Modern Hymns and Poetry for Semele

Katabasia
by Aridela Pantherina

Semele used to count the stars,
Yearning, ever reaching for the sky,
She who unabashedly loved the storm,
ran in the rain, invited catastrophe,
Demanded truth.
Having a bellyful of mystery, one can only beg illumination,
beg to be consumed, to be destroyed by violent brilliance.
Your bull-faced son braved the labyrinthine dark.
He knew not your face, nor did you know his,
but he would know you by your unflinching gaze,
your lightning-struck skin,
the way you throw off all shadow,
and you would know him anywhere — his father’s son,
the child born of earth and sky.
He takes your hand,
He bargains the path,
by ivy and vine, fig and cypress, rain and tears,
You see the light again.
Thyone, you see the light again!
You always did love the stars.
Thyone, who knows Her god and Her heart.
Thunder and drum.
Life undone.
We must die to become…

Prayer to Semele
by Galina Krasskova

Initiation renders and consumes
burns one up,
turns all that came before to ash.
That is Your mystery, Lady,
the wisdom hard won
learned from Zeus:

Your flesh burned around your son –
His mother’s flesh burned around Him,
Thunderstruck
By the God You adored;
and You gave Yourself up to the flames.

You have a mighty son.
He walked into the Underworld to free You,
brought vengeance on the family that denied Your claims.
You have become a Goddess, elevated, holy,
and I pray You watch over me
in my initiations too.

Io Semele!

Semele
by Aridela Pantherina

I, Semele, made love to lightning,
I am the cup,
the vessel divine.
I know what mysteries are.
I have been made pure by their brilliance,
hallowed and hollowed,
aglow and growing,
the rod that grounds, the earth that accepts the seed of heaven.
He roils in my womb like a cosmic unfolding, the roaring
one, who will be savior,
shifter and shaker
He shows it to me in dreams
whispers tales to me.
Sweet child.  A mother should be the storyteller,
But this is no ordinary son.
And I, always impetuous, foolish princess,
I swallowed more sacred than I should have,
I could have
said no, but I did not
want to, I wanted it
all – god and glory.
They say my lover destroyed me, that I pleaded for proof.
but that is not my story.

Mortals born of mortals,
sometimes a hero or two.
But this bull child can be more,
In my bones, I know.
Simple enough – a sacrifice,
a mortal life for an immortal one, so it goes…

Death comes for all,
Yet I asked for this.
“Don’t hold back this time, it’s time
to burn. Tell him I chose this.
I am his first initiate.”

Play the drum, play
it for his fearless heart, and
I will go down dancing, my frenzied
ashes alight upon the wind
to the sky I have loved
and the storm I have born.

To Semele
by Fiona Husch

Your death,
oh sweet mother,
was a kind of divine
poetic justice.
For to be a mortal
who loved the Lightning,
what other end would be fitting,
if not to die by its embrace?

To Semele
by Sannion

Semele I sing,
who in pains of birth,
was struck by the lightning of Zeus,
and cast down into Hades,
where she awaited the coming of her child,
Dionysos, who raised her up to the company of Immortals.
Now men call her Thyone,
and bands of women dance for her on Parnassian slopes,
hail!

To Semele-Thyone
by Amanda Artemisia Forrester

Great Semele, fiery Queen
Mortal daughter of Cadmos
Who birthed an Immortal Son
Glorious is your name!
Beside your son you sit
At the divine banquets of the Gods
His wife Ariadne of the Labyrinth
Sitting on the other side.
Though once you resided in Haides’ shadowy realm
Your mortal flesh consumed
By the fire of Zeus’s Divinity
Great Dionysos retrieved you
From the womb of Earth
And now you sit on Olympos
And partake in the Bakkhic revels
Once Semele, now Thyone
I will remember You in another song.

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