Two Old KALLISTI Posts: (1) The Relationship Between the Eumenides and Purification; (2) A Plug for Worshipping the Erinyes

It goes without saying that I took the day off of work so I could (1) spam the polytheistic Internet with how awesome the Erinyes are; (2) do a purification ritual and then sacrifice to the Erinyes for the Eumenideia; and (3) finally get my CT state nondriver ID. Given my work schedule through the end of next week, the only reason I didn’t rescind this vacation day was due to the Erinyes’ sacred day.

I’ve been going through the Old KALLISTI to see what all I tagged with #eumenides or #erinyes, and I’ve decided to repost two of the entries here in their entireties. One of these posts is from 2010, the other 2011, both when I was under 25. Some things have obviously changed since these posts: I am more devoted to Hermes than to Apollon now, which is unsurprising. Apollon has a strong relationship to colonization, and converting to a new religion is like colonizing and creating a new frame of reference in the mind. A lot of people come to Hellenism via Apollon.

The second thing that has changed is that I don’t worship the Kharites alongside the Eumenides any longer, as I received a strong divine signal that they should no longer share a shrine with one another.

The third thing is that I have a better understanding of the relationship of tragic poets to their source material now. In Aeschylus’ Eumenides, Aeschylus is working with a lot of source material, so the way he interprets the relationship between Apollon and the Erinyes has been distilled from a wider corpus of relationships — much of which has not been passed down to us.

With those caveats, enjoy! I’m done with blogging for the day and am gonna go off and do the ritual portion of my day. ~*^____^*~

The Eumenides and Apollon

22 July 2010

The name Eumenides, furthermore, is [Pan-Hellenic] and was equated with the local, Athenian name of Semnai Theai only in the course of the fifth century. The goddesses had links to the dead; any initiate who was about to come into contact with that other world was well advised to enlist their benevolence. If we can trust Plato, the Bacchic, “Orphic” mysteries were much more concerned with the ghost world than were the Eleusinian ones: this might argue for such a preliminary sacrifice before the Bacchic initiation.

– Sarah Iles Johnston, Ritual Texts For the Afterlife: Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets

The Eumenides are amazing. There is something about strong deities represented as women with poisonous snakes and extreme problems with evildoers that makes me wish I liked non-vampire comics because any depiction of them fighting the forces of evil/injustice would be Awesome. Unlike Rick Riordan, who portrayed them as thugs with no real personalities, I think the Eumenides have a lot of personality. Otherwise, who would want to enlist their benevolence before coming into contact with the world of the dead?

Even the very halls, the innermost depths of Death, and the Eumenides with bluish snakes entwined in their hair were entranced [by the songs of Orpheus].

– Thomas G. Palaima, Anthology Of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation

I worship the Eumenides along with the Kharites, or Graces, because my research has led me to believe that they go hand in hand. On the fifth day of the month, I make offerings to both. I clean my shrine to both of them and I read the Orphic hymns in their honor because the Orphic hymns alone have come down to us.

Worshipping the Eumenides so seriously and being a devotee of Apollon provides much food for thought. For one, the depiction of Apollon in Aeschylus’s Eumenides shows the hostility between them. Apollon calls them vile things when he sees them in his temple, and he continuously degrades them for continuing to follow someone in whom he has taken special interest.

Apollon presides over purification and the evolution of the soul towards reason and away from base passions and snap judgments. The Eumenides are the judgment. They are the madness that sweeps over the mind when one becomes aware of all of the wrong actions one has committed and the release that appeasement brings. They delight in nothing more than bringing people to that dark place in the soul where we have no illusions about the good and bad in our past. They show no mercy. Apollon’s purification destroys the miasmic taint of wrongdoing, but it cannot destroy the memory of misbehavior. These deities need to be approached together to really do good to people suffering from their consciences.

Furthermore, in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the narrator reveals that the human conscience is “a disease which works [people’s] ruin, whenever they realize that they have done wrong.” Orestes provides the full mythological image for that. He imagines that the Eumenides follow him wherever he goes. The impulse to kill his mother, while a reasonable one in the world of intergenerational feuds and power struggles, leads to nothing but more madness and bloodshed. Only through Orestes’s actions and acquittal (which involves the worst ancient reproductive science ever widely believed) does the system of trial emerge in which the human conscience can be directed through a reasonable (well … at least in principle) progress.

The Eumenides raise our emotions and churn our consciences because they want us to find ways to make the madness and hate in the world stop, most of all the stuff we cause. We must appease the deep voice inside of us as we move towards a more logical and — I know, horrible typecasting — Apollonian way of viewing the world. We need the power of reason. We need ethical codes such as the Maxims of Delphi to form appropriate channels for our desire to do good.

Hounds of Wrath

21 February 2011

By now, I probably sound like a bit of a Eumenides-pusher, but these goddesses are cool. As in, if they showed up in a modern urban fantasy story about Greek deities making it in the real world, they would be death metal/cyberpunk rock stars with a huge cult following. Death and vengeance have inspired some really catchy tunes.

Anthesterion is kind of a 29-day-long chthonic party.

Anthesteria happens on the 11th through the 13th of the month (trans.: February 14th at sunset to February 17th at sunset). The Lesser Mysteries, which according to Wikipedia/Thomas Taylor

occultly signified the miseries of the soul while in subjection to the body, so those of the Greater obscurely intimated, by mystic and splendid visions, the felicity of the soul both here and hereafter, when purified from the defilements of a material nature and constantly elevated to the realities of intellectual [spiritual] vision.’ And that according to Plato, ‘the ultimate design of the Mysteries … was to lead us back to the principles from which we descended, … a perfect enjoyment of intellectual [spiritual] good.’

happen from the 24th until March 2nd. During the Lesser Mysteries comes Diasia (26/27 February), which includes the chanting of hymns for and sacrificial placation of Zeus Meilikhios, a chthonic aspect of Zeus.

And last but not least, the Eumenideia! 27 Anthesterion, or the evening of the second day of March. The Eumenides are fantastically powerful and amazing goddesses. They are a comfort to the dead and a bane to less careful members of the living. The Eumenides detest blood pollution, but they reek of the pollution and horrors that drive them to the kill. They are Meilikhioi, Praxidikai, Aei Parthenous, Kynes Enkotoi — soothing, exacters of justice, eternal virgins, and the hounds of wrath.

Hounds of Wrath, incidentally, would be the name of their death metal/cyberpunk band.

So, if you’re up for it, think about taking a few minutes to offer milk, honey, and many-humped cakes. Click on this link for a version of the ritual, complete with an embarrassing typographic error in the italicized part from Bell’s New Pantheon.

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