An excellent and very moving addition to the celebration of Mother Night here.
Thank you so much, PSVL!
“Purity is piety, honesty, and fear of the gods.”
– inscription on the walls of the Ptolemaic-era temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. When the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
– the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, quoted by Frank Herbert in Dune
“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep. I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”
– Alexander III “the Great” of Makedon
Fear is an important concept for the modern-day Pagan who embraces the chthonic traditions of Thrace. To the Greeks, a titanismos was a Thracian battle-hymn so fierce, so filled with the terror of the sons and daughters of Nyx, that the Thracians’ enemies would simply turn and flee, if they weren’t frozen to the spot. And of Titanismos as the modern acknowledgment of our Titanic progenitors, our brother the Anomalous Thracian is fond of saying: “This is Titanismos. You should run.”
What does it really mean to have “fear of the gods,” as the Egyptian inscription instructs Horus’s priests to have? Can fear ever be a positive thing, particularly related to the idea being afraid of the Divine? What about other kinds of fear? Are they a force to be avoided, or, as the Litany quoted above suggests, could they become a weapon to use to our benefit?
This week’s Pagan Blog Project asks for a post whose subject begins with the letter “E.” Of course, the big one for me as Agriakosos, Her Fierce Daughter…is Egypto-Thracian.
So what’s an Egypto-Thracian, anyway?
The Thracian goddess Bendis may or may not be the same as the goddess Kotys or Cotyto, according to some sources. One would presume that the Lady is aware of whether or not She has more than one name or identity, but She keeps Her mysteries well. For the purposes of this entry, since we’re on the letter “B,” we’ll stick to Her Bendis persona, regardless of the answer to that mysterious question.
Bendis was also conflated with Artemis, as another fierce, singular female huntress and lunar/wild deity. She resembles Artemis a little, if you squint hard and forget that She’s using a spear or two instead of a bow, that She’s wearing a Phrygian cap and a distinct set of high-legged boots, or that She wears other different clothing, in everything from Thracian cloaks to a fox-skin hat. )
Other times, Bendis is conflated with Persephone or Selene. These associations also have their similiarities. Bendis’ ceremonies were indeed practiced at night, by Thracians and (after the Oracle of Dodona told them to) by Greeks as well. One such ceremony is mentioned as the setting for Plato’s Republic, and appears in other classical works. It is called the Bendidia.
Bendidia involved torchlight processions on horseback and revels under darkness, like those celebrated by other Thracian and Orphic deities like Sabazios and Dionysos. Bendis is sometimes accompanied, like Dionysos, by satyrs and maenads, or simply by athletes running toward Her temple.
I’d like to understand more about Bendis, but as yet, She has not granted that opportunity. Perhaps one day that will change and I will have more to say.
A modern hymn to Most Ancient Night, in honor of Her holiday.
Thank you, P. Sufenas, for sharing this on your blog, and for letting me know you’d be posting it!
(And with permission, the poem itself is reproduced here:)
To Nyx (P. Sufenas Virius Lupus)
I sing to you, queen before the heavens existed,
firstborn of goddesses, daughter of Chaos,
lady undaunted, her dark cloak overpowering all.
Every star in the firmament is but a fraction
of the beauty of your coronet, complete in constellations,
and the firmament itself is your thin tiara.
Pythagoras could not count the diamonds in your diadem,
nor could he calculate a single harmony of the spheres
which whirl and sing to you upon your ineffable skin.
There is no god on the earth nor goddess in the heavens
who does not exist enclosed within your blackness,
first goddess, eldest queen, dark lady over all–hail to you!