Grounding, Daphne, and Elemental Convergence

“Daphne”, by Guangjian Huang.

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.

— Columbine

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Of Lycia and Hyperborea

“Landscape with Aeneas at Delos”, by Claude Lorrain.

 

I have written often of Apollon’s term in Hyperborea. Of course when it comes to the cycles of Apollon in Hyperborea there are scholarly discussions of the god traveling to Hyperborea only once every 9 years, thus uniting it with the 9 year cycle of the original organization of the Pythian Games. This would be before the games were later reorganized in four year periods like those of the Olympic games. Now if these scholars are correct and the games were synchronized with the departure and return of Apollon to Delphi then would have his absence in Hyperborea been moved by the Delphians to coincide with the new date of the games? I don’t think anyone has successful answered this to my satisfaction.

Largely among modern worshipers we honor it as a yearly event, which seems to be inspired by a departure and return which we have from Delos. At Delos we have a mingling of the Hyperborean myth with that of the Lycian myth in which Apollon both returns from Hyperborea, with the maidens, and the Old Man of Lycia is paramount, who not only returns Apollon from Lycia to Delos, but also attends to the building of the temple of Apollon at Delphi with the Hyperborean men (at least one of whom, Agyieus, is Apollon…but quite likely both are used symbolically to represent different manifestations of Apollon as the builder of Delphi). For as most are probably familiar, Leto, after birthing her children on Delos, proceeds to carry them to the Xanthus in Lycia. This journey is also bound up in the tale of the Lycian frogs, as well as the unification of Xanthus with Apollon, Artemis and Leto in the forces preserving Troy in the Iliad.

In Delian tradition, despite its early history with the myth of Hyperborea, we have a yearly departure of Apollon to Lycia, where Apollon had his winter oracle. Thus the year was divided equally between Delos and in Lycia on the division of the year by the equinoxes. I think that this seasonal abode of the god for half of the year is also what is chiefly tied to the idea presented by Pausanias from Arcadia, of Apollon being one of two seasonal gods. This, from spring equinox to the autumn equinox, is the time of the year in which Apollon’s domain is acting in nature the strongest. If I remember correctly the Delian calendar differed from the Attic calendar in that it began its year on the Noumenia following the equinox, whereas in the Doric calendar it followed the autumnal equinox. With the case of Delos this makes particular sense as the year begins with the return of Apollon from Lycia.

Lycia of course has an interesting place in all of this. Like what is speculated of Hyperborea, Lycia is a very real place, but also serves as a kind of spiritual place as well. Apollon when called the one who is born in Lycia, the Lycian lord, refers perhaps less to the physical place Lycia, but rather to that Apollon is born in light (as Lycia, refers to wolf, from which we get the myths of Leto being led to Xanthus by wolves, and light just as much as Apollon’s epithet Lykeios). In all regards we see Lycia being accounted as sacred to Apollon as much as Hyperborea has been attributed. In the Iliad the people of Lycia were considered particularly those people of Apollon in a manner I find common with the views regarding the Hyperboreans.

This is not to suggest that Lycia and Hyperborea are the same place, though descriptions following the Orphic Argonautika and academic studies does suggest a possible link of Hyperborea with eastern Europe following along the Danube river to the North. So it is *possible* that there may have been an idea of a relationship between the eastern Lycians and the Hyperboreans who were said to have traveled initially to Delos. That we have the Old Man of Lycia appearing with the Hyperboreans in Delian myth does give a certain strength to this, as with the arrival of Apollon with the Hyperborean maidens, knowing that Apollon has traveled to Lycia in the Delian cycle. So perhaps it was conceived that Hyperborea was located in close proximity to Lycia, or within reasonable distance to each other that would bring the Lycians and Hyperboreans in company together in their legendary arrival to Delos.

Whether Delphi eventually picked up this yearly calendar of Apollon’s movement from Delos is rather unknown, though most modern worshipers tend to experience and worship it as a yearly event rather than following the Delphic calendar in which Apollon was gone for a year once every nine years. It is possible that Delphi, after the movement of the games, altered their celebrations of the movement of the mythos. I have suggested before that people who want to incorporate both Hyperborea and Lycia in their worship of Apollon can do so without any problems. Either by observing  yearly trip to Lycia and then every nine years a Hyperborean trip, or by linking the concepts of the travel to Hyperborea and Lycia. If there is anything in any probability of a relationship between Lycia and Hyperborea then it may make further sense to do so.

We can thus celebrate Apollon who is in abode of the light, where the gardens of Hyperborea flourish, where the swans sing, where gold deer graze, and there dwelling people beloved by Apollon, in a land abundant in fruits and holy grain in this glorious land. Which has less to do with geography and more to do with ongoing spiritual symbolism and the kingdom of Apollon in general. And as scholars have been confounded by the lack of evidence in the geographical regions that are ascribed to Lycia, or rather a lack of early period evidence of the kind that would back up such a physical transmission, it is quite plausible that Lycia was treated in terms much like that of Hyperborea. Mostly conceptualized in a spiritual direction, inspired by a place and people rather than Apollon literally taking up residence every winter in Lycia. Thus his oracle was therefore probably viewed in the same concept of being “away,” without it actually being moved to another physical location. As such the symbolism between what is going on with Hyperborea and that going on with Lycia is united in its ideology.

— Lykeia (12/26/2012)

Apollon and the Minotaur

Asterion, the Minotaur. Found via Google.

I have often wondered at the image on Apollon’s throne in which Theseus leads of the Minotaur bound in chains. Pausanias apparently was also curious about this since he remarked specifically on it being a curious matter since myth usually has Theseus slaying the Minotaur. That it is something specifically depicted on the throne, and I find that the decoration of the thrones of the gods—like that of Zeus at Olympia as well as that of Apollon at Amyclae—are very specific towards the domain of the gods and their influence in the cosmos that plays out in myth. So I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my thoughts on the relationship between Apollon and the Minotaur.

First we know that Apollon is connected to bulls, though perhaps not as strongly as other animals that are a part of his cult. In fact his relationship with the bull seems to come from a very specific role he plays in his interaction with the earth. There are many examples of him being honored with bulls or oxen, being depicted with ox skulls, as a herding god etc. We also know Apollon as the son of Zeus, the great bull of the heavens. That Zeus provided a bull for the sacrifice to Poseidon we see a connection between the divine bull connected to the welfare of the people. Pasiphae, who herself culticallly is connected to lunar oracles and a daughter of Helios, became enamored with this bull, however, and was able to achieve union with the bull. Thus moisture and light mingled to create the Minotaur, the bull of Minos, also named Asterion (starry one).

Now Asterion/the Minotaur was, according to Theoi.com associated specifically with the constellation of Taurus, which is aligned to Aphrodite. This is hardly any surprise to see this coming into play as Aphrodite did play a rather large part in the tale of the Minotaur and of the trial of Theseus in the labyrinth. However the bull here, in relation to her domain, represents the harmonic order that is achieved. The hero, through the love of Ariadne, wins the freedom of his people and the restoration of balance from the human tithing to Crete in myth. As a spiritual journey of Theseus he comes to bull at the center of the labyrinth, defeats it, and emerges again from the depths remade. The harmonic alignment between Ariadne and Theseus made this possible, for it was her aide that aided him through her dancing floor. Aphrodite led the way to the Minotaur, she was his guide. He passed through and achieved the state of harmony. Thus the bull is an important symbol of Aphrodite here in this sense because she is what allowed him to overcome the bull. Or in the case of the throne of Apollon, to yoke the bull and master it.

Now I have spoken of the labyrinth before, and its connections to Zeus and Apollon in different coinage. The labyrinth being called the dancing floor of Ariadne is something specific in the mysteries when it comes to Apollon, because he is the leader of the mystic chorus, just as his sister is specifically referred to in title. Pausanias, when speaking of the beautiful dancing floors of Panopolis in Phocis, says that while there was little of Panopolis to literally warrant this description, states that it comes from the Thyiades who performed their dances all throughout the countryside. Now the Thyiades are called after Thyia, the first worshiper of Dionysos on Parnassos, but also a lover of Apollon. As Apollon instructs and leads the chorus, particularly in the mysteries as pertaining to Dionysos, it is reasonable that Delphic versions that made her the mother of Delphus are particular in indicating that she likely performed the mystic dance on the instruction of Apollon. Likewise the dance, the so-called Crane dance, was performed in Delos by Theseus and taught to their people was an imitation of the inward and outward movements of the labyrinth, and was performed specifically for Apollon and Aphrodite, who in the myth, led the way through via Ariadne. The connection between the domains of Aphrodite and Apollon on Delos was enough that they say that Theseus left the statue of Aphrodite that Daedalus had made for Ariadne, as a votive gift to Apollon. Apollon there receives Aphrodite on his sacred island.

So when we take a look at the Minotaur. We see that the bull is achieved by Aphrodite. But the Minotaur itself becomes a symbol associated with the domain of Apollon. I guess here now I can see why perhaps the bull was aligned to Apollon as his sacred beast previously. The Minotaur is the guardian of the labyrinth, he is acting as Apollon acts as the god of the boundaries. Theseus must overcome the Minotaur in order to pass through this immortal gate and ascend as a greater soul. Just as Marsyas won against Apollon in the musical contest. He wasn’t slain by Apollon for the daring, but was rather transformed, though rather brutally in the myth, for matching against Apollon. Theseus matches against the Minotaur and because of the harmonic guidance of Aphrodite, he is able to yoke the Minotaur. Of course on Apollon’s throne, as the Minotaur is a symbol of Apollon’s domain, a”monster” of his domain as much as Medusa is linked to Athena, the Minotaur would not be depicted as slain, but rather indicates to divinity of Theseus by mastering the primal nature of Apollon in contest against his soul. Apollon, after all, is quite serious about the boundary which is guards as we know from a number of myths!

Thus we establish the Minotaur is the sacred monster of Apollon, bright, just Apollon is bright, the son of the sacred bull, whom is the creature of his domain as represented mythically as this spiritual barrier the soul must cross. If Pasiphae was indeed an early Cretan representation of Selene, it seems to me that it makes a stronger connection between the death and renewal associated with the moon in symbolism with the labyrinth and the story of the labyrinth, and that which plays in the cult of Apollon wherein Apollon is a destroyer and also connected to the Noumenia, as god of the new month reborn. In a sense Theseus’ emergence from the labyrinth is much akin to the nature of the Noumenia in this fashion. In a sense we can see the Minotaur either identified with Apollon to a degree, or as a servant of Apollon on earth.

— Lykeia

Of Fish, Dolphins and Frogs

“Latona and the Frogs”, by Francesco Trevisani.

Since I have been speaking recently of liminal animals, particularly that of goats, dogs, and wolves in recent posts, I thought I might take a moment to address another that is perhaps often overlooked…and that is the aquatic animals and their relationship to various gods. Poseidon as the god of the sea (and thus also the space in between the extremes) is most notable for being associated with such creatures in everything from fish and dolphins to mythological creatures such as seamonsters and hippocampi (seahorses in the most literal sense). These creatures are as such associated with the boundary between the world of men, and the unknown world as expressed by the unfathomable depths to which men did not (and still to some degree do not) have access. As such we see also dolphins carrying Proserpina in Italian art depicting her return, and we have images of Aphrodite riding upon a dolphin as she emerges in her birth from the sea. And we have Apollon who takes the form of a dolphin as a guide and is honored as Delphinus in respect to his dolphin form that he takes. This similar idea can also be expressed by the fish oracle of Apollon at Patara, Lycia. The presence of the dolphin in the cult of Apollon is fairly well known, and it is unsurprising that a god connected as he is with ports/harbors, mariners etc would not have strong aquatic associations in the means of sacred animals and even oracular forms if the sea is the liminal point between between worlds and Apollon is a god which traverses them both easily and illuminates the unknown. And then we have goddesses who take finned forms themselves such as Aphrodite Syria, and Artemis Eurynome of Arkadia.

Though Pausanias expresses some doubt as to how Artemis Eurynome can actually be Artemis, he does remark that the people of the area are quite firm in their belief that this is Artemis, and thus we can see that the name Eurynome is an epithet of her in this capacity which assigns attributes of the sea goddess specifically to this inland cult of Artemis where two important streams met. Euyrnome is by and large associated with the parallel functions of Artemis at the aquatic level over “pastures” as well as functions as a kind of divine nurse wherein Eurynome literally receives and nurses the infant Hephaistos after he was flung from Olympos. This daughter of Okeanos may compare in some fashion with the version of myths in which Artemis is attributed to parentage of Demeter and Poseidon…which though most strongly attested at Eleusis, is also evident symbolically by the close association with the horse that the goddess enjoys through the Pelponnese and her close association with particular rivers and springs in myth can reflect this alternative parenthood that clearly serves a very strong symbolic purpose. Thus it is of little surprise that she is thus honored at the meeting place of the Lymax (After-Birth…the source of which is the place where the infant Zeus was delivered and Rhea was bathed after his birth) where it falls into the Neda. Though Artemis is considered mythically a daughter of Zeus, we often see Artemis and Apollon, and Athena too in some myths, attributed to pre-Olympian manifestations…thus Apollon as a father of the Korybantes who cared for the infant Zeus it is not difficult imagine Artemis, the divine nurse, associated with the river related to the birth of Zeus. Especially as the Okeanid Neda was specifically one of the nymphs who cared for Zeus, which likely made this spot where the worship of Artemis Eurynome carried related to this connection of receiving and “nursing” the god. Kallimachus specifies how Neda secreted the infant Zeus away  to place him in the care of the Melian nymphs and the Kuretes that would raise him. Overall this place is then associated with two things…the delivering of Zeus after his birth and the purification of the mother by bathing.

Lewis Farnell in his The Cults of the Greek States talks briefly of the cult of Artemis under the Lacodaemons which honored Artemis as the nurse of the hyacinth, for which we may also see a parallel worship with the festival celebrated by the nurses of boys in secrecy in the same land every year…which again connects with a liquid, fluid nature of the goddess which nurtures even as she is the goddess of the wooded pasturelands. Likewise as a goddess of mariners she bringer of all to haven, or port (something which is specifically attributed to Apollon as god of ports) even as she may hunt her prey through her woods…she brings all to their destination. Therefore there is likely some very important association with the destination of these two meeting of springs that is being here honored which is connecting with the fluid nursing character of Artemis. And yet a nod to her woodland aspect as cypresses planted all about the temple to Artemis Eurynome, the mermaid formed Artemis wrapped in golden chains. Such similar associations between the woodland and the aquatic realm is the device of the net which is used to secure both prey hunted on land, and fish hunted from the depths of the sea for which have other associations of Artemis with epithets of Dictynna and Britomartis.

And that finally brings us to the frogs. Aristophanes has a chorus of frogs, caretakers of the reeds, that praise in their song the following liminal gods: Artemis, Pan, Apollon and Dionysos from where they dwell in the underworld (perhaps another association of frogs inhabiting lower levels of water that may be associated with the underworld). These are the same animals which are renowned in myth in which Leto, in her travel through Lycia, transformed shepherds (or in some version villagers man, woman and child all) into frogs for rejecting her attempts to bathe her children there in their waters. This bathing of Artemis and Apollon by this myth is of particular importance, and we see it too in that Xanthus, in whose water Apollon is bathed is held in high esteem and all of Patara is honored. As Leto also has strong associations with the underworld in Lycia and Asia minor it carries a strong portal symbolism too between life and death, which brings to mind the Egyptian frog goddess Heqet who presided over births. Likewise the symbolism of the bathing carries further in which we see both Artemis and Athena exacting punishment for being spied upon in their baths, for in which case for Artemis is one of her most commonly known myths that it resulted in the death of Actaeon whereas for Athena the blinded violator was given the gift of prophecy. Therefore we see the watery realm symbolism further associated with this idea of foresight (for which we can understand Poseidon’s oracles as well), purification (on the part of the goddesses in myth), and transformation as typically the water is what is used as the vehicle of delivering the punishment. Frogs are very important to this transformative nature of water because it is in the water that this transformation occurs that allows them to go from living solely beneath the water to be able to emerge from it. This naturally brings to mind Plato’s Phaedo I believe it was in which our heavens are described as being like the sea of a higher world (my paraphrase here)…and therefore this transcendence can also imply emerging into a higher state too. Which may explain in part the importance of the frog symbolism that it was carved on the doors of Delphi according to Plutarch.

Thus whether it is possessing a fish’s tail, or taking the form of a marine creature, as symbolically related to specific aquatic animals, it delivers a wealth of meaning potential within it.

— Lykeia

Apollon, and Owning Your Own Shit

“Apollo Belvedere”, Roman copy of bronze Greek original, by Leochares.

It may not have escaped the notice of many devotees that those who belong to Apollon reflect our god, just as you find with other devotees to varying degrees. As such, while we can be great listeners and healers, we aren’t your crutch or going to give you platitudes to please you. Apollon is the lord of truth. Part of that is frankly owning your own shit/personal accountability for your own behavior and being. You are expected to act like a responsible adult, not lie, whine or emotionally blackmail. If you need help and ask for it he will be there to give some comfort and support. If you expect him to step in and coddle you and bend over backwards to protect your feelings, you are in for a disappointment.

Cassandra broke her vow and had to deal with the shit storm of consequences. When Cruesa breaks down and goes into a temper tantrum, Apollon distances himself from it. He sent Herakles to serve a term of slavery to resolve a blood debt. Frequently exiled murderers. Apollon brings all that you plant into fruition, so the word of advice is watching what you sow because you will be reaping it. It is not his job, or that of those who are his, to be your personal champions or knight in shining armor. He is not a knight. He is a mirror. What you see is not always pretty, but it is something that can help you grow and develop if you choose to accept it as such.

Myth has a history of people blaming Apollon because they don’t like how shit turned out when near him. Orestes blamed Apollon for the truth of the Oracle given to him. Cruesa blamed Apollon for the loss of her son that she chose to abandon. The Erinyes blamed Apollon because they were loosing influence in favor of his domain. Apollon is a destroyer god. Herakles had a tantrum and tried to steal the tripod because Apollon was going to make him deal with his own shit storm he created for himself, and not going to make it easier for him by giving him an oracle. He burns out the infection so that one can heal. That means labors and trials. That means getting dirty and facing shit you don’t like to face. To face your own vulnerabilities and shadows. He will even give you a hand and light it up so you can get an even better glimpse of that stuff you don’t want to even look at.

He won’t protect your ego or sensitivities. Rarely will one who is devoted to him do so either… it seems to be a trait fairly commonly passed on to those who are his. It is not personal, anymore than a storm is personal. That said, if you are having trouble coping with these things you are presented, reach out a hand and ask for help. He is generous and kind, even if it may not be the exact response that you wanted.

I have had to rub elbows with owning my own shit in my relationship with him for some time now. My life, my spiritual growth and welfare, my identity as a person, keeping my word and honor… all of these things and more I am responsible for, even when it is not easy. Especially when it is not easy. Friction is necessary.

— Lykeia (5/03/2018)

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)

Arrows

Flying
High over the trees
And striking
Clean through the hearts
Of the young boys

Running
They are running
Screaming in terror
Confused by the wrath
Of a God

Tearing
Straight through
And ripping
The flesh from soft bones
Not yet hardened by life

Falling
Hard upon the ground
So warm
Red and pooling
Soaking in deep

Wailing
Throaty and rasping
Keening to the sound
Of bodies thrashing
And convulsing their last

Silence
Quiet and still
Red eyes
Soaking in a red scene
Everything lost to hubris

— Columbine