Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Goddess of the Week




Well. Another storm Goddess. This week's pick is Kelaeno, one of the three Harpies of Greek myth, with Her sisters Podarke ('Fleet-Footed') and Aello ('Whirlwind'). They are storm and wind Goddesses Who are also very much associated with horses, probably because of the swiftness of that animal. (I have a hunch, also, that a horse's mane is symbolic of the wind.) There are generally said to be three, but some authors name just two. There are a great many names attributed to the Harpies besides those above, such as Nikothoe ('Running-Victor'), Aellopos ('Storm-Footed'), and Thuella ('Storm Wind' or 'Hurricane'). Oddly enough, Kelaeno's name is the only one I've seen that does not reference swiftness or the wind; for it means 'the Black One.' Perhaps this refers to the dark storm clouds; but it is striking that She shares a name with the Hindu Goddess Kali, Whose name means the same, 'Black One.' I would even venture a guess that the words are related, given that both Greek and Sanskrit are Indo-European languages.

The name harpyiai means 'the Snatchers,' and They were said to be instruments of divine punishment, Who went out at the command of Zeus. They were famously set on King Phineus of Thrake as punishment for his too-accurate oracles; They harassed him by either snatching his food away or making it befouled and inedible. They were eventually chased off by one Boreades, Who, though an Argonaut, was actually one of the sons of the North Wind and the Goddess of snow, Khione. Boreades, like the Harpies, had great wings and could fly; He chased them all the way to the Strophades Islands, where He was stopped by Iris, the rainbow Goddess (and sister to the Harpies), Who forbid Him to harm Them; in exchange for Their promise to leave Phineus alone, Boreades let the Harpies be.

They were depicted in many different ways through the years, and could be beautiful maidens, horrible bird-monsters, or some combination of the two; but They were always shown with great wings. Kelaeno seems to have been Their leader, and She had the gift of prophecy; though unsurprisingly Her oracles were mostly of the gloom and doom sort.

So then this is two weeks in a row that we get a storm Goddess, as last week's was the Yorùbá Orisha of storms, lightning and hurricanes Oya. Something is changing, and it's not just the season, though parts of the US did have a major snow storm last week. But this is no ordinary storm. The Harpies are the Goddesses of sudden disappearances, of things snatched away, of things inevitably catching up with you; and I don't know what anyone can do to ward them off. They are persistent and tenacious, and very very angry. I don't know that they can be placated.

I ask what She has to say, Kelaeno, the Black One. She is very sly. I was not expecting that. I assumed Her loud, angry, windy.

Her hair billows, though, in no wind; she is constantly moving, feathers ruffled, always shifting, never sitting still.

She says:

I am of the black, the Void. I am the breath of the world, I am the swift air, the horses thundering across the plain shaking the earth. I am the darkness under earth, the blackness there, the fair wind in the stale underground. I bring you there, to the dark, you and the year we go together.

I bring you where you need to go. Not where you want to go; where you need to go. It is not your choice.

I am movement and change I blow the leaves off the trees and pile them in hollows where they will rot to black, the dead rotting to the mould and the marrow, becoming next year's rich soil; though I am not really concerned with that end of things.

I am cold cold wind and I am the dark. But remember that the winter wind chases me away. Wait for it to turn. Though the darkness turns the cold has only just begun to set in; that is the island's name, the turning, strophe. We can not be stopped, only turned.

Take a deep breath. Here I come, for you.


Well. What do you think?

Reference: The Theoi Harpies page.

12 comments:

Thalia Took said...

Ha! Said I was craving black, didn't I then?

I really would like to know what's going on here. Or maybe I'd rather not?

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Are Harpies kind of like minor Furies? There are some similarities, it seems to me.

Poppy said...

"Ha! Said I was craving black, didn't I then?"

Ha ha! Yes, yes you most certainly did :D

I dreamt of a pitch-black tornado last night; it formed and touched-down metres away from the house. Never had a tornado dream before...

A. said...

Possibly some connection with the volcano erupting in the Philippines? Or something to do with people in the world being held accountable for their actions (i.e. the Harpies coming out of the woodwork for Tiger Woods - in a situation where no one comes out unscathed).

I always think our visions (those of us who have them) are connected to the world at large, as well as to our own personal "weather."

I really think there are those of us who are (hopefully) waking up and it seems that those who are not are falling into ruin somewhat.

Thanks for your divine artistry and insight.

Jen said...

Intriguing. Seems change is on the horizon, then?

Thank you for the short lesson on Harpies as well- as much as I love Greek myth, I haven't read much on them. :)

Hecate said...

And here we are, heading into a retrograde Mercury. Fasten your seats, as Betty Davis said, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Thalia Took said...

Debra: They were, sort of. Both are involved with divine punishment and justice, though the Erinyes (Furies) were concerned with heavier (which reads as older to me) crimes like matricide. I wonder if the Harpies started as wind goddesses and became instruments of divine punishment later? I don't know.

Poppy: I've had more than a few dreams of tornadoes; they've always rung true as dreams about anger to me. I once also had a dream about a volcano suddenly forming two streets away...

A. and Jen, you are welcome.

Hecate: I hope that's all it is. I'm kind of frightened by it all, especially since I have a sick cat right now. This bit--"sudden disappearances, of things snatched away, of things inevitably catching up with you" is really freaking me out, since said cat was diagnosed with FIP years ago (which, given that he's not in fact dead now, is very likely very incorrect, and the vet today agreed). Still, I'm here waiting on lab tests and trying not to freak.

I should probably put out a call for good energy for him, shouldn't I?

Thalia Took said...

Oh, Debra, I meant to give you the link to the Theoi Erinyes page, so you can compare if you like:

The Erinyes page, and the Harpies page.

Thalia Took said...

Actually, to correct myself, he wasn't 'diagnosed' with FIP, merely tested positive on the notoriously unreliable test (it picks up several related viruses, ones which are quite harmless).

Thalia Took said...

This is interesting, from the Online Etymological Dictionary:

strophe c.1600, from Gk. strophe "stanza," originally "a turning," in reference to the section of an ode sung by the chorus while turning in one direction, from strephein "to turn," from PIE *strebh- "to wind, turn" (cf. Gk. strophaligs "whirl, whirlwind," streblos "twisted").

Anonymous said...

Oh Gracious Thalia,

You are so correct in your assessment.

Every November I journey, alone into the most desolate mountain woodland, high up to the origins of a sacred river that no man is allowed to recognize, just at the cusp of the first genuine flicker of winter. The earth ready for its sleep. To greet her once again, under the sliver of moon light, where she reluctantly takes a brief respite from her endless frenzy.

She calls me there to offer her a tantalizing supplication. Her gentle wind turns to a cold and gusty rain, unceasing. She pretends not to notice. But I know she can not resist. She reveals herself only in the night, or the darkest of shadows, with at first a whisper . . . and then she is, there. Terror and longing bring her closer, enveloping, followed by a reward only she can offer.

Everywhere. Darkness. And a void of unsettling calm. Every cell in your body knows her fleeting presence, but she is already gone. Leaving her gift, a message, and sometimes, in the wake of her scent, her chilling caress. She is my lover, and I wait for her again, through all the ages. I am Toten.

To the initiate . . . If she does not call you, you will never know her, save for what others are allowed to share.

Oddly, the album "Dokken - Alone Again" may give you some insight into the spirit with which you must approach Kela.

Anonymous said...

Oh Gracious Thalia,

You are so correct in your assessment.

Every November I journey, alone into the most desolate mountain woodland, high up to the origins of a sacred river that no man is allowed to recognize, just at the cusp of the first genuine flicker of winter. The earth ready for its sleep. To greet her once again, under the sliver of moon light, where she reluctantly takes a brief respite from her endless frenzy.

She calls me there to offer her a tantalizing supplication. Her gentle wind turns to a cold and gusty rain, unceasing. She pretends not to notice. But I know she can not resist. She reveals herself only in the night, or the darkest of shadows, with at first a whisper . . . and then she is, there. Terror and longing bring her closer, enveloping, followed by a reward only she can offer.

Everywhere. Darkness. And a void of unsettling calm. Every cell in your body knows her fleeting presence, but she is already gone. Leaving her gift, a message, and sometimes, in the wake of her scent, her chilling caress. She is my lover, and I wait for her again, through all the ages. I am Toten.

To the initiate . . . If she does not call you, you will never know her, save for what others are allowed to share.

Oddly, the album "Dokken - Alone Again" may give you some insight into the spirit with which you must approach Kela.