Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Transforming "Spiritual Warfare": Day 34 (Tennessee)

Note: If you are unfamiliar with my "Transforming 'Spiritual Warfare'" aka. Mushroom Hatred Remediation Program, you might want to read the midpoint recap, Transforming "Spiritual Warfare": Back to Business &/or the project's inaugural post, Transforming "Spiritual Warfare": Day 1 (Hawaii), to understand what I am attempting with this post. (I know it's weird, but what magick isn't?) If you are not familiar with the theocratic prayer campaign referred to in this series, see Desultory Philippic's excellent discussion 40 Days of Light, To Bring Back the Darkness, &/or the coverage over at the Wild Hunt. If you are interested in participating, please see my "DIY" post, Transforming "Spiritual Warfare": Day 33 (Ohio).

Athena Parthenos by Alan LeQuire, Nashville, Tennessee.
Athena Parthenos by Alan LeQuire, Nashville, Tennessee. Courtesy WikiCommons.

Fifty one... take away thirty two... equals nineteen. That's how many locales still need some fungal-dreamwork-style remediation. If anyone who has been following this project feels a special connection to any of the remaining states & wants to send me a guest-post remediation plan, let me know. I'm taking any help I can get. Oh, but you cannot have Georgia (#4) -- that baby's already covered by my clever Friend Rabbit.

I confess, I have let the slack get the best of me with this project, especially since I traded the Last Frontier for the Mormon Frontier. BUT. I saw a sign. Ok, maybe not a sign, but I saw some mushrooms in the most unexpected place & I figured maybe they were trying to give me a little reminder. If you are not familiar with southern Utah, there's this very popular city called St. George. St. George is beloved by Californians, retirees & all other heat-seekers alike because it is balmy... no, bloody hot, but much tidier than Las Vegas. It's a red rock paradise nestled at the base of this state & it's about as quintessential desert as desert gets. We were taking the Little Lad to the fountains & right there in a patch of parkstrip was this monumental patch of LBMs. To be honest, they were more like MBMs, or maybe even BBMs. It was like seeing some old friends -- I was so pleased! Then, Gah! I spanked myself for leaving the camera in the car. 

What does this have to do with Spiritual Warfare in Tennessee? Nothing.

Athena Parthenos. Replica, Roman period, 2nd century CE
Athena Parthenos.
Replica, Roman period, 2nd century CE
courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Ah, Athena. The goddess who keeps dropping hints. Hints which cause me to pause & go "Ooooh," but then continue on my preoccupied way because my life -- at present -- feels a bit like a steam engine run amok. The statue of Athena (aka Athene) pictured above can be found in the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee. This structure is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens & includes this meticulously rendered, heavily gold-leafed, 12 ton sculpture of Athena Parthenos, just as She was in ancient Greece. She stands 42 feet high & the relatively diminutive Nike perched on Her arm stands 6 feet tall. How incredibly marvelous is that? Do you feel an urge for a pilgrimage yet?

I first learned about this statue of Athena in an article entitled "How Athena Came to Nashville"  (re)published in the anthology, Green Egg Omelette: An Anthology of Art and Articles from the Legendary Pagan Journal. The story describes a happening that took place many Moons ago wherein members of the Pagan community (Bonewitz was among them, I recall) held a public dedication ceremony for Athena there at the Nashville Parthenon. I had wanted to include some excerpts from the piece to illustrate the significance of this event, but alas, my book appears to be in Alaska. Anyway, just imagine a relatively large group of various "neo-Pagans" (as folks still called themselves back then) processing across the grounds with a small scale (human-sized) replica of the real statue & holding various rites in & around the Parthenon. It made for some curious onlookers. 

Sacred Mushrooms of the Goddess by Carl A. P. Ruck
Image @ Erowid Library
Tennessee imagery (deity even), check. Now for fungi. I ordered a slew of books by author Carl A. P. Ruck, a Classics professor at Boston University who's primary interest lies in the ecstatic rituals of Dionysus & the use of entheogens in ancient cultures, particularly Greece. In his book Sacred Mushrooms of the Goddess, Ruck quotes Antiphanes: "Which of us knows the future, whatever it is fated to happen for each of us friends? Quick, take & toast these two oak mushrooms!" Ruck implies that the "oak mushrooms" in this statement are Amanitas, more specifically, Amanita muscaria, the Fly Agaric. While I fully believe that the hallucinogenic Fly Agaric played a significant role in multiple ancient cultures (modern too), including Greece, I have my doubts about this particular passage. 

Caesar's Mushroom (Amanita caesarea)
Caesar's Mushroom (Amanita caesarea)
courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Although it is known for being a very "cosmopolitan" species, Amanita muscaria has a stronger reputation for its mycorrhizal associations coniferous trees than it does with hardwoods. It certainly can & does have associations with oak. Just not enough, it seems to me, to warrant a name like "oak mushroom." When I looked into the common names for "oak mushrooms" & "oak Amanitas" I found a more likely candidate for this specific statement: Amanita caesarea, Caesar's Mushroom, or Caesar's Amanita. 

Caesar's Amanita, a native of northern Africa & Southern Europe, is associated with mixed oak forests & is a beloved edible across Europe, including Greece where it is very readily found. Names, especially common names like "oak mushroom" can really confuse a situation. The Romans actually called it "Boletus" (from the ancient Greek βωλιτης) which is completely deceptive. Today it carries a variety of names such as, Ovolo (egg), Impériale (royal), Oronge (orange), kuqëlorja (red) & between Mexico & Guatemala alone there are over 60 different names for this mushroom!

I cannot resist an awesome, completely tangential aside: As I mentioned, this mushroom was popular... very popular. Back in 54 BC, the emperor Claudius was poisoned by his overly ambitious wife Agripinna, mother of Nero. How did she accomplish this? She served him Amanita caesarea surreptitiously co-mingled with Amanita phalloides, the Death Cap. Apparently, she had some help from a colluding physician, Xenophon, who made amply certain Claudius would perish. He accomplished this by administering his ailing patient a toxic enema prepared with bitter apple. Thus, in this most dubious manner, Nero came to rule the Roman empire.

Amanita jacksonii, courtesy WikiCommons.
Amanita jacksonii, courtesy WikiCommons.
Have I met this mushroom, in accordance with the plan? No. In fact, this mushroom does not even occur in North America. But wait. There are at least a couple of other species native to North America which are closely related, look ostensibly the same, are equally choice edibles & are also called "Caesar's Mushrooms" (see what I mean about names?). The species which concerns me is Amanita jacksonii, a real cutie that can be found... in Tennessee.

So I bagged the plan a wee bit in order to work with a mushroom I thought might be in keeping with Athena. No, I haven't met it. It isn't even saprophytic. But it is something from this continent that might please Her as readily as that beloved European native pleased Her people so many Moons ago. It's so charming (& apparently delicious). Really, how could anyone resist? Besides, commanding Athena + cute Amanitas... what kind of lingering hatred could resist such a combination?

Amanita jacksonii, courtesy WikiCommons.
Amanita jacksonii, courtesy WikiCommons.

Pallas Athene c 1539, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Pallas Athene c 1539, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Mother of Art in all your abundance, catalyst of progress!
You bring folly to the corrupt and a sense of purpose to the pure!
Day and night, eternally, in even the loneliest hours,
Hear my prayer, and grant us an abundant peace...

-- from Orphic Hymn to Athena


nature said...

Great post,and blog, i love plant lore.. you're certainly very knowledgeable, very good writer and thinker, and i love the images. blessed be x Naomi

Moma Fauna said...

Thank you Naomi, I have been enjoying your blog too -- that is when I can squeeze in a moment to take a peek! I love the way you look at plants in particular. So pleased to have found you.

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