Here are some simple ideas for a modern celebration of Prostateria, the Birth of Apollon. I usually want to have idea posts like this one published at least one week in advance of the day, but busy life got the better of me in this instance, so I’m posting this on the day itself. However, there is no reason why you can not celebrate this festival at a more convenient time for yourself. Everything is flexible. 🙂
For more information on Prostateria, see this post by Lykeia.
Decorating the shrine or altar is one obvious way to mark the occasion– gifts and offerings, incense and lit candles, or anything else that helps to remind you of the beautiful occasion that is His birth into the world. I recommend asking Him beforehand what He might like, through whatever method of divination or oracle that you prefer.
Prepare a meal for Him, a special meal that you only make on special occasions, so He feels welcomed in the best way possible.
Dress nicely for Him. It doesn’t have to be overly formal, but put on something flattering, and be sure to clean up a little around the house, especially in the room where His shrine or altar is located.
Express your love and appreciation for Him, with poetry or songs, art or dance. If you play an instrument, this is an ideal occasion to regale Him with your art form.
Include His Mother and Sister in the festivities. Invite Them also when you invite Apollon to be present in your home. His love for Them is well known, and any celebration in His honor is better celebrated in Their honor, as well.
And finally, one of the very best ways to honor Him on this day, is to decorate a doorway inside your home in His honor. Apollon Prostaterios is the Lord Before the Doors, who, by His liminal qualities, opens us up to all new possibilities. This is especially relevant as the moment of His birth opened the world to the many possibilities of His existence.
Doorways are inherently liminal spaces, existing between one room and another, or between the outside and inside. Birth is a liminal phenomenon, bridging the time between life and pre-life.
To decorate the doorway, you can use any number of things that you associate with new life life. Seasonal flowers or fruits are always nice, and depending on your area and climate, may be readily available. Barring that, you could use artificial flowers and fruits. Although, you might prefer to hang or wrap evergreens on the doorway, for they are symtbolic of the unchanging, youthful nature of Apollon. Evergreens are also usually still available in colder climates at this time of year, in the Northern Hemisphere.
Within the decorated doorway, as opposed to before the altar (or better still, at an altar erected in the doorway), you may choose to present your offerings and recite prayers or poetry, as well as greet the God, in welcoming.
Blessed Prostateria, and Hail to Apollon, on this, the day of His birth.
Today is the celebration of Apollon’s birth in the Boeotian and Delphic traditions. In the Boeotian tradition it takes it’s name from Apollon Prostaterios, the Lord before the doors, who ushers in the newness of things, and it is said that He was born on a small island near Thebes, between two rivers, during the lambing season, as Lykeia has touched upon in her own article today.
This event has a special place in my worship of Him, if simply because of where I happen to live. My house sits at the edge of a bay which is fed by two nearby rivers. And yes, we live between those rivers.
I awoke this morning with the intense feeling of Apollon watching over me. This is not altogether unusual, especially considering the day. However, there was a pressing need for me to do something that I had yet not done in all the times I have celebrated His birth, and after a little bit more mental prodding from Him, I walked the single block which separates my land from the bay, and went out onto the long pier.
Gazing out into the water, which was sparkling in the Sunlight and crystal clear, I could hear Him whispering to me to complete the task He had sent me for. So, after honoring Him a bit more, I went down the stairs onto the little platform that I see the fishermen using, occasionally. Down there I was closer to the water, which was my goal.
I had brought with me a small container that I had previously used to carry khernips. It was empty and I was told to fill it with the moving waters of the bay, on this particular day, in which the liminal and purifying qualities of the rivers would be enhanced.
I had to climb down the ladder to the very bottom rung and stretch myself down even further, risking a splash into the cold and shallow water, in order to fill the container. Afterward, when I had climbed back up, I offered a bit of honey, first to Apollon, and then to Poseidon and Amphitrite for allowing me to partake of their waters.
I am Told by my Lord that this water will become an ingredient in our home-temple’s new purification formula, which Apollon is slowly revealing to me. It certainly makes sense, for the sea is a potent purifier.
After that romp in the Sun, I went home and honored Him further before my shrines, and the pleasure with which I was received has stayed with me throughout the day, and especially while I prepared our simple feast of baked chicken, corn, cranberry sauce, and homemade bread. Later, while the household sleeps, I will complete my worship of Him for this honorable day, by dancing for Him and stomping my feet to reawaken the land. Only then will I retire to my bed, and to the dreams of Him that shall surely come.
May He be pleased by all of the devotion He receives this day/night, from all of the people who love, cherish and honor Him. Hail to our Lord, Apollon on this day of His birth.
First, you just gotta love how dysfunctional Hellenic calendar systems are. I am celebrating this month what is usually called by the Hellenic name Anthesterion but I call by the Boeotian name Prostaterias, whereas others celebrated Poseidon II this year and are a month behind in Gamelion. So perhaps this post (and subsequent post I may make tomorrow) can be of some use then for others who come along into that month.
It is hard to imagine, where here it is cold and icy, that in other parts of the world this is the lambing season. That Dionysos’ grand festival, the Anthesteria, takes place amid this very early spring atmosphere as winter is ending and the activities of spring are coming in. Yet, as widely known as the Anthesteria celebration is, Plutarch also reminds us that Delphi and Sparta recognized and agreed with the Boeotian birth of Apollon at the Theban Delos (a natural island created between two rivers named Olive and Palm) that also occurs this month. In fact it occurs at sundown tonight.
Unlike the Thargelia which takes certain distinction in the role of Apollon in the ripening grain that gives his birth in May, this early spring birthday of Apollon seems quite appropriate for the herding lord that he is in a sense being born among lambs. Those that see a certain continuity between the cults of Poseidon and Apollon can probably see how this may symbolically echo alternative myths of Poseidon in which he was not swallowed by his father but, as an infant, hidden among lambs. Although there is nothing known of anything dealing with herding beasts in the Boeotian birth of Apollon (really little is known about it other than this information shared by Plutarch) it is easy to grasp upon these theme, especially given the shepherd feasts to Apollon at the end of summer as the god who is born at the time of lambing is the appropriate god to deliver sacrifices to when the spring lamb has been well fed and reared.
Certainly the sacredness of white wool as an emblem of purity would be an interesting association to Apollon as the herder. The same white wool that adorns doorways at the birth of girls in honor of Artemis, Apollon wears in the locks of his hair. Why not, wherein at the Ionian Delos, Leto departs of Lycia to purify her babe that instead his swaddling that the Homeric hymn makes brief mention of was made out of the pure white wool from which he leapt made in full vigor whereas the Ionian myths of Lycia has him a helpless babe until arriving there (contradicting other myths in which the babe at just a few days old went to construct his temple at Delphi. This takes us to two threads regarding Delphi. The Ionian thread in which Apollon, after returning from Lycia grown arrives at Delphi as an adult. And another in which Apollon and Artemis arrive at Delphi as small children/babes with her mother which would reasonably align more with the Boeotian birth of Apollon and the events of the Stepteria at Delphi in the following month in which Apollon slew Delphyne which was celebrated with a child acting as Apollon both in slaying Delphyne and in acting out the exile). It is possible that the Homeric Hymn blends these two elements of his births in its narration of the birth of Apollon making it relatable regardless of the audience. It never mentions the whens are other specifics really. But that is just my personal thought on that.
Still in the question is, what possible relationship did the lambing season and Apollon’s birth have? This is about the time of the year where the moose and reindeer are preparing to drop their calves, so this is not entirely insignificant for me. Up here, long before there are flowers we see the return of migratory critters and the dropping of calves. Here may lay a distinction in view of a migratory god such as Apollon who is associated with such creatures, and vegetation gods who dye yearly and are reborn with the spring (of course Dionysos is an interesting difference here because he is born in the winter still when the ivy grows abundantly which gives him a somewhat distinctive difference from other vegetation deities who adjourn for the winter in the underworld). Remember too that Apollon, as serving as a slave to Admetus, was said to have blessed the herds with bearing twins. This certainly points to an importance of Apollon in the calving/lambing season, that he was conceived as being born among them as one who is caretaker and herder, overseer of the lambing season and the rutting season in the autumn before he himself adjourns away.
So at sundown today and into tomorrow until sundown, I will honor Apollon Prostaterios, lord before the doors, lord of the renewal of life, herder god. I will honor him who was born between the rivers.