Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blo0o0o0o0o0o0o0od!!! Part 1

Thanks to Dusio for the inspiration for tonight's post. Maybe one day he'll post here too since this can be a "team blog." That enough of a hint? :-D I apologize in advance for the all over the map post. I'm very tired tonight after a long day and am having trouble organizing my thoughts. At least I refrained from posting the lyrics to "Bloodletting!"

A real, in-depth treatment about what blood meant in the ancient world is beyond the scope of a blog. I'd like to see a book dedicated to it. Are there any good resources on this topic? In the meanwhile, I'm going to throw a few ideas, facts, opinions and quotes out there regarding blood and it's awesome powerz:

Opinion: Blood is blood is blood. Menstrual blood isn't any more special than any other blood except that you don't have to cut yourself to get it. On what do I base this opinion? I have been on both sides of having menstruated and no longer menstruate. My blood is just as potent now as it was then. First-hand experience.

Facts: Blood sacrifice was practiced in the ancient world and is still practiced today, both literally and figuratively. Magic words are said to turn wine and bread into blood and flesh. Then they're eaten.

Gladiator tournaments were held to celebrate festivals and to appease deities with the blood sport.


From The Odyssey: "I made a drink-offering to all the dead, first with honey and milk, then with wine, and thirdly with water, and I sprinkled white barley meal over the whole, praying earnestly to the poor feckless ghosts, and promising them that when I got back to Ithaca I would sacrifice a barren heifer for them, the best I had, and would load the pyre with good things. I also particularly promised that Teiresias should have a black sheep to himself, the best in all my flocks.

When I had prayed sufficiently to the dead, I cut the throats of the two sheep and let the blood run into the trench, whereon the ghosts came trooping up from Erebus... they came from every quarter and flitted round the trench with a strange kind of screaming sound that made me turn pale with fear. When I saw them coming I told the men to be quick and flay the carcasses of the two dead sheep and make burnt offerings of them, and at the same time to repeat prayers to Hades and to Proserpine; but I sat where I was with my sword drawn and would not let the poor feckless ghosts come near the blood till Teiresias should have answered my questions."

"...I see my poor mother's ghost close by us; she is sitting by the blood without saying a word, and though I am her own son she does not remember me and speak to me; tell me, Sir, how I can make her know me.'

"'That,' said he, 'I can soon do Any ghost that you let taste of the blood will talk with you like a reasonable being, but if you do not let them have any blood they will go away again.'

"I sat still where I was until my mother came up and tasted the blood. Then she knew me at once and spoke fondly to me..."

Book 11 is my favorite. Perhaps because it talks about Proserpina as queen of the underworld and mentions Minos as a Magician and Diana killing another woman, Ariadne.

"Then I saw Phaedra, and Procris, and fair Ariadne daughter of the magician Minos, whom Theseus was carrying off from Crete to Athens, but he did not enjoy her, for before he could do so Diana killed her in the island of Dia on account of what Bacchus had said against her"

It's an excellent look at an ancient concept of life after death.

Moving away from The Odyssey... In Greek lore, there are the Empusae, the Mormo and the Lamia. They are said to drink blood, and are either daughters of, or companions to Hekate.

Back to more opinion again: It's the life-force, itself. To give your life for something, even if that life is easily renewed, is a huge gesture, an actual sacrifice. Back in the ancient day, no one knew about DNA or how much blood you had or where it came from. They knew that without it, you would cease to be. Speaking of DNA, I was asked about the importance of being "of the blood." Yes, it's important to a degree. At this point in history, most of us are pretty well mixed, if we know it or not. In addition to several different lines of Italians, I've traced my family to Greece, France, Africa, Russia and Poland. I'm a child of the world. I believe more of us are than not. So what's the big deal about DNA? It is an actual, literal connection with all of your predecessors and successors going back to the beginning of human-kind.

More fact: Girls are born with fully loaded ovaries. Therefore, my child has always been a part of me. I have always been a part of my mother. She has always been a part of her mother and so on back to the beginning. We have always existed, even if just in a microscopic way on a physical level.

What about adopted families? When you're adopted it's not just into a circle of people you live with, it's also into a lineage. Ancestors are conferred upon you. If you are made part of a family, you are part of that entire family, the ones who went before as well as the ones who are your immediate family. My biological Grandfather passed when my Mother was still a child. My Grandmother remarried a few years later. For all intents and purposes, he was my Grandfather. He made my mother, and me, part of his family. I loved who he loved, I venerated who he venerated.

Is there a difference when invoking one or the other? Kind of. It's more a matter of technique and level of relationship. Something things cannot be explained, only experienced.

Have you ever used your own blood in your work? If not: What do you think the effect would be? If yes, how have you done so? Did it help your work?
Part 2 of this (maybe in March?) will look more at specific uses of blood, and I don't just mean animal sacrifice, I mean personal blood letting to bind, seal, or amp up spells.

1 comment:

  1. I've been struggling with the dna thing since I found out (for sure) about my adoption a couple of years ago. In a way it was like negating all whom I thought were my 'real' ancestors. So if the boatload of them are 'conferred upon you' (I like that) I get to have 2 sets, though I don't have a clue who the 'blood' ones are. And I have used blood in my work- my art- more than my workings. It's a bit tricky as a pigment- you've got to work fast before it coagulates and it changes color when it dries, but it does add a sort of strength or depth, magic if you will, to the piece.