Tidbits

So I found this interesting ditty doing research for my book. Supposedly, it comes from the Suda Lexicon compiled by the Byzantines around the 10th century A.D.

Theus Ares (Dushrara); this is the god Ares in Arabic Petra. They worship the god Ares and venerate him above all. His statue is an unworked square black stone. It is four foot high and two feet wide. It rests on a golden base. They make sacrifices to him and before him they anoint the blood of the sacrifice that is their anointment.”

 

A few small, quick observations: one, that this syncretic Ares is the chief god of their pantheon, which could be one reason the region turns out such good warriors–they’d want to make their god proud. Second, that his icon is a square, black stone, much like the Kaaba. Three, they perform anointing with the blood much in the way I personally do when blood is involved in my rituals. I never really had a source for that, but they, I figure that if I do have past lives, many of them were in fact Arab. Then of course there’s the fun, personal coincidence that Petra is the feminine form of my name… Ah the things you learn.

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.

Anthology Update

I wanted to update everyone about the progress the Anthology, which is as yet untitled (a poll will be coming soon, methinks). I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of all the submissions, because I’m a nerd like that, and this is what I have so far:

 

Poetry: 1 Ares and 3 Mars

Prayers: 4 Ares and 1 Mars

Photo: 1 Ares

Short Story: 1 Mars

 

So far it’s a pretty good mix. for being open only two months, I’ve received 11 entries, with pledges of at least ten more. Remember, you have until 1 Aug.

Untitled Ares/Mars Anthology open or submissions!

Bibliotheca Alexandrina is seeking submissions for a devotional anthology in honor of Ares, God of War and his Roman counterpart Mars, Father of Rome. Submissions will open February 1, 2014 and close August 1, 2014, with an expected release date of November 1, 2014. This anthology is being edited by P.T. Helms.

A variety of material is appropriate for inclusion in the anthology. Examples include, but are not limited to prayers, rituals, hymns, essays, visual artwork, and short stories or plays.

Areas worth exploring include Ares’ and Mars’ cults, both ancient and reconstructed, comparing and contrasting the Greek and Roman gods, exploring the relationships of the gods to others in their respective pantheons, exploring the gods’ realms beyond the battlefield, analyses of Ares and Mars in myth and poetry, representations of either god in popular culture, exploration of syncretic practices, and historical essays.

Multiple submissions by the same author are acceptable, and all contributors will retain original copyright to their work. Previously published material is also acceptable, provided the author retains the original copyright. All contributors must complete a publication release prior to the publication date or their work will not be included in the anthology.

Absolutely NO plagiarism. All work must be the original work of the author or include proper citations where necessary; the preferred citation styles for this anthology are MLA or APA. Title pages and abstracts are not necessary. Any work that has been plagiarized will be excluded from the finished anthology.  The editor reserves the right to make minor changes to formatting, spelling, and grammar if necessary. The editor also reserves the right to request modifications of submissions or to reject submissions as necessary.

Artwork must be at least 300dpi. Send all submissions in the body of the email or as .doc/.rtf, or .jpg, attachments. Please send all questions or submissions to the editor at aspisofares@gmail.com. All contributors will receive a coupon code which will allow them to purchase up to three (3) copies at cost. No monetary compensation will be provided. Proceeds from all sales will be divided between charitable donations in honor of the Deities and production costs for future publications from Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

 

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I’ve already received four or five submissions, not including the material of my own I plan on adding. Please keep them coming and spread the word!

30 Days of Devotion I: Introducing Ares

Sorry if I’m jumping the gun on this, but I saw this over at Ibrium’s  blog, who in turn got it from Sannion and Ruadhán, and thought I’d give it a go. Honestly, breaking my silence and moving away from the epistolary side of things (and I’m still waiting on letters from some folks, hint hint) makes me a bit uncomfortable, but until anyone indicates their contrary opinion, I’m okay with doing this. I consider today, Veterans/Remembrance Day, as particularly auspicious considering it marks the foolish attempt of man to end a war to end all wars. Of course, we all know how well both aims went.

So anyway, I’m obviously doing my series on Ares, which of course ties in very well with my previous Ares 101 series, and will hopefully keep me from getting absolutely burnt out writing for a single outlet (btw, I’m a newspaper editor now).  The basic structure of the exercise is given below, and today’s is about introducing Ares.

I think I’ve covered the bare basics about Ares rather extensively, but to recap, Ares is the Olympian god of war, bloodshed, rebellion, divine retribution, and (traditional) masculinity. So much of what I could write will be covered in proceeding articles, but for now I’ll say Ares is a god, not dead (though not really alive so much as simply being I’d venture[silly atheists]), and is worshiped by fewer today than should be, though this is slowly changing.

I. A basic introduction of the deity
II. How did you become first aware of this deity?
III. Symbols and icons of this deity
IV. A favorite myth or myths of this deity
V. Members of the family – genealogical connections
VI. Other related deities and entities associated with this deity
VII. Names and epithets
VIII. Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)
IX. Common mistakes about this deity
X. Offerings – historical and UPG
XI. Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity
XII. Places associated with this deity and their worship
XIII. What modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?
XIV. Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?
XV. Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
XVI. How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?
XVII. How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?
XVIII. How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG)
XIX. What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?
XX. Art that reminds you of this deity
XXI. Music that makes you think of this deity
XXII. A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with
XXIII. Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity
XXIV. A time when this deity has helped you
XXV. A time when this deity has refused to help
XXVI. How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
XXVII. Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered
XXVIII. Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently
XXIX. Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?
XXX. Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?

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!

Contemplating the Mysteries

“A bright light shone forth, a flash from the god’s golden helm. It showed Ares mysteries, shadows of death and whispers of songs half finished. One such shadow moved and was united with a glimmer, and from its edge was born harmony, issuing forth a soft glow and a sigh of contentment. “

Ares has been moving in me lately, moving in strange ways. Sudden flashes of inspiration such as the one above have driven me into a state of inward contemplation, In the past I have lived in Ares’ realm, surveying distant battlefields and moving soldiers as pawns on a chessboard. Ares rolled his dice and so the war played out, every person playing his or her part, each of us trying to gain an upper hand. Now that I have moved on from that life, Ares is showing me new things, and in order to be a better servant to him, I must now walk in another of his mysteries.

And mysteries they are. Combat is a mystery only the initiated know. I’m now moving on to the mystery of achieving and creating Harmony. Perhaps one day there will be others to contemplate. But for now, in order to serve my god, I must observe his command, “Listen and be silent”. Therefore, you will not be hearing much from me. I will still be doing the Ares 101 posts, and I may post a few prayers now and again, but there is work to be done before Ares’ cult can be spread much further, at least as far as my commitment to Ares and the community is concerned. The oracle was right; time is needed. So until then, Hail Ares.