The Garden of Proserpine

I am a child of Earth and Starry Heaven

Here comes the night time

This is the descent into darkness.

equinoxaltar

The material world runs practically on autopilot – in a good way. The spirits take more of my time and attention these days. I continue to speak with them, to hold them in my thoughts, to consider very seriously the things they say. They lead me in a direction that is scary and exciting at the same time. One step more, and then change.

Last night we marked the departure of Kore and Apollon – to the Underworld and to Hyperborea.  I acted for the purposes of this ritual as priestess of Persephone, and my friend potami as priestess of Apollon. We started with all of the lights on, and at different points in the ritual we would turn each light off, one at a time, until we ended with a sliced pomegranate, and music, and darkness.

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Covered in skulls, covered in skulls. You were covered in skulls, she said, describing what she had seen in the darkness.

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Larger than life and covered in human skulls.

This is the descent into night.

This is the season of dying, of transforming, of finding oneself in the garden of bones. And dancing in that garden, pomegranate in hand.

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Here comes the night time. Here comes the change. Now.

 

The wolf

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Apollo Soranus, made for my dear friend potami. This is Apollo as we experience him: wolfish, solar, masked and mysterious.

I made a thousand mistakes while making him – but I hope he can still be useful for my friend’s oracular practice.

Saffron-cloaked nymph of the earth

This is the first time I’ve sculpted a devotional statue. Though I’m not a good artist (never have been), this was something I really wanted to do. I chose to work on one for Melinoe, because I’ve felt very close to her lately. Though my work is far from perfect, I am proud of what I’ve tried.

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Since I’ve included her in my nightly prayers I’ve seen a marked decrease in the symptoms of my mental illness. It seems natural that as a devotee of Persephone, I would become close with her daughter as well.

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Her hands are turned downward, raised in invocation of the dead, symbolized by the gravestone and the skull.

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Mistress of Phantoms, hear my prayers. Protect me from the fears that haunt me in the night. Help me to live with the shadows, and to help the Restless Ones that come to me.

Protogone

Kore Protogone. The first born girl.

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My idea was to focus on the night at the beginning of the world. An Orphic egg of golden-flashing labradorite in the darkness.

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And a snake  made of obsidian and bone surrounding the dark beginning.

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Kore

Kore (1)

Kore. Kora. Koure. The girl. The maiden. For my second piece of devotional jewelry inspired by Persephone’s titles and epithets, I chose one of her best-known and most-honored names.

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The maiden is springtime, young and soft and pastel, a flower in the meadow. This is the flower, these are the petals, with accents in rose quartz.

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While I love the soft, light tones of this piece, maybe it’s time for one of her gloomier epithets next. If you have a favorite title of hers, let me know.

 

 

Karpophoros

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I’ve started a project to make a piece of jewelry for each of Persephone’s epithets. This is my design for Karpophoros – bringer of fruit.

I beaded a rope to mimic a basket handle, with the copper piece in the center as the upturned “basket,” from which the fruits come forth. I feature garnet in the details, a stone I associate with Persephone.

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I loved the experience of creating this, and the culmination in a special piece of devotional jewelry. I plan to work with other epithets of Persephone’s, and those of other gods as well.

Which epithets would you like to see as jewelry?

 

Orpheus and Greek Religion Chapters 7 & 8: “Orpheus and Other Greek Religious Thinkers” and “Orpheus in the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman World”

This is my LAST notes post (and a short one) – because this is the end of the book!

Notes:

  • Pythagoreans: The Orphics and Pythagoreans were similar in that they promoted a specific lifestyle, and were concerned with purification of the soul. However, the Pythagoreans were not centered on Dionysos like the Ophics; they were more focused on Apollo. The authors compares the two groups to two sects of Christians who accept the same dogma, but have a different patron saint. Pythagoreanism was also a philosophy as well as a religion. There was overlap between the two groups but they were not the same.
  • Milesian/Ionian school: They shared the assumption/question that there is a divine unity transcending what we see of the world, and that from this unity of the divine comes multiplicity. This is what the Orphics thought of as Orphic Zeus, the One who is Many who come back to One. The Ionians tried to discover what they would call this underlying divinity; Anaximander ended up calling it “The Unlimited,” and his cosmogony had interesting similarities to that of the Orphics.
  • The book goes on from there to show how many other ancients were NOT Orphic. I was less interested in this section.
  • Syncretism was huge in the Hellenistic world. It was how the Greeks could understand the existence of non-Greek gods. Orphism was a part of this world too. This can be seen in the diversity of gods and spirits addressed in the Orphic Hymns.
  • Orphism and Christianity: The author suggests that we, the readers, “make up our own minds” about the connection between Christianity and Orphism, but says that the figure and myth of Orpheus was inspiring to the early Christians for sure. Comparisons were made between Orpheus and David of the Old Testament, another magical musician who played for the animals. One interesting artifact is the amulet of a man on a cross, crowned by a crescent moon, with the inscription “Orpheus Bakkikos,” which seems to be a syncretism of Orphic and Christian imagery. There are obvious similarities between Orphism and Christianity, such as the doctrine of original sin (though the Orphics meant something very different by it), the dying-and-rising god, and the similarity to the being “born anew” of the mystery religions. The details of the two belief systems, however, are very different despite the basic similarities.

I’m glad I read the book; it clarified a few things for me and makes me feel better-informed. It was a fine overview. I hope these notes can be helpful to others who may not have much time for academic books.

And with that, I’m going to take a break from studying, and will go forth and practice my Orphic-influenced religion!

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