Changes, Transformations and Purifications

“The Birth of Diana and Apollo”, by the Workshop of Giulio Romano.

There are many gods which I think fairly should be recognized for changes and transformations that occur in life. We experience many such changes as we go along from the moment we enter into the world, beginning our days with a small collection of deities that address the welfare of the young, with an ever expanding number of deities getting involved at different life stages as if through a sort of evolutionary progress of one’s life. Yet the key deities almost always involved consistently are Apollon and Artemis (and to a degree their mother Leto) which I consider, in connection to my post regarding their domains as gods of the action of nature as destroying and nurturing forces. In many ways this links to their very real historic cult associations with significant life changes. As I have many new changes coming into my life, with another new baby on the way, and moving into our new (and more permanent) home, has made this kind of a fixture in my mind lately in my relationships with them.

Apollon and Artemis are the premier deities of the newly born. Whether this be the newly born month (Apollon Noumenios, and some have also taken to calling Artemis as Noumenia), the newly born child over which the guard and care-take from being taken prematurely into death during its most tender days, as well as the significant changes of maturing into adulthood and the marital rites (which participation during their youth in the cults of these deities were blessed by marriage as adults). Even their positions at the doorway enters into this, as we enter and exit into new states of being every time we pass our threshold with the very different environments of being within one’s home under the protection of the household gods, and outside interacting in the world outside of the household which had more threats to one’s well-being. To enter into one’s household was a kind of purification itself before these gods who guard the doorway (usually by means of offerings to the gods of the doorway and even possibly washing oneself at the entrance), just as we find the gods of the gates acting similarly in a larger scale with cities in which armies were not permitted to pass through the gates until they were purified. This applies to the processes of death and spiritual evolution.

In a sense, with Apollon as a guardian god of the gates of transformation/apotheosis/etc and Artemis as the goddess of the energy which sustains and drives all to these ends, we can see how and why Apollon and Artemis would be significant deities present in any momentous changes in one life….even those changes which are by necessity determined by the Fates for a purpose of impact to our beings that we may not always find individually favorable when they are experienced as painful. Growth and change is often in fact painful or at very least uncomfortable. There is a sorrow of a new bride who has to leave behind the things of her child just as she presented momentos of her childhood to Artemis, and leave behind too the familiar gods and spirits of her household to occupy that of her husband’s. There is the pain of bringing new life into the world, even pain and anxiety of bringing any kind of new creation forth from our minds as Zeus labored greatly in his head to bring forth Athena, by the tools of Hephaistos (another significant god of transformation as the god who enables/gives form to the new forms taken to which I would say Eilethyia almost matches as a goddess of labor pains as being another part of the process…which may be telling as to why between Apollon as the father of the Korybantes and Hephaistos as the father of the Kaireboi we find them as fathers of gods who oversee the most divine change in the arrival of the savior god whether that be Zeus or Dionysos, and the close connection between Eleithyia and Artemis).

Apollon and Artemis remind that that one of the most important things with the come of significant changes and transformations in our lives, that purification is a very important part of the process. Not only does it remove any pollution that we may otherwise taken into our new existence (extra baggage need not be brought), it also allows us in many ways to start fresh and newly born. A home is to be purified before the gods are welcome into it when a new home is established. Purifications are done upon the household, mother and infant after the baby has successfully survived its first seven days of life. Purifications following the allotted period necessary after death of a family member in residence (usually 30 days). Even the rites of passage into states of youths and maidens by children were themselves purification rituals in form….in varying degrees of aggressiveness depending on the place (the rites on youths at the temple of Artemis Orthia is a great example of particularly violent forms of what could be considered purifying rites. Even those who practice some form of magic or spirit work will often begin and end with varying degrees of intensive purifications depending on the deities and spirits concerned.

It makes sense that under any new change in one’s life that a sensible spiritual act would be one of purification, to even approach these gods (at the doorway if you have them established enshrined no where else within your house) and engage in purifications in preparation. Often the simplest and most common means when not dealing with serious transgressions that require purification, is by water although some people also utilize incense smoke into it as well. This can be considered of the same nature as the purifications that are undergone as part of  Hekate’s Deiponon and the Noumenia for the well-being of the household as the new month changes round. Really it is the same principle. I myself engage in regular purifications that includes daily bathing and fumigations with smoke as part of my devotions.

One of these easiest ways to conceive of the necessity of purifications is in a philosophical understanding of Artemis. Artemis herself is connected to rivers in very significant ways and is associated herself as being a holy river that brings forth the blessings of the gods. This can be most notable in her role as Artemis Eurynome in which she oversees the purification of the infant Zeus following his birth (perhaps the only significant after birth purification myth that I have found aside from the travel of Leto to Xanthus to purify and bathe her twins. The fact that Artemis and Apollon have many strong river cult associations is relevant to this purpose. The water itself is pure and the purity of its nature is that which carries away the stains of miasma. This is perhaps because water itself has the observable ability to dissolve and carry away particles that gives it such strength. Therefore the purification by water is a kind of release, and unblockage as water is unhindered and one is left open to receiving the blessings of the gods and spirits. The agency of the purifying water itself becomes the first expression of divine blessing…in the cases of rivers purifying gods the blessings go both ways with the deity being purified likewise blesses the body of water such as we find in the case of Xanthus, or even in the case of the river Peneios who offered to withstand the anger of Hera to offer shelter of Leto for the birth of her son (Peneios who incidentally was the father of Daphne who herself underwent a massive transformation into a laurel tree but was also the purifier of Apollon later after slaying Delphyne).

Therefore, like a fount of water or living stream, purification allows access to us to begin a new way, and at the forefront we find Apollon and Artemis there who are the god who are first to bestow their blessings as gods of the purifying agent and gods who preside fundamentally (although not exclusively) over transformation and changes.

— Lykeia

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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)

Ritual Meal, for the Feast of Leto

For the Feast of Leto, prepare a delicious meal, one that you would have no reservations in sharing with the Goddess, as well as Her Children. Set the table nicely, and in the center, prepare a small altar for Leto, with some space for Artemis and Apollon. Utilize whatever images or icons you prefer when making this space. Include a large plate upon which you will place servings of food for your Honored Guests.

Next, you will want to invite Leto, and your other Guests.

Ex: “Blessed are You, Leto, Sister of Asteria, Daughter of Phoebe! Sweet is Your name upon my/our lips! In all of my/our days, shall I/we ever strive toward Your Grace and Excellence!

“Blessed are You, Leto, Daughter of Koios, Consort of Zeus! Ever shall Yours be the way of cunning! Let all brave women follow after Your example, seizing that which they/we desire foremost!

“Blessed are You, Leto, Mother of Artemis, Mother of Apollon! Starry is the veil which covers Your holy face! Within the mystery of twilight, You are the center, the cause from whom ambition emanates!

“Blessed are You, Leto! Be welcomed here, to this seat made comfortable for You! Partake of this meal that I/we have prepared! And please, accept these offerings given freely by Your people!

“Great Goddess, I/we have come only to honor and praise You!

“Hail Leto, Mother of Wolves!”

“Blessed are You, Artemis, Swift-footed Goddess giving chase like no other! Be welcome to rest here at this table, to make merry, and to feast in the name of Your Mother!

“Blessed are You, Apollon, Prince among Gods, and the Preserver of Honor! Be welcomed here to this table, where You might find comfort, as well as sustenance, in the name of Your Holy Mother!

“Blessed and Divine Twins, be welcomed here in peace and in reverence! Hail Artemis! Hail Apollon!”

Once the food is ready, place each dish upon the table in offering, while saying a few words to indicate such.

Ex: “O Divine Leto, please accept this ______ (name of dish), that it might fill You with the sustenance of my/our love!”

You may also address Artemis and Apollon at this time, though it is really only necessary to address the Guest of Honor when offering dishes. Repeat for each dish offered to the table.

Now, everyone should be seated at the table, and all should offer thanks to the Theoi for the bounty gathered before you, first with a small bit of food offered to Hestia, by burning it in a candle flame, or saving it to be burned or buried later.

Ex: “Hestia, Most Sublime, I/we make the first offering to You, as is the/our custom. May You bless this table, and I/all seated before it, that my/our hearth and home might be ever peaceful and secure.”

Next, food should be distributed first to Leto, then to Artemis, then to Apollon, all upon Their plate at the center of the table. After your Guests have been served, everyone else may serve themselves.

Eating, discussion, and general merry-making may now commence. Examples of this could be songs sung, poems or adorations recited, myths told, or experiences shared.

With the completion of their meal, whomever wishes to leave the table must first address Leto, thanking Her and the Twins for being present.

Ex: “Glorious Leto, Illustrious Twins! Thank You for Your presence at this table, which was prepared in honor of You, for this great feast day! May our love given, accompany You back to the Northern heights of Hyperborea, from whence You have come! O Ladies! O Lord! May You be pleased!”

At the very end, before the last person leaves the table, a final food offering should be made to Hestia…

Ex: “Blessed Hestia, Keeper of the Hearth, again, I/we thank You for the peace and gentleness You have brought into this, my/our home! My/our gratitude hangs thick in the air, like the tasteful aroma which has filled this place of feasting!

“Hail to You, Hestia, and farewell!”

…and care should be taken to clean up the table.

Finally, all participants should return to surround the table, to give final thanks/goodbyes to Leto (and the Twins), for all that She does, and will do, in helping us to further understand ourselves within the roles to which we find ourselves attached.

Ex: “Blessed are You, Leto, and Blessed are Your Children, who enact the very essence of Your demeanor! You, who are bold! You, who are driven! You, who commands life to submit to Your will! Great Leto, I/we thank and praise You!

“Hail Mother Leto! Hail the Holy Twins!  Hail, and farewell!”

— Columbine

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

The Divine Lineage of Apollon

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.

— Columbine

Leto, Glorious Mother

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]

Thoughts of Artemis

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]