November 25, 2015

The Purple Thread again

I was telling a friend about the Purple Thread over on Dreamwidth, and realized that a) I didn't have a good explanation of the whole shebang here, and that my prayers here are out of date. Time to fix that!

Summary of the Purple Thread as written up for my friend:

My Purple Thread cultus revolves around a set of seven women, demi-goddesses, and minor goddesses linked together by certain themes. The Hanged Maiden is one, as is the Wronged Maiden. The Thread progresses upward until, at its far end, it finds its epitome in Kirke (Circe), who is never overcome.

The thread starts with Arachne, who rues what she did. In some versions, she hanged herself and was resurrected by Athena before asking for penance, and certainly she hangs by threads forever now. Patron of the over-proud who learn humility, and of weavers.

Next is Erigone, Beloved of the Vine. Her father Ikarious was the first mortal to whom Dionysos taught to cultivate grapevines and to make wine. When he shared his first batch with his neighbors, they didn't know to water the wine, and became very drunk and passed out. Their families, finding them, thought that they were dead, and fell upon Ikarios and murdered him. When young Erigone found him dead, she hanged herself from a tree. Her loyal dog then cast herself into a well and drowned. Dionysos, returning from a ramble only just too late, finding them all dead, set them each in the stars, as Bo├Âtes, Virgo, and Canis Minor. He also drove the villagers mad and set all their daughters to hanging themselves from trees until they made amends, and ever after that city held a propitiatory rite in which young girls swung on ropes tired to trees, and tied ribbons, cups and dolls to dangle from branches. Patron of suicides and those with depression, and of the bereaved.

Now comes Ariadne, Mistress of the Labyrinth, before her apotheosis. She helped Theseus to murder her brother Asterion, the Minotaur (the murder itself a necessary mystery); she loved her monstrous brother. Theseus betrayed her and left her on the shore while she slept. When she awakened alone and abandoned, she too hanged herself. Dionysos came along and saw how lovely she was, and resurrected her and made her a goddess, and by now she has left her thread. Ariadne was of distantly divine heritage, distant enough to make her immortal. Patron of those who dare the labyrinth and walk strange roads.

Now comes Helen, Lady of Sorrows, who speaks for the Silenced (including the first three of the Thread). After the Great War, few stories are told of her. Menelaus took her home as spoils of war, but set her aside, and sent her into seclusion. Perhaps she, too, hanged herself, and was granted access to the Isle of the Blessed, where she ruled beside the likewise-apotheosized Herakles, now freed from the Hera-inflicted madness that drove him to kill those he loved. Or perhaps she escaped, and wandered the world, and helped women, and ended none knows where. Perhaps Aphrodite or Athena, impressed by her strength, apotheosized her without death, and sent her back to continue her work. She is a patron of abused women.

Then Cassandra, beloved and cursed. You know her story. She, too, was taken as spoils of water, and mistreated, and of her many ends are told, but not one is true. She is not an active patron as Helen is, but go to her for prophecy and advice, and be very sure you listen well.

Now Medea, betrayed and vengeful, and we start to reach for greater power, a women's power on her own. Cousin to Ariadne, she, too, turned against her family for a pretty man's face, and left, and was abandoned. Not content to be set aside, not even considering suicide, she struck back instead. She is fully divine, though as distantly as Ariadne, and may or may not have died at all. She is patron of women who seek vengeance.

And finally Kirke, full goddess in her own right, who used men as she saw fit, and was not devastated when one she loved left her. She studied with her cousin Hekate (as did Medea), and learned secrets of magic, of necromancy and transformation, and much more, and kept her own counsel and no other's. She is patron of women who take up all the power they can.

("Women" here is loosely defined. Anyone who identifies even part-time as a woman or a feminine person qualifies, and they can certainly choose to act as patron to anyone they damn well please as well. You may find that some of them also have genderqueer connections. I have not looked for any.)

Current prayers:

Seven women whose lives are twined
In history and myth
Seven women whose names are wrapped
In purple thread
Seven women whose lives show
Our weaknesses and our strengths
Seven women I honor and praise:
The women of the purple thread.

I pray to Arakhne,
Who rues what she did,
And weaves now forever
I pray to Arakhne of the Purple Thread

I pray to Erigone,
Beloved of the Vine
Who sorrows and mourns
I pray to Erigone of the Purple Thread

I pray to Ariadne,
Mistress of the Labyrinth
Who died and rose again
I pray to Ariadne of the Purple Thread

I pray to Helen,
Lady of Sorrows
Who stands now for the Silenced
I pray to Helen of the Purple Thread

I pray to Cassandra,
Beloved and Cursed
Whose prophecies none heeded
I pray to Cassandra of the Purple Thread

I pray to Medea,
Witch and priestess
Betrayed and vengeful
I pray to Medea of the Purple Thread

I pray to Kirke,
Sorceress and Goddess
Who never surrendered her power
I pray to Kirke of the Purple Thread

Each of them has her own Mystery into which one can be initiated, if one tries. Each has lessons to teach.

While this is the order in which I pray to them, you need not approach them in this order. If one further along the Thread calls to you, then go to her. Study her. Meditate upon her. Sift through her stories until you are suddenly struck by the Mystery.

While, as I said, they are patrons of women, people of any gender can learn their Mysteries. Those are different things -- patrons are for calling on at need, and giving thanks to after, while this is an organized veneration or worship (depending on how deep you go with it).

Want to start working with the Purple Thread? I'll have a post on that soon.