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Hephaistos | Ἥφαιστος | Vulcan

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Hephaistos | Ἥφαιστος | Vulcan

Post  Achrelus on Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:48 pm

Hephaistos is the "lame" god of smithing and metal working. He is the god of valcanoes and valcanic action. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, and husband to Aphrodite.

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Orphic Perspective: Ἥφαιστος

Post  Erodius on Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:55 pm

4. Iphaistos (Hephaistos or Hephaestus; Gr. Ἥφαιστος, ΗΦΑΙΣΤΟΣ.) Pronounced: EE'-fays-tohs, with the accent on the first syllable.) [Roman: Vulcanus, Anglicized as Vulcan. Etruscan: Sethlans]

Being an Olympian Deity Iphaistos is one of the most important Gods in the pantheon of Hellenismos. He is the son of Zefs (Gr. Ζεύς) and Ira (Hera; Gr.Ήρα).

The most familiar mythology depicts Iphaistos born lame and cast out of Olympos (Olympus; Gr. Ὄλυμπος) by his mother into the sea where he was cared for by Thætis (Thetis; Gr. Θέτις) and Evrynomi (Eurynome; Gr. Εὐρυνόμη). This "lameness" is symbolic of the light or fire of Iphaistos, changing the direction of the Aithir (Ether; Gr. Αἰθήρ) in the Middle Sky, like a bent or lame foot.

Like Poseithon (Poseidon; Gr. Ποσειδῶν), Iphaistos is connected with the Middle Sky. Iphaistos is called the Lord of the Gates, the Gates being the entrance to the great copper palaces of the Olympians. He also has dominion over those souls in the highest realms of the Middle Sky who are near to being deified.

More commonly, Iphaistos is associated with workers, smiths, sculptors, skills, and craftsmen.


The Homeric Hymn To Iphaistos
Homeric Hymn to Iphaistos describes him as a god who, by teaching skills and crafts, has the effect of civilizing mankind:

"Sing, clear-voiced Muses, of Hephaestos famed for inventions. With bright-eyed Athene he taught men glorious crafts throughout the world, -- men who before used to dwell in caves in the mountains like wild beasts. But now that they have learned crafts through Hephaestos the famed worker, easily they live a peaceful life in their own houses the whole year round.

Be gracious, Hephaestos, and grant me success and prosperity!"


(Homeric Hymn XX. To Iphaistos, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914; found here in the 1936 edition of Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns, and Homerica; Harvard [Cambridge, MA] Heinemann [London, England] Loeb, p. 447)

Orphic Hymn to Iphaistos
In the Orphic hymn he is Mystic Fire:
Strong, mighty Vulcan , bearing splendid light,
Unweary'd fire, with flaming torrents bright:
Strong-handed, deathless, and of art divine,
Pure element, a portion of the world is thine:
All-taming artist, all-diffusive pow'r,
Tis thine supreme, all substance to devour:
Aither, Sun, Moon, and Stars, light pure and clear,
For these thy lucid parts to men appear.
To thee, all dwellings, cities, tribes belong,
Diffus'd thro' mortal bodies bright and strong.
Hear, blessed power, to holy rites incline,
And all propitious on the incense shine:
Suppress the rage of fires unweary'd frame,
And still preserve our nature's vital flame.


(Orphic Hymn LXVI To Iphaistos, trans. Thomas Taylor 1824 in The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus; found here in the 2003 Prometheus Trust edition (England: Antony Rowe, Chippenham, Wiltshire) of Hymns and Initiations TTS V, p. 131, in which the numbering of the hymns has been corrected)


Thomas Taylor's commentary on this hymn is as follows:

"Vulcan (ed. Iphaistos) is that divine power which presides over the spermatic (ed. generative) and physical productive powers which the universe contains: for whatever Nature accomplishes by verging to bodies, that Vulcan effects in a divine and exempt manner, by moving Nature, and using her as an instrument in his own proper fabrication. For natural heat has a Vulcanian characteristic, and was produced by Vulcan for the purpose of fashioning a corporeal nature. Vulcan, therefore, is that power which perpetually presides over the fluctuating nature of bodies; and hence, says Olympiodorus (ed. Olympiothohros; Gr. Ὀλύμπιόδωρος), he operates with bellows, (εν ϕυσαις; ed. æn physais) which occultly signifies his operating in natures (αντι του εν ταις ϕυσεσι; ed. anti tou æn tais physæsi). This deity, also, as well as Mars (ed. Aris [Ares]; Gr. Άρης), as Proclus (ed. Proklos; Gr. Πρόκλος) observes, in Plat. Repub. p. 388, requires the assitance of Venus (ed. Aphrothiti [Aphrodite]; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη), in order that he may invest sensible effects with beauty, and thus cause the pulchritude (ed. physical beauty) of the world."
(Ibid. Taylor Hymns and Initiations, p. 131)


Iphaistos in Iconography

Porphyry (Porphyrios; Gr. Πορφύριος) describes Iphaistos thus:
"...the power of fire they called Hephaestus, and have made his image in the form of a man, but put on it a blue cap as a symbol of the revolution of the heavens, because the archetypal and purest form of fire is there. But the fire brought down from heaven to earth is less intense, and wants the strengthening and support which is found in matter: wherefore he is lame, as needing matter to support him."

(Porphyry On Images, Fragment 8, excerpt, translated by Edwin Hamilton Gifford)


Orphic Rulership of Iphaistos

Iphaistos rules the fourth Orphic House, the month of Capricorn (Aigokærohs; Gr. Αιγόκερως) from December 21 through January 20, and his dominion is the Natural Law of Form. The Divine Consort of Iphaistos is the Goddess Æstia (Hestia). Both Iphaistos and Æstia have fire: Æstia has the Fire of Life while Iphaistos has the Fire-Aithir which creates Forms. The Orphic Hymns suggest the offering of livanomanna (Gr. λιβανομανναν, frankincense) and manna or powdered frankincense) to Iphaistos.
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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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