Ares in Chains

One of the things that I think is important to discuss in the onus of the recent sexual abuse allegations within the pagan community is the theological importance we levy to our gods. Sannion touched on this briefly, but I wanted to expound on the myth of Ares’ trial for the retributive murder of Hallirhothios and the story’s theological and instructive value to both the polytheist community and pagans who assert archetypal philosophies.

 

Ares Kills Poseidon's Son

 

The myth is summed up as follows: Hallirhothios, a son of Poseidon, rapes (and this time in the myth, rape definitely means “sexually assaults”) Ares’ daughter Alkippe. Upon learning of the assault, Ares kills Hallirhothios. Poseidon, of course, is pissed, and so brings Ares to trial. Assembled before the rest of the gods, Ares and Poseidon give their cases, and the gods acquit Ares of wrongdoing; the place of the trial is renamed the Areopagus and becomes a place where the Athenians try capital cases.

 

This myth is significant for a variety of reasons. First, it sets up the first case of truly justifiable homicide. If you rape someone, it is justified–and some would say necessary–to kill the rapist. This precedent has trickled down to our modern legal system, where rape is a capital crime in places that have not abolished the death penalty. Even in places that have, many courts consider homicide in defense of self or another during the course of a sexual assault to be justified.

This is of course not to say that we can just go out killing abusers and rapists with impunity; you will go to jail if the homicide occurs after the fact, and of course the accused is still entitled to a trial. False accusations, though very rare, do happen, which is why courts can only justify violence in self defense during the commission of crime against you, and even then, self-defense laws vary from place to place. For more information about self-defense law in the US, follow this link.

 

Secondly, this myth demonstrates why it may be prudent to incorporate Ares’ cult into our community. It would be a slap in the face to victims to say, “Oh, if you only prayed to Ares more, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.” I’m not saying that nor would I attempt to. However, I feel that the sort of culture that Ares’ cult perpetuates, one of responsibility and care for victims, would be beneficial to the entire community.

Ares teaches us that “no” means “no,” and that the consequences for transgressing those boundaries of consent can and should be met with the most severe consequences. He teaches that someone will have the victim’s backs; by not fulfilling Ares’ promise (see below), we insult him and his charges. Ares can also bring courage to victims, and inspires the vulnerable to strengthen themselves when the strength of those charged to protect them fails. He is compassionate towards women and children, and his mythology attests to this. Yes, Ares is a violent, bloody god, but he is only wrathful towards those that transgress the law and make war.

Archetypically, Ares represents the upholder of laws and the protective father. Therefore, rejecting even the archetype of Ares is nonsensical for me. Ares, whose voice is louder than a thousand men, does not encourage silence. His companions are Justice and the Furies, those who send abusers to their doom. Make no mistake, the modern artistic depiction of Justice is dead wrong; Justice sees everything, carries a sword in her right (read [traditionally] dominant) hand, and keeps Ares, Oath, and Furies in tow.

 

Lastly, I feel this myth creates a morally binding promise between society and the innocent victims of abuse to advocate and seek retribution upon those who commit violence against the innocent. It describes a natural law, higher than any statutory authority, wherein victims must be made whole through justice. We can worry about PR and image and community structures AFTER we have begun to care for the hurt.

So please, don’t leave Ares in chains. We as a community cannot afford to break Ares’ promises. So hail Ares, that he may be at our backs and led behind Dike to the betterment of all.

For Yana

 Hear me swift Hermes, fleet-footed messenger,

Pray you fetch stern Dike to the fore,

And release for us cruel Ares, slayer of men.

Call before us the bloodthirsty father of tears and breaker of cities,

That we may beseech him, mighty bane of mortals.

Hear our prayer, o Succoror of Themis,

You who art gold broker of corpses.

Visit yourself upon the brother of Yana, together with your mighty host.

Feast upon his blood as is your wont, and visit upon him your terrible sons,

Fierce Phobos and terrible Deimos.

And let his flesh be rent and his soul torn,

His keeping left to the Erinyes, foul seekers of the wretched.

Give ear to your father, Zeus, who may judge him,

And let his place be Tartaros, foul place of the damned.

Deliver justice upon him, mighty Ares,

And let us feel solace in his torment.

PBP: B is for Brigands, Bandits, and Other Bad Guys

It seems that every once in a while, someone, somewhere in the Pagan community has to complain that there is an over-abundance of “fluffy bunnies” and “love & lighters” trying to shoot rainbows out their butts and turn the place into a paradise of sunshine and cotton candy clouds. These same people will then preach about the dark side, the benefits of the “left-hand path” and try to get all dark and mysterious. Rarely, however, do we talk about the people who take their dark side a little too seriously.

In the Golden Ass, a group of brigands sacks a town for fun and then sacrifice to Ares for their success. Ares sires many murderous children, many of them with beastly qualities, possibly one of the reasons Pausanias figured Ares’ name Theritas (beastly) was not in fact named for his nurse Thero.

Criminals are no strangers to the pagan community. Many organizations, especially of the neopagan variety like Mother Earth Ministries of Tuscon, AZ, train and send volunteers, write letters, and offer services to inmates who happen to pagan. I think it says how much our numbers have grown (generally speaking) that we need prison ministries (and also how well we may or may not police our own communities).

Then of course there are other interesting folks out there. One notorious name you may remember is that of Jonathon Sharkey. You may remember that this man ran for president a few times (most recently in 2012) under the auspices of the Vampyres, Witches, Pagans Party; he was also investigated for making threats against the president, as well as convincing a 16 year-old girl to run away with him. You can find a variety of folks on this whistle-blower site: Problematic Pagans. Accusations (substantiated or not) run the gamut from plagiarism to registered sex offenders. Have fun with that one.

Remember folks, not everyone is a nice friendly guy like me (cue laughing). But hey, we have a god for that (a few actually, but more on that later). Hail Ares!