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Polytheistic Voices: Interview with Lykeia

20170306_160233 (1)This month’s “Polytheistic Voices Interview” is with Lykeia of Lykeia’s Botanica. I”ve known her for several years now as a devout devotee of Apollon. She’s also a painter and sculptor who makes beautiful images and icons of the Gods (she’s working on a Mani statue for as I type this). She has several books on Apollon available and has done a great deal over the last few years to build and promote His cultus. Thank you, Lykeia for taking the time to answer these questions.

GK: Let’s start with something really basic for those who may not know you. Tell me a little bit about yourself. I”m betting most of my readers aren’t familiar with you. Who are you and what do you do? LOL.

Lykeia: Well my name is Lykeia, a name that was given to me in Greece during a naming ceremony. You know this ceremony for adults is adapted from household naming ceremonies that introduce new children to the gods of the household. You don’t realize just how adapted it has to be until you do it with children, as has been done with both of my youngest children following their seventh day. This name refers the wolf (and light) which is a pretty significant part of my relationship with Apulu (Apollon). After…wow 20 years (now that I think of it) of worship.. my gods and ancestors have requested that I used terminology and spiritual cues from my Etruscan ancestors. This has been a huge adaption for me I am sure you can imagine. All the same it doesn’t much affect what I do as a crafter and icon maker. It has taken me many years to get a shop started but I am pleased that it is finally having groans of growing pains. Slow as it be. When not crafting I write. I have a series of booklets gradually coming out (2 of which are currently published and available) dealing with devotional worship of Apollon. I am also working on finishing a novena for him and starting up a year long book of hymns and meditations for his devotees. Let me see, the only other pertinent information is perhaps that I am a married mother of three living in Alaska.

GK: How did you come to polytheism?

Lykeia: I totally fell in love with the gods when I was 12 and read my first book of mythology. They just made sense to me on a very instinctive and practical than an omniscient far away father god in Christianity. It wasn’t until I was 14 and doing research for a school report that I came across the goddess spirituality books of Starhawk. While goddess spirituality wasn’t my cup of tea as I had a fondness for several male deities, it did start the ball rolling in the right direction. I read everything related to Paganism that I could get my hands. I discarded popular Wicca for its duotheism and eventually Stregheria (which I got into as an attempt to embrace my heritage but left disappointed for some of the same problems I had with popular Wicca). Even before getting in with the streghe, in my teens I had already started abandoning Pagan texts for texts on ancient history and religion. So that kind of was the writing on the wall. After my stint with the streghe, I put all of my energy into Polytheism that was more in line with my initial passion…the ancient Polytheistic practices.

GK: Why Apollon? (I hate it when people ask me this about Odin, but it’s a question I find a lot of people are intrigued by). How did that relationship develop?

Lykeia: Actually it did not come about directly. I was initially a sworn maiden to Artemis from the age 14 until 18. All I had asked is that when I had children that the birth be quick and they be girls (on my third child I ended up changing my mind and petitioned Her with offerings to have one boy lol). Apollon did not enter my life until I was in my mid 20s. I joke and say often that She was preparing me for Him. My first experiences of Him were very raw and intense like a consuming fire. The Daphne myth was a very poignant one for me…that run instinct. Never had I felt something that direct in divine touch. It didn’t take me long to relish and celebrate those moments and then eventually surrender and devote myself to Him utterly.

GK: What would you tell someone looking to develop a relationship with Apollon devotionally? What do you feel are the key components to devotion?

Lykeia: First I would say examine your motivation. Are you wanting a devotional relationship out of direct experience and genuine pull to the god? Or are you seeking to get something out of it in particular. Be honest with yourself. There is nothing wrong with the latter scenario of devotion but in it you need to be clear as to your obligations in turn and DO IT. Cassandra is quite a good warning on that end. Also realize that being His isn’t going to necessarily make you an instant oracle…His domain is vast and you may have skills related an entirely different part. Everyone seems to want to be an Oracle though…except me. I just divine for my family lol.

GK: People wouldn’t want to be oracles, I warrant, if they knew what it entails. Now I know from following you on facebook and from our private conversations that you are looking into Etruscan practices and Deities. Why? What prompted that? How do you see it intersecting with your devotion to Apollon (or don’t you)?

Lykeia: Heh at first the Etruscan thing was nothing more than a “hey that is interesting” footnote to my ancestry. It wasn’t until when I was having divination done on an entirely unrelated note that the “look you need to focus on Etruscan stuff came through”. I put it on a mental burner and half forgot about it until another unrelated divination months later repeated it a bit more insistently. Well that made me pay attention, finally. I didn’t initially want it as it is hard to revive and gets poo-pooed by some who don’t understand why to even bother since we don’t have primary sources from them. Yet there is a LOT we are given by their very close Roman neighbors. Not to mention considerable archaeology so it is not as daunting as I feared. Hellenic polytheism just spoiled me a bit lol. As for Apulu…actually given that Apollon was borrowed from the Hellenes at a very early period it actually is in line with how I perceive Apollon and relate to Him in His early form a seasonal wolfish herding god of storms and plagues. So it has taken no significant adjustment outside of getting used to the name Apulu.

GK: You’re a vibrant artist and your work has been featured on several of my own prayer cards — thank you for that by the way. I do appreciate you allowing me to make them. Is this a devotional practice for you? Where does your inspiration for this work come from?

Lykeia: Thank you! And it’s certainly my pleasure to be helping out! Honestly I address the deity and stare at the canvas until inspiration comes. Sometimes this helped by reading on Them before hand…or even walking away. I can’t tell you how many times inspiration has hit while in the shower LOL! But it is quite devotional. It is part of my task from Apollon this relegation of the gods through art and poetry in parallel to oracle work others do.

GK: How do you balance having a family and doing the intense level of devotional work that you do?

Lykeia: It is not easy. As it is until I can get my business off the ground I work 3rd shift. This means I get a couple hours sleep in the morning before the kids wake up…and a couple hours in the evening after my husband gets home. I fit devotion around how the kids are behaving. If they won’t be too wild I bring them in the worship room…otherwise I wait for nap time. I have much more flexibility on my weekend! I can actually have private time in there!

GK: Because I”m a shit stirrer: what are your thoughts on raising your children polytheistic?

Lykeia: I think it is very necessary. It informs how they view the world and their relationship to it and those deities and spirits that occupy it. My eldest daughter was raised polytheistic and even though right now she is going through a period of personal focus the gods still make sense to her and impact how she relates to others and the world. My youngest children have the benefit of me having a more developed relationship with my gods and practices of worship and devotion. I was only 19 when I had my eldest and I was still working stuff out as I have mentioned. My babies are taught the names and told the myths. As they get older they will participate in offerings like my eldest did.

GK: I’ll admit to having no patience with Pagans or Polytheists who refuse to raise their children in their faith. How else are we expected to restore our traditions? It’s little enough to give back to the Gods. So it delights me every time I see a devout parent passing that on to his or her child. To continue though, what projects are you working on now? Where can people find your work?

Lykeia: I am working on so many things. I have two different booklets in the works. One deals with his maternal family and serpent symbolism. The other focuses on the herding wolfish Apollon and directs focus too to his relationship with Hermes and Dionysos. I have a novena almost ready to come out. The big project is the Book of Days, a 365 day litany of Apollon with brief mini discussions one can meditate on. I am hoping it will be ready by the autumn sometime. Artistically I am always working on something new. My current big project is to finish up the portrait of Apollon with his maternal family. I am also working on as donation to the Temple of Aphrodite two large paintings that will go in their temple when it has a roof. I kind of just go where inspiration directs me. Most of my original work, prints and products an be found at lykeiabotanica.com or at my etsy store.

GK: Thank you, Lykeia. Those sound like amazing projects and I know I”ll be picking a couple of those books up. Folks, check out her shop and if you don’t see anything you like, email her. She does take commissions.

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

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Reminder: There are Several Agons Running Right Now

Just a reminder that there are several Agons running right now:

I’m doing one for Ares through March 31. You can read about that here. Ares doesn’t get anywhere nearly enough attention and veneration in my opinion. Let’s give Him some love, folks. I already have three really good submissions. There are prizes for this agon so if you have something for Ares, I’m accepting prayers, poems, essays, and art. 

Lykeia, over at Lykeia’s Botanica is also running TWO Agons: one for Aphrodite and one for Hera. Again, there are prizes. 

Give it a shot and try writing or creating something for your Gods. 🙂 If you can’t paint, try collage, or word art. If you don’t think you’re a poet, just write a prayer expressing your feelings and longing for these Gods. Have courage! The arts are sacred to and beloved by our Deities. Honoring Them in this way not only gives an offering, but brings another prayer or sacred image into the world and with all that were once destroyed, that is a powerful thing. 

Speaking of Images, the next prayer card will be part of the Mother’s Series: Alkmene, the Mother of Herakles. If you’re interested in donating toward this card, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com. I still need sponsors for this series. 

That is all for now. stay tuned for more updates soon. 

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Another Shout Out to Prayer Card Artists

As part of my shout out to the artists who’ve worked with me on prayer cards, today I want to profile Lykeia, Halldora, Markos and Wayne, and Ptahmassu Nofra U’aa. I promised to post each profile as soon as I got them from my artists and all of these arrived one after the other in my inbox so you get to check them all out at once. I’m so awed by their art, serously — and I say that as an artist. Their work is beautiful and opens doors for the Gods.  Let’s learn a little bit about them:

Lykeia is a priestess of Apollo who paints, sculpts, and crafts sacred images and items. She maintains an Etsy shop here, a fineartamerica shop here, and also takes orders via her facebook page here. She does take commission work. Check out her shop folks.

Mars

Here is a sneak peak of her next prayer card: Mars. 

Halldora is an artist and art major who also works in a number of different media. She has an artistic presence at Etsy, at Deviant Art, on facebook, at artstation, at behance, on  Society6, and Tumblr. Go look at her art. It’s stunning. She does take commission work. (I particularly recommend checking out her tarot deck on etsy. It’s a powerful and magical thing. Using these cards is like slipping into a fairy tale world completely infused with magic. The only other deck I’ve used so good at opening doors in one’s magical consciousness is the Crowley deck. I tried to leave a review of them at etsy, but wasn’t able to. Go, look at them. they’re gorgeous). 

gaia-ready

Here is a look at her Gaia card. 

Wayne McMillan and Markos Gage are an artistic partnership – Pan Fine Art. Known locally in the city of Melbourne, Australia, for their street art. They also offer limited services for devotional art for polytheists. Their specialist theme is Greek gods and mythology. Markos is a Hellenic polytheist and devotee of Dionysos.

They can be found at Pan Fine Art website, On Etsy, at Redbubble, and at Markos’ personal blog. They definitely take commission.

 

Dionysos_Final

Here is their Dionysos card.

Ptahmassu is a sacred craftsman who specializes in Kemetic icons. This is what he says about his work:

“I regard my work as a Kemetic iconographer as the continuation of a five-thousand year old tradition of crafting sacred images that become the repository of the very Gods they represent.  In these regards, I do not see my work as an exercise in modern art, painting for the sake of expressing the view my human ego has of my world.  Although this is a perfectly legitimate and respectable profession, the profession of icon making comes from a completely different impulse, and it should be- if being applied correctly- an impersonal act to glorify the deity, not the artist.

My icons are not Egyptology/ archaeology art, nor are they “mythological” art.  I have maintained a lifelong passion for ancient Egyptian culture, art and archaeology, which of course includes the avid study of Egyptology and the discoveries and scholarship of academic Egyptologists; however, my practice of Kemetic iconography is not part of an intellectual exercise or exploration of Egyptian history and “mythology”.  It is instead a vital component of the living practice of my religion, which is the original and ancient religious tradition of the Egyptian people.

The Goddesses and Gods I paint and gild through my craft are the same Gods worshiped by the Egyptians millennia ago, and these are gods who receive our worship, hear our prayers, heal our bodies, provide joy and redemption, and grant us eternal life.  They are not the superstitious byproducts of a defunct civilization and dead religion, nor a “New Age” concept of divine archetypes of a single, unified supraconsciousness.

The Gods, the Netjeru I consecrate in my icons, are living gods with their own personalities, powers, spheres of influence, and unique relationships with their devotees.  They exist, each in their own right, independent of human thought and human will; and yet interact with us, court our worship and our devotion, and interact with us through our prayers and desires.  To know their love is to know the unconditional love of a parent to a child, and the ultimate reality of creation through which immortality is possible.

The religion of the ancient Egyptians was founded upon cultic service, performing ritual actions that directly linked the physical human world with the spiritual realm of the Netjeru or Gods.  Unlike the Abrahamic faiths, the traditions of the book, the Egyptians did not fix the practice of their beliefs upon abstract philosophical thought or authoritative doctrine.  Instead, they communed with their Gods through the activities of the temple, and the consecration of images and ex-vottos that were central to private worship.  The ancient Egyptian way to the Sacred was through doing, not believing, and vital to this process was the presence of the cult image, the ba or sekhem.

Egyptian temples were established as the literal houses of the Gods on earth, and within their grandiose spaces were maintained specially charged and consecrated images that were held to be an earthly counterpart to the ethereal bodies of the Gods.  These images were the focus of enormous cult industries, whose entire purpose was the maintenance of the cosmic order (Ma’at) by way of drawing the Gods through directly into the world They had created.  Through such a reciprocal relationship, where human beings bestowed offerings of precious goods and sacred rites, the Gods were engaged into giving humankind the vital ingredients to sustaining life- both here on earth and in the hereafter.

In the current era, burgeoning spiritual communities and solitary practitioners are emerging with the desire to reconnect humankind with these ancient Gods, and to restore the vital rites by which such a sacred relationship may thrive again.  The original iconographic forms of the Netjeru are being called forth, revived, and given new life by artisans working within the authentic Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian) canon.

Through the establishment of my iconography business, Icons of Kemet, I am committed to the service of the Netjeru through the creation of holy images that may once again become the focus of devotional cultus.  Thus the icons of Icons of Kemet are not decorative art objects or showpieces of the mythological, but serve, rather, as the earthly counterparts to living gods.  These are embodiments of sacred beings who still have a vital role to play in the destiny of the human condition.”

Where to find the work of Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa online:

Official website and his Iconography blog, at Zazzle, and at Archival Shrine Prints. He also takes commission. 

 

ra-galina

Here is his Ra card. 

So check them out and Artists, a huge, huge thank you for all your hard and beautiful work.