Creating an eikon

"Tauroctony" - Mithras slaying a bull

Creating an eikon requires infusing synthemata— the material, the intermediate, and the intelligible—all into a statue harmoniously. The statue then participates in the divine’s essence, being a locus of the God’s forces in all three realms. The statue becomes, in essence, a line drawn through the realms, touching on the nature of the God at all levels; and that line behaves like a phone cord that connects directly to the divine.

 

Step 1: Select a deity with whom you wish to have a closer relation with.

If you have been contemplating the deities, you may very well already have one in mind as a potential patron. If in doubt, liminal Gods such as Janus are quite literally a helpful place to start, and solar or lunar deities such as Zeus-Helios, the Celestial Demiurge, are also a great place to begin.

 

Step 2: Research the deity in question.

You can find tables of correspondence about the gods in several places, but the best way to find what you need is to dig through the myths and academia. Ultimately, you are looking for the material synthemata of that God in the form of:

  • Metals
  • Stones
  • Herbs
  • Animals

Example: Serapis is associated with bulls, snakes, various minerals such as diorite, and traditional theurgic correspondences that link Him to the land of the dead, fertility and abundance (Such as his Modius crown, a basket/grain-measure that is associated with all of these) and all of their relevant correspondences. He also has a traditional association as the patron God of Alexandria and of the Serapeum, where His statue is believed to have been made of an abundance of minerals, being filled with gold, silver, lead, and tin with fragments of sapphire, hematite, emerald, and topaz; all of which gave the statue a blue darkish hue colour. Serapis being a God of the earth’s riches, all of these minerals provide a good association with Him directly, too.

 

Step 3: Gather what synthemata you can.

Ideally, you want at least something herbal and something mineral. Animal parts, if used, should be collected respectfully, humanely, and legally. It is paramount to make sure that the the gathering of animal parts isn’t disgusting and impious before the God after you have taken apart one of their sacred animals (Apollo may not look kindly on using a dolphin bone, even if you somehow got it legally, and breaking the law to get a bald eagle feather would probably do more to annoy Zeus-Helios—as a God of law— than please Him).

Example: As I wish to create a statue to Serapis, I gather herbs sacred to Him from His  myths, specifically some mint. I could use many minerals, such as diorite, as a sacred stone, and a strip of bull leather or a bone from a snake can be gathered respectfully and legally to be used.

 

Step 4: Acquire or construct the image.

If you lack artistic talent, it’s okay if your creation is crude. Such crude statues, called xoanon, were often used in archaic temples, an example being the cult statue of Artemis of Ephesus. If you have artistic talent, you can sculpt your own out of clay; even oven-baked polymer clays will work fine. Alternately, you could draw or paint the image, or even simply buy the image if you desire any particular one.

Example: Since I’m interested in Serapis, I acquire a replica statue in his image.

 

Step 5: Paint the statue.

Something done to truly give statues life is to paint them. These colours can vary widely, but must be done well and tastefully. It should be researched what colours are typically associated with a God before painting an eikon.

Example: Red can be associated with Ares for blood lust, but it is also associated with Zeus-Helios for royalty, along with purple. Purple can also be associated with Aphrodite as a sensuous color. In this case for Serapis, he can be painted a dark blue hue, as his cult statue in the Serapeum was.

 

Step 6: Create a receptacle somewhere on the image for the material synthemata.

You can create a small hole in the back or the bottom of the base. If you sculpted the image yourself, you can create a hole as part of the process of sculpting. A rotary tool is handy for creating holes in purchased statues. Do this slow and easy for store-bought statues, especially those made of stone rather than resin.

 

Step 7: Fill the receptable with the material synthemata.

At a time appropriate to the deity, if possible, fill the receptacle with the objects and attach them in some way. You can seal over the hole with clay, or you can just use a blob of silicon epoxy.

Example: Since Serapis is a chthonic deity and Lord over souls, it is best to do this at night, when chthonic rituals are done.

 

Step 8: Dress, decorate or drape

If you wish to you may dress, decorate, or drape the statue in appropriate materials.

Example: I could tie a thin thong cut from the bull leather around the shoulders of my statue.

 

You are free to use the eikon in your devotions and as an object of contemplation. Treat it with respect, as it is now a representative- a divine image, of a God. Keep it clean and out of the hands of roommates, children, and parents.

Simply interacting with it as a representative of the God is enough to begin the process of animating it, because the God’s essence is already present in the materials used.

 

Bibliography

Addey, Crystal. Divination and theurgy in neoplatonism: oracles of the gods. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014.

Dunn, Patrick. The practical art of divine magic: contemporary & ancient techniques of Theurgy. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd, 2015.

Kupperman, Jeffrey S. Living theurgy: a course in Iamblichus philosophy, theology and theurgy. London: Avalonia, 2014.

Opsopaus, John. The oracles of Apollo: practical ancient Greek divination for today. Woodbury: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd, 2017.

Tanaseanu-Döbler, Ilinca. Theurgy in Late Antiquity: the invention of a ritual tradition. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013.