Thursday, August 18, 2011

The right to blaspheme

As an update to a post I did a while back regarding the introduction of Blasphemy Laws in Europe, I received an update on the band Behemoth's case:

Nergal has just been acquitted of insulting religious beliefs by tearing bible during the gig in "Ucho", Poland, 2007. As the justification of the verdict, the Court has stated that they will not define boundaries and limitations for artistic activities.

Nergal comments: "Im so glad to see that intelligence won over religious fanatics in my home country. Tho there's still so much work to be done to make things right...

But I'm sure that I'm on the right path to ultimate freedom! The battle is won, but the war ain't over. Heil Satan!"

This leads up to what is happening in the U.S., where Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has passed a law that criminalizes transmitting or displaying online images that could “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress.” Violators could spend up to a year in jail or pay $2,500 in fines. Of course, I read this on my Rue Morgue magazine, which is chock-full of gore, blood and horror. Careful, the website could offend you. How do you enforce such laws on a place as large as the internet, and keep it within the boundaries of the State? What will be the defining law of offensive, when its so variable and subjective? Why do we need such people being our nannies?

While for many one should never use religious symbols for any political or artistic purposes that denigrates the image, or uses it contrary to its meaning I feel that freedom of expression should never be limited. It causes you to think, to grow, or at least creates some sort of reaction that will illicit it. While I do not condone the destruction of religious sites (like the burning of Churches in Norway or the destruction of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan) I am not one to be offended, not even when my imagery gets used even though I seem to be in the minority, even within the Pagan community. I cannot claim to be offended by it when I have many CDs and band shirts that blasphemes a particular mainstream religion - I just can't be hypocritical, or easily offended when it comes to mine.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What can the Ancient Greeks do for us?

I was going through my Sparks feature on Google+ with my various interests, some of them regarding Greece and ancient Greece when I came upon this series of articles from The Guardian, where they have a section that follows the current social and political climate in Greece, titled: Greece in Crisis. However, they have also added small tidbits of information regarding ancient Greece, which are entertaining for their historical tidbits, but also as to how the author tries to tie parts of the past with its current situation.

Lesson 1: Tactics for engaging in civil disobedience, from Antigone to Aristophanes

Lesson 2: The first mention of money in classical Greece

Lesson 3: family can be murder as well as a dream for a Viennese psychoanalyst

Lesson 4: As Socrates found out to his cost, teaching brilliant and ambitious youths can be dangerous

Lesson 5: Greeks and others

The old is always alive, in many ways.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lares Familiares

As I make the focus of my work that of my ancestors, I am now looking at the thought of also working with the Lares, in particular the Lares Familiares / Domestici. I have two Lares statues, which I got immediately when I decided to set my ancestor altar, containing family portraits along with the names of known ancestors that I was able to discover through ancestry websites before it met a dead halt in Genoa, Italy in 1765.

From my understanding, the Lares are sometimes regional and local minor gods, or spirits tied to a specific place or home, or family, as is maybe similar to the Norse Dís. The idea of a household deity isn't new, as many cultures have some sort of variation and alongside Hestia/Vesta, the goddess of the Hearth, to which in modern times I associate with the kitchen/stove. Many homes had some sort of Lararium, and some where obviously more impressive than others, as the one below from Pompeii.

I have been looking for resources (first online) in ways to honor and/or work with the Lares, not dissimilar I guess to ones own work with ones Agathos Daimon, in ways to better serve the home, family and livelihood. I have come across this academic research paper regarding the Lares by Mariah Elaine Smith from the University of Kansas that might bring up some interesting information. As with long-lost ancestors and workings with any dead or spirit guides, one must perhaps begin with arrangement of reciprocity.

Thus, I tell myself, one must first set some sort of relationship especially when perhaps decades have passed with no mention, notice or work with a familial Lares. I cannot just suddenly call a lost uncle and request a favor when I have never spoken to him prior, regardless of the good intentions to meet for the first time (as my half-sister discovered when she wanted to reconnect family ties). As the pessimist that I am, I will first assume the ties were damaged through generations that first need mending and then learn the appropriate methods of veneration and offerings. Most of my books pertain to the ancient Greek religion, so I currently find myself lost on where to begin, but as a bookworm and psuedo-historian, happy to begin the journey.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Years ago, I once dreamt that I went into the Underworld. I was to be paired with - married to - a god. To my surprise and at the moment, horror, it was to be with the Titan Cronus. Maybe I'm too quick to judge, honestly.

In the Attic calendar he is celebrated during the month of Hekatombaion, in the ancient festival called Kronia (this year it falls on July 21st) though I feel I should honor him is confusing - I've debated adding his name to honourings during the noumenia as a Khthonic deity. Some accounts place him in Tartarus with other Titans while others name him as King of Elysium.

The Romans had a different view of him, he was essentially Saturn and the merry December festivals were named after him, along with the day of the week - Saturday.

Orphic Hymn to Saturn
Fumigation from Storax

Etherial father, mighty Titan, hear, great fire of Gods and men, whom all revere:
Endu’d with various council, pure and strong, to whom perfection and decrease belong.
Consum’d by thee all forms that hourly die, by thee restor’d, their former place supply;
The world immense in everlasting chains, strong and ineffable thy pow’r contains
Father of vast eternity, divine, O mighty Saturn [Kronos], various speech is thine:
Blossom of earth and of the starry skies, husband of Rhea, and Prometheus wife.
Obstetric Nature, venerable root, from which the various forms of being shoot;
No parts peculiar can thy pow’r enclose, diffus’d thro’ all, from which the world arose,
O, best of beings, of a subtle mind, propitious hear to holy pray’rs inclin’d;
The sacred rites benevolent attend, and grant a blameless life, a blessed end.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Under the heavy weight of shadows

A century later and moments of staleness and lack of religiosity have entered my life, and gone. Once spring hit I felt a resurgence of life, as Apollo shone stronger and brighter. But my day to day life doesn’t shine as brightly as I have worked for it. I still trudge along, trying every day to get out of bed, one more day, another, just to do what is necessary. And yet, uncertainty looms. It’s been over a year now and still…

The economy being in a steep downpour has affected the most important desire in my life, and yet I still cannot find myself to make it work. What am I doing wrong? Not enough meditation? Intent? Will? Wrong prayers? Tears and emotions and vocalized intent and petitions do nothing. I am still in the same place – the situation has not changed. I am at my wits ends. Reading about the successes of others, the divine presence, intervention, response to their Work, does nothing but question my process – and my beliefs.

It’s difficult to find a pattern and stick to it when you look at the past, and see that it has not worked. Daily prayers, offerings and requests go unheard. Ignored. What happens when you patron doesn’t answer? Any of them? My altar sits with various figures I honor regularly and yet I feel like a tree that has fallen in a forest and no one was around to hear me. I have bought Jason Miller’s book and watched his videos – thinking I should’ve maybe signed up for his classes. I’ve listened to various podcasts and skimmed through my books and nothing has seemed to change. My wording may be wrong, my Will might be muddied or a wall is in the way. A thick fog surely surrounds me, but I will not let it choke me yet.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heavy metal and Christians

While this could easily lay itself unto a discussion about lyrics, instead I wanted to share this fascinating article from the Telegraph:

Christians could learn a lot about life from heavy metal, says cleric'

The Rev Rachel Mann claims that the much-maligned form of music demonstrates the “liberative theology of darkness”, allowing its tattooed and pierced fans to be more “relaxed and fun” by acknowledging the worst in human nature.

She says that by contrast, churchgoers can appear too sincere and take themselves too seriously.

The priest admits that many will be “concerned” about metal lyrics praising Satan and mocking Christianity, but insists it is just a form of “play-acting”.

Miss Mann, priest-in-charge of St Nicholas’s, Burnage, writes in this week’s Church Times: “Since Black Sabbath effectively created it in 1969 by using the dissonant sound of the medieval ‘Devil’s chord’, heavy metal has been cast as dumb, crass, and on, occasions satanic; music hardly fit for intelligent debate, led alone theological reflection.

“And yet, as both priest and metal musician and fan, it strikes me that the Church, especially at this agonized time, has a serious gospel lesson to learn from this darkest and heaviest music.”

Miss Mann says that heavy metal songs, characterized by distorted guitar sounds, “intense” beats and “muscular” vocals, are “unafraid to deal with death, violence and destruction”.

Its “predominantly male and white” fans “generally like tattoos and piercings” but are “graceful, welcoming and gentle”.

“The music’s willingness to deal with nihilistic and, on occasion, extremely unpleasant subjects seems to offer its fans a space to accept others in a way that shames many Christians.

“Metal’s refusal to repress the bleak and violent truths of human nature liberates its fans to be more relaxed and fun people”.

She goes on to claim that “metal has no fear of human darkness” and while some Christians are similarly unafraid, “many are yet to discover its potential as a place of integration”.

The King himself

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Silly Americans...

From Newsweek's Dumb Things American's Believe:

It seems obvious that it's not a good idea to put too much stock in witchcraft. But it turns out that 21 percent of Americans believe there are real sorcerors, conjurers, and warlocks out there. And that's just one of the several paranormal beliefs common among Americans, according to Gallup: 41 percent believe in ESP, 32 percent in ghosts, and a quarter in astrology. In fairness, the numbers in this poll are a little old—they date back to 2005. But then again, if people haven't changed their mind since the Enlightenment, it's not clear another half decade would make much difference.

Discussing and believing in such silly things!  I'm right in line with evolution-theory deniers, Obama's-a-muslim, Heliocentrism and not knowing the branches of the government. Well, shit...


Hermes, draw near, and to my pray'r incline, angel of Jove, and Maia's son divine; Studious of contests, ruler of mankind, with heart almighty, and a prudent mind. Celestial messenger, of various skill, whose pow'rful arts could watchful Argus kill: With winged feet, 'tis thine thro' air to course, O friend of man, and prophet of discourse: Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine, in arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine: With pow'r endu'd all language to explain, of

care the loos'ner, and the source of gain. Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod, Kerukeion, blessed, profitable God; Of various speech, whose aid in works we find, and in necessities to mortals kind: Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere, be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear; Assist my works, conclude my life with peace, give graceful speech, and me memory's increase.

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