Oct 062018
 

The production of draughts and medicines is a duty I perform on many occasions, but someone was once foolish enough to ask me what I was ‘cooking’, as if I were a common slave. As it was such an inappropriate question I simply declined to answer, as is my habit whenever a foolish or inappropriate question is asked of me. Then there are the questions to which there are no easy answers.
Once I was asked when he – Dionysus – first came here. At first I could only smile, for what is time to the kingdom of eternity? There are only hours of the day, seasons of the sun and cycles that are marked by the passage of the moon. Most vehemently have I been warned by the Saints to never fall beneath the sway of time because that would bring death to all prophecy. The pendulum might swing, but such as I must master the art of remaining above it in a state of perfect balance, shielded from the terrors of Cronos who yet we must touch without our hearts failing or minds being lost.
Daily am I reminded that ordinary time is of no consequence and fate unfolds precisely as the gods command it. When this occurs is immaterial, the potential for all action being ever-present. We are chiefly concerned here with what is infinite, although men so often desire to make fixed points for the dead books of their history.
“For this reason”, Timocrates informed me – quite gravely, in fact – when I questioned him on the matter, “the League has taken it upon itself to regulate all calendars of the civilised world that we might subjugate for perpetuity the menace of time at the centre of the Earth.”
I privately doubted it would be possible to truly safeguard the world from Time but kept this thought to myself. We were duty bound to try.
For the sake of the inquiry, it was sufficient to say that Dionysus comes at first sighting of the Pleiades, accompanied always by Euterpe, whose hypnotic sounds will soar over Parnassus from flutes poised like spears of moonlight on the muse’s lips. What happens then, who can say? It is one of the mysteries we cannot share easily, for like dreams in the stillness of the night, memories of those days are as mist in the fire of morning.
Though my mind may roam free, my life here is wholly proscribed in many ways. Indeed, it is set in stone. I sometimes dwell on the fact that nothing ever changes and perhaps I wish it might, but I am more aware of my great good fortune and that I enjoy liberties and other privileges the majority of my sex dare only dream of.
All the same – and because of that liberty, I know all too well – that I have seen nothing of the world beyond this temple and its outlying areas, although I frequently hear rousing stories of other lands from the men who come here. Stories I have over-heard, for the most part, or which come to me via my teachers, for it is not permitted for ordinary men to speak freely with a woman who is married to the God.
I most often hear about the great foreign kingdoms of Egypt and Persia – seats of wisdom and warfare, respectively – and of the various colonies founded abroad by generals and merchants of Greece, often upon the advice of my divinatory office. These tales can cause a sense of longing that I find difficult to overcome and there are times when I wonder if it is to the sea that I shall one day return.

Apr 252012
 

I begin to sing of Demeter, the holy goddess with the beautiful hair.

And her daughter [Persephone] too. The one with the delicate ankles, whom Hadês seized.

She was given away by Zeus, the loud-thunderer, the one who sees far and wide.

Demeter did not take part in this, she of the golden double-axe, she who glories in the harvest.

She [Persephone] was having a good time, along with the daughters of Okeanos, who wear their girdles slung low.

She was picking flowers: roses, crocus, and beautiful violets.

Up and down the soft meadow. Iris blossoms too she picked, and hyacinth.

And the narcissus, which was grown as a lure for the flower-faced girl by Gaia [Earth]. All according to the plans of Zeus. She [Gaia] was doing a favour for the one who receives many guests [Hadês].

It [the narcissus] was a wondrous thing in its splendor. To look at it gives a sense of holy awe to the immortal gods as well as mortal humans.

It has a hundred heads growing from the root up.

Its sweet fragrance spread over the wide skies up above.

And the earth below smiled back in all its radiance. So too the churning mass of the salty sea.

She [Persephone] was filled with a sense of wonder, and she reached out with both hands to take hold of the pretty plaything. And the earth, full of roads leading every which way, opened up under her.

It happened on the Plain of Nysa. There it was that the Lord who receives many guests made his lunge.

He was riding on a chariot drawn by immortal horses. The son of Kronos. The one known by many names.

He seized her against her will, put her on his golden chariot, And drove away as she wept.

She cried with a piercing voice, calling upon her father [Zeus], the son of Kronos, the highest and the best.

But not one of the immortal ones, or of human mortals, heard her voice.

Homeric Hymn to Demeter