Posts Tagged ‘Dance’

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Dawn’s Light

January 16, 2010

Her name flows
Like honey or wine
From the lips of
Lovers and babes alike.

Her call hums
Through the veins
Of humans everywhere,
Men, women and children.

Her dance asks
To be freed from
The confines of the skin;
To live and love as if alive.

Her name spills now
From the eager throats
Of her doves, and is echoed
In dawn’s light by all that lives.

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Honey Queens

November 26, 2009

The honeyed voices of you Mousai nine
Lift in harmony, golden in the lilt
Of all mortal promises; smouldering
In the fires of now and forever.

Sing, sing, my honey queens! Flock together
As bees, buzzing with sensuality,
Humming music that mortal fingers are
Utterly unable to comprehend.

Your heartbeats are the silky touch of songs,
The thrum of poetry, the life of dance.
Your hair sways, without your movements, in time
To music that even you do not hear.

It is you, and you all are it. Music:
It exists in each world, whether human,
Heavenly or infernal. On this day,
For you all, we thank you for your blessings.

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Need

November 5, 2009

The trees sag and sigh,
Golden beads rise and fall on their trunks,
Staining them.
Blood seeps down my skin,
Staining it.

I am the rush the ecstasy
the need the
want want want
the desire, oh, the desire.

Crowns of sacrifice sit on my head;
An angel and demon, shining with it.
Love. Need. Hunger.
Want.

I bleed wine, truly. It doesn’t stop, just
Pours out,
Until all that remains is me.
My need.

Apollon invites me to chess.
Laughs. We can be enemies.
Thrilled, flushed with something.
I smile at him with jagged teeth.

Aphrodite kisses the tip of my nose,
Whispers that if there is only need then there is only chaos,
And the order flees at that.
She needs the order – she doesn’t smile for chaos yet.

Not like Rhea. Dancing, wild.
Want a kiss, bite to die for?
She blazes gold, outshining the sunset,
And she brings blood singing back to my veins.

Need. Want desire hunger.
Starving children crawling down streets, crying;
Men in suits driving fast cars, laughing.
As long as there is need, I am here.

Wine – sating a different hunger.
Pulsing, throbbing–not quite there, but there.
Father sits on his throne. Lightning dances in his hands.
We will never die, he says, but I am not sure.

We bring joy, pain;
A thousand laughs and a thousand tears.
I exist. Without need
I wouldn’t.

I return to Apollon.
Opposites attract. Need balances.
Heat plunges between us.
I join the game of chess.

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Ares: the Lover of Love

October 13, 2009

As both the god of war and the ‘counterpart’ and companion to Aphrodite, it is easy to identify Ares as a god of pain. He is the pain of bullets tearing into bodies, of losing limbs in explosions – and the pain, whether momentary or drawn-out, of death. But he is also, as the father of Anteros, god of unrequited love, and the lover of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love, the god of the pain of love. The concepts of war and love have been tightly interwoven for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Aphrodite and Ares’ own love affair is testament to this: that love and war belong together, and that you cannot truly have one without the other.

If one considers Ares as a god of pain, he becomes more than the stereotype that many have of him. He becomes god of receiving pain, god of giving pain, and even god of mastering that pain. The giving and receiving of pain is clear in his roles as god of war and god of the pain of love—the heartbreak and heartache that is so oft thought of when speaking of love—but it is only when one thinks deeply on Ares that they can draw closer to a conclusion of who, exactly, he is.

He is the god of war, as is well-known among even the average person. He is the god of the fever of war, of the blood-lust of war – the singing need to battle that thrums through the veins of warriors. He is, of course, the god of warriors, soldiers, heroes, champions – and under this aspect, he becomes, also, the god of sports and sportsmanship. He becomes, too, the god of challenge, of fighting to get what you want (or need) – the god of rivalry, of stubbornness, and of courage. Homer, in the Iliad (such as 5.454, 5.506 and 17.210) concentrates on this latter aspect of Ares, as a god who leads men into battle and encourages them when they would falter. As the father of Deimos and Phobos—the gods of dread and panic respectively—and as the god of courage, Ares becomes the god of the inversion of courage: he becomes the god of cowardice, whether it is retreating in war, running from a love that demands one too many risks, or turning tail in the face of the unknown. Ares himself boldly strives forward to meet all these things, and yet this aspect is often hard to find in the words of the classic authors and the views of the modern world.

In Ancient Greece, Ares was a god that was feared and—often—outright hatred. He represented many of the ills of the world, especially when one considered him as the brother, lover, companion or so on of Eris, mother of the kakodaimones, the spirits that plague mankind.

But, interestingly, Ares’ Roman “counterpart”, Mars, was much less disliked. Mars was initially a Roman god of fertility, vegetation, fields, boundaries and farmers; it was only when the Roman Empire began to expand that he became identified with Ares and, perhaps as a result, gained associations with war. However, it is my opinion that Ares and Mars are, at the core, the same god. Ares could easily be seen as a fertility god, when one takes into account his relationship with Aphrodite. Aphrodite and her husband Hephaistos had no children together—though they were married and, by several accounts, seemed to have had sex several times—and yet Aphrodite and Ares brought forth, by several different accounts, gods such as Eros, Anteros, Deimos, Phobos and Harmonia, suggesting of fertility and, therefore, the fertile earth (including the fertility of vegetation). Also, interestingly, Priapos, the rustic god of vegetation, fertility and garden produce (who is often considered a son of Aphrodite, though not by Ares), taught Ares to dance, therefore further increasing the link between Ares and fertility and vegetation. As the god of war, the pain of love and courage, cowardliness and sportsmanship—and so on—Ares would naturally be a god of boundaries: the boundaries between life and death, between warring armies, between the human body and the world beyond it, and so on. Ares’ links to farmers and fields are more tenuous—as not many Greek authors, it seemed, explored his links to fertility and the farming men and women who so relied on the fertility of the earth—but the links are there. As a god of warriors, he would also be the god of returning soldiers and warriors, and of the family of those people: who would likely be farmers. He is known as a god of the battlefield, but also, as a god of farming and fertility, he would be a god of the fertile earth and areas that can be cultivated for food – namely fields, farms, and so on.

Ares-Mars, then, is perhaps one of the most irrationally disliked gods. As a god of courage, bravery and stubbornness, he is the patron of those who stand up for what they believe in, or who step in to protect those who cannot protect themselves – the innocent; the young and the old. He is the patron of soldiers, both in war and returning home, and he is the guide of those who die on the battlefield. He is a god who does not hide his true nature behind sweet poetry and gentle smiles – he is the harsh truth of the world, the reality that bites. He is the cruelty in being kind; he is not cruel for the sake thereof, but for the greater good of the individual or community. He is the lover of love, and therefore of life – he protects the next generation, and yet he is constantly demonised, reduced to merely one aspect of who he truly is. He is a god of many more things than just war, or the lust for such; and a person could do much worse than having his guidance and protection as one’s patron or friend.

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Read Write Prompt #12

October 9, 2009

Read Write Prompt #12: Dressing Up Your Poetry

For Bast.
Attempted in the Villanelle form.

I love
The way that silk kisses my skin;
The thousand feathers of a dove.

Alone, trapped in my rosy cove,
I dance in skirts – I spin;
I love.

The smallest of children’s gloves,
Patterned; the size of a pin.
The thousand feathers of a dove.

In the bustling streets, I do not shove.
I dance; I swallow scalding gin;
I love.

I am the sunlight streaming down from above,
I laugh, I fuck, I devour sin;
The thousand feathers of a dove.

I glow softly from the inside; I surround myself in golden love;
I am the collective: the yang and the yin.
I love
The thousand feathers of a dove

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Aphrodite: Goddess of the Body

September 24, 2009

When Aphrodite is discussed—as is often inevitable in Hellenic Polytheist circles; for who can truly say they have never felt anything for this goddess?—the subject of her influence is, of course, always key. She is named the goddess of beauty, of love, of sex; and even of war, grief, death. I propose, though, that we push aside these names and dub her, for simplicity’s sake, Aphrodite: Goddess of the Body.

As the daughter of Ouranos (as asserted by writers such as Hesiod, Cicero, Apuleius and Nonnus)—born of his castrated genitals plunging into the sea—Aphrodite would be, in terms of power and influence, on the same level as the Titanes; in truth, she would belong to a generation between Titan and Olympian, for she would have been born in the period between Kronos’ castration of his father and the birth of Zeus. Her mythologies regarding the time between her birth and her arrival at Olympos are not extensive: the classical writers speak only of her love for the sea-god Nerites and of her arrival at Rhodes, where she ‘was prevented from stopping there by the sons of Poseidon’ (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 5. 55. 4). In retaliation, Aphrodite struck them with madness. Immediately thereafter, it seems, she returned to the sea and continued on until she reached Kypros, where she was met by the Horai (according to the Homeric Hymn 6 to Aphrodite) or Peitho and Eros (according to Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5. 11. 8). Finally, a child- or youth-Aphrodite of the seas is mentioned by Pausanias, as a depiction on the base of Poseidon’s statue: ‘Thalassa holding up the young Aphrodite, and on either side as the nymphs called Nereides.’ (Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2. 1. 8.)

Alternatively, Aphrodite is borne of Zeus—who is first and foremost king of the skies or heavens, and as thus can be identified with Ouranos, Protogenos god of the heavens—and Dione, whose name springs from Dios, which means Zeus or Divine One. (I, personally, would argue that Dione is the goddess of divinity, and as thus her name is so deeply connected with Zeus’ own because one of his primary influences is as guide or leader of fate—Moiragetês—and the keeper of the order of the cosmos –Kosmêtês.) As the daughter of Zeus, she would be level simply with the other second-generation Olympian gods – Apollon, Ares, Artemis, Athene, Dionysos, Hephaistos and Hermes, and as the daughter of Dione she would be on par with the other minor Titanes. As such, Aphrodite loses much of her immense power under the constraints of this myth of her birth; I, personally, choose to focus on her as Aphrodite Ourania (‘the heavenly’) rather than Aphrodite Pandêmos (‘common to all’).

As both Aphrodite Ourania and Pandêmos, it is undeniable that Aphrodite’s concerns seem more to be with the body than anything else. As Aphrodite Ourania, she holds together the atoms in the bodies that the gods adopt; without her pull, the gods would all be abstract, shapeless beings much akin to the Protogenos god Khaos. As Aphrodite Morpho (‘shapely, of the form’), she holds together the human body, too: the human form. As Aphrodite Ambologêra (‘delayer of old age’), it is she who brings about the constant cycle of cells dying and being replaced in the body, and she too is responsible for youth and the young; and as Aphrodite Despoina (‘the ruling goddess’ or ‘the mistress’), she is blatantly responsible for the body as the goddess who ‘rules’ it. Further evidence comes from the myth of Pandora’s creation: Aphrodite ‘shed grace upon her head’ – shed life upon her; gave her life – ‘and [gave her] cruel longing’ – desire – ‘and cares that weary the limbs’ – menstruation; the cycle of fertility in the female human body. Thus, it can be concluded that she who so inflames the body is responsible, too, for its continued existence; without her, there would be no shape to the body—we would all just be a random mesh of DNA strands clinging together—and, even if by some miracle the body was shaped, it would be incapable of fighting illness, or remaining fertile, or producing young, and so on.

It is as Aphrodite Pandêmos that she becomes a simple—if ‘simple’ is a word that can ever be used to describe a goddess, and a goddess such as Aphrodite at that—goddess concerned only with the matters of the heart. She becomes common to all the people; she strikes, or sends her son Eros to strike, any whom she pleases, be they god or mortal, with the shaft of desire. ‘This is the portion allotted to her amongst men and undying gods,—the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness.’ (Hesiod, Theogony, 176 ff.) If you whittle her down just to Aphrodite Pandêmos, that is all she is: the goddess who presides over love as a collective, and love affairs, desire, love poetry, sensuality.

As Epistrophia (‘she who turns to love’), Apostrophia (‘averter of unnatural desires’), Nymphia (‘bridal’), Migôntis (‘[of the] marital union’), Hêrê (‘of Hera’), Apotrophia (‘the expeller [of unnatural desires]’) and Gamelii (‘of marriage’), Aphrodite becomes, well and truly, a goddess of marriage and marital love. That is, though, to be expected: she is the goddess who binds people together – on an molecular level, as Aphrodite Ourania, keeping the body together; on a sexual level, Aphrodite Philommeidês (‘genital-loving’), keeping lovers together; on a communal level, as Aphrodite Pandêmos, keeping the community together; and on a marital level, as Aphrodite Gamelii, keeping married partners together. Indeed, Aphrodite’s influence as a goddess of marriage is clearly very strong; Pausanias described ‘a cave [in which] Aphrodite is worshipped, to whom prayers are offered . . . especially by widows who ask the goddess to grant them marriage’ (Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10. 38. 12) and Aeschylus once stated that, ‘she [Aphrodite], together with Hera, holds power nearest to Zeus, and for her solemn rites [of marriage] the goddess of varied wiles is held in honor.’ (Aeschylus, Suppliant Woman, 1030.)

That, though, is still not all there is to Aphrodite. She also holds the epithets Symmakhia (‘ally’), Areia (‘warlike’) and Hôplismenê (‘armed’). Thus, with these titles—as well as her relationship with Ares, the Olympian god of masculinity, passion, war and blood—she becomes a goddess not just of love and form, but also of war. She becomes a goddess of grief and mourning—the love for those who have died—and she becomes a goddess of nationality – the love of one’s nation. As such, she, by association, becomes also a goddess of hate: hate for those that the soldiers fight, for love and hate both stir the body with equal vigour, and the body is undeniably Aphrodite’s tool.

Then there are her associations with the sea to consider. Her very name comes from the word Aphros, meaning sea-foam. She held several epithets alluding to her nature as a sea goddess: Anaduomenê (‘rising out of the sea’), Euploia (‘fair voyage’), Limenia (‘of the harbour’), Pontia (‘of the sea’) and Xenia (‘of the foreigner’). At a very basic level, she could be considered connected to the sea only because of one of the myths of her birth—from Ouranos’ castrated genitals—but with Aphrodite, nothing is only skin-deep. She holds sway over the four realms: the sky, as Aphrodite Ourania, the heavenly; the sea, as Aphrodite Pontia, of the sea; the earth, as Aphrodite Porne (‘fleshy, of flesh’); and the Underworld, as the khthonic Aphrodite Androphonos (‘killer of men’).

It is that final influence—over the Underworld—that seems so alien in connection to Aphrodite. But the connection does hold: as well as the epithet Androphonos, she is also Aphrodite Anosia (‘unholy’), Epitumbidia (‘she upon the graves’), Melainis (‘black, of night’), Skotia (‘dark’) and Tumborukhos (‘gravedigger’). Thus, one cannot deny her khthonic aspects – the question simply is how, exactly, she influences the Underworld. It is primarily because love—and therefore she; or Eros, at her command—kills; wars are never waged for anything but the love of oneself, or one’s country, or of money, or of one’s religion, etc, etc. Love is the primary force behind everything, and it is love that Aphrodite commands: thus she is the goddess of death, deadly love, and the grief for that which it leaves behind.

For me, personally, it is only when you take all of these aspects into account that you finally get the full picture of who Aphrodite is. She is a goddess of the heavens, a goddess of the earth, a goddess of the sea, a goddess of the Underworld, a goddess who keeps the body together, a goddess who directs love and desire, a goddess who rules over marriage, a goddess of the community and a goddess of war. And yet she is more than that: she influences love poetry, music, dance, festivity – she is a goddess to whom no doors are closed, and to whom there are no boundaries. All of the emotions and states that affect the body—life, hunger, desire, fury, hatred, humility, embarrassment, blood, madness and death, to name but a few—are under her command: the body is her vessel, her plaything, and, to her devotees, there is no forgetting that. If you are impious, she can literally unravel you at the seams – and although it is always better to treat gods with respect, as opposed to disrespect, I think that especially applies here!

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Thoughts on The Hesperides

September 6, 2009

They are the keepers of the golden apples–the glorious, intoxicating apples owned by Hera. The apples draw sunlight into them throughout the day and burn with their own gold-red glows at dusk. The Hesperides, silent and golden nymphai, are the heralds and guardians of the sunsets. It flows in their blood: delicious and honey-lovely.

They have, for skin, golden tree-bark. Their arms are edged with prickles; dark leaves spread out in place of their fingers. Their elbows are like thorns – long, wicked, curved daggers of bone. It is easy to think of them as delicate, fragile, smiling nymphs–but that is not all they are. They are also the cruel daughters of Nyx, gleaming with blood and shining with sunlight.

They are numbered three, or four, or seven, or nine: their true number is impossible to count. Their golden eyes make thoughts flee the mind; they kiss away logic and dance until rationality flees. In the days, they are like plants: feet apart, arms outstretched to the sky, breasts and bellies bared to Boreas’ winter winds. They are silent and still, breathing sunlight into their wide, delicate lungs–until someone dares try to breach their orchard, or until night falls.

At night, they leave Ladon–shimmering, golden, hundred-headed Ladon–in charge of the orchard. They depart to drift through the air, hunting for swirling storm-winds to guide them to blushing newlyweds. They don’t glow gold during the night: they gleam scarlet, though lines of gold thread through the veins and stand vividly out against all that red, red, red. They sing – bridal music and the hums of the dead. They are beautiful and awful, and they are utterly intoxicating–particularly so when they hold one of the apples against their bellies and revel in its golden heat.

They are not merely the essence of sunlight, of sunset. They are guardians of the treasures of the gods: even their beautiful teeth–perfectly white, perfectly formed–are capable of wrenching limbs from bodies and skin from bones. They, like all nymphai, are both wild and civilised: or, at least, they gleam gold under the illusion of civility.

Seductivity boils in their ichor-blood. They are spirits–wild girls–who prey on those who seek that which they guard. It is when someone, human or divine, trespasses that they truly come to life; after all, the night frees them from their stasis but not from their duties. Trespassers are met with the same lovely-awful fate: the naked Hesperides turn from their posts to gaze upon them. They sing and dance, sliding forward and drawing their leaf-fingers over soft lips or bristled chins. They cannot impose themselves upon the trespasser; but if said man or woman pauses to throw his or her arms around the lovely throat of a Hesperide and hungrily kiss them, the payment they offer–the payment ordered by the Moirae–is their lives.

They wear petals in their tangled hair; during the long, sunny days, flowers twist around their ankles and snare them to the ground. It is these flowers–the trespassers, metamorphosised into plants–that they pluck petals from and shower themselves in. It is evidence of their cruelty and their power: it is the visible evidence that they are far, far superior to humans, even if both they and mortals serve the gods.