Showing posts with label Greek mythology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek mythology. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2024

When The Grasshopper Sings To Eos

When I was a young man growing up in rural North Carolina, my home rested in the middle of a forest, down in a small valley just outside of Thomasville. Summers in North Carolina are exceptionally hot, and living in such a naturalistic setting, the songs of the grasshoppers and crickets (which are part of the grasshopper family), are something that always reminds me of that time and place no matter where I live in America. Even in the Illinois summer, I will stop on a hot and humid night just to listen to the distant sounds of crickets (grasshoppers sing in the morning and during the day), because it reminds me of home, where I came from, and of a Greek story that few people probably know. That is the story of Eos and how the grasshopper was created.

Eos is the Titan Goddess of the dawn. Each morning, She rises gloriously with Her trumpets and roses to announce the coming of Helios and a new day for Gods and men. Eos, like other Goddesses, loved Gods as well as mortal men, and one of such was a Trojan Prince by the name of Tithonos. He caught Her eye in a very unique and exceptional way, and She grew so in love that She would visit him each and every day. 

Eos knew She never wanted to be without him, so She asked Zeus to make him immortal, which the King of the Gods granted. However, while Eos had now made Her lover immortal, She had forgotten to also ask that he remain young forever. After a century, Tithonos was so old that he could barely move, and the longer time went on, the more pain and decay he found himself subjected to, but death never came. Eos attempted to ease his pain by locking him in a safe, unknown location away from the outside world, but even that couldn't change the fact that he was not even a shadow of his former self, only a bed ridden man in constant pain. 

Eos realized that despite Her attempt to keep Her love forever, She had indeed lost him in his mortal form. But She discovered a way to change that form and forge it into a new life that became the grasshopper. As you can see in the picture to the left, Eos did not neglect to show us how beautiful Her Tithonos was by decking the grasshopper in beautiful artistic features, but most notable is that these insects chant at the break of dawn, singing to Eos as She comes forth each day.

I wish I had known these timeless stories and myths when I was a boy. I wish I had been raised a Hellenist. Although I did start to discover the Greek Gods while still living at my childhood home. And I can certainly say that wherever you are in the world, Hellenism makes that world far more intriguing and memorable.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Why So Many Female Villains In Greek Myth?

Ancient Greece and Greek Myth in modern time tend to get, what I think, is an undeserved bad wrap for all of the female villains that exist within it. It's assumed that because there were a lot of female monsters and criminals, that the ancient Greeks must have hated women or at least distrusted them in some capacity. Well, anyone who has known me for the last few years as a writer, historian and a Hellenist, knows I can give a fresh, and perhaps more realistic perspectives on ancient Greek culture than what is assumed by people who never lived there, or who respond with the education they have been conditioned to. For instance, if you're trained to see sexism in everything, you will. 

First consider that there might have indeed been female criminals and menaces in ancient times. In fact, it would be absurd to suggest it impossible. The level of power that women had varied from City to City, but women were not powerless in totality. For example, male bandits or organized criminals probably wouldn't have cared about being led by a female if she had enough money to pay them well. We would likely find it a species of insanity to suggest that there has ever been a human culture with no female offenders of any kind. It is not sexism to say that a woman is a woman. I mean, it's certainly not rare to find a woman or a being who is female. Women exist as about half of the population, and sometimes there are actually more females in a species than males. Therefore, there could naturally be women or females who fulfill negative as well as positive roles, and yet, even the negative ones were not universal. In other words, they were not all bad. While the Sphinx of Oedipus might be considered a villain, Sphinxes were also guardians of temples and cemeteries, and considered to be a bridge between human and Divine knowledge. 

It's also not true that men of ancient Greece always occupied admirable or virtuous roles. There were a great number of men and males who were evil. For example, when Odysseus returned home, He found no less than 108 Suitors trying to take His wife and kingdom. He killed all of them, not for simply being Suitors, but for destroying His palace, eating His food, taking everything they could, and doing everything they could get away with. They even plotted to murder Odysseus' own son. These 108 men were certainly no paragons of virtue, but villains. Finally, male monsters in Greek Myth included the Minotaur, the Nemean Lion, the Cretan Bull, and Typhon. 

In conclusion, it may not actually be true that a significant number of Greek villains were female. In fact, given the Suitors alone, there might have been more males than females in actuality. Not to mention ruling kings like Midas, Lycaon, Sisyphus, Tantalus, and Salmoneus who were some of the most greedy, ruthless, offensive, and cruel men to ever live - and the Gods punished them severely for it. And for the villains who were the opposite sex, it may have had little to do with their sex in and of itself. Additionally, you can't logically ignore the great number of female Heroes who exist in Greek Myth and Religion either, such as Atalante, Danae, Antigone, Penelope, Hydna, and Nausicca. You wouldn't think you'd have female Heroes in a society that simply hates women.

I'm not saying there was no sexism in ancient times, for that would also be an absurd suggestion. But I also think that people today assume way too much about things they couldn't have possibly experienced.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

And bookmark my site by clicking on the star in the top right of the web bar.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Rock & AI - Faces Frozen In Hubris

Stand in this place and look upon the face of someone who's pride cost them everything. Her name was Niobe, and before we get into this discussion, it's important to recall her Myth.

Niobe had it all. She was a beautiful queen of Theban Greece, with seven beautiful sons and seven beautiful daughters, which in ancient times, was a great accomplishment in and of itself, considering infant mortality. Niobe wanted for nothing, and had everything for which to be most grateful. There was nothing inglorious about her life, yet she could not find herself satisfied and humble enough to admit to this. She grew jealous of the fact that people were worshiping Leto and Her children Artemis and Apollon, saying that people should really be "worshiping her own sons and daughters, for they were far greater than the Gods." 

For this offense, Artemis and Apollon drew their bows and killed all of her children (Apollon taking the sons and Artemis the daughters). Niobe found herself, of course, devastated and in unending pain. She climbed to the top of Mt. Sipylus in Asia Minor, today in the modern Manisa Province of Turkey. There she begged the Gods to take away her pain. Zeus changed her into a rock. To this day, people can visit the "weeping rock" on the mountain that is said to be the remains of Niobe, forever frozen in despair and crying when it rains. The picture above is of that rock formation that overlooks the modern population below.

We may assume the moral to be simple, but I theorize that it's a bit more extensive than simply, "Don't offend the Gods." Niobe took hubris to a new level, because instead of simply boasting in pride, she tried to actually take worship. Niobe literally tried to put herself and her children in the place of the Gods.

It reminds me of something I wrote in my philosophy journal several weeks back. Modern scientists tend to be reverent of no power except their own, and see no reason why they cannot mess with whatever they choose, so long as they have the money and legality. It's therefore foolish to give so much power over our world to the most arrogant group of people.

Our world today takes human confidence far beyond its healthy and appropriate levels. It's increasingly growing from a philosophy of human strength to human worship, where people literally take the crowns of Gods and attempt to place them upon their own heads. Even more revealing, humans have never learned to stop doing this. So many people either just don't get it, or don't want to. We're not supposed to take the place of Gods, nor claim domain over that which belongs to Gods. Yet, they have. Humans have taken it upon themselves to create life (AI), they try to control the course of the natural environment, and they experiment with everything under the Sun enough to put Dr. Frankenstein to shame. 

Why is AI so bad, one might ask? For starters, it could end up destroying the human mind by making it obsolete. If humans have someone to think for them, the mind will no longer have a need or a desire to be creative, inventive, or do anything for itself. Second, it's one thing to have a GPS in your car, or some kind of medical device that saves lives. That's wonderful. But when you're creating full robots that are just like humans, you're toying with life. Humans have no such right or capacity to go down that road. Not to mention that when you're creating a robot that can outthink human beings, there's a clear and present danger to human safety itself. And the fact that AI could end up taking even high level employment from people is not even the biggest hazard, and yet that in itself is still a disastrous cliff.

It not only stems from arrogance, but I also think, a resentment toward the Higher Powers. The Gods decide what happens to this world and this universe, not scientists, politicians or religious leaders, and this factor makes the latter three the most furious. They have grown to think of themselves as deserving to rule instead of the Gods, just like Niobe. The worst part in terms of interacting with our fellowman, is that arrogance cannot be reasoned with, neither philosophically or literally. No amount of argument or lightning strikes will change a hard head. And sadly, most of the consequences often fall on the innocent.

Although human self-destruction has never been something new to the human scene. The most tragic factor is that people never learn from it. So what can we as individuals do to stem the tide? The first obvious one is to live differently ourselves. Second, we can reject the idea of hubris by refusing to use and support the things that further it, like AI. We can't stop people from being foolish, but we can refuse to participate, and if enough of the human population refuses to support it, there won't be a market for its posterity. Third, educate the populace. Evil or toxicity often displays an illusion or act, because if it presented its true self, most people wouldn't tolerate it. And it's rather easy to expose the reality behind the mask, because the mask isn't real.

Generally speaking, we preserve ourselves, and the actuality of what we should be.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge. 

And consider subscribing to my site by bookmarking it by clicking on the star in the top right of the web bar.

Source: Photo: The Weeping Rock, photographed by Carole Raddato from Frankfurt, Germany. Photo is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic. No changes were made. Link to material can be found here.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

When Myths Manifest, The Meaning Maintains

I think the fact that ancient Greeks had religion and life intertwined goes beyond just religious devotion. It was and is because the world of Gods, Heroes, monsters and myths were clear in everyday life.

Today while I was maintaining my temple's outside sanctuary, I noticed a spider resting on the Athena statue, and there were no spiders on any of the other several statues surrounding it. 

If you click on the picture, it will enlarge and you can see the insect.

Certainly nothing unusual about a spider on an outside object, but Athena's was the only one that seemed to draw the creatures. Why would this be relevant to Greek religion and how in the world could it possibly expand the mind into universal thought?

Simple enough on the surface. In Greek myth, the story is that Athena created the spider, but how and why She did it is a fascinating concept and mystery, and also one that continues to have a valuable teaching for us today.

Arachne was an incredibly talented mortal weaver, and a maker of wonderous tapestries. So much so that no other human being could outdo her. Eventually, she allowed arrogance to take over her mind and proclaimed that she was greater at her art than even the Goddess Athena, who is the Goddess of domestic art.

Athena heard and accepted the challenge, although tried to talk some sense into Arachne first, giving her the opportunity to rebuke her arrogance and let it go. Arachne refused. The mortal woman weaved her best work, but Athena, knowing the beautiful things of heaven and beyond that mortals could not possibly see, created a far more glamorous piece.

Arachne was defeated. As punishment, Athena turned her into a spider, but not without her talent remaining with her. To this day, spiders continue to weave beautiful and elaborate webs. I find it to be like looking upon the remnants of an ancient battle, and the side that lost doomed forever to drag along the ruins of what they once were.

So walking along during a typical day in 2023 CE, what does seeing a spider on Athena's statue wish to teach the passerby? That the Gods are supreme, and we are not. The lesson, as common as it may sound, is to look upon this and know who the Gods are. Even if you're not religious at all, the lesson is know who you are, know your place, know your limitations. 

Wisdom, in short, is knowing you are not a God. Stop and reflect on this truth. But also on the understanding that you don't have to be a God either. You are still capable of great wonders within your own boundaries. 

The tragedy of Arachne is that her ruin did not have to be. She could have lived a very successful life, if she had only realized that her talent came from Athena, and that without the Gods, she was nothing. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Why It's Not Illogical To Believe In Mythological Creatures

I find it so lamentable in our modern time that most people use the word "myth" to describe something they believe to be untrue. So much so that whenever I have the misfortune of picking up a Greek history book only to find that it's ripe with disrespect toward the ancient Gods, beliefs and cultures, I toss it in the trash; it does not make it into my Hellenic library. But recently I was thinking on how many times modern scientists, historians and archaeologists have been proven dead wrong on things they deemed to be myths or fiction. 

Heinrich Schliemann was laughed at by every expert on the topic of Troy when he went to find the lost City, only to be the last one laughing. But of course, this was a City, something that has existed commonly in human civilization for thousands of years. What of the spectacular and peculiar animals that fill the pages of the ancient Greek past? I believe they all existed, or do exist, in some form. Billions of people today would also laugh at me to make such a statement, perhaps even think I am insane. However, they would have thought the same about many animals today that were once classified as "mere myths." Let's go through a list of all these species, keeping in mind that at one point in history, science did not believe they existed, some categorized in myth as late as 2001.

Pandas, The Devil Bird, The Giant Squid aka the Kraken, The Platypus, The Thylacine, The Coelacanth, The Takahe, and the Komodo Dragon. The one that stuns me the most is the first. Pandas are so prevalent in our minds today, and adored by so many, yet they were once compared to dragons and unicorns in the sense of being mythical. I suppose what it means is that science doesn't always know as much as it presumes about our world and universe. 

Another one of my favorites is the Thunderbird, which is Native American. Science has not directly admitted that they exist or did exist, but as late as the 20th Century, people in the Midwestern United States reported gigantic birds in the sky, some even trying to attack humans on the ground. They might be compared to the California Condor, which factually exist. But the Thunderbird is assumed to be much larger, taking their name after the sound their huge wings make, although some I have heard say they are so named because of the thunderstorms that the birds commonly accompany in the springtime. 

In April 1948, a military officer reported a gigantic bird over Alton, Illinois. Later sightings that month by other people in the state called the bird the size of an airplane. Then, in 1977, a boy in Lawndale, Illinois was picked up by one of these huge birds, but released after his mother came running out to try and grab him. The stories are fascinating and also terrifying to read. 

But some may still look at me and say, "That's all well and good, Chris, but c'mon, you don't really believe there was a Chimera that was made of three different animals, do you?" Perhaps it wasn't as you have directly stated, but a deformation of some kind, that may have resembled various animals? 

Absolutely. We know factually today that animals and humans can go through unusual mutations or malfunctions in the womb and come out with extra parts for one reason or another, and sometimes those parts do not look like the species they are attached to. So yes, I do believe the Chimera existed in some form. What it was specifically, who knows? But if we are to believe the stories, it was large and strong enough to wreak havoc on human populations, and no one had the ability to take it out until Bellerophon. Sometimes, it may go back to what a myth actually is. It does not mean untrue, but rather, the best way a person or a group has to explain something at a given time. For ultimate truth, I am humble enough to leave that declaration up to the Immortals.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

* Thunderbird on top of Totem Pole in Thunderbird Park in Victoria, BC Canada. Taken by Dr Haggis on 29JUL04. No changes were made to the picture, nor does the picture endorse the blogger's writings in any way. Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unreported. Photo , Licensing

Thursday, December 2, 2021

We Can Sometimes See Where The Gods Threw Monsters

As a philosopher and a Greek mythologist, I do a lot of thinking about the latter with the maps of the former. One area that has always interested me is seeing how the tales of old still prove true today.

The Greek myths and Greek stories often require more than just a surface analysis. Most modern scholars, historians and even mythologists have yet to realize this. I think that some of the things the Gods did, were things that they kept doing as time went on, a progressive action like evolution itself. It wasn't a one and done kind of thing. Just as order has remained a constant, so have the actions of the Gods to maintain that order, balance and preferred universe. One of the most well known among these actions was the banishment of rebellious Titans and monsters, often imprisoned in the depths of the Earth away from humanity and the light above. In their prisons, they are kept from bringing harm, chaos and disorder to the surface of civilization and the world itself. That which was an affront to the Gods, or abhorred, was locked away. In the event that the monsters were still able to remain a threat to humanity, such as with the Minotaur, the Gods sent Heroes to kill them, such as Theseus.

The more we learn about the science of remote places far in the depths or the corners of the Earth, the more we see monstrous creatures even to this day. Let's take a dive into the ocean for instance. At one thousand meters, light can no longer reach the water, which means there is nothing but absolute darkness from this point onward. This depth also means that humans could not reach it in their natural form, nor could anything at this level or onward reach humans or general life above. By the time two thousand to four thousand meters is reached, which is double and quadruple the depth of when the light ceases, we start to see the monsters of the water, such as the angler fish, dragon fish, viper fish, fang tooth fish, and the giant squid - hideous and deadly creatures kept from the sight and reaches of the world above. And these are just the monsters we know of. Only 5% of the ocean has been explored and mapped. 

All over the world, there are still places humans have not been, deep in caves or miles beneath the surface of the crust. What else has been put away in the bowels of the Earth or the universe itself, and for what reasons? All round us, each and every day, we still live with the ancient Greek stories and beliefs. They are not bound to an ancient past which is alien to us. They still form the realities of our world.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Courage and Honor,

Chris Aldridge. 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Agamemnon, His Daughter, and Abraham's Myth

The movie Troy, made in 2004, isn't really fair to Agamemnon of the House of Atreus. True, He really did have a falling out with Achilles, but that doesn't necessarily make Him a bad person or "unheroic." Hollywood has portrayed Him as an old, overweight, over indulgent, and even cowardly tyrannical thief, whose greed for power cannot be satisfied. But the fact of the matter is that we don't even know what He looked like, and the so called Mask Of Agamemnon is speculation at best, as it predates the Trojan War by hundreds of years. What we mostly know about Him comes from Homer. In The Iliad, Agamemnon is a fantastic warrior, whose courage and strength on the battlefield sent many Trojans "down to Haides," as Homer might put it. While Gods like Apollon had to teach Agamemnon a lesson in humility at times, He is hardly disgraced in the eyes of the ancients. While He does have His selfish points, He is considered a Hero, as all of the Homeric warriors are classified as such.

However, one of the most infamous myths about the man is concerning His daughter, Iphigenia. In the story, Agamemnon once again finds Himself at odds with a God, this time Artemis after He kills a deer in an area sacred to the Goddess (I myself have always believed deer to be sacred to Artemis, which is why I will not kill or eat them). Artemis steps in and sends the winds into unfavorable manifestations, literally beaching His fleet. To atone for His offense, Agamemnon decides on a human sacrifice of His own daughter. Only then, He thought, would Artemis allow the Greek navy to even begin sailing for the Trojan coast. In one version, He goes through with the sacrifice and the winds then open their course toward Troy. In another, Artemis replaces Iphigenia with a deer on the altar, thus saving her life and taking the sacrifice of the animal in her place.

One thing that's really interesting is how this framework mirrors the old testament story of Abraham, who was going to sacrifice his own son to God, but at the last minute, an angel sends his attention in the direction of a ram, which is sacrificed in his son's place. It is estimated that Genesis, the part of the bible in which the story occurs, was written around 1450 to 1400 BCE. While Agamemnon would have lived later, around 1260 to 1180 BCE, the Jews do not appear to have had contact with the Greeks until much later, around the 4th century. And, if Moses was indeed the author of Genesis, he is estimated to have lived anywhere from 1550 to 1200 BCE, meaning it's possible that Agamemnon predates him. Of course, there were many versions and oral traditions of the bible and Greek religious stories throughout the ages, so it's not possible to tell really which one of these stories may have been told first, and certainly no evidence that one stole from the other.

Agamemnon is one of those Heroes who comes to us through the good and the bad, meaning that sometimes, human Heroes are made through their triumphs and also their tragedies, especially if their tragedies are something they learn from and can be used to teach people valuable lessons. Agamemnon can teach us how to destroy our enemies, but also the importance of living a life with humility and compassion, as He spent a lot of time learning of the hardships of hubris and selfishness.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Gods As Universal Consciousness

As a writer and a theologian, I never quite know when something as simple as a general conversation or experience will give me something to write and philosophize about, but today was such a time, and it involved one of my favorite Gods. 

My wife and I were discussing statues and we got onto the topic of Poseidon's trident. Talking about all of its different functions from spearing fish to ruling the sea currents and creating water sources entirely, she asked me, "How would you reconcile the belief in earthquakes with modern science?" In other words, "How do I accept the fact that quakes are caused by plates rubbing together and pair it with the idea that Poseidon causes them by striking the ground with His trident?"

My response was rooted in the belief that the Gods are everywhere and in everything, as the ancients also believed. "Do I believe that there's someone standing there who looks like me, hitting the ground with a trident when there's an earthquake?" I replied. "No, I think that the movement of the plates is the movement and consciousness of Poseidon in the Universe itself." 

To me, the Gods exist, at least in one form, as the consciousness of all that was, is and ever will be. That's why I don't even consider them to only be Gods of Earth, but of every other planet, galaxy, and all other lifeforms out there. For example, I don't consider Artemis to be the Goddess of only Earth's moon, but of every moon. The Gods are all that is, and their consciousness, direction, intelligence and Divine Powers give existence and place to everything; the sun and moon, Earth and sky, water and fire, love and sex, wind and rain, freedom and justice, all things possess their minds, bodies and powers. That's why, for example, it makes perfect sense for people like us to consider the sun a God, while other people may think us primitive or even crazy. When you understand that the Gods are literally the beating hearts and blood flows of the Universe, you begin to see them everywhere and recognize the fact that they are there.

As for Poseidon's trident, that is also part of His embodiment. I don't mean to say that He is a trident, but that the weapon and staff is something through which His power and consciousness flows. So, in a way, yes, He is striking the ground with His trident, but in a way that people may not have yet considered. Perhaps the trident may be, at least as one manifestation, His channel, His key to the realms of the Universe over which He rules. All things have a path or opening which lead to them. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Challenge To Champion ~ When Gods Knock Us Down

I find myself intrigued when the Gods send Heroism disguised as disaster. Last night, I was reading the myth of Meleager and the Kalydonian Boar. The basic idea of the story was that Artemis became upset with the fact that Her worship was being neglected in Kalydon, a City in the Greek region of Aetolia, and so She sent a powerful, gigantic boar to ravage the land and prevent people from carrying on their daily lives. At least, this is the beast's origin that this particular myth provides. Meleager and some other local hunters including the woman Atalanta, took up the job of tracking down and killing the beast once and for all, which they successfully did at the hands of Atalanta and Meleager who led the party and delivered the final blow. 

Meleager became a venerated Hero after His death, not just because of killing the boar, but because of his unusual termination. At the time of His birth, the Fate Atropos connected His life with the wood that was burning on the hearth, presumably in His home, and said that His life would end once the wood was burned up. His mother preserved the wood for as long as She could, but after the Kalydonian Boar hunt, She realized that her two brothers, who had also joined the hunt, had been killed by Meleager. He originally wanted to give the victory of the hunt to Atalanta because She first struck the beast, thus weakening it, but the brothers violently contested on the basis of gender, forcing Meleager to take their lives in defense. Nevertheless, His mother wasn't having it. She burned up the last of the wood, bringing His life to an end. Overcome with grief after realizing what she had done, she committed suicide, which is another moral common in Greek myth; don't be hasty or act out of emotion.

But what I got to thinking about last night was not the Heroic status of Meleager itself, or the hunt for the boar generally. My philosophies were on the intentions of Artemis during this time. She sent the boar, knowing that men and women would assemble to save their people and region from it. She knew they would come together to do something great or beyond everyday human feats. Artemis didn't have to let them kill the creature, but She did provided that they could. In fact, She could have struck down all the hunters, and for that matter, all of the civilization with a single shot from Her bow. There's no real contest between Gods and men. Yet, She allowed the boar and the people it impacted to do battle with one another, knowing that the humans would come out on top and realize that they had reached yet another great achievement in their existence. 

Perhaps sometimes the curses that the Gods send, aren't curses at all, but opportunities. Or maybe there are times when we have to face being challenged, disfavored, or thrown to the bottom of the totem before we find the humility and motivation inside of us to pull ourselves back up to the Gods and human greatness again. It is possible that all of us, at some point, will have our own Kalydonian Boar in our lives, for many different reasons. The only choice is: slay or pay? We're not meant to sit at home and grow old, having nothing in our wake. We're destined to do all that we are capable of, to be as great as we can. And sometimes, the Gods move us off our butts so that it can happen.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Cyclops & His Walls

If an ancient Greek had been taking a stroll through the countryside and stumbled upon the ruins of massive walls or fortifications, he or she might have thought of them to be Cyclopean Walls or structures. After the times in which Homer describes in his poetry, such as those of Mycenae and Troy, dating back to 1260 BCE, around 400 to 500 years before Homer himself, Greeks who looked upon these mysterious ruins and rubble thought that they had been built by the Cyclopes, a race of humanoid giants with only one eye in the center of their heads, the name Cyclops meaning "Round Eye." Being that the buildings were so incredibly strong and grand, it was thought that humans could not have achieved such architectural stamina. Therefore, they were thought to have been built by the Cyclopes.

The Cyclopes did not just constitute the infamous Polyphemus, who was the Cyclops responsible for obstructing Odysseus on His journey home. There were many others like this giant, some of whom were employed by Zeus in the Titanomachy to help Him overcome Kronos and the Titan forces against Olympos. The Cyclopes were even said to have forged Zeus' thunderbolt, Poseidon's trident, and the helmet of Haides. These giants were also generally known as excellent engineers in the arts of architecture and metals. The creatures had an incredibly brilliant side to them.

Of course, today, we know that humans can and did build those structures and monuments like the great walls and fortifications of times long ago. Although, assistance from beings a little stronger may have helped, I'm sure. I also think that the idea of a Cyclopean structure might have referred to natural land formations as well, such as the rocky hill of the Acropolis. This was built by Nature, not men, and in that respect, we know it to be a building feat beyond the capabilities of humans. It wouldn't be wrong to say that the hands of something far greater and stronger than us, built the mighty fortification upon which Athena and Her people placed the Parthenon and the heart of Her City itself. 

Even today, there are people who use the term Cyclopean, myself included, as a label for natural greatness in Earth's structure, especially those which are Archaic and prehistoric. So, the bigger question is, who or what are the Cyclopes? Perhaps they are earlier forces of creation in the world and Universe, before the coming of the Olympians. After all, they were said to be children of the very first original Gods - Ouranos and Gaia (Heaven and Earth), of whom nothing came before. Could there have also been physical Cyclopes? Certainly. Robert Wadlow, the Giant of Illinois, was the tallest man in the world of his time at 8ft, and Andre the Giant stood 7ft. People in ancient times would have certainly called them giants. We still do today. Compared to the rest of us, they are huge. So would it be hard to imagine there being ancient people of abnormal height, some of whom may have been born with one eye or lost one eye? It's entirely possible.

But I think the Cyclopes, in part, were among the first forging powers of our Universe and of our planet, who now either rest peacefully in the embrace of Gaia, or who stand at the assistance of the Gods if and when needed.  

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Credit for Photograph
* A Cyclop Statue At The Geological Museum, June 11th, 2008, taken by Deror avi.
Link to picture.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Why the Gods Aren't Subject to Natural Law or Fate

The Gods rule over things. For example, Zeus rules lightning. If He were the subject of the lightning and dictated by it, He wouldn't be its God. Instead, He would be its servant. However, He hurls the bolt where He chooses, and therefore the roles are the exact opposite. The natural order of things bears no dictation over Him, or any other God. Otherwise, they wouldn't be Gods. The entire idea behind Divinity is that it rules over the things which directs us and the universe. They can't rule over that direction if they are dictated by that direction; the direction would be ruling over them. 

Not only did the Gods, in their stories, rule over the natural order of things, they also changed it at their own will. It is not the natural order that a woman be turned into a spider, but Athena did it without lifting a finger. It is also not the natural order that time and space be broken and shifted in order to bring someone into a different realm so they can help fight an aggressor, but Zeus did it to Herakles in the Giantomachy. Natural Law, time and space mean nothing to the Gods. They don't even have to fight or work to break it open and change or direct it to their liking. They merely decide that it will be done, and it is.

The Gods are also not subject to fate, given what one even considers to be fate. Some may not even believe it exists at all in the sense that every single thing has already been written for us. But fate means you have no control over what happens, that it's already preordained and there's nothing you can do about it. To say that the Gods have no control over something, is to say again that they are not Gods. We can go back to the lightning example. If the bolt is preordained and there's nothing Zeus can do about it, it means He is powerless over the lightning, and thus not its God. The fate of the universe and this world also dictates that all things eventually die. The Gods, however, are deathless. They never die.

But perhaps someone means to say that nothing can stop the inevitable. Such as the fact that, one day, I will die, and that cannot be stopped. Maybe this is what they mean by saying that the Gods are subject to Natural Law and Fate. However, this was also created by the Gods themselves. My time was established when the Fates spun my thread. My life did not start, and is not drifting, haphazardly. The reason the Gods won't interfere when it is my time to die, is because that time is also made so by their own will. When the thread is spun, it is done so by the hands of Goddesses. The Divine Ones are therefore mapping out my life. They are creating for it what they choose, and thus, have complete control over the fate. While one may argue that not everything upon that thread has been preordained, it still shows the massive amount of dictation the Gods have over Natural Law and fate itself. You cannot be subjected to fate when you are fate. And the thread does not break on its own either. Remember, it is a Goddess who cuts it, and thus brings my life to an end. In short, things are started, directed, and ended by the hands of Gods.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Deluge of Deukalion & The Noah Myth

My family and I have been living in South Beloit for about a month now. When we lived in Elizabeth, we attended the Stockton Universalist Church for a while, but eventually rescinded our membership because we didn't like the direction that the new minister was taking the church. But last week, we decided to give the Rockton church a try, because it was the closest to our new home. Unfortunately, however, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I did not like the atmosphere at all. They were all good people, but this particular church just wasn't my vibe. But something that struck me as interesting during this visit was the old biblical Noah story, as it was a topic of discussion in the program that day. It's like what Oberon Zell once said about Jesus. Oberon had spent many years learning about different savior Gods, and so when he heard about Jesus, he said, "Well that's just one more." That's kind of how I felt when I heard the detailed story of Noah. It was just baffling how remarkably similar it is to the ancient Greek story of Deukalion and the flood of the Bronze Age. If there's one thing you'll learn from studying ancient religion, it's that the bible is rarely original in its myths.

In the story of Deukalion, Zeus becomes outraged at the Bronze Age because of the barbarity of its humans. His judgement was ignited by the disgusting actions of an Arcadian king named Lycaon, who murdered a child, dismembered his body, and tried to give the remains to Zeus as an offering. Zeus, the King of the Gods, decided to wipe out the entire race of mankind by a flood. Now, if you'll remember the story of Noah, Yahweh was also disgusted with the evils of man and decided to flood them out and start over. Deukalion is approached by the God Prometheus, who finds Him and His wife to be of noble rank, and instructs them to build a chest to keep them afloat. The same basically happens in Noah. Noah and his family are found to be righteous by Yahweh and told to build an ark. The only difference is that Noah is instructed to put all the animals of the Earth on it (which would have been an outright impossibility, by the way). Once the flood waters recede, the chest of Deukalion lands on a mountain, and like Noah, He reestablishes the worship of the Divine (the Gods). It is Deukalion's hope that mankind can recover from its horrid past, just as it's Noah's hope. 

The biggest differences in the stories is, of course, Polytheism and Monotheism, and the scale of the flood. The Greek story seems to suggest that only one region and civilization was flooded, while the bible states that the entire world drowned. Common sense also tells us that there is no possible way that Noah could have put all the world's animals on one boat. One species of animal alone can have hundreds of different breeds. Then there's the problem of geography. How did the animals from North, Central, and South America get over there? Did they swim 3,000 some miles across an ocean mass? The likelihood of that happening is just as likely as the story of Noah, not very. The only way to establish any validity to Noah is to argue that it was the world as it was known back then, and not the larger world we know of today. However, even in so doing, the biblical scholars will have to acknowledge that their book is fallible, which turns the ideal of the bible on its head. And, even if such acknowledgement is admitted, there's still no way that all the animals of Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia could have all gathered on one boat. It just didn't happen. I'm not trying to bash Jews and Christians. I'm just saying that their story is what it is, a myth.

The story of Deukalion is far more likely; a comparatively small, particular region of the world suffers a massive flood, and its civilization is uprooted by it. We know that ancient civilizations sometimes came to an end by natural disasters, such as the Thera eruption. The flotation device carried only a few passengers, who managed to survive the catastrophe by using it. Once over, the area would have had ample time to repopulate, given that another, already existing civilization didn't just move in and set up shop once the land was dry, which may be a more likely conclusion. We might also conclude from this that the flood destroyed a particular culture or city, and not an entire time period itself. We know that, sometimes in history, one culture came to an abrupt end, while the one next to it kept going. So it's very well possible that this could also be the case. In short, the story of Deukalion is not a massive impossibility like the story of Noah. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Learning From The Greek Heroes: Bellerophon

Bellerophon is one of my Patron Heroes, and enjoys a handsome adoration in some of my daily rites. His name is also pronounced Bellerophontes and means "Wielder of Missiles," probably referring to His attacks on the Chimera monster, which begs the question, what was His real name before the battle of the beast? Some say it was Hipponous, which means "Horse-Minded." But the thing is, there are other people in Greek religion with the same name, so it could have been a John Doe title for those who were nameless. We may never actually know Bellerophon's real name, but that's fine because His latter is a great one.

Bellerophon's story begins with a tragedy, but also one that gave Him Heroism. After being found guilty of manslaughter (accidental killing of another human being), He was banished from the land until He could seek and achieve purification from the offense, murder being considered a high pollutant. When He came into the presence of the king who could grant Him the release, the king's wife fell in love with the Hero who refused her advances for reasons of honor. Being angered at this, she falsely accused Bellerophon of trying to rape her. The king, believing his wife over a stranger, sent Bellerophon to another leader with a note to have Him sent to fight the Chimera. The former king didn't want to kill a guest for fear of pollution upon his own house, so He sent the Hero to meet a bloody end at the hands of the fire-breathing monster that was ravaging the countryside. But the Gods were on His side. After Athene showed Him how to harness and use the winged horse of the Gods (Pegasos), He flew overhead where the Chimera couldn't reach Him. When the right moment presented itself, He ran His lance or spear down the creature's throat and killed it. He returned an exonerated Hero.

Bellerophon is the Patron of men who are falsely accused of sexual misconduct, and can be prayed to for help against overwhelming challenges, enemies, and evil and negativity in general. His alleged tomb still stands today in modern Turkey. ( Tomb of Bellerophon )

What can we learn from Bellerophon? First, honor is of the highest importance. If you don't have your honor, you don't have anything. No one will trust or admire a dishonorable individual. He also teaches us to never be scared of the challenges or monsters that face us. We can, through the favor of the Gods, overcome anything if we are willing to fight and never give up. Any hurdle or obstacle can be flown over.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Learning From The Greek Heroes: Achilles

Mirroring my late series Learning From The Greek Gods, I decided to begin another centered around the Heroes and Heroines, as I think they can and do present wonderful guidelines for human life.

There are times when you come across something you just have to have, and this was the case with me a couple of weeks ago when I purchased my first ever statue of the Hero Achilles from Crete, Greece. As you can see in the picture on the left, it's a very beautiful and detailed piece.

Being the Homeric Hero of The Iliad, Achilles holds a special significance for me because Homer was the first to introduce me to ancient Greek myth and religion. So someone like Achilles resonates with me. But there's something more to consider for the Hellenist when it comes to this Hero, and that's His role and relevance to the modern Greek worshiper.

Achilles is a Hero who can be prayed to for strength, courage, and victory in battle. As the greatest mortal warrior of His Age, one can find all the values of said person in Him. But what else does Achilles represent besides the obvious? What can we learn from Him?

Achilles represents the utmost of human strength, bravery and strategy. If there ever existed a man who knew how good he was and didn't give up, it's Achilles. He knows His strengths, and He knows what can and cannot be accomplished. He also knew His value to others around Him. When He withdrew from battle amid His quarrel with Agamemnon, Achilles knew the Greeks would notably hurt in His absence. Achilles teaches us to know our strengths, our worth, and to win when possible; even to use leverage when necessary. Being an advocate of truth when He protected the soothsayer from Agamemnon, Achilles also expresses the greatest of virtue and lives it by example, as we all should. It did not do Him any profit to stand against the richest and most powerful king of the ancient Greek world at the time, but knowing the right thing to do was far more important. It's like one of the Tenets of Solon, which says to do what's right instead of what's popular.

In our own lives, we may never be a great warrior on the battlefield like Achilles was, but His core values and ethics can shape even the most mundane of lives into Heroic ones.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Friday, September 1, 2017

Learning From The Greek Gods: Zeus

My series Learning From The Greek Gods is finally nearing completion as I present the next chapter on Zeus. The ultimately highest God in all of Greek belief, surpassed by none, is Zeus, the King of all Gods. He also rules over the universe and mankind itself, and is thus called "Father" by all Gods and mortals. Thunder, lightning, and rain or any atmospheric accumulation is attributed to His power, presence and authority.

Being the last born child of the Titan rulers Kronos and Rhea, Zeus was sent to Earth by His mother to be raised in secrecy away from the destructive clutches of His father. Upon reaching adulthood, He overthrew Kronos and freed His preceding brothers and sisters who joined Him in the New Rule of the universe. Zeus is also the biological Father of many powerful and famous Greek Gods, such as Athena, Hermes, Apollon, Artemis, Hephaistos, Ares and Dionysos.

Evidence of His Supreme Authority is found in all of Greek religion, such as The Iliad when we are told that once Zeus makes a ruling, absolutely nothing can change it, neither man or God. Only He Himself could alter the course. His will has to be carried out without exception. That's one reason why I sometimes petition Zeus's favor even in prayer to other Gods.

There's a lot to learn from Zeus. He's the ultimate leader in any given situation, fearless and resilient. He never gives up and is never dictated by anything other than His own mind. He's the ultimate individualist who knows He's powerful, knows what He wants, and makes it happen. In our own ways in human life, we too have our own powers and ability to be a leader, an individual and attain what we desire or deserve. The only twist is that we are mortals, and if we do not practice this with moderation, we can go from confident to very arrogant and boastful.

Zeus is also the God of Hospitality. He very much believes in treating guests, suppliants and strangers with kindness and generosity, which is the hallmark of being hospitable. To our fellow man and woman, we are taught the truth that we are all human beings and worthy of human dignity. To treat a fellow human as a subhuman, especially in your own home or establishment, would be among the most dishonorable of human offenses. By Zeus, we are taught the universal value of honor and human worth.

In the Goodness of the Gods, and our Father Zeus,
Chris Aldridge.

Picture of Zeus is in the public domain, because it was published in the United States before 1923.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Jews & Christians Forgot To Add Water

Many stories of creation fill the religious books of humanity, but none quite as well known as those of the Jewish and Christian religions. The Judeo-Christian story says that God created man from the dusts of the earth. Some may interpret this as saying that humans were created from the surface, and that is correct. Many things in our bodies can be found above the ground. However, the ancient Greek version of creation is more accurate, and so many people in our time don't even realize it.

According to at least one of the ancient Greek creation stories, Prometheus made man from mud. Now this is still the surface of the ground, but it adds a key element that the Jews and Christians forgot; water. Most of our body is composed of water. When you add water to dust or dirt, what do you get? You get mud. Therefore, the ancient Greek version of creation is the more accurate.

I really can't believe I lived this long as a Hellenist without realizing such a fact in the mythologies. I bet there are even others in my religion who have never come to it, but as a deep-thinking Mythologist, I suppose it was only inevitable that it eventually occurred to my mind. Ancient Greek religion, belief and myth is so elaborate that one could endlessly think of interpretations and rationalizations with them. I think it's time people started realizing that the ancient Greeks were brilliant in religion and theology as well as everything else. To conclude that they were advanced and intelligent geniuses in everything but religion, is just silly.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Pegasus ~ Heaven's Horse and His Relevance To Our Time

I want to start by wishing everyone a happy new year, and begin 2017 by discussing one of my favorite topics concerning ancient Greek religion and mythology.

Of the many wonders that entered our world in the times of old, one of the greatest was Pegasos (Pegasus in Latin). The winged stallion helped Hellenes like Bellerophon complete their quests into Heroism and to conquer evil within the universe. Pegasus, whose name means "sprung forth," was born from the blood of the infamous Medusa when Perseus severed her head off. Said to be a child of Poseidon, which would make sense seeing that Poseidon is the Creator and God of Horses, the great steed came forth as the horse of the Gods, and has since been a favorite of Zeus, King of all Gods. Originally, Pegasus was all-wild and only Gods could control him, until men like Bellerophon came, and even He had to have Divine assistance in some form. Without Pegasus, Bellerophon would not have been able to defeat the Chimera.

Pegasus was born immortal, which means he can never die, and thus, the glorious creature is still alive today, and it is said that the horse now holds the thunderbolt of Zeus, and it was also believed that Pegasus was the horse of thunder and lightning directed by Zeus Himself. Others say that Pegasus is one of the horses of Eos, the Dawn Goddess. He appears many times in ancient Greek mythology and religion, and also in modern governments. The present city of Corinth, Greece has him on their official seal, obviously in homage to their local, ancient Hero Bellerophon. In fact, Pegasus is their city's official emblem, perhaps proof that the many centuries of persecution that tried to remove the old religion and the old Immortals from Greek society have failed.

Pegasus greatly aided in the destruction of evil and chaos, so it may not be a surprise that his image has also been adopted by certain armies, such as the British Paratroopers in World War II. Britain stood alongside us in the war to fight and defeat the evil Axis Powers, those being Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy, and we did beat them too. Pegasus has always been harnessed by those of goodness, and commonly, those favored by the Gods, to ride forth and vanquish that which is not good, orderly, civilized, etc.

More than being a Divinely-favored, immortal horse, Pegasus also possesses great personal powers of his own, some even being abilities of creation. At the mere stomp of his feet, it was said that he was able to create water sources, such as the Spring of Hippocrene on Mount Helicon. One might, therefore, look to him as a protector of waters, specifically springs and wells. Someone may not even be outlandish, if they get their home water from a well or small stream, to place a statue of Pegasus there for its purity and protection, and/or do an invocation for his favor upon them on a regular basis. Generally speaking, Pegasus holds the power of flight, creation, and quite literally, of life itself. One might say that he is untamed universal power that, when properly channeled, results in tremendous goodness. His relevance to our world, and in the spirituality of a Greek practitioner, is abundant even now.

To call on Pegasus for the waters, one might say something like this,
By the favor of Zeus,
which I now humbly request,
I lovingly invoke the presence of great Pegasos,
that by his noble and powerful feet,
blessings will be brought to the waters now before me,
that they may give life and vigor to the body,
make fertile the ground,
and run forever pure. 

The spirit and presence of Pegasus is alive, and will be so forever. Still today in our modern world in general, statues are made of the glorious being, as if somewhere inside of us, we are still hoping that hope itself hasn't been lost, and that the glorious favor of Divinity will once again come upon his back. He awaits in the stables of Zeus, ready for the chance to fly again.

Invocation of the Gods' Favor Through Pegasus, by Chris Aldridge
O' Gods of Olympos, 
send to me your favor as the great stallion and steed,
winged-Pegasos who soars about the skies,
for I humbly invoke you, the great Dodekatheon.
I pray he carry me upon his back,
in your power and might,
virtue and valor, wisdom and wellness,
and also that of his own glorious being,
for with him I can triumph over all troubles,
soar over all obstacles,
and stomp over all monsters,
as they are crushed beneath the hooves of heaven's horse.
Come, noble and valiant Pegasos,
spread your wings over me,
that the favor of all that is Divine shield me from evil.
Lift me to your back, that we may take flight in the Olympian name,
conquering the ailments that plague my life,
and that which hinders the goodness of mankind.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.