Tag Archives: children

Sharing Space With the Youth

I have a little night-owl on my hands.  He is so ultra bouncy, and really wears me out in the wee hours.  But one of the things that he enjoys, and will calm down for, is sitting at Apollon’s shrine to make small offerings, usually of tealight candles and bay leaves.  It’s dark, and he enjoys watching the candles flicker, and the leaves burn.  I often see him looking up at me as I whisper prayers upon each leaf before setting them alight.  I hope he has some memory of this when he’s older, but more importantly, I hope this carries over into his own relationship with Apollon and the other Theoi.

There is something so intensely satisfying about being able to share worship with my children, as I believe that without making room for them in our spaces, our religious movements are all but lost.  Our children really are our future, and in this world where they will be bombarded by the Monotheist over-culture, it’s so crucial to pass on our traditions, and to show them what Polytheist devotion looks like. The earlier, the better, I say.

In addition to this late night devotion, he and I say our morning prayers to Apollon together, where hopefully he’s picking up on the words and gestures.  We’re keeping it simple right now.  My daughter, on the other hand, is really expressing an interest in deeper devotional activities.

We haven’t completely worked out how to tackle this interest in a way that suits her, but we’re trying different things.  She has thus far been called to honor Prometheus and Helios, so we are looking for a small table or shelf to serve as her personal shrine for Them.  She also loves the lore, and is always asking me to recite the stories to her at bedtime. I do as she asks, and then we talk about the various lessons that the stories impart.

It’s very interesting to hear what she thinks about things that I have long ago formulated opinions on.  Her perspective is very fresh, as are her insights.  She’s shown me things that weren’t readily visible to me, which just further proves to me the nessecity of including the young. The Gods are speaking to them, as well.  All of us, but especially those of us who remember our own encounters with the Gods when we ourselves were children, should be particularly careful of excluding them, lest we all miss out on the next generation of insights.

And now my little man is finally asleep, so I am going to lay him down and follow him into dreamland.  Goodnight, everyone.  And may the Gods bless the children.

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Let’s Talk About Sacrifice

There are many kinds of sacrifice which can be made to one’s Gods, and most of those ways have been covered elsewhere and in better ways than I could.  That’s why, as I often do, I will only be talking about a certain kind of sacrifice.  A sacrifice so ordinary that most people look right past it, as though it were the air around them, while this sacrifice is as important as the air, and as life-sustaining.

I myself have given, and continue to give this sacrifice.  It bleeds out of me every single day.  It drains me and countless others, sustaining every function of the world we humans have created.  It is also the most essential component to the revival of all ancient religions, including my own.

Have you yet guessed what sacrifice I speak of?  How about a few hints, because the invisibility of this sacrifice is a part of its lesson.  Those giving in this way are not seen as the saviours and builders that they are, for as I said before, they are ordinary.  They are everywhere.  They are rarely acknowledged outside of the small sphere of influence they hold, if even there.

A hundred years ago, in just about any industrialized nation, those giving this sacrifice did so at the very real risk of painful death, and they were expected to endure this risk, and the subsequent years of bondage, with the utmost selflessness– just as those giving it today in the non-industrial world are expected.

Even today, the risk is greater than most would like you to know.  You can still die, and the suffering, though mitigated in certain aspects, is not entirely alleviated.  In fact, trying to put off the suffering leads to more dangerous complications, more often than not.

So, those giving, suffer for their gift.  They suffer and they bleed, and they lay down their lives all too early, for the total benefit of society.  Without them, there would be no society, because there would be no humans to inhabit it.

That’s right.  This is the mothers’ sacrifice, that which is looked down upon and scoffed at, even before the evidence of its necessity.  My religion is growing.  I can see that with my own eyes.  People are honoring the Gods, worshiping Them, sacrificing to Them.  However, we can not remain a religion of converts, not and expect to have any lasting influence over this world, and indeed those children already born into the religion.

We need mothers, because we need Hellenic babies.  We need mothers (and fathers), because we need people to raise those Hellenic babies.  We need women who are ready, and able to risk their very lives, and the lives of their unborn, to see the ranks of the Deathless Ones be filled.  We need women who are willing to collapse from the pain, to bleed out on the delivery table, to never even see their baby’s face before sweet Death takes them away. We need the mothers’ risk, and the mothers’ sacrifice.

It is not enough for us to cultivate throngs of mystics who will never, ever, by their own admission, have children.  It is not enough to organize gatherings in which very few children will see and learn the rites.  If we want to be successful, we have to produce the future sowers of our success. It is about the numbers, and we simply don’t have enough.

Now, stop to think about what it means to be a mother for the Gods. Bearing new life– life granted by Them–  into this world, with all of the dangers inherent in the task.  Not only the physical strain, but the mental strain, and the emotional strain.  Mothers (and in this capacity, fathers) give and love because it is natural, because it is expected.  Children are under no such mandate to love their parents.  Every parent knows that they are not guaranteed their child’s love or their respect.

You may raise a child, or several, and never hear words of thanks or praise for your efforts. You may live the invisible life, never being acknowledged, except perhaps by the Gods, Who may be watching your tour of selflessness with much satisfaction.  In bringing the children into the world, we deliver them into the waiting arms of our Gods.  By raising the children within the religion, we ensure that our love of the Gods will be passed on for at least another generation.  If that isn’t a sacrifice, I don’t know what is.

May the many Gods be made greater by these sacrifices, and may our children reap and sow in turn, lifting the Deathless Ones to greater heights still.  For that is the true purpose of the mothers’ sacrifice to the Gods.

We Are All Children In the Eyes of Gods

The last time I had the “Flaying Dream” was a couple of nights ago, as evidenced by my previous post.  Prior to that, however, I’d had the recurring dream/nightmare only in childhood, at least twice a year since I was four years old, up until I was nine.  I shall share the complete childhood version with you here.

~

Imagine a beautiful stranger, a young man with long blonde hair and a glowing complexion, draped in a billowy red cloak.  He comes to your bedside and whispers in you ear, then he scoops you up out of bed to steal you away in the night.  The stranger has somehow prevented you from screaming or crying out.  All you can do is gasp for air.  He takes you in his arms and folds his cloak around you, and the next thing you know, you feel a great leap into the air, and the rush of flight.

You don’t know how long you have been with this stranger, and when he lands you are grateful for the feel of earth beneath your feet.  The youth then leads you to a white mansion on a hill overlooking the sea, where he escorts you inside.  You pass by many empty rooms.  The mansion seems abandoned, and now you feel afraid when you look into the eyes of your captor.  He smiles and squeezes your hand, and continues leading you down a long spiral staircase.

At the bottom, you enter a large, circular stone room with some kind of apparatus in the middle. The youth seats you there and chains you up to a pair of metal poles.  His face is stoic, but you can feel his excitement as he stares at you while backing out through another door on the opposite end of the room.

Now you are alone.  Chained and alone and terrified.  The youth returns, approaching you slowly with a double-edged knife.  It glistens in the dim candlelight.  Now, you scream. You struggle against the chains, and he watches, just smiling and coming closer.

He presses the point of the knife into your arm.  You feel it pierce into you with a sting, then a slice.  Your eyes well with tears at the start of it, but soon the youth cradles your face in his hand, kisses your forehead, and the pain is gone.  You are completely numb now, as he leans over you, slicing and peeling.

You watch in horror as your flesh is uncovered, as you bleed all over him and all over the floor.  When he is finished, he looks upon you in adoration.  The chains are removed, and you are once again wrapped in his cloak.  He holds you close, whispering encouragement and praise… and promises to return and to continue what was started.

Weary, you relax and close your eyes.  When you reawaken, you are again in your bed, and the sun’s morning light has flooded your room. Immediately, you grasp your arms and are relieved to find your skin in tact.  However, you do notice several long, thin scabs running down the length of them, which you can not explain…

~

I share this with you, because after experiencing the dream for the first time in adulthood only a few nights ago (and feeling much, much more of the pain than I ever had in childhood), I was shocked and confused as to why that kind of torture was even necessary at such a young age.  Even though I couldn’t feel it, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t traumatized by it.

For years and years, the thought of my skin peeling off, or being peeled off, would bring me to tears.  Like when you play on the monkey bars a lot and your hands get those calluses that peel?  Yeah, I thought I was literally going to die the first time I noticed it.  And my first sunburn was an exceptionally special treat, since it came with pain of its own.

There were also certain movies that I couldn’t watch, not because they were R-rated (my mother didn’t care if I watched R-rated stuff), but because they had characters in them who were running around skinless.  Take the movies “Hellraiser” and “Return of the Living Dead”, for instance.  They are stupid, totally non-scary films, but I couldn’t watch them.  In fact I didn’t watch either film again until last year.

So, after mulling over all my misgivings for a while after the dream some nights ago, I asked Apollon to explain why he felt that I needed to be flayed at four-nine years old.  I told him that I was only a child back then, and that I could not possibly have understood what was happening, or why.  The Prince replied with this:

“Mortals are all children in the eyes of the gods.  No matter how old you are, there would never be a right time.  I took away the layers of emotional hurt inflicted upon you, each as it was placed, and you would not be who you are today, if I had not.”

That’s some pretty heavy stuff when I think about it.  What he basically said to me, was that it didn’t matter to him that I was so young.  If I had been an old woman he’d have done the same, because it was necessary.  Our gods don’t always ascribe to our morals, and what may seem hurtful in one moment, may not seem so in the next.

In my case, Apollon did a lot of things to me in my younger years, either in my dreams, or in the guise of my imaginary friend.  Things I doubt I would have consented to had he been a mortal, instead of a god.  And now that my own daughter is having strange dreams, as well as speaking with gods (Artemis, Apollon and Hermes seem to have taken a liking to her), I have to accept that I don’t have much control over how she will experience them herself.

But, as her mother, what I can do is prepare her in whatever possible way, by encouraging her participation in household rites.  Of course, there is no guarantee that she will be treated any more tenderly than I was at her age, but a familiarity with the gods of Hellas should at least be a better starting point than what I had.  A mother can only hope, after all.

~

In closing, and to all for whom this statement applies, I would like to say that I am not interested in hate-mail regarding this most controversial post. If your first thought is to send me a nastygram, then please, make your second thought an examination of all the fucks I’m not giving.  Have a blessed day.  ;)