May Not the Gods nor LeVar Burton Smite Me

My Minoan grove recently took on a promising new student, which, on paper, is awesome. He’s passionate, sincere and eager to learn, all of which rocks, but there’s a catch: He knows fuck-all about Greek mythology. This is a bit of a handicap when attempting to work within a Pre-Classical Reconstructionist framework.

And y’know, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to say “Pre-Classical Reconstructionist framework,” I sure would have a nickel. But I digress.

Myths are ultimately stories used to teach. They’re almost always allegories for events of historical significance or explanations of natural phenomena, and while they may not be 100% accurate play-by-plays of the enterprises of the Gods themselves, they do give insight into the Gods’ personalities and spheres of influence. As far as religious reconstruction goes, a good grasp of a given culture’s recorded myths is a requisite, so once I realized New Guy wasn’t up on his Greek myths, I went running off to pick up a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, which, I figured, would give him a good foundation in the subject. After all, it’s a classic, and it covers the basic Who’s Who, as well as all the Who Did What to Whose What and Why.

Alas, I forgot that Mythology is not the liveliest of manuscripts:  Upon cracking the book open, his apartment immediately filled with dust and the odor of vintage clothing. He did wrestle through a couple of chapters, but then broke down and confessed that a) the book just wasn’t grabbing him, and b) he really wasn’t much of a reader. And this is the part where I quit breathing for a bit.

While our agrarian European forbearers were most likely illiterate, contemporary Witches are, as a demographic, combat bibliophiles. In fact, the trick is usually getting new students to stop reading long enough to deprogram them:

“So, what books on Witchcraft have you read?”

“Everything Silver RavenWolf has ever written, and a translation of the Sumerian Book of the Dead that my friend Ash and I found in the cellar of an isolated cabin.”

From an optimistic perspective, New Guy is a blank slate — we’re not going to have to beat any biases or misinformation out of his head, which will save us a lot of time and effort. At the same time, and while the traditional method of transmitting knowledge is orally, and in a perfect world New Guy would come over and sit at my feet for hours on end as I told the tales and sang the songs of Our People… we both have day jobs. Plus, if he’s going to end up an initiate, he’s going to have to demonstrate a measure of independent thought and action — which means doing research on his own, which means reading. Which he doesn’t like to do. And which I can’t do for him.

I can, however, make the reading material more entertaining. Setting Ms. Hamilton aside, I regrouped and broke out the big guns:

Minoan BooksPlease note the terra-cotta moonshine jug. If that alone doesn’t give him a healthy appetite for the mythological printed word, I’m handing him off to the Unitarians.

As a side note, I called a local bookstore while trying to track down one of these texts and had the following conversation:

Me: “Hi, I was wondering if you could check to see if you have a particular book in stock.”

Bookstore Dude: “Sure. What’s the title?”

Me: “Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes.”

Bookstore Dude: “Yeah, that sounds like Zeus.”

Unfortunately, he did not have the book. But you know what he does have? My heart.


3 thoughts on “May Not the Gods nor LeVar Burton Smite Me

  1. Perhaps he should watch all those CGI-loaded recent movies like “Clash of the Titans” etc. Hey, it’s better than nothing! And then there’s always Zeus’ epic rap battle with Thor —

    • Argh! I can’t decide who won the rap battle… lol

      In response to the actual post I think this could be a nice learning opportunity because there are many initiates and would-be initiates in the WMT who aren’t “book lovers” and thanks to orthodox education have strong phobias of books and reading now.

      Silver lining is books aren’t the only option anymore. We have audiobooks and such as well as new technology to make recordings and such. There are exercises to work it in to the experience of being a witch/magician.

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