Over the past few months, one local sideline to all the craziness of 2020 has been the public disintegration of the Krewe of Nyx after its captain posted “All Lives Matter” on the krewe’s social media and refused to back down when a lot of people called her out on it being a racist dogwhistle phrase. Last week, multiple former members of Nyx announced the formation of the Krewe of Themis.
I’ve been intending to draw a series of images of various deities for a while. Welcoming Themis to New Orleans felt like a good reason to finally start on that. May the parade in her honor make this town a more just place.
And now some quick notes on exactly who this lady is:
Themis (THEE-mis) is the Greek Titan of Divine Law.
Not of human law. That’s the domain of her daughter, Dike. Divine law. She’s one of those little voices that tells you what’s wrong and needs to change, even if it’s enshrined in the laws of your country. It’s an important difference. Straight-Counselled Themis is not blind; she saw what you did.
The Titans came before Zeus and his familiar court. They don’t show up in mythology that much. Just a few cameos here and there, like a beloved actor of your grandparents’ generation who keeps getting bit parts in new shows. They’re the children of Gaia (the Earth) and either Aither (Light and the Sky) or Ouranos (the Sky), depending on who you listen to. They’re big and old and primal. To be quite honest there’s not much on her in the references I had available; a lot of elements of this piece come from flipping through Skinner’s Complete Magician’s Tables and picking associations that felt like the right ones to highlight.
She is cognate to Maat, one of the Egyptian deities who you will encounter shortly after death. You’re probably familiar with the image of Anubis weighing your heart against a feather? Maat is that feather. So’s Themis.
Themis was one of the first wives of her nephew Zeus and acted as his counsel for a time. She was in charge of group functions; she was the voice oracles spoke with at Dephi. But this image? This image is focused on her role as Divine Law.