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Ares and Athena

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Ares and Athena

Author: Laurel Darkmoon [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: August 25th. 2018
Times Viewed: 3,499

Owls everywhere... I have seen them for the past couple of years, their large, bejeweled eyes staring from my computer screen from craft shops on Etsy, decorating T shirts and pillows at the local Target and Wal-Mart. I even procured a small, rose-colored, stuffed one from a card/book store in a small college town around St Valentine's Day; squeeze her, and she says "Owl you need is love!” or “I don’t give a hoot for anyone but you!” Why this overabundance of owls? I really didn't give it much thought, beyond the obvious cartoonish cuteness-makeover of one of nature's most spooky nighttime predators.

Then, the other day, lying quietly in bed somewhere between 1 and 4 am (the liminal time, when I'm not quite awake and not quite asleep, and it's not quite nighttime or morning) , my gods came creeping into my mind and suddenly, like the "no duh" emoji roll of the eyes, it all made sense.

First, I must give a little background regarding my relationship with the gods. I was raised Catholic, but as a 7 year-old child visiting my grandparents, I came across a Disney Children's Encyclopedia set that was on the book shelf. One entire volume was dedicated to Greek and Roman mythology, and I read and re-read that volume until the stories were set almost to memory. The mythology of the Greek gods and goddesses, and their interactions with humans, was more real to me than anything I had read in the Bible. Intermittently throughout my life, I have found myself studying them, relating their stories to classmates and my own children, and finally, worshipping and working with them in my own eclectic, solitary craft.

So it came as no surprise to me that the other day, I felt Ares flying through my semi-consciousness. He is normally not one of the pantheon that I call on or commune with, but he is one I have felt waxing and waning in power throughout most of my life. At one point in my young adulthood, I lived among the warriors of our nation, as a healer, but still wearing the uniform, and I know Ares. He's the one you want next to you when you are facing the enemy, and defending your country and kin. He's the battle cry, the war whoop, and the guy who yells at you as you dive from a perfectly good airplane. He's also the one who takes great pleasure in the battle for no reason other than for the blood and death and the defeat of the enemy. He's the rush of blood, the surge of adrenaline, and the erection in battle. Even his own father, Zeus, found him odious, and his own children and companions (Deimos, Phobos, Eris, Enyo, and Keres--Fear, Fright, Strife, Destroyer of Cities, and Bitches of Hades, respectively) , were purely destructive. *

When I sense Ares, he is never marching or standing at attention. He is flying into battle, arms raised with sword and axe, hands bloodied, loins girded, with a war scream. He came to me during that liminal time because our President had just dropped the MOAB "Mother of All Bombs" on Afghanistan, North Korea has been threateningly close to setting off long range nuclear missiles, children are being killed by poisonous gas in Syria, and the sanity and safety of humanity seems to be spinning wildly out of orbit, once again.

The first reaction, for many of us, is to pray for peace. This, however, was not what flowed through my mind. Instead, I felt the calm, steady presence of the grey-eyed Athena, the daughter of Zeus who sprang fully armed from his forehead. The cool, calm, collected, logical, noble warrior Athena abhors her brother, Ares, and roundly defeats him every time.

The ancient Greeks understood that there were times when war was justified, when defense was necessary. The Goddess Athena was Protectress of her city-state, Athens. My vote this past November was for a similarly inclined leader, one who would not shy away from protecting us, but one who, I believed, would take up arms only when justified, with no lust for blood for blood's sake, and with no personal inferiority complexes to be overcome by violent displays of size and potency, at the expense of innocents. Unfortunately, though the majority of my countrymen and women agreed with me, a select group of my brothers and sisters, perhaps feeling left behind, powerless, and ignored, embraced Ares; alas, that rush of blood beneath the skin is so, so difficult to ignore when one feels threatened.

So back to the owls. I've been seeing them prior to the election, and since, and now I understand why. The owl is sacred to Athena. She hunts to feed herself and her family, in the darkness of the night. She is able to assess her surroundings with her large eyes and head rotation of up to 280 degrees, she swoops silently, she accomplishes her mission quickly and with no flashy displays of arrogance or pleasure. Why would she need to put on a show? She has nothing to prove. She is a survivor, a protectress. Though perhaps not the most intelligent of all birds in reality, she still retains the reputation for being the "wisest". She sits silently, taking it all in, and swoops down, claws bared, when the time is right, with minimal to no collateral damage.

Thus is Athena communing with us. Her brother Ares is on a rampage, all over the globe. We can feel him each time we turn on the news, or go on social media, or pick up a newspaper, or listen to a press conference. He is angry and often unintelligible, and his displays of power are violent and impulsive. Meanwhile, I have noticed that rather than passively praying for peace, other warriors have gathered. We resist in organized groups, we run for political office ourselves, we write Letters to the Editor, we blog, we march, and we vote. We are the spirit of the noble warrior-Goddess Athena. We reconnoiter, we plan, we mobilize, we hoot, we screech, we strike, and we will drive back our brother Ares once again, as She has done in the past, and as She will always, with strength, honor, and compassion.

* “The Witches’ God”, Stewart Farrar


Laurel Darkmoon

Location: Franklin, Pennsylvania

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