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Realizing How to be His

I often find myself wondering why I don’t feel as if I’m Apollon’s. I don’t feel particularly Hellenic, or much like an embodiment of the Delphic Maxims. I’m often disappointed at my behavior, especially my love of wasting time and over indulging in sweets. I don’t do many formal rituals, I don’t give many offerings, and I don’t really pray that much. I feel like such a waste.

Which often leads to purification. Tonight was a bath of salt and peppermint, meant to give me yet another “fresh start.” And it actually did, but in a way I didn’t expect.

As I came out, I realized something that should’ve been obvious to me from the beginning.

Being His is a daily choice. It’s a choice I have to make every hour, every minute, every second. It isn’t some big, flashy moment of clarity, or His presence, or a bracelet on my wrist. It’s the choices I make and how I choose to bring Him into this world. It’s whether I choose to bring Him into this world. If I want to be my Lord Apollon’s, and I want to live with Him and in Him every day, I must make that desicion every day.

At first, I panicked thinking that it would be impossible, that I would have to watch myself constantly. And yes, it will require more self-discipline on my part. But in the end, He’s leading me. He leads me through that intution I constantly ignore, the intuition that I know is alignment with Him. If I can just listen to that little voice, His voice, I can be His. It’s only a matter of whether I choose to.

I’m beginning to believe this is how I might follow Him this winter, to His abode far away. And how I might keep Him in my heart and soul, closer than ever.

— Atalanta [Day 3]

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You Lead Me

I cannot see You, yet You lead me. Tugging my wrists, pushing at my back, dragging me along by my ears. I cannot hear You, yet You lead me. Whispering my thoughts, molding my guts, so many coincidences falling into place. I cannot feel You, yet You lead me. Rain showering katharmos, sun firing my consciousness, wind turning me toward You. I cannot show myself as Yours, am not always Yours, but You let me. Bringing You into this world in my empty arms and oh-so-full heart. Letting Your praises spill from my lips, purifying my thoughts, Yourself in my actions. This I pray, Lord Apollon, let me be ever more Yours.

— Atalanta [Day 1]

My Practice as a Headblind Devotee

I’m dedicated to my Lord Apollon. I am His to take on and use as He sees fit, rearing me in whatever ways He deigns appropriate as His devotee. My relationship as a dedicant is slightly interesting, in that I’m mostly headblind. I don’t “hear” the gods like some others do. I don’t sense things, or have visions and dreams. My divination, though it’s getting better, is spotty and unpredictable, while the extent of my meditations is breathing in a funny way until I feel kind of floaty. Because of that, oftentimes, I don’t function in my relationship with deity in the same way that many others in the various pagan and polytheist communities do. Although all paths are different, and all are our own, I wanted to write what little I could about my own path in an attempt to shed light on one of the many ways Apollon may reach out. This is all from my own point of view, so it may or may not apply to any others! Take what you will.

Any relationship with deity can be incredibly hard work, work that sometimes breaks one, even as they may not realize it. Being headblind and yearning for deity, wanting to do my best for Apollon but being unable to feel that closeness in return sometimes felt like the hardest work I had to do. It was like a constant fallow time, with no evidence of my practice having any meaning or impact.  It was as if I was being broken down, little by little. Each offering and prayer, all the shrines I maintained, they began to feel like they were for nothing. How could I love my Lord, and do right by Him when He won’t even show me what it is that He wants of me? I couldn’t contribute in any meaningful way, so what else is there? Why is He even here with me?

Of course, Lord Apollon heard me. He got me through that time, using it, I believe, to teach me more about my path as a headblind devotee. He impressed upon me the need to be my own person, the need for trust, and the need to focus on us. He taught me to be strong in myself and in Him, relying on the good foundations I had built through that hard work and faith, rather than the more “woo” things I’ve experienced a few times. Looking back, I’m so grateful to Him for that period and those times I went through. In a way, a small part of me was transformed and made into something stronger, more solid, more worthy of being called His.

When I first began to learn that Apollon had an interest in me, I read the blogs and writings of others involved in the pagan and polytheist communities. Concentrating so much on the people I felt were my elders and basing my practice on their relationships with their gods set me back more than I care to admit. I rather foolishly felt that my lack of abilities or a godphone made loving my god in a way He deserved seemingly impossible. These other wives and devotees of His, they could hear Him and speak with Him, joke with Him and play with Him. What could I have to offer? I felt that surely He would tire of me when I couldn’t really hear Him or interact with Him. Don’t we humans get bored with those who don’t respond to us? Shouldn’t the gods be the same way? I’m sort of giggling at how wrong I was.

There’s plenty that those who are headblind can do for their gods, because not all of us are called to be spiritworkers or godspouses. Whether it’s wiring, timing, or anything else at all, not all of us are called to have that experience. I felt that because my calling included being headblind, I would never have that closeness with Apollon. I thought that I would never know anything for sure, that my whole devotional practice would be a guessing game each time I left out an offering, or asked for Him to listen.

Eventually I came to the realization that I am this way for a reason. This is one hundred percent my path, and being headblind is the best way for me to serve my Lord, at least at the moment. I stopped comparing, and stopped reading most other pagan and polytheist blogs. I learned to rely on Apollon and myself instead of what others had said or experienced. Through this, my Lord helped me to come into my own a bit more. I’ve become stronger because of what I’ve been through the past year, and got to know myself better than I thought I would. In getting to know myself, I began to learn just how to reach Apollon in my own way. Communication opened up in new ways by following my gut and intuition, which surprisingly, is mainly on track with what He asks of me. I did all of this because I learned to trust Apollon. If I hadn’t opened myself up in that way, then I know for a fact that I’d still be floundering. Trust is probably the one thing that Apollon has impressed upon me the most. Trust in Him, trust in our relationship, and trust in myself. Without that trust, I was stagnant. I couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t do anything, and I was of no use to Him or myself. The biggest setback to learning that trust in Apollon was the fact that I’m mostly headblind. Being headblind oftentimes cuts me off from Apollon, forcing me to do things all on my own. Or so I thought, until I learned to trust in my Lord.

Perhaps the biggest thing I’d like to impress on others who are headblind is that just because you can’t feel Them, it doesn’t mean They aren’t there. It doesn’t mean They aren’t still teaching you, helping you, and loving you. Apollon has always been there for me, always, without exception. When I lost faith, He was there. When I felt my heart hardening and my spirit breaking, He was there. When I decided a few times that I couldn’t do this anymore and that I’d rather leave my religion and my Lord behind, He was there. He’s taught me everything and carried me through everything, so long as I have that trust. When I can’t trust and open myself up to Him, He can’t (or won’t) help me.

A large part of learning how to work with my Lord while being headblind was about realizing that this relationship isn’t all about my feelings and experiences. The relationship is, of course, about the relationship. It’s about us. It may sound somewhat obvious, but it was so easy for me to begin losing sight of Apollon as a Person and begin thinking about our relationship as an experience. For me this was a huge block. It can become hard not to focus on the few amazing experiences that the gods give us, that wonderfully amazing overwhelming feeling that is Their presence and love. But that feeling, I came to learn, is not Them. I laugh at myself now when I think about this. How could I mistake the bond with a god for the tingling feelings of warmth I’ve felt once before?

The relationship is in the every day things, the things that I don’t always think about.  It’s when He guides me in following His ways, or moves me to prayer between classes. It’s when He allows me to see the beauty in the new moon that belongs to Him, and sing (screech?) to Him at the tops of my lungs out of sheer joy for His existence. There are no “woo” things for me, really. Just living my life with Apollon in it, even though I can’t sense Him in the slightest. The relationship has become more about what I can give back to Him, more about serving my Lord. Even though I don’t expect it, He does so much for me in return. He gives that love back a hundredfold, saving me in ways I didn’t know I needed saving.

I suppose my whole point in this mess of me blabbing about myself is that being headblind and being devoted to deity can work, if that’s what you’re meant to do. It does work. I thought that I’d live the rest of my days living secularly, doing whatever I wanted with no thoughts of anyone but myself. But He changed all that, swooping in and surrounding me no matter how dense my head and walls are. He’s there for me just as I am, headblind and oblivious, doing what I can for Him.

— Atalanta

Them (for Apollon and Artemis)

Them. They’re what I want to be. I can almost feel it, barely out of grasp. I can feel my fingers touching it, brushing it, not quite able to make out its texture. Sometimes I think I could grab it, could shape myself to match it. Mold who I am, at the same time trying to throw away everything else. They can feel. They truly feel. He ( and I bet she, too) feels everything. That intensity. I want to feel every inch, every ripple, every ebb and flow as the emotions take me. I want sorrow, joy, pain, fear, loss, ecstasy, love. Devotion. Loyalty. The intensity, that’s how I hope to discover how to live. I want their strength. I imagine her, skin deep and glowing, that burning intensity in her eyes, a miniature sun. She takes no shit from anyone. Her independence, fierce wildness, sureness of herself. His quiet, simmering lust. A lust for living. He makes me feel everything more strongly, instills that same lust within me. It’s quivering, shivering, shaking, chills all over, making me cry with just the feeling of it all. I want to be like them. I want to feel my life the way they feel theirs. Life. I don’t feel alive. Everything feels dampened, fake, emulated. Like trying to act out the barest shadow of emotions I get. I’m praying they’ll teach me. That she’ll give me her strength, he’ll give me his control. I want to be transformed, hyacinths, a river, a laurel, my skin cut off while I hang upside down, bleeding my emotions and my pain. This I pray to you, holy gods. Give me this gift if nothing else. Teach me how to live. Pierce my heart, far-shooting. Fill my ears with the sweet melody of my cries. Slice me open, bleeding in the grass and dirt, everything that’s not me, not utterly myself dripping down my thighs. Fill my veins with your light, your fire. Strike me down, over and over, until I am born again. Make me into myself, make me a reflection of you. This I ask of you, Destroyers. Destroy me utterly, until I’m no more and that remains is myself.

— Atalanta

Adorations for Apollo

This is actually the first work I’ve made for Apollon. I prefer to call Him Apollo, so that’s what you’ll see here. These adorations are tailored to fit me, so some things may look slightly off because I’ve changed wording around. I used seven sets of six adorations per set. Seven is a number sacred to Apollon, and six is a number that’s important to me. That’s 42 lines, which is significant because I am always a nerd.

Apollo, will of Zeus, I adore You.
Apollo, son of Leto, I adore You.
Apollo, twin of Artemis, I adore You.
Apollo, father of Asklepios, I adore You.
Apollo, father of Aristaios, I adore You.
Apollo, father of Khariklo, I adore You.

Apollo, light of the world, I adore You.
Apollo, light of the new moon, I adore You.
Apollo, wind in the storm, I adore You.
Apollo, bringing plague, I adore You.
Apollo, healing disease, I adore You.
Apollo, guide in death, I adore You.

Apollo, tragic lover, I adore You.
Apollo, pursuing Daphne, I adore You.
Apollo, throwing the discus at Hyakinthos, I adore You.
Apollo, gifting the stag to Kyparissos, I adore You.
Apollo, chasing Bolina into the sea, I adore You.
Apollo, betrayed by Koronis, I adore You.

Apollo, devouring wolf, I adore You.
Apollo, dancing spider, I adore You.
Apollo, ram horned, I adore You.
Apollo, surrounding me with bees, I adore You.
Apollo, in the form of the snake, I adore You.
Apollo, sneaking mouse, I adore You.

Apollo, destroying Python, I adore You.
Apollo, slaying Niobe’s sons, I adore You.
Apollo, bringing vengeance upon Tityos, I adore You.
Apollo, flaying Marysas, I adore You.
Apollo, building Troy, I adore You.
Apollo, raining arrows upon the Greeks, I adore You.

Apollo, leading Muses, I adore You.
Apollo, loving music, I adore You.
Apollo, master of the lyre, I adore You.
Apollo, archer far-shooting, I adore You.
Apollo, making oracles, I adore You.
Apollo, delighting in races, I adore You.

Apollo, ruling my path, I adore You.
Apollo, comforting my soul, I adore You.
Apollo, doorway to my heart, I adore You.
Apollo, breaking my chains, I adore You.
Apollo, teacher in all things, I adore You.
Apollo, my Prince, my love, my everything, I adore You.

— Atalanta