Leto Between Worlds

I find Leto absolutely fascinating, and not jut because she is the mother of the divine twins Apollon and Artemis, but rather her power and honor despite what appears in this age to be utter mythic obscurity. In reality I making this post in continuation of my thoughts in my earlier post here. Yet we have really very little in literature regarding Leto. She makes an appearance in the Iliad in the company of Artemis, in all appearance attending to her daughter. Her myth of her pursuit and union with Zeus is a footnote (some says was impregnated as a wolf, some say as a quail. Really what she is known for is bearing her children and her labors therein in which she travailed for 12 days and nights in searching for the place where she could bear her young in her own Herculean journey. Some says she made this journey from the far region of Hyperborea to Hellas., with Athena in her company according to some sources, helper in quests. Another well known myth is her transformation of the Lycian villagers into frogs when they offender her by not permitting her access to their spring.

Yet aside from these myths, not much is apparently known about the goddess, other than that she was highly honored and enjoyed an esteemed repute among women particularly. Yet there is some fragments of evidence that can suggest what her larger nature was, one that was certainly complimented and linked to her offspring, but possessing its own great power which I touched a bit on in my previous post. Certainly her syncretism in Ionia with a local Anatolian goddess Eni Mahanahi, a local name for Annis Massanassis (who is identified with Kybele) indicates that Leto may have been considered as bearing much of the same character and power of this local deity, which provides us with an interesting insight on how Hellenes viewed Leto overall. That she was depicted veiled and seated on a wooden throne at Delos, as well as possessing her own sanctuary there as she did in Lycia makes clear that she was more than just honored by convenience as mother of Apollon and Artemis. The speculated honeycomb décor of her temple at Delos may allude to Leto being of such high quality as a queen bee dwelling hidden in the depths of the cavernous beehive. As Leto was believed to come from Hyperborea, and has two major temples between Delos and Lycia were by Delian tradition Apollon traveled between, it could almost be considered that Apollon himself is traveling among the houses of is mother.This may be especially important when considering more otherworldly character that his travel takes during the winter. Even at Delphi Leto has a presence, even if in the temple of her son rather than her own temple, but may bear mythic link to the region via her parentage by Koios (the axis of the heavens) and Phoebe who according to some Delphic traditions inherited the axis of the earth, Delphi, from Themis which I discussed in the above linked previous blog post.

Given the plausible link of Leto with certain fresh water dragon cults, and her own syncretism with the Egyptian Wadjet (again see previous article where I discuss all of this) we see a clearer character of Leto as a goddess who dwells between worlds, who herself is a state ever becoming and renewing. Unlike Wadjet, who is fiery and light emanating, Leto does this in a more subtle fashion. The dark hidden goddess, emits her light through her continuous generative nature. She is by her fashion the eternal mother, blessing wombs of women with life, as her womb issues life and light. When people talking of Apollon and Artemis as Lycian as in terms of being born in light, I do not think that this is to be taken literally as in a designated place of light, but that they issued from their mother’s womb in an array of light. As such in can be considered that the light that they bear originates and comes from within their mother and is her eternal manifesting light. As such Leto appears to designate as a power generating goddess from which light eternally springs even as Leto is said to take on the character of being pregnant leading up to the birthday of the twins at Delos. This would certainly make sense given her underworld cult connections, and any loose associations she may have with Rhea, Demeter or Persephone as life manifesting from the within the recesses of the earth.

She is thus is the shrew goddess and the serpent goddess who dwells within the cavernous earth as they are observed slipping within their dens. Or the wolf who likewise den within the ground. Even the frog which is associated with her in its travels between the seen and unseen worlds as it slips within the water and nurselike tends to the reeds of Apollon rooted in the underworld. Even the imagery of the beehive is fitting as bees naturally make their nests hidden away whether inside a tree or hole, or even as a round nest like a stone. Even apiaries resemble hills. Naught is really seen of life except the bees issuing from out of it and returning to it, the divine nectar, the honey, is hidden deep within as the queen is. I would imagine that the quail and rooster who cries with the transition of night and day is perhaps a later association that developed as Apollon and Artemis became equated with the light of the sun and moon specifically. Even these tie in well with the essence of the becoming and manifestation of being as comparable with night rather than the underworld specifically. Although her contest within the text of the Iliad in pairing against Hermes further supports the earlier underworld characteristic that was the prevalent. Her association with springs and rivers such as with the river Peneus and the river Xanthus certainly carries this further as rivers are often linked with travel between worlds even as the sea and any other body of water tends to be. Water is by it natural liminal.

In this manner we can understand Leto further as a manifesting, tending, and life giving divine being, that which is life giving and nurturing, yet of fierce temper, aggression, and unpredictability. She is overall queenly and primal, goddess of the golden spindle like her daughter. She is the cavern from which the winds of life and transformation emit.

— Lykeia (11/15/2015)

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In Honor of Leto, the Mother

As one who loves Apollon, Leto has an important place my in home. I am not sure how much worship she gets in modern Hellenismos. It is clear that she had a significant following historically. It is pretty clear though that her worship was inseparable from that of Apollon and Artemis as she is typically depicted in the company of her children, and in one case from Lydia she was represented too with the nymph Ortygia. Her accompanying role to her children in much of Hellas is contrasted by Lycia where her cult may have had a stronger position than in many other places, as her name seems to have translated into meaning “woman”, inferring that Leto may have been considered a goddess of prominence. However, the alternate translation of her name (“Unobserved”)  is also revealing and not unassociated with her role in Lycia and other parts of Ionia as a goddess associated strongly with the underworld. This name suggests a hidden nature of the titanide. As the sister of Asteria, it is quite possible that there may have been some contrast between the bright Asteria, and her darker hidden sister Leto, both of whom were desired by Zeus..one who married him and the other who fled into the sea to escape him and became the island Delos. Such darkness may very well aligned Leto both the underworld and to the dark envelope of night from which light is born. It seems as a matter of coincidence that Leto was said to come from Hyperborea, a land beyond the furthest north (which is in itself connected to long seasons of darkness).

In such respects we can, for the purpose of reconstructing her worship, can probably infer some commonalities between Leto and Persephone, or her niece Hekate. Indeed if we consider for a moment the role that Zeus takes as Chthonic god as her position as one of his earlier “wives” (for which the suggestion on theoi.com that her name Unobservable or To Move Unseen, we may regard this to refer to modesty that is associated with the lives of married women), there may be some early parallel to Hades and Persephone. In the Theogony Leto is specifically addressed as a goddess who is always mild and kind to the deathless gods, which implies to me that she is of such character as one would expect of a hidden underworld goddess…one who is kindly by nature as would be a goddess who receives the dead. Of course that she is poetically often described as being present on Olympos, particularly in the poem of Hesiod in the Homeric Hymn to Apollon, this only seems to imply a retention of her power and esteemed position, as she is the one who receives the bow of her son and unstrings it. She is the receiver and bearer of light. In this fashion I imagine Leto as a beautiful woman, garbed in black or gray, with a sympathetic and kind face. An obscure goddess illuminated only by the presence of her children in whose company she delights. For she never appears where they are not. In the Iliad she is inseparable for the side of Artemis.

Actually when it comes to the Iliad I think we can learn something from the manner in which the gods are paired in the war of the gods that reveal something. Some gods we see nothing if (such as Demeter and Hestia…Hestia perhaps because she never leaves the hearth of Olympos, and Demeter perhaps because she is unaffiliated in such concerns). The lot of gods in whom they are combating is certain quite purposeful. Apollon and Poseidon (whom Homer reminds us worked cooperatively before in Ilium) and have associations with the traversing of the sea and harbors are matched against each other in the quarrel. Athena takes part against Ares, both gods who are esteemed in the art of war. Hera and Artemis are set against each other in which we have the queen of gods and men being challenged by a goddess who is often called queen in her own right and is ascribed as the daughter of Hera by the Thracians. Hephaistos’ fire is countered by the streams of Xanthus. And Leto is set against Hermes, a god whose functions lay in the traversing between the world of the living, that abode of the gods, and the underworld. So for me this pairing is rather significant, even as it is amusing by the fashion in which Hermes yields the contest to Leto refusing to raise hand against her.

I would suggest even that the strange scepter which she is often depicted as bearing resembles both a young plant shooting up, and with its spirals, a labyrinth type pattern of a kind, as a goddess who issues forth the light which returns to us every spring and a goddess of the hidden way. Certainly she must be associated with some kind of road or passage as she herself was made the journey from place to place (in the company of Athena apparently) until she arrived on Delos. This almost chthonic vision of Leto is rather complimentary in fact to versions of myth which assign Artemis’ parentage to Demeter (as another chthonic goddess) and Poseidon. There seems to be a certain assigning of the earth and the new upwelling of streams in the Lycian account of the birth of Apollon and Artemis (as revealed by Quintus Smyrnaeus in his The Fall of Troy) that speaks of the Xanthus appearing when Leto, in her labor pains, tore up the earth of the plains with her hands.

I also find it curious that in the relating of the gods (with the exception of Athena and Zeus) fled into Egypt from Typhon, that Leto become a shrew-mouse. Interesting the mouse and the mongoose snake (the mouse representing night and the snake representing day) were both directly associated with the Egyptian Wadjet who was revered as a goddess of childbirth, protector of children, a goddess associated with justice, and eventually considered the protector of kings. She is also a nurturing goddess as the one who helped Isis nurse Horus, and was associated with plant growth–specifically the papyrus. For a general overview on Wadjet you may wish to read further here. If we consider that there was some alignment in Hellenic thought between Leto and Wadjet we are seeing a goddess associated with divine rulership, law, death, and growth…all of which is compatible with my vision of Leto, and my theories on the relationship between Leto and Themis who bore such similar sons, and the latter who nursed the son of Leto on ambrosia. The early association between Wadjet and Isis just makes it all the more convenient too.

Therefore if we thought the mouse was an appropriate symbol for Apollon as Apollon Smintheus, we must consider the shrew mouse (the most common species of mouse in Alaska–much to my amusement) to be a sacred symbol of Leto. Likewise this draws some interesting comparisons when we consider that the heavenly axis of her father Koios was the eye of a stellar dragon, which paralleled the dragon of Delphi, the serpent of the oracle last in holding of Phoebe prior to Apollon, and the associations with the serpentine Wadjet, we see a goddess associated with two animals that burrow within the earth, and the latter of which is a creature associated with immortality, it presents us with an interesting chthonic deity.

Yet among the  birds Leto is strongly associated with the stork, as we understand from Aristophanes’ Birds. It is a mute bird, clattering their beaks for communication rather than any kind of song. The clattering sound is rather eerie from what I have heard in their nesting grounds when I visited Morocco, like some primitive primal noise that rises on the air and makes the hairs on your arm raise ever slightly. And like the swans associated with Apollon, the stork is also attached to its mate (and to its nest for that matter). To back up whatever chthonic nature Leto has, the stork has been associated with bearing wealth (which reminds us of Plutus) by some Germanic peoples, and with the underworld by Estonians, and in Baltic mythology has been associated with killing insects and reptiles. Of course sacred birds make an interesting mix as the swan is also associated with Ares and Zeus, so too is the stork also associated with Hera. Overall the stork is representative typically of nurturing parenting that tends to be common of earthly goddesses.

So for a shrine to Leto here is what I recommend. A representation of the mouse and the serpent, perhaps something related to the stork (I have a stork’s feather myself), an image draped in darkish fabric to represent that which is hidden.  I would even add a pair of lights to her shrine to represent the twin lights that she gave birth to for the world. Any imagery related to infants and mothers would also be appropriate. Leto is by far the earthly goddess of mothers, she who receives and gives forth life. Her worship is, and shall ever remain, and important part of my oikos, and it would please me know others are also giving her active worship!

— Lykeia (3/09/2012)

Contemplating Leto

Leto is the principle of causality.  In taking control of Her life, first by leaving Hyperborea, the place of Her birth, then by orchestrating the events of Her eventual arrival upon Olympos as Zeus’ Consort, She causes the wheels of fate to turn, by Her will.

This is a Goddess who exercises power, who asserts Herself in ways that are perhaps more familiar and relatable to poor, or otherwise ostracized women, rather than the lofty and oftentimes unattainable glories of Hera, and the domain of marriage. Leto is another side of the nature of a woman’s power, the nature of force which exercises its will on the world through cunning.

Leto tell us, there is a cause to all things, all situations, and if we would not be taken along by the cause of another, we can be our own cause, and exercise our own will.

The fair-haired and veiled Consort of Zeus is much more complex than the face of motherly demure She is so often characterized by, in what writings we have on Her that survive. Which of course gives us very little information on how the peoples of the past truly viewed Her. In this, we must often rely on doxa, both shared and personal, and on our interactions with Her via dreams, and through symbolism.

When we view Leto, we often do not see one who is tied down by conventional motherhood, though a large portion of our understanding of Her comes directly through Her role as Mother of Artemis and Apollon. We see a Goddess of liminality– of twilight– flanked by wolves, which are fierce predators. This sheds some light into the obscure areas of Her personality. which we can see on the periphery.

Leto suffers no insult lightly, either to Herself or to Her Children, and when She rides out during the darkening days, She does so unveiled, revealed, even as Nyx unfolds Her cloak of stars in the darkness. And in Her awful glory, what does Leto reveal to those who meet Her gaze? It is a glimpse, a mere taste of the wilderness that we have left behind. And in this wilderness, few are more fierce than the Mother of Wolves.

This is the Goddess whom Niobe insulted, the Goddess whose honor is defended by Artemis and Apollon, and the traits which spurred Them in these actions are but a few that They have inherited from Leto.

When we view Leto, yes, we see the Divine Mother, we see She who birthed the Holy Twins, but we see also a complete Goddess, a whole Goddess; Someone with a past, a history, a life that began long before the birth of Her Children.

And in that, we may find common ground for the growth of our relationships with Her, as well as for our own, personal growth.

There is much yet to learn from Leto in regard to keeping our identities intact after becoming parents, and also in celebrating who we were beforehand. In our (American) culture, motherhood specifically is easily dismissed as a necessary but trivial pastime, yet is also lauded as the highest pedestal a woman can be seated upon. This dichotomy is of great detriment to society, however, and it is Leto who can help us to reintegrate the disparate themes of motherhood/parenthood, and to find the balance of ourselves within the roles, as She shows us in Her own life, and lore.

Leto, who is often quiet, who is often veiled, is the same Leto who does not flinch in the presence of Hera, or any Other. She is the same Leto who throws off her veil to ride vigorously through the wild– the same Leto who, for reasons of Her own, and with plans of Her own devising, fled Her birthplace to stake a claim to the varied lands and peoples of ancient Hellas– and was well respected throughout.

Therefore, for the upcoming Feast of Leto (Perihelios 9/Jan. 15, 2019), let us show respect for our Goddess, through shared ritual and feasting. And may we be always reminded to look beyond the surface of things. There is depth in what is hidden, and there are lessons to be learned from what we first must decide to seek.

— Columbine

G is for “Godspousery”

While I don’t care for the term godspouse, it is perhaps one of the most well known terms to describe the mystic relationship that develops between the soul of a human and the god the soul belongs to. Plato describes the act of Eros on the soul, and myth often shows Eros (or Aphrodite) acting to play the matchmaker between human souls and the gods. Of course most of this is regarded as nothing more than mythic generation of heroes etc, but these myths also serve as an important spiritual dialogue to our souls to take root with the love inspired in the soul. Ten years ago when I first started down this path in my relationship with Apollon, you could throw a rock and be quite unlikely to ever come close to hitting another godspouse. Now I am feeling inclined to write on this subject for my pagan blog project entry rather than what I had previously planned just because there has been instances coming up recently in which emotions have run high over misinformation regarding godspousery and assumptions that have been made. Therefore I am hoping that this post will clear some of those things up. These are in no particular order of importance, and I may miss a few points, as I am certain that there are many more which are relevant. If I missed something please feel free to add another point to the comments section.

1.) Misconception: Godspousery is a new pagan fad indulged in by young women (usually in their 20’s) engaged in without much consideration or forethought towards the consequences of jumping into that kind of relationship with a god.

Answer: While it is true that there are a number of new godspouses on the scene who fit that bill, there are many folks out there who have been around and have had such a relationship established successfully for a number of years. Among them there are many instances where it is seldom jumped into but has a kind of “courtship” phase before deciding on taking on that kind of relationship and level of devotion. Nor are all godspouses even women. Which leads me to point 2.

2.) Misconception: That all godspouses are women engaged in a bridal relationship with a male god.

Answer: Nope. In fact there are men who engage in this relationship with male gods, and with goddesses, and women who engage with this relationship with goddesses even as there are women who engage in it with gods. When I say women and men here I mean for it include heterosexual, homosexuals, transgenders et al. Despite what the current most vocal majority is, godspousery has no sexual or age prerequisites. It is a calling of the soul, an attraction inspired by Eros between the soul and the god. Right now there appears to be a majority of godspousery showing up among cisgender women, but that perception may very well be skewed by how many folks are silent on the subject. Many men seem to be more reluctant to talk about it publicly.

3.) Misconception: All godspouses are of a Nordic or Heathen religious tradition.

Answer: This perception may again have to do with the vocal majority, as it may *appear* that is most common with Odin and Loki, but it is not altogether accurate. I have met individuals who are godspouses to gods from various pantheons of gods. Myself included obviously.

4.) Misconception: There is absolutely no historic basis for godspousery.

Answer: This is kinda of a tricky statement, because history is not always quite that detailed. Setting aside the myths (in which as I noted above many such situations arise), you do have instances in which mortals were considered brides of gods. From a Hellenic perspective, the initiation imagery of women for the mysteries of Dionysos have a distinctive bridal imagery to them with Dionysos and Ariadne looking on. Likewise the Pythia was widely considered the bride of Apollon, and literature seems to indicate similar concepts of the sybils. Virgil’s Aeneid certainly suggests a very intimate relationship between the Sybil at Cumae and her god. Of course whether these kind of personal relationships were common outside of these very prominent cult settings we will likely never know, although great devotion of love to a gods seems dubious that it was uncommon, else how sympathetic and tragic would have the death of Hippolytes been without the understanding of his love of Artemis and his preference of her company and scorn of entering into marriage. Or the rise of Plato’s philosophy in regards to addressing the subject of the soul’s attraction and love towards the god to which she belongs (soul typically represented in the feminine form symbolically). So it very well may have not have been unheard of, but likely not common either. However, in modern times I have heard that there are cases in which girls take a bridal relationship to gods in Hinduism, and there is a lot of marital symbolism in Hinduism with the concept of the soul’s union with god, especially it seems with the textual material dealing with Krishna. In another direction, a book on Santeria showed beautiful pictures of a room in which a devote gave to his lwa wife (I probably got the term lwa wrong, I often confuse the terminology between Voodoo and Santeria). There are also suggestions in history of kings entering into marital pacts with powerful goddesses in some northern regions….how much of that is true though I can only hazard to guess.

5.) Misconception: Making the decision to be a godspouse means that you are agreeing to being enslaved by that god/dess into his/her service.

Answer: People who identify as god-slaves, whose relationship with their god is defined solely by the work they do for them, do exist. Sometimes (and I must stress this because I have not personally seen it often) a godspouse (who also usually does some kind of work on behalf of his/her beloved) will also identify as a godslave, but these terms are not synonymous. A godspouse does not necessarily feel enslaved to his/her god, anymore than you feel enslaved to your mortal spouse. It is of course a very serious commitment however. Love and intense devotion and loyalty go a long way that as with any loving relationship, a godspouse is likely to do what pleases his/her beloved just as much as people do every day for those that they love. We do however, recognize that we are not by any means equal to the gods and not gods ourselves, and therefore are placing ourselves in very uneven relationships power-wise, which also means that there are some sacrifices. But typically the gods are not ogres and do not demand anything more than what is suited to our own individual relationships with them and what we need, and what we are capable of. We may be ensnared by Love/Eros but it is a positive thing, there are no chains (unless, again, that is something particular to your relationship… on whatever level lol).

6.) Misconception: For women being a godspouse to a male god is anti-feminist.

Answer: Again, not so. As mentioned above there is no enslaving to a god’s will thing going on (typically), and as a matter of love it shouldn’t be judged as anti-feminist anymore than any women who engages in a marital to a man. There is an imbalance of power which may make it more pronounced to some feminists that there is a relationship of extreme inequality going on which act as triggers for them. However in any relationship one establishes with a god, you are going to be the inferior in the relationship, that is just how it goes. That is not say that we lack value, or boo humans kind of thing. We are self determining and quite capable of saying no and refusing anything our gods put before us, but it is easy to be a bit of a pushover for one that you love and do things that you feel that the god wants or will please him out of no other reason but love.But rather it is a recognition that we are not gods and therefore are not going to be on equal playing ground when it comes to power nor should one expect to be treated with some kind of reverence from others. We should not aspire or pretend otherwise…to do so could potentially lead to some serious delusions and hubris (for only the gods can deify, we can’t determine ourselves to be as they are). Also this idea of gender based inferiority is rather absurd, not only because gender based inferiority takes a huge backseat to any concept of inferiority to the gods in general, but also because it makes an assumption that the gods have a set literal sexual form. But the gods are not biological beings, they are greater than that. Therefore whereas their identities are often tangled up in a particular gender, often in relationship to their domain, many gods have been known to appear in a female form in some myth or another. Therefore the whole female inferior to the male argument is rather invalid. And as such it cannot be anti-feminist.

7.) Misconception: All godspouses are seers/spirit workers.

Answer: I think this misconception has caused some of the greatest friction when it comes to godspousery, or rather between godspouses, especially of the older and younger generations. There is an assumption that being a godspouse means that you must automatically become a seer, which is really an absurd assumption because those beloved by the gods in myths formed a variety of functions and had a number of various talents, but has also caused frustration. This frustration is due to new godspouses finding that they either lack the ability, or inclination, to fulfill this role. So I will say right here and right now, although a lot of godspouses find it fulfilling to be a seer/spirit worker it is not a prerequisite! Like the beloveds of history and myth, we all have our own directions our work will take us that can touch on any small part of the vast domain of the god one is “married” to. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have a knack for things in several areas, including divination/interpretation of signs/spiritwork/etc, but having that knack and even engaging in it on a personal level doesn’t mean that is what you are supposed to do or what their calling is. What your calling is will likely work itself out over time.

8.) Misconception: All Godspouses are celibate.

Answer: While there are many godspouses who make a choice to be celibate, this is something that is determined by their own individual relationship with their beloved god/dess. Sometimes the gods indicate that the desire for their mortal spouse to be unwed and/or celibate. I suspect it has more to do with the needs of the mortal spouse in particular. While it was not requested of me I have gone through several long periods of celibacy and have recently come to the conclusion, that some other godspouses I know have come to, that the commitment to the god too easily conflicts with the emotional needs of a mortal partner. In short it can seem unfair to the other person, and can sometimes cause some hostile feelings towards the godspouse’s spirituality. That said, there are godspouses who have very successful marriages and romantic partnerships. So in the end it is really about what is best for us all individually. I don’t believe that the gods call us to do anything in particular that isn’t already part of our disposition.

— Lykeia (4/08/2013)

Aegletia Food Guidelines

Aegletia begins October 1st, and ends October 9th

 

A couple years back, I wrote a short ritual for the Aegletia and felt that it was time to add a little bit to it. One thing I’ve always wanted to have as part of our tradition is some shared foodways. Given that we have many different backgrounds, that’s not easy, but the concepts surrounding the Aegletia give us the opportunity to develop some common culinary practices. I’ve outlined some ideas and will be testing them out this year, but I would also like to invite all of you to share your thoughts and maybe even recipes. The great thing about this is that you can do as much or as little of this as you want to and you should be able to accommodate these ideas, even with a tight budget. I’ve been there myself and I tried to write these guidelines with a mind toward compassion for those of us with smaller budgets or who may not have access to a wide variety of ingredients. First, I offer a blessing for food, which I like to say before a sacred meal. There’s a long-ish list of blessings, but you are meant to choose from those that are relevant to your particular meal. If you don’t have beans, for example, you can leave out the one to Kyamites.

 

Blessing the Meal

 

We give thanks to you, Immortal Gods, for the bounty before us.

May you bless our meal, so that from it we might gain strength, health, and long life.

 

We give thanks to Hestia, for blessing our hearth.

We give thanks to Zeus, for bringing the rain.

We give thanks to Apollon, for healthy crops and herds.

We give thanks to Dionysos, for the gift of wine.

We give thanks to Demeter, for the fruits of the Earth.

We give thanks to Athene, for the gift of olives.

We give thanks to Triptolemos, who taught us to farm.

We give thanks to Aristaeos, who taught us to make cheese, keep bees, and tend animals.

We give thanks to Kyamites, who taught us to grow beans.

 

Guidelines for eating during the Aegletia

 

First Night: Purification

 

Drink nothing but water today and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Meals should be high in fiber and plant-based. If you have any sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance, avoid those foods especially today. Avoid added and refined sugars, where possible, as well as highly processed foods.

 

There are a lot of “detox” foods and drinks floating around, but the science behind them is dubious, at best. Nutritionally speaking, water and fiber are your two best weapons against toxins in the body. Our bodies are usually very good at expelling toxins, but need water and fiber as the vehicle with which to do that.

 

Example: Seasoned chick peas, herbed barley, roasted peaches with cinnamon, and fresh salad.

 

Second Night: Arrival

 

Include dates, which Mother Leto ate upon Lord Apollon’s arrival. Include imported foods to remind us that Delos is barren and produces no food for herself. For our purposes, any food not produced locally or regionally is sufficient to consider “imported.” I live in the American South, for example, so anything produced west of the Mississippi river and north of Kentucky would be considered outside my region and, therefore, “imported,” even if it’s not necessarily from another country. The distinction isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but rather one you can make for yourself based on what you would consider “regional.”

 

Apollon’s arrival may be cause to have a somewhat bigger, nicer, “Sunday Dinner” sort of meal, since we are inviting our Bright Lord on this day.

 

Example: Baked chicken with dried Mediterranean apricots, tropical fruit salad, brown rice or barley, steamed broccoli, and whole dates.

 

Third Night: Artemis

 

Food that has been caught from the wild or hunted would be appropriate for the third night, but availability and expense of something like venison or wild-caught fish might prevent this option from being a practical one. Instead, if you live in a household with children, it is their day to choose their favorite meal. Otherwise, a favorite meal from your own childhood, one that inspires fond remembrances, would also be appropriate. If you have pets, this is a good day to give them a special treat.

 

Example: Hot dogs, sweet potato fries, and baked beans with finely chopped onions and apples. For the dog: a small serving of unseasoned sweet potato, thoroughly cooked and skinned.

 

Fourth Night: Leto

 

Once again, this is a good night to serve dates, for the same reason as we did in the second night. This night, it is the mother’s night to choose what’s for dinner. If you are not yourself a mother or no mothers live in the household, you might choose something that reminds you fondly of a motherly figure in your life. This does not necessarily need to be your own mother, just someone who nurtured you as Mother Leto nurtures Her own children and those devoted to Her. Drink only water today and kindly offer water to others when you can. The people of Lycia denied water to Mother Leto, but water is for everyone and should be shared freely.

 

Example: Chopped dates with roasted nuts, ratatouille, barley with herbed pesto and flax seed.

 

Fifth Night: Awareness

 

There are some foods that are supposedly good for your brain and may help you be more alert and aware. The scholarship on this may change over time and we can always make adjustments if that happens. A modest amount of caffeine is appropriate today and foods like flax seed, almonds, eggs, beets, fatty fish (such as salmon), walnuts, fresh fruit, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, broccoli, carrots, winter squash, and dark chocolate are purported to be good for concentration, focus, and memory.

 

Example: Spinach/tomato omelettes, whole wheat carrot nut muffins, orange juice

 

Sixth Night: Beauty

 

For the sixth night, it doesn’t matter what you decide to make as long as you put some effort forth into making it look nice. Make food with lots of bright, natural colors, make use of a little garnish, arrange the food nicely on the plate, tidy up the kitchen table, put out the good china. Even if you’re having chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, put a sprig of parsley on top of that mac and cheese; make it look a little bit fancy.

 

Example: Purple cabbage with onions (sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper); steamed carrots tossed in honey and butter, baked herb chicken, parsley garnish.

 

Seventh Night: Fellowship

 

This is a good night to invite a friend to dinner or have a potluck with friends. You could even share food with friends and neighbors. There’s a lot of room for creativity and opportunity for strengthening friendships on this day.

 

Example: Chili and cornbread, but with friends.

 

Eighth Night: Quietude

 

For the eighth night, you will want to avoid caffeine and have foods that are calming in nature. Again, like the fifth night, our ideas about what foods are meant to have a calming effect on the body and brain might change over time and we can adjust accordingly when we have new information. As of now, however, you might consider asparagus (which tends to be expensive this time of year), avocados, berries, oranges, foods containing zinc (oysters are suggested, but I find them repulsive), walnuts, almonds, salmon, spinach, turkey, and oatmeal.

 

Example: (For breakfast) Oatmeal with dried berries and walnuts, sweetened with a little honey. (For dinner) Spinach salad topped with sliced almonds, mandarin oranges, avocado, slices of grilled or baked turkey, with a raspberry walnut dressing.

 

Ninth Night: Farewell

 

Hera gave an apple tree to Zeus as a wedding gift and it grows in Hyperborea under the heavy guard of the daughters of Atlas, the Hesperides, and the dragon Ladon. Not even Herakles could go and get any apples himself (having had to ask Atlas to do so), and even if we could, we would have to return them. We do, however, have delicious mortal realm apple trees, so thank the Gods for that! We can eat “golden,” yellow, or green apples on this day to remind us of the probably way more amazing ones that grow in Hyperborea.

 

This is also a good night for simple comfort foods, since we will soon be parted with our Bright Lord, the Discerning One. This may mean different things to different people, depending on your upbringing, but warm soups and stews or any sort of fare that reminds you of the comforts of home will do nicely. This is not a day for fancy food that takes hours to prepare.

 

Example: Grilled cheese and tomato soup with baked cinnamon apples.

— Sunweaver

Seasons Turning, and New Beginnings

Well, where to begin?  Apollon has begun His tour of the world before He inevitably retires to Hyperborea for the Winter.  Persephone has begun Her decent into the Underworld.  Winter is on its way, and I have felt the stirrings of the veil between the worlds.  The Departed Ones will soon join us once more, in our Autumn celebrations.

What does this season mean to you?  In years past, even last year, I met this season with anxiety and foreboding.  I was, and am prone to be, stretched too thinly in my attentions at this time of year.  But this time around, I have resolved to be less, fervent, shall we say, and instead more present in my life and in the festivals that I celebrate, as they come.

So, the Aegletia this year will be less performative, and more contemplative. It will be for me a family celebration, as it was always meant to be.  This is my son’s second Aegletia, and he is at a point of forming memories of our time together with Apollon, so this is very important for our household.  It is time for us to be in the spirit of the season, and not outwardly focused.

And I have another reason to feel intensely the turning as it unfolds.  It has been five years since Apollon and I exchanged our marriage vows.  When we did, He did not tell me for how long we were to be joined, but only that I should enjoy each day as it comes, and welcome Him into the whole of my life.  And I have.  Earlier this year, however, He told me it was time to renew our vows, this time for another seven years.  I knew this was probably coming; for a least a year I had anticipated it.  And yet, when I was given the news and the time frame, I just sort of… retreated into myself.  I have been putting it off for the better part of the year.  Apollon, patient and understanding that He is, only asked me to find myself before making this commitment.  To be certain that this is what I want for the next seven years. It’s taken time, but I believe I have worked through my apprehension and that I am now ready for the new commitment.

So, on the second day of Aegletia, when the Treasury welcomes our Lord into our hearths and hearts for the duration of the festival, Apollon and I will once again exchange our vows.  New vows this time. Clearer vows.  Deeper, more meaningful vows.  I won’t lie and say that I am not nervous still, but I am definitely no longer stuck, unable to move forward.

And I’m happy.  I usually spend so much time worrying about things– how will I organize the festival, how will I balance my time online with my time with the children, how will I deal with the sheer agony of being separated from Apollon when He has finally left?  Not this time.  Not this year.  This year, I will let myself just be in the season, and in the turning.

— Columbine

Simple Ideas for a Modern Prostateria

Here are some simple ideas for a modern celebration of Prostateria, the Birth of Apollon.  I usually want to have idea posts like this one published at least one week in advance of the day, but busy life got the better of me in this instance, so I’m posting this on the day itself.  However, there is no reason why you can not celebrate this festival at a more convenient time for yourself.  Everything is flexible.  🙂

For more information on Prostateria, see this post by Lykeia.

— Columbine


Decorating the shrine or altar is one obvious way to mark the occasion– gifts and offerings, incense and lit candles, or anything else that helps to remind you of the beautiful occasion that is His birth into the world.  I recommend asking Him beforehand what He might like, through whatever method of divination or oracle that you prefer.

Prepare a meal for Him, a special meal that you only make on special occasions, so He feels welcomed in the best way possible.

Dress nicely for Him.  It doesn’t have to be overly formal, but put on something flattering, and be sure to clean up a little around the house, especially in the room where His shrine or altar is located.

Express your love and appreciation for Him, with poetry or songs, art or dance.  If you play an instrument, this is an ideal occasion to regale Him with your art form.

Include His Mother and Sister in the festivities.  Invite Them also when you invite Apollon to be present in your home.  His love for Them is well known, and any celebration in His honor is better celebrated in Their honor, as well.

And finally, one of the very best ways to honor Him on this day, is to decorate a doorway inside your home in His honor.  Apollon Prostaterios is the Lord Before the Doors, who, by His liminal qualities, opens us up to all new possibilities.  This is especially relevant as the moment of His birth opened the world to the many possibilities of His existence.

Doorways are inherently liminal spaces, existing between one room and another, or between the outside and inside.  Birth is a liminal phenomenon, bridging the time between life and pre-life.

To decorate the doorway, you can use any number of things that you associate with new life life.  Seasonal flowers or fruits are always nice, and depending on your area and climate, may be readily available.  Barring that, you could use artificial flowers and fruits.  Although, you might prefer to hang or wrap evergreens on the doorway, for they are symtbolic of the unchanging, youthful nature of Apollon.  Evergreens are also usually still available in colder climates at this time of year, in the Northern Hemisphere.

Within the decorated doorway, as opposed to before the altar (or better still, at an altar erected in the doorway), you may choose to present your offerings and recite prayers or poetry, as well as greet the God, in welcoming.

Blessed Prostateria, and Hail to Apollon, on this, the day of His birth.