Xenia is a concept engineered by the ancient Greeks which is essentially what we would regard in the postmodern era as hospitality. This idea was fundamental to the Greeks as it served as a cornerstone for human interaction in their households.
There are three rules to Xenia when it comes to the relationship guests and hosts have with one another:
- A guest could not insult the host, make demands of the host, or refuse Xenia.
- The host could not insult the guest, fail to provide protection for the guest, or fail to be as hospitable as possible.
- Gifts and exchange of gifts is customary. Guests weren’t necessarily expected to bring gifts but it was considered good Xenia to do so.
I find Xenia fascinating for providing–at least in my opinion, the ground work for some of the ideas brought forth in modern Satanism in the twentieth century. It’s no secret that many of the ideas expressed in “The Satanic Bible” were quite literally lifted from the likes of Ragnar Redbeard’s “Might is Right,” Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” Anton LaVey’s “Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth” are no exception to this re-appropriation of good ideas. The similarities between Xenia and the following should come to no surprise:
Rule 3. When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.
Rule 4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
Rule three is essentially the guests’ rule for Xenia. Rule four, however, is much more curious. It goes without saying that the hostess should put every effort to insure her guest’s comfort and needs. What isn’t overtly spelled out in the ancient Greek concept of Xenia that is in LaVey’s “Eleven Rules” is the course of action the hostess should take if bad Xenia is expressed towards her and her household. Here LaVey essentially wrote the unwritten rule to the concept of Xenia.
The ancient Greeks were very well aware of this “unwritten rule.” The repercussions for displaying bad Xenia in another individual’s household popped up again and again in many popular examples of ancient Greek literature. The best example comes at the end Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the death of Penolope’s suitors who give a great example of how to be bad guests in another person’s home, eating and drinking large quantities with no respect for Odysseus, his son Telemachus, and Penelope. They were also more or less squatters taking up residence in Odysseus’s home for over three years. This line towards the end of the “The Odyssey” foreshadows their fate with regards to their transgression towards the unwritten rule of Xenia:
“For these were laughing aloud as they prepared a dinner that was sweet and staying, for they had made a very big sacrifice; but there could not be a meal that was more unpleasant than this one, such was to be the attack that the powerful man and the goddess would make on them. For they had first begun the wrongdoing.” (Homer 308)
The Disguised Gods–Lesser Black Magic for the subtle
One aspect of Xenia that intrigues me most is something I like to call the disguised god. Essentially what this entails is using a disguise to test a person’s true character towards you. During the course of “The Odyssey” both the goddess Athene and Odysseus use disguise as a method to confirm the sincerity of others towards their expression of proper Xenia. Penelope’s would-be suitors would eventually pay with their lives for coming to blows with the rules of Xenia, with Odysseus killing them all off at the end of the poem.
This concept can be applied when we come into contact with various sources of new information through our interaction with the multitudes of people constantly coming into and out of our lives. Picture your mind as a house. Information coming in from outside of yourself are guests in your house. Without a constant flow of information coming in and out of your “house” it would be impossible for you to be able to refine yourself in such a way that you are able to understand the things that make you tick–as well as what your limitations might be. Using Xenia with regards to your “mind-house” allows for one way of apprehending the necessary tensions in order to encounter Xeper.
The knee jerk reaction to topics of discussion and/or people we disagree with is embodied by LaVey’s fourth rule of the earth. It is vital to recognize that our natural reactions mean to treat these things “cruelly and without mercy.” In postmodern society, we encounter this on a regular basis. Perhaps this is one of the reasons you should never bring up politics or religion in a bar. Some liberals, blue-haired man-hating femininsts, Nazis, men’s rights activists, Christians, and even Satanists, really under-emphasize their love for existing within self-contained echo chambers. These echo chambers may be called something else, such as a “community of like minded people,” a “congregation,” or a “coven.” While I will not discount the advantages of having a group like this to be a part of, if every person shared the same ontological and spiritual views it would be one boring planet.
Being able to argue with individuals who share other perspectives without killing each other, or taking personal offense to potential discussions serves as a springboard for bringing about tension to understand, shift, or solidify your own views that much better. In the context of the mental household and how it relates to Xenia, it’s important to recognize that a little tension helps to strengthen character as well as the ability to present an argument outside of the echo chamber of whatever demographic you belong or don’t belong to.
I’m all for a healthy argument, and we do in fact need tension in our initiatory pursuits to be able to experience Xeper. Where we must be aware that we should be able to have civil conversations with individuals that exist outside of our echo chambers, we must also be aware that there are people who will never be able to argue outside of their own. Many of these people aren’t bad per se, they just choose to attach existential limitations onto their views.
In my opinion, by employing the concept of the disguised god in situations like these you are also employing the rules of Xenia by essentially closing doors to the potential for a productive discussion–because there absolutely cannot be one.
You never want to reveal vital personal details about yourself when testing character. Pulling back the curtain ever so slightly when appropriate is enough. The disguised god is a lot like being an inquisitor that cannot be seen. Allowing a person to tell me all about themselves or whatever they would prefer to talk about is a good strategy in extracting information I might find pertinent. The intention is to always disclosing their true natures whether they’re conscious of it or not. Also it’s important to keep in mind more than what an individual is actually saying. For example, body language, mode of dress, the way a person carries themselves, changes in voice inflection, and above all the eyes are a good way to delve deeper into a person’s character.
In the context of determining true natures, Xenia can provide simple rules to engage others by. These rules can provide an invaluable tool in the exploration of your own beliefs by opening yourself up to the right amount of necessary tension that may illicit a positive change or growth to your worldview.