On the Formation of Divine Pairs

A while ago, I split my giant altar up into a devotional space and a planetary working space.  It was good for the planetary magic, but it actually made devotional work really difficult, as it greatly reduced my space.  Offerings were spilled, gods were cramped, and it was pretty much less than ideal.  So, shortly after coming back at the beginning of the semester, I started rebuilding again.

The fact is that planetary work is no longer a large enough portion of my practice to justify each planet getting its own mini-altar.  So I’ve replaced that structure with a set of planetary boxes, inspired by Jason Miller’s Jupiterian cash-box, and reincorporated the shelves back into my primary altar, leaving only the end-table as a workbench which I can lift out of its corner and back in as needed.

As a part of that reconstruction, I finally—as I had been considering doing for some time—added Eros/Phanes and Aphrodite to the altar.  You can see them in the box immediately below Dionysus at the apex.


It’s somewhat amusing, but it actually didn’t occur to me until more than then days later that I had framed the two as a divine pair: like the Witchmother and Kouros at the heart of the altar, like my natal genius and daemon, even like my familiar Tsu and the Cave Canem construct.  Like I have considered pairing Hephaestus and Athena as gods ruling craft—or, alternatively, Athena and Hermes as gods of the mind.

It’s interesting how ideas linger.  I have never identified as a Wiccan, never really believed in the duotheistic worldview.  But all of my formative literature came from that perspective, and the asymmetrical balance of Wiccan altar construction has always appealed to me.  I have consciously employed that aesthetic to various degrees at various times, but this is the first time I can recall having done so unawares.  Unlike the Witchmother and Kouros, a fairly traditional set of complementary opposites—specifically set up, in fact, so that I might explore my relationship with those archetypes—they form a unified pair: dual expressions of the primal need that moves the world. 

When I pour out my libations, I address them as “Eros/Phanes, Aphrotide: source and expression of desire.”  So far they have been good to me.


Orphic Hymn to Phanes

As my first solo attempt at translating Ancient Greek raw, the below represents about twelve hours of work.  I’ve included notes on some of the less clear choices I made in the translation, as well as some of the interesting subtext.  Unfortunately, I can’t find any modern or reliable translations to compare mine to—the Thomas Taylor translation, while pretty, is to poetic too aid me.

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