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Friday, November 02, 2012

Chthonic (Deities)

Chthonic (ˈkθɒnɪk/, from Greek χθόνιος – chthonios, "in, under, or beneath the earth", from χθών – chthōn "earth";[1] pertaining to the Earth; earthy; subterranean) designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land (as Gaia or Ge does) or the land as territory (as khora (χώρα) does). It evokes at once abundance and the grave.

The pronunciation is somewhat awkward for English speakers. Most dictionaries, such as the OED, state that the first two letters should be pronounced as [k], /ˈkθɒnɪk/; others, such as the AHD, record these letters as silent, /ˈθɒnɪk/. The modern pronunciation of the Greek word "χθόνιος" is [xθoɲos], although the Classical Greek pronunciation would have been something similar to [kʰtʰonios].[2]

Chthonic and Olympian
While terms such as "Earth deity" or Earth mother have rather sweeping implications in English, the words khthonie and khthonios had a more precise and technical meaning in Greek, referring primarily to the manner of offering sacrifices to the deity in question.

Some chthonic cults practised ritual sacrifice, which often happened at night time. When the sacrifice was a living creature, the animal was placed in a bothros ("pit") or megaron ("sunken chamber"). In some Greek chthonic cults, the animal was sacrificed on a raised bomos ("altar"). Offerings usually were burned whole or buried rather than being cooked and shared among the worshippers.[3]

Not all chthonic cults were Greek, nor did all cults practice ritual sacrifice; some performed sacrifices in effigy or burnt vegetable offerings.[citation needed]

Cult type versus function
While chthonic deities had a general association with fertility, they did not have a monopoly on it, nor were the later Olympian deities wholly unconcerned for the Earth's prosperity. Thus Demeter and Persephone both watched over aspects of the fertility of land, yet Demeter had a typically Olympian cult while Persephone had a chthonic one.

Also, Demeter was worshipped alongside Persephone with identical rites, and yet occasionally was classified as an "Olympian" in late poetry and myth. The absorption of some earlier cults into the newer pantheon versus those that resisted being absorbed is suggested as providing the later myths.

In between
The categories Olympian and chthonic were not, however, completely separate. Some Olympian deities, such as Hermes and Zeus, also received chthonic sacrifices and tithes in certain locations. The deified heroes Heracles and Asclepius might be worshipped as gods or chthonic heroes, depending on the site and the time of origin of the myth.

Moreover, a few deities aren't easily classifiable under these terms. Hecate, for instance, was typically offered puppies at crossroads (see also Crossroads (mythology)) – a practice neither typical of an Olympian sacrifice nor of a chthonic sacrifice to Persephone or the heroes.[citation needed] Because of her underworld roles, Hecate is generally classed as chthonic.

References in psychology and anthropology
In analytical psychology, the term chthonic was often used to describe the spirit of nature within; the unconscious earthly impulses of the Self, that is one's material depths, however not necessarily with negative connotations. See anima and animus or shadow. In Man and His Symbols Carl G. Jung explains:
“     Envy, lust, sensuality, deceit, and all known vices are the negative, 'dark' aspect of the unconscious, which can manifest itself in two ways. In the positive sense, it appears as a 'spirit of nature', creatively animating Man, things, and the world. It is the 'chthonic spirit' that has been mentioned so often in this chapter. In the negative sense, the unconscious (that same spirit) manifests itself as a spirit of evil, as a drive to destroy.[4]     ”

Gender has a specific meaning in cultural anthropology. Teresa del Valle in her book Gendered Anthropology explains "there are male and female deities at every level. We generally find men associated with the above, the sky, and women associated with the below, with the earth, water of the underground, and the chthonic deities."[5] This was by no means universal and in Ancient Egypt the main deity of the earth was the male god Geb. Geb's female consort was named Nut, otherwise known as the sky. Greek mythology likewise has female deities associated with the sky, such as Dike, goddess of justice who sits on the right side of Zeus as his advisor. Eos was the goddess of dawn. Hades is the ancient Greek god of the underworld.

References in structural geology
The term Allochthon in structural geology is used to describe a large block of rock which has been moved from its original site of formation, usually by low angle thrust faulting. From the Greek "allo" meaning other and "chthon" designating the process of the land mass being moved under the earth and connecting two horizontally stacked décollements and thus "under the earth".

    ^ Chthonios, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek–English Lexicon, at Perseus.
    ^ See Modern Greek phonology.
    ^ "The sacrifice for gods of the dead and for heroes was called enagisma, in contradistinction to thysia, which was the portion especially of the celestial deities. It was offered on altars of a peculiar shape: they were lower than the ordinary altar bomos, and their name was ischara, 'hearth'. Through them the blood of the victims, and also libations, were to flow into the sacrificial trench. Therefore they were funnel-shaped and open at the bottom. For this kind of sacrifice did not lead up to a joyous feast in which the gods and men took part. The victim was held over the trench with its head down, not, as for the celestial gods, with its neck bent back and the head uplifted; and it was burned entirely." (Source The Heroes of the Greeks, C. Kerenyi pub. Thames & Hudson 1978). The 'gods of the dead' are, of course, Chthonic deities.
    ^ C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols, ISBN 0-385-05221-9, p. 267.
    ^ Teresa del Valle, Gendered Anthropology, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-415-06127-X, p. 108.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012


Arimanius (Greek: Areimanios; Latin: Arīmanius) is a name for an obscure deity found in a few Greek literary texts and five Latin inscriptions. In Greek texts, Areimanios, with variations, seems to refer to the Persian Ahriman, in the context of "Zoroastrianism" as it was understood by the Greeks and Romans.[1] The Latin inscriptions occur in a Mithraic context that suggest a redefined or different deity.[2]

The most extended passage in classical literature on Areimanios is found in the treatise Isis and Osiris (46–47) by Plutarch, who presents him as the dark or evil side in a dualistic opposition with Oromazes (for Ohrmuzd or Ahura Mazda).[3] He is also mentioned in other texts as an evil daimon, "the worst spirit," or even equated with Satan as the adversary.[4] In the Mithraic context, the name seems unlikely to refer to an evil entity.[5]

The name
The most common form of the name in its few occurrences among Greek authors is Ἀρειμανιος (Areimanios), presumably rendering an unattested Old Persian form *ahramanyu, which, however, would have yielded a Middle Persian ahrmen. The name is given as Ἀριμάνης (Arimanēs) by Agathias, and Ἀρειμανής (Areimanēs) by Hesychius, rendering the Middle Persian Ahreman. Variations of the name not explicable by scientific linguistics may be attributed to its similarity to Greek words meaning "warlike"[6] (see Names and epithets of Ares).

In Plutarch
According to Plutarch,[7] Zoroaster named Areimanios as one of the two rivals who were the artificers of good and evil. In terms of sense perception, Oromazes was to be compared with light, and Areimanios to darkness and ignorance; between these was Mithras the Mediator. Areimanios received offerings that pertained to apotropaism and mourning.

In describing a ritual to Areimanios, Plutarch says the god was invoked as Hades[8] ("The Hidden One") and Darkness. (In Greek religion, Hades was the ruler of the dead or shades, and not a god of evil, except in the sense that death might be considered kakon, a bad thing.) The ritual required a plant that Plutarch calls omomi, which was to be pounded in a mortar and mixed with the blood of a sacrificed wolf. The substance was then carried to a place "where the sun never shines," and cast therein. He adds that "water-rats" belong to this god, and therefore proficient rat-killers are fortunate men.

Plutarch then gives a cosmogonical myth:

    Oromazes, born from the purest light, and Areimanius, born from darkness, are constantly at war with each other; and Oromazes created six gods, the first of Good Thought, the second of Truth, the third of Order, and, of the rest, one of Wisdom, one of Wealth, and one the Artificer of Pleasure in what is Honourable. But Areimanius created rivals, as it were, equal to these in number. Then Oromazes enlarged himself to thrice his former size, and removed himself as far distant from the Sun as the Sun is distant from the Earth, and adorned the heavens with stars. One star he set there before all others as a guardian and watchman, the Dog-star. Twenty-four other gods he created and placed in an egg. But those created by Areimanius, who were equal in number to the others, pierced through the egg and made their way inside; hence evils are now combined with good. But a destined time shall come when it is decreed that Areimanius, engaged in bringing on pestilence and famine, shall by these be utterly annihilated and shall disappear; and then shall the earth become a level plain, and there shall be one manner of life and one form of government for a blessed people who shall all speak one tongue.[9]

Mary Boyce asserted that the passage shows a "fairly accurate" knowledge of basic Zoroastrianism.[10]

In his Life of Themistocles, Plutarch has the Persian king invoke Areimanios by name, asking the god to cause the king's enemies to behave in such a way as to drive away their own best men. It has been doubted[11] that a Persian king would pray to the god of evil, particularly in public. According to Plutarch, the king then made a sacrifice and got drunk, a virtual motif of how Persian kings act in Plutarch, and thus dubious evidence for actual behavior.[12]

As a Mithraic god
Franz Cumont was the proponent of a now-unfashionable view that Greco-Roman Mithraism had been influenced by some beliefs of ancient Mazdaism, including ethical dualism. Most scholars doubt that Mithraists preserved the doctrine of Persian magi, despite appeals to their authority, but the name Arimanius is difficult to divorce from the Persian tradition of Ahriman.[13] At the same time, the five high-quality dedications to Arimanius found throughout the Roman Empire fail to suggest that he was conceived of as an evil being in a Mithraic context: "the real point," it has been noted, "is surely that we know nothing of any importance about Western Areimanius."[14]

No evidence of a spot for the omomi cult described by Plutarch has been found in a mithraeum, and the association of Mithras and an evil god has been dismissed by some scholars as inherently implausible.[15] The inscription Deo Areimanio ("to the God Areimanius") is found on a few altars to Mithras, without any description that would link him with a particular iconography.[16]

Roman Britain
A mutilated statue at York has a fragmentary dedicatory inscription that has been read as containing the name Arimanius. The figure seems to be entwined with a serpent, and at one time it was conjectured that it represented the lion-headed god of Mithraism[17] or a form of the Mithraic Aion. But since Arimanius can also be a personal name, it is uncertain whether it refers in the inscription to the god represented by the statue, or to the person who made the votive dedication. No other Mithraic objects were uncovered near the statue, and any leonine features are subject to fancy.[18]

    ^ Roger Beck, "Mithraism since Franz Cumont," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.17.4 (1984), p. 2034.
    ^ R.L. Gordon, "Cumont and the Doctrine of Mithraism," in Mithraic Studies (Manchester University Press, 1975), p. 226.
    ^ For Bill Thayer's edition of the Loeb Classical Library translation at LacusCurtius, see Plutarch, Isis and Osiris 46–47.
    ^ Diogenes Laertius 1.8; Damascius, Dubitationes et Solutiones 125; Agathias, Historiae 2.25; Theodore of Mopsuestia apud Photius, Bibliotheca 72.81, as cited by Albert de Jong, Traditions of the Magi: Zoroastrianism in Greek and Latin Literature (Brill, 1997), pp. 313–314.
    ^ Gordon, "Cumont and the Doctrine of Mithraism," pp. 226–227.
    ^ De Jong, Traditions of the Magi, pp. 312–313.
    ^ Plutarch, Isis and Osiris 46.
    ^ Salomon Reinach, Orpheus: A General History of Religions, translated by Florence Simmonds (London: Heinemann, 1909), p. 68, gives the identification as Pluto, the name of the Greek ruler of the underworld used most commonly in texts and inscriptions pertaining to the mystery religions and in Greek dramatists and philosophers of Athens in the Classical period. Robert Turcan, The Cults of the Roman Empire, (Blackwell, 1992, 2001 printing, originally published 1989 in French), p. 232, notes that Plutarch makes of Areimanios "a sort of tenebrous Pluto." Plutarch, however, names the Greek god as Hades, not the Plouton of Eleusinian tradition. For distinctions in usage between the two names, see Pluto in the mysteries and cult and Pluto in Greek literature and philosophy.
    ^ Plutarch, Isis and Osiris 47, as translated by Frank Cole Babbitt for the Loeb Classical Library (1936).
    ^ Mary Boyce and Frantz Grenet, A History of Zoroastrianism: Zoroastrianism under Macedonian and Roman Rule (Brill, 1991), pp. 458–459.
    ^ De Jong, Traditions of the Magi, p. 313.
    ^ De Jong, Traditions of the Magi, p. 314.
    ^ Turcan, The Cults of the Roman Empire, p. 232; R.L. Gordon, "Cumont and the Doctrine of Mithraism," in Mithraic Studies (Manchester University Press, 1975), pp. 217ff.
    ^ Gordon, "Cumont and the Doctrine of Mithraism," pp. 226–227, listing the dedications as CIMRM 322 (Ostia); 369 (Rome); 833 (York); 1773; 1775 (Carnutum).
    ^ Gordon, "Cumont and the Doctrine of Mithraism," p. 227.
    ^ For instance, CIL III.3415, III.3480, VI.47 (without naming Mithras); A. D. H. Bivar, "Mithra and Mesopotamia", in Mithraic Studies, p. 278.
    ^ Turcan, The Cults of the Roman Empire, p. 232.
    ^ Beck, "Mithraism since Franz Cumont," pp. 2034–2035.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Arimanius&oldid=508606321"

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Friday, June 03, 2011

Haitian Voodoo

Haiti is a Catholic country. But daily life still moves to the rhythms of spirit religion. (via National Geographic)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Demogorgon Part I - Demonology Profile

Demogorgon, although often ascribed to Greek mythology, is actually attributed to a fourth-century scholar, imagined as the name of a pagan god or demon, associated with the underworld and envisaged as a powerful primordial being, whose very name had been taboo.


The origins of the name Demogorgon are uncertain, partly because the name itself was perhaps of imaginary coinage. Various theories suggest that the name is derived from the Greek words δαίμων daimon ('spirit' given the Christian connotations of 'demon' in the early Middle Ages)—or, less likely δῆμος demos ('people')— and Γοργών Gorgon ('grim') or γοργός gorgos ('terrible'). Another, less accepted theory claims that it is derived from a variation of 'demiurge', although the two scholarly editions of the earliest mention of the term (Jahnke 1898 and Sweeney 1997) see Demogorgon as a corruption of demiurge.[1]

Derivation and history

Demogorgon is first mentioned in the commentary on Statius's Thebaid[2] often attributed in manuscripts to Lactantius Placidus. The commentary, which was composed ca. 350-400 AD, is the most common medieval commentary on the poem and is transmitted in most early editions up to 1600.[3] The commentary has been misattributed to the Christian author Lucius Caelius Firmianus Lactantius, even though the commentator appears to have been Mithraic.[4]

The name Demogorgon is introduced in a discussion of Thebaid 4.516, which mentions 'the supreme being of the threefold world' (triplicis mundi summum); in a mystical passage that seems to show Jewish influence, as it mentions Moses and Isaiah); the author says of Statius, Dicit deum Demogorgona summum ('He is speaking of the Demogorgon, the supreme god', or perhaps 'He is speaking of a god, the supreme Demogorgon'). Prior to Lactantius, there is no mention of the supposed "Demogorgon" anywhere by any writer, pagan or Christian.

In the Early Middle Ages, Demogorgon is mentioned in the tenth-century Adnotationes super Lucanum, a series of short notes to Lucan's Pharsalia that are included in the Commenta Bernensia, the "Berne Scholia on Lucan".[5] By the late Middle Ages, the reality of a primordial "Demogorgon" was so well fixed in the European imagination that "Demogorgon's son Pan" became a bizarre variant reading for "Hermes' son Pan" in one manuscript tradition of Boccaccio's Genealogia Deorum gentilium ("Genealogies of the Gods":1.3-4 and 2.1), misreading a line in Ovid's Metamorphoses.[citation needed]

After Boccaccio Demogorgon is mentioned as a "primal" god in quite a few Renaissance texts, and impressively glossed "Demon-Gorgon," i.e., "Terror-Demon" or "God of the Earth." The French historian and mythographer Jean Seznec, for instance, now spots in Demogorgon an allusion to the Demiurge ("Craftsman" or "Maker") of Plato's Timaeus. For a remarkable early text actually identifying Ovid's Demiurge (1/1, here) as "sovereign Demogorgon," see the paraphrase of Metamorphoses I in Abraham France, The third part of the Countesse of Pembrokes Yuychurch (London, 1592), sig. A2v."[6]

In literature

Demogorgon was taken up by Christian writers as a demon of Hell:

"Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon."
— John Milton, Paradise Lost II. 966.

Note, however, Milton does not refer to the inhabitants of Hell itself, but of an unformed region where Chaos rules with Night. In Milton's epic poem Satan passes through this region while traveling from Hell to Earth.

Demogorgon's name was earlier invoked by Faustus in Scene III of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (1590) when the eponymous Doctor summons Mephistopheles with a Latin incantation.

The 16th century Dutch demonologist Johann Weyer described him as the master of fate in hell's hierarchy.[7]

According to Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Demogorgon has a splendid temple palace in the Himalaya mountains where every five years the fates and genii are all summoned to appear before him and give an account of their actions. They travel through the air in various strange conveyances, and it is no easy matter to distinguish between their convention and a Witches' Sabbath. When elements of Ariosto's poem supplied Philippe Quinault's libretto for Jean-Baptiste Lully's opera Roland, performed at Versailles, 8 January 1685, Demogorgon was king of the fairies and master of ceremonies. Demorgogon is also mentioned in the Book II of the epic poema El Bernardo written in Mexico by Bernardo de Balbuenain the 17th. century and published in Spain 1624. The passage tells how the fairy Alcina visits Demorgogon in his infernal palace.

Aquí Demogorgon está sentado
en su banco fatal, cuyo decreto
de las supremas causas es guardado
por inviolable y celestial preceto.
Las parcas y su estambre delicado
a cuyo huso el mundo está sujeto,
la fea muerte y el vivir lúcido
y el negro lago del oscuro olvido
(Libro II, estrofa 19)

Edmund Spenser mentioned him briefly in The Faerie Queene:

A bold bad man, that dar'd to call by name
Great Gorgon, Prince of darknesse and dead night,
At which Cocytus quakes, and Styx is put to flight. (Canto I, stanza 37)

He is also the protagonist of an opera Il Demogorgone, ovvero il filosofo confuso ("Demogorgon, or the Confused Philosopher" by Vincenzo Righini (1786) with a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, which was originally written for Mozart.[8]

In Moby-Dick, Starbuck describes the white whale as Ahab's demogorgon.

Demogorgon is also a character in Percy Bysshe Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. In this lyrical drama, Demogorgon is the offspring of Jupiter and Thetis who eventually dethrones Jupiter. It is never mentioned whether Demogorgon is male or female and it is instead portrayed as a dark, shapeless spirit. The theory of Demogorgon's name originating from Greek demos and gorgos is possibly at work in this text as an allusion to a politically active and revolutionary populace. Shelley's allusions to the French Revolution further support this.

In the poem "Demogorgon" by Álvaro de Campos, the writer is afraid of becoming mad by learning the true nature and unveiling the mystery of life.


* Lactantius Placidus, ad Theb. 4.516, ed. Jahnke (1898) (Google books)
* Lactantius Placidus, ad Theb. 4.516, ed. Sweeney (1997) (Google books)
* P.van de Woestijne, "Les scholies à la Thébaïde de Stace: remarques et suggestions," L'Antiquité Classique n.s. 19 (1950), pp 149–63], dates the scholiast of Statius to ca 350 - 400 CE.
* Dr Daniel Kinney, "Ovid Illustrated: The Renaissance Reception of Ovid in Image and Text"
* Varda's Demogorgon page
* Ogden, Daniel (2002). Magic, witchcraft, and ghosts in the Greek and Roman World, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515123-2

(Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demogorgon)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Cattle Mutilation in Ecuador

Ghostly apparition a haunting figure at Myer

Ghostly apparition a haunting figure at Myer
Noel Murphy | July 30th, 2010

POLTERGEISTS could give Myer Geelong shoppers more than they bargain for if old Morrie Jacobs has his way.
Morrie's ghostly spectre is said to haunt the store, where he maintained a draper, clothier, boot and shoe store dating back to the Gold Rush days.

Jacobs, the one-time "Champion of Cheapness", is the chief suspect behind reports of books, shoes, basketballs and other goods moving about mysteriously within the store.

Shoulders have been tapped, footsteps heard and even a translucent image sighted of a balding elderly man in a grey waistcoat with baggy grey pants, black armbands and silver fob chain, Geelong historian Kerri Lee reported a few years back.

"Books and shoes have been thrown from shelves and across the floor, and a row of television and radios inexplicably switched on," Lee told the Advertiser.

But the best account of old Morrie's paranormal activities is one that will send a shiver up your spine.

"Late one night, three managers were surveying the store when they noticed that a basketball was out of place . . . three foot off the floor, spinning in mid-air at the top of the escalators," Lee said.

You might hear old Morrie humming, too, if you listen closely next time you visit: "My store, Myer."


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