Happy Prostateria! In honor of Apollon’s birthday, I finally finished this article!
Happy Birthday, my Prince, and may You receive the love of many new devotees in the coming hours, weeks, and years! Hail Apollon Prostaterios, Lord Before the Doors!
So, over the last few weeks (months maybe) I’ve received this question from a few different people, which is basically: How does one properly begin a relationship with Apollon?
Now, I can only tell you my own experience in starting a relationship with Him, keeping in mind also that I had a relationship with Him long before I knew it *was* Him. If you can understand that my approach to this article will be based from that experience, then I think we can begin. Though, I will try to keep this as generic as possible.
If you are looking for all the traditionally Hellenic approaches to His worship, then may I suggest taking a look at this article written by Lykeia, wherein she lays out the basics.
To begin, let me say that Apollon is among the most flexible Deities I’ve ever encountered, in the sense that He will willingly and often eagerly work with new and aspiring devotees within the tradition they are most comfortable or familiar. This means, if you are Wiccan, Neo-Pagan, or something else entirely, He probably isn’t going to demand that you stop immediately and only honor Him in a Hellenic context. I’ve also noticed that Apollon is one of the most syncretic-friendly Gods out there. So while He’ll readily work with us in ways we already know, He does like to push us outside of our comfort zones, even if it only amounts to an intellectual exercise, and not any kind of syncretic worship practices. Although, that can and does happen, especially if you are involved in anything Roman and/or Gaulish.
When I “began” a relationship with Him is better explained as when I began relating to Him as Apollon, as opposed to the Nameless Spirit who’d been following me around since I was four years old. The only thing that changed was that He finally gave me a name to go along with the energy I was well accustomed to. And I’ll be honest, having *that* name thrown out of the ether at the same time I was given my first statue of Him (I kid you not– I did not even want a statue of Apollon at the time) caused a whole lot of freaking out. So much so, that I blatantly ignored Him and His calling for at least a couple of years. It was during this time that Dionysos and Hermes showed up in my life and basically started guiding me right back to Apollon, but I digress.
Skipping now to when I not only knew it was Him, but was also ready to honor Him, the first thing I did was go online and find everything I could relating to His lore, as well as seek out information on appropriate offerings. What I learned about offerings was that if all else fails (meaning you just can’t think of anything), falling back on the traditional is a good place to start. So, milk, honey, a mixture of both (after warming the milk a bit), olive oil, wine cut with water, or just water are all fair and acceptable offerings that He will appreciate.
When giving these offerings/libations do so sincerely. Do so with honest words of praise. But don’t get too hung up on whether or not you walked a procession beforehand, or whether you need fancy bowls for His altar or shrine. When I started giving Him offerings I simply poured or left them upon the Earth. Remember that He is receiving not the physical aspect of the offering, but the spiritual aspect that is entwined within your adoration.
If you happen to be a witch or Wiccan, you may be familiar with dressing and charging candles with your intent. Lovingly charged candles are another gift that He received from me in our early days, and I never once got a negative impression from Him about it.
So, in short, just be yourself. Be unequivocally who you are. Follow your tradition, but be open to His guidance in new directions. First and foremost Apollon demands that we know ourselves, and in that knowing we will find what is most proper for us in our relationships with Him– and this includes the knowledge of what is within, and what is beyond our price range.
Some may say the expense of the wine (for instance) will determine how well received it is. That is not my experience. Apollon has never asked me to overreach my finances just to show Him how devoted I am. He is not a selfish God who demands that we put ourselves at risk or into debt as a means of pleasing Him. That is certainly not to say that He doesn’t appreciate a fancy spread or expensive trinket every now and then. Just don’t skip the bills or other important matters to do it. In many ways, Apollon is the God of Adulting, and adults usually take care of the necessities before any indulgences.
Now I want to talk about the lore. Those who are familiar with His exploits may already know how utterly frightening He can seem, and be on occasion. These stories are very layered and reveal even some mysteries about Him, and about nature, that have yet to be comprehended. What was learned in the past is not the totality of knowledge to be imparted upon human civilization. So, if Apollon leads you toward an alternate view of Himself, or of a certain event, allow yourself to experience it before casting it aside if it doesn’t fit well with your current views. You can always revisit it later, if it’s warranted. And remember, we are all not going to interpret the lore in the same ways. The stories are so nuanced that many can be taken quite literally, as well as allegorically. Some may reveal aspects of His personality that we may not wish to encounter, but they are there and they are real, and we should be aware of them.
How do you see your relationship manifesting? Is it romantic? Is it platonic? Is it familial? Is it business? Is it artistic? A combination? Only you and He may determine the final outcome, and it is a wonderful experience just deciding and going forward with the decision.
Some other things to ponder are of course which days or times of day you will set aside for Him. Having a regular meeting time is very beneficial. Not only does it ensure that you and He will have this time to focus on your relationship and its goals, it will slowly attune you to His energy, and you may eventually find yourself communing with Him at unexpected times, and without need of any accouterments.
A basic starting point for this, beyond celebrating a few of His major holidays throughout the year, is to pick a day of the week or month (lunar or Julian, or from whatever calendar you follow) which feels especially attuned to His domain. The seventh, twentieth, and twenty-first days of the month are all sacred to Apollon. Sundays and Mondays are also significant as one or the other is seen as the start of the week. Sunday is obvious because of Apollon’s associations with light and the Sun itself, while Monday may seem a bit more obscure, but as Monday relates to the Moon, Apollon as Noumenios, who ushers in the first sliver of moonlight after the Deipnon, is appropriately honored on that day of the week, just as He is honored on the Noumenia itself.
And this talk of Noumenios provides the perfect segue into the discussion of epithets, which, while not strictly necessary if one is approaching the God through non-traditionally Hellenic means, are still helpful in establishing connections with the aspects of Apollon’s personality and domain that one desires to encounter. Because He is so large and so powerfully entrenched within both the natural and civilized worlds, narrowing our focus onto a very specific portion of His power will enable us to approach Him from a position of relative safety. It will also enable Him to guide us down a more narrow pathway than we might otherwise see, which is helpful for maintaining our sanity, for we humans can not touch all aspects of Him (or any God) at any one time, and to try to do so courts destruction on many levels.
Now, on destruction– that which Apollon brings to all that is stagnant and no longer worthy or needed. As He brings destruction in the lore, He may also bring it into our lives, and in a variety of ways. For what is katharmos (purification), but the destruction of miasma (pollution)? What is the sting of His arrow, but the destruction of ego? Apollon is the Destroyer, and in our workings with Him, and in our honoring of Him, we should never forget who and what He is.
Destruction can be as much of a comfort as a curse, largely depending on the circumstances. For instance, Apollon Pythios, the Rotting Lord of the Cemeteries, destroys the body after death so that the soul may rise to a new existence. This frees the individual, but saddens their family and friends. Apollon’s iconography and methodology may be frightening, but the role He plays in the furtherance of life can not be overstated. We are all of us the products of continuous creation and destruction. This is what it means to live. So, when we develop relationships with Him, we must be willing to remake ourselves in accordance with what we learn about ourselves, through Him. If we are willing to do that, then we need not fear our Benevolent Lord.
In closing, to begin an effective relationship with Apollon, you need only want to, while acting as your authentic self. Bring what you have to the table and He will meet you there with sincerity, and often, also with love. Be open. Be not rigid in your thinking. And above all, be aware.