Review: Longing for Wisdom

Longing for wisdom: the message of the maxims
Allyson Szabo
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2008
9781438239767

General books about paganism are about as common as anything now. Books relating to reconstruction and revival traditions are somewhat rare, but not impossible to find. Books giving a truly pagan perspective on andcient philosophy and how to bring that into modern life are truly rare. I can think of very few titles worth noting. Which is why, despite its being outside my usual traditions, Longing for Wisdom is certainly going to be a book to see much use from me.

The Delphic maxim best known in the modern world is Know Thyself, but there are many more discovered from around the ancient Greek world. In this text Szabo takes many (bot not all) of the maxims and examines them from both an ancient Hellenic standpoint as well as how they can be applied to modern life. Phrases such as “give a pledge and ruin is near” might not make as much sense without the context that the pledge is of oneself to pay off a debt. Anyone who’s racked up a lot on their credit cards and unsure of how to pay them off without filing for bankruptcy could well understand the message behind such a statement. Among other maxims covered in the book are “respect yourself,” “do not wrong the dead,” “teach a youngster,” “honor the hearth,” and “worship the gods.”

Several of the maxims include reflections and meditations one can contemplate when learning about a particular maxim. These exercises take these phrases away from the intellectual consideration and make them real to the practitioner. In order to fully internalize a new world view (or perhaps reinforce beliefs already present), this is the most direct action one can take on that path.

The maxims certainly can apply to other pre-Christian cultures as well. Both my Kemetic and Heathen sides (which aren’t really in opposition) were nodding in agreement to many of the maxims presented and brought to some new ideas thanks to Szabo’s commetary.

Through both her own academic and personal study, Szabo has done a fine job placing the maxims into a modern practice. This book can easily become a good reference as well as a source for inspiration and meditation. She herself states that you can either read the book straight through, or select a maxim at random and simply read that small chapter. If you’re of a contemplative or philosophical slant to your practices, you’d do well to pick up this book.

Five stars.

Call for submissions: BA Cynocephali devotional

We are pleased to announce that the Cynocephali devotional, to be published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is now open for submissions. This anthology will focus on the cynocephalic deities of the Greco-Roman and Egyptian pantheons, such as Anubis (Yinepu), Wepwawet, and Hermanubis. Please spread the call for submissions far and wide.

Examples of acceptable submissions include:

Essays
Scholarly work
Translations and interpretations of ancient texts
Prose and Poetry
Anubis and Wepwawet – The same deity, or divine twins?
The associations of extant canid species (e.g. wolves, jackals, coyotes, foxes, and dogs) with these deities
Comparisons and contrasts to cynocephalic and way-opening canid-deities in other traditions and mythologies, such as Celtic or Norse, or even Meso-American (e.g. Xolotl)

The cynocephalic deities in their various forms and roles, such as:
Funerary
War
Shamanic/Way-Opening
Light-bringing
Kingship
Canids (wolves, jackals, dogs, foxes, even coyotes!)

Readers are strongly encouraged to explore many aspects of these deities, as well as some of the more obscure and lesser-known or less-popularized myths and symbolism associated with these deities.

Any submitted artwork must be original, greyscaled and 300dpi at full print size. Color submissions for the front cover are encouraged. In the event of multiple cover submissions, the editors reserve the right to make the final selection.

Editors also reserve the right to make any minor changes in the case of spelling, punctuation, grammar, formatting and related. The editors reserve the right to reject any submission that they feel does not meet the above criteria. Editors may request that submissions be tweaked or modified as necessary.

As with all devotional anthologies at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, payment or contributor copies cannot be provided, since proceeds will be directed to charitable organizations and to help promote the Bibliotheca Alexandrina line. Any potential contributors are encouraged to read the BA policies: http://www.neosalexandria.org/publishing.htm In submitting to this anthology, the editors will assume that you have read and consented to these policies.

Please send submissions to cynocephalidevotional (at) gmail (dot) com. Submissions will be accepted starting July 25th, 2010, in consideration of that date being the reckoned rising of Sirius and the major feast-day of many cynocephalic deities, including the Graeco-Egyptian syncretic Hermanubis and his early Christian counterpart, St. Christopher. The deadline for submissions will be on May 22, 2011, the date Ovid’s Fasti gives for the rising of Sirius, interpreted as the celestial form of the Hound of Erigone in a myth of Dionysos. The editors will acknowledge all submissions, but this does not guarantee your submission will make it into the final edit of the anthology.

All submissions will remain the property of the individual author, and all rights pertaining thereunto will remain with the author. A permission to publish form will be sent out to authors upon acceptance of their final drafts for publication. It is expected that no plagiarism of any sort will be involved in any piece accepted for permission, and that all customs of academic responsibility and honesty will be observed in citing sources (whether formally in footnotes/references or informally within the text of a piece), where applicable/necessary.

The editors of this devotional are Shin “Solo” Cynikos and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus. Solo is a Greco-Egyptian polytheist, cynanthrope, female-to-male transguy, magician and sacred scavenger. When not at his government job or traveling out of country, Solo enjoys blogging about polytheism, animism, transgender rights and scavenging. You can find his writings at http://dimensionbomb.wordpress.com, and his crafty bits at http://hermeticdog.etsy.com. P. Sufenas Virius Lupus is an academic by day, and a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou and contributing member of Neos Alexandria. Lupus’ poetry and essays have been published in various Bibliotheca Alexandrina devotional anthologies, with a whole book of poetry called The Phillupic Hymns (2008) among these, and also poems in the Scarlet Imprint anthology Datura: An Anthology of Esoteric Poesis (2010).

Why yes, I do plan to actually contribute to this volume.