Persephone | Loki
Mod at The Telesterion.
I'll be using this blog to document my spiritual growth. I am relatively new at this and interested in learning about pretty much everything. I'm a fluid polytheist and animist. My path is still developing and I'm certainly learning a lot! I am a devotee of Persephone and Loki.
My inbox is always open! Feel free to ask questions or just talk to me!
I also offer free tarot readings. See my tarot page for more information.
- (via stupidmads)
Let me walk in pensive deep thoughts of you….my greek goddess..
I’m obsessing over this picture so much I’m fucking it up, I think.
Mountain in the Mist (USA) by Darren Neupert
Unlike Modern Greek and most other living Indo-European languages, Ancient Greek had a pitch accent. Whereas stressing the relevant syllable of a word makes that syllable louder, a pitch accent causes the syllable to be pronounced with a higher tone. In Ancient Greek, high-pitched syllables were pronounced a fifth higher than the other syllables in a word. Pitch accent systems are sort of a halfway point between languages that use stress and languages that use tones.
I mentioned before that Ancient Greek has three diacritics that indicate how the pitch should be pronounced. The marks are the acute, the grave, and the circumflex.
- The acute marks a rise in the pitch of the syllable it’s written on.
- It’s not certain exactly how the grave is supposed to function. It may either mark a lowering in pitch, or a steady, non-rising pitch.
- The circumflex marks a rising then falling pitch.
The GoodThe Accent Go?
I tried, but I couldn’t resist that Tegan & Sara reference. Anyway, any Greek word can only ever be accented on one (sometimes two, but more on that later) of its last three syllables. For convenience, these last three syllables have names. The last syllable is called the ultima, the next-to-last is called the penult, and the third-to-last syllable is called the antepenult. FYI, a two-syllable word will only have a penult and an ultima; a monosyllablic word only an ultima.
The acute accent can appear on any of these three syllables; the circumflex may only ever appear on either the penult or the ultima, and the grave only ever appears on the ultima. Further, acutes turn into graves when another word follows. If the acute on the ultima precedes some kind of pause — a comma, a colon, the end of the sentence — it stays acute.
Vowel quantity is also important here. While the acute and grave can fall on either long or short vowels or diphthongs, a circumflex can only fall on long vowels and diphthongs. Since a circumflex is composed of a rising and then a falling pitch, it needs a little more time to be pronounced. The long vowels and diphthongs provide it.
Ancient Greek has recessive and persistent accent patterns. The recessive accent appears on conjugated verbs, and the persistent accent appears on pretty much all the other parts of speech.
The recessive accent is the easier of the two to learn, because it will always try to stay on the antepenult.
The persistent accent can appear on any of the final three syllables in a noun, adjective, pronoun, etc. and has to be learned along with the word itself. For example, the words φιλόσοφος (“philosopher”), μεγάλα (“much” or “greatly”), andἀγαθός (“good,” “brave,” “strong,” “virtuous”).
Wherever the accent is located in the nominative singular form for nouns and the masculine nominative singular for adjectives is the accent’s resting place.
Accents Can Move and Change
Before I begin this section, it’s important to note that when the diphthongs -αι and -οι end a word, they are considered short. I don’t know why this is, but it is*. However, those diphthongs followed by a single consonant are considered long.
If a word’s accent rests on the antepenult, a long ultima shifts it to the penult, regardless of lexical class.
- The accent in the verb form ἤθελον (“I was wishing”) stays on the antepenult because the ultima -λον contains a short vowel.
- But the present tense form ἐθέλω (“I wish”) requires the accent to move one syllable to the right because the ultima ends in a long vowel.
- Similarly the noun and adjective φιλόσοφος keeps its accent on the antepenult in the nominative singular.
- But the dative plural form φιλοσόφοις shifts it to the right because the masculine dative plural form of an adjective like this makes the ultima long.
This rule only affects acute accents on the antepenult. An acute on the penult will not shift to the ultima regardless of the latter’s vocalic qualities. However, an acute on the penult may turn into a circumflex if the following condition is met:
- The penult contains a long vowel or diphthong and the ultima does not.
This happens a lot in the imperative mood. For example, verb forms like παῦε, σπεῦδε, and χαῖρε where one might expect *παύε, *σπεύδε, and *χαίρε. But it also occurs with adjectives like ἐκεῖνος. Nouns like δῶρον and κῆρυξ also feature it. Thanks to From Alpha to Omega, 4th ed. for the examples there. I could not think of a single one.
Thanks for getting this far! This is actually pretty confusing for most beginning Greek students, but hopefully I’ve explained how it works and it’s not as bad as when I first had to deal with it. I’m hoping to have the next post up by the weekend. It’ll probably be about verbs.
*The only case where this isn’t true is the optative mood, but that’s a rather advanced grammatical topic.
that last post was more directed towards cis people, which is why it was a little theoretical and a little edgy and a little stressed.
but i guess my ultra-personal tender note to other nonbinary polytheists would be:
go to the source texts, whenever you can. go to the homeric hymns, go to the book of the dead, go to the kalevala, go to the epic of gilgamesh, follow whatever traces you can of oral traditions. i recommended cross-referencing as many translations as you can, so that your connection with the text isn’t limited by one translator’s choices.
let yourself fall into these texts, and when you feel connected, don’t doubt the truth of that connection. when you feel a space for you in those traditions, with those gods, do not doubt the reality of that space.
no matter how many old cis scholars try to collapse your space, or shrink it, or twist it, or fill it in, it’s there.
it’s there for you. it was there for the sekhet, it was there for the ur.sal and kur.gar.ga devoted to inanna, it was there for the galli devoted to cybele.
it’s there for us. it is. it is.
so the thing about honoring ancient deities is that historical context matters
i don’t mean everyone has to be a reconstructionist, stay with me here
what i’m saying is that if you can’t historicize the worship of your deity and how they’ve been viewed in multiple historical contexts, you’re going to end up unintentionally mobilizing your god as a vehicle for all of the dominant ideas of your own cultural context.
what i mean is, if you don’t check in now and then with the ancient cultures your gods come from, and learn about how those societies understood gender, you’ll interpret gods’ genders within (probably) a modern western understanding of sex and gender.
and that leads to statements like:
- all pagan fertility gods are female! female = wombs = the creative principle!
- hephaestus was gender-nonconforming because he liked to do crafts!
- osiris was reconstructed without a weenie, so he’s a great god for trans ppl! (seriously, where the fuck did this one even come from?)
which are not only cissexist but ahistorical.
do not ever, ever, EVER excuse cissexism in paganism by saying, “that’s just how these ancient cultures were organized!” ‘cause that’s not true at all.
the modern idea of sexual dimorphism in humans can be dated to the european enlightenment. before that, bodies were interpreted in a completely different way, and gender was considered innate while sex could morph throughout a person’s life.
and that’s just western folk. listen. the modern western system of sex and gender is closely tied to colonialism. it was shaped as a tool of colonialism, and it has been enforced on colonized peoples, erasing non-western concepts of sex and gender.
what i’m really trying to drive home is that the gods we honor originated in cultures with COMPLETELY different ideas of sex and gender.
unfortunately, i’m acutely aware of the fact that what we know about these cultures is largely filtered through two centuries of academic work done by racist Egyptology, Oriental Studies, and Classical Studies programs in the West.
the modern books we’ve read about our gods and their cultures and the history of their worship are all filtered through this same lens which casually translates ancient stories into modern concepts of sex and gender, failing to even consider that those concepts are ultra-specific to time and place.
that means WE have to do the work of undoing cissexist interpretations of ancient gods.
so when i hear, “all deities seem binary .. who are some nonbinary deities i can worship?” i wanna shout, “it’s gonna be ok! these cultures didn’t HAVE a gender binary, not in the modern sense! ALL the gods can be nonbinary!! any gods you want!!”
but what i hear from other pagans — not all, but many — is reiteration of the same cissexist concepts that i try to move away from in my personal faith.
and it honestly hurts, y’all. it hurts when people describe MY GODS according to a system which has no space for ME.
TL;DR: why would you confine LITERAL DEITIES to biological essentialism?? why. they are LITERALLY DEITIES
seriously. I get that anthropomorphism happens because stories are a thing (and stories are a good thing, and stories should be told!) but “what gender is $deity” always sounds to me like “what gender is this moss? what gender is this building?” You can fit the thing into categories based on roughly analogous features
but in the end, it will be a category that doesn’t completely fit, that isn’t innate, that is limiting, that perpetuates its own blindnesses through time and space.
Residents of Sardis, an ancient city in modern-day Turkey, spent decades rebuilding after a devastating earthquake struck one night in the year A.D. 17. To ward off demons and future disasters, some locals may have sealed eggshells under their new floors as lucky charms, archaeologists found.