The strongest agalma is the amalgam of the mind
contemplating divine images with the senses.
Here we mix the prayers, thoughts, and offerings.
A god is the lock; the mind-in-pattern its key.
The images the mind makes welcome in the Twins
drawing back their bows or the keen-sited Guide.
A god flows into any space like limself easily,
like water filling a jar, electric current in wire.
Yet if the mind makes these images, take care —
do not call up what cannot be put down again.
A writer once said that in the agora of ideas, so I say:
Chase after the non-thing that deserves no name,
that which hungers after epithets, the devourer,
and it will colonize one’s brainstem like rot.
Here, the images the mind creates will distort.
Here, as it devours, you will see it everywhere.
Take care of the images and weed the garden.
Allow into the mind who and what Solon once said
make for happy company, name the Purifier your guide.
Apollon once said to know thyself; this true root
will bring nothing but gladness even though digging
causes pain and hardship as we see our own selves.
Fill yourself with good images and ideas — strengthen
the mind’s key, and you will not break it in the lock.
This is a poem that came to me while I was taking transit to visit my girlfriend yesterday. I wrote 2000 words of my current writing project, completed a purification ritual according to the lunar calendar, and caught the train. I often have ideas while traveling.
This poem puts into words what I have thought for a long time, and to avoid indirectness, it’s my reaction to the concept-idea of the “Filter.” I have a similar concept that I arrived at years ago independently — that which hungers and is not satisfied — and I don’t spend a lot of mental resources on it for the reasons outlined above.
From my perspective, it’s more important to focus on building positive narratives and philosophical interpretations of the gods and the world — moving culture, building virtue, and creating just relationships (even when things falter and don’t go well, as just happened with a sibling).
One reason I care so much about social and racial justice is that many of us whose ancestors participated in Christian imperialist settler-colonialism do bear responsibility, and the first step in dealing with that miasma is to acknowledge that it happened and move forward under the guidance of the Eumenides. I care about how mythology is used in fiction because people have highly Christianized ideas about it in the West, and I want to broaden the conversation and encourage people to grow beyond their underlying assumptions. I am working on a project to think about feminism in the context of Hellenism because I think we all deserve a progressive Hellenism that is still traditional, but that integrates ideas of gender equality and diversity seamlessly and in a forum that is not lost in news feeds or timelines. These are probably some of the reasons I’ve transitioned to worshipping Hermes a lot and have cultivated a fairly strong devotional relationship with him in the past year beyond just my writing practice.
But anyway, those are a few comments to supplement the poem, and I am happy to have voiced my thoughts in the Internet agora.