A Study of Apotheosis

Human beings can become Greek Deities. This isn’t a strange or off-the-wall belief. It is an important facet of Greco-Roman mythology. Deities like Psyche, Herakles, Ariadne, Asklepios, Semele and Antinous are all examples of people born on Earth who went on to be worshipped as gods.

This project is sponsored by Ariadne, who said:

“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.”

Her suggestion to explore Apotheosis to gain some insight into these matters has proven very fruitful.

Here are my articles on Apotheosis:

1. The Basics. 

2. The Theological Problems

3. Can Deification Be Achieved? Can it be undone?

4. The Mortal and Immortal Personae

5.  A Ritual To Help You See Your Filter and Discover Your Self

6. A Communal Practice For Exploring The Mythic Self

7. Divine Allies and Divine Antagonists

8. The Upper and Lower Faces of Divinity

9. The Theory Behind Rituals To Unify the Faces

10. A Theurgic Devotional For Unifying The Faces of a Deity

I asked deities for some opinions when I got stuck:

Apollon: Apotheosis is Democratic

Hekate: Deities can become mortal again. The mythic self is the higher self of a human, but the lower self of a deity. Mythic reality is where gods and mortals meet. 

My goal going forward is to study the matter, and see what it can tell us about our spirituality, and what might constitute “Enlightenment” for the aspirant using this paradigm.

9 comments

  1. Out of curiosity, are you still planning on turning all of this (and perhaps more…?!?) into a book at some point? I’ve love to see that, and as I said several years back, if you’d like a preface to such a volume, I’d be game for that, too! 😉

    1. I’d certainly like to. I went for a time without very much time at all for writing anything spiritual. I have a block on this topic in particular because I have lost my vision of why I was writing about it.

      I have some vague sense thar it’s theologically important to restore a sense of scale to human-divine relationships in Hellenic polytheism. Also, a lot of very useful mediumship-related tech has come out of that exploration in particular, but without a sense of vision, I’m at a loss for how to tie it all together.

      So, yeah. I would like to finish this and move on. But I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.

      1. It feels to me like this is an important book, and as it is a topic that is of inherent interest to me for a variety of reasons, I have been enthusiastic about you doing it ever since I heard about you doing so a few years ago, so I want to support you in that however possible! I think you’ve done some awesome work on it thus far, and you’re the ideal person to write about it.

        I wonder if you might be interested in brainstorming a bit, workshopping a bit, or what-have-you via e-mail in the coming months on this, if you have the time. Perhaps in having some conversations about this, something will shake loose…and, perhaps, the conversations themselves can be in that long Hellenic tradition of “philosophical dialogues” around such matters…!?! 😉 And, I can see if some of my own Deities with Whom I’m in the closest devotional relationships can add Their two cents to the conversation as well through divination, etc., if that might also help along the way.

        One of the things that most astonishes me about a lot of Hellenic polytheists is the kind of willful ignorance (or, if not that, then at least mental blockage/cognitive-dissonance-where-there-need-not-be-any) which occurs on this particular issue: they’ll argue that to aspire to divinity as a human is inherently hubristic, and to revere anyone who used to be human is impious (I’ve heard this said quite casually on certain occasions), and yet then if one points out how often humans cross the supposed divine/human divide in Greek myth (with both hero cultus as well as in demigods becoming full divinities or outright apotheosis, often through unexpected means, e.g. drowning), or have done so in historical circumstances, they kind of go “yeah, but” or suddenly act as if their comments on such things aren’t meant to be taken personally by anyone who has a devotional relationship with such beings, etc.

        There is also a conversation that needs to be had regarding Mystery initiations (especially of the Eleusinian variety, but also Bacchic/Orphic ones…just for starters!) presupposing a path toward apotheosis…and the fact is, that language gets used outright even in some forms of Wicca, and yet how seriously it is taken by some Wiccans and how sidelined it gets with some Hellenic polytheists can also be somewhat staggering…!?!

        Anyway, much could be said about it, and I do think it is important to have these ideas more widely available than they have been. For crying out loud, there have been several books on the process of theosis within Christian and Jewish practice in recent years, even apart from the extensive literature on Christian mysticism (especially of the medieval variety), and they’re ostensible monotheists…why not have this be something people speak of freely within a polytheist context?

      2. Divinations are a good idea, probably.

        Here’s the thing about Hellenists…

        Very few people decide to believe based on evidence. You met some people who have their own ideas. It those ideas are appropriate for the zeitgeist of our time, there is very little that you or I can do about it.

        Hellenismos is small because it’s in the tight grip of a few people who are dead set against modifying the religion to answer modern spiritual concerns, and everyone who disagrees with those few people is either trying to argue with them, or doesn’t identify as a Hellenic Polytheist, even if they primarily work with that pantheon, because the label has been taken from them by people who want to define that practice as something that most reasonable people don’t want.

        Hellenismos needs like… Polytheist Chabad. Not in the weird fundie quasi-messianic kind of way, but in the mystical, highly welcoming, yeah we’re having community dinner every Friday, come as you are, pro-mystical, just try this practice and see if it works for you and if not that’s cool kinda way.

        And that has got to be done in person.

        As to the book… Ariadne never wanted a book. She wanted practices that set people free from their nightmares, and once they were created, her interest waned. I think this work of writing needs a new patron. And I don’t really click with Herakles or Asklepios.

        So, that.

      3. Yes, the personal, and specifically “in-person,” dimension is what is most missing in my life currently, and the thing most desired…and the thing toward which many of my own efforts and larger plans are leading toward at the moment. But that’s a long and complicated topic…!?!

        If you’d like me to do so and would permit it, I can see if my own Deities might have any insights on this for you…of course, my go-to is Antinous, and you can’t talk about Him without apotheosis, but He knows most of the various other Deities Who underwent apotheosis in the Greek pantheon pretty well, too…Herakles and Asklepios don’t seem to me like the types that would be the divine sponsors behind such a project as this, personally.

        Anyway, say the word and I’ll get on it! 😉

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