Though I don’t agree with all of Thenea’s conclusions on certain matters, she’s done some noteworthy work on many subjects including apotheosis. More than that, I find much of her writing thought-provoking in its directness; as a writer who frequently struggles to get to the point, I can appreciate this on several levels.
This particular post really cuts to the heart of a certain matter close to my heart, specifically the nature of divine marriage and what this relationship dynamic is supposed to look like – or what we as individual humans expect this relationship dynamic to look like.
If there’s one bit of wisdom that I might share with other godspouses and similar creatures, I’d recommend leaving your expectations of what marriage, partnership, and relationship look like at home because you won’t be needing them where you’re going.
Like most everyone else in my culture, marriage is as much a public declaration of commitment as it is the formalizing of a relationship between the concerned parties. It’s something you do for yourself *and* for other people, to one degree or another. People who enter marriage relationships with Powers often *want* some kind of celebration, formal acknowledgement, symbol of commitment – anything, really. We want these things because it’s our cultural norm, because it’s in all the stories, and really, why shouldn’t we want these things for ourselves?
For a long time I wanted something – some kind of party or ritual or ceremony. I was always a little jealous of people whose circumstances were such that something like that could take place. Eventually I stopped wanting this because my desire wasn’t going to actually change anything. And then if I got it, then what? What would actually change? What would be different? Hopefully nothing would change because if it did, that would mean that my relationship was somehow incomplete or lacking otherwise. That wasn’t a conclusion I was comfortable with. This desire was eventually shelved. I don’t want it anymore. It might be nice, I suppose, but I’m less winsome and carefree these days and I feel like it’d be kind of…..less than it should be in some regard.
But it’s my expectations that I want to talk about. I had a pretty clear idea of what marriage looked like: there was a party involved, right? Some kind of promises? Some kind of jewelry? Even other godspouses I knew had most of those things.
By my calculation I’ve been married ten years as of earlier this summer. By His, we’ve been married twelve. That’s because He marks our relationship differently. I recall Him using the term “shacking up” to describe the beginning of a marriage. I told Him He was being very silly. There was an image of us moving into our very own cave like a couple of badgers.
So I relate a lot to what Thenea talks about in this post, about marriage looking different from different angles, especially when Powers are part of the mix. I relate a lot to the story of Psyche and Her big empty house full of voices. I relate to Semele being challenged to produce proof.
There is proof, you understand. The proof is just not for other people. The proof is for Semele. The proof is for me. The proof is, perhaps, for you as well.
My personal favorite apotheosis narrative (if I may call it that) is the story of Andal. I’ve written a bit about Her before. Here’s a lovely little video showing pictures of Her worship; the song is a wedding song. Even though Andal is married and has always been married, every year (I believe) the incident of Her marriage is celebrated specifically. People know this song today. People will be singing it for many years to come, I imagine. Andal’s human name (Godkai/Kodhai) is still spoken. If proof is required of Her blessed relationship (and there is not!), this is good enough for me.
(I’ll post lyrics/translation in the comments.)
I got what I needed out of the Dionysiaca, in terms of the narrative of Semele’s apotheosis. However, as I was studying that text, I found myself resisting the urge to expound on the important themes in this text surrounding the idea of marriage between humans and deities.
I think it’s important to understand the author, a little, and to get some context. Nonnus is a relative late-comer, as a contributor to the Greek Mythos. He begins writing his Dionysiaca shortly after the death of the last Pagan Emperor of Rome, and was extremely learned in both Traditional Hellenic and Christian theology. His other great work which survives is his “Metabole kata Ioannou” or paraphrase of the Book of John (One of the Four Gospels).
Living in the era he lived in, knowing what he knew, he could not but be aware of the contrast between the two faiths…
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