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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Purification Ritual for Brides, Lovers, and Consorts

This ritual is adapted from my personal purificatory regimen, for use by any bride, lover, consort, etc., of Apollon.  Of course, any devotee may use this ritual, but it was adapted with His many lovers in mind.  It is not traditionally Hellenic.  It is shared for Aegletia, to be done on the first day: purification.  It is to be done before bedtime.

You will need:

A clean shower or tub
Sea salt

White clothes and veil (optional)
Two prepared purification waters of your choice; one to drink and one to pour over the body
An anointing oil of your choice (olive oil may be used)
A prepared offering of your choice
Bay leaves, and a means of burning and containing them

— Columbine


Special diet consisting solely of fruits, breads, herbs/spices, olive oil, honey, salt and water, must be adhered to for at least twenty-four hours prior to purification ritual.

First, wash the body and hair, shave appropriately (if you choose to shave), then scrub down your whole body with sea salt.  Do not rinse.  Dry and dress in white clothes, and a loose white veil.

Approach the shrine or altar.  Propitiate the Beloved.  Give thanks, and praise unto Him.  Unveil, and drink previously prepared inner purification water. Anoint the body with an oil that both you and Apollon find pleasing.  Begin purificatory visualization, breathing exercises (optional), and chakra cleansing (optional).

Visualize the flow of water, flushing away the impurities, leaving the body clean.  Visualize the same for the auric and astral bodies.  Continue chakra cleansing (optional), and breathing exercises (optional), while visualizing.

Visualize yourself ascending a tall spiral staircase leading to a spiritual abode where the Beloved waits for you, becoming more pure with each upward curve toward perfection.  Visualize your arrival and the Beloved’s presence enshrouding you.  Repeat these words:  “I am whole.  I am holy.  I am perfect.  I am Yours.”

Commune with the Beloved.

After your communion, awaken, and give thanks and praise unto Him.  Veil yourself again, and ask that He create a shield from, and a system with which to flush away all future impurities before they have the opportunity to take root.  Accept His divine touch.  Give thanks and praise unto Him.

Present previously prepared offering, then burn bay leaves to seal your intent.  Give thanks and praise unto Him.

Now, invite the Beloved to be received into your home on the second day of Aegletia.  Leave the shrine or altar and commence rinsing body and hair in a warm bath or shower, then pour previously prepared outer purification water over your body.  Dry, dress in comfortable night clothes (or not, as the case may be) and sleep.

Nightly Ritual of Reflection

mirrors

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I have designed this ritual as one means for devotees of Apollon to assess their behavior and responses to that which they may not understand or appreciate throughout the course of a day.  If you would like to alter some of your ingrained responses, this ritual may be able to help.

Firstly, you will conduct the ritual as more of a conversation with Apollon. Yes, there will be the usual propitiation and other traditional elements, but there will be a lot of just talking to Him about your day, as well.

To begin, set up the area in which you will speak with Apollon.  This could be your shrine or altar to Him, or this could be the coffee table in front of your couch.  Just make certain that the surface area is clean and dust-free.

Place an image of Apollon of your choosing upon this surface area, along with an appropriate incense holder, keeping in consideration the type and volume of incense to be burned, the accouterments for making khernips, and some blank paper with a pen.  Have also an open bottle of wine and at least one glass– two if you’re planning on having any.

It is not necessary to bathe before this ritual, though you certainly may, but a simple washing of the face and hands will suffice.

As is typical, we will begin with a procession.  Approach the designated ritual area solemnly.  Sit before the image of Apollon (it is important that you make yourself comfortable) as you prepare the khernips.  Proceed to purify yourself and the space.

Next, you will propitiate Him through whichever epithets of His that are personally relevant to you, while you light and offer incense.  I like to use a bundle of stick incense– one stick for each epithet called.

Pour Him a glass of wine for listening, about half way in the glass. Pour yourself one, too, if you want.

Now is the time for you to greet Apollon, to let Him know the purpose of His visit, to obtain His cooperation through your preferred divination method, and finally, to go over the details of your day with Him.  Be honest.  Mention each time you had a hypercritical thought about someone or their choices, or any other negative/unnecessarily cruel (on your end) interactions with other people or beings.  This is a confession, not to absolve you of past wrongdoing, but for you to acknowledge what was done, said or thought, in order to clear the path for change.

At this time, you will ask Apollon for purification, through the release of your anger, resentment, jealousy, desire to control, etc.  To symbolize this purification, you will hand write one letter of apology to each individual wronged that day.  Take this seriously, and remember that Apollon is watching and listening.  This is your physical act of contrition, and you may or may not choose to actually deliver the letters.  The important part for now is just to acknowledge that there are things about past interactions that you would like to change.

Next, you will set an affirmation– something attainable, such as “mindfulness toward compassion”, or “an open exploration of empathy”, etc.  This will be your guidepost for interactions throughout the subsequent day.

Now, you will praise Apollon, truly and sincerely, in your own way, in your own words.  During this praise, you will pour a libation to Him, of wine, finally filling His glass.

In closing, you will express gratitude to Apollon, for His presence and purification, and for His willingness to assist in your transformation.

The ritual is meant to be performed every day for a set amount (your choice) of days, preferably at the same time each day, for best results.