Breaking Silence

I’ve spent the last month or so abiding by a silence of sorts. Ares told me to be sparing with my words, so very few of you have heard them. I have been working dutifully on my art and improving myself for the duty I believe my god is preparing me for. Honestly, that means walking more with Ares’ consort than the war-god. However, I’m taking some time to write because it is Veteran’s Day.

I both enjoy and despise Veteran’s Day. One the one hand, I get to celebrate the hundreds of people I was fortunate to meet in the course of my service. I was lucky to be assigned first to a joint-service base for training and later to ISAF/NATO and travel to many places. I’ve traveled to 25 states in the US and did missions in over 25 separate countries doing combat overwatch, drug interdiction, counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, border enforcement, and even humanitarian relief work. I worked with operators and soldiers from all the services as well as the English, French, Dutch, Afghan, and Danish militaries. I’ve developed a closer relationship with the Marines as opposed to my other sister services because of my assignments, but I have dear friends in the Navy and Army, too.

On the other hand, it makes me uncomfortable when people thank me for my service, because at the end of the day, most people don’t know what they’re thanking me for. I was in a unit tasked mostly to watch Marines and call targets for them. While we never pulled triggers on the enemy, we nonetheless arranged the fighting according to the machinations of the war strategy and needs of the commanders on the ground. We were as the watchful eyes of gods, but we were not gods, and we lost plenty of good Marines and Brits. So no one can thank me for that. And you can’t really thank me for “doing what needed done,” because by the time I hit my combat unit, few back home believed in the war. The only people who really deserved thanks are the dead, and my family and friends who gave me up to the Machine.

That all being said, please wear your red poppies and give a supportive pat on the back to your military friends. Teach those who ask you about its meaning. If you’re feeling particularly generous, maybe you can send a few bucks to my favorite charity, Soldier’s Best Friend. They rescue dogs and train them to care as service dogs and companions for wounded warriors who are having trouble adjusting due to TBI or PTSD. I know my own little dog, while not a SBF dog, has helped me tremendously. And for the love of Ares, don;t you dare thank me for anything, or a pox on your house ;) Hail Ares!

Festival Time

Well folks, it finally looks like it’s happening. There is going to be a full-fledged Hellenic festival next fall sponsored by the folks over at Thessaly Temenos in Louisiana, USA.

I. Am. STOKED.

I don’t care if only five people other than myself show up; I’m really looking forward to meeting some people. I’ve already begun sketching out my banner and ritual wear. Which makes me think: if any of you want to go that do not belong to a temenos or demos, I propose creating one, at least in spirit, for we Areistai. I think it would be pretty cool. I’ve already been working towards this privately, of course, but it would be nice to be semi-official.

Also, for those of you who are considering going, if there is support for it, I wouldn’t mind leading a ritual, especially since the Greater Aresia festival I created should fall near the proposed Thessalian festival. Y’all can vote on it at the bottom if you like. If there’s enough call for it, it would be fun to write a sacred drama of the binding of Ares, with actors representing the gods and all. Armor is part of my ritual wear after all.

That’s all I really have on this right now. Make sure to check out the link and look at all the events they already have planned. Just don’t wet yourselves from excitement. Until then, Hail Ares! 

Getting Started with Ares

To “get the ball rolling” as Sannion put it, I wanted to write a short post for beginners and those unfamiliar with Ares to begin approaching him in worship.

On the fifth day of the lunar month, give an offering to Ares of incense (Orpheus suggests frankincense) or wine and say a prayer or recite either the Homeric or Orphic hymn to Ares. This is a very simple and unobtrusive way to add Ares’ worship into your routine.

If you want to further your understanding of the god, consider reciting and contemplating the Adorations of Ares. These hundred or so simple statements reflect on Ares’ nature, his role in the cosmos and religion, and the mysteries associated with him.

2 Metageitnion

So today we celebrate the Agathos Daimon. I’m much more on board for this celebration, because although I haven’t been very attentive to it before, the Agathos Daimon has been very good to me. I’ve always had preternaturally good luck, and it seems more than fair to acknowledge that favor. In honor of that, I composed a prayer to go along with my libation (Ino again).

To the Agathos Daimon

Who has led me forward in

Fortune unwavering

My constant companion

And steadfast friend

I give thanks to you this day

Your own, held sacred

Brainstorming Festival Ideas

In light of my goal to create a new festival calendar, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for festivals and thought I might share a few. This is by no means a complete list, and some a more personal than others, and some are more historical while others are more UPG/mimicry of could have been.

The Lesser Aresia or Antibiannia (Unbinding)–this festival involving Ares, Hermes, and Dike is the opposite of my previously created Greater Aresia festival, and celebrates the opening of the campaign season and unleashing Ares to war. It will echo the Greater festival in reverse order, and include war blessings and such. While hardly any evidence exists for such a festival in Greece, an annual binding ritual implies an annual unbinding, and the Romans explicitly practiced a festival like this in which the iron gates of Mars’ temple were thrust open as the army marched out to begin the campaign.

The Xenia Festival–this festival would commemorate the accomplishments of community members and would occur on July 1st in remembrance of many of us who came together for Silent July. It would include offerings to Zeus Xenios and Zeus Philios to strengthen and watch over our communal bonds.

The Basilia/Tyrania–this festival reflects my own political aspirations/hopes for my country, and would celebrate Zeus Basilios as supreme king and beseech him to grant kings to the nations of the world. I plan on placing this festival on the Demokratia as my own cheeky way of giving the Ancient Athenians the bird.

The Enyalia–this is an ancient festival from Salamis celebrating Ares for victory during the marine invasion of a Persian encampment while the Athenian navy attacked the Persian fleet.

Untitled Festival–I’m not sure what to call this festival, but in keeping with my Laconophilia, I want to commemorate the victory of the Pelopponessian League over the Delian league and the hero-general Lysander. I was thinking of making this an event marked by ceremonial battle between Ares (to represent Sparta & the PL) and Athene (to represent Athens and the DL), finishing with a victorious but reconcillitory Ares after the manner of Lysander, who chose not to destroy Athens like his Theban and Corinthian allies wanted. I may also turn this into a three-day festival, with the above occurring on one day, a re-enactment of the victory of Athene over Ares in the Iliad and Theuseus’ victory over the Amazones another, and yet another showing their support of each other in the war against the titans. I’m not sure yet.

Areia–kind of the opposite to the last festival, this festival is a partial reconstruction of one held in the Athenian deme of Acharnai, in which the new Ephebes would take their oath at Athene’s altar, have a procession to the altar of Ares and Aglauros, and repeat their oath there. Little is known about this festival, but I think I might place it either near the Athenian new year (as this was probably the historic time) or near/on Veteran’s day. It’s a day meant to celebrate soldiers, and I plan to emphasize it.

Untitled Festival II–I’m not sure where to place this one (maybe Memorial Day), but I think there should be a festival celebrating the gods and heroes who fought the Trojan War and perhaps other mythic wars, like Dionysos’ campaign against India, the conquests of the Amazones, etc.

Some of the less-developed ideas I have include celebrating the relationship of Ares and Aphrodite (including offerings of apology to Hephaestos), the deaths of Julian and Alexander, the deaths or anniversaries of other important figures and battles like Patton and the Battle of Thermopylae, and maybe the service birthdays. That’s all I really have for now. None of them have real set dates, rituals, prayers, etc. written yet, so I’ll keep everyone informed if they’re interested. In the meantime, Hail Ares!

A Touch of Madness

So a week or so ago, I asked Sannion for an oracle. Because I am taking art classes, and figuring it was my second or third from the god, I asked Dionysos if he’d like anything. He asked for a crown of grapes and ivy. Simple enough. But then the line finished with this:

You’ll understand why later

Of course, I wasn’t sure what that meant at the time. How was I supposed to? Unfortunately, I think I’ve discovered the reason.

Play with a mad-god, and you will go mad.

Now, I pride myself on my dickish coolness, by which I mean I’m so cold, detached, and frank that I come off as a dick. I’m totally okay with it. I’m so awfully rational that words like”robotic” and “inhuman” have been used to describe me in harsher conversation. I made the mistake of telling the god I like a woman, though. Now I keep thinking in poetry. It’s awful it is. I can’t focus in class or at work. I can hardly write this. This is the sort of nonsense that goes through my head lately:

Never should a man be so unfortunate as to wax poetic over a woman. He suffers a deficit in focus until his sanity leaves him, and he enjoys every moment of it. Such is the woe that befalls the heart.

See that? I’ve written three poems in two days. On the other hand, my art is getting much better. That’s something I guess.

In other news, today/tomorrow we commemorate the death of one of the greatest generals of all time, Alexander the Great and Undefeated. Gods keep him. And, for him, a gift:

Golden-haired son of Zeus, equal of Ares

Master of fleet-footed Bucephalus

Conqueror of Nations

King of Greece

Pharaoh of Aegyptus

Emperor of Persia

Overlord of Asia

Husband of Roxana

Lover of Hephaestion

We honor you this day on the anniversary of your death

May you return to lead us again, great strategos

And before then relish your bliss in Elysium

Contest!

For those that don’t know, May is Military appreciation month in the US; it contains more military holidays than you can shake a stick at (for a full list, see here). In honor of the festivities, I am going to hold a writing contest running through Memorial day.

Up for grabs are two clay cameos, one for each category in the contest: poetry and short essay (see photo below). The “Ares in Naos” design is for the poetry category and the “Thrakian Rider” design is for the short essay category. The former is based on a coin obverse from Anatolia and the latter on a coin obverse from Thrakia.

Rules are simple–all entries must pertain to Ares or the military. One entry per person per category. Winners are selected by the readers, and everyone is allowed to vote only once in each category. You may vote for your own entries. This is an internationally open contest.

Poetry: No style restrictions. 25 word minimum preferred except for haiku.

Short Essay: 500 word minimum. If citations are necessary, you may use whatever style is most comfortable for you. No style restrictions, but non-fiction is preferred (I want to save that for another contest).

Entries are due no later than 2359 Eastern Time Monday, May 27, 2013 (Memorial Day in the US). Please email entries to aspisofares@gmail.com . Good Luck!