Whooo! I’m not dead! And it’s really amazing how much more time I have in my life without a long term romantic partner. I will hopefully be able to fill some of that time with writing and producing content! That said, I’m sort of helping a good friend write meditations for Advent by reading them before they go out, and I thought why not write a parallel leading up to the Heliogenna? So, without further gilding the lily, I present: Hope.
Listen well O Best Beloved: After the Wars of the Titans and the Giants had ended, the gods saw the earth was littered with casualties and no life was to be found. So the gods gave Prometheus and Epimetheus materials and gifts with which to make new life. Epimetheus made animals with wild abandon, from his imagination and creativity fell all manners of life. This is how the platypus was created, Best Beloved. Prometheus was careful in his creations, from his imagination and creativity fell all manners of humanity. This is why we are so beautifully different, Best Beloved. When Prometheus reached for the gods gifts, he found Epimetheus had used them all; the cheetahs could run faster, the birds could fly, the mantis shrimp could see more colors, the dogs smell more scents, the bats hear more sounds. Humanity was left with very little, and shivered in the cold wastes. Prometheus begged Zeus to allow humans to have fire, but was refused. Thus, Prometheus stole an ember from the sacred fires and was punished for it.
But Prometheus wasn’t the only fool to be punished. Epimetheus, foolish creator of the pangolin, the axolotl, and the tufted deer, was given Pandora in marriage. Pandora was the image of Aphrodite, wise as Athena, dynastic as Hera, fruitful as Demeter. Her dowry was only one thing, Best Beloved: a box that Epimetheus was never to open. In secret, he did open it. And from the box flew all the evils in the world: Deceit, Envy, Hate, Greed, Scheming, Covetousness, War, Wrath. In terror Epimetheus fled; but Pandora, O Best Beloved, went to the open box and reached inside. From it she pulled Hope, and with a gentle breath gave Hope the strength to fly.
Paganism is not an orthodoxy, I can’t reference a doctrine and say “This is”. It’s an orthopraxy, we must practice our faith and spirituality; we cannot rely on grace. Because of this, our myths change, and this version is one I find very relevant right now. In every version I’ve read something different flies out of the box, depending on who is supposed to be reading it. I read a version for little girls that said vanity, jealousy, and gossip were in the box. I read a version for little boys that said cunning, beauty, and magic were in the box. Pride is in the box. Lust is in the box. Sloth is in the box. Pride is in the box. You name an evil, it’s probably been in The Box.
So far as science is aware, no other species has made industries out of these evils. And natural disasters don’t seem to really be in Pandora’s Box. Certainly Famine and Plague make appearances, but they do so with War. That combination makes it less a natural disaster and more a man made catastrophe. Everything in The Box requires a human catalyst.
Right now it’s easier to see the wrongs. We can see the damage that Epimetheus (and men) have wrought upon the world. Donald Trump is a walking exercise in deceit and envy. Hate presents a mundane face in the New York Times. Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump greedily snatch power and money through nepotism. Putin schemes. Republicans scheme. Kim Jong Un covets. Wrath erupts over Twitter, and war seems imminent. I get a sense of dread now when I hear the little chime of a social media or news alert. With every Tweet, I’m reminded that everything in The Box has a human catalyst.
If Hope requires a human catalyst, then we must provide it. Paganism is an orthopraxy, we must practice. And to quote my show choir choreographer, fake it til we make it. Pandora gave Hope the first push. Women, particularly women of color, have given it another boost. It’s on us now to practice hope and resistance through tangible acts until Hope and Resistance become tangible things.
In revivalist and reconstructionist circles hospitality, charity, and philanthropy are pillars of our practice, Hecate’s Feast is a prime example. These pillars must become sturdier, our commitment to them stronger. Yet, this is not enough to support Hope. We must add a fourth pillar, civic duty. We are obligated to participate fully in our civic processes, at all levels. This is how we create hope, and how we give Hope the strength to spread.
All of the evils in Pandora’s Box rely on humans to be at their worst. Hope requires we be at our best.