This is from my book, which I’m trying to muster (my own) interest in, again. In brief: the process of apotheosis in Greek narratives breaks down into 4 stages:
- Contact with the Divine Ally
- Separation from mortal identity
- Receiving a divine influx from the Divine Ally
- Working through character flaws with the Divine Antagonist (whose domains have a dark reflection in the rough shape of the protagonist’s personal dysfunction).
- Earning fame through mighty deeds and/or building a cultus in some other way
Step 5, of course, would be enough in some cultures, but in the presence of the Greek pantheon, it can wind you up in the exact same pot of hot water as the likes of Niobe. It is the preceding steps which you must complete in order to meet the requirements set forth by this particular pantheon, so that attaining step 5 happens with all due respect to the gods and the aidos befitting a Greek deity.
Letting Step 4 happen naturally can be excruciating. Heracles killed his family in a Hera-inspired fit of jealousy, and then wound up having all the skin seared off of his torso, for one notable example. It very frequently leads to a deity who must build their cultus posthumously.
Before anyone jumps in to say, “yeah, well, gods sometimes just fuck with people,” I will point out that in most cases, the worst consequences of this stage of apotheosis are self-inflicted. It wasn’t Hera, but Heracles himself, who killed his family. It was not Hera, but Semele, who demanded the gift of the lightning bolt which immolated her. Even as the Greeks depicted erotic desire as an external spirit, they also sometimes depicted the internal workings of a person’s harrowed mind as the influence of deity. The line is fuzzier than we’d like to think. The influx of deity can bring forward the parts of ourselves most related to that deity, and sometimes, that part of ourselves can be downright destructive.
If you have ever had someone, friend or stranger, call you out on a personal failing, you know exactly how painful this is. That kind of thing can end friendships and start feuds. If you have begun the process of apotheosis, you will instantly be held to higher standards by the gods. If you succeed, your actions will someday impact the spiritual wellbeing of entire communities.
This ritual creates a safe space where you can negotiate the process of refinement with your divine antagonist. It starts by asking your divine ally to hold space for you and keep you safe. You then access the sublime aspect of your antagonist (or the part of them which is above mythology), dialed down to a level you can handle, and begin the process of identifying what you need to work through, what you can handle, and what the options are for how to work through your issues.
This technique will be of no value to those who have not already learned to recognize when their unconscious minds are using the faces of their deities to communicate with them. You need to learn which things are you and be able to recognize them before attempting this ritual.
It is also important to recognize the difference between a divine antagonist and a malevolent spirit impersonating a deity. The latter will harass you just to upset you, because emotions are powerful and it’s an easy way to feed. The former will have domains that match up with your personal failings, and will tend to throw obstacles in your way which specifically play to those weaknesses.
If you are a particularly stubborn human being, you might actually need to invite the correct deity to act in the capacity of antagonist. This might mean asking a few friends what your greatest failing is, and listening to their answers with an open heart.
Once again, even if your ultimate goal is not deification, having deities help you to work through your personal failings is a way to become a better person. Only jumping to building a cultus without having done the appropriate work is what we’d call “arrogantly trying to become a deity.” Everything before that step is just self improvement. Trying to be a better person isn’t arrogant. It’s part of living a good life.
Ritual For Encountering Your Divine Antagonist, Supervised — Prep
BUT WHY DID YOU: For those tuning in late, here are a few answers to common questions. Colors in all of my rituals are chosen for their meanings with respect to the physics of light. Every color, when used as a filter, reduces the intensity of the light which passes through to its own frequency. Red, which is the lowest frequency, is the safest and easiest to deal with. Black is absorptive (perfect boundary, perfect protection). No cultural system of color magic is being used. The colors have no moral valence. The pentagram is being used because of prior research into the Mithras Liturgy.
Intention: It is intended that you do this rite many times. Over the course of your work, you will start to hear your antagonist more clearly, and begin to better understand what parts of yourself you need to refine in order to move forward. Please read carefully through the aftercare section before doing this ritual.
Objective: This ritual is designed to cut you off from all outside magical and mystical influences except for one divine ally, then, under the supervision of that ally, to invite the antagonist into the space.
Overview: You will call and propitiate your ally and cast the boundary of the space in conjunction with them. You will then cut a portal for your antagonist and take steps to forge a successful partnership with them. The “point down” pentagram is used because, based on the earlier symbolic derived from the Mithras liturgy, it represents the Sublime or Transpersonal part of the divine. It is in red because red because we are trying to cut down on the power of the Sublime Influx, so as not to wind up like Semele, who went whole hog right away and was immolated.
Caveats: Be extra sure to seal the points above and below you, as those tend to be weak points in the boundary. The reversed pentagram is used because we are by-passing the personal level of the deity to access them on the sublime level. Do not use the “right side up” pentagram with the misguided notion that it will make things “more positive.” In this context, it will only connect you to the personal level of the deity, and you will not like the result. The color red has been chosen because it cuts down the intensity of that energy of the sublime level, allowing only a small fraction of that energy into the circle, avoiding the Semele effect. DO NOT INSCRIBE THIS PENTAGRAM IN ANY OTHER COLOR. ESPECIALLY AVOID HIGH-SPECTRUM COLORS SUCH AS WHITE, PURPLE AND BLUE.
Make Sure To Have: khernips, a dish of salt with 1 tsp salt in it (or a glass of water with a little vinegar in it), a lighter, a place for a source of fire, something to libate, somewhere to libate, your journal, your pen, any invocations you might need to use memorized or printed out.
This ritual is written for a person whose divine ally is Ares, and whose divine antagonist is Athena. Please change the invocations and name written in the pentagram to reflect your own divine relationships.
I. Purify yourself and the space with khernips
II. Light the fires of your bomos, or light a candle, and libate Hestia.
“Hail, Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth, thine is always first and last, sponde!”
(pour a libation into whatever is serving as your bomos)
III. Call your divine ally
“Ares, son of Hera and Zeus, brother to Eris and Enyo, greatly favored lover of Aphrodite, father of Eros and Anteros, father of Phobos, father of Harmonia, Ares of the bronze armor, mighty in battle, come and aide me in this rite.
III. Explain your purpose to your divine ally.
“Protect me, guard me, vouch for your sister, Athena as true. Assist me in building this boundary, keeping all out save for you and Athena, that I may face her truly and without error.”
IV. Formulate the boundary
- Using a dagger, direct your will and the energy gifted by the deity to draw a circle (or other applicable shape) around the space.
- From the single line which you have drawn, imagine that darkness is extending both up and down, to create a hollow, black sphere. No light may penetrate from outside. Anything which is not continually pouring into the space will be absorbed.
- Draw your ally’s name in gold at the top.
- Imagine a pinprick of light forming behind the name written in gold, growing to about 9 inches diameter.
V. Cut a portal for your antagonist.
- Draw a circle in red light toward the East, at about the level of the heart.
- Inside of that circle, inscribe a red pentagram, clockwise, as shown.
- Inscribe the pentagram with the name of the deity, as shown.
VII. Invoke your antagonist.
Kneel in front of the pentagram with your arms crossed over your chest, then cast your arms up and out as you call
“Hail Athena! Athena, daughter of Zeus, virgin Goddess of War and flawless stratagems, Patroness of Perseus, Theseus and Tydeus. Bearer of spear and aegis, come and aide me in this rite.” (Repeat this four times, then stand).
VIII. Declare your purpose
“Athena, I have come to listen. Athena, I have come to learn. I have come before you seeking to know what I might do to perfect my being. I seek clarity about my flaws, the flaws which would be my undoing. Tell me, by word or image, what I must do in order to become immortal.”
Sit and listen for a bit. Ask the questions that are on your heart, and record the answers.
Next, sit down with the deity and hash out a plan for learning the lessons that they are trying to teach you. They will not mind if this happens on your terms, so long as you are, in exchange, making a commitment to pursue wisdom with respect to what they stand for.
It’s ok for this to take a few sessions.
VIII. Take down the boundary.
Reach up and imagine undraw or erase the name of the deity.
Let the opening over your head grow, and imagine the silver and black boundaries growing smaller, until the barrier has completely fallen away.
IX. Thanking the deities
“Athena, daughter of Zeus, virgin Goddess of War and flawless stratagems, Patroness of Perseus, Theseus and Tydeus. Bearer of spear and aegis,
I thank you for your presence, and for your insight.
To Athena, Sponde!” (Pour out some drink)
“Ares, son of Hera and Zeus, brother to Eris and Enyo, greatly favored lover of Aphrodite, father of Eros and Anteros, father of Phobos, father of Harmonia, Ares of the bronze armor, mighty in battle,
I thank you for your help in creating the boundaries, and for guarding me safe,
To Ares, Sponde!” (pour out some drink)
X. Final Offering to Hestia
“My work is completed. As hearth and home should always be in mind first and last, so too with Hestia. To Hestia, sponde!”
(pour a libation for Hestia)
Aftercare For A Ritual For Encountering Your Divine Antagonist
The first time you do this ritual, you may feel very disoriented, emotionally speaking, especially if you have had a long and tumultuous relationship with a deity who just seemed to be trying to make your life hell.
This ritual, by its nature, by-passes the lower face of deity. The lower face of deity is where your personal issues surrounding them are, where the beliefs about them held by your local community reside, and the part of them which has the most accessible emotional nature.
You are encountering the deity on the sublime level, with the intensity dialed down so that you can talk to the part of them which made them immortal to begin with: that part of them which clung to their eternal passions, their values and ideals.
All of a sudden, you might realize that what you thought they cared about doesn’t even remotely resemble what they actually care about. The emotions are similar to what a person experiences when they are being gaslit: you might doubt yourself or your ability to discern reality. You might doubt what you are seeing now. You might doubt that the contract you made with them will be respected.
Ask for an omen to confirm the binding nature of the contract, and that they will respect it. If you do not receive an omen within seven days of asking for one, plead your case with your divine ally and try again.
It is possible that you failed to recognize your own unconscious mind in its effort to muddle the signal, either to protect you or to use the deity’s presence as a way of signal boosting other issues it thinks are more pressing (like your issues with other authority figures).
It is also possible that, in doing this work, you may be hit with destructive impulses. Do yourself a favor and do not make decisions based on your gut or your intuition for a few days following this work. Instead, take some time to journal about what you are feeling and thinking. Process those thoughts and feelings. Write poetry. Make art. Destroy a non-valuable inanimate object if need be. Run any life-changing decisions by a trusted friend, and don’t do any irreversible body-modifications.
Consider warning your spouse or partner, if you have one, that they might be in for a rocky week, and plan to cut them way more slack than seems reasonable during that time. If you have a revelation that your boss or a coworker is an ignoble asshole, sit on it. Keep your head down, work hard, and stay focused.
The good news is, this gets easier over time, and you will recover.