The familial lineage of Apollon can tell us much about Him, and about His sphere of influence. Today, we will take a look at Apollon’s Grandparents, Phoebe and Koios, Their domains and the legacy They have left to Apollon, and to Their other Grandchildren.
Koios is the Titan of the Axis of the Heavens, who is traditionally and commonly today seen as governing over the point of the North, in which He personified the pillar of the North, which, along with His Brothers, the Titans Krios (South), Iapetos (East), and Hyperion (West), held up the body of the Heavens (Ouranos).
It is surmised that, as Koios presided over the Axis of the Heavens, the point at which the constellations of the Heavens revolved, He may also have been a God who presided over Heavenly oracles. This could provide further meaning to His name, meaning “the inquiring”, in that an inquiring mind seeks to understand the movement of the body of the Heavens, through such noble pursuits as study and observation (Astronomy/Astrology), as well as seeking the word of the Divine through an oracular vehicle when the information sought is of a more spiritual bent. Also, as His domain is of the North, it is feasible to speculate that the seat of His domain may have been the legendary Hyperborea, the land of eternal summer, which lies further North than the gates of Boreas, or, beyond the North Wind.
Phoebe, on the other hand, was the Titaness who governed and ruled over the Axis of the Earth, Delphi, also called the Navel of the World. She received Delphi from Themis, who in turn received the prophetic seat from Gaea, Earth Herself, the oracular tradition at Delphi already having been long established by the time of Phoebe’s ascent. Phoebe’s name means “radiant prophesy, or purity”, and may give a clue as to Her function at the oracle.
For one to dispense the infallible word of the Theoi, one must be pure and ready to receive the radiance of the Theoi into oneself. Phoebe may have acted as a kind of Divine bridge from which the sybils learned how to properly treat themselves before and during the oracular possession. Before Her, Themis ruled the oracle, and Hers is the domain of Divine Law, Justice and Morality. She would likely have been concerned more with the absorbtion of decrees handed down to the people (through the sybils) by the Gods, rather than the giving of specific and personal advice. Once Phoebe had been established as the head of the oracular seat, by Her very nature the focus of the oracle would have changed to suit a more open and receptive dynamic between Goddess and sybil.
Furthermore, we can see that the joining of Koios and Phoebe would produce a specific set of traits, handed down in fact to Their Daughters, Leto and Asteria, which would have seamlessly married the domain of the Heavens with that of not only Earth, but with the bright radiance of illumination in all forms.
Leto, whose name may mean “the unseen”, is the Mother of Apollon and Artemis by Zeus. She is the Goddess of the light between night and day, of the twilight, and as such is often veiled, obscuring the truth of her full potency from those who may not yet be ready to look upon such things. With Her Sister, Asteria, Mother of Hekate by Perses, She arrived in the lands held by the Olympians, having come from the North. Specifically, Hyperborea, which later Apollon would come to rule for half the year. Asteria, whose name means “falling stars”, may have been seen as a Goddess of the signs and portends of the night sky (Astrology), as well as of the Divine inspirations of Oneiromancy.
Leto passes down Her radiance to Apollon and Artemis both, who in later times were said to be representative of the Sun and Moon. Although, it should be noted that the idea that They have somehow usurped the domains of Helios and Selene are entirely false. Apollon and Artemis are torch-bearing Gods who deal in the illumination of truth– both the truth of the mind and logic (Apollon), and the truth of one’s nature and the natural world (Artemis). Naturally, light becomes a metaphor for these truths, thus the Twins are seen to govern the properties of light. This perceived governance in no way detracts from the domains of Helios or Selene, who are the physical bodies of the Sun and Moon, respectively.
Apollon becomes the light which purifies and casts away all evil– and of course, that which burns if we look upon it for too long a time; and Artemis becomes the subtle light that aids in the darkness, the light by which the farmers may still gather their crop after nightfall. These are all the Divine radiance of Phoebe, inherited by the Twins through Their Mother, Leto.
Asteria, who walks often in the company of Nyx, is however, typically seen to represent the shadow, the dark which obscures the truth before illumination, or the dreamscape which reveals hidden messages. As dreams, and thus sleep, are often thought of in tandem with death, the final sleep, Asteria passes down these Mysteries to Her Daughter, Hekate.
Hekate, whose name means “worker from afar”, is another torch-bearing God, this time illuminating the way of the Dead into the Underworld. Along with Her deep associations with necromancy and other forms of magic, this may help to explain the truth of Her name. The restless dead which Hekate escorts are of a nature long considered miasmic. Hekate purifies the living by removing the dead from in and around living spaces. Wandering spirits, and spirits who cling to their loved ones in their dwelling places, are gathered up into Her retinue, where they either remain with Her, or are taken into Hades to complete their journey. She gathers the souls of living folk, as well, if they are unfortunate enough to cross Her path, especially during the Dark Moon.
Perhaps this is why She is the worker from afar. Her domain takes Her, and thus those dedicated to Her, into realms far removed from the works of the everyday man or woman. She lives within the company of the Dead, and so one may communicate with the Dead, through Her. The oracular power of Hekate comes from the Khthonic realm, deep within Earth (Gaea), the first source of the oracular gift.
However, we must not forget that Hekate holds equal dominion over Earth, Sky and Sea, a vast domain inherited from Her Titan Parents, much as Apollon and Artemis both hold sway over vast arrays of the natural and civilized worlds. Indeed, the Twins and Their Cousin hold Their torches high to illuminate all spaces of the fathomable world. Their power runs deep, poured out from the Heavens, and welled up from the Earth. They are the nexus at which the Ouranic and Khthonic converge. They are the legacy of Koios and Phoebe.
Sources: Various Theoi.com pages used for reference, but mostly my own insights.
I see Her there, seated upon the exposed root of a great and aged tree, its leaves turning the colors of blood and fire. She is in Her element, upon Her throne, a visage of civilization still apparent, yet noticeably porous; the act during the feast.
Her host, Her court, all make wide circles within their crowded space, trying to come ever closer to Her, but She is the distance between the stars, and none can traverse the few steps separating them from Her.
In that area, Her Son stands vigil, staring the crowd into submission. He will not allow any to draw near, and delights in the power to instill fear within those who love Her.
She laughs, having been brought to joy by the appearance of Her Daughter, wild and freely dancing with the forest nymphs. They circle Her, and the great tree with hands clasped together.
And Her Son turns to look upon them all, to smile in that sincere way that would cause a mortal heart to stop. And His Sister dares Him with Her haughty eyes.
With one graceful wave of Her delicate arm, the Mother, the Enthroned One, compels the crowd to stillness, while simultaneously inviting Her Son to rule the dance.
And when He takes up His lyre, the forest falls into silence. When He plucks the strings, all the nymphs and spirits swoon. When His voice carries over the tree canopy, all those gathered are entranced.
And She, upon Her throne, is pleased; served sweet water by the creatures of the forest, while nymphs adorn Her golden hair with night-blooming flowers, each as white as the snows which soon will fall.
This is the court of the Dark Mother, this is the feast of the wild things which dwell in the night. This is the host which follows Her over the threshold between Seasons. And this is the stark beauty of life.
Hail to You, Leto, Glorious Mother, and Mistress of Winter’s long nights.
— Columbine [Aegletia, Day 4]
I have to be honest. Artemis terrifies me. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really tried to have a relationship with Her and I feel like that may cause Her to dislike me. I know that She looks at me harshly sometimes, but that’s on me. There are many things which I could improve upon just to satisfy Her Brother more, and She knows that, and probably would rather I change my behavior than continue on not doing what I should to please Him. But that’s only one possible reason.
In my youth, I spent a lot of time with Hekate, but none at all with Artemis. I know that many of Their attributes intersect, and I wonder if the things I could have been learning from Artemis at that time were actually being taught by Hekate. It could be, though I do recall having sort of a passing interest in Her, that was due mainly to the general Pagan scene in my area, which was very much rooted in Goddess Spirituality. Artemis was always very popular in those communities. However, it never really went anywhere. I probably just didn’t know enough about the authentic Artemis for Her to be interested, especially since I was so thoroughly steered away from Reconstructionism at the time.
[I am not a Reconstructionist now, by the way, and I never have been. But, if I had not been so put off by the (probably exaggerated) stories I’d heard from other Pagans, it probably wouldn’t have taken so long for me to find my way to Polytheism.]
But what excuse do I have now? Well, none actually. I get a little shaky and apprehensive when I acknowledge that fact, because it means I have to do something to initiate and maintain a relationship with Her. And She’s still terrifying, but you know, when it comes right down to it, all the Gods and Goddesses are terrifying. So, what exactly is it that keeps me from delving into Her lore as readily as I delved into Apollon’s, or Dionysos’, or Zeus’?
I don’t have an answer yet for that. When I remember my younger years, especially those before I became a teenager, I can clearly see similarities between myself and Her. I was wild thing, at least in my own mind. I had a very strict mother, who didn’t put up with many of the things my sister had gotten away with before me. But deep in my heart, I felt more like some beast living its life free in the mountains. Oh, how I wanted to live a life like that! To be alone, and to roam one’s habitat without any expectation other than that of survival…
Of course, looking back on it from the perspective of an adult, I can see how terribly naive I was. I wouldn’t have lasted an hour, let alone a day, trying to subsist by myself in any fashion, anywhere. And indeed, Artemis is not alone. She may be free, She may be Her own Person, She may never, ever have to depend upon Anyone, but She is far from alone. And I doubt She would even want to be.
All of this is what’s been churning in my mind today, as we welcome Artemis into our homes for the third day of Aegletia. I know She has arrived here, because I very much feel like these thoughts were not instigated by me. Up until I awoke this morning, I hadn’t given all that much thought on how I would personally try to relate to Her today.
Certainly I’d devised some activities to share with my daughter, but that’s about as far as it went. There were no elaborate offerings planned, just some nice words and a quick prayer as I crawled out of bed. There was no desire for meditating on Her nature, because as I’ve said before, She’s terrifying, and She’d already been too close for comfort by having haunted my dreams last night. But, that could never be enough, could it? No. I don’t think so.
And that is why I have written the following brief prayer to show Her honor. Though I doubt I will have any kind of deep interaction with Her in the near future, what with my wimpiness when it comes to Her energy, I can begin to scratch at the surface of things unsaid, and things undone.
Brave Artemis, who did not shy away, even as the pangs of childbirth swept over Her Mother, I honor You, who with deft hands only just born, delivered the Light of the World into the world.
Confident Artemis, so sure of Her prowess, who did ask Her Father to sanction Her enviable freedom, I honor You, who roams the wild woman spaces, collecting the free maidens and keeping them free.
Loyal Artemis, who loves Her Brother beyond knowing, I honor you, who by some versions released the arrow which pierced the heart of unfaithful Koronis, thus protecting the Bright One’s honor.
Fierce Artemis, who, along with Her Brother, destroyed an entire clan for their offensive insult toward Their Mother, I honor you and the drive to mete out justice.
Artemis, I thank you for all that you do to keep the Cosmic Order. I thank you for the strength that you provide to women in need; all those who seek for your guidance. I thank you for the protection of the young, those like my own child, who know you well. And I thank you kindly for the light which you reflect, that of your dear Brother, shining magnificently upon this world.
Hail to you, Beloved Artemis! Hail and Praise!
— Columbine [Aegletia, Day 3]