To Aphrodite

the_birth_of_venus_botticelli

Aphrodite, when first I saw You
standing upon your scalloped pedestal,
powdered with rich pinks and dusty reds like sandstone,
ever-smiling, serene but not aloof,
borne reverently in the hands of Your priestess,
followed by a procession
of those who came to give You homage,
in that charged moment, that καιρός,
I became a multi-tradition polytheist,
I realized that ancestry is cultural,
and that relationship is everything.
I knew in that instant that Botticelli
saw a true vision,
that the Gods, and You especially,
are deathless indeed, that the Italian Renaissance
deserved its name and had no better σύμβολον
than Your own famous birth from the waves.

You answered my prayer that very evening,
though the possibility You opened my heart to
took years to realize, and was never inevitable
(for the tapestry woven by the Moirai shifts
by choice and chance and
in ways unknowable to mortals).
I knew Your awesome power at once,
I joyfully gave you and Hestia,
the hearth-tender of Your tribe,
the hospitality of my home,
a place within it that is still Yours,
I purified myself with glistening water,
I burned sweet myrrh and λιβανωτός for You,
and poured out sea-dark wine and prayers.
I learned to de-armor, piece by painful piece,
and open myself to Your blessings,
to cultivate right relationship
with You,
with the woman I love,
in all the realms
of the spirit which is part of the body
and the body which is part of the spirit.

This is not the first poem I’ve written for You,
nor the last, Golden One,
You who are accompanied by the Χάριτες,
Splendor and Joy and Abundance.
The offerings we give to the Gods, and to You especially,
from a simple grain of incense to glittering gemstones,
are objects of Beauty and acts of Love.
To sacrifice is to make sacred,
or perhaps more accurately for an animist,
to make the sacred explicit and exalted and paramount.
Beauty and Love are Yours already,
and reciprocal χάρις too,
but in their gifting and re-gifting,
they gain new stories with each transfer,
like a gold and silver wine bowl,
wrought by a divine smith,
father of the Kabeiroi,
handed from Sidonian host to Danaan guest,
and to another guest-friend in turn,
the great-grandson of the Wolf Himself,
the son of crafty Hermes.
In fulfillment of a vow,
wreathed with rose and ivy,
I gave You a dove
offered by the hands of a King,
witnessed by hopping sparrows,
by Your night-wandering star,
and by persimmon-fiery Helios,
blazing as Nyx baptized Him once again
in the sea whence You emerged
from severance and blood,
a tributary of Okeanos far from pacific.

Ally, as You were named
by both Sappho and the Mantineans,
no stranger to war and warriors,
for You I have fought, and will fight again,
in Your blessings I rejoice and give thanks,
to You I dedicate this poem,
these words that You have inspired,
just as You encourage the rose
to unfurl her crimson banners,
and the apple to ripen upon the branch,
and the clam to bring forth a σφαίρα,
iridescence from irritation,
Love from Strife.
You who set foot first on Cyprus,
where wildflowers sprang from the earth
to celebrate Your arrival,
I hail you now from California,
land of the Black pagan queen of Amazons,
who led man-slaughtering griffins in battle.
Grant to me that I may win this agon,
may my praises of You be acclaimed,
for Your immortal glory and honor.

This poem had the honor of winning first place in Lykeia’s Aphrodite Agon. Hail and thanks, Aphrodite!


TWH: Animism and the Eternal Recurrence of Myth

antifa wolf

Source: God-bird.com

My latest essay at The Wild Hunt is up. Among other topics, I write about Hermes slaying Argos and ARGUS, wolves devouring Milo of Croton and Milo Yiannopoulos, and both Sigurd and Melampous in relation to animism and pipeline resistance.


Honoring the Life and Death of Pipeline Saboteur, James Leroy Marker

james-leroy-marker
VIA Sabal Trail Pipeline Resistance

The story is still unfolding about a man who lost his life to police bullets after an act of sabotage that disabled a section of Sabal Trail pipeline construction in Marion County last week, on February 26, 2017.

We know that there will be more to say in the coming days or weeks, as family and friends come forward with stories of James’ life. But we felt a need to acknowledge what has happened while the incident is fresh on peoples’ minds and questions are surfacing around his motivations, the value of the actions he took and the response of law enforcement.

First off, it must be noted that his action effectively disabled recent construction activity in a highly controversial area, mere miles from the crossing of preserves including Pruitt, Halpata Tastanaki and the Marjorie Carr Greenway, with sensitive wetlands and endangered species being impacted. This includes land which survived the decades-long Cross Barge Canal battle, only to be torn up for this pipeline.

Pipeline representatives have indicated that they anticipated getting this section in the ground early this week, but will no longer be able to do so as a result of the damage.

Second, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office has released an updated statement confirming that in the interaction with Marker, “no law enforcement officer was injured or fired at.” But we have not heard any statement from the Sheriff on plans to release dash-cam video footage that would justify their use of deadly force against Marker. While his act may have been destructive to property, there is no evidence of it being physically violent. At this point, the primary element of danger in the situation appears to be in the police decision to initiate a high-speed chase.

And lastly, while few details of Markers life are available publicly, we have learned that he was known by friends as a lover of the Earth and humanity, that he was a military veteran, that he participated in environmental/social advocacy, and that he was a father.

We understand that there are complex feelings among those who have been part of fighting this pipeline, and while we don’t wish to dismiss difficult conversations, we feel that focusing on honoring the sacrifice Marker made to take a stand against this pipeline is of a greater immediate importance than debating the strategy, tactics or morality of his action.

We send our sincere condolences to friends and family of Marker. If there is a public memorial site or event in the future, we will do our best to let folks know about it.


TWH: Resiliency and the Spirit War

titian_bacchus_and_ariadneMy latest article at The Wild Hunt, “Resiliency and the Spirit War,” is up.

Though She is not mentioned explicitly in the article, it was Ariadne who told me to do work around resiliency. Hail Ariadne!


Villain Hitting and Politics

paper_tigers_in_villain_hitting

Paper tigers used in villain hitting. Credit: SoHome Jacaranda Lilau

The Guardian has an interesting article about villain hitters in Hong Kong, who are professional sorcerers specializing in curse magic. They are mostly elderly women, and they typically set up shop in stalls under bridges:

At roadside stalls with burning incense and an assortment of statues of deities, the sorcerers hit a paper effigy with their shoe while cursing the villain in question. If there is a specific target, patrons can write a name on the paper or bring a photo.

Once it has been beaten to shreds, the sorcerers rub the remains with a slab of pork fat and burn it. They then chant for good fortune, and all for just HK$50 (£5.25). […] The ritual originated centuries ago, when farmers in southern China performed the ceremony to drive away evil spirits. […] Aside from hexing enemies, the women advertise spells to cure illness, stop babies from crying, help souls crossover and even [sic] contact dead ancestors for marital advice.

Apparently, patrons have been targeting politicians lately: “As his popularity plummeted, Hong Kong’s leader, Leung Chun-ying, has been increasingly in the crosshairs of the roadside retribution vendors.”

A stream of people have brought Leung’s photo to be hit, Wong said, but she would not take credit for his decision not to seek a second term in elections next year. Tourists from neighbouring Taiwan have also stopped at her shrine, paying to curse their former president Ma Ying-jeou.

Political tension in Hong Kong exploded two years ago, resulting in nearly three months of street protests, road occupations and constant calls for Leung to step down led by what became know as the umbrella movement.

“People felt depressed and powerless in the immediate aftermath of the umbrella movement, as even such a large scale mobilisation failed to bring about any observable change,” said Mathew Wong, a politics professor at the University of Hong Kong.

Villain hitting offers another type of power. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “the concept of politics will have then merged entirely into a war of spirits…there will be wars such as the earth has never seen.”

villain-hitting

Canal Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Credit: Foouaichaou


Matronae Veteranehae

matronae-veteranehae

Credit: RLMB

This is a fragment of an altar to the Matronae Veteranehae, the Matrons of Veterans. It comes from the area around Embken and Wollersheim, which are neighborhoods of modern-day Nideggen, Germany. Various inscriptions have been found in the area, probably all from the same sanctuary. It dates from 150-200 C.E.

This partial inscription reads:

MAT
VETER
L-SEV
TAC

Which probably is short for: Mat[ronis] / Veter[anehis] / L[ucius] Sev[erinus] / Tac[itus?] –/—-, “To the Matronae Veteranehae, Lucius Severinus Tacitus–/—-”

The end of the inscription may have been a formula such as VSLM (votum solvit libens merito, “fulfilled his vow willingly and deservedly” or DD (donum dedit, “gave this gift”).

In The Cult of the Matronae in the Roman Rhineland, Alex Garman writes:

“Veteranehae” derives from the Latin veterani which means retired soldiers. The name and the location of the site suggest that some of the surrounding farms were owned or managed by retired Roman soldiers. The inscriptions […] do not record any ranks or positions held. (55)


TWH Book Review: The Tao of Craft

tao-of-craft-promo-imageMy column for The Wild Hunt this month is a book review of Benebell Wen’s The Tao of Craft, which is about designing and using Chinese 符 (fú) sigils. My review largely focuses on Wen’s nuanced approach to cultural context (and thus the question of appropriation, which she deals with well), working with spirits, and magic as a craft.