When a Hero dies and becomes a God: Magic and the Deification of David Bowie

 

 

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Hello readers, today I want to talk about the creation of gods, how, why and the theory behind humanity’s hand in it. As a Taoist and left hand path practitioner, I have a particular interest in immortality and godhood. With the passing of Artist and Musician David Bowie, and the overt occult overtones of his later work, this stared an idea in my noggin that itches like crazy. So like any good idea (or Virus) I’m going to spread it like the black plague and see where it goes. When talking about gods and the process of god making two words spring to mind, Deification (Greek theosis) and Apotheosis (from Greek ἀποθέωσις from ἀποθεοῦν, apotheoun “to deify”; in Latin deificatio “making divine”. In theology, the term apotheosis refers to the idea that an individual has been raised to godlike stature. In art, the term refers to the treatment of any subject (a figure, group, locale, motif, convention or melody) in a particularly grand or exalted manner.Now, more then ever before, Art and theology have blended to become something greater then the sum of it’s parts. but this isn’t a new thing that I’m talking about here. We learn about the gods from myths because myths (as opposed to other narratives) stories with a religious content: they explain our relationship to forces beyond our control. Greek myths in particular have a continuing appeal because they are, first of all, great stories.

 

The ancient Greeks would have been surprised and even shocked by our modern interpretations of the Greek Gods. The vast majority of ancient people believed in these same Gods and Heroes, thought most of them had mortal origins and when ancient writers tell the stories, the gods play an important and even dominant role in them. Myths were fundamentally religious stories, narratives about how to come to terms with forces beyond human control. Ancient Greeks learned about the gods from myths: they had no canonical text like the Bible.

 

In the Greek world, the first leader who accorded himself divine honours was Philip II of Macedon, who was a king, when the Greeks had set kingship aside, and who had extensive economic and military ties, though largely antagonistic, with Achaemenid Persia, where kings were divine. At his wedding to his sixth wife, Philip’s enthroned image was carried in procession among the Olympian gods; “his example at Aigai became a custom, passing to the Macedonian kings who were later worshiped in Greek Asia, from them to Julius Caesar and so to the emperors of Rome”. Such Hellenistic state leaders might be raised to a status equal to the gods before death (e.g., Alexander the Great) or afterwards (e.g., members of the Ptolemaic dynasty). Heroic cult similar to apotheosis was also an honour given to a few revered artists of the distant past, notably Homer. The Greek hero cults can be distinguished on the other hand from the Roman cult of dead emperors, because the hero was not thought of as having ascended to Olympus or become a god: he was beneath the earth, and his power purely local. For this reason hero cults were chthonic in nature, and their rituals more closely resembled those for Hecate and Persephone than those for Zeus and Apollo. Two exceptions were Heracles and Asclepius, who might be honoured as either gods or heroes, sometimes by chthonic night-time rites and sacrifice on the following day.

 

The Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs were believed (throughout ancient Egyptian history) to be incarnations of the god Horus, derived by being the son of the sun deity, Hathor (or later, Isis), or the sky deity, Nut. In the 20th century , our Myths are stories of Film stars like James Dean and Heath Ledger , who died early and left a beautiful corpse or Rock Stars like Jim Morrison and Lemmy ,who partied too excess and went out with a devil may care attitude that we tend to expect and adore in our Heroes. This brings us to David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust, the Great White Duke, Who after so many years and so many stories told about all of his incarnations, has taken on a hero cult status of his own. This is not entirely dissimilar to what happened to the Catholic saints of the Middle Ages, the “Rock Stars” of Europe at that time, a tooth or a finger nail of  Saint Francis of Assisi could command hundreds of florins if deemed genuine. As any Mambo or Hoodoo rootworker knows, over time these saints became the “overcoats” of the seven African Powers, making them into deities in there own right. . Numerous mortals have been deified into the Daoist pantheon, such as Guan Yu, Iron-crutch Li and Fan Kuai. Song Dynasty General Yue Fei was deified during the Ming Dynasty and is considered by some practitioners to be one of the three highest ranking heavenly generals. This can also be found to happen with Various Hindu and Buddhist rulers in the past as they become represented as deities, especially after death.

 

 

Joseph Campbell, in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, writes that the Universal Hero from monomyth must pass through a stage of Apotheosis. According to Campbell, apotheosis is the expansion of consciousness that the hero experiences after defeating his foe, and I believe that this is what could be happening with David Bowie right now. The amount of energy poured into his image, at the moment of his death, could have very well brought about his Apotheosis. With the continued spread of Blog posts and Articles about his life and the meaning of it, I believe the power of all that human interest may vault his spirit into becoming a Deity, or at the very lest a tangible Archetype that could be worked with on the Astral.

 

Perhaps I’m only Tilting at windmills with this idea, but I will leave that for you to decide. In closing will give a few lines from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and may we all take these words to heart.

 

“But as in landlessness alone resides the highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God- so, better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety! For worm-like, then, oh! who would craven crawl to land! Terrors of the terrible! is all this agony so vain? Take heart, take heart, O Bulkington! Bear thee grimly demigod! Up from the spray of thy ocean-perishing- straight up, leaps thy apotheosis.”

Till next time, stay gold everyone.

Sources:  Arthur E.R. Boak, “The Theoretical Basis of the Deification of Rulers in Antiquity”,St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word ,http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/deification, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

Art Credit: David Bowie by TOXICSTILLS

 

When a Hero dies and becomes a God: Magic and the Deification of David Bowie was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand