Continued from previous posts…
You’ve got to be kidding.
The dread Lord of the Underworld?
Hades and Cerberus, Wiki card, Some entymologists believe that Cerberus is a cognate of the Sanskrit word for spotted. So Hades has a dog named Spot.
The god the Greeks feared so much that they wouldn’t even speak his name?*
The god who granted Medea her death and , at her request, destroyed her lover, Jason?**
The master of the remorseless Furies, who releases them to torment the living?**
The infernal Jove, the snatcher of things, who causes the earth to shake and open up and devour his unfortunate prey? **
The god who called a deadly plague down upon the city of Thebes?**
The god who snatched his sister’s only child and took her down to the underworld to be his queen?
Hades and Persephone
That’s not a Superhero, that’s an Archvillian!
So, imagine my surprise and terror when Hades began talking to me as I stood outside his Ploutonion in Elefsina, Greece. (see previous post: Power Points of Eleusius: The Ploutonion ) I was there a few years ago with my husband and two good friends. One of the spots we made sure to visit was the site of the Eleusinian Mysteries in Elefsina. A Ploutonion is an opening to the underworld, and of course there was one at the site that celebrated the story about Hades abduction of Persephone and the mystery of the death and rebirth of the land and its people.
The Ploutonion at Elefsina
When I made Hades an offering of a 50 cent Euro by pushing it into a crevice near the cave entrance it was like putting a quarter in a jukebox. I stood dumbstruck and quaking in my Birkenstocks as his voice filled my head, telling me that everything was going to be OK, that I wouldn’t die homeless, sick, and alone in some dark alley, etc, etc, etc. All the same stuff I’d always told myself as I lay sleepless and frightened and staring into the uncaring night. But the voice of the god was like a shot of the best antidepressant imaginable. My whole being relaxed as years of pent-up fear and anxiety melted away and I wept tears of joy.
I still have the occasional fear—I’m a realist, after all—but not the debilitating terror and anxiety I used to have. Because the Lord of the Dead reached out from his dark realms and healed my soul, my life is more joyous, productive, and lots more fun.
Since that day at Elefsina I have begun to rethink Hades.
Hades does sound pretty awful, but the other Greek gods were no paragons of virtue either. Zeus raped lots of women, both mortal and immortal, and he certainly didn’t make any of them his queen—he already had one, and he was cheating on her. Artemis was quick to kill anyone who offended her (especially if he was a man)r, and Athena turned a woman into a spider just because she was foolish enough to believe that she was a better weaver than the goddess. The list goes on.
Roman copy of a 5th century BCE bust of Hades. This is how I picture him.
And because Hades is the ruler of the underworld, where every Greek—good, bad, wealthy, or poor—went after he or she died, our Christian dominated society has come to identify him with their archfiend, Satan–not! Walt Disney and the rest of the movie industry has been especially hard on him.***
Actually, Hades is the subterranean equivalent of Zeus. He is all knowing and all powerful and incredibly wealthy, because he possesses all the precious stones and metals of the earth. Donald Trump, eat your heart out. He controls and supports the earth’s fertility. I love this quote from Hesiod:
“Pray to Zeus Khthonios (Hades) and to pure Demeter to make Demeter’s holy grain sound and heavy, when first you begin ploughing, when you hold in your hand the end of the plough-tail and bring down your stick on the backs of the oxen as they draw on the pole-bar by the yoke-straps.”
Hesiod, “Works and Days”
Hades is also the master of Dreams.
This is a side of the Lord of the Dead that most folks aren’t familiar with. And who would even suspect that he is a gentle healer as well?
But why did he do it? Why would a being with all the riches and power in the world suddenly decide, for no good reason at all, to sooth the soul of some overweight, sweaty, American tourist?
I puzzled about this for a long time and just recently found my answer. I was vacuuming our bedroom and found my dream notebook under the bed. I picked it up—any diversion from vacuuming is a good diversion—and began reading the last several entries. I noticed they were written just before my 60th birthday. Then I remembered that, to help me prepare for that ominous occasion, my friends put together a ritual for me to do the week before. As I recall, it involved telling myself the thing I most wanted/needed just before going to sleep, writing down my dreams the next morning, meditating on my dreams and my desire, and asking the gods for it. The thing I had asked for was to be rid of my debilitating fear.
My birthday came and went and a week later we left for Greece.
Coincidence? I think not.
So why did he do it?
He did it because I ASKED for it. Remember, Hades is the master of dreams. And I did make an offering to him, and I had participated in a ritual to him and Persephone every November for the last several years.
The Multiverse doesn’t give you anything unless you ASK for it. And then you still may not get it. But you certainly won’t get it unless you ASK for it.
A friend of mine has a favorite saying: If you don’t ask, they can’t say yes. We should all have this message as the screen savers on our computers. It would save us much grief.
Which brings me to one of my favorite Ry Cooder performances:
Ry Cooder performing “Jesus on the Mainline”
Click this link to hear it.
Like the man says, you’ve got to tell him(or her) what you want. But it must be something you really need. If you listen to the lyrics they give a few examples: If you want His kingdom, if you’re sick and wanna get well, or if you’re feeling down and out.
You don’t really need a Mercedes Benz. Janis Joplin knew this—listen for the giggle at the end of the song.
Click this link to hear her sing “Mercedes Benz”.
But if there is something you really need, ask for it.
The gods are amazingly generous.
*Instead, they gave him other, less scary ones like, Polynomos (He who has many names), Polydegmon (Host of Many), Plouton (Lord of Wealth), Zeus Khthonios (of the Earth)**, The Welcoming One, and, of course, He Who Must Not Be Named.
**Hades Respect Thread, by Shooting Nova September 10, 2014.
This is a nice synopsis of Hades’s powers and attributes with references to the where they were found in Greek and Roman literature and mythology.
***This is a totally fun video about Hades’s bad rap in the movies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3c51pwfaBrM