Posts Tagged ‘Divine’

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Gates of Memory

November 18, 2009

Smoke curls shiver through
The frost-tinted air.
Mnemosyne waits, her
Fingers curled into
The thick fur of her
Dark, panting foxes.
Their breath melts the ice,
Brings warmth to her cheeks,
White and smooth as bone.

Time falls around her;
Ribbons of flame that
Dance to the music
Of her thumping heart.
She catches it in
Her hands, and blows the
Streams of yesterday
Into the air, bright
As twilight shadows.

Her free hand rests on
The bronze gate of time,
Of fluttering life;
Memory, pulsing
Beneath her pale skin,
Trapped in the abyss.
She looks ahead, then,
And smiles with too
Many, jagged teeth.

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Inspiration

November 15, 2009

A golden songbird plucks a rose from the
Hand of Erato and warms its wings in
The hazy red glow of her skin. Warmed,
It darts away, and drops the rose into
A poet’s lap. Smiling, the poet lifts
Her head and lets the words stream from her eyes.

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Oblivion

November 14, 2009

The soft silence of the dead yields to the
Whispers of Lethe: her lazy streams drift
Through low-swirling shadows like rich, lovely
Honey poured by the hands of the Mousai.

Her movements are as slow and careful as
Her trickling streams. Her liquid eyes smile
With gentle promise; as though her dusky
Bed holds all the secrets of this dark world.

Music hums between her pale fingers, quiet
Enough not to disturb the shades that trail,
Silent as Thanatos himself, in her
Wake. She shines with life in this place of death.

She glides, feet skimming her streams, to the lake
That lies where her waters end. She reaches
Out to kiss the goddess that waits; her lips
Brush Mnemosyne’s, soft as oblivion.

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Thoughts on Hebe

September 6, 2009

She is the essence of youth, of life. She is the gay laughter of children, the merry smiles of not-quite adults, and the blushing cheeks of brides-to-be. She is, herself, neither child nor woman: she is the in-between youth with small, firm breasts, a shy mind and an even shyer smile. She does not part her lips and show her teeth when she smiles–it is thin and gentle, wavering with her indecision, as though every move she makes is carefully analysed. And yet there is a joyous, childish freedom in her: her limbs twirl through the air with perfect abandon; her lips part in breathless delight; and she sings and laughs with the careless spirit of a babe.

She is not all gentle, though. She is rival to Geras, apathetic old age. She snarls and strikes with her shining nails – but he is, of course, unperturbed by her rages. She falls in and out of love at the drop of a hat, at the touch of a feather. Her lips taste of immortal ambrosia and her veins are filled with contradictions–blood and ichor, mortality and divinity, life and death.

She is the daughter of Hera and Zeus. She, along with her sister Eileithyia, is her mother’s loving attendant and handmaiden; and she is one of the two cupbearers of the gods. She can bestow youth on any who pleases her, with her breathy kisses and eager smiles–and she can whisper to Geras to snatch the youth away again.

She is the sister of Ares: she bathes him in blood and dresses him in silks. She kisses his spear-slashed skin with her warm, young lips and feels youth slide from her limbs to his. She lets him borrow from her youthful nature at times; secretly, she delights in bloodshed almost as much as he, and she smiles radiantly down on warriors who lift spears and knives and guns and charge bravely forward.

She is the nature of war-dances, and she is the nature of the eternal quest for immortality. She is the goddess who grants immortality–the others can offer only temporary divinity with nectar and ambrosia, with drinks poured by her hand. It is she, eventually, who gives full immortality – with her hands and lips she grants it, kissing and biting at the skin of those who seek her favour until they bleed their last for her. Immortality, after all, comes only in the face of death.

As the patron of young brides, she is companion to both Artemis and Aphrodite. She is, perhaps, a gentler companion than Artemis is used to: but she is no less capable of fury and pulsing, simmering hate than any of the delicate-wild nymphai that laugh and kiss and scream around their goddess.

She is the beauty of youth – the rosy lips and soft thighs, the barely-there freckles that dash over cheeks and shoulders, and the gentle slope of waists and hips. Aphrodite loves her; she dances–flashing her slim, lovely ankles with skirts barely long enough–with the goddess and with Aphrodite’s boys. The Erotes are of her nature as much as they are of Aphrodite’s – frozen in eternal youth, they sing and laugh as they dance, dance, dance with her. She shares kisses with Harmonia and the Kharites, and she glowers at Eris – for she–warm, pleasant youth–has little patience for one as hard-hearted as Eris.

At weddings, she does not cry or hold solemn silences. She laughs and spins and dances – she holds the bride’s train with hands that shake from her endless, youthful energy. She smiles for gods and mortals alike; and the only beings that make her delight falter are the war gods – and the khthonic deities.

Youth, after all, has no influence on the dead.

She raves against death: it is her undoing. Of all the gods, perhaps it is she who fears death the most. She–the essence of immortality, of youth, of life–has the most to lose from dying. And so, artfully, she refuses to do it. She does not hold attendance with Persephone, rising into the sunlit world as Kore; she backs away from Thanatos; and she even flinches from Hermes when he returns from the Underworld. It is her undoing, and so it has become her fear.

She cannot live and dance and laugh and sing in the Underworld – and if she cannot do these, the things that she truly loves, what is the point of it? There is none.

And so, twirling, dancing, smiling Hebe refuses to ever die. It will not happen: she draws the reborn back from the Underworld but she does not touch them. To touch them would be to lose herself – and where would the others be without her dancing, her laughter, and her spinning, heady, intoxicating youth? They simply wouldn’t be: they simply could not exist without her. She knows that and she smiles gratefully for it – for there is no chance of her death whilst there is still desire–need–for her company.

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Hermes Khthonios and Hekate Khthonia

August 19, 2009

Hermes is, perhaps, one of the more underappreciated gods. He is an Olympian, and thus respected for that: but that is not all he is. He has another duty, far more grand than his role in the myths as a simple messenger, and that is the role of guiding the dead to their final resting place. He lead the dead from their bodies to the Underworld, to be taken in Kharon’s boat into the realm of gloomy Hades. In this role, he becomes a god not just of the earth and skies, but of beneath the earth: he becomes a Khthonic god. He becomes Hermes Diaktoros or Pompaios—the guide—and Hermes Kataibatês, the descender.

When Persephone was abducted by Hades, it was Hermes who, at Zeus’ eventual request, flew down to the Underworld to retrieve her. It was not Zeus himself, nor, indeed, any of the other gods, Olympian or not. It was him: the messenger of the gods both above and below the world. Although Persephone did not accompany him back, it would later become Hermes who would descend to take and return her when her six months in the gloomy Underworld had ended.

Perhaps it was in this role, guide rather than messenger, that Hermes Khthonios became so intricately involved with Hekate. She, Persephone’s minister; he, Persephone’s guide. Pausanias and Propertius allude to Hermes Khthonios lying with, and producing children with, Underworld goddesses or nymphai: Daeira and Brimo. Daeira, mother of Eleusis by Hermes, was identified with Hekate through their joint connections to the Eleusinian Mysteries; and Brimo, a goddess of the Underworld, was identified with both Daeira and Hekate. The name ‘Brimo’—the angry, the terrifying—is frequently considered an epithet of Hekate’s—therefore making Hekate the consort of Hermes Khthonios, and, if the connections between Hekate-Daeira and Daeira-Brimo hold, the mother of Eleusis by Hermes.

Further to this, Hermes Khthonios and Hekate did not have just Persephone in common. Both were also guides of the dead: Hermes Khthonios directed souls down to the mouth of the Underworld, and Hekate lead them back up as ghosts. Perhaps, then, they could be said to have a dualistic relationship; for they are both antagonistic and companionable towards one-another, for Hermes Khthonios restricted the shades of the dead, and Hekate Khthonia freed them.

Both Hermes and Hekate have yet another shared aspect. One of Hekate’s two sacred animals is the dog, particularly the hounds of the Underworld (the kunes khthonioi), due to Queen Hekabe’s metamorphosis into a black bitch. According to Apollonius Rhodius, Lycophron, Ovid and Virgil, to name but a few, Hekate’s arrival from gloomy Hades to the mortal world was heralded by the ‘baying in the night’ of dogs. Hermes, too, has a connection with dogs, as the god of animal husbandry and the god of guard dogs. Thus, Hermes and Hekate are bound further: her arrival incites dogs to bay, creatures of which he has dominion, perhaps as a warning to those who would venture into the goddess’ path (and thus be beyond Hermes’ protection of the home and of travellers).

Although one’s personal experiences and alternative sources may contradict a sexual relationship between Hermes Khthonios and Hekate, it is undeniable that there is a relationship. They are the opposite of one-another, the perfect companions and the perfect balance: Olympian-Khthonian and Khthonian-Titanide; light-shadow and shadow-light; sky-earth and earth-sky; and feminine male and masculine female.

Hermes Khthonios could not exist without Hekate Khthonia, and vice-versa. They need each other: the Underworld, the mortal world and Mount Olympus all need balance to exist and flourish, and Hermes and Hekate provide the joined worlds with some of that balance. They are Divinities with a foot in each world, tethering one to the next and yet keeping them separate. They are Underworld gods, earth gods, sea gods, sky gods: and they could not truly exist in any other form.

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Thoughts on Thanatos

August 17, 2009

Death.

He is maggots sliding through empty veins, gnawing at dead flesh. He is the flames that burn to accept the bodies of those no longer in this world. He is the son of black Nyx, and yet his touch—gentle, unassuming, soothing—can strike at any given moment. He was born dead: he has never known warm sunlight or open-mouthed kisses; he does not understand what it means to breathe. He does not know how to live, how to survive.

He is limitless, unstoppable; and yet he tempers his own power. He binds himself to the rules of the Underworld, and to the word of his Lord, Hades. He is the steadfast companion of his drowsing brother, Hypnos; and he rides in his mother’s chariot as she draws her thin mists over the world each night. He lives alone but for his butterflies – magnificent, beating, pulsing, alive. They remind him of his oaths, and they keep him grounded when he would otherwise drift with shadow.

He is not cruel. He does not laugh as he takes the souls of the newly-dead. He inhales their spirits—dead lips to dead lips, cold flesh to cold flesh—and takes them to the mouth of the Underworld. It is not his duty to do this, and yet he does: he cares, though he cannot name such tender feelings, for he does not understand them. He is the brother of the Moirae, the Fates, and he is the minister of Hades. He is a king of kings: neither Hades nor his brothers can control him, try as they might.

He is not violent death: he is the gentle slipping-away of one’s final breath. He is the final blankness that touches the eyes of corpses; he is the carrion, hopping closer to stare at the tantalising flesh of the dead. He is the cycle of life and death, the pulse of mortality. Some say that he is born and he dies with each breath humans take – some say that he was never even born, he simply was, simply is.

He is the everlasting search for truth. He cannot be swayed to leniency, but he is merciful, and he is gentle. He is beyond remorse, beyond guilt; and yet his shoulders are weighed down by the magnitude of his own power. Every death he brings rests heavily upon him, a fresh load for him to carry, and he can barely bring himself to do as he must – but, yes, he must. He cannot control himself any more than Hades, Poseidon and Zeus can: for he is death, and death answers truly to nobody, not even itself. He ignores his screeching, violent sisters and draws his butterflies about him like a cloak. He is a child, a youth, an adult; all of these and none of these. He is what best helps those who look upon him – but he is always dark-eyed, for death is nothing if not the wrapping of shadows around throat and skin.

He is Thanatos. He has a thousand names, truly, but he is who he is, regardless of what he is called. He will visit any who ask, and many who do not: for he is death, death, death.

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Thoughts on Eros

August 11, 2009

Eros: one of the oldest gods, and one of the youngest. He brings love and hate with his arrows of gold and lead, shot straight into the hearts of the unwary. He is, like Aphrodite, quick to judge and quick to forgive; and he is, like Khaos, endless and infinite. He is at once the winged babe, the dancing boy and the sleek youth of love. He carries lovers’ gifts in his arms and fondly ruffles the hair of those he passes. He is Aphrodite’s more human face, and yet he is far older than her, born from Khaos’ creeping mists.

He is the bitter-sweet love of life, of love, of the world and of one’s soul. He draws his arrows and loosens them on the hearts of those who do not respect him – and those who do respect him. No one, god or mortal, is safe from his touch. Only his respect of Choice forces him to stay his hand when he would otherwise strike at the virgin goddesses with his all-consuming arrows.

He leads the winged loves, the Erotes, in their fluttering flight in Aphrodite’s footsteps. He treads child-delicately and youth-heavily, and he throws himself into love with the reckless abandon of Love itself. He sneers at those who would refuse his passions, and spreads his wings to cover those who follow where he walks. He lives in the company of the gods, but often prefers the touches of humans. He is sharp and cold and hot and soft, wild and civilised, dangerous and peaceful. He is the quick-fingered child-keeper of the heavens, the earth, the sky and the seas.

He is the reaction, the fizzling catalyst who inspires love and hate – equally, and at the command of his laughing sometimes-mother, Aphrodite. He is the playmate of Ganymedes, cupbearer of the gods, and the husband of Psyche, the love of oneself, the soul. He is the father of pleasure and the son of beauty, of night, of nothing and everything. He brushes his hands, feather-light, over the cheeks and lips of his flushed, open, beautiful wife and inspires lovers everywhere to follow his example. He is masculinity and he is feminity, he is the eternal child who gives cheeky smiles and wears his heart on his sleeve.

He throws himself into everything—love, tantrums, joy, pain—and expects the same of his Erotes. He dances with nymphs and muses and plays at the feet of the Moirae. He holds himself to a moral code at once distant and similar to our own, and he refuses to rest his red-hot lips on the brow of those who do not do him justice. He is sin and virtue, platonic and sexual love, he is passion and need and thrumming, pulsing love.

He wraps his arms around his wife and daughter, and all he asks of those who would follow him is that they do not hurt the ones they love. He kisses his little-girl daughter on the forehead and his butterfly-wife on the lips, and he smiles up to his smiling, golden mother. He plays in night and day, dusk and dawn, and his influence is always circling, a hazy red smoke that curls around the skin of lovers and lets them bask in his glow. He blesses with his delicate fingers and draws his teeth over intertwined bodies, and he laughs and basks in his own glow.

He is Eros: the child, the lover. Love.