Athenapallas's Blog

July 18, 2011

WITNESSING THE ATHENS UPRISING May/June 2011

Narelle Scotford, the writer of this blog, visited Greece in May and June this year. Although of course her alter ego has resided for 2500 years in Greece, this was Narelle’s first trip. Long long ago she was a Greek bride and learnt to speak, read and write the language of her beloved Greek Gods and Heroes. In preparation for her trip she studied Greek language, mythology and history again as well as re-learning how to make Greek coffee and sampling the culinary delights of the great cooks in her Modern Greek class at Sydney University.

Narelle arrived in Athens at the beginning of the recent unrest finding a small hotel half a block from Syntagma Square. She  wandered around the square on her first day where only a handful of students were gathered and after this she was there every day until she left Athens for Delphi and for her attendance at a  Buddhist  retreat north of Athens in the company of other Athenians.

The following photos and comments are her personal record of her time in Athens. She left Athens a few days before the Parliament passed the Austerity Measures Bill when TV screens around the world showed over and over again violent images of what was happening on the streets. More about that later in the post……

Greek Cops Waiting

 
 
 
 
 
 
It was a common sight to see groups of cops (police) on bikes or foot around the square and gradually as the week  progressed their presence became more obvious particularly towards evening when the people were starting to gather in Syntagma Square for the evening discussions, speeches and songs.
 
 
 

Beginning of the Tent City in the Square

 
 
 
 
At this stage there were just a few tents and people were busy talking as usual and some were creating makeshift signs.
 
It looked more like a scout camp than a revolution.
 
Most of the young people I met spoke good English but appreciated my attempts to converse in my faltering Greek.
 
They were pleased I could read their signs some of which I will show and translate below.

Greek Parliament

 

Fancy Dress Soldiers on their way to guard the Parliament

 
 
 
 
 
 
           

What We Need!

                                                                                                   

 This is the first sign I saw after I started going to the Square, as you can see it
is Texta on Cardboard, hardly high-tech. Before I had a chance to translate it (always tricky as Greek Capital letters are often different to their lower case equivalents) I thought it must be a kind of  Bill of Rights or List of Political demands but no, it is nothing of the sort. Ever practical they were asking for:
 
CLOTH,CARDBOARD,PAINT,TEXTA PENS, SELLOTAPE,ROPE, BRUSHES,
TABLES,CHAIRS,TENTS,PORTABLE LAMPS, MICROPHONES,WATER, RUBBISH BAGS, NOTICE BOARDS, MORE TENTS, FLOODLIGHTS.
 
When I asked where these would come from they told me ‘the people’ and they were right, as the days went by all this as well as food and drink and sleeping bags, linen, clothes etc were donated by ‘the people’.
 
 
  

Love this tent!

              

More and More Tents

                                                                                              

 

REAL DEMOCRACY like we had 2500 years ago!

 
 
 The young Greek students who painted this sign and set up their website were well aware of the sorry history of their failed political process where cronyism, elitism and bureaucratic feather bedding had eaten away not only at their democracy but also their economic and  civic resolve. 
They all knew how Western Democracy and its many imitations around the world started here, when each of the 12 tribes of what was then Greece or Attica sent a representative to live and work  for one month in what was then their National Assembly returning home afterwards to allow another member of their community or group take their place.
 
 
 

In the name of Melina Mercouri

          
A visit to the New Acropolis Museum is a must for any traveller to Greece if only to realise how much has been stolen from  the birthplace of democracy by many of the countries whose citizens make their pilgrimage here.
The new Museum stands out for its modern architecture which aligns itself with the Parthenon way above  on the Holy Rock called the Acropolis.  What made the most impact inside the museum  for me was not the few marvellous sculptures that have managed to survive, but all the gaps left in the Museum’s mockup of the Parthenon where images of the Gods and mighty heroes of our shared mythology and history have been hacked away and taken to museums and private collections all over the world. If all these stolen artifacts and works of art could be valued and Greece compensated for them imagine how their economy might be!
                                                                                                             

Global Stooges

     

No word needed here

Individual citizens express their anger and frustration at what feels to them to be a return to a kind of dictatorship with the ordinary people having no say in  their future.

 
 

Man with a Mission

                    at first I did not realise what this man’s mission was until I saw the reference to the Bible, John 14:14. Standing at the top of the steps with the Parliament as his backdrop and looking down on all the activity in the Square,  seemed oddly appropriate when I translated his biblical quote: If you ask for something in My Name I will do it’.
 
 

Message from France

     

Riot Police Relaxing outside the Parliament

         

Syntagma Square Filling Up

Every night more and more people would gather in the Square I would walk there for a while and then go into nearby Plaka the old area of Athens to my favourite tavernaki to eat and listen and talk with other people working or dining there. Most of them depended on tourism and were worried on the effect of all this activity, noise and crowds on the tourists. Many were sanguine about it saying nothing will change, it never does.  ‘We have been living in a dream and now it will become a nightmare,’ one philosopher told me.
 
I came back to Athens on the night of the  biggest demonstration ever(over 200,000 people) travelling on the metro which was packed with well dressed well spoken people all heading for the Square. They advised me to take the back exit from Syntagma station which I did but the crowds were just as thick and it took me a long  time to find my way through them to my friends.
Back on my hotel balcony late at night I could still hear and see the crowds singing, shouting and blowing whistles and banging drums. I fell asleep to this cacophony wondering about the clash of pragmatism and idealism,the need for economic independence, civic responsibility, true democracy, the battle of the Titans, Heracles 12 Labours, Odysseus’ 20 year journey home to his faithful wife Penelope, and the mighty Achilles defeating Hector on the plains of Troyzzzzz zzzzzzzz.
 
Later at home in Australia watching the violent images from the Square where I had spent so much time, I was at first sad and then angry particularly when I had a message  from a friend in Athens I trusted who told me the rioters were paid provocateurs who had nothing to do with the People’s Movement I had been privileged to witness during my time in Athens.
                                                                
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January 2, 2011

2010 YEAR IN BLOGGING FOR ATHENAPALLAS

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow which means healthy blog we think you did great!

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 25 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 92 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 35mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 13th with 59 views. The most popular post that day was Warrior Goddess ready to do battle.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were healthfitnesstherapy.com, ahhserenity.wordpress.com, obama-scandal-exposed.co.cc, mail.live.com, and hitztvshows.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for spider web, spider’s web, spiders web, giant spider web, and erecthion.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Warrior Goddess ready to do battle April 2010
6 comments

2

WHY I NEVER DESTROY A SPIDER’S WEB June 2010
1 comment

3

Modern Hermes or How Twitter saved Australian Literature April 2010
11 comments

4

HOW ATHENA CAME TO ASK A QUESTION ON NATIONAL TV June 2010
6 comments

5

Melting Aphrodite, Eros and Growing Old Disgracefully. September 2010
2 comments

October 25, 2010

WHY I SWAPPED MY HELMET FOR A GORGEOUS HAT

Filed under: Modern Athenas — athenapallas @ 5:23 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When a stone tablet arrived with an invitation carved in it 

to watch a famous national race where the women wear beautiful hats,  

I decided that I would accept the invitation

and leave my helmet on  the peg for a while.

It is onerous always to be  ready for battle. 

 My helmet gets very heavy and there is not much call these days 

for helmeted warriors whose main skills are with the sword, spear and shield.

The last time I went to such an event was  in Olympia  Greece over 2500 years ago

and I was not actually invited even though my father Zeus was a major sponsor.

Goddesses, women and slaves were forbidden to watch the Hellenic men compete

in foot races, discus and spear throwing, and horse races. 

The pride of Greek and Spartan manhood competed in these events

 and as was the custom of the time they were naked so all could see their muscled splendour and manhood. 

I being the cagey goddess that I was usually changed myself into a man and attended but I knew if I was caught and I could not escape in time I would be thrown from a nearby cliff as was the custom. There was one exception however.  In  767 BC the mother of  one of the most famous sporting heroes  disguised herself as a man to watch her son ride and run to victory. If he had not won her life would not have been spared. 

But where to find a substitute for my trusty helmet so I could attend this 21st century race of races known as

THE MELBOURNE CUP?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

I consulted my friend and rival  Aphrodite who had beaten me in the most famous beauty contest of all time.

She  was still smarting at losing the contest to that bitch Helen of Troy so she  gave me a bum steer and sent to me to large store where ready-made hats hung sadly on hooks and no-one was there to advise me. I was not used to such treatment and even I could see such hats were not fit for a mortal let alone a goddess.

Where the Delphic Oracle Sits

I consulted the Delphic Oracle  and it told me that               

I would need to find a rare person called a milliner

who was trained in the ancient skills of hat making and

who would design a hat specially for me

-one that would draw all eyes my way.

I took this wise advice and headed for

 Philadelphia Philpot Hat studio to meet the famous Wendi.

Vibrant, red-haired and full of fun she soon had me relaxed and hopeful that she could design and make a hat fit for Athena the Warrior Goddess of Ancient Greece.

She showed me many examples of her art and materials and together we  decided on three possibilities.

When she had finished making the hats I returned to try them on.

I gasped when I saw the first one.

This was celestial indeed.

Not only mortals but 

the goddesses of Mt. Olympus would

be so envious and all eyes would be on me as I paraded

before the multitudes. 

Surely this was the one to wear.

But wait there were two more to go.

I could hardly believe my eyes. 

This hat was completely different.                                                                                                                                                

My face was not hidden behind a veil and the top hat

design was fit for a god as well as a goddess.

What to do?

How could I choose between them?

I was about to make a choice when Wendi reminded me there was one more.

Maybe it would be even more outstanding than these two.

                                                                                                                                                                      

This one was so exquisite it took my breath away and the colour was the colour of

the rarest flowers that grew on the islands of the Aegean.

I was so overcome with the beauty and originality of these hats that suited my fine features so well that I decided to take all three of them. I couldn’t wait to return to Mt Olympus with my spoils. Maybe just maybe I would invite  Aphrodite and Helen to accompany me to the race next week wearing one of these special hats.

That could end centuries of conflict as we sipped champagne, placed our bets and tried to spot the most  handsome gods among the other spectators. We wouldn’t worry about other hats. Ours  would be the talk of the town and the heavens.

Thank you Wendi Wonderful Goddess of Hats.

( images on this post are copyright 2009 TorunnMontazi)

October 3, 2010

ATHENA CONSULTS THE ORACLE OF LEICHHARDT AUSTRALIA

Filed under: Athena's musings — athenapallas @ 10:48 am
Tags: , , ,

 A new Athena is emerging from the rubble of her former persona. Leaving justice and the arts behind she is  experiencing  the arts of witty discourse, sensuality, healing, and JOY

Aphrodite eat your heart out.  

And as for Odysseus she is sick of trying to guide him on  his tiresome journey home to Ithaca. 

‘Why don’t you just stay another seven years with that vacuous bloody goddess Circe,’ she yells at him. 

She wants to leave dark Greek tragedies behind and  hone her comic skills by reading the black humour of Ronald Dahl and Aristophanes (an ancient Greek poet and playwrite). 

And how did she leave all this behind her?                          

The Oracle of Delphi Sat Here

She consulted not the Oracle of Delphi  

but a modern Healer and Oracle 

located in the heart of Italian Leichhardt. 

Deep into her obsessions and tragedies she woke one morning hardly able to move. Should she consult one of her learned psychics or medics? They were too far away and she was bored with their endless dancing around her, too afraid to offend the mighty Athena. 

She had the card of a massage therapist, an expert in some sort of esoteric Tibetan Reiki, 

no doubt preceding the era when she reigned supreme. 

She struggled down the street and demanded an audience. 

He emerged from his cave with the deep ringing of Tibetan bells following him. 

She looked up from the seat she had managed to fall into, her eyes lifting from his strong legs to his crotch, torso and noble head to make eye contact. He looked deep into her psyche, commanded her to stand, took her by the hand and led her into his cave. 

As she sat on the bench he still held her hands and her gaze. She looked back without averting her eyes- after all she was the Warrior Goddess of Ancient Greece

‘You are a powerful woman but your grief and fears are splitting you apart. Your body can’t support you and is as twisted as your mind.’ 

She nodded. Why had no-one said this to her before? She told him her body story but he saw into her soul and her ancestry. 

Lying on the bench his skilful strong hands untwisted her  as the aromatic perfumes and the resonant sounds of  his bells cleared her mind of all the mean-spirited, fearful and doubting self talk that was consuming her. 

She floated somewhere between Elysium and Hades 

Santorini Greece

her powers becoming concentrated into the gift 

this beautiful Apollo was bestowing upon her. 

No-one had dared to touch her or speak to her like this before. 

She would have cut them down with her sword or

thumped them with her aegis if they had.

She bravely submitted to the pain of the untwisting as she told him of her great rage that had entered some large black and white birds attacking a man and his son in a nearby park, but sparing her and her female descendants. 

He did not think this strange and understood her panic. She wept and wept  her fears and griefs away. 

She returned to him later in the week laughing, muscles sore, but untwisted in both body and mind. 

He greeted her as he greeted all came into his cave, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation or physical condition, with the  respectful affection of his warm embrace. He is able to contact each person’s fears and self-loathing and convert it into joy as they lie suspended from their woes, learning to become free and fully alive again. His wicked sense of humour is unleashed if you are up for it or he is as gentle as a lamb. When Athena thanked him for his help he told her it was she who had done the healing.

His cave is dark, warm and safe full of the most gorgeous smells and sounds but it is Apollo himself, the proud joyous Oracle of Leichhardt who heals all who enter there in with the spirit of healing in their hearts.

Athens Greece

September 5, 2010

BLACK ATHENAS IN THE DESERT AMPHITHEATRE

Amphitheatre At Delphi

 

I was not sitting in  the carved seats of the Amphitheatre of Delphi 

 I sat in mortal form wearing boots, pants, and my trusty Akubra helmet 

with my goat’s skin backpack on the seat beside me.                     

I looked down at the depths of   a valley which was carpeted 

with spiky green  spinifex

I wondered how I came to be so far from my ancestral home 

in this vast southern continent.  

Long before the Bronze age of Homer this land was inhabited by 

some of the first peoples of the earth  

The splintered steps and paths of the   Amphitheatre  were not carved by the artisan slaves of Delphi but 

 by the elements and violent actions of the earth                

Desert Amphitheatre Ormiston Gorge

 

millions of years before my father Zeus was conceived. 

As I sat here I watched  a ghostly platform 

rising in front of me. 

Instead of Pan pipes playing in the background 

I could hear the sound of rushing water at the bottom of the Ormiston Gorge. 

And then out of the mists of antiquity figures of the Gods and Heroes appeared before me. 

Odysseus, Hermes, Apollo, Persephone, Aphrodite, Achilles, Poseidon, Calypso, Pericles, Eros, Heracles and more. Then I saw Athena the Warrior Goddess with helmet, robe, aegis and spear. 

I looked behind me and on the top of the gorge I could see a group of black women gathering. They were singing in language more like a wailing, a kind of continuous cooing with edges of joy shining through the power of their song. 

They were doing what they had always done like their mothers and grandmothers before them through the long sorry story of the last 200 years. I, Athena, so far from my Temple in Delphi stood to salute these Black Athenas

The sky opened above and  I saw not my father Zeus but Gaia,  the Earth Mother who possessed the secrets of the Fates and whose Oracles and Secret Places were older and more powerful than those of Apollo and other male deities….. 

This was why I was here in this extraordinary place to meet the powerful descendants of these women, traditional owners and custodians of the land  like Mavis pictured here with her beautiful baby Tyrene. 

August 27, 2010

ATHENA RETREATS TO SANTORINI

Filed under: Athena's musings — athenapallas @ 9:15 am
Tags: , , ,

Athena is weary. She has been scheming and working on Odysseus’ behalf

to help him on his epic journey back home to Ithaca. 

She fought beside him in the Trojan wars,

she sent a dream to Nausicaa to give her the idea of doing  her washing

at the river on the day Odysseus landed at Phaeacia;

she gave him supernatural good looks to ensure Nausicaa would obtain a boat for him to return home;

she begged her father Zeus to help him,

‘Olympian Zeus have you no care for him in you lofty heart?’

She caused Calypso to release him after seven years of imprisonment on her island of erotic delights and persuaded her  to give him the means to put to sea again.

She wants to get far away from the Homeric haunts of the Ionian Islands   

 so she has come at last to Santorini

formed by a cataclysmic volcanic explosion

long before Homer told his tales to passers by.

No one knows her here and there is no trace left

of her stay beyond  a little known path along the cliffs

where if you are observant you can see her foot prints.

Like the thousands who have come to this spectacular island

she watch its sunsets in awe.

She finds a cave long since abandoned by its inhabitants

and here she sleeps dreaming of the time when she might welcome Odysseus home.

Then as she feels the ground beneath her  heave in yet another attempt to stop her,

 by her angry Uncle Poseidon who hates Odysseus,

she  knows she has to leave to continue her own Odyssey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Before she goes she takes one more look at the sunset     

 that will  become the hallmark of this island

 in the centuries that follow drawing thousands

of modern travellers to the shores of this

magic place.

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