Saturday, October 6, 2012

Meditations on Hypnos

In the interest of sharing more about my personal practice, I'll share with you a habit I have acquired in order to lace my life with the presence of the Gods. Back in ancient Hellas, everything they touched, looked at or spoken about was connected to the Gods in some way. I have various methods by which to train myself to see the Divine in everything, but one of the more prominent ones are meditations.

These meditations are usually short and sweet, about five minutes each, and serve to introduce myself to the God or Goddess there are aimed towards. They're a form of personal devotion I always follow up with a libation or sacrifice.

The ancient Hellens meditated. I'm assuming they either developed the process on their own or were influenced by their Eastern neighbors. Meditation was a tried and true practice of the ancient orators. It trained their minds to retain information and reproduce it. It was also used as a relaxation technique.

As for this specific meditation; I practice this one often enough to give sacrifice before hand, some others, I am forced to give sacrifice after. This is information I always share with the Deity at hand. In these meditations, I visit an area the Deity frequents. For the 'lesser' deities, this is often their home, but I never set foot on Olympus. For Deities who only frequent Olympus, I build one of their temples in my mind.

Hypnos (Ὕπνος) is the God of sleep. Dreams (Oneiroi - Ὄνειροι) are sons of Hypnos, sent by Zeus, and delivered by Hermes, but Hypnos is the one who lets us fall asleep. According to myth, Hypnos lives underneath one of the Greek islands, hidden away in a cave without doors. The entrance is overrun by poppies and other hypnogogic plants. The river Lethe--the river of forgetfulness--runs through the cave. Morpheus (Μορφεύς), the leader of the Oneiroi and God of dreams, stands guard to assure none wake Hypnos.

In my meditation, I take a boat out to the island, a heavy bag of offerings at my side. The jagged landscape of the island awaits me in the merciful coolness of a Greek summer's night. Selune, the moon Goddess, illuminates my way. As I run the small sailing ship ashore, I jump off of it nimbly, hoisting it further up into the sand so I will have a way home. With the heavy bag in hand, I walk the sand barefoot, accompanied by roaring sound of Oceanos' swelling waves.

The scorched and dry grass meets me feet next. I must walk to the center of the small island to find the entrance to the cave. Once I arrive, the smell of sweet poppy threatens to overwhelm me. Still, I push on, entering the cave's mouth and descending endlessly through the darkness. There is silence here, a silence so absolute, I can hear the blood running through my veins. I apologize for this small transgression.

Morpheus awaits me and bars me from entrance. I nod and--carefully, quietly-- lay out the gifts at his feet. Sweet honey and soft cheese, a chalice made of silver, with engravings of my dreams. A woolen blanket, against the chill and sweet incense in a skillfully carved box. Morpheus nods and lets me glimpse beyond. In the dimly lid cavern lies Hypnos, on a bed of feathers, with black curtains around him. The river flows gently past him. Such calm rises from the scene that I wish I could lie here forever, but alas, I am mortal and must journey back.

When I reach the small boat, I push it back into the water. I push off and cast one last look at the island before it is swallowed up by the deep of night and set sail for home, and my own bed. May the blessings of Hypnos fall upon me.

That is my meditation to Hypnos, God of sleep. Try not to do this in bed unless you can actually stay awake when meditating and lying down. If you teach yourself meditation is a tool for sleep, it's hard to use it any other way, after all.

If you like, I can share more of these meditations. If you have a similar practice, I would love to hear yours.

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