Learning how to talk to Ariadne has been difficult for me. Normally, I converse with deities using a combination of light possessory trance, and face-to-face talking. I like this style of working, especially for written conversations, because I have ample opportunity to ask, “Are you sure that is what you meant?” I also invite deities to fact check their work — while often, their knowledge of mythology exceeds my own, and such “fact checks” result in the deity shouting, “Hah! I told you so!” other times, I’ve misheard, they’ve mis-remembered, or perhaps are referencing a version of the ancient mythology which we no longer have extant. All of this starts to give you an idea of just how dialogue driven my relationships with most deities are.
Ariadne is different. When I call her, I don’t see her, really. I can’t hear her in the way that I can hear Hermes or Apollon. I’ll invoke her, and suddenly, I’m inside of her story, sharing in her thoughts and feelings from a very “first person” perspective. I call her, and I am rapt in frenetic dance, or wailing loudly, tearing my clothing in a fit of grief, lost in feelings of abandonment. I would have baffling interludes with her husband, Dionysos, hearing him talk to me as though I was her… and finally realized that it wasn’t Dionysos talking at all. That was Ariadne speaking to me about Dionysos, sharing her personal experiences and feelings. If I have found my relationship with the god of wine difficult, it’s because solidly half of everything I’ve ever heard him say was… well… not him. It was an experience that his wife was relating to me, in her own particular idiom, through her own particular filter. Worse, some part of her feelings about the god got mixed up into my own, which isn’t nearly as lovey-dovey as it sounds. Marriage is fraught with passions both delightful and terrible — but here is the peculiar thing: when you’ve been married for a very long time, it isn’t the every-day decency that you rant to your friend about. It’s the shitty thing your spouse just did that you feel furious over. Those lovely moments of silly couples games and quiet nuzzles by the fireplace are private, personal, or even embarrassing to relate. So, unsurprisingly, I don’t hear much about that.
Dionysos (ˌdaɪəˈnaɪsəs) or Dionysusnoun 1. (Classical Myth & Legend) the husband of Ariadne, known for forgetting anniversaries, not doing what he says he’s going to do, and being negligent in household chores.expletive 1. (Classical Myth & Legend) usually shouted by Ariadne when she gets up in the morning and can’t get to the bathroom because there is a satyr passed out in front of the door–From, “Ariadne’s Dictionary.”
After exhaustive work with externalizing those energies into something I could talk to, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. At just the point when I was about to give up, I finally heard her speaking. She was saying, “I know this is what you need right now. To hear me. I want to be clear that this is like a hallucination. It isn’t healthy. But it will be ok for now.”
So I asked some questions.
The answers came. Some of them directly out of my mouth, resulting in me rocketing back into the fetal position. Others through automatic typing — violently. Others I heard. It’s rocky. It was hard work. It was slow. I can’t vouch for the accuracy. But it IS interesting. The result was something far less… human, I guess… than what I normally get from deities.
I think this gets a lot more cogent toward the end, where Ariadne actually spells out a plan.
So, hey. Who are you?
Ariadne: It hardly matters. The truth is, who I am has become a commodity. A thing decided by those who read my mythology. A goddess’s take on herself isn’t ever heard. It is the surviving cultures that write about her who get the final say. Many Minoan deities were buried in Greek mythology. You know that. It’s provable. Who I was before that is who I still am. My mask is the Great Lie that you tell about me. I am buried in antiquity. I bow and scrape before the ones I myself deified. They attempt to subjugate you because they are too foolish to know any better. That is my failing. That failing is who I am.
Thenea: You say, “subjugate,” and you say, “foolish.” Can you elaborate?
Ariadne: Foolish: All things end. All things die. It is the way of the Universe, which lives and breathes. There is no exception. None. They are foolish because they attempt to build something that will last forever, insensible to the fact that nothing ever can. They seek power with no plans about how to use it. What they build will fall, yet the evil they do to those weaker than themselves will remain. Like children who build sand castles on the beach, stepping on those who are reclining on the shore. The tide comes in. The angry people remain. So is Eternity, filled with nothing but happiness or sadness, company or solitude, comfort or regret. What fools are they who injure other souls to accomplish an empty aim! Their works and their names shall be sand and stardust. The enmity will outlast whatsoever they build.
Subjugate: They make your lives worse, and tell you that you have no choice. They take your power and squander it. They try to live through you, and yet revile you for living. They try to make you think less of yourselves for being incarnate. They claim you are like animals and treat you as such, to be bought and sold, or traded. These ones, the ones who do this, have earned my wrath. Some are mortal, others divine.
Thenea: So, you aren’t talking about all deities, or even exclusively deities.
Ariadne: Asasara speaks of divinities. Ariadne speaks of humans. The rule of Minos was harsh and without pity. So, too, the yoke of the deities of whom I speak, whose names are unworthy of mention, but who can be easily identified by their deeds.
Thenea: You sound angry.
Ariadne: Bitter is the lot of one who sinned and could not rectify their sin. More bitter still is the lot of the one who watches in silence as others make the same mistake. My mistake cost me my people, my pantheon. The Olympians rose up against us, in hopes of creating something better, but it was in vain, and they, too, fell. Yet they arise again to make the same mistakes as at first. My words fall on deaf ears.
Thenea: That does sound like a supreme downer. But existence can’t be all bad, right?
Ariadne: It’s frustrating, but it’s the way of the world. Humans hate to make decisions and instinctively seek out those who appear to offer them an existence devoid of them. Dionysos wants to butt in.
Dionysos: A good way to understand Ariadne is as the “Oh Goddess of Hangovers.” She is Hindsight. She can totally look at a situation and just KNOW what it will look like in hindsight. It’s why Her grammatical constructions are so weird. She says things like, “You will have regretted that.” This is perfect for me, really, if you think about it.
Thenea: She, at any rate, seems to desperately need your impossible optimism.
Ariadne: I’m still here!
Dionysos: I know, dear. I’m explaining you. Thenea is just keeping her conscious mind afloat by responding so she can play the part of humanity
and steer the conversation.
Back to Ariadne — It’s interesting from my perspective. Her myth memory is this very big, extremely confusing place with multiple layers of self. You can get lost in there. Forever. So be careful? But what I remember is her being deified, when I brought her up from the Underworld. She blossomed from this good-hearted and clever mortal into a Goddess of some really intense and perplexing things. From Her perspective, She was a Minoan Goddess. And then we basically took her pie. Specifically, Artemis took Her pie.
If you want my advice — which, to hell with you if you don’t, because you’re getting it anyway — the direction you ought to direct this conversation in is the subject of what Ariadne wants to do.
So, Ariadne, what do you want to do?
Ariadne: I want to create rites, initiations, rituals and teachings that will empower humans to stand as equals with the gods.
Thenea: Is that… I mean. How are you going to–? Can humans ever really be equal to the gods?
Ariadne: It depends on how you measure them. You can say, all you want, that you believe that gods are greater than you. In truth, some are. But in truth, some humans are greater than you, too. Do you measure a being, whether human or god, by their power? Their know-how? How famous they are? I measure them by the depth of their compassion for other creatures. I measure them by how easily they lose that compassion when they are faced with circumstances which exceed their power.
What I find is that many gods become cruel in the face of adversity. When resources are scarce, they lose their compassion. They excuse, based on their own sense of entitlement, their use and misuse of sentient beings whom they judge as being less — often not because of anything other than the circumstances of that being’s birth.
Beings who resort to threats, coercion, murder, rape, abrogation of will, and slavery when the going gets tough are at the bottom of the spiritual food chain, as near as I can reason. If a human has conquered that impulse in him or herself — the impulse to overlook empathy and compassion for personal gain — and a deity has not? Yes. In that case, the human is not only equal to the god. The human is greater. If a deity looks at a sentient creature and sees an insignificant spec, rather than a being that is capable of both delight and suffering? It has no empathy. It is less than a human. All other distinctions — of size, of fame, of influence, of power, of intelligence, of specific know-how — these are irrelevant. To me, at least.
I have been mortal, and goddess, and mortal, and goddess again. In all cases I was I. Did I become spiritually inferior because I acquired a physical body? Because I had a mother and a father? No. Rather, I have progressively become more as I have learned the importance of Freedom, of Compassion, of Empathy and Fairness.
Thenea: I think there is an Abraham Lincoln quote the is applicable, here. “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Honestly, I don’t think it’s being faced with outsized adversity that deprives people of their compassion. The cruelest humans, at any rate, by far, are the ludicrously wealthy or powerful.
Ariadne: That’s… really very interesting.
Thenea: And if I may push a bit further on the matter? Human experience, anyway, can be measured from the highest heights of pleasure, to the lowest depths of despair. And if I may get all math-y on you: the median forms the baseline, and the difference between the mode and the median is the most accurate measure of a person’s happiness. How outraged a person feels by an instance of adversity depends on exactly how much of an outlier it is… how far it is from the other data.
Ariadne: … I feel like Apollon should be translating this into English for me.
Thenea: Ok. So… when you are making sense of a bunch of numbers, the Mode is the number you see most often. The Median is whatever number is exactly in the middle, the halfway mark between the highest and the lowest. The Mean is when you add them all up and divide them by however many numbers you added. An Outlier is a number that’s way the hell away from the rest of the numbers … like, if most of your readings are between 2 and 5, 37 is an outlier. When you get a score during a Baseball game that looks like it belong to a Football game and everyone goes, “What the Fuck?” It’s because it lies way the hell outside of the usual range of numbers.
Ariadne: Apollon says just listen until you return to your original point.
Thenea: (sigh) Yeah. So, halfway in between your highest high, and your lowest low, is usually a sort of Neutral. That’s how you are calibrated. And whatever sort of experience you most often have is going to either be better than that halfway mark, or worse than it. Follow me so far?
Thenea: A slave who is sometimes beaten, and sometimes given ingredients for cherry pie will count the latter as a good day, and the former as a bad one. If the good days happen more often than the bad days, then they might count themselves somewhat happy, even if they know, intellectually, that being a slave sucks, and they really need to get the hell out of there, because their bad days are just unacceptably bad. Abused women? Same deal. Being beaten into unconsciousness is a bad day. Laughing with the spouse is a good one. The good days come more frequently than the bad, so they stay. Conversely, a rich one-percenter might intellectually understand that he or she is among the luckiest people on Earth. However, if a good day is going to a completely novel gourmet restaurant which is the fashion of the minute, and a bad day is when they discover that they face some unimaginably minor, possibly completely abstract discomfort, the bad days come more frequently than the good, only because the highest number and the lowest number are so close together.
When an Outlier occurs to the bad, the response is Outrage.
Hermes once told me that he hated being Upstairs because the food was terrible. “A platonic ideal of a burrito” he explained, “always tastes like the platonic ideal of a burrito.” In other words, there is a sense of sameness. The difference between the highest and the lowest is very shallow.
Things not going their way? Outliers. And it provokes Outrage. It’s not how they deal with adversity. It’s how they deal with Outrage. In the broad history of humanity and its relationship with gods? Right now is Outlier City for deities.
Ariadne: If I look beyond the math terms, as Apollon suggested, I begin to see what you are saying. So these times, then, are the proving grounds. The deities who rise above their urge to — my husband suggests I use the words, ‘douche it up,’ — these are the most worthy, and should be accorded the greatest stature in the times to come.
Thenea: See, you are a lot calmer now. Math is good.
Ariadne: Yes, I see that. Math IS good. 🙂
Thenea: It sounds like your outrage is spurring you to seek justice for all humankind. You’re specifically angry at other deities because you spend the most time with deities, and thus, that’s the injustice that you see. Yet, I feel that if you spend more time in the world of humans, you will see injustices which are still greater.
Ariadne: You overlook the degree to which unjust gods may inspire unjust humans to higher heights of depravity.
Thenea: Yeah, there are certainly people who use religion as an excuse for unbridled atrocity of all sorts.
Ariadne: What I want to do is to create rites which protect people from Evil Inspiration, from being dominated by divine forces for ill, and which will demonstrate to humans their value, the value of their lives, not to be sacrificed on the altar of piety. I want to teach, via mysteries, the meaning of Freedom, and how to break the shackles of oppression — through friendship, cooperation, and passion. And I want rituals that unify a human being with her Divine Self. If you will listen, I will tell you how.
Thenea: Sounds rad. I’m down.