“Theseus’ crime deified her. She gave that ingrate the winding thread and gladly swapped her perjured husband for Bacchus . . . He embraces her and mops her tears with kisses, and says: ‘Let us seek heaven’s heights together. You have shared my bed and you will share my name. You will be named Libera, when transformed. I will create a monument of you and your crown, which Volcanus gave Venus and she gave you.’
He does what he said, and turns its nine gems to fires, and the golden crown glitters with nine stars [the constellation Corona].”
— Ovid, Fasti 3. 459 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.)
When I consider the apotheosis of Ariadne, it is this scene, particularly, which sticks in my mind. Granted that Ovid is a Roman source, but I honestly feel that this story resonates to these two Greek deities, and their marriage.
Venus (Aphrodite), here, has given Ariadne a gift, a sign of authority and sovereignty. It had become a part of her Earthly presence — a gift from the mythic reality which became a part of her. Here, Liber (Dionysos) is taking that part of her and setting it ablaze in the night sky, unifying the mythic aspects of Ariadne with the ineffable heights of heaven.
In my post about the Upper and Lower Faces of Divinity, I discussed the difference between how humans see deities, and how deities see one another, and the benefits which might be had by slowly nudging the two things into alignment.
In an earlier post about Deification in the Mithras Liturgy, I explored the elemental symbolism of apotheosis, and considered the double-pentagram as a symbol to represent the relationship between the upper and lower reflections of the elements.
The latter, I think, creates a good way of describing the former. In brief, the Mithras Liturgy describes the upper and lower elements as reflecting one another, with the last breath in one world and the first breath in the other being separated by water (bearing in mind both that drowning is a means of completing deification, and also regional customs, such as Hera’s bathing ritual, and the Hebrew tradition of Mikveh associate water with rebirth, or the recreation of something.) When drawn, nine points are connected, giving us a nice nod to Ariadne’s Crown, which is a vivid and poetic emblem of this work.
Don’t mind the planetary attributions. The general idea is that the transpersonal planets are above, and the personal/interpersonal planets are below. As for what planet is associated with which point, Apollon and I argued about this for three days, and a dear friend who was witness to the discourse was sorely tempted to defenestrate us both. They in no wise change how the glyph is actually used. As with many such conversations I have with Apollon, there was no practical end in view, we were both just interested in jabbering about metaphysics and philosophy until our respective jaws fell off.
Do mind the two versions of the double pentagram. If the first stage of one’s personal apotheosis is to identify the Mythic Self and to develop it, the second is certainly to align that newly-discovered mythic self with the transcendent world. The two processes, that of unifying the faces of divinity to produce more fruitful divine relationships and that by which our Mythic Self becomes a conduit for our highest nature, are parallel. It makes sense to me, therefore, to craft a ritual usable for both purposes.
Upper and Lower Epithets and Titles
Let’s say that we want to take the basic, mythological Apollon, who has a collection of mythological adventures, and unify him with the deity of raw and primal nature.
Obviously, we are not unifying anything inside of Apollon. He’s one deity, all in one piece. It’s our perceptions and ability to connect to him which is what actually needs unifying with who Apollon actually is, on a higher level. What we are acting upon, actually, are the filters, both the cultural ones and also our personal ones.
We want to start by understanding these two things that we are looking at.
The aspects of Apollon which are decidedly mythological in nature are things that describe his mythological appearance, including the color of his hair, his clothing, or the symbolic objects he carries. In addition to these, any names of the deity relating to a specific terrestrial place (Delos, Delphi), any epithets referring to what human beings, in particular, tend to ask the deity for.
- Of the Silver Bow
- Leader of Muses
- Of Delos
- Of Delphi
Transcendent aspects of Apollon include his role in the non-human universe, his virtues, his values, and anything which would not cease to exist if humanity went up in a puff of smoke. Here are a few examples:
- Of the Cycles of Nature
- Of Metaphysical Harmony Between Natural Forces
- Of Truth
I have argued, however, that each mythological aspect of a deity alludes to one of the higher principles for which they stand, with the possible exception of names and epithets that relate to a particular place (though for all I know, those places may have a meaning of which I am unaware).
Apollon’s many epithets having to do with mice, locusts and other plague-related creatures are ultimately a reflection of him as a deity of nature. All of his light-related epithets allude to his nature as a deity of truth. In his aspect of the leader of Muses, who both carry knowledge and lend inspiration, and also in his role as a prophetic deity, he is expressing his aspect as a deity of metaphysical harmony — both inspiration and prophecy are related, and each can be seen as the process of a sentient creature coming into spiritual alignment with the harmony of the universe. Indeed, music, too, alludes to the same aspect.
A deity with whom one has a much more intimate relationship may also have aspects personal to the practitioner. We see this very clearly in the apotheosis narrative of Semele. Zeus appeared to her as the rarely seen Bacchic Zeus, because that was what Thyone, the goddess of ecstasy and divine frenzy, needed in order to be born from the consciousness of Semele.
Hermes, as I experience him, expresses many traditional aspects, but also some unusual ones.
- Shepherd of people
- Friend to all
- Of all communities
- God of Fandoms
- Of Games
- Of Absurdities
All of his aspects, however, can be boiled down to these:
- Love (Philos)
The crossing of boundaries covers travel in general, his psychopomp aspect, and also, in some senses, his shepherding aspects. Whether we are talking about sheep or people, managing a flock is about drawing a flexible boundary, and making sure nothing wanders too far outside of it. On a personal level, I see Hermes drawing people in when they have wandered from the flock. Commerce is about transferring things from one domain to another domain, and theft is the same.
Communication covers his role as a deity of divination (mantic pebbles), as a negotiator, and as messenger.
The Joy aspect of Hermes covers everything from epithets like Kharidotes and Enagonios, to the fact that he is an active lover in the mythos, and has seduced a wide array of people both mortal and divine.
Creativity is expressed in myths where Hermes invented various things, hatched amazing plans, got up to ridiculous mischief, and so forth, but creativity here, is meant to express more. Hermes is a remarkably generative deity, covering not only invention and fertility, but also the expansion of knowledge. Never content to simply collect information that others have generated, he adds letters to the alphabet, founds fields of study, creates languages and so on.
Lastly, love (friendship) covers his role as a deity of social activities, like feats and guest-friendship (hospitality). It also covers certain, nearly Aphrodisian qualities of the deity, such as “friend of mankind.”
Thus, for me, I’d want to focus on unifying his role as my personal deity of absurdity, to his broader role within his pantheon, as a deity of joy. His “God of Fandom” aspect, as he manifests for me, should be linked and aligned with his Creativity, which is more on-point for who he might be to other deities.
Identifying these aspects, and the correspondences between them, is step 1. As I create these, I realize that there may not actually be ancient epithets in Greek which express all of the facets of the deity which I mean to allude to. Not for any other reason than that I mean to extone the aspects, I would rather that they not be in English. I plan to translate them into Greek.
Unifying Aspects Through Ritual Action
The double pentagram can be drawn in one motion without stopping (sometimes referred to as being unicursal). We infer from the Pythagorean tradition of the Hugeia pentagram that a pentagram, regardless of orientation, is a portal to a force. Here, two related things are being invoked and linked.
Because every scheme I came up with to activate both top and bottom simultaneously was in some way over-complicated, heinous, or uncomfortable, it is inevitable that the two pentagrams will be activated separately. To assure that the concept of unifying top and bottom hits home with the unconscious mind, tracing the figure both before and after activating it is for the best.
I gave consideration to the association with the Goddess of Health, and whether that influence needed to be balanced out.
If we start in the top pentagram and draw down, the symbolism suggests that we are aligning the aspects by drawing the power of the transcendent name down into its corresponding mythic aspect. If this is the case. Since we are moving, already, in the direction of human concerns, it makes sense to balance out “Health” who is a being representing a biological concern, by adding a Celestial element. Drawing the light from the stars, moon or sun as the figure is traced would balance this out.
If we start in the bottom pentagram and draw up, the symbolism instead suggests that we are are bringing the two things into alignment by attaching the lower aspect to the higher aspect, and pulling it up. We are already balancing the figure by so doing, and drawing the figure in black is instead recommended.
The process, then, is relatively simple:
- Draw the figure in the appropriate fashion
- Mark the pentagrams by drawing the names (or sigils based on the names)
- Activate them by projecting into them with hand, dagger, or wand
- Invoke the aspects by singing or saying the name during projection
- Draw the figure again
It remains an open question, in my mind, whether this should be done once over the devotional altar, or in various directions, radiating inward toward the working space. Either is fully reasonable as an approach, depending on the working style of the person in question.
I’ll put this all together into a few different ceremonies in my next post.