Saturday, June 9, 2012

PBP: Genealogy of the Hellenic Gods

Family tree of the Hellenic Gods -- Click to enlarge and go to Wikipedia

I don't have a good relationship with my family. I feel I probably should, Delphic Maxims and all, but I don't. I rarely see my parents and I haven't seen my grandmother in at least ten years. The rest of my direct family I barely even know by name and who knows who is part of my extended family. I don't, at any rate. Because of this, I don't honor my ancestors. It's not part of my practice at all. Besides my Grandmother, who passed over when I was still a child, I doubt there are any family members looking out for me from the other side. As far as I know, all were buried with the proper burial rites connected to their faith so I assume they have passed over safely. As it stands, I don't contact them and they don't contact me. It works.

Still, ancestry is important. It helps us find out where we came from, who we came from. It matters to our point of view. When looking at the Theoi, this is equally true. The first thing one notices is that it is a large family. A very, very large family. I have a different version of this family tree in a book of Hellenic mythology published in 1916, including creatures like Hydra, Cerberus, Pegasus and (nearly) all the demi-Gods. It runs from Chaos all the way down to Iphigenia and Paris. There are a good few differences between my genealogical table and the one posted on Wikipedia. For one, in my version, Chaos had one child, Erebus, who went on to create Hemera, Charon, Eris, Somnus and more (with his mother, Nyx, as the mother of his children). From Hemera sprang forth Gaia, Eros and Pontus and so on. In the Wikipedia one, Chaos gave birth to Gaia, Tartarus, Eros, Erebus and Nyx. Tartarus isn't even mentioned in my book's tree, H. A. Guerber's 'The Myths of Greece & Rome', third edition. I'm sure there are many more versions of the Hellenic family tree and it's highly confusing, at least to me.

Which version of mythology you accept as truth is mostly up to you. There are so many versions of the birth of the universe floating around, as well as stories of who sired whom, choosing one really is a gamble. Take Hekate; often she is seen as a Khthonic Theia who outdates the Hellenic pantheon but in other versions of mythology, she is a Titan or the mortal Iphigenia and a priestess of Artemis who commits suicide. She is then turned into a Goddess of night, witchcraft and the Underworld and renamed Hekate by Artemis.

As a budding Reconstructionist, these discrepancies bother me. I practice mostly by myth--although I'm slowly adopting more scholarly works into my practice--so if scholars can't agree on the myths, I lose my foothold. So this is why I study Hellenic Genealogy a lot. It's a big part of my practice. I try to find as many versions as I can and then I look to UPG to determine what works for me. This changes with time. While I first considered Hekate a Goddess (Ouranic or Khthonic), contact with Her has changed my mind and I now view Her as predating the Hellenic pantheon, but being adopted into it as a Titan.

There is a certain beauty in genealogy. It's a visual representation of so many lives lived. A prelude, an index, to the many, many stories that make up mythology. My interest does not stop entirely at the Hellenic pantheon. I also adore pouring over genealogical tables of the Egyptian, Norse and Celtic pantheons. Any others are appreciated if I stumble upon them. Just running my fingers over the lines, wondering how this child came to be and why that bloodline stops there gives me great fulfillment.

One sad part of studying Divine genealogy is that there is an end. The lives of the Gods have come to a halt. We rehash the stories but no more children are born, no heroes rise. It makes me wish for the inclusion and revelation of UPG into Hellenismos. New blood, new stories, could really benefit the practice and believes of Hellenic practitioners. A new Divine child to shake up the pantheon, a new child of Zeus who grows up to fight new (or returned) monsters. Sacrilege, some say, and they might be right. But I admit to staring at the pages of genealogy in my book and wishing the lines, somehow, someway, extend to include more of the Divine family.

2 comments:

sameer ayan said...

thank you for sharing

Elani Temperance said...

Thank you for reading! :)