Discovering Arcadia: A Gay Magickal Utopia, Part 1
What is Arcadia? Arcadia was an ancient Greek city with its own mythology and patron deities, but it was also the ideal of a homosexual utopia in European Renaissance literature. It is also the name adopted for an East Coast / Mid-Atlantic gathering of Queer Pagan Men that is set to take place October 9-12, 2019 in Cumberland, Virginia.
Arcadia: The historic place
Historic Arcadia was a region located in the central highlands on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece. The Arcadian tribe that originally settled the area is considered one of the oldest tribes to have settled in Greece. Because it was a remote, mountainous place, Arcadia was a cultural refuge. Its language and culture remained unique. Arcadia had numerous towns in both the mountains and in its fertile valleys. The landscape included mountains, forests pastoral land, and rivers.
Arcadia is mentioned in works by ancient writers such as Herodotus and Homer.
Mount Lykaion is one of the major historical places of the region. Mount Lykaion is the home of the ancient Lycaean Games dedicated to Zeus and Pan. These games were similar to the ancient Olympics and took place very four years. The mountain featured an altar to Zeus which featured two pillars topped with statues of golden eagles.
Mythology related to ancient Arcadia
Arcadia is named after the mythological character Arcas. Arcas was a hunter who was the first king of Arcadia. He was the son of Zeus and Callisto. Besides hunting, Arcas is associated with weaving and baking bread. Arcus and his mother Callisto are also associated with bears. Arcus was later turned into a bear and put into the heavens among the stars as Ursa Minor, the Little Bear. His mother Callisto is Ursa Major, the Big Bear.
Arcadia is the home of the satyr God Pan. Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, rustic music, fields, and groves. With his ever erect endowment, Pan is associated with sexuality and fertility. Pan was said to lust after and chase nymphs and shepherds alike.
Zeus also had a special place in Arcadia, especially at Mount Lykaion. The place is said to have been the birthplace of Zeus (aka Zeus Lykaios or the Wolf Zeus). Zeus and King Lycaon, the first King of the area, also play into one of the world’s first recorded werewolf stories. King Lycaon wanted to test to see if Zeus was really a god. To do so he invited Zeus to a feast and fed him the roasted flesh of the king’s own son. Zeus didn’t fall for it and punished Lycaon by turning him into a wolf. Speaking of wolves, the Lycaean Games mentioned earlier featured a secret rite of passage for young men. In this ritual, the men were said to become wolves for nine years. In some of these rituals, the youth would take off his clothes, swim across a river or marsh, and become a wolf on the other side – again for a period of nine years.
According to mythology, Atalanta, a Greek heroine, was the daughter of King Iasus of Arcadia. Atalanta was a virgin huntress who refused to marry. She was a fierce hunter who swore an oath of virginity to the goddess Artemis. She was so fierce that she slew two centaurs who tried to rape her. She also took part in the hunt for the Caledonian Boar and was the one who eventually killed it.
The god Hermes was also honored in Arcadia. One of Hermes oldest temples was on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, and Mount Cyllene was said to be his birthplace.
The wilderness of Arcadia was said to be the home of various magickal and mythological creatures including satyrs, centaurs, dryads, nymphs, and other spirits.
Look out for part 2 coming soon… To find out more about the Arcadia Gathering, please visit: