Sunday, July 31, 2011


Lammas (which translates to loaf-mass) is the first harvest festival of the year, and is when the wheat is traditionally harvested.

It is also called Lughnasadh (a pre-Christian term), a traditional Gaelic harvest festival celebrated annually on August 1. In Irish mythology, the festival was started by Lugh (an ancient Hero of Ireland). It was in memory of his foster-mother, Tailtiu, who died from exhaustion after clearing land for agriculture.

In modern times, this holiday is celebrated in a number of different ways and with different names. This is a traditional time for handfastings, along with Beltane.

Living in Montana, I still have an association with harvest. Especially wheat, which is grown in the area. I don't have a tradition at this time, but I am considering making bread in honor of the harvest.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Deity of the Month: Anubis

Anubis is an Egyptian God. Anubis is actually the name given to the God by the Greeks, but it is the most popular so for the remainder of the post I will refer to him as Anubis.

Anubis' animal form is the jackal and is associated with mummification and the afterlife. He was originally the God of the Dead, but was replaced by Osiris in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt.

One of his roles was to decide the fate of the soul. He had a set of scales that determined what reward or punishment the deceased would receive upon arriving in the afterlife. He would place the heart and weight it against a feather. How heavy the heart was determined the fate of the soul.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Creation according to Greek Mythology

In the beginning, Chaos was surrounded by an unending stream of water that was ruled by the God Oceanus. The Goddess Eurynome desired to make order out of Chaos. By mating with Ophion (Sometimes North Wind, depending on the version you're reading), she gave birth to Eros, who was also known as Protagonus.

Eurynome separated the sky from the sea by dancing on the waves of Oceanus. By doing so, she created great lands to wander. It was then populated by creatures such as Nympths, Furies and Charites, among other beasts and monsters.

By separating Chaos she created Gaea, Uranus and Tartarus. Gaea and Uranus married, followed by giving birth to the Titans. They warned Cronus of a prophecy that his own children would rise up against the Titans. He responded by swallowing his children before they could grow.

Cronus' wife, Rhea, was giving birth to a sixth child when Gaea had an idea to save her grandchild. She took a stone, wrapped it in swaddling clothes, and offered it to Cronus. Thinking the stone was the child, Cronus swallowed it.

Gaea was able to hide the baby, named Zues, in what is now called Crete. With time, Zues grew up, and searched for his parents. He immediately fought with Cronus, who had no idea Zues was his own offspring.

Metis, Zues' first wife, found a way to administer an emetic to Cronus. Zues' older siblings, Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon joined Zeus agasinst ther father. They defeated the Titans after a long war, followed by dividing up the universe to bring further order out of Chaos.

Zeus made himself Supreme God over all the other Gods and Goddesses, as well as the mortal beings that wandered over the Earth. He also created a palace for his favored Gods on Mount Olympus in Thessaly. The rest were left to fend for themselves in lands below Mount Olympus.

Zues decided he should be God of the Sky and all associated phenomena. Hestia became the Goddess of the Hearth. Poseidon was given rule over the Sea. Demeter became a Fertility Goddess, and many things associated with fertility. Hera was Goddess of Marriage and Childbirth. And finally Hades was made God of the Underworld.

Zeus, however, did not like the humans. He did not find them beautiful, and being mortal was another strike against them. They also complained about the lack of good food and the cold nights, which annoyed Zeus. He chose to ignore them, while he and the other Gods feasted and enjoyed hearths in every room of their palaces.

Prometheus, who was one of the Titans that did not fight against Zeus, took pity on the humans. He stole some of the sparks from a fire on Olympus and gave it to the humans.

Zeus was furious at the insult to his power, and had Hephaestus fashion a creature to torment Prometheus. It was a woman they named Pandora. She was given a precious and beautiful box, which she was told not to open. But her curiosity won, and she opened the box. All the evils of the world were released, but she managed to close the box before Hope could also escape.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Lakota Prayer

Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind,
Whose breath gives life to all the world.
Hear me; I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty,
and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice

Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.

Help me to remain calm and strong
in the face of all that comes towards me.

Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
Help me seek pure thoughts and act with the intention of helping others.

Help me find compassion without empathy overwhelming me.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy

- Myself (My fears and my doubts).

Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.

So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my spirit may come to you without shame.

~ (translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887); published in Native American Prayers by the Episcopal Church. ~

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Ages of Man according to Hesiod's Works and Days


[106] Or if you will, I will sum you up another tale well and skilfully -- and do you lay it up in your heart, -- how the gods and mortal men sprang from one source.

[109] First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all evils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.

[121] But after earth had covered this generation -- they are called pure spirits dwelling on the earth, and are kindly, delivering from harm, and guardians of mortal men; for they roam everywhere over the earth, clothed in mist and keep watch on judgements and cruel deeds, givers of wealth; for this royal right also they received; -- then they who dwell on Olympus made a second generation which was of silver and less noble by far. It was like the golden race neither in body nor in spirit. A child was brought up at his good mother's side an hundred years, an utter simpleton, playing childishly in his own home. But when they were full grown and were come to the full measure of their prime, they lived only a little time in sorrow because of their foolishness, for they could not keep from sinning and from wronging one another, nor would they serve the immortals, nor sacrifice on the holy altars of the blessed ones as it is right for men to do wherever they dwell. Then Zeus the son of Cronos was angry and put them away, because they would not give honour to the blessed gods who live on Olympus.

[140] But when earth had covered this generation also -- they are called blessed spirits of the underworld by men, and, though they are of second order, yet honour attends them also -- Zeus the Father made a third generation of mortal men, a brazen race, sprung from ash-trees [meliai]; and it was in no way equal to the silver age, but was terrible and strong. They loved the lamentable works of Ares and deeds of violence; they ate no bread, but were hard of heart like adamant, fearful men. Great was their strength and unconquerable the arms which grew from their shoulders on their strong limbs. Their armour was of bronze, and their houses of bronze, and of bronze were their implements: there was no black iron. These were destroyed by their own hands and passed to the dank house of chill Hades, and left no name: terrible though they were, black Death seized them, and they left the bright light of the sun.

[156] But when earth had covered this generation also, Zeus the son of Cronos made yet another, the fourth, upon the fruitful earth, which was nobler and more righteous, a god-like race of hero-men who are called demi-gods, the race before our own, throughout the boundless earth. Grim war and dread battle destroyed a part of them, some in the land of Cadmus at seven- gated Thebe when they fought for the flocks of Oedipus, and some, when it had brought them in ships over the great sea gulf to Troy for rich-haired Helen's sake: there death's end enshrouded a part of them. But to the others father Zeus the son of Cronos gave a living and an abode apart from men, and made them dwell at the ends of earth. And they live untouched by sorrow in the islands of the blessed along the shore of deep swirling Ocean, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods, and Cronos rules over them; for the father of men and gods released him from his bonds. And these last equally have honour and glory.

[169c] And again far-seeing Zeus made yet another generation, the fifth, of men who are upon the bounteous earth.

[170] Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them. But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have grey hair on the temples at their birth. The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another's city. There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all. And then Aidos and Nemesis [shame of wrongdoing and indignation against the wrongdoer], with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods: and bitter sorrows will be left for mortal men, and there will be no help against evil.

****borrowed from The Internet Sacred Texts Archive****

The following is in my own words, and my interpretation of this hymn.

The first age is called the "Golden Age" and is the only one that falls under the rule of Cronus. In this age people lived among the gods, and freely mingled with them. There were no conflicts or wars among the mortals during this age. Humans did not have to work to feed themselves, because the earth provided for them in abundance. They lived to be very old, but never physically grew that old, and eventually died peacefully. Their spirits live on as guardians of mortal humans. These spirits are benevolent and beneficent, helping to prevent illness.

The second age is the "Silver Age", which is the age that existed while Zeus and Cronus fought for power. Men in this age lived for 100 years and did not leave their mother's homes until near the end of their lives. Their actual adulthood was very short, and they spent that time fighting with each other. They refused to worship the Gods, and Zeus was forced to destroy them in punishment. After they died, they became the "blessed spirits" of the underworld.

The third age is known as the "Bronze Age". Men of this age were hard. They lived for war, and every material item they owned was made of bronze, even their homes. This was the first Age that had women as well as men, and were able to procreate unlike the previous two Ages. The men of this age destroyed themselves with their own violent ways and did not become beneficial spirits upon death, and instead dwelt in Hades. This age was ended by the Flood of Deucalion.

The "Heroic Age" is the fourth age, and the only one that doesn't correspond with a metal since the people are the surviving, less violent, Bronze Age members. It is also the only age that improves on the age it follows. In this age men lived with noble Demigods and Heroes. The Trojan War was fought in this age, and the Heroes that are told about in the stories, such as Heracles and Jason, lived during this age. This race of humans went to Elysium upon death.

The fifth age is the "Iron Age". During this time humans work hard for food and material goods, and their lives are full of misery. Children do not honor their parents, siblings fight and Xenia (the social contract between guest and host) is forgotten. During this age might makes right, and evil men use lies to be seen as good. At the height of this age, humans no longer feel shame or indignation at wrongdoing. Babies will be born with grey hair, the gods will completely abandon humanity, and "there will be no help against evil."

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