There is a surreal quality in being devoted to certain gods, one that often separates them from other devotees and general worshippers. Apollonians are very artsy while Dionysians are very mystical. Artemesian women are very strong-willed and the devotees of Aphrodite tend to be emotive, warm people. Being a devotee means immersing yourself in the influences of your god, often with such intensity as to make even the voices of other gods seem a little distant.
For the last few years, I have been so immersed in the Aresian lifestyle of conflict, war, and law that one might wonder if I’d ever be anything but harsh and disagreeable. Indeed, even after leaving the military, I set down the road to being a lawyer—a very contrarian and testosterone-fueled career path that while women can and do excel in, is still (at least in the US) a good ole’ boys’ club. I have always loved war and justice and naturalism in society; my Facebook friends often see me sharing military and conflict-related articles.
Recently though, I have been given a break in my schedule, one enough to pursue a second associate’s degree (to be fair, I only need 15 new credits). I decided, therefore, to pursue a fine art’s degree. Some of you have already seen the new artwork that’s popped up on my Facebook page, and I plan on posting much of it here as well. It’s amazing what a change in environment can do to modify one’s perspective, especially in a sacred sense.
Now, I’ve never spent much effort on appreciating the arts. Sure, some paintings are nice, and creating statuary and other votives is an important aspect of my worship, but in all, I’ve always viewed art as more of a way to waste time. Besides, most professional artists are the wispy, out-there types that deeply annoy my need for everything to do something, to have a practical use. An aesthetically beautiful shield is nice unless it can’t do what it’s meant to do.
I should note that art and the world of war aren’t incompatible; after all, some of the best ballads, paintings, statues, etc. are all about some good old-fashioned ass kicking between nations. Warrior-poet traditions abound in many cultures, and as mentioned above, armor and armament can be considered works of art in and of themselves. Except in ancient Sparta and Rome, there were no professional soldiers; everyone from the generals to the lowly peltasts (poorer soldiers who were recruited as skirmishers and scouts armed with javelins) was an artisan, baker, doctor, or other common worker first and a soldier only when needed. Even the ephebes of Athens only served a few years before moving on.
And so, being out of my element of professional conflict (or learning therefore), I’m experiencing a whole new spiritual paradigm, one dominated by Apollon, the Mousai, Aphrodite and her Graces, and all the fun-loving, less serious gods (or should I say less grim and grave?). I’ll admit it’s uncomfortable. Right now I’m taking music, drawing, and ceramics. All three classes are already stretching my patience, both with the respective mediums and with me (perfectionism is a curse). While the professors can say I’m good, I still get frustrated with the process it takes to get to a finished product. Clay is especially difficult because of its pliability; I’m more accustomed to metal, which must be beaten and abused to find its shape, whereas clay must be caressed and goaded into even the crudest forms (and even then, it has the tendency to do whatever it wants anyway).
The worst part, in my opinion, is how draining it is on my personality. Art and creating art are simultaneously intense and incredibly droll. You can’t argue with art—there’s no dynamism in it. When I’m not diving into the process, I find myself incredibly bored and apathetic. It’s very annoying at times. While I don’t find it hard to be stimulated by this new environment, I do find it hard to stay engaged.
I really do find it amazing how the personalities of different gods are exposed in their realms and in their devotees. The passions evoked by the Muses are much different from the Passions Ares or Aphrodite give. Needless to say, this is all going to take some getting used to. For now, Hail Ares (and the other gods).