Guest Writer: AG Vanidottir
Many would view Haides as a stern, fierce and unyielding god. Shown as dark and gloomy, the majesty of his appearance is often tainted. The judgement of men's souls is not an easy task and is often thankless. False notions about the power of this god make people unduly afraid of him. Perhaps this is stems from the idea that once dead we remain in his realm for ever, and that with the crossing of the River Styx the soul goes to him without the covering of the body and thus loses its humanity. I am hear to tell you that this is not so.
In the beginning of the Age of the Olympians, three brothers divided the realms of Earth. Zeus drew the lot of the skies and heavens and thus rules from Olympus. Poseidon drew that of the realms of seas and waters and with this rules from the depths of the world's Oceans. The third brother, Haides, drew the lot of mists, secrets and the deep darkness that the Earth's fertility comes from. It is to this realm that all must return when their days have run their course.
Haides rules the depths below Earth's surface and beyond the river Styx. There the mists from her waters part and the souls of our beloved ancestors walk freely to the rewards of a life well lived. Within the gates of the Elysian fields walks the defender of the rights of the dead, king of the under realms, lover and husband to Persephone, guardian of the hidden wealth of the earth. There those that have earned a place within these sacred grounds are at peace, hearing the love and prayers from the upper world by the grace of Haides. The dead, upon receiving this gift from their protector, smile and make ready for the time that their descendents join them. Love and sympathy course through the fruits of this world and here the dark and gloom do not dare invade.
Haides, in Elis your temple was only opened once a year; not unlike our own ancestor box. You hold the keys to the other realm and fiercely watch those in your charge with Cerberus by your side. Though you sit in judgement of men's souls and often must pass a harsh sentence, you are not without compassion. It is from the darkness of your realm that seeds gather their strength to be brought forth in the Spring. By your hand the wealth of the land is brought forth. Your gift to man is the promise of a safe harbor upon the crossing of the river. Your gift to the other gods is to care for those that they have favored in life with peace and joy beyond the confines of their flesh.
Haides, gathered before you now are the children of the Earth. The living call to you to recognize and honor you for your sacred duty. Haides, part the mists that stand between your realm and ours that we may make offering in thanks for your careful hand and watchful eye. Turn the keys within the gates and allow the mothers and fathers of old to hear the words of our hearts. The words of our own souls that sing in praise of you and yours.
"Zeus Khthonios (of the Underworld) [Haides], thy sacred ear incline, and pleased accept these sacred rites divine. Earth’s keys to thee, illustrious king, belong, its secret gates unlocking, deep and strong. ‘Tis thine abundant annual fruits to bear, for needy mortals are thy constant care. To thee, great king, all sovereign earth assigned, the seat of gods and basis of mankind."
Lord of the Underworld,
Husband to Persephone,
Brother to Zeus and Poseidon,
Son of Kronos and Rhea,
Keeper of the mists,
Guardian of the dead
Haides, the children of the earth call out to you
Join us at our sacred fire and accept all that we offer to you.
Haides, we honor you!
Sources include: www.theoi.com, the Orphic Hymns and Plato