Hail Traveller & Teacher

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Hail Hermes, full of joy!
Thou, son of Zeus and Maia!
Gracious art thou amongst the blessed Gods
and blessed are those who gain thine friendship.

Watchful Hermes, father of Pan, guide us,
travellers and luck-workers,
now and ever after.

Hail Athena, full of splendour!
Thou, daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus!
Brightest do thine eyes shine, Glaukopis,
as do the minds of those who hold thee high.

Exalted Athena, who sprang full-formed
from the head of Zeus,
lead us, ardent pupils of life,
now and ever after.

Hail you, mighty children of Zeus,
fair speech and fair wit we bespeak of you
now and for ever more!

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Di Obsecro Vostram Fidem

So, I’m finally in my 30’s. I can’t say if it feels any different, but I’m thankful for what I’ve become.

For every smile, I thank you, you all know who you are.

For every smile, I thank you, you all know who you are.

Gratitude in smoke and flesh.

Gratitude in smoke and flesh for my eautou daimôn, my genius.

In other news, I’ve revamped the altar at our new place after the repairman broke one of our statues. Seven long years and all it took was a clumsy visitor.

The handiwork of Men may break and fade away, but the works of the Goddess live for ever. Hail, Reason's goddess and Mistress of well-ordered cities!

Fortunately, I got a new one (plus three others) shipped from Greece. It took a month to cross two seas and an ocean, but it was well worth the wait. With feast and fire, we blessed them for holy use last Full Moon Night. May they serve their purpose for many a year!

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I also printed out photos for our “god-mural” by the hallway, courtesy of Apotheon‘s concept art. Who knew such a sacrilegious game could produce such beautiful god-images!

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May the blissful Gods ever receive gifts of beauty from us! Let thanks be returned for their graciousness.

(Photos can also be viewed at our Instagram account, undertwotrees.)

Ghosts of Panathênaia Past and Present

I absolutely love Panathênaia, and look forward to it every year, but since I’m usually on a social media blackout every Hekatombaiôn (at least, for the past 3 years), I don’t always get to post pictures. Here are some from the last two years:

July 2014 (Hek. 2/4 of 698)

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Athêna and 2013’s peplos (yes, that’s a hanky)

A sacrifice of cattle

Sacred barbecue: a fitting sacrifice of cattle in the month of Hekatombaiôn (the first time we’ve ever sacrificed meat)

Sacred barbecue

Fat for the flame, may She grow strong!

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Panathenaia 2014 and Athêna’s new peplos (now a prettier scarf)

August 2015 (Hek. 3/4 of 698)

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Still haven’t found the right peplos for 2015, but check out at her new bling!

I'm really, really happy that I got to follow through on my oaths the past year (which included a certificate of proficiency in French, learning Irish, and making a diary of everything I've learnt for a full lunar year)--so, I'm hoping to do the same or better this year, may the Virgin help me.

I’m really, really happy that, despite the challenges, I got to follow through on my oaths the past year (which included a certificate of proficiency in French, learning Irish, and making a diary of everything I’ve learnt for a full lunar year)–so, I’m hoping to do the same or better this year, may the Virgin help me.

Mistress, you've bestowed so much of your own wisdom on me these past years, and have ever pushed me to further my ability in my craft, so I could only wish the same for the years to come. Hail, Goddess of learning and Saviour of cities, from Panathênaia to Panathênaia!

Mistress, you’ve bestowed so much of your own wisdom on me these past years, and have ever pushed me to further my ability in my craft, so I could only wish the same for the years to come. Hail, Goddess of learning and Saviour of cities, from Panathênaia to Panathênaia!

PS: Here’s some amusing Irish phrases for laughs —

Go raibh math agat, Duolingo!

Go raibh math agat, Duolingo!

Oaths to the Virgins

[I’m back from another Silent Hekatombaiôn.]

This year is proving to be a year of change in direction for me. Since I’m turning 3 decades next year, I guess my brain is steering me to make significant turns in my lifestyle and worldview to prepare me for the big 30.

Which is why, this year, I made two big oaths to Artemis and Athêna. My oath to the latter is actually a renewal, but the one to Artemis is fairly new.

Now, Artemis and I aren’t the closest: She loves the wild places, but I’m often nowhere close to the wilderness. But, once in a while, I get a call to honour her like I’m supposed to–and maybe I am.

So, about four moons ago, two members of our small community swore oaths to the Virgin Huntress to abstain from unhealthy habits and to chase these goals fiercely “as a hound upon its prey”. We did this, of course, on the feast day of Mounikhia (explained briefly below).

The Mounichia or Mounikhia was an ancient Greek festival held on the 16th (full moon time) of the month Mounichion (spring) in the honor of Artemis Mounichia. The surname of the goddess come from the hill of Munichia, where stood an Artemis’ temple, close to Piraeus and to the site of the battle of Salamis. The festival was instituted to commemorate the victory of the Greek fleet over the Persians at Salamis. Cakes adorned all round with burning candles were offered to the goddess. Young girls were dressed up as bears, as for the Brauronia.

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The moon rose beautifully that night over the clear heavens, our freshly baked birthday bread, and some aptly named beer I encountered in the grocery that day: ‘Bear Beer’. Happy Brauronia!

But to be honest, I’ve been slacking on this particular oath a bit these past few months. I haven’t been working out as often as I’d like, but at the very least, I’ve been able to stay away from candy and junk food consistently. Woohoo?

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Two and a half moons later, it was Athêna’s turn on the Panathênaia. We had actually made oaths to her the previous year and wanted to present our accomplishments to her, along with our new oaths to further what we had started. It was a good year of learning and we look forward to another one. Hail, Saviour of cities!

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I look forward to the fulfillment of these two oaths and face my 30th year on this planet without shame. Hail to you, Athêna and Artemis, most chaste daughters of Zeus! Grant us victory!

How Textiles Revolutionised Technology (Thanks, Athêna Erganê!)

Mattei Athena at Louvre. Roman copy from the 1st century BC/AD after a Greek original of the 4th century BC, attributed to Cephisodotos or Euphranor.

Mattei Athena at Louvre. Roman copy from the 1st century BC/AD after a Greek original of the 4th century BC, attributed to Cephisodotos or Euphranor.

Panathênaia is just around the corner, so I’ve thought about sharing this most interesting piece about one of Athêna’s primary provinces — weaving. Few of us in the industrialised world have been around long enough to recognise just how important weaving is to human civilisation, but it remains, to this day, a most important technological breakthrough. Read on to know more about it below:

The story of technology is in fact the story of textiles. From the most ancient times to the present, so too is the story of economic development and global trade. The origins of chemistry lie in the colouring and finishing of cloth. The textile business funded the Italian Renaissance and the Mughal Empire; it left us double-entry bookkeeping and letters of credit, Michelangelo’s David and the Taj Mahal. As much as spices or gold, the quest for fabrics and dyestuffs drew sailors across strange seas. In ways both subtle and obvious, textiles made our world.

Most conspicuously, the Industrial Revolution started with the spinning jenny, the water frame, and the thread-producing mills in northern England that installed them. Before railroads or automobiles or steel mills, fortunes were made in textile technology.

As late as the 1970s, textiles still enjoyed the aura of science. Since then, however, we’ve stopped thinking of them as a technical achievement. In today’s popular imagination, fabric entirely belongs to the frivolous world of fashion. Even in the pages of Vogue, ‘wearable technology’ means electronic gadgets awkwardly tricked out as accessories, not the soft stuff you wear against your skin – no matter how much brainpower went into producing it. When we imagine economic progress, we no longer think about cloth, or even the machines that make it.

The ancient Greeks worshiped Athena as the goddess of technē, the artifice of civilisation. She was the giver and protector of olive trees, of ships and of weaving (without which there would be no sails). When she and Odysseus scheme, they ‘weave a plan’. To weave is to devise, to invent – to contrive function and beauty from the simplest of elements. Fabric and fabricate share a common Latin root, fabrica: ‘something skillfully produced’. Text and textile are similarly related, from the verb texere, to weave. Cloth-making is a creative act, analogous to other creative acts. To spin tales (or yarns) is to exercise imagination. Even more than weaving, spinning mounds of tiny fibres into usable threads turns nothing into something, chaos into order.

Read the rest here.

Hail, Mistress of Crafts, Athêna the Worker!

You Are What You Eat (And Pray For)

In celebration of many good things that have come our way lately (and “many more to come still”, as our prayers always go), our House was happy to host a prasad of desserts and produce to our beloved spirits three Sundays ago. You are what you eat, they say, and boy, did we eat auspicious things!

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To the right stands Hermês (aptly appearing through an iPad) and a bunch of auspiciously named sweets.
To the left are Asklêpios, Athêna, and Apollôn with a ‘healthier’ menu of fruit and greens.

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It all started out with Murmur‘s idea of offering auspiciously-named candy for Hermês to pray for continued good fortune in his job of 5 years. Although not present at the time, he asked that we pray on his behalf that he be “Lucky“, that he have “Splendor“, find “Treasures“, and become [even more] “Big Time” this year.

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Also, in celebration of my new job after a long winter of contemplative unemployment, the people of our House decided to pray for work-related success, as well. May we hear a lot of “Bravos” in our jobs.

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Bingo“, may we always say whenever it’s “PayDay“. May our work create a “Big Bang” of blessings in our lives, and may we always be “Happy” and “Bueno“.

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May our jobs be like four-leaf “Shamrocks” to us, may work be “Magic“-al, may it be “Loaded” with goodness, and may we become “Mr Goodbars” at everything that we do.

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Hermês looked pretty happy with our pun-filled offerings.

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The offerings weren’t all “junk”, of course. As it was also Asklêpia that day–and because it’s generally a good idea to eat a balanced diet–we made sure to offer a healthier entrée to Apollôn, Asklêpios, and Athêna for continued good health.

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A bit of each gift on a plate to be burnt for the Gods.

Musings on the Gods and Oneself

[This was written more than two years ago by my friend, the seerapist, who has grown so much since then. I’m very happy for him. May Apollôn and Dionysos continue to bless him.]

I’m reading about Apollo in several blogs and they say he’s a possessive god. I kind of agree, but he’s possessive not in the sense that he doesn’t want to share, but maybe in the sense that he has to be very meticulous about the things he owns, like keeping an heirloom piano in tune and keeping it totally free from dust. Or maybe like a coach who wants to keeps his atheletes always at top performance. I feel it’s like:

“Are you done sulking?”
“Good. Now get back to work!”

I don’t really experience Hermes as close as I do Apollo and Dionysus (close enough to touch; Apollo by fire, Dionysus by madness), but he’s always in the background, and he’s always doing big things for me even if we don’t really touch. I think it’s inevitable that my friend who introduced me to paganism (a big Hermes-boy) and I would interact, since these three gods have something of a close relationship.

Athena comes and goes. It often feels like Apollo calls her for me.

Athena: Okay, what do you need?
Apollo: Look at that boy. You’re more suited to teach this next topic than I am.
Athena: Alright, alright, I’ll handle this one.

Ares also comes and goes. Again, it feels like Apollo calls him for me.

Apollo: He’s being pathetic again. Do you mind?
Ares: It would be my pleasure.

It’s almost like Apollo’s prepared a course outline, and I’m a student in his school.

Though sometimes Dionysus comes to me with Ares. That’s when I have my weird bursts of anger. Very dangerous stuff.

Aphrodite and Eros. They don’t talk to me often, and I don’t communicate with them often. We’re not close now, but I’m very sure they’ve left their fingerprints on me. I feel like there’s something of them in me. Like a present from godparents or something.

A Mad Light, December 2011