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.

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Some Gnosis

Just dropping some knowledge on y’all regarding a few offerings of late.

I offered whiskey to Ares last night and received a pretty strong, almost immediate reaction. Also, Tess Dawson (who has recently given some offerings to our god) said black coffee works very well, too.

 

That’s all, carry on. Hail Ares!

Ares 101: Your First Offering

In the previous Ares 101 post, I wrote about answering Ares’ call and making first contact with the god. Now that you’ve met Ares, it’s time to start leaving some offerings to begin building kharis. I will describe some of the traditional offerings given in the ancient and modern cult, as well as some ideas to try out if you are so inclined based on the level of involvement and/or scarcity of the objects.

Level One: The Basics

Like most gods of the ancient world, Greek or otherwise, incense, wine, and blood are common sacrifices or offerings to Ares. The Orphic hymn to Ares suggest using frankincense, which was a very common scent in the ancient world. Depending on your situation, you can use pure resin, which is burnt on charcoal, or you can use sticks, cones, or oils. I generally use the resinous form when I do larger, more important rituals as it is easier to time and produces a stronger and more voluminous scent. Otherwise, I use stick inscense as it travels well and is rather versatile. Whatever you choose to use, I suggest buying the nicest quality product you can afford; it is a gift for a god, after all, and lower quality incenses can have terrible scents or contain too many impurities, which may harm health (especially to pets). As far as other scents, I have also had luck with sandalwood, but I would avoid dragon’s blood.

Wine is another common offering. For Ares, I generally choose strong, dark reds imported from Greece. A favorite is the brand Kouros, which hails from Nemea and is known colloquially as the “blood of Heracles”. As a matter of taste, I don’t mix wine for the gods, especially Ares. If you are too young to buy or consume wine, I would substitute water, as that is the lifeblood of the military. It’s one of those commodities essential to fighting; you can continue fighting without food and ammunition, but even a day without water in combat and you’re going to be hurting, badly.

Blood sacrifices are great offerings. However, because most people can’t afford a whole animal to sacrifice, or have the proper skills, legal environment, and other resources required to make it work, this sort of offering seems to be off the table for most. It doesn’t necessarily have to be, however. I have performed mock blood sacrifices to good effect. Select a cut of meat that retains both fat and bone, and save any blood left in the packaging. The best cuts will be kosher/halal, as the methods used to raise and slaughter the animal are very similar to how the ancients slaughtered animals for sacrifice. Trim away the best fat off the muscle and remove the bone–I find lamb shanks to be the best offering for this type. Keeping the purpose of offering in your mind, roast the meat over an open flame, and wrap the bone in the fat, offering this portion to the god (as this is their allotment by decree of Zeus). I usually sprinkle the blood about the fire first as an opening to the ritual. It’s not the lifeblood, but serves the same purpose.

 

Level Two: Votive and Dedicatory Offerings

Votive and dedicatory offerings are generally objects, often some kind of art object, that are given to the god. The object then becomes the property of the god, and should not be used for any other purpose without permission. The main difference between votive and dedicatory offerings is the impetus for giving the gift. Votive offerings are given upon giving a vow to the god, or upon completing the stipulations of a vow. Dedicatory offerings are those gifts given just because, much like giving flowers to your sweetheart.

Both types of offerings can be either bought or built, but making your own will obviously have more meaning. In my experience, the object needn’t necessarily be of museum quality, as long as the object was your actual best effort. You can dress up the offering with as much ritual as you please, but with Ares, I generally just place the object on the shrine with a curt nod (the standard guy greeting) and go about my business. These offerings can be as complex or as simple as you wish.

 

Level Three: Event Offerings

Event offerings, though they can be as simple as a libation, are on a level all their own because they generally arise under specific, often infrequent circumstances, be they required* for a holy day, specific act, or in response to an oracle/UPG. For instance, in Sparta, it was customary to sacrifice a puppy to Ares before ritual combat, and the enemy was consecrated in true battle by priests wielding torches so as to avoid the miasma of bloodshed. Obviously, these are not everyday circumstances. Obviously, if you are a college student, a stay-at-home mom, or a farmer, these offerings will have little to no meaning for you. They require people to be aware of their own circumstances and their surroundings. They also generally call for more study and dedication than basic worship. For now, unless you are called to or find yourself in such circumstance, you needn’t worry about such offerings just yet. Rest assured, however, that I will cover these at a later date.

* I use the word required because as a general rule, when you reach the point of these offerings, Ares considers thing less optional, at least in my experience.

Leaving an offering to any god, Ares included, doesn’t need to be a reason for stress. Ares may be the foreboding type, but he is also acutely aware of the limitations of mortals, and as a gracious father, will most likely make allowance for early stumbles. Sincerity and honesty are key to piety, and if you plan to go beyond simple lip service (if you don’t, still no harm done), then be ready to be scrutinized far more thoroughly than anything our cheery friends at the NSA can muster (hi guys!).

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 shrine-making tips, symbols for representing Ares, holy days and more. If you have any topics you wish to see covered, or have any suggestions or comments regarding offering you’ve given to Ares, let everyone know in the comments. Until then, hail Ares!

The Old Ways are the Best Ways

If ur n0t @ rec0n, ur wr0nG!!!!

Wait, no, that’s not today’s message. Today’s post is about sculpting! Mostly.

Today was the first day I’ve put a chisel to stone. I’ve tried power tools before (because who doesn’t love power tools?), but I tell you what, nothing has been more effective than that hammer and chisel. It has me really excited for next week when I start my next sculpture class. Now, I haven’t used a proper chisel; I improvised with a sharp piece of tungsten used for TIG welding that I no longer use, but it worked pretty well. Better than my diamond grinding bit for my rotary tool, anyway. It really makes me excited to buy some real chisels and get into working.  It really goes to show that even with all the tech in the world, sometimes the old ways are best.

I think I’ll be much happier when my VA book money comes; I have quite the supply list, the priority being some porcelain for casting. My music professor from last semester also wants a lyre, and of course there’s the supplies I’ll need for painting this term as well. Art is expensive >.<

In other news, I’ve made a few offerings to Ares and Aphrodite lately. I know Ares is attentive as given by the woodpecker that visited yesterday, but I think Aphrodite is playing hard to get. She and I have a tenuous relationship at best. I’ve made a vase for her, covered with forget-me-nots and ivy, and I really hope the glaze doesn’t destroy the underpainting. Same thing with the libation dish I threw for Ares :-/. Only time can tell on that one.

7-9 Metageitnion

The last few days have been interesting. Libations were offered to a few gods. It was a little weird offering to Poseidon and Theseus. I’ve never been a fan of either, really. In fact, I absolutely hate water and avoid it except to bathe and/or not die of dehydration. I always get terribly seasick despite being born into a sailing family (my grandparents used to do the Mackinac race every year). Hell, swimming is a part of most Michigan public school curricula, and in many districts, you can’t graduate without it.

I did have a very odd dream last night, however. At first I was on a ship, with pirates. That didn’t last very long, as I was sent to hunt this giant white stag. It was probably six feet tall at the shoulder and living on a steep, Rocky Mountain covered in deep green mosses and lichens. The hunt occurred at night with moonlight, but I didn’t see what phase. I shot the stag, and somewhere along the course of the dream he transformed into a walrus. No clue why. Anyway, I sank probably twenty or so arrows deep into its flesh, but it just wouldn’t die. I went to fetch a knife, blue and very, very sharp, to end the poor beast, but it gave me this very sad look that said, “No, the knife is cheating, you must use the arrows.” That’s about where I woke up. I’m not one to remember dreams, and those I do remember are just the standard killing folks (I have those dreams a lot, because of war and all). This dream was oddly vivid and outside the normal symbolism of my dreamscape. Anyone care to interpret? Because I have a feeling this one means something. I made sure to thank whatever god it was that gave me the dream, but thanking is not understanding. Should be fun to learn, however. 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.