?

Log in

Lemon · Cupcake

Recent Entries · Archive · Friends · Profile

* * *
* * *
* * *
Here's another string of Storified tweets, mostly on the "Euthyphro problem".

https://storify.com/EPButler/on-holiness

* * *
I'm loving the convenience of dragging tweets into a Storify document, although I recognize there are downsides as well, particularly that it makes it more laborious for my readers to copy the text and repost it. It's like I'm passing on to them the inconvenience I used to have pasting tweets into text edits, etc. to make the archives. Maybe I'll get back to doing it the other way when I'm a little less busy.

Anyhow, here's two threads I posted recently:

https://storify.com/EPButler/undocumented-religion

https://storify.com/EPButler/more-on-deity-focused-practice-in-polytheism

* * *
I'm trying out a new, less laborious format for archiving my Twitter sessions. So here are links to two threads on Storify, the first one thoughtfully composed by Cole Tucker, the second the first one I've done on my own.

https://storify.com/cole_tucker/notes-towards-henadological-engagement-with-plotin

https://storify.com/EPButler/more-on-plotinus

* * *
* * *

Came across this gem in Proclus' commentary on the Republic this afternoon: "The Demiurge of persuasion is none other than Hermes, through whom the other Gods also operate demiurgically in virtue of other Hermeses, and to all of whom Zeus operates demiurgically in virtue of the Hermes ready to hand in Him," (In Remp. 1.69). A tricky sentence, which I've had to expand a bit in order to make understandable, basically following the lines of Festugière's French, but a very interesting example of polycentric logic.

Here we see a practical application of the doctrine that all deities are in each: each God has their own Hermes in them. Hermes practices a particular kind of demiurgy, that is, world-ordering; his is the demiurgy of persuasion (peithô). The other Gods, when they use this skill demiurgically, do it kat'allous <Hermas>, through "the other Hermeses [pl.]," i.e. in them. Zeus, a fortiori, because his own demiurgy involves so much persuasion, has his own Hermes ready to hand in him (en heautôi procheirisas). I would say that Proclus does not mean that every time a God exercises persuasion, that they do it through the Hermes in them. Rather, through the verb "to demiurgize", I think he means a God draws upon their indwelling Hermes where persuasion is world-ordering in character. In the style of an Egyptian hymn, one would say of some God that "You are 'Hermes' in your name [i.e., function] of persuasion," and we'd expect some pun between "Hermes" and "persuasion" (e.g., in Greek, playing on hermêneus, "interpreter"). In this fashion, a God is in another God as a potency, with the situation being, of course, fully reversible.

@rektide: rough cut reaction: hermes sounds a lot like a technologic "all-thing," a mechanism.

Understand that this is not a situation peculiar to Hermes; all the Gods are in each, and can operate/be operated in one another. The mode of inclusion, however, is peculiar to each: hence, all the Gods are in Hera "Heraically", in Zeus "Zeusically".

Comment from @cole_tucker: that "this lends itself to equating each God to a function or sphere of activity."

Not if one understands that it is only acting qua potency in another that a God becomes a "function" in this manner.
This is the significance, in the Egyptianizing example, of the shift from the God as person to the God as "name". The God is primordially a person, never a mere "personification", of course. The position of the God as "name" (function) in the hymn arises specifically from the God as predicate of another.

@cole_tucker: Do you see distinctions between activities deriving a proper name and others that are offices like the Eye of Re?

It's natural to draw a distinction, given that the phrasing is different. The Eye of Re is somewhat more like a hypostatized relationship to Re, an "office", as you say.

* * *
I think that there is not enough appreciation in the polytheist community for the impact of human patriarchy and sexism on our traditions. It seems as though the only reason for embracing change in our traditions is because something is unworkable or onerous today, but we have the right and responsibility to be more critical of our traditions than that. Otherwise, we essentially elevate empty forms over the living relationship with our Gods.

Our traditions as passed down from the ancients are most important as means for contacting the Gods, even just simple awareness of Them. But the traditions are also carriers of the human injustices of their era, and I think sexism is particularly important in this respect. The pantheons as we know them are significantly more masculine than feminine and others, and masculine deities operate most of the power.

This is not to say that we may not read the gender disposition of deities symbolically; really, we must. In Platonism, gender is a pattern of activity in deities, not an identity per se. Hence Rhea is a "paternal" (patrikos) Goddess in Proclus. But this isn't sufficient, because our view of the Goddesses in the traditions has inevitably been narrowed by Their reception. Reception is a crucial concept in Platonism; beings have variable fitness (epitêdeiotês) to participate the Gods. It is not surprising, then, that patriarchal cultural structures inhibit the fitness for participation in the illumination from Goddesses. In turn, what is recorded in the traditions and passed down in lineage structures is far narrower than what could be experienced.

I'm aware that there are issues that come up around this, the notion that people don't bother to educate themselves, or aren't respectful. But to affirm the Gods as existent, living entities, is to realize that They are more important even than the traditions bringing Them. For me, that's always going to trump even issues as meaningful as cultural appropriation. Preserving the traditions is important because we don't know what we might yet make of any scrap of information. Traditions can surprise us.

The issue of reception goes all the way down to the individual. Each person receives from a God what they are capable of experiencing. A person can participate certain elements of a God's nature, certain potencies, on a very high level, but be quite deaf to others. What such a person receives from the God is valuable information for other worshipers, but it can't be the last word. Even if—especially if!—it affirms what is recorded in the tradition, because such confirmation can have many purposes in the relationship.

It is the living relationship that comes first; and so confirming the tradition has the personal value of reassuring us Who is with us. Reaffirming traditional strictures can have value for us also in that we expect to pay a high price for something valuable. But it is precisely such assumptions that are thrown into question in the relationship with the Gods.

I don't deny that it is inconvenient that the relationship with the Gods is so peculiar, so variable from case to case. It's bad for organizing, for managing the community. But that's why managing communities is primarily a political, not a theological matter.

***

On Divine Disability


1/16

(As is my usual practice, my words are the ones not in italics. Apologies if I've messed up any of the threading.)

@GalinaKrasskova: Ever contemplated the Mystery behind our scarred and/or disabled Gods? Odin, Tyr, Hodr, Heimdall, Loki? They are unique and holy.

‪@Roewoof‬: I never thought of them as disabled which is interesting. I always saw their injuries as sacrifices/strengths.

‏

@GalinaKrasskova: I didn't think about it much until a discussion with a classmate yesterday, who specializes in disability services. It intrigues.

@Roewoof: I've been reading articles by disabled authors who are empowered by the term, so not naming the gods as disabled is an interesting thing to meditate on.


@GalinaKrasskova: Odin holds that space for me--his scars were self chosen.
Also, with Odin and Heimdall, even Tyr to some degree it's sacrifice, but not Loki or Hodr. We don't know why Hodr is blind. I think there is a powerful mystery here.

In Egyptian theology, we have many myths of divine injury and healing; healing never returns us to the previous state. Many prosthetics in Egyptian myth. One value of these is that humans are given a role to supplement a God's loss. To take a Hellenic example, one meaning for Hephaistos' being lamed is that He is the agent of human technology. So His disability is directly related to a potency of his in which we especially participate. Osiris' phallus is lost on the mortal plane because a crucial part of His resurrection lies in mortals going on. In this sense, His phallus is the mortal phalli, Hephaistos' walking is the mortal kinesis. I don't want to distract anyone from the mysteries of identification with these Gods through the experience of disability through this sort of reading, however. That embodiment, that presencing of the God, is sustaining for individuals and for communities.

@GalinaKrasskova: also something i think worth teasing out: healing not returning us to the previous state....begs the question of what is healing?

@DaphneLykeion: [RE: Hephaistos] It seems as some principle of transformation. As a god who is made lame, from previously being whole, that it gives him a certain access into changing a substance of one state into that of another. Breaking down and recombining that renders a specific service from the original form that the original could not.

Yes, and that's also suggested by His fall from Olympus to Earth, a "phase change".

@DaphneLykeion: I wasn't really thinking so much as a phase change but rather an undergoing of an "alchemical change". That the transformative process which renders change to create a greater product requires destruction and reform. In my mind this act of destruction inflicted makes the subject bearing higher potential to affect the world. Although not lamed I can see this situations were divinites are killed and brought back. Or even those gods who were "consumed" by Kronos and delivered again from him. But these are on a different scope from the more permanent evidential transformations that involve destruction.

Yes, I think this is key, to distinguish the change whereby a God acquires a disability from other changes. My theory would be that this corresponds to an extraordinary capacity being acquired by mortals. One could test this hypothesis by looking at myths of divine disability to see whether there is a human capacity that corresponds in some sense to the disability suffered by the God.

@DaphneLykeion: The permanent disability however make these gods in line with processes of transformation and power. I think of it this way that Hephaistos who makes the greatest and powerful armor is himself physically unsound. His superior craftsmanship is inseparable from the fact that he is lame, whereas smiths are usually robust. As if an exchange of his vitality of form for the soundness and superiority of the forms that he creates. This exchange between his vitality and that which he creates is not separate from the destruction of his limbs. I think of it this way that Hephaistos who makes the greatest and powerful armor is himself physically unsound. His superior craftsmanship is inseparable from the fact that he is lame, whereas smiths are usually robust. As if an exchange of his vitality of form for the soundness and superiority of the forms that he creates.

@GalinaKrasskova: You see this with Weyland the smith too, a semi-divine Power.

@DaphneLykeion: Fascinating! It would seem that there is an exchange ongoing, from the process of disabling that lends its gift. The hand which is torn from a guard make him quite superior in his art. The torn eye giving the greatest sight.

@GalinaKrasskova: I could certainly see that with Odin and Heimdall.

@DaphneLykeion: The disabling on the gods acting as a process of strengthening some particular attribute to superior level.

@GalinaKrasskova: Precisely and it's interesting with Odin that He chose to pluck out His eye for that reason.

@DaphneLykeion: This would be related to sacrificed gods who by their all out death provide life/fertility. All different scopes. And this would provide new insight into Hera laming intentionally her son. Not as an act of cruelty as the myth seems to lend, for in Argos cult evidence shows very close relationship.

@GalinaKrasskova: She is the maker of heroes.

@DaphneLykeion: Exactly. If Hephaistos in Argos was called the war-like Zeus when he is lame, it would suggest a notable Heroic nature.

Also suggestive regarding the ontological status of warfare.

@DaphneLykeion: Quite so. And so we find a lame god who is superior in crafting physical forms and who is a great warrior.

1/17


Had some further thoughts on divine injury and disability. Note the value of certain founding moments of injury in diverse theologies, such as the castration of Ouranos in Hellenic theology or the dismemberment of Ymir in Norse theology. In these cases, the injury/dismemberment of a primordial God establishes what I would call "pantheon space". (In systematic Platonism, pantheon space is the intelligible-intellective or noetico-noeric plane, or so I have argued.)

Such acts localize the moment of self division or diremption of each henad, which releases the common space of being. Within the pantheon, it may be that all subsequent moments of divine injury participate this moment, as structurations of the field. A subtle moment of this in Egyptian theology is Re's self injury, which generates Hu and Sia, utterance and perception. Utterance and perception in this way become available for mortals to participate, and also subject to independent inquiry, epistemology.
A question which occurred to me, is what would be the significance of a given theology having more injured/disabled Gods than another? If we follow out the theory propounded in last night's discussion, then it might be that the theology with more injured/disabled Gods would be experiencing more elements of experience as occurring immediately within the bodily presence (parousia) of the God.
* * *
12/26

One way to radically open up Hellenic theology is to think through a Poseidon-centric theology. A significant subtext of the Odyssey, I believe, is the subordination of Poseidon's sovereignty to Zeus's. I suspect that every figure Odysseus encounters who has a negative value, would have a positive value in a Poseidon-centric theology. The Kyklops ("Circle Eye") is a solar symbol as well as a phallic symbol, and Poseidon's prime festival occurs around the Winter Solstice. Poseidon is not about the sea as an element (i.e., like Pontus), but as a force. His association with horses is closely linked to this. Poseidon is about motion and ensouling, hence the earthquake. Poseidon, honored at the Winter Solstice, travels to the south (Ethiopia) to prepare the world's ensouling as the sun travels north.

12/31

Thinking about the Kyklops last night. It has been pointed out before that the Kyklops is a Parmenidean, whose vision is pure positivity. This is why 'Outis', 'nobody', must be *somebody* for Polyphemus, "much utterance/prophecy". This is in accord with the Kyklops' solar and phallic nature as well. Polyphemus is the sun illuminating a cave of ensoulment. Odysseus must escape the cave of Polyphemus by, in effect, putting on an animal's skin, coming to birth as an animal or to one's animality.

The Kyklops raises no crops, eats only flesh, a typical Hellenic symbol of barbarism. In the Age of Kronos people didn't raise crops either, but myth emphasizes their use of wild foods like the acorn.

That which escapes identification with any essence, that is, any species-being, is 'nobody', invisible, even blinding to the Kyklops. It *appears* to be merely another sheep, but what it really is, is pure negation, a counter-sun.

Thyestes loses his throne through unwittingly eating his children, Kronos keeps his by knowingly doing so. It is insofar as Kronos is led to ingest something *objective* that his sovereignty wanes. Thyestes fails to discern the subjective component in his sacrificial practice (thyein).

Kronos is the master of absolute idealism, Zeus of objective idealism. Under Kronos, the idea is inseparable from the process of its constitution; hence an age of appropriation rather than production.

I always read myths synchronically, with their narrative moments in parallel. Hence the reign of Kronos is now, as is the reign of Zeus. Moreover, this is how I read the Empedoclean and Stoic cosmogonies. Waxing Love and Waxing Strife are now, Ekpyrosis is now. To look at it another way, this is because the processual/temporal dimension of these accounts can take any span of time. On the long span, it becomes a philosophy of history; on the short span, a subjective epistemology.
* * *
Dreamed they discovered two new fragments of Parmenides. Unfortunately, they were very minimal. I believe there was reference to more "maidens" (as in the proem), only some suggestion that these were from the sea, like Nereids. I tried to write them down for you, but you know how that goes in dreams: pen's out of ink, paper's wrong, etc.

***

A post on the Neos Alexandria board inquired about the minor tradition in which the Nemean lion is born from Selene. This seems to derive from Epimenides of Knossos, the great poet and mantis, one of the founders of the Orphic movement. "For I too am sprung from fair-tressed Selene, who in a fearful shudder shook off the savage lion in Nemea, bringing him forth at the bidding of Queen Hera," (Epimenides, quoted in Aelian, On the Nature of Animals 12.7).

Clearly the import of this is not just the tradition about the lion, but Epimenides' personal association with it, and as a child of Selene. What I had not encountered before, was that Mousaios, another key early Orphic, was also sometimes said to have been a child of Selene's. Of course Plato says that the Orphics claim that their books come from the Muses and Selene (Rep. 364e).

I never thought of all this in connection with Endymion, however. Epimenides was said to have been in a mystic sleep for many years in a holy cave of Zeus on Crete, and to have acquired prophecy thereby. In connecting themselves to Selene, one of the things Orphics might have been doing was identifying in some fashion with Endymion.

One of the most interesting things that comes to mind about Selene is the notion that Her name is virtually the same as "Helen". Helen is born from an egg, which is quite lunar, and her abduction/elopement is clearly a katabasis (descent) of some sort. If there is a particular "psychological" (in the literal sense) import of Endymion's myth, it may parallel that of the Dioskouroi, as well as the Trojan War. Note that Narcissus is sometimes child of Selene and Endymion.

When we see in Helen a Persephone of sorts, the esoteric significance of the Iliad immediately becomes apparent. The Iliad is a psychogony which refuses to remain a private or subjective matter, explicating more fully the worldly consequences which are present, e.g., in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter in more compact form: seasonal transformation, institution of rites.
* * *
Some interesting readings on Tumblr of my essay on the Book of the Celestial Cow.

The issue was raised there about the relationship the text posits between humans and Re. The way I read the myth, humanity is as though unborn before Re distances Himself from them. That distance is a big part of what it is to be alive, in the human sense, and of what it is to be a creator, in the divine sense. And so insofar as the distance is not there, humans are dying, not really having lived nor having resurrection, and Re is aged and impotent. All of this takes place in an eternal now, as myths do, with the temporal indicators in the narrative being purely relative.

As for whether other Gods would have the same relationship with humans as Re does in that myth, one cannot assume that. But there is clearly something parallel going on in that text with Sekhmet. The agedness of Re at the beginning of the myth is like His distance at the end, transposed to a different axis.

If creation were something that had happened at some discrete point in the historical past, like Christian creationists believe, then the creator would indeed be very aged. That's how that symbol works, I would say. That's what we're undoing, in the very act of reading the myth symbolically: we are giving life to ourselves and to the God.

As for the "unborn" status of humans in this myth, I'd compare the state of the cosmos in the reigns of Ouranos and of Kronos. Also, I think of Stricker's wild reading of the Book of the Earth, where the figures being "punished" are unborn.
* * *
* * *

Previous · Next