Showing posts with label myth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label myth. Show all posts

Thursday, November 2, 2023

The Heraklean Hope

The story of Herakles, if we are to accept part of the myth as at least metaphor, has always realized one profound thing for me in my life as a Hellenist. That is, the ideal that there is nothing you cannot come back from, nothing which you cannot make amends for and be a better version of yourself.

In at least one version of the myth that we are today familiar with, Herakles, in a fit of rage, killed His entire family, meaning wife and children. Now we don't know if that was literal or a metaphor to describe the severity of an offense. We should also take into consideration the fact that Herakles was probably a military veteran who could have suffered from PTSD, and didn't hurt innocent people out of His own free will.

But not even the worst crime man could commit meant that He was beyond redemption. The 12 Labors were His opportunity. They were near impossible feats, extremely dangerous, and probably expected to kill Him at some point. But if able to succeed, all of Herakles' crimes would be pardoned. He reached this goal, and was not only exonerated, but made a God, Zeus' own son. In ancient Greek religion, Herakles is worshiped as both a Hero and a God, and is actually considered to be the God of Heroes themselves. Quite an elevation from where He began in life.

When looking at my own shortcomings and mistakes in life, I often think about this story, and say to myself, What I have done isn't even remotely comparable. I know there's a way to put it all behind me. The life, tragedy and triumph of Herakles is not merely mythology. It's an affirmation of hope for all of humankind. There is nothing you cannot come back from, nothing which the Gods are not willing to forgive you for. You need only pick up your sword and start marching. 

Are you determined to kill the monsters? Do you desire to find the universal keys? Can you discover how to tame the wild beasts? And are you willing to even face death if it means you might survive free and accomplished? No matter what's in your past, if you wake up tomorrow and make yourself determined to fight any enemy, endure any pain, and face any fear to become a new person, the Gods will notice you.

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Learning From The Greek Gods: Dionysus

I'm proud to continue my long-time series Learning From The Greek Gods by today talking about Dionysus, spelled Dionysos in Greek transliteration. He is a fascinating God to say the least, and the youngest of The Dodekatheon, or the Twelve Olympians. Dodekatheon simply means "Twelve Gods," referring to those who rule Olympus. Some Hellenists still retain the belief that it is Hestia, not Dionysus, who sits upon the 12th throne. While not denying the vast importance of the God, they do not accept the belief that Hestia vacated Her throne to Him and came down to live more closely to mortals. However, most of the Hellenic community views the contrary; that Dionysus occupies Her former throne. In fact, in Walter Burkert's book, when he lists the 12 Gods, is it Dionysus he includes in the section, not Hestia.

Many know Dionysus is the God of Wine, and broadly, the God of the Vine itself. He is also extremely tied to the natural world and is considered an Earth God. But many people in the mainstream, and perhaps even some in the general Pagan community, do not know that He is the God of Life who brings joy, happiness, revelry, and a rescue from death. Because of the goodness He can bring through His presence and gifts, He is called a Saviour in addition. He's also considered to be a Sun God. All of these reasons are why He is included centrally in my weekly addresses through my Temple, during which time we pray and drink wine or grape juice to the God, asking for His blessing of life. But the deeper question is, how did Dionysus become such a God? 

There is more than one version to His death and rebirth story, but the one I enjoy and believe the most is the Cretan version, which says that as a child, Dionysus was attacked and ripped apart by some of the Titans (presumably those who hated Olympus). All that remained was His heart, which Zeus placed in the womb of His mortal Mother Semele, and through Her, Dionysus was reborn, which is why He retains the title of "Twice-Born." Literally, death was not able to overcome Him. He returned to life in defiance of it, which is why He's the God of Life, and so we can look to Him as a rescue and a salvation from all things that hinder or destroy our lives and the happiness and joy within them.

What to learn from Dionysus is that life is meant to be loved and enjoyed. If you're living in sadness, depression or any form of self-loathing, you are not enjoying your existence, and Dionysus wishes for you to do the opposite. He is the embodiment of a happy and joyous life and time. He is a Saviour because He literally saves us from ourselves and all the things that take our life away. To learn from and connect with Him is to know that death in any form cannot and will not hold rule over you when you are supposed to be living. From us, He drives away death, destruction, depression, destitution, sorrow, loathing, and brings to us life, prosperity, happiness, joy, wonder, and love, both for ourselves and others.

In the Goodness of the Gods,