O Sovereign Muse, Inspiration’s Crown, who bestows the poetic thrall, by Your hand am I guided, by Your voice am I blessed to turn the pages of my thoughts into words upon the page– words which still, and words which liven– words of silk and words of iron– for what is a tale without blood or love, without death or steel or drive?
Goddess of the tale told carefully– willfully– come forth, that I might recite my song to You who are the Sovereign of Songs, and the peace of the poet’s rest after a lifetime of stories told. If ever I have been dear to You, Goddess, in my frenzy or in my fallow haze, if my joys are known to You as are my pangs, Sublime Wordsmith, grant me the grace of Your ear, that I may improve upon the gifts given, and forever reflect Your mastery upon this bereaved world!
Hail and welcome, Kalliope, Chief of Muses, with Your fingers upon the pulse of history! Hail and welcome, Kalliope, Beloved of Apollon, who coaxes forth the words that set our souls alight! Hail and welcome, Kalliope, first among Mnemosyne’s precious Daughters!
The unity of Apollon and Artemis, quite easily explained by those orphic hymns which call Misa (clearly derived from the name of Artemis as a daughter of Demeter) as the double Euboleus (Apollon as the swineherd son of Demeter fulfilling his character elsewhere in connection with this mysteries as a herder/leader and of a nature parallel to that expressed by Diodoros Siculus as the chorus-leader of Dionysos/Osiris) expresses the nature of Apollon and Artemis as deriving from the same source…mythically the womb of Leto. As such Apollon and Artemis have naturally reflecting features of their domains, which likewise carries over into a great number of shared or closely related epithets. Though they have distinct functions and personalities, they are inseparable and cosmically linked for that even as Artemis drives the prey in her hunt, Apollon receives what she had hunted. Thus establishing a never ending pattern of energy and the effect of the energy under control. Artemis hunts forth, and Apollon destroys. Even in their cult centers it is difficult to find the presence of one without the other.
Of course the masculine-feminine dichotomy is presented here a bit different than it has been presented with other such cases in which you have myths of a divine source being separating into another, usually the case of a male separating himself into a female. She is still part of him, and he is still part of her, but they are at the same time separate. Usually in such cases when this arises in which you have a male and female deity of the same source they will be bonded together in a marital or procreative relationship. However in the myth of Apollon and Artemis these twins fall into a different relationship that follows its cultural expression. Romans seemed to have attempted to modify the tones of the relationship a bit in the retelling of the story of Orion in which Apollon, jealous of the relationship between his twin and the hunter, tricked his sister into shooting him in a contest. Yet such jealousies in regards to the twins rarely crop up, though they are quick to defend each other and act for each other, as Artemis struck down Coronis.
Yet, there is something that ties into their relationship that reflects a reaffirmation of their unity in a vein similar to the procreative elements, and that lies mostly on the part of the maidens loved by Apollon. This is particularly the case when we see his first love, Daphne. This nymph was for all intensive purposes identical to the nature of Artemis. She too was a huntress who hunted with a band of fellow nymphs throughout Peloponnesius. Likewise, the wife of Apollon, Kyrene is also a double for Artemis in her persona and character. She too is a huntress/shepherdess who disdains the womanly arts to tend to the wilds. In fact, she was so closely associated with Artemis that she was said to have been given dogs by the goddess for her hunt. Of course there are figures who are less like Artemis with whom Apollon carries on a brief affair, but these two maidens figure prominently in his myths in Hellas, and Kyrene is the only marriage that he has had in myth, with full honors by the gods via the presence of Aphrodite creating for them their marital bed.
For Artemis there is a case, retold my Apollodorus in his the Library, in which according to an alternate version of the story of Callisto that the maiden was seduced by Zeus not in the form of Artemis, but rather in the form of Apollon. Herein we have the form of Artemis being replaced distinctly by that of Apollon. That Callisto would permit herself to be embraced by Apollon in substitution for Artemis suggests that the lines are easily blurred between what Artemis is doing, and what Apollon is doing and that for one of her followers to be embraced by Apollon was of quite a different nature than the same action being performed by another god.
I would like to reiterate that this post is not intended to say that Apollon and Artemis are one and the same in all ways, but rather that they are a male and female components of a whole for which we see too Apollon also called hunter like his twin, and Artemis as Despoina carrying on her lap the staff, likely of the kind which a shepherd would use that is aligned to the staff of Apollon Karneios. So they dance together in their cosmic actions. They do not need to be procreative, and in fact it is not necessary for their actions. Apollon is the destroyer at the boundary/gate, Artemis is the nurturing lady of the portal/doorway the huntress who drives forward all things through life. They do not need to be procreative together to do their parts harmonically as twin lights of the same function. Just their unity is brought home between the points of their twinship, and the character of the bride of Apollon. It is merely illustrated in this fashion through myth.
This ritual is adapted from my (Columbine) personal purificatory regimen, for use by any bride, lover, consort, etc., of Apollon. Of course, any devotee may use this ritual, but it was adapted with His many lovers in mind. It is not traditionally Hellenic. It is shared for the Aegletia, to be done on the First Illumination: Purification. It is to be done before bedtime.
You will need:
A clean shower or tub
White clothes and veil (optional)
Two prepared purification waters of your choice; one to drink and one to pour over the body
An anointing oil of your choice (olive oil may be used)
A prepared offering of your choice
Bay leaves, and a means of burning and containing them
**** Special diet consisting solely of fruits, breads, herbs/spices, olive oil, honey, salt and water, should be adhered to (by those able and willing) for at least twenty-four hours prior to purification ritual. ****
First, wash the body and hair, shave appropriately (if you choose to shave), then scrub down your whole body with sea salt. Do not rinse. Dry and dress in white clothes, and a loose white veil.
Approach the shrine or altar. Propitiate the Beloved. Give thanks, and praise unto Him. Unveil, and drink previously prepared inner purification water. Anoint the body with an oil that both you and Apollon find pleasing. Begin purificatory visualization, breathing exercises (optional), and chakra cleansing (optional).
Visualize the flow of water, flushing away the impurities, leaving the body clean. Visualize the same for the auric and astral bodies. Continue chakra cleansing (optional), and breathing exercises (optional), while visualizing.
Visualize yourself ascending a tall spiral staircase leading to a spiritual abode where the Beloved waits for you, becoming more pure with each upward curve toward perfection. Visualize your arrival and the Beloved’s presence enshrouding you. Repeat these words: “I am whole. I am holy. I am perfect. I am Yours.”
Commune with the Beloved.
After your communion, awaken, and give thanks and praise unto Him. Veil yourself again, and ask that He create a shield from, and a system with which to flush away all future impurities before they have the opportunity to take root. Accept His divine touch. Give thanks and praise unto Him.
Present previously prepared offering, then burn bay leaves to seal your intent. Give thanks and praise unto Him.
Now, invite the Beloved to be received into your home on the second day of the Aegletia. Leave the shrine or altar and commence rinsing body and hair in a warm bath or shower, then pour previously prepared outer purification water over your body. Dry, dress in comfortable night clothes (or not, as the case may be) and sleep.
Back during the early days, I would often mention, though not in any deep way, my affiliation with the nymph, Daphne. And although Daphne, in my understanding and doxa, was a hamadryad, it should be remembered that originally, and before her transformation, she was a naiad, a nymph of fresh Water.
So, as a tree, Water remained an important element in Daphne’s well-being, probably as much as the Earth she was rooted to. I imagine that being grounded in the way that she was, receiving her nourishment from the Earth below, was not exactly the same type of grounding that we understand today in our modern spiritual practices. I also imagine that when the sky opened up to shower her and the other trees with rain, from which moisture was needed, that it helped to wash away her troubled emotions, cleansing her and freeing her of much of the hurt and trauma she was subjected to during the pursuit from Apollon, which itself was the traumatic result of the vengeful Eros’ ire toward the God.
Water is often lauded as a carrier of emotion, and I have found this to be true in my own doxa and experience. Returning for a moment to the lore of Daphne, it is not surprising for me to realize that the pain and fear she experienced during her trial had to somehow be removed if she were ever to truly succumb to Apollon’s will. This necessarily happened after her transformation, because the perspective of a rooted tree, or hamadryad, rather than that of a free-roaming nymph allowed her to finally be embraced by Apollon’s fierce love.
Daphne must have underwent a series of dramatic purifications before she was able to accept Apollon’s love, and thus accept her fate as the vehicle of purification, through Him. In her final state, we see her in a sort of elemental convergence, where Water joins with Earth, and in turn joins with Fire as her leaves are burned to release the virginal essence still residing within her. This essence is then carried up to the realms of the Divine by Air, in the form of smoke lifting away impurities.
This, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of purification, for it is the convergence of all these elements together which fully expresses Daphne’s innate purity, which is then shared with us through the process of simply burning the bay leaves, or in another way by the preparation of khernips, which itself requires Water, sometimes salt, and usually burning herbs or bay leaves, which results in a small amount of smoke before being plunged into the Water, thus joining all of the elements.
So, in these examples, we see the importance of Water as the carrier of the pure essence of Daphne, and the vehicle through which impurities, both physical and emotional, are washed away.
For myself, as one who identifies in many important ways with Daphne, it is little wonder that Water should be so necessary in my own grounding efforts, for it is not only about the cleansing of impurities, but also the release of stagnant emotion, which through Earthen grounding alone I am unable to dispel. Thankfully, however, I was able to figure this out through meditation, trial and error, and some conversations with Apollon in which He all but hammered it into me that I am not, in fact, attuned to the Earth element in any significant way. This is made more evident in the make-up of my astrological chart, which sadly, contains zero Earth.
I’ve known this for a long time, but only recently have I put two and two together. I believe it is important for us as practitioners to be aware of the nuances of our elemental natures, and to take these nuances into account when attempting even the most basic of spiritual activities, such as grounding and centering. If we try to adhere to forms which are less compatible with our natures, we may likely find our efforts wasted, leading to more feelings of inadequacy and other negative emotions. It becomes a cycle of self-deprecation that can never help to improve our capabilities in the areas we wish to improve upon.
So, what does grounding through Water (for lack of an appropriate Water-based term) look like? For me, it may begin with visualization, as do many Earthen grounding techniques, but instead of visualizing a connection to the Earth itself, I see a pool of ground Water seeping up to cover my feet, or my entire body if I’m feeling particularly needy. I then try to synchronize the movement and flow of this visualized Water with that of my blood. Through concentration, the Water which comprises so much of my physical form then becomes inseparable from the visualized Water. It is at this point where I am able to release the pent up emotion, which is washed swiftly away, soaking deep into the Earth, along with the visualization.
There are other, more immediately physical ways to engage with Water in this way, such as running cool tap Water over one’s hands, then releasing the unwanted energy; or swimming, particularly in the ocean and other natural bodies of Water; and even standing outside during a heavy rainstorm. All of these I’ve found to be effective, and I will continue to experiment with other techniques as they present themselves, and as the need arises.
I love all of you ladies, so much. Let us usher in the seventh Aegletia, of this sixth year of the Treasury, with joy and pride in our accomplishments.
The first Aegletia occurred five months before the formation of the Treasury, thus its celebration was the prelude to our Sisterhood, and is acknowledged as one of our most important festivals.
So, Sisters, let us begin again, with this feeling of love and perseverance among us.
Even as our Lord traverses the world during His flight North, we will welcome and honor Him in our hearts and homes. We will bring Him joy at the end of one Season, and the beginning of the next. And our Lord will return our joy tenfold, come Spring.
Peace and Love to you, my Sisters. Love and Praise, always, to Apollon!
The stars have known Him longer, known His blinding force, His unruly heat. The stars, they have seen His ebb and flow over unspeakable millennia– have burned in their love for Him for just as long.
The stars are companions like no others. They live, and they yearn for Him. And in their pining, they are long-lived, so experience Him in ways so full that we mayn’t dare to imagine.
The stars, they are larger than us– infinitely so. They contain parts of His soul that mortals would die, and altogether cease to be, from their exposure.
The stars, they are not fragile, nor are they demure. And Apollon burns with them in their raunchy, rauchuous, roaring inferno. O, He is the very cause of it, I’m sure– in His ecstatic totality.
The stars, they nourish His need for destruction, and they slake His thirst for creation– exploding, and forming in clouds of death. The cycle of living and dying, and birthing new life– to burn for Him, to burn with Him.
The stars have known Him longer, and their adoration has sustained Him through the darkness of humanity’s past. They were never made to forget Him. They have never forsaken Him. The stars have shone His light unflinchingly.
The stars, O what they can teach us about constancy, about fortitude, about unrelenting desire. They, in their marvellous abode, void of all but Him, in darkness and in light.
The stars, they have known Him longer, and loved Him harder than we could, for our lives are fleeting, gone in the space of an instant as they watch from above. But from them, we may learn of a love that has endured since time began.
Among the Deathless Ones, Apollon is probably the one whose reputation has been more tarnished by modern rereadings of the myths. Today He is often remembered with adjectives like petty, temperamental, indifferent to mortals’ plights, fickle… when He is not equaled to Nietzche’s ideal of strict and frigid rationality, He’s frequently defined as an adolescently immature and delicate god, going from one extreme to its polar opposite.
While each one of those stereotypical representations is distant from Apollon’s true nature, He is indeed a god of sharp-edged extremes, as it is beautifully demonstrated by his two main attributes – the lyre and the bow – showing that compassionate generosity and ruthless violence find both expression in His character.
This is more evident than in Apollon’ s mythic stories of tragic love.
We have three themes that recur in Apollon’s loves – the first is the ‘escape’, where the god pursues – and most specifically, He chases, like a predator, like the wolf that is His animal counterpart– the object of His love until He catches up to Them, eventually. The most famous example is the nymph Daphne, his very first love, who to escape Him is turned into a laurel tree and still is chosen to be His crown, but Kastalia’s story has just the same meaning. Like Daphne, Kastalia is a nymph who spurned Apollon’s love transformed herself, turning her body into a pool of water to escape his restless pursuit. Yet, her waters were the ones who inspired Delphi’s priestesses and there they were used to cleanse the temple. Therefore she too became a powerful tool of the god, regardless her initial resistance.
Kyrene’s case is a little different – the Thessalian princess is seized and spirited away to Libya, where she gives into Apollon and conceives with Him a son, yet the basic construct of Apollon’s pursuit remains – there’s a sense of the lover being ‘hunted’ from the god that I found to be common enough among Apollon’s chosen servants. And indeed how can one to not run from Apollon, when first faced with the unrelenting focus of the god’ interest? There’s an intensity to it that burns and consumes and while you are inevitably drawn to it, like a moth to the flame, the instinctual response is still ‘run or you will get scorched’.
The second pattern is maybe the most evident – death and transformation. If you look to Apollon’ s involvement with Ciparissus and Hyacinth in particular, the god’s presence and love somehow triggers their death and following transfiguration into plants that reflect their deeper nature. Hyacinth and Ciparisuss are immortalized through and in Apollon’ s love- He leads them to the death of the old self and into enlightenment, making them an example of what happens when one’s calling to Apollon is embraced completely and to the god’s satisfaction.
The third pattern has the god offering gifts to His prospective lovers and turning them into curses when they don’t maintain their promise of offering themselves to Him in return. Cassandra receives the gift of prophecy and The Sybil an incredibly long life, yet they both refuse to give themselves to Him.
Faithful to His role of preserver of lawful order, Apollon stands by his side of the contract and instead of withdrawing those gifts, He makes impossible for Cassandra and the Sybil to enjoy them. In those instances, I see Apollon acting more like a judge, punishing those who dare to break a contract with a god, than a jilted admirer, especially looking at how for Olympians, hubris was the very worst sin one could commit toward deity.
On a more figurative interpretation, we might say that as a deity responsible for the Mastery Of Self, Apollon acts opening His followers to the development of their best qualities in service to their community –both Cumae’s Sybil and Cassandra were seers and His priestesses, after all- so to shut the Self out of His favor has those qualities He has bestowed on it grow wild and out control, so they are no longer a tool of improvement for the community but a reason to be isolated from it.
This is not a denial of His harsher tempers, naturally. The flaying of Marsyas is not the only mythical proof of Apollon’ s capacity for ruthless punishments – Koronis ‘s betrayal with the mortal Ischys is soon rewarded with death, upon His request if not by His hand. That episode contrasts somewhat with Marpessa’s and Chione’s examples. As Apollon is shown to share Chione freely with His brother Hermes and to accept Marpessa’s choice of the mortal Idas over Him, the purpose of Koronis’ story is not merely portraying Apollon as a possessive god (although He’s quite able to claim the major part of His devotees time or attention). As it suits to someone who is directly concerned with law-giving, the worst of Apollon’ s rage is reserved to those behave falsely and /or with hubris.