The Wheel turns once again, bringing with it the silly season. Recently a well-meaning acquaintance asked me what did I have planned for the holidays. This sort of got me thinking… what was I going to do?
I don’t claim to have a complete understanding of the Athenian calendar system.
However I’ve read that in parts of ancient Greece there’s a month that roughly corresponds to our December/January that’s called Poseidon for the sea god of the same name.
Why honour Poseidon? Isn’t he just a mood-swinging meathead surfer dude chasing booty as much as waves?
To start with the basics Poseidon was most notably the god of the sea. He also presided over lakes & rivers. He was the mighty Earthshaker, the bringer of earthquakes. His trident can shake & shatter anything at his whim.
His parents were the titans Cronus & Rhea. You think your dad’s tough on you? Cronus feared a prophecy that said one of his children would overthrow him & so he ate each of his newborn offspring as they came along. Rhea managed to hide the infant Zeus, who eventually liberated his siblings by causing daddy to vomit them all back up. After Cronus was overthrown, somebody had to take up the slack. The Olympians held a lottery to determine who took control of each realm. Hades drew the Underworld, Poseidon was granted control of the oceans, & Zeus got the heavens.
Poseidon was never quite content with his lot in life. Although his kingdom was huge, he was still under the ultimate rule of Zeus. Once he grew tired of living in the shadow of his brother & attempted to knock him from his lofty perch. The attempt failed, of course. Clever Zeus was able to escape & punished the perpetrators. You think being grounded for a week with no TV is rough? Zeus exiled Apollo & Poseidon from Olympus, sending them to a year of hard labour helping to build the walls of Troy as humans. No magick, no funky tricks to make the job easier. Harsh!
Perhaps he had a little bit of a greedy streak. He has a history of land disputes, the most notable being the squabble he had with Athena over control of Athens. A competition seemed fair. Whoever gave the finest gift would take the city. Poseidon gave what he knew best: water. He struck the ground with his trident & a spring shot up. Unfortunately it was brackish & unfit for consumption. Athena gave the olive tree. It was able to grow on the rocky Greek soil, providing the people with a source of food, oil, fibres to weave, & opportunities for trade. Guess who lost out?
Sure, he could be a bit cranky at times. Usually quick to take offence, Poseidon turned revenge into an artform. Remember when Odysseus got on his bad side? He got upset when the hero blinded his one-eyed monstrous son Cyclops, nevermind that Odysseus was trying to defend the lives of his shipwrecked crew! Try telling that to the Sea Lord. Poseidon went on an 8-year-long rampage, throwing everything from storms to deadly monsters at him.
His tendency to try & take what he wanted regardless of consequence extended to women too. One of his more noteworthy conquests was the goddess Demeter. A version of myth describes how he tried to get her mind off her grief over losing her daughter Persephone by hitting her up. She wasn’t having any of it. The goddess turned herself into a mare & hid amongst a herd of horses. Persistent Poseidon merely turned himself into a stallion & raped her.
Eventually Poseidon married the goddess Amphitrite, the living embodiment of the sea. Hubby was often unfaithful, but she usually turned a blind eye to his flings. Then there was the nympth Scylla. A jealous Amphitrite threw certain herbs into the nymph’s bath & changed her into a grotesque monster.
Whilst he undeniably had his negative side, consider this. Men once prayed to Poseidon & made offerings to the Sea Lord in hopes of having a safe journey. He could calm storms with his presence & sea beasts would rise to swim playfully around his chariot. He could bless land to make it fertile & gave protection to sailors.
Ultimately his lesson is one of personal strength. He wasn’t happy to settle for second-best & tried to throw off the mantle of an intolerable situation. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly in some way, remember what the Sea Lord stands for. Succeed or fail, the act of trying can initiate change & bring energies of growth into your life. Whilst his methodologies were certainly questionable at times, Poseidon encourages us to reach for goals that might seem impossible. His gift is that of possibilities.