Being that I am a cultist of Antinous, and he’s blessed with an abundance of many, beautiful, surviving statues from the anceint world and later periods, having images of deities is important to me in their worship. But, given that I’ve also got a large number of deities who are lesser-known from the ancient world to whom I give cultus as well, it’s often difficult for me to do so without an easily accessible (and preferably beautiful!) image of them; and, printing something out from the internet on a piece of paper or cardstock and sticking it in a frame doesn’t do it for me. Such images, while all right in a pinch and being things I’ve used on many occasions before, are not preferable because they’re literally two-dimensional, and thus “not-as-real” as three-dimensional things. The gods have height, width, and depth to them, and I prefer my images of them to likewise have such characteristics if and when possible.
So, I’m always on the lookout for such things, and I try to pick them up whenever possible. For Palaimon/Melikertes, I’ve been looking for something for a while, but “boys on dolphins” aren’t exactly easy to come by in terms of inexpensive statuary. However, Palaimon is also sometimes portrayed as a youth or child merman. In that regard, I recently located this image which might fit the bill:
Admittedly, he’s not perfect: I am not a huge fan of the expression on his face, and I’d prefer it if he were a bit “older” in appearance; but it’s about as close as I suspect I’ll be able to get for anything under several hundred dollars. What do you reckon?
Apart from statuary being reasonably priced, however, another big concern of mine has to do with its overall physical beauty: does such a statue make me go “Ooh, this image of the deity actively attracts me and pleases my eyes and other senses?” (Yes, I know–deeply shallow, that’s me!) That kind of eros for the gods–and for Eros himself!–is a good thing, I think, since ours are not gods that are transcendent, nebulous, and formless ultimately, even when they are in some sense. This sort of kataphatic practice is important to me, as I mentioned recently, and thus it’s always a concern of mine.
HOWEVER, sometimes I wonder what people are thinking where some of these images are concerned.
Let’s take an example: something else also sold by Design Toscano, from whom the above merman/potential Palaimon comes as well, in their very popular Egyptian line of products. The following is called the “Egyptian Panther Goddess”…
Yeah, I know: kinda hot. They’ve got a whole line of Egyptian thong-wearing, bare-breasted, slim-waisted, very caucasian Egyptian women in their collection, some of which are rather hideous and/or ridiculous. Despite all of that, this one is rather attractive…and yet, who the fuck is the Egyptian “panther goddess”? I’m not aware of such a goddess ever having existed, unless it is some sort of hybrid or derivative of Bast and Sekhmet…and yet, another part of me sort of goes, “Couldn’t this be the Nubian goddess Mehit, possibly?” (Despite her obviously being melanin-deficient, of course…!?!…but, given that I’d like to give more attention to some Nubian deities in the near future, this seemed like it might be a potential consideration for an image of Mehit if no other can be found.) Or, is this just some random pseudo-Egyptian artist’s wet-dream brought to three-dimensional, full-color life, not in honor of any Egyptian divinity, but because it gets his rocks off and will sell well? (And while I’m sure all of the latter is true, and that none of this was ever made for devotional usage, that doesn’t mean that such things can’t be put to devotional purposes if the right aesthetic and devotional chemistry occurs in order for them to function as such.)
So, that’s a question: where does one draw the line with one’s devotional imagery? If a devotional image is something beautiful as well as spiritually evocative and effective for devotional usage, but also is totally hot and gets one sexually excited or stimulated to see it, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
I’d be interested in hearing anyone’s thoughts on this matter, and any related matter as well. (And I haven’t made purchases…yet…!)