Concerning the Spirits of Art by Lo Keen is a twenty-page zine that is well worth the $4 I spent to get a copy. I need to read it at least eight more times.
A couple pull quotes:
[W]hat is art but co-creation? Just as the Gods often crafted the earth and its inhabitants from some extant enspirited creature or material, so too must the artist work with an enspirited media, each with its own manner and way of being, to bring some thing into existence. This covenant between artist and medium has been broken. And as animists and peoples of many Gods, it should be one of our chiefest goals to restore this right relationship.
The artists of these [ancestral] cultures were neither priests nor shaman, but craftspeople. Yet, note how they occupy similar space while undertaking the work. We, as modern animist and polytheist artists, might look to these kinds of historical roles when framing ourselves now.
Art is often spirit work, whether we are aware of it or not.
Profound words. I, as an artist and hopeful priest, need to spend a lot of time thinking this over.
The victory in the April Athena Agon (belatedly) goes to:
“Arachne Pending” by Shannon Connor Winward!
Congratulations to our victor and to all our worthy entrants.
Begin with Ariadne’s ball of thread
You walk upon the bones of those
Who passed this way before
You roll the bones
You turn the game-show wheel of fortune
Each twisting path is all the same
You spin and spin and spin and spin
How often have you spun this way before?
Sweat stings and it’s so hot in here
A gadfly or a whip-cut?
Surrounded yet alone
Who pulls your strings?
Wash the fleece and card the fleece
And draft the roving into strips
You spin and spin and spin and spin
How easily wool fiber snaps
How strong once spun to thread
Ariadne’s ball of thread
A ripe apple’s like in size
They tried to bury us
They didn’t know we’re seeds
A cross, four curves, four dots
Join each to each around and round
Two lines, one black, one red
The labyrinth winds back and forth
A mirror at the center
Who are you?
Sponsored for publication by Elizabeth Barrette in barter for her poem “Until the Restoration“
I want to publicly apologize to Jessi Robinson and Amanda Forrester for taking so long about acknowledging and posting their Athena Agon entries. It seems I have two (or three! how exciting!) previously undiagnosed chronic illnesses, and they’re flaring each other up and have been for almost a month. I say this to explain myself, not to excuse myself; Jessi, Amanda, I am most sorry.
Since two of the four entries have only just been posted, I will divine for, announce, and contact the Agon winner tomorrow.
“Athena of Farmers”
by Amanda Artemisia Forrester
My Lady Athena
I have worshiped You for decades now,
Since my heart first lurched at the sound of Your name
When I was just a child.
I have followed You through many incarnations,
Chasing Your elusive form, Your armored head above a swirling skirt
From the shores of Greece to Italia
To the heart of sandy Aiegyptos,
Where the natives named You Neith
And You were n’ver there unveiled.
Now I am now in the midst of another transformation
To my life and my practice.
I am no longer a child of the city and the university,
But a tiller of earth, a grower of seeds and hunter of flesh.
You are named Lady of the City,
And in all incarnations I knew You as such.
I feared that I would not find You in the woods.
I know Artemis, that other Virgin of Olympos,
Huntress of the Wilds, and I love Her well.
But I have come to realize that You have many aspects,
And that Your lesser-known sides are just as great
As those that the poets sing so loudly.
So now I name those aspects that are so highly important to me
As a farmer, a homesteader, a woodswoman.
Greatest Athena, You are a cloud-gatherer, too, like Your great Father,
Who entrusts only You with His greatest weapon,
The lightening bolt crafted by Gaia’s children the Cyclopses.
Without the rains You summon, my plants could not grow,
And my family and animals would not eat.
You were named Anemôtis, subduer of winds,
By Diomedes in Messenia, when You calmed the wild storms
Ravaging his homeland.
The winds howl just as fiercely in the Ozarks.
When Your sacred Temple is built upon the top of a hill You are called Akraia
As are many Deities, Your Father bearing the male version of Acraus.
In Libya You guard Lake Tritonis,
And at Korinth You were called Hellotia
And worshiped in the fertile marshes.
So You guard both hill and lake, both water and land; may You guard mine.
You are Lady of Horses also, Athena Hippia, Inventor of the Bridle
Who bought Poseidon’s unruly creature to heel,
And so made the animal useful to mankind.
Perhaps strangest of all to modern ears,
You bear the name Kolokasia, “Of the Edible Tubers”,
May You guide me to forage in the woods where the secret bounty is hidden.
So, perhaps, it is not so strange for You to be worshiped by a farmer after all.
“To the Grey Weaver”
I sing to the grey-eyed warrior,
You, who bears the Aegis of Your father
And the wisdom of Your mother.
Most-beloved of Athens, who is mother of the city
And bestower of the olive tree.
You, who are attended by Justice
Leads us to do good
And compete on the side of righteousness.
When challenged, You prove Your worth
Instead of raining down blows;
And mete out correct punishment when You win.
Creative Lady, weaver of Olympos
Giver of the skills of the loom,
Accept this prayer, insufficient though it is
In return and thanks for all that You have given.
There are certain things I am not smart enough to
Figure out the first time, Gray-eyed lady;
Basic, elemental lessons that must be repeated many times
Before they sink into my thick and insensate skull:
Don’t go near crazy on the Internet,
Because you’ll get it all over you and it’ll never wash off;
You can’t help a rabid dog, and if you try,
It’ll only bite you, no matter how much you feel its pain;
What a person says isn’t always a good indication
Of what he does, and only what he does is a sign of what he does;
Fool me once, shame on you, and fool me twice—or thrice, or ten times,
Or a hundred—shame on me for being a fucking moron.
There’s wisdom that doesn’t come in books,
Only in getting kicked in the gut
Or in someone spitting in your face
Or people you once considered friends
Now laughing at everything you hold dear.
Ugly lessons, hard lessons, but valuable nonetheless.
Lady of wise counsel, Ageleia, Alcis, Amboulia, Paiônia, Soteira:
Protect me from my own stupidity.
Give me the strength not to turn away from these lessons I need to learn,
No matter how much they may hurt,
And heal the wounds my heart may feel
If and when I fail to learn from them again.