it into Latin: Dic, hospes, Spartae nos te hic vidisse iacentes | dum santis patriae legibus obsequimur. Tusculanae Disputationes, 42.101.
- Diodorus Siculus, Plutarch, and Ktesias (among others) also mention it.
Earlier this year at the start of the pandemic, JR, one of my readers contacted me with a thought, “What if a bunch of us polytheists started a sort of Novena to Apollo to combat this virus?”
Recognizing a great idea, the seed for the Apollo novena was born. Not only is Apollo a God associated with healing, but because he was well known in ancient Greece as deeply multifaceted–with connections to the sun, knowledge, the arts, protection of the young, averter of evil, and so much more–a novena seemed long overdue.
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Of Bow, Lyre, and Prophetic Fire:Nine Days of Prayer to the God Apollo
Nine days of prayer, offerings, ritual and divination in honor of Apollo – the God whose holy light drives off illness and miasma, inspires music and oracular utterances, protects the young, and profoundly touches each worshipper who approaches Him in devotion and supplication.
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While some content in this novena has been published before in my Hymns and Prayers of a Polytheistic Household, there is also quite a bit of new material including a new divination system.
Here is a sneak peak at the cover of the next novena book. This image is courtesy of Lynn Perkins. I expect this book to be available in early September. Stay tuned. 🙂
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I have paid my debt to this God. The small novena book I promised Him is now available. Like my other novena books, it is pocket-sized and offers nine days of prayer to Aphrodite’s son, Anteros, the God of requited love. It’s now available here. Thank you, Wynn, for coming up with the title. ^_^