Friday, January 30, 2009

Man vs Woman

As I begin to read Antigones by Steiner I’ve noticed a large focus, at least in the beginning on the duality of men and woman, and seeing that a large portion of conflict resides in men and women his attention is well understood. Then just the other day, as if planned by the gods themselves, I had one of the more perfect arguments with a male a friend of mine that not only made me laugh but proved exactly what Steiner was saying about men and woman having different vocabulary. I shall attempt to reenact the situation to the best of my ability, however I doubt that any script could do the argument justice.
The subject was nature. A friend of ours is taking an Environmental History class this semester and was telling us about it early that day. One discussion that had come up was whether or not humans are or should be included in the definition of “nature”. I was attempting to argue that “nature” is all that surrounds humans and their activities, but does not include humans or society because we have a reached a point in evolution where we are contributing more to the unnatural world than we are the natural world, and therefore we should not continue to consider ourselves part of "nature". My friend responded with the debate that humans are as much animals as gorillas are and without humans to perceive nature it wouldn't exist. He continued to actually utter these words, “If I can’t see it, it doesn’t happen”. (Egocentric (adj) – Holding the view that the ego is the center, object, and norm of all experience).
Now, this male friend of mine is actually one of the smartest people I know, but in the heat of this discussion I think a little primitive aggression got the best of him and he forgot that he wasn’t the center of the world. I am not trying to make any generalizations here, but in this case the male ego prevailed, and it was pretty damn funny.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eleusinian Mysteries

After doing some searching online about Eleusis, the city Demeter inhabited while searching for her daughter, I came upon an interesting practice Demeter’s presence left on the city of Eleusis. They were called the Eleusinian Mysteries, and beginning around 1700 BC they were a set of initiation rituals that allowed the people to be elevated above the position of man to be considered immortal, not in this world but in the afterlife. There were a couple relatively mild rules surrounding those who were permitted to join the ritual. First, none who had committed murder or blood crimes were able to join, and second, no barbarians (people who couldn’t speak Greek). Other than that the ceremony was only held once a year, and was kept a complete secret to anyone who was not already in the group. The priests and priestesses decided who was to be chosen each year to join the ceremony, and to be chosen was a great honor. The Eleusinian Mysteries later lead to the Great Mysteries which was a ceremony in which the members would gather around a temple at the base of Acropolis of Athens to make sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone in hopes that they would win their favor and be rewarded in heaven. Women who had lost their children via abduction or even death were seen to be favored more than the rest of the members. The Eleusinian Mysteries and the Great Mysteries ended around 395 AD when the Temple of Demeter was destroyed by the Sarmatians and Christianity began to become the new world religion. There is little to nothing known about what actually occurred at the ceremonies most of the traditions died with the members, however there are a few artifacts that survived to present day.

"…It is like Aristotle's viewthat men being initiated have not a lesson to learn,but an experience to undergoand a condition into which they must be brought,while they are becoming fit (for revelation)."(Synesius Dio 1133)
"You ought to approach these matters in another way;the thing is great, it is mystical, not common thing,nor is it given to every man."(Epictetus Discourses III, 21)
"They cause sympathy of the souls with the ritualin a way that is unintelligible to us, and divine,so that some of the initiands are stricken with panicbeing filled with divine awe;others assimilate themselves to the holy symbols,leave their own identity,become at home with the gods,and experience divine possession."(Proclus, In Remp, ll, 108, 17-30.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

God Drama

To Demeter
And the sun’s radiance, she still hoped to see
The tribes of gods again, and her dear mother,
And this hope soothed her brave mind in its angish.
The mountain peaks, the sea depths gave an echo
Of her holy voice. Her queenly mother heard it.
Sharp was the pain that clutched her heart. Her own hands
Tattered the veil on her immortal hair.
There is a deeper significance within the Greek gods and their relationships with each other than with other gods of different religions and cultures. In each poem in the Homeric Hymns, the gods and godesses are involved in what can only be described as human terbulation with a divine superiority, in which they like humans have emotions that fluctuate causeing nothing less than godly drama, which is a much more dangerous form of drama than most. In the passage above Persephone longs to be in the heavens again where she can be with other gods and her mother rather than in the hot, dark depths of hell. Demeter, Persephone’s mother, hears her daughter’s cry and searches endlessly across the earch to find her. Like any mother might do, Demeter’s love for her daughter will stop at nothing until her daughter is back in the heavens with her. However, when Demeter takes refuge as the nurse to a mortal child and attempts to raise it as a god, she becomes frustrated with the mortal boundries and throws the child to the ground, stating:
“Idiot mortals, who cannot forsee
Your fate-a good or bad one coming toward you.
You cannot mend the mindless thing you did.
Implacable styx, water the gods swear by,
Be witness, I was going to spare him old age
And death, and give him endless honor also.
He cannot now escape ethe fiends of death – “
Proving further that the humans are seen as nothing more than tools to play with like dolls. The earth and its inhabitants are merely pawns that exsist to praise the gods that created and control them. When they don’t comply with the gods or godesses wishes they are thrown away like garbage and their lives dismisses as nothing more. What this says for the Greek gods is simply that, at least in my mind, they should be set apart from other forms of gods in the sense that they don't have the divine aspect that other gods have in different religions. They seem more like a higher race with just as many problems but a dangerously high influence on the outcome of the world and its people.