Leonid Meteor Shower! The Nemean Lion is going to jizz all over!
Woah, I just unintentionally reminded myself of this picture:
Story of the Leonid Meteor Shower:
At Olympos, Herakles showed His various items to the other Theoi and Hemitheoi, and when Eros saw the skin of the lion, He seized it and put it on.
“Who told you that you could kill it? They belong to My wars, they protect My cities.”
“I had to. To redeem myself.”
“Your redemption laid in removing the people from immediate danger, your kill order was from mortal tongue.”
“How do you suppose I should have down that, then, without killing it? This particular cat was enormous, monsterous; some believe it was born of the Khimaira, some of those who do are even your Thespians. The beast was out of control, it had to be done, and Your pet, the Most Honourable Hera, even put it amongst the stars.”
Taken aback, Hera smiled wryly at Eros and suggested, “Why don’t you give the infant his robe back, now? He’s only been Immortal a very short time; he doesn’t understand the etiquette.”
Eros removed the skin, but before handing it back, slammed the jaw on the head shut, knocking its teeth out, then cast them from the Olympian palace, one at a time. From Earth, the argument translated as a sprinkle of meteors from the centre of the Leo constellation.
“I may be small, Theban half-breed, but don’t dare challenge me. You will not win.”
(This just sort of came to me a couple days or so ago, and so I wrote it down. As best as i can tell, I can’t connect it to ancient ideas and [dare I say?] beliefs, so take this as you will. Though, by sheer coincidence, just before posting this, I took a chance on a search for ‘elephant athena”, and found this –interesting, eh?)
Hermes watched carefully as Alexandros of Makedon followed his own gilded thread of fate into India, and just then, Athene peered over His shoulder.
“Ah, my sister, I was just watching, wondering if he was going to make it. It is better than a play, to me.”
“The Dread Sisters are never wrong, though. I hear that even if They ever are, They have ways of fixing it so that only the Protogonoi would know, and few Olympians would ever suspect.”
“It’s still fun to watch, when I haven’t anything better to do. It’s like the mortals with their mythology, telling Our stories, even the same way, and knowing how it’s going to end, well, watching it on stage is different from knowing the outline of the plot.”
“Fair enough, dear half-brother.” She took down Her helmet and adjusted a pin holding her hair together. “So, when Our people make contact with the Hindu people, they’re going to make some associations.”
“When will they learn that other gods are individuals?”
“They feel it’s complimentary, Hermes. ‘The Gods of Hellas are the Gods of civilisation,’ ergo, even civilised people outside of Hellas worship the same Gods, just with local names. Or so goes the logic, at least.”
“This political turn is starting to bore me. Which animals only previously know to the Hindu people do you want?”
Without hesitation, Athene pointed to the elephant.
“Oh, that’s not what I expected. I mean, the owl is stealthy and patient, and it hunts. That pachyderm is big and tramples the foliage, and all it eats is foliage. It was also relatively easy for them to tame.”
“This is all true, but it’s certainly the wisest creature on this continent, after mankind.”
“And you say so, because?”
“It’s tamed because it wanted to be. It’s big, but only violent when provoked beyond reason, because it knows that’s the only time it needs violence. In the wild, when it is allowed to behave naturally, it is the only beast that truly knows to honour the gift of life the gods have given all tribes of man and beasts –just look.”
Athene pointed Hermes to a small tribe of elephants in the jungle, carefully having laid a burial mound over their matriarch, now stood vigil. Infants of the pack wailed -like Greek women at a funeral. Each animal waited its turn to take a little water before returning to the three day vigil among the elephant burial grounds. She then pointed out another pack of elephants outside a small village in Africa, in a region of the continent yet unexplored by Hellenes; the village had just been visited by a fearsome storm, and a man and his dog who had been unshielded by a house, lay dead, and the elephants covered him with a burial, out of respect.
“It’s a simple form of religion,” the grey-eyed and unowned one pointed out, “but for a creature so far from man’s genetic material, they have been granted the wisdom to know the gods, and so not only do I favour them, but I believe our father will, as well.”
“But what gods do they honour?”
Athene thought for a moment, and then suggested, “they clearly honour the gods of the earth, and of intelligence. They cannot speak the names of these gods, so they could never ask the gods their names. They know only some basic vocabulary of any language of man, so formulating a question on paper or in the mind is outside their abilities. They therefore honour whatever gods will accept them. The Hindu people treat them with honour, so those amongst the Hindu honour Hindu gods. Those there, amongst the Maasai, if the elephant is tame, it worships the Maasai people’s gods. Why should they be any different from human beings? There are several species of elephant, with dozens of tribes, each.”
“You were able to see all that?”
“Of course. My vision is finely attuned to scouting out the wisest creatures, and the wisdom of these creatures is like the brilliance of the sun when compared to the twinkle of a star.”
“Stars are really whole galaxies, just as the humans see them from Gaia, you know?” Hermes pointed out.
Athene slapped the back of His head in that sisterly way, and said, “I know that. It’s the metaphor that’s important —and you know that, too,”
Poseidon had a daughter with Pitane, the nymphe of a Laconian spring of a city She gave Her name to. Pitane named the girl Euadnê, and Euadnê grew to be quite beautiful, and she was raised in the Arkadian palace. As Euadnê grew older, Apollon became smitten, and asked Pitane to arrange that He could perhaps lay with Her daughter, and, with joy, Pitane agreed and took delight in dressing Her daughter for the occasion.
When Apollon lay with Euadnê, He believed He was clear to communicate His identity, but Euadnê, unaware of who her real father was believed she was completely mortal and didn’t really believe Him, and having never eaten the sweet nectar of Olympos she was more mortal than the deathless ones, so perhaps it was in her best interest not to, as she was certainly aware of the fate of Semele. When Euadne became full with child, she hid it from her parents, and when the time came, she bore the boy alone and took him far beyond the palace, leaving him in a patch of violets, in hope that someone would find him, and give him a decent life.
On Euadne’s walk home that night, her step-father had a dream that she had given birth to the son of Apollon and had left it in abandoned amongst the tiny purple flowers. When Euadne returned home, the king greeted her and then sent her back out to retrieve the boy. When she arrived, a shepherd had found the child, intending to raise him alone.
“But this is my son,” Euadne pleaded, weeping. “My father tells me I have born the son of Apollon and I must take him back home to retain the god’s favour over Arkadia.”
“But you exposed the child to the elements at the outskirts after carrying him for over half a year; I have been with the boy for barely five mi utes and have already given him a name. I had a vision of a child amongst the wildflowers and when I awoke I felt compelled to find it. Apollon gave me this son to raise as my own and finally make my family happy, by giving them a grandson.”
“If you truly want the child and to become part of his life, my father can have us married. You would receive a handsome dowry for saving the boy.”
After a moment to consider this, the shepherd agreed to return with Euadne to the palace and formalise the engagement with her father that the girl had offered. The engagement was announced, and the wedding was big and lavish.
The boy was named Iamos, after the violet patch, and like this step-father, received visions and prophecies. This gift later led him to Olympia, where he established the Iamidai, the House of the Violets, which continued for centuries in ancient times to hold prophecies and oracles of Apollon.
The violet is sacred to Apollon, and the colour named after it is the colour of prophecy, divination, fate. I’ve always linked it to the Moirai.
In Hyperborea1, there are many deities whose mythos were unknown to the ancients, or whose tales were lost to time. This version is only one that may be revealed to people both ancient and of today’s age.
In the journeys of Herakles, He once layed with Keltine, daughter of the king Bretannus, and bore the Divine Goddesses Britannia (Prydein) and Hibernia *Ériu), and the other gods and goddesses known to the Keltoi peoples. Britannia being brown-eyed and sandy-haired, lithely-muscled and boyish in frame; Hibernia had dark hair and blue eyes, round and feminine.
Britannia was raised in the temple of the Dioskouri, and guided Her people across the Channel separating a tiny pair of islands fortold to her to be a safe-haven for the Keltoi, where they would enjoy a favoured temperate climate and master the seas that surrounded them.
Hibernia was a priestess of Apollon, and praised Him with song. She directed use of the great stone circle of Wiltshire, and was the first to dedicate offerings to Him there, brought over many weeks by foot and by ship from Delphi.
The Divine sisters, being the eldest two, each had different ideas about how to guide the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses and the people bestowed upon Them. Britannia, the eldest of Them all, sought rule, conquest, and dominance. Hibernia wanted to guide Their people in a balanced life, and strife broke out amongst the Gods and Goddesses of the Keltoi, and amongst the Keltoi themselves. The fighting lasted for centuries, some say it even ended.
The two Goddesses continued in their dichotomous existence: When Britannia led the Keltoi to modernise, reasoning it logically, Hibernia sought tradition for its own sake.
In spite of Their differences, the Sisters always sought the guidance and wisdom of each-other, and when Their people become too violent in their in-fighting, the Goddesses are saddened, but when even one from Britannia’s island and one from Hibernia’s can come together in friendship or love, the goddesses rejoice and are glad.
1: There’s a long, nay ancient trandition that “Hyperborea = British Isles“, and not merely the mythical winter home of Apollon. It’s even said that Stonehenge, at one time, was used as a temple of Apollon and that there was an annual offering couriered from Hellas to “Hyperborea”, and that it actually reached Britain.
In the grand tradition of re-purposing mythology, I give you this offering, Hedone, who offers us all the simple gift of delight and joy, which can be quite base as much as quite profound.
Valentinos was a keeper at the temple of Orion’s hero cult in Tanagra, Boiotia —at Hyria. He was intelligent, but many saw him as aimless, for after his daily chores of cleaning, fetching and boiling new water, changing clothing and jewellery on the statues that needed it, and collecting the offerings at the timely intervals in order to make room for new ones. After his work was over, he’d go out with his equally youthful friends and take in the delights that the city could offer them, both imported and domestic wines, plays, usually by some Thespian company or another, but often enough with treats from Athens or Cyrene, and on the way home to their apartments over the city’s baths, they’d stop by the old and crooked gentleman who’d park his donkey and cart outside a restaurant that had closed for the evening, selling second-hand and otherwise cheap book — few of the titles were great literature, but every so often, you’d find a second-generation scribe from Pindar’s work, or an illustrated scroll of The Askran Curmudgeon, and every now and again, the boxes of loose racy illustrations of gods and mortals —always four for a small coin— would have some beautifully worked picutres than managed to convey the bliss or an orgasm or the accuracy of how tiring some of those India-influenced positions could be; they’d stop by this cart, browse earnestly, and almost never walk away with more than one good read and a two or three good pictures for each and pair up, either with each-other or the “Akolouthi” women, the free-status versions of the pornai, and so deserved better pay, for they often had earned the skills to earn every last bit of coin nomisma.
Then one evening, Valentinos had become separated from his friends in talking to a girl. He told them to go ahead when he saw her, and then, from no-where, the former pimp from a young-ish girl Valentinos had laid with in the last week spied him turn a dark corner and took the opportunity to stab the youth in the back, slashing his insides, for he’d heard that it was the temple boys buying books and scrolls and pornographos from his former girl’s father that led to her debt repaid, and her freedom won. It was intolerable because she was popular, and perhaps causing despair would work to the old pimp’s favour?
As Valentinos lay bleeding out, he asked his feminine companion if she was alright.
“Oh, Valentinos, that vile creature could not see me. He sees only the children of Eris.”
“Ah,” he said with a cough that expelled a little blood, “he ignored you.”
“No, it’s that he cannot. You see goodness and delight in everything around you, so of course Hedone would show you Her human form.”
“She does, now?” Valentinos asked slyly, as he started to feel himself fade.
“I knew something awful was going to happen to you tonight, but in your heart is the purest feelings of delight. Your family believes you lack ambitions, but what better aims you have for yourself is to be more joyous than they were. They are rich but miserable people, and you take only as much of their money as you need—”
“Well, it’s all they offer. They expect I’ll want more, at which time [coughs hard] they expect me to learn ambition.”
“But you have other desires.”
“I do. I just want to delight in the world around me. I would love to visit Thebes, or Cyrene, or even Athens and Alexandria, but if that’s to be, it will be. All the delights in the world I could want for the moment are here in Tanagra [coughs, sputters]. If that changes, I’ll find a way to seek other delights.”
“And you know this so purely, my friend. You are one of the most natural and pure followers of delight there is in this world today, so I’m here to reward you. What has been your greatest delight, my friend?”
“Today? I changed the cape over the bones of Orion. It’s the softest red wool from Phrygia, and when I affixed it back to the wall…,” Valentinos coughed and wheezed, then spat blood from talking to fast to get his words out with his last breaths.
“Take your time… you have a little more than you may think.”
“After I affixed it back onto the wall over the case of bones, the sun hit it just the right way that it seemed to glitter, even though there wasn’t a bit of gold thread in the wool. I thought to myself, ‘it shall never again look this beautiful, and I have this lovely town and the greatest Boeotian Gods and Heroes to thank’.”
“I know, and so I will affix you to Orion’s cape in the stars, you shall hold it all together, and so Alpha Orionis shall now glow red and pulse like a heart with joy.”
“But why me, Goddess? Surely there are others greater, who’ve given not just delight to themselves, but to others?”
“In relative measure, you’ve given more joy to others than you believe you have. The old man you buy books and scrolls and pictures from used to be a gambler, and sold all four of his daughters for the loan to pay his debtors. Between you and your friends combined, one-by-one, his daughters’ freedom has been bought back, indeed, one of his older daughters is your favourite Akolouthi girl, and the younger such woman you laid with days ago—”
“The one who thanked me queerly? She was his youngest! Oh, Goddess, tell them they don’t have to thank me, ever. Their joy was a pleasure to give, and I give it with no expectations.”
When Valentinos didn’t return to work, one of his friends began looking all over the city, and soon found him in the dark alleyway; his body still there, scraps taken from it by the odd dog for the alleyway was a seldom-used stairway to the city’s Adonis Gardens on the rooftops for the women of the apartments. Valentinos’ friend carried the body toward the direction of his family’s home, and passed the old man with the books and pictures. Soon the old man’s daughters, all now free, caught the sight, and came over to their father to watch with him. When Valentinos’ friend took his body around a corner and out of their lines of sight, the youngest daughter, Phile, looked up at the sky.
She told her sisters and father to look up at the sky. “Don’t you see?”
“Don’t we see what, my dove?” her father asked.
“Orion is higher up in the sky tonight than usual. He must be holding out his arms for His fairest neokoros.”
Her sister Naia, Valentinos’ favourite, then noticed: “And the pin on the Great Hero’s cloak seems sort of pinkish, or a light red, like the sun bleaches his hair in the depths of summer.”
Then their father spoke up: “This is glorious, my girls! The hero of Boeotia sees this youth was of a pure heart, and to take that from this world is worthy of honour. So we shall keep the twenty-first day of Hermaios sacred to the joys and delights that Orion sees this youth has given.”
This year, 21 Hermaios is in 14 February. You may feel free to celebrate Hedone’s gift of the colour of Belelgeuse, a very large pulsating star which, along with the rest of Orion’s constellatiuon, is closest to the midpoint of the southern horizon around early February. And no, I did not make up this nickname for Betelgeuse:
While I acknowledge that people are going to do what they’re going to do anyway, and there’s little I can do to stop them from doing whatever goofy shit they want to do, no matter how wrong it is, I still feel the need to speak up on occasion when something that people are doing has no historical validity — if they still choose to Do Hellenismos Wrong(!), then who am I to stand in their way? Regardless of what one chooses after learning better, I know I’ve said my piece, and that’s good enough for me.
What is St. Valentine’s Day?
Most people in this day and age, even the good Catholics amongst them, drop the “Saint” prefix nowadays. The Catholic Encyclopaedia mentions three saints under the name Valentine, and Wikipedia notes as many as fourteen(!!!), but traditionally, two are most accepted to be the St. Valentine honoured on 14 February; Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. In 1969, St. Valentine’s Day was removed from the Catholic lexicon of holy feasts on the grounds that almost nothing is known of any of the Sts. Valentine, other than names, and (in at least two cases) where they were buried. Still, other Christian calendars honour St. Valentine’s Day, including the Church of England, and plenty of Catholics do still have a religious celebration of the various legends of St. Valentine —and aunt of mine one gave me a gorgeous ornate greeting card from a Catholic bookstore that re-told one of these legends, of how Valentinus of Rome was sentenced to execution for attempting directly to convert the Emperor Claudius II, and just as he was being taken out by the executioner, his jailer’s blind daughter regained her sight after Valentinus taught her about Jesus. From there, she fell in love with Valentinus, now dead (ew), and honoured his death by planting a tree of almond blossoms.
Regardless, the St. Valentine’s Day endorsed by the manufacturers of sweeties, greeting cards, and sellers of amputated plant genitalia bares little resemblance to a the more subdued event traditionally endorsed by churches.
Prior to Geoffery Chaucer, in Parlement of Foules, there was no widespread association between the feast of any Saint and romantic love —or so sayeth the overwhelming amount of leaders in relevant fields. There is, though, reason to associate mid-February’s Christian Saints’ Day with ancient pre-Christian festivals of the Mediterranean:
As per the Attic calendar, the month of Gamelion corresponds with a span of roughly mid-January to mid-February of the Gregorian calendar, and Gamelion is when the wedding of Zeus and Hera is celebrated annually. The corresponding Boeotian month of Hermaios hosts the Daidala festival, which is essentially identical to Gamelia, in intent and mythos; the Daidala festival for this year happens to fall on 19 February.
Then there’s the Roman Lupercalia, a festival that spans 13-15 February, and is a fertility festival to honour the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus.
Obviously, fertility symbols mingled, symbols of love mingled, and after Chaucer’s mention of love-birds (For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate,) things just seemed to stick.
What is the Feast of Eros?
While little is known concretely of the Feast of Eros, one this is: It is a springtime occasion. Looking far back enough on HMEPA will confirm that this has consistently been a celebration consistently held after the vernal equinox. Not in February or an equivalent month, not any time in winter.
Eros position in the Hellenic pantheon as a fertility deity certainly means it will share some symbolism with Lupercalia; His associations with romantic love will share some symbols with Daidala; modern celebrants of St. Valentine’s Day certainly have no issue of using “His” image (or rather, that of Cupid; often assumed to be a Roman equivalent, but I have my own opinion on that), even if there is never any intent to honour Him in name.
This does not make ANY of those holidays at all equivalent with the Feast of Eros.
The fact that the Feast of Eros is a springtime festival probably places it more in line to have syncretic imagery with Easter than to be celebrated as a swap for Valentine’s Day. The date is something rather important here; it signifies the Feast of Eros as one of renewal, youth, beauty, re-birth….
…not to say the winter landscape lacks beauty, and certainly some plants actually need that period of frost to properly germinate, but as a trickster, Eros is a deity who’s in that in-between —like an Equinox— and rather blunt. There’s certainly a beauty to winter, but it’s the beauty of Nyx, His Mother, the beauty unseen by the average person, a short-reigning beauty that will bow out gracefully when it is time for the dazzling Eros to come forth.
So, what say ye, Ruadhán?
This said, I see nothing inherently wrong with honouring Eros on 14 February, as His secular guise is certainly everywhere on that day, and His work certainly afoot. But is it the Feast of Eros? History tells me no. Basic logic tells me no. Most importantly: My instincts tell me no.
There are all sorts of reasons to celebrate different deities, and some have several days in a year to do so, even by ancient calendars. If going by Hesiod, then the fourth of every lunar month is sacred to Eros (in addition to Aphrodite, Hermes, and Herakles), so clearly one can celebrate a deity more than once a year. But certain holidays have certain meanings, and the meanings for St. Valentine’s Day don’t line up with what is known of the Feast of Eros in date, nor in symbolism of their respective dates in particular, so clearly there is little, and that’s assuming there is any logical reason to syncretise the two holidays.
Again, I acknowledge that people are going to do what they wish, regardless of what things actually mean and what nonsense what they’re doing makes, but if anybody wants my opinion on it, I cannot, in good conscience, recommend syncretising St. Valentine’s Day with the Feast of Eros. They are two completely different holidays, set at two completely different dates, and thus two two completely different sets of symbolism.
Zeus laid with Demetre, wishing to take Her on as a second wife, but Demetre not only cared of Her sister Hera’s objections, but simply wanted Zeus for no more than to become a mother, and so Hera found no reason to be jealous. When Demetre gave birth to Persephone, all rejoiced, and Demetre took to doting on and indulging the young Goddess.
…but time flies when one is having fun, they say, and so Demetre took no real notice of the fact that Persephone had become of age to be wed, and Zeus, assuming Demetre was paying attention, had betrothed Persephone to Haides, who had taken a liking to the girl. On the day agreed upon, Haides took Persephone from the Boiotian town of Livadeia with Him to the underworld, and Demetre asked Persephone’s friend, the naiad Herkyna, what she saw.
Herkyna relayed to the Goddess that Haides had informed the girls that by the arrangement of Zeus, Persephone was to be Haides bride, and so by tradition, She was to leave with him. Persephone and Herkyna were playing with Persephone’s pet goose, and Haides approach frightened the poor bird into the cave of Trophonios. Persephone went after it, assuring Haides of Her hesitance to go with Him to the underworld, at least until She had informed Her mother, but Haides, overwhelmed and impatient, chased the goose further into the cave, causing Persephone to go after it, then further down, down, down…..
In the underworld, Persephone didn’t fear re-crossing the river Styx, for She knew in Her immortal state, She had nothing to fear, but She admitted that She couldn’t remember the way back out, and Haides refused to tell Her, preferring attempts to coax the girl to stay with Him, hoping to assure Her that He meant Her nothing but the eternal love that only the lord of the dead could show — for what is more eternal, save the deathless ones, than death? In perfect love, Haides offered Persephone a pomegranate, which She finally accepted when She realised that Haides had denied Himself so that She could live in luxury as Queen of the Underworld.
Above-ground, Demetre flew into a rage upon learning that Zeus had arranged a marriage for Persephone without Her permission, casting Gaia’s face into an ice age until Zeus finally swore to let Their daughter return to Demetre, but by then, Persephone had already eaten the pomegranate and sealed Their marriage, but Demetre, still furious, insisted that it was only because Haides had tricked Persephone, and refused to accept a life where She wasn’t an active eternal mother.
In compromise, Zeus proposed that for a quarter of the year, Persephone would be with Haides, and for the opposite quarter, She would live with Demetre, and during the times in-between, She could travel freely between the worlds. The result of this that we see is the seasons.