Thursday, June 28, 2012

PBP: Laughing

Religion is a very serious subject in my life. When I interact with the Gods, I try to practice with complete piety. Yet, I don't think the Theoi are without humor. In fact, humor plays a large role in Hellenic mythology. While pranks are kept to a minimum (unlike in Norse mythology), there is an interesting story about the wonders of jokes.

Iambe was a wonderfully cheeky, sexually liberated and very wise woman. She's most famous for her role in the story of Persephone, Hades and Demeter. The cliff-note version; Hades fell in love with Demeter's daughter Persephone and abducted Her, causing Demeter--Goddess of agriculture and harvest--to forsake her duties and causing winter to come to the lands. Demeter was inconsolable. Both men and Gods despaired and all agreed something must be done so Demeter would resume Her duties. None knew what, though. Demeter wandered the lands in the guise of an old woman. When She reached the city of Eleusis, She was taken into the King's home to act as a nanny to his newborn son. Iambe, an elderly servant of the king, struck up a conversation with the depressed Goddess and managed to get a few small smiles out of Her with some risqué comments. Then, Iambe stood in front of Demeter and lifted Her skirt. What Demeter saw there is unclear but whatever it was, it made Her laugh and Her depression lifted. Fueled with new-found energy, She turned to Zeus and implored Him to interfere on Her behalf. Eventually Zeus did interfere and a deal was struck; Persephone would spend half of the year with Hades and the other half with Her mother.

Humor is a healer, a reliever of pain and suffering. Sadness and depression are destroying forces in our lives and humor lifts their hold. Paganism offers a wonderful stage to expand our knowledge, experiment and come together. Mistakes, failures and embarrassing situations are bound to happen during our practice. During my initiation as an Eclectic Religious Witchcraft Priestess, I managed to slam my Athame into a chair during the closing of the circle, sending it flying and me scrambling. It was completely embarrassing but it still raises a chuckle when I think about it.

We shouldn't take life, and Paganism, too seriously; humor is a much better guide than shame or anger. During our rituals, things go wrong. Sacred candles blow out. Black-outs happen. Things take longer than expected.  There is nothing wrong with it; we're human and as such, we mess up. We're not the Gods' fifth try at a human race for nothing.

Next time something goes wrong during ritual; allow it to go wrong and smile about it. Fix it and continue. It won't take away from the ritual at all. If all else fails, think of Iambe and lift your skirt in any way that you can.

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