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Telestike and places of worship.

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#1 UrbanDecay


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Posted 07 December 2012 - 08:22 AM

A writer recently caught my attention with the subject, and flared my curiosity.

Telestike is apparently a Greek(Hellenic or Neoplatonic) mystic art that was practiced and involved the "animation" of statues or other spiritual implements..



The theurgical practice called τελεστικὴ (telestikê) is a means of ἐμψύχωσις, ensoulment or “animation,” of a sacred image (ἄγαλμα), such as a statue.  It is accomplished by placing in or on the image appropriate sunthêmata, including stones, plants, animals, scents, and figures.  These material sunthêmata are supplemented by immaterial sunthêmata, such as invocations, chants, and prayers intended to “persuade” the god or daimôn to descend into the image.

Of course, as Iamblichus explains (De myst. 47, 6), theurgy does not compel a deity or daimôn; rather it prepares a suitable δοχή (receptacle or receiver).  This is like preparing an object to better reflect a particular color of light; a golden object does not “compel” yellow light to appear, but it allows the presence of the yellow in white light to become manifest.  Similarly, although the archetype is ever present, it is not normally manifest to consciousness.  Therefore appropriate sunthêmata (i.e., symbols linked to a complex or archetype) invite projection of the daimôn or god onto the image, which becomes numinous.  In this way, the theurgist is in a conscious archetypal relation with the divinity, and the image becomes a medium for interaction, that is, for exploring specific archetypes and complexes residing in the unconscious. http://web.eecs.utk....ers/EJT/VB.html


Also in Plotinus "Problems of the Soul"


I think, therefore, that those ancient sages, who sought to secure the presence of divine beings by the erection of shrines and statues, showed insight into the nature of the All; they perceived that, though this Soul is everywhere tractable, its presence will be secured all the more readily when an appropriate receptacle is elaborated, a place especially capable of receiving some portion or phase of it, something reproducing it, or representing it, and serving like a mirror to catch an image of it.

It belongs to the nature of the All to make its entire content reproduce, most felicitously, the Reason-Principles in which it participates; every particular thing is the image within matter of a Reason-Principle which itself images a pre-material Reason-Principle: thus every particular entity is linked to that Divine Being in whose likeness it is made, the divine principle which the soul contemplated and contained in the act of each creation. Such mediation and representation there must have been since it was equally impossible for the created to be without share in the Supreme, and for the Supreme to descend into the created.



Telestike is a reinforcement of my beleif that emanation(emittance-from a source in this case) is a common component in heathen or european pagan practice, and is something relatably divine. The beleif that a statue can be "ensouled" can be taken a little too literally though.


Root this practice to heathen theology.

To me, gods can be undestood through emanations in nature and life. The emanation exists before the name. The emittance of "Freyr" should be felt before the name is heard, then the connection with the god is established.Communicating this connection through using scents or visual manipulations to create a certain presence, and then furthering the effect with more religious or ritualistic consecration is simply bringing the intimate god connection a more physical component.


In heathen Anglo-Saxon times, there were things called "frithyards" which were either hofs or places that were beleived to belong to certain land spirits. These temples were often kept and maintained, and pilgrimaged to(depending on it's purpose). They were considered places of peace, and there were legal implications for disturbing them. This important to understanding that despite the scientific or philosophic discoveries made in the gap between the more primitive anglo-saxon spirituality and the theurgic mysticism that encompassed a lot of the greek religions, the spirituality and regard behind the practices had a similar core.


So, without getting to deep into the actual theurgic practice, Telestike tells us a lot about what a pagan temple was, and why it was upkept. It should be noted many temples were outdoors and open as well.


I wonder what key components of a heathen or pagan place of worship seperate from a more scripture-focal religion's place of worship.

#2 TheUnknowable


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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:49 PM

to be fair, I heard a lot of these "magically animated statues" were early animatronics, either mechanically or steam driven.  I read somewhere that they had found statues that could move in ancient greek ruins which were run by slave or steam power from beneath them.

#3 UrbanDecay


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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:26 PM

It's pretty clear the adherents did not see them as animate in a literal sense. Animatronics may be seen as conducive to the practice, considering it's aim, but I am sure the models used for things like Telestike and the models used and animated were for different things.

#4 Rhuen


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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:56 PM

The Egyptian priests built a sound system into statues and would speak through them to create booming voices that came from the statues.


There was a greek temple with a massive rolling rod building into the attic space so the worshippers would hear thunder while inside.



Today people like to think these were tricks, but all temples of all faiths build *tricks* into them to give the worshippers a sense of awe and wander.

#5 UrbanDecay


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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:52 AM

It's part of the ritual experience, in my opinion. Yet there are more examples of statuary that was simple, yet still protected and revered. I think that the practice of creating religious statuary had purpose in imbuing the statues with the essence of whatever god they were meant for.


I am currently taking on some research to learn if there was any specific attitudes that the scandanavian and anglo-saxon heathens had towards the creation of their statuary.