In the previous Ares 101 post, I talked about getting Ares’ attention. So now that the call went forward, how do you know if you’re on the god’s radar? For those of you who are nuministically challenged like me, or aren’t great at divination, there are few reliable methods to tell if you’ve been noticed. Below are some of the experiences I’ve had in order to interpret the attention of the war-god. Keep in mind that while some of these methods are inspired by older methods, the majority is UPG, so if there is a traditional method to the madness, it will be marked as so. All other evidence is UPG.
1: Looking to the Skies
One of the traditional methods of divination in Ancient Greece was ornithomancy, or the interpretation of bird signs. Ares is associated with four birds in Metamorphoses 21: the barn owl, the eagle owl, the vulture, and the woodpecker. Three, the barn owl, the eagle owl, and the vulture, are bad omens, and the barn owl in particular is an omen of war. The woodpecker is a good omen, and is especially good for someone going hunting or attending a feast.
Normally, when I pray to Ares for a particular purpose or with a question in need of answer, I ask him to send a sign, most often in the form of a bird. If I see a woodpecker or two, I know I’m good, but if I see a barn owl, I know the answer is a “no.” Thankfully, both are native to my area. I’d be a little disconcerted if I saw a vulture or eagle owl, because they don’t normally show up in my environment. Then again, you don’t necessarily have to look for the living, breathing birds. The show up on TV and in Facebook feeds by chance, or even in logos for local businesses. You’ll have to develop your own methods of being attentive and deciding how long is too long to know if you’ll be getting an answer.
2: Look Down
Ares is the father of numerous snakes, especially of the poisonous variety (called drakon [dragons] in Greek). If such animals are native to your area (and in many places, they are), you can look for them as answers to your prayers. If it is a poisonous variety, however, DO NOT APPROACH IT. They are dangerous animals, and in general, are more dangerous the smaller they are.
Again, you don’t have to necessarily see the signs out in the world. Snakes are a potent symbol that pop up everywhere, much like birds. The biggest problem with this method, however, is that many gods are associated with snakes; Zeus, Apollon, and the Agathos Daimon are a few that come to mind.
3: Divination Time
I am not a diviner, personally, but many people in the pagan and polytheist communities are. You may try tarot, runes, oracle bones, or some other method. If you want to come up with your own method, I might suggest dice, as Aeschylus describes Ares as using dice to determine the outcome of battles. You may want to write down a number of possible answers to a query, say a prayer to Ares Epeekoos (the probable epithet of the oracular Ares of Asia Minor), and roll the dice, with the outcome corresponding to one of the answers.
4: Ask an Oracle
Sometimes, you need a strong answer that you just can’t find. In times like that, I suggest pulling a page from the ancients and consult an oracle. I know of two Hellenes that offer oracles each month: Sannion, who offers them under the auspices of Dionysos, and Dver, who offers them under the auspices of Apollon. There may be more out there, but they’re all I know about personally. Each has their own requirements and limitations regarding their work, so you should read their listings very carefully and respectfully request more information if needed. You should always treat the process as if you were marching into Delphi–never ask frivolous questions of an oracle.
5: Go With Your Gut
Sometimes you’re just going to know when Ares is standing there watching you. To me, Ares. presence has always felt forboding but excited, like a trainer goading a new gym-goer into adding more weight to the bar. Others describe his presence as a stern but loving father looming over them. You’ll just have to wait and see for yourself.
Hopefully this should be enough information to keep you going. If you want to go deeper into Ares’ cult, I suggest staying tuned in. In the next few posts, I will be covering offerings, symbols for representing Ares, musical resources for worship and more. If you have any topics you wish to see covered, or have any suggestions for approaching Ares, let everyone know in the comments. Until then, hail Ares!