Mythic Wisdom: A Greek Author’s Perspective

Connecting the past with the present has always been a powerful experience for me, maybe because I live in a land rich in history. In this blog I am going to explore a variety of topics, which I find deeply meaningful: women’s roles, gender and sexuality issues, activism, goddesses and gods, etc. By examining myths, symbols, and archetypal figures, I feel that we gain a fresh perspective on our lives and society. Ancient history, art, and literature can become amazing sources of inspiration. By learning from the wisdom of the past, we can transform ourselves and the world we live in.

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The Revolution Remembered: Activism as a Sacred Path

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Life is full of contradictions, right? Yet sometimes these contradictions provide the most fertile ground for growth. I live in Greece, a country that has powerful Goddess traditions, yet Goddess spirituality here is hard to find. Even the feminist movement had been virtually non-existent for years.

For a long time I’ve been facing a challenge: how could I be a Goddess activist in a part of the world without any Goddess activism? I had no other choice but to turn to the movements unfolding right before my eyes. “Walking the talk” has taken a very literal meaning for me. I’ve marched countless miles protesting against wars, austerity measures, racism, fascism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.

I joined other activists doing the very mundane work of building social movements. We’ve handed out flyers, put up posters on the streets of Athens, organized rallies and discussions, and even participated in elections. “Hey, wait, what do all these have to do with the Goddess?” you might ask. On the surface, nothing at all. Most activists seem to be atheists and see no need for myth, symbol, or ritual. Discussion with them is highly political, with no room for spirituality.

Yet for me activism has always been a sacred act: an ongoing effort to give birth to the age-old Goddess ideals in the modern world. I’ve often felt the touch of powerful archetypal figures during this process. Artemis, Athena, and even Aphrodite seemed to be by my side, their energy almost palpable in moments of enthusiasm. Actually, the word enthusiasm comes from the ancient Greek word enthousiasmos, which means to be filled with the Divine.

My activist work has taken me beyond Greece at times. I joined grassroots events and demonstrations in Florence, London, and Cairo. Surprising as it may sound, my most profound experiences of transcendence were connected not to Greece but to Egypt. These two countries may seem very different at first glance, yet they’re close in many ways. They share the same sea, the Mediterranean, which facilitates the contact between diverse peoples and cultures.

Over the centuries, Greece and Egypt became parts of the same empires. They were both conquered by Alexander the Great and later on were taken over by the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Ottomans. Greeks flourished in Egypt in the 19th and 20th centuries. Nowadays, there’s a small Hellenic minority living there while an Egyptian one has settled in Greece. 

My personal connection to Kemet, the “Black Land,” as her ancient inhabitants used to call Egypt, goes way back in the past. My first visit there—a profoundly spiritual experience—was in my early twenties. This mysterious country became ever-present in my thoughts from the time of the Revolution,[1] in January 2011. By a strange coincidence, a gift arrived at my hands those very days: Horus, the falcon-headed son of Isis (or Auset, as she may have been called in times past), a replica of an ancient figurine brought to me by an Egyptian friend.

Who would have thought that my life would change that day? Maybe it was the magic of Isis or the awe-inspiring beauty of Egypt. Perhaps it was the earth-shaking energy of the Revolution or all of these combined. The exhilaration was soon followed by hard yet important lessons. For the first time I learned how to handle heart-wrenching pain with openness and compassion.

It sounds impossible, I know, yet remember that Isis is a most compassionate goddess. After all, she set free her worst enemy: Seth, who had killed and dismembered her husband, Osiris, and was also trying to take the life of her only son. That divine drama somehow seemed intimately connected to the strange events taking place in my own life.

So, I set out on a quest. I was struggling with a huge workload at the time, yet I couldn’t stop myself from reading about Egyptian myths and rituals. I remember myself lying in a hospital bed—I had just woken up after an operation. The first thing I did was to open Plutarch’s Isis and Osiris, a rich source on Egyptian Mysteries through the eyes of a Greek who lived in Roman times. Books like The Passion of Isis and Osiris by Jean Houston helped me gain a more experiential understanding of ancient concepts.[2]

Plutarch wrote that Isis embodied the fertile parts of Egypt while her sister, Nephthys, represented its barren places.[3] Isis and Egypt became one in my mind, personifying the beloved Divine Mother. The myth about Isis discovering Osiris’ scattered members felt alarming real. Parts of myself were missing and I had to go to the ancient land of Kemet to search for them.

(To be continued.)

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The article is an adapted excerpt of the essay “The Revolution Remembered: Activism as a Sacred Path,” published in the Mago Books anthology She Rises: How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? Vol. 2, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.

NOTES

1. In this essay, the word Revolution with an uppercase R refers to the Egyptian Revolution in 2011.

2. Jean Houston, The Passion of Isis and Osiris, New York: Ballantine Wellspring, 1995.

3. Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 366, p93, 225-230. The whole text is available online in English translation by Frank Cole Babbitt as printed in pp 1191 of Vol. V of the Loeb Classical Library edition of the Moralia, 1936, http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Moralia/Isis_and_Osiris*/home.html.

 

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Harita Meenee is a Greek independent scholar of classical studies and women’s history. Her graduate studies were in the field of archetypal and women’s psychology. She works as a writer, translator and editor while also being a human rights activist. Harita has presented cultural TV programs and has lectured at universities in Greece and the US. She is the author of five books, as well as of numerous articles and essays published in Hellenic and international anthologies and magazines.

Comments

  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ Sunday, 13 August 2017

    I consider my work in the Green Party Greece to be spiritual, but of course I don't mention that to my Green friends. And as you say the feminist movement is pretty much non-existent too. The Green Party is comitted to equality but the women never meet as a group.

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