Oracle of Nyx

The Star Goddess

The Star Goddess

In Darkness is where Wisdom and Knowledge can be found. In the things we choose to ignore and not give any attention to – those are the very things that we should face and find the answers we always search for. We cannot runaway from the inevitable. Hekate teaches us to face the Dark and, not to confront it, but to embrace it. To unite and become integrated with our shadows, our fears, and ourselves.

In ancient times, Nyx was not only the personification of Night. She has a wealth of importance in the Witchcraft Traditions that are influenced by the Samothrakian and Orphic Mysteries. She is the First Mother, the Hermaphroditic Demiurge that masturbates to bring about the origins of the macrocosm. She is also the First Oracle, pronouncing Her utterances from Her Cave that exists at the very edge of the Kosmos. She is heavily linked to Underworld Deities such as Hekate and Persephone. But what does this mean?  It means She is there to teach us to dance to the rhythms of the universe as it whirls, that She is there to teach us that things in the background are ever-present. We transcend from Hekate teaching us to embrace the Darkness, to Nyx teaching us to live without fear and understand that the Darkness itself is Divine. Every part of us is Divine, and everything that we face, no matter how difficult and fearful, is something we must endure. Here is the pronouncement of the Nyx Oracle:
“I am the First Mother, the Dreamer whose Dreams weave the fabric of the Kosmos.
Raise your eyes and look into the Stars; My Body, My Being, is always Watching.
Out of Love I bore you, and out of Love I watch and embrace all that you are.
Raise your eyes and look into the Stars; I embrace you, hold you, always Watching.
I hold all things in Harmony, for Themis is my Daughter.
Raise your eyes and look into the Stars; they are my Light reflecting back to you.
In the Darkness Hope shines, patiently, from life unto life.
Raise your eyes and look into the Stars; Harmony and Balance burn and decay – to which shall you hold onto?
I am the Constant Void, the Eternal Dance, the Whirling Mother.
I am the Night that Breathes, and you, My Children, are My faces that shine from My dreams.”
Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
~Oracle~

Return from Hiatus: Polytheist Leadership Conference and Other Goings-On

My model of Hekate

Hekate

Hi all,

This blog has been quiet for awhile, and I’d like to apologize to all of my readers for that. It’s been a tough few months for myself, both financially, spiritually, and physically. Just as a reminder, I suffer with a traumatic right brain injury and all of the side effects that come with it, including epilepsy. I was on one medication, but it seemed to have exacerbated some nasty stuff like vivid hallucinations. In addition, I had 2 or 3 episodes. So now I am weaning off of that one and starting on a new one. Taking both are currently affecting my energy levels, but still I intend to restart my blogging. I need to. Writing is my creative and cathartic outlet for many things, and also my way of remaining in touch with the goings-on of the blog-o-sphere. In addition, I get to share any major events happening in my side of the country as well as with my Temple.

For starters, the Summer Solstice came and went. It was magnificent. Our Temple honored Dionysus Dendritos and the Nymphai. The Solstice is significant in that it signals in our Calendar the end of the Bull Half of the Year and the start of the Wolf Half. That is, the Great Festivals give way from cultus to Dionysus to Hekate. Our Temple is named after Her, after all: Temple of Hekate: Ordo Sacra Strix. So I’ll be writing more about Hekate and how we at the Temple honor cultus to Her in forthcoming blogs.

Our Bomos during our Summer Solstice Festivities.

Our Bomos during our Summer Solstice Festivities.

Polytheist Leadership Conference
Now, as some of you may recall, I was trying to attend the Polytheist Leadership Conference which took place this past July 11 – 13. I missed out on it and told Sannion as such that I would. Sadly, I had other things to attend to. It would have wonderful had I been able to join this historic Inaugural setting, but I’ll work on ensuring that attend future conferences as best as I am able. In the meantime I have this blog. But from what I’ve been reading, it was excellent. You can read about the goings-on in the following areas:

Sannion doesn’t talk about any specific details of the Conference as of yet, but there are some tidbits in a question raised by someone following the Conference. You can read it here.

Galina Krasskova kept some continuous updates at her blog here. Just scroll down and take your pick, folks. There’s a lot to take in, as there should be. I’m jealous.

The Thracian will have some follow-ups coming along at his blog here.

PSLV (aka Lupus), as always, has detailed journalistic entries here. As with Galina’s, scroll down and take your pick. I’m salivating and very sad that I couldn’t attend. “Next time,” I keep telling myself. “Next time.”

Finally, Ruadhan McElroy pens some interesting experiences here and here.

I’m positive there are many more links and blogs talking about the Conference, but since these I follow I figure I’ll post them here. Like you all, I will be following in the days to come.

Impact
What are the ramifications from the Conference? What is it that we, as a people, are being asked to do? What have those who have gone and set themselves up as leaders of Polytheism planning to come forth with in the coming days, months and years? What are the plans for our respective Communities? Do we who did not attend agree on major points, or are there points to disagree on? Now, with the latter questions I tend to try and be careful on, because I’ve had my fair share of criticisms with people who are “armchair debaters.” They feel it is their task to not do anything at all while others do a lot of hard work. And then, they sit back and critique everything down to the last iota. Yet they never contributed anything. I’d hate to be viewed as one of those people, because I didn’t attend. But, we all have voices, and I take a small comfort in that my Work here with my Temple may be enough to let me have some allowance. I also consider myself pretty objective, yet passionate about my views. I don’t tend to take sides in debates very easily, but neither do I make the mistake of always seeing a “third road.” Sometimes the middle way is no way at all, and a side must be taken. Anyway, enough said. I say all of that to say this:

Lupus brought up something interesting, which I’ll quote some of it here. Hopefully it will not be taken out of context. For the full blog, please go here, where he posts a follow-up regarding the Thracian’s appearance on Wyrd Ways Radio. Here’s the issue/question/matter:

And the question is this: have we created a “polytheist echo chamber”? Despite our many disagreements, there is a great deal that we do agree on, and that we have found “unity” of purpose over as a result of all this. That’s a great and powerful thing, and in fact it’s the origin of the term “syncretism,” which I’m unsurprisingly in favor of heavily–!?!–and yet, Fox News is an echo chamber, and various other groups that are not looked on very charitably (with good reason!) are also echo chambers.

Are we at all in danger of becoming an echo chamber? While I don’t think so, realistically, I know that our newfound sense of common purpose and our enjoyment at having had such a great experience will likely prompt those of our critics who already find us distasteful and erroneous for various reasons to say that we’re only interested in our own opinions and hearing them agreed with and supported by like-minded folks. (And that makes us different to EVERYONE ELSE how, exactly?)

I’m beginning to move to the point of thinking that Wicca, Christianity, and all of these other things are perfectly fine for themselves, because they’re entirely different religions than our own. That is obvious, needless to say. I think that it might be more necessary, though, for us as modern polytheists to withdraw from the wider pagan community and umbrella in various ways because our religion and theological viewpoints are so vastly different to most of those, which will then allow us to preserve our autonomy and not be interfered with by their wishes for our conformity. If they can begin to see us as different religions, rather than as being under their umbrella, then there will be no reason for them to try and regulate our rhetoric, our practices, or anything else, in the same way that Hindus don’t do that and pagans don’t do it to Hindus, Buddhists don’t do that and pagans don’t do it to Buddhists, and some Christians don’t do that and pagans don’t (usually) do it to Christians, even though some of them do and would like to on both sides of that issue…

I don’t know…what do you all think?

Polytheist Religions
I don’t think there is any one simple response to this, as I don’t think there should be. What Lupus is asking is very relevant, and something that everyone should be careful of: the dreaded Group Think. Everyone starts to feel like they are so like-minded that suddenly the group becomes a place where ideas and innovations stagnate in the face of hardened dogma, and there lies a potential danger even for historically reconstructed Polytheist groups. Thankfully there are questioning Dionysians like myself who love nothing more than to enter an echo chamber and cause a little mayhem and chaos in order for people to see the systems which they have in place will always contain a flaw of some kind, and it’s necessary at times to ensure especially when Old Systems need to die for New Systems to arise. That’s just the cycle of energy: evolution and entropy. In my Temple, our teachings tend to illustrate this cycle between the Forces of Aphrodite and Ares: Love and Strife. In order for Creation to occur, Aphrodite brings forth Desire for the Four Elements to dance in rhythmic Harmony. This rhythmic Harmony is at the heart of all things. But lest matter implode upon itself, Ares must come forth and wield His weapon to separate the Elements into their pure states. However, by separating them into their pure states, destruction of matter occurs. It’s a constant flux and flow dance.

I say all of that to say this: I think there’s a flaw. Lupus groups all Polytheist religions beneath one umbrella in and of itself, when in reality that isn’t very simple. For example, taking the term by itself, Polytheism can be found among Christians and Wiccans. But I guess since most official denominations regard themselves as monotheist, perhaps we can’t include them? I don’t know. It seems weird that we ourselves (or perhaps me) can’t study some Christian denominations like Mormonism and Catholicism and say, “Yeah, despite what they say they are Polytheist.” I mean, we study other cultural faiths and do it all of the time. I don’t think Western religions should be exempt just because they try and say otherwise. Traditional Wicca, for the record, isn’t a religion. It’s a priesthood of initiates dedicated to specific tribal Gods and spirits of those Traditions. Neo-Wicca is a vastly different creature, but I don’t think I have space for that right now. I’m trying to focus on Lupus’ question, and giving an answer that I’m sure plenty will disagree with. Honestly, I’m okay with that! I really hope people do, because we need honest dialogue about these kinds of things. Now, while perhaps the vast majority (I’m guessing) of Polytheist-labeled faiths group themselves as “historically accurate,” there may be Temples and groups which will rise up and revive the worship of the Old Gods in their own way. There may not be any historical precedent for what they do, but they may claim to be Polytheist nonetheless.

As an example, many cults and groups of Sanatana Dharma (or what we Westerners call “Hinduism”) are considered more orthodox in their approach to the Vedas and other Scriptures. But there are cults and groups that fall under the umbrella of polytheism, henotheism, etc. within Hinduism and yet may not be considered “orthodox” by the majority. There may be gurus or saints that have their own revelations about the Gods, their own teachings about how they approach them, and so forth. (I need to stop here and say I honestly hope I am making sense and that I didn’t make a mistake in my insomnia to type this at 4am and it’s all gibberish). I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think rather than pull completely away from Neo-Paganism, we should find ways to have our own dialogues with our local Communities which may include Neo-Pagans. The problem I think is that Neo-Pagans have had a start since the 1960s, so inevitably now they are going to host gatherings under their label, whether large or small. But as Polytheist-labeled groups can start their own momentum, we need not exclude anyone. We can have our Conferences, Festivals and Workshops and be inclusive as well. We’re siblings anyway, worshiping the same or similar Gods but perhaps in vastly different ways. Not all Neo-Pagans are Deists, just as not all Polytheists are historically accurate. There are still some people, such as myself, who hold the label of a Neo-Pagan and a Polytheist. My Temple is labeled as Polytheist, however, because it’s important to distinguish that unlike the Neo-Wiccan groups in the area that are a venerable free-for-all, we carry structure, hierarchy and dogma. We even have our own set of sacred Scriptures that detail our own Mythology unique to our Temple. Thus, we are very different.

Getting Out from under the Umbrella
But just to make sure I’m saying something correct and not misreading, I agree with Lupus that insofar as the Greater Pagan Communities are concerned, there are organizations that tend to speak for the Communities as best as they are able (i.e. Pagan Pride, Cherry Hill Seminary, Circle Sanctuary, etc.), and they don’t speak for us. Or, speaking for myself, they don’t speak for me (I apologize to any Polytheist who enjoys those organizations and feels they do speak for them). We just need to be careful, I think, that again while having our own gatherings that we do not totally separate. It’s a precarious dance. Some of us, like I said, will walk in both worlds at the same time, being neither here nor there. Lupus in a blog entry described a brief presentation by the Thracian in which the latter spoke about regional cultus in modern polytheism. According to what I can gather (I’m sure more details will come later), the viewpoint that modern Polytheists can do is to look at different people, cults and Temples from how they worship Deities and if their approach to similar/same Deities are different, it’s because of regional variation. No one can speak for anyone. That’s how the ancient world practiced. We must keep in mind that Polytheism means plurality: a kaleidoscope worldview that makes room for many different universes and possibilities. For every fragment of the ancient world that has survived, perhaps hundreds are lost that we may never know of. We can never be truly sure how one person or group approaches the Gods is not an approved way. Neither can we speak for the Gods. Well, I can’t, short of blasphemy going on. Even though as an Oracle They choose to speak through me, I can’t just assume something. It doesn’t Work that way. I hate that.

Why All the Fuss?
If the aforementioned is true, then why all the fuss about rituals in Pagan Pride Day events? Why all of the kerfuffle when it comes to the differences between Polytheists and some Neo-Pagans? Here’s my honest answer, for what it’s worth: it’s because our ways are being questioned and threatened with exclusion, not the other way around. It’s because many Neo-Pagans desire Magick and to walk with the Gods, and yet when it’s in front of them, they fucking stomp on it because it doesn’t mesh with their semblance of reality. They only recognize it when they see pseudo-shamans who charge exorbitant amounts of cash for a weekend retreat to pound a few drums, paint their faces, find their Wolf/Bear/Eagle totem, and then suddenly they think they’re a fucking shaman. It’s because they don’t know the meaning of sacrifice – only reward. It’s because they think all rituals are the same, and everyone is the same, and we’re homogenized with them against our wishes. It’s because no one wants any controversy in the Pan-Pagan Movement. Traditional Wiccans get enough flack for being secretive and keeping their Mysteries to themselves. People want to come in, be a 3rd degree without any sincere training of what it means to touch the spirit world, and then claim a title without knowing just what that title entails. They see the gold tiara, not the thorns. They see the shiny fetishes as an excuse for their hoarding problem. They disrespect themselves, so how can they possibly respect the Unseen Powers they desire to know so much?

That’s why there is a fuss. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: we are different cultures, different tribes, different peoples. We’re not all the same, and that’s okay. We need to have:

Unification in Diversity!!!

Fuck. I missed a great Conference.

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
~Oracle~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dionysus and The Sacred Bull

Courtesy of http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/chauvet/venus_sorcerer.php

Cave painting from Chauvet Cave, France (c. 30,000 BCE). The Man-Bull and the vagina of the Woman.

The sanctity of the Bull as a symbol for the Sacred Masculine can be found as early as the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux, Livernon and Chauvet in France. During the Bronze Age (4000 – 1700 BCE) the Spring Equinox occurred during the constellation Taurus due to the Precession of the Equinoxes[i]. Currently it occurs in the constellation Aries (the Sacred Ram). During the Age of Taurus the Myths of many cultures personified the life forces as a Bull that needed to be slain so that the Cosmos would continue. As a result, many cultures and religions celebrated their New Year on the Spring Equinox. The New Year would entail the sacrifice of an actual bull, reenacting the First Sacrifice that made the Cosmos possible, as everything that exists was said to be made from parts of the Bull. Cultures and religions that had these mythic motifs included the Persians, the Mesopotamians, the Minoans, Eastern Anatolia (where Phrygia was located), the Indus Valley, the Gaulish Celts, the Canaanites, and the Thracians. Interestingly, the Sacred Bull was also linked to the Goddess Hekate. In the Greek Magical Papyri, a collection of texts with spells and incantations dated from the 2nd century BCE – 5th century CE, Hekate is addressed in the Prayer to Selene as “O Night Bellower, Lover of Solitude, Bull-Faced and Bull-Headed One,” and “Bull-Eyed, Horned, Mother of Gods and Men.”

Dionysus and the Bull
Dionysus was also described as being “bull-horned.” In the Orphic Hymn to the God of the Triennial Feasts[ii], the hymnist writes, “I call upon you, blessed, many-named and frenzied Bacchos, bull-horned Nysian redeemer, god of the wine-press, conceived in fire.” Other hymns go on to say that He is “bull-faced.” Dionysus may have had origins in Crete, where the Sacred Bull was especially venerated. The Sacred Bull was linked to the symbolism of the Moon. A Zoroastrian prayer says that the “Moon is the Seed of the Bull.” Apis, an Egyptian God who is another form of the Sacred Bull, was illustrated with the Moon between his horns. Shiva is linked to the Sacred Bull, and drawings often show him with a Crescent Moon on His brow resembling horns. The Minoan Horns of Consecration sculpted to represent the horns of the Sacred Bull, I believe symbolize the powers of the Moon. The Egyptian God Ptah was said to incarnate as a black bull created by moonbeams. This connection of the Sacred Masculine to the Moon may be rather startling to find since many modern Pagans, familiar with Wicca, have come to symbolize the Moon as a solely female. As we are seeing, the ancient world was not so easily divided.

Photo courtesy of http://www.minoanatlantis.com/Minoan_Mirror_Web.php

Horns of Consecration (restored) in Knossos, Crete.

Minoan Sacred Bull
The Sacred Bull was particularly venerated in Crete, where representations of Sacred Bulls can be found everywhere. According to the Orphic Hymns, Dionysus was born in Crete. The name itself, Dionysus, was first found in Mycenaean fragments known as Linear B. The Linear B alphabet predates Greek by several centuries, and was found mostly in the Minoan capital city of Knossos. It is descended from the older Linear A alphabet spoken by the Minoans, and as of this writing remains undeciphered.  This language was formed after the language found in Linear A, confirming the Orphic Hymns that Dionysus may have originated from the Minoan Civilization. Or, perhaps an archetypal Deity like this has always existed in various forms in various cultures? What we do know is that in Minoan Crete He was given the name Zagreus, a title for a hunter who captured live animals. As Zagreus, He was identified as the Cretan Zeus. Carl Kerenyi[iii] stated that the title was rooted in Minoan Mythology.

Image Courtesy of http://www.andrewgough.co.uk/bee2_1.html

Bakkhoi women leading a bull to the altar.

The Sacrifice of the Bull
Rites depicting the Sacred Bull would always recreate the creation of the Cosmos and humanity by sacrificing a bull. The sacrificial death of the Sacred Bull was seen as a dismemberment of the God Himself. His flesh and blood, eaten by His worshippers, would be viewed as the God investing His very Presence into the bodies of His followers, granting them a portion of His Divinity (known as theophagy, or “God-Eating”). This omophagia (eating raw flesh) would ensure immortality. Such a sacrifice occurred among raucous festivals on the island of Crete every two years. At the height of the ritual when the Bull was killed, a basket would be held aloft showing the survival of the heart[iv]. In Orphic Myth, seven Titans sought to dismember the infant God. In order to escape, Dionysus shape-shifted into various animals, the last being a young Bull. They tore Him into seven pieces (diasparagmos) and ate His flesh. They were killed by Zeus, and the only surviving piece of flesh was His heart.

Cakes and Ale
The reenactment of the sacrifice of the God lives on today in the Cakes and Ale portion of many Pagan rituals, although many usually just see it as the “grounding” portion after performing a ceremony. Between the main part of the ritual and the end when announcements are made, Cakes and Ale are usually handled as a brief “snack break” that is there just because.  I wonder how many realize the significance of Cakes and Ale as the modern Pagan continuation of the ancient custom of the Sacrifice? To simply view the Cakes and Ale as a mere “add-on” in ritual removes the importance of the Cakes and Ale from its origins as the very embodiment of the Divine into humanity.  In ancient times the animals that were sacrificed were very often shared among the ritual participants. This was viewed as partaking of the essence of the God. This part of the ancient rituals was often the most important, because it symbolized the reciprocity between the Gods and mortals. The sacrifice itself was a gift of thanksgiving to the Gods so that Their essence was fed by hymns, prayers, worship and offerings. In turn, the Gods would bless the worshippers and renew their life force through the medium of the animal that was the God Incarnate. The cakes are the flesh of the God, and the ale is the blood of the God. What we have here is a return to our Classical Pagan roots in the Eucharist symbolism of the Cakes and Ale. In Roman Catholicism, the Eucharist (or Communion) is the belief that the wafer and wine literally become the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. This is merely a Christian adoption of what once was a Pagan ritual. In the third century CE, beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican[v], a fresco of Jesus shows him with symbols from both Apollo and Dionysus. In this syncretic mosaic are written the words:

I am the True Vine.”

Dionysus
In our Temple, our religious calendar places the New Year celebrations to take place at the Full Moon closest to the Spring Equinox for a public celebration, and a more private celebration typically for Temple members only held during the Spring Equinox itself. The Sacrifice of the Bull is very important, as in so doing we are reweaving the energies throughout the land itself, and we are participating in the First Sacrifice. We are also remembering that it was by Sacrifice that humans were created: from the ashes of the Titans and the blood of Dionysus Zagreus. Thus, by blood and ash we are ever participating within ourselves the suffering of the sacrifice. Our lives are a gift from tragedy, something that a God had endured, but we were the result.

Ritual is Memory: it is reentering the Sacred Dance and Rites given to us by Dionysus. In ritual we touch the very core of our inner being, bringing forward from the past the power we need to engage the present and ensure the continued existence of the future. That’s what sacrifice is all about: legacy. A legacy built on a continuous gift exchange which was first bestowed upon us. And we have that opportunity to always return it to Them.

Thank you, Dionysus.

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
~Oracle~

Footnotes and Sources:


[i] As the Earth revolves and rotates, it also “wobbles” like a spinning top. This wobble causes the constellation that the Spring Equinox occurs in to change. Because there are 12 constellations, it takes 2167 years (1/12) for the Spring Equinox to rise in each constellation. A complete rotation = 1 Platonic Year (26,000 years).

[ii] The Orphic Hymns translated by Apostolos N. Athanassakis.

[iii] Kerenyi, Carl. (1976). Dionysus: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life. UK: Princeton University Press.

[iv] Albinus, L. (2000). The House of Hades: Studies in Ancient Greek Eschatology. Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press.

[v] Morford, M.P.O., & Lenardon, R. (1999). Classical Mythology (6th Ed.).NY: Oxford University Press.