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I was checking out the Tapestry of Bronze website to see which Olympian god their current poetry contest is dedicated, and wouldn’t you know, it’s Apollo. (For anyone interested, the deadline is April 30th- I know, so soon!) I may try to write something, or submit one that I’ve written in the past. a

But anyway, on their site was linked this interview: Apollo on Trial Investigating Mass Murder in Greece (I tried to embed the file into this post, but failed several times.)

I wish this was in Podcast form so that I could actually download it and give it a really good listen while I’m not wanting to be doing other things, but this will have to do.  It talks about a historical basis for the myth of Apollo and Artemis killing the family of Niobe for her insult of their mother, Leto.  Now, I’ve listened to it once so far, but I was also in the midst of remembering my old addiction for podcasts and combing the iTunes store and iTunes U for podcasts on topics of interest- such as the gods- so I was only really half paying attention and therefore, cannot offer commentary at this point on the quality of the information.

I find this especially interesting in the exploration of the idea of there being some sort of literality to mythology- or some of it, at least. I have no problem with the idea that some of the myths may be stories that were made up or inspired by the gods with no historical basis whatsoever. But as many stories as there are, I have a very hard time accepting the idea that none of them have any real history to them. After all, as it is pointed out in this interview, it was once upon a time thought that the city of Troy was a mythical city that never really existed. It has since been proven otherwise.

Should anyone else give this a listen and have any opinions to share, please do!

I have found some other podcasts that, once I get a chance to listen to them, and assuming I think that they’re worth the ones and zeros of which they’re comprised, I will post more about.

You Want One Of These Too

Breaking radio silence here to post pictures of the doll that I commissioned from my friend Beth, who makes these amazing spirit dolls based on a combination of description from the person commissioning the work and her own inspiration from the god or spirit of whom the doll is a depiction. You can see more of her work (not just limited to dolls, by the way!) at her Etsy store– click on the link for sold items to see more of these dolls.

Because she describes her handiwork far better than I could, here is the description from her site:

Handsewn cotton flannel doll, approximately 9 inches tall with clothing handsewn and designed by yours truly. Apollo is not a god I deal with a lot personally, but His persona came across to me as a curious mixture of teen punk rock star and college professor, and his outfit demonstrates this: he wears linen slacks with a black tee shirt trimmed with snakeskin-printed fabric (a reminder of Delphi) and a professorial-looking courdoroy jacket with leather collar and pocket. His necklace is hand-crocheted nettle yarn and goldtone wire with a bee pendant. (The Homeric hymn to Apollo alleges that the god’s gift of prophecy first came to him from three bee maidens.) His hair is a mixture of natural fawn-shaded alpaca and dyed mohair in shades of bronze accented with shots of bright yellow-green; I was definitely going for a flame effect here! His wings, made from dyed feathers attached to felt using acid-free, archival quality craft glue, attach at the shoulders via sewn-on snaps.

Heart contents: a bay laurel leaf, iolite, and bay laurel and cypress essential oils.

As I do not currently have my shrine for Apollo set up, (I have reasons for this, I an thinking about discussing a bit in an upcoming post. That’s right, folks, I plan to start making real posts again.)  He is temporarily residing on my girfriend’s Hermes shrine- next to….a Hermes doll, also commissioned from Beth last fall.  I commissioned Hermes as a gift for her, and loved him so much that I had to have one of my own, and here they are.  So exclaim how much you love them and then get thee over and get one 9or more!) of your very own.

Crafty Things

The Girlfriend and I have gotten a little crafty lately in honor of the gods, and I thought I’d post some pictures of the results of my labors.

First up, we have a little “necklace” that I made for my statue. A while back, I had gotten the idea that shrink plastic (you remember Shrinky-Dinks from the 80’s? Same idea but without the pre-printed designs.)  would be great for making shrine items and jewelry. Earlier this week, I grabbed a pack and some colored pencils at a craft store. My first piece here is a tracing of the design on the front of Fritz Graf’s Apollo, with my own color scheme instead of black and white. It shrunk to about the size of a quarter and is strung with some beads that I love but  if I use them for jewelry, the color wears right off.  I figured that strung around a statue where it’s not going to come into contact with water, skin oils et cetera would be a good use.

The other thigns that I (and Gavin- it was her idea, actually) have done is to fimd some embroidery floss in appropriate colors for our gods and do a hair wrap (you know, like the ones that every girl who ever went to the beah in the late 90’s did) and add some little charms for them. I found some embroidery floss in a variegated gold/tan color and made a little charm from some stone beads. There are seven stones which I associate with Apollo:  rutilated quartz, blue tourmaline, larvikite, citrine, iolite, sunstone and garnet (which is, incidentally, the same order in which the beads appear below, from left to right with aquamarine standing in for the tourmaline. Blue tourmaline is ridiculously expensive, and I only have a couple of miniscule chip beads right now. Apollo has water associations, aquamarine works- and it was immediately on hand.

The last picture is just yours truly, looking like an evil teenager.

Another Bit Of Archaeology

Apollo Discovery Tells a New Story

ScienceDaily (Sep. 20, 2010) — A rare bronze signet ring with the impression of the face of the Greek sun god, Apollo, has been discovered at Tel Dor, in northern Israel, by University of Haifa diggers.

“A piece of high-quality art such as this, doubtlessly created by a top-of-the-line artist, indicates that local elites developing a taste for fine art and the ability to afford it were also living in provincial towns, and not only in the capital cities of the Hellenistic kingdoms,” explains Dr. Ayelet Gilboa, Head of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, who headed the excavations at Dor along with Dr. Ilan Sharon of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

When the ring was recovered from a waste pit near Hellenistic structures, it was covered with layers of earth and corrosion, and the archaeologists had no indication whatsoever that it would reveal the shape of a legendary figure. Only after the ring was cleaned up at the Restoration and Conservation laboratory at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, was the profile of a beardless young male with long hair, clean shaven and adorned with a laurel wreath, revealed. The ring was examined by Dr. Jessica Nitschke, professor of classical archaeology at Georgetown University in Washington DC, and by Dr. Rebecca Martin, assistant professor of art at Southeast Missouri State University, both of whom are partners in the Tel Dor excavations. Both confirmed that the image is that of Apollo — one of the most important of the Olympian gods in Greek mythology, god of the sun, of light, music and song.

Read the rest of the story (including a picture of the ring!) here.

Asked last night by a friend to describe what Apollo looks like to me, I answered:

Often winged, with a sword when not wielding a bow. Think of statues of Michael the Archangel.

There is no one real image in my mind that *is* Apollo. His image changes constantly. Even as I see him in my mind, it’s changing, it’s never static. Sometimes it’s like a slide show of pictures, other times, my mental image is just constantly melding and morphing from one appearance to the next. I have no idea what color his eyes are for sure- I’ve either never seen the color, or never remembered it, but if I were to pick a color, it would be dark steel blue, like dark blue tourmaline. His hair is long, but the length varies from shoulder-length to longer. Sometimes it’s golden, but more often it’s bronze. He’s always clothed but I never remember his clothing, only get the impression that they’re more often than not modern, and I think he’s often not wearing a shirt.

His hands are sometimes covered in flames. Sometimes, he’s bright and blinding, other times, he’s dark and shadowy. He can be gentle and serene and soft-focus, slightly blurry or harsh, terrifying, hard-edged and sharp.

But always, one thing never changes- he is beautiful. Painfully, transfixingly so.

I’m sorry, there just is no one good image that I can describe to you.

I think I can work this out into something a little more complete…

Quick Note

I was going to wait tuntil I was (reasonably) finished to post about this…but since I made some other minor changes, I decided to just go ahead and mention it all. I now have a recommended reading page (my links will eventually be moved from the front page to this page, it’s starting to look a little cluttered here for my liking. My blog roll, however, will remain where it is.) This page is still under construction. Once I’m finished, I will add a request for any suggestions.

I have also added a link for anyone who is interested to add my blog RSS feed to their Dreamwidth reading page (I have had such a link for Livejournal for quite some time now.)

I’ve also started to rewrite my “about” page, but it’s not finished just yet.

That’s all for now.

Because I Can

Got a new phone a little while back with a reasonably decent camera. Now I can take pictures that aren’t all fuzzy! (Assuming, that is, that I can keep my hand still while I snap it.) Just got a data cable a couple of days ago, so I can upload photos….so here are a couple.

(Okay, this last one was taken on my old phone with its far inferior camera.)

Ancient Hymns

I’ve had a few things that I wanted to write about, but for various reasons have not gotten much computer time aside from the time spent job searching since my last post. I may very well just give myself a break from job applications for today.

Last night, in a fit of being unable to sleep, I spent a brief few minutes poking around forums for something to do for a short bit that didn’t require a lot of thought on my part. I found a post over at Hellenistai forums where someone was inquiring about the Delphic hymns, the second of which was composed for the Pythian games,  which are dated 138 and 128 BC

I remember hearing about these hymns a couple of years ago, and at the time, spending a night at work googling them, hoping to find a translation of the text into English. At the time, I found a Wikipedia article, complete with photos of the stone containing the surviving fragments and a um, translation, of the music of the first Delphic hymn into modern musical notation…but no translation of the text.

So last night, I decided to give it another quick whirl and within a minute or two, I found this page of a musician promoting his CD of ancient lyre music played on a modern replica of a ten-stringed Lyre of the Ancient Hebrews. The musician, Michael Levy, also has his official website here- looks like an interesting resource for anyone interested in all things having to do with the lyre, including building your own and some online lessons. (Note: I don’t know anything about the guy, I’m getting nothing for promoting his site, I just thought that since I was mentioning the other page, and because the lyre is Apollo’s instrument, that it was relevant and possibly of interest to some of my readers.  speaking of interest to some of my readers, some of his recordings are of ancient Egyptian and Syrian songs, you can see more about them on the linked pages. )

Anyway…this was particularly cool because he provides an English translation of the text of the first hymn. (He does not indicate who the translator is)

“Hear me, you who posses deep-wooded Helicon,
fair-armed daughters of Zeus the magnificent!
Fly to beguile with your accents your brother,
golden-tressed Phoebus who, on the twin peak of this rock of Parnassus,
escorted by illustrious maidens of Delphi,
sets out for the limpid streams of Castalia, traversing,
on the Delphic promontory, the prophetic pinnacle.
Behold glorious Attica, nation of the great city which,
thanks to the prayers of the Tritonid warrior,
occupies a hillside sheltered from all harm.
On the holy alters Hephaestos consumes the thighs of young bullocks,
mingled with the flames, the Arabian vapor rises towards Olympos.
The shrill rustling lotus murmurs its swelling song, and the golden kithara,
the sweet-sounding kithara, answers the voice of men.
And all the host of poets, dwellers in Attica, sing your glory, God,
famed for playing the kithara, son of great Zeus,
beside this snow-crowned peak, oh you who reveal to all mortals
the eternal and infallible oracles.
They sing how you conquered the prophetic tripod
guarded by a fierce dragon when, with your darts
you pierced the gaudy, tortuously coiling monster,
so that, uttering many fearful hisses, the beast expired.
They sing too, . . . .”

He also provides a translation of the text of another surviving fragment of a hymn (titled here as Hymn to the Muse)

‘Sing for me, dear Muse, begin my tuneful strain; a breeze blow from your groves to stir my listless brain…Skillful Calliope, leader of the delightful Muses, and you, skillful priest of our rites, son of Leto, Paean of Delos, be at my side’. (translation by J. G. Landels).

There is a lot of information on these historical hymns within this page- the Delphic hymns and the Hymn to the Muse, of course, are the most interesting to me- and relevant to this blog- and so I will not go into detail about the other pieces but anyone interested should certainly go and check out the sites linked.

As his tracks are available for purchase online on several sites, I think I might have to acquire the ones I mentioned here.

A Brief Interlude…

Going to step a bit off-topic for a minute here. This blog stands in devotion to Apollo, but there is someone else that I need to talk about for a minute here. Why would I talk about someone else here? Well, it’s not eactly something I do a lot of as you can see…but in this case, we’re talking about someone whom I love very much, someone that means a lot to me, someone that I culdn’t do without…someone who is in fact relevant to this blog because without her, I might not have started this to begin with. Wihout her, I might never have been able to do a lot of the things I’ve done religiously, might not have been able to deal with everything that’s happened in the last few years…might still be floundering around in teh dark, trying to figure out where I went wrong. Or worse yet, may never have gotten to that point where I was floundering arouind in the dark.

I’m talking about my girlfriend, Gavin, who keeps the Liminal Realm blog. I love you, and I couldn’t do this withouth you!

As you may (or may not) know, I’ve been gone for a long time. A lot has happened, a coast-to-coast move from Maryland to Oregon not the least of it all. There are a lot of things that I don’t need to worry about anymore. Some things that, unfortunately, I still do (like being unemployed for a year now) but overall, right now I feel like there’s a lot of potential for a return to where I need to be- or at least to get much closer to it.

With respect to this blog, I’ve got some ideas for posts I’d like to make. I plan to start doing some research and get to working on some of the suggested writings from when I solicited idea from you readers many many moons ago. I’d like to start writing some more poetry and I need to redo my “about” page.

So much has changed in the last couple of years I’ve had varying degrees of difficulty with things spiritual since the fall of 2007 (wow…has it really been that long?) and now I am hoping that I can start finding my way out of that. I’ve had to say this so many times, had so many false starts. Hoping that a change of scenery and 3,000 miles between me ad what’s troubled me for so long will be good for that

On Thursday night, I was talking to a friend about the passing of Isaac Bonewits. This eventually lead tot talking about my departure from Cedarlight Grove and ADF. As there were a lot of details that he had forgotten or was unclear about, I had to fill in the blanks. Long, tangled mess of a story that it is, it’s a lucky thing that I had written so much out on Livejournal and could just go and locate posts and link to them. This meant that I was also rereading a lot of this for myself, remembering what I was thinking when I wrote them, seeing how things were connected and realizing that I didn’t fully understand until now just how far a few early events went to unravel several years of my life. I see now just how sweeping the scope of these events. Now that I’ve had some distance, temporally and physically, I am looking back and I can see Apollo’s hand in it all. Though I always knew, I didn’t really understand. and even if I had, I was so upset at how much I’d lost that I’m not sure how much it would have mattered.

What’s different now from all the previous times that I thought I had gained a foothold was that I see so much more clearly how this is all His doing, this all came from Him. And now that I see so much more clearly, for the first time, I can say that I’m okay with that.

Last night, I was typing this post and WordPress ate it. At that point, I was ready to go to sleep, so I waited until today to do it again. and now, despite the fact that WordPress once again ate my post- at the same place: almost completely finished, I’m glad that I had to wait to redo it because I came to another realization last night.

I now believe that the reason for all of this is simple. The reason that I suddenly could no longer participate in clergy training, could no longer remain a part of Cedarlight Grove or ADF. when I dedicated myself to Apollo, everything belonged to Him. Even though I believe this to have been true before, that was the point where it was solidified, where I acknowledged it. The point was that instead of being based on Him, my religion was that of a whole other framework and I was trying to find a way to place him into it. I had to lose everything to start over again with Apollo as my base.

When everything else has been stripped away, when time and space make everything clear, I am left with the knowledge that He is all I need to start again. Left with that knowledge, and the memories of pain and light.

Fluidity of -theisms

When asked what I believe with regard to the number of the gods, my answer is generally simple, that I am a polytheist. I don’t think, at this point, that I need to explain what that means to most readers, but just for the record: I believe that the gods are many, distinct individuals.  For the most part, each is a separate god- Aphrodite is not also Venus, Ares is not also Mars. I think that there are a few exceptions, such as Odin/Woden/Wotan, but I don’t know enough about them to do more than say that I suspect that they are the same deity- and they are exceptions.

Sometimes, I’ll go so far as to mention that I am also a panentheist- believing that god or the divine is within everything. I’ve seen it asked to others in the past how one can reconcile the idea of there being both many gods and god within everything. It’s fairly simple in my mind, though I’ve only recently come up with a clear explaination:

I don’t believe in any one entity called “God”. I believe in many gods. And I believe in something that I refer to as “the divine” (I don’t really like this word for this use, but I’ve yet to come up with something better). I believe that what I call “the divine” is a basic building block of life for metaphysical beings. In other words, “the divine” is to gods and spirits as carbon is to people, goats and great saguaro cacti. I also believe that some of this divine stuff is contained within anyone or anything that has a spirit or soul. No, I’m not going to go so far as to call myself an animist and say that I believe that everything has a spirit or soul. So maybe that makes me a panen(somethings)theist or something. I can deal with that, and if it’s important, I’ll eventually figure the rest out.

What I can’t reconcile in all this- and don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly struggling, I’ve mostly accepted it as an occasional personal experience and while it baffles me a bit, I see no pressing need to justify it- is that from time to time, usually in a ritual or moments of particularly strong religious inspiration, I will abandon all belief in any other gods or any other concept of “the divine”- in these moments, there is only one god, and that god is Apollo. I can’t explain it, I don’t understand it, it just is that way.

Maybe it’s that there are times that His presence is so strong that He eclipses all possibility of any others in my limited human understanding. Or maybe something causes my perception to shift and in those moments, a monotheistic view makes the most sense.

I don’t know how it is that I can slide so fluidly between my normal polytheistic beliefs and those instances of monotheistic belief where Apollo is the only god (and please believe me, in those moments, there is no question in my mind abut it.) and just as seamlessly back to my normal beliefs, but it happens. I’d be curious to know if anyone else gets anything like this.

Note: It’s been a long time since I’ve discussed this online. The last time I did was on a list that was rife with neoplatonists who patted me on the head and insisted that Apollo most be the filter through which I understand The All. I am not a neoplatonist, I am not an emanationist, this is not what I am talking about. I welcome comment and discussion, but I do not want a replay of that.

Marsayas, After the Contest

(Inspired by ponderings of what Marsayas might have said while hanging on the tree after Apollo flayed him.)

You cut to kill, but I may yet survive
and if I do, you’ve given me much to consider.
Laid bare to blood-drenched muscle,
every movement, every slight breeze
sears my nerves with fresh pain.

If I die, surely it will be of agony, not injury.

I don’t think you will be wearing my hide;
such is undoubtedly well beneath you.
Though perhaps someday I will wear yours:
not in death- for you, there is none
but if someday you shed your skin
like you shed a tear, molting like a snake,
if I should come along at just the right time,
I would seize it up and wrap it around me-
could I then be you, for just a moment
before your essence is lost?

Yes, I am delirious.

You may think me a fool to challenge a god,
but even if I die today, I will be immortal.

(On a related note, I would like to point out this painting illustrating the flaying- this is one that I would love to have a print of one of these days. )

Singing for Apollo

Preface: Just so you, my dear readers, know: I’m a fairly awful singer. I recently realized that I sound even worse than I thought when I recorded a bit of myself  singing using my cell phone’s recorder. Even given the fact that those things don’t pick up the best sound quality, giving me a few extra points to account for that would still place me fairly squarely in the “abysmal” realm.

I’m telling you this not to get down on myself or as some sort of apology, I’m telling you because whenever the subject of singing for the gods comes up, someone inevitably comes back and says “I want to sing but I’m a bad singer!”

I’m telling you this to say it doesn’t matter.

Though I haven’t talked about it much in quite a while, it’s no big secret that I’ve been going through some less than fun times for the last two years or so but after too many months of aimless wandering and numerous false starts, I think I’m finally starting to get somewhere again.

It actually started shortly before Christmas, that I wasitting at my shrine one night, trying for the thousandth time to feel my way back to the connection that I used to have, one that I knew was there but I had somehow lost my end of. After getting nowhere for about an hour, I thought about the ipod I had with me stuck the phones in my ears and scrolled to my Apollo playlist. instead of just listening to the music as I so frequently had, I started singing along with it. a couple of songs that remind me most strongly of him.

Almost instantly, I felt the connection- and strongly, and I knew that this was something that I needed to do.  I can’t really say for certain why I didn’t continue to do so very often starting then and there. There were a few other times, like one very cold, very windy evening in January when I had gone to the bank, opting, for no good reason, to walk instead of taking he bus (A nice walk in good weather, but when it’s twenty degrees out and the wind is gusting to forty miles an hour? Not so much. But I walked, stopping on my way home in a park to drink some coffee and watch traffic in the distance and starting to formulate an idea or two (possibly a topic for a separate post, I haven’t abandoned the thoughts.) and in the dying winter light, I felt the connection again for a few minutes, strong as it ever was.

There were one or two other times after that, and each time i’d feel a bit giddy with happiness of reclaiming wha I’d been missing so badly, but I didn’t keep it up again. Then one day, about a week and a half ago, I went to my shrine with a few things on my mind. Before I could turn my attention to Apollo (actually, Apollo and Dionysus- both had been on my mind at the time, and I had recently rearranged my shrine space so that they shared a table) my mind was momentarily diverted by another. It was suggested to me that I needed to refocus my attention a bit at the moment, narrow the view a little more to the one upon which everything depended. I decided to listen, and turned my attention entirely to Apollo. And I sang for him.  Since then, excepting for maybe two days, I’ve spent at least a little time every day at my shrine, and always part of that time singing.

And that’s what I’m doing right now, repairing that connection. My end of it, at least, was broken and is slowly getting back to what it needs to be. With the exception of one time when I recorded myself out of sheer curiosity (and very quickly deleted the files), I do not worry about how I sound. After I’m fnished is another story, but I try not to dwell too much on that.  It is a little sad, I think, that the way my own voice sounds in my head is so much better than the way it sounds to others, but I resigned myelf to that years ago. But I have since told myself that what He hears is my voice as I hear it (and I do believe this to be true).

I like songs that contain long, extended notes, as well as shorter, trippier ones that require a bit of dexterity to get the words out in time with the music.  I also like songs with a wide range of high and low notes. Even if my voice doesn’t sound very good, I do have a  good rang, lung capacity (once upon a time, I played the saxophone) and ability to sing along with trickier words.

Lower notes, I feel down in my chest, between my lungs. As they get higher, the notes move up through my throat and into my head. As my vocal chords stretch tighter with the higher notes, I also tend to get more light-headed. In this context, I love the feeling. I feel his presence in the notes, in the words, in the changes in pitch and speed, and especially in the holding out on the longer notes. When I’m singing for him, I don’t know what ever made me lose my connection to begin with. Everything is as it was always supposed to be, without break, or doubt or hurt. This is going a long way towards letting me move past what’s got such a hold on me.When I sing for him, I don’t feel that I’m healing- I feel that  I am healed.

For the moment, I am focusing solely on Apollo but soon, I will be ready to shift and work on also re-establishing my connections with other deities.

I know I’ve done this before, but there have been some changes, and seeing as it’s the thng to do lately to post playlists for one’s god, I’ll go ahead and post my Apollo playlist now:

Alpha- Airlock
Quiet Hour- Airlock
Sky- Violet Indiana
Kyrie- Mr. Mister
Breaking Point- The Moody Blues
The Other Side of Life- The Moody Blues
Dreaming Blade- Rhea’s Obsession
Gravity- Vienna Teng (If I had to pick one song from the list to be *the* Apollo song, this would be it.)
Momentum- Vienna Teng
I Dare You- Shinedown
Before I Walk on Fire- Sophie B Hawkins
Apollo- Kelly Andrew Kaveny
The Oracle of Apollo- Vangelis
Hymn- Vangelis (both the original instrumental and the choral versions- they’re unique enough to merit mentioning both.)
Apollo’s Gaze- Miriam Marston
Temple of Apollo- Pamela & Randy Copus
Half Life- Duncan Sheik (This is a song which I think-hope-will move on to be removed before too long, but it is there for the time being because it describes too perfectly how I’ve been feeling for far too long.)

Now that I’m finally feeling like I’m starting to be able to get somewhere- and the feeling is sustaining- I’m getting a little more productive. I’ve revamped the blog, I’ve started on a couple of poems, including almost finishng one inspired by the myth of Marsayas which I’ll post when finished. A couple of weeks ago I had jury duty, and I passed the day in a blissfully silent room, listening to music and reading more on Apollo (Okay, I took a break to read a bit of Kerouac too!) and beginning to write an article on how I see the connection between Apollo and Dionysus. I;ve got a couple of reader requests from a while back that I fully intend to make good on, I just need some time with that because they were mostly with respect to deities that I l know a lot less about but rest assured, I will do what I can with each one and post when finished.

That, I believe, is all for the moment.

Under Construction…

Hopefully I’ll actually be able to just get this done tonight, but if you stop by in the next few days and notice that things look a little off, just bear with me for a few days.  The dust will settle soon. I’ve changed the theme, as you can see and now I’m just working on getting things arranges the way I like them. This theme is a little more tricky (and annoying) to work with for some reason but hopefully it’ll all be worth it in the end.

And you can expect a new post or two of actual substance soon!

ETA: I think I’m finished. Probably won’t change anyhting around again anytime soon- too much hassle. Good thing I like stuff as it stands, eh?

Return

And now, it is time for your return

to your sanctuary high atop this stark-faced mountain

where curls of smoke from burning incense

drift and melt into a veil

and bowls of wine and honey adorn your altar.

I wait in your temple, a hymn on my lips;

a prayer hangs from my tongue,

longing for your presence so that it may fall.

Time stretches, then stands still,

holds its breath in anticipation:

your arrival never comes quickly enough.

(written in honor of Apollo’s return to Delphi)

I posted a few weeks ago to ask if anyone was familiar with this book. Here’s my review:

I found this book a few weeks ago while scouring Amazon for books on Apollo. Rather excited to stumble on one that I hadn’t heard of, I put out an inquiry in a few places. No one had heard of the author or the book. I decided to go ahead and order it. Even if it was mediocre at best, thirteen bucks plus shipping isn’t terrible.

I received the book today and immediately started flipping through it. I could see right away that something was wrong. Very wrong. (Oh, how I long for mediocrity just now.) This book is self-published. Which doesn’t mean it will be a bad book- there are many very high-quality, well-written books out there which have been self-published. I own a couple of them. This guy makes the decent self-published authors look bad.

The book (and please understand, I use the word “book” here with a very generous margin of error) is one hundred and fifty-two pages long. Of that, pages twenty-three through one hundred forty-nine plus page one hundred fifty-two are all images. Statues, vases, ancient coins, renaissance-era paintings, modern-day postage stamps. Oh, and one page containing two images titled Secret Symbols of Apollo- one of those so-called images is a grid of numbers that at first glance looks like a sudoku grid. The other is…well, I don’t know. And I have no idea how we’re supposed to know that these are secret symbols of Apollo- is that part of the secret?

Most of the images are fairly low-quality- often grainy or pixelated. Several are images of the same item, shown from a slightly different angle. Some of the images are duplicates- the same photo of the Apollo Belvedere appears on page twenty-three and forty-one with a cropped version of the same appearing on page forty. (But this is a nice, sharp higher-quality image!) None of them are captioned. No titles or artists given for the paintings, no dates or regions for the coins or statues. If the images were of decent quality with source information, the book would almost be worth it for the pictorial reference. As it is, what’s there is less useful than your typical google image search. In fact, I suspect that that’s just what this is. Minus any information that would come along with the image search.

As far as the text goes, there’s nothing here that you can’t find on http://www.theoi.com. In fact, there is significantly less. There is no bibliography. The author mentions a few other authors by last name (No first name. Who the hell is Hermann, for example?), but gives no titles of books. He cites some ancient sources but for the life of me I can’t figure out what half of them are because he only uses abbreviations with no key. Every sentence is its own paragraph. The print is huge- sixteen, eighteen points? The first three paragraphs of the book appear on the back cover.

The writing is clumsy and awkward. I find myself wondering if it’s an issue of having used a faulty translating service (the book appears to be available in eight different languages, and some of his other books are available in at least a half dozen additional languages.) or if he actually did the English translation himself, it would have been helpful to have someone with a stronger grasp of the language look over it. In any case, it really looks like the translation was done by a babelfish machine.

The er, high point of this book may very well be the author’s introduction. Now, it’s pretty standard to have a page or so about the author at the end of the book, and often a photo as well. What do we have here but four pages devoted to the author, along with several photos. Included is a numbered list of organizations that he belongs to and awards that he’s won. The introduction informs us that “The author has wrote more than 500 books, board games, DVDs and cdroms about ancient and modern history in the fields of economics, technical, board games, martial arts, software, love affairs, feasibilities studies, research, case studies etc. As a reporter, from his teens, the author has written many articles in many newspapers, magazines etc. and was editor in chief in some of them.”

(What, he wasn’t editor-in-chief of all of them?)

This was when the book was published back in February 2009. As of right now, his Amazon.com author page informs us that “Author and his research work have been distinguished by a lot of official organizations, and Ministries, in Greece and all over the world.
The author has wrote more than 1.300 books, 350 board games, 650 DVDs and 280 cdroms/DVDroms about ancient and modern history in the fields of economics, technical, board games, martial arts, software, love affairs, feasibilities studies, research, case studies, learning languages, logodynamics, inner research etc.
As a reporter, from his teens, the author has written many articles in many newspapers, magazines etc. and was editor in chief in some of them.”

Looking at these numbers cited, I initially wonder when he has time to eat or sleep- or breathe what with writing all those books. But then I look at the example in my hands and it becomes immediately apparent how he could conceivably have written so many books. Quantity is clearly the goal. Another book by the author, Hephaestus or Vulcan: The Greatest God was reviewed by another Amazon customer and relays my exact same complaints. (For some unknown reason, this book, which is only fifty-six pages long and almost all pictures costs more than Apollo. Did he have to spend more time on google looking for images or something that it jacked up the cost?)

Finally, when looking over the author’s page on Amazon today, I saw a single discussion had been initiated back in September by another author claiming to hold proof of being plagiarized by Zorzos, and knowing of other authors with the same complaint against him. I’ve not found anything else on the internet regarding this, but that it’s there at all is a glaring red flag, especially considering the number of works he claims to have produced.

For those of you who may be wondering, I filed a return request with Amazon within about an hour of opening the box.

No stars, no love, no thumbs up. If you want a book about Apollo, save your money. You could write a better one yourself. And if you don’t feel like doing that, just pull up the page on Apollo at http://www.theoi.com.

(Feel free to link or repost. If reposting, please link back to this blog- us this link http://wp.me/plGqo-3S)

Tell me…

Dear readers, I’m curious. With respect to Apollo, is there anythng in particular that you’d like to see me write about here? I’ve got ideas, but they’re often difficult for me to put into coherent words that others might understand.

And so, in the meantime, I am soliciting suggestions. Comment here, or drop an email to painandlight at gmail dot com.

In other news, my copy of Fritz Graf’s Apollo is shipping out today, and I do plan to order Apollo: The Great God, which I mentioned a few weeks back, probably in a few weeks. I will post reviews (or at least some thoughts) on both books when I have read them.

The polarity of “light gods” versus “dark gods” is a fairly common one to see in discussion on a lot of pagan forums. Let me tell you, this dichotmy (and the emphasis that some people put on it) drives me nuts. Depending on whom you’re speaking to, “light” gods are the good guys while “dark” gods are the bad guys…or “light” gods are the gods of nice, pleasant civilized things while “dark” gods are those of not-so-nice things, the facts of life which aren’t so fun to think about.

Some time back, on one of the forums that I frequent, someone made a post asking who the dark gods were and who the light gods were, and the standard discussion took place- dark gods are gods of death and war, light gods are gods of law and music and healing and pretty things, blah blah blah. I was inspired to make a post illustrating how this one dark versus light, one or the other laundry-sorting of the gods is rather dismissive of large chunks of the nature of most deities. (Betcha can’t guess who I used as an example…three guesses, first two don’t count!)

Of course, everyone knows who I’m talking about here, so my “Let’s say there’s this god, but I’m not going to tell you who it is…” is lost.  It was also intended to be posted in two parts, with the intended audience answering in the middle. Ah well. I still think it worth posting. (And I’ve revised it a bit from the original)

So there is this god, I’m not going to tell you his name. He is a god of many things- of light, of music and beauty, poetry, truth and healing. He is rational and wise. He is called Radiant, and Averter of Evil, Rescuer, Protector from Harm, Healer. He is known for defending his mother from attackers and insults, his music is unrivaled. He id a god of knowledge. Some consider him a sun-god. Surely, this is a light god I am speaking of, no?

And there is a god who is known far and wide for his wrath. One who, with his sister, killed innocent children for their mother’s insolent bragging; who skinned alive a satyr who dared challenge him to a musical contest and lost. He is a god of death, one who sends plague. His lovers are slain or punished through his wrath- or otherwise meet with tragic endings- the latter, he mourns. He is enigmatic, mysterious, oblique.  There is no question: we are speaking of a dark god, are we not?

The two gods are, of course, the same. The god is Apollo, one thought of by many as a “light” god.

He is not a light god. Nor a dark god. Or perhaps he is both? No, I don’t think that’s true either. Why, you might ask. He reigns over areas that fall on both sides of the coin. I think that’s overly simplifying the things over which he has provenance- take for example healing. Healing is a good thing, no? When we are sick or hurt, we want to heal. We get better, we feel better.

Hold on just a minute there- it’s not that easy, is it? Healing hurts, it’s painful- or otherwise unpleasant. Ask anyone who’s had to go through physical therapy to recover from a traumatic injury. Or someone who is finally facing an abusive past in order to try to move past it. Even a small cut ot minor injury can be extremely itchy or painful in healing.

What about music or poetry- those aren’t unpleasant things, are they? In strictly conceptual terms, no I don’t think they are. But what about the song whose words evoke a flood of tears in its sadness, or the poem that provokes great anger in the reader?

These things, they’re not dark or light, good or bad, they just are what they are. The gods are much the same.

One day last week, I woke up with this thought on my mind “I do not destroy the dark, I illuminate it.” I’ve been thinking about it since then. Light does not remove darkness. When the sun comes up at dawn, the night does not disappear, it moves to another part of the world. When you turn a light on in a darkened room, the darkness is still there, it has merely been hidden by the light and will be once more visible when the switch is again flipped. If there is a dimmer knob, you can see the whole spectrum of degrees existing between the two- a spectrum which shows us that things are not merely “dark” or “light”, but so much more than that.

And the gods, like the things they govern, are also not merely dark or light, but so much more.

Apollo: The Great God

Has anyone seen this book?  There are no reviews of it…anywhere. It’s a self-published book, so that’s not a surprise. It’s been translated into English too- rather simplistically, it seems from what I can tell of the book’s preview but judging how good the information in the book is is much more difficult.

Since it’s not really expensive, I’m thinking about maybe grabbing a copy in a few weeks when I have some money- and if I do, I’ll post a review of course.

New Blog

In the interest of keeping this blog in devotion to Apollo, I’ve started a new one for other, mostly religious sort of writing, including the development of a few writing projects that I have in mind. So, if it should interest you, please check out and feel free to add Presque Vu.

I wrote this little bit about a year ago:

Bleed me dry,
I am damaged again.
Oh God of My Nightmares,
this time you’ve done it:
Ripped the pain out. Painfully.

Well, last night, it continued itself.

Bleed me dry,
I am damaged again.
Oh God of My Nightmares,
this time you’ve done it:
Ripped the pain out. Painfully.
No mere scratching the surface, this.
You cut me soul-deep
and now I’m bleeding out.
God of healing, help me to heal.
And will you then help me to not hurt?

Approaching Apollo

A few weeks ago, I received an email asking what advice I would give to someone new to the worship of Apollo. I started to email an answer, but thought better of it, and decided to make a blog post instead so that anyone else interested may read.  I intended to have this posted some time ago, but dealing with a round of the flu, ongoing unemployment and some difficult personal issues put a but of a crimp in my style. The flu well-gone, the personal issues at least under control, here I am. I hope you find this post helpful and informative. Even if you are not particularly interested in the worship of Apollo, I think a lot of what I have to say is applicable to almost any god out there, regardless of who they are.

I’ve seen a lot of people write articles like this, and have long thought of writing one myself but I’ve never really known what to say, simple as it may seem. Having actually been asked that question, it’s given me reason to actually think about it as not just something that might be good to write, but something that is actually waiting on the other end for an answer. Funny how that can help the thought processes along.

I think the first bit of advice that I would give, may sound a little silly, but I feel the need to say it anyway: Never forget that He Is A God. i feel the need to say this mostly as a reaction to my spending time on a number of different pagan forums, and frequently seeing people comment that they think the gods are their equals, they don’t worship them because the gods are not “above” us, blah blah blah. I have no hesitation in saying that I think this is absolutely wrong and don’t understand why anyone would bother with gods if they don’t really believe in them as such. (I am not saying this because I  think that the person who asked my advice may think this- it’s just the first thing that comes to mind.)

Personally though, I don’t believe that Apollo will ever let you forget that He is a god anyway.

I think the most important things in His worship are effort, sincerity and honesty. He is considered, by many, to be a god of perfection and I have on a few occasions talked to people who didn’t think they should be worshiping Apollo because nothing they could do would be good enough. This always maks me a little sad. He does, after all, know that you are human and nothing I have ever experienced has, even for a second, made me think that He expects perfection of His worshipers. Effort, on the other hand, is very important. I write poetry for him. At times, I have started writing, only to find that what started out rather well has begun to fall flat. I could keep going and wind up with something that might have been acceptable in my angsty teenage journal back in high school, but what kind of gift would that be? And so, I keep working at it, or sometimes put the work down to be revisited later. That in and of itself, I believe is a gift. My Evadne poem, I believe, took me roughly a year and a half from when I first thought if it to when I committed it to the pages of the book in which I keep my poetry written for Him. But in that time, there were many moments and sometimes hours of thought, of writing down words and rearranging them and scratching them out, in re-reading the original story and reconsidering the details, and in knowing where to stop. This, all, is part of the gift, the offering.

Sometimes it’s much harder than that. Sometimes you don’t know what to do or what to give, or how much you need to or should. Or you feel that you have nothing to give. If you don’t know, ask. I’ve found that the gods are often not terribly shy about telling a worshiper what they want. I’ve not run into this problem so much with Apollo but I do remember that when Dionysus first showed up in my life, it was a rather bad time. I had just lost my wallet, I had no money for groceries, never mind anything like wine or other things that I felt appropriate to Dionysus, and would not have for a couple of weeks. I didn’t really know what to do. So I did what I could- I told him that I did not have much, but what I had, he was welcome to. I asked what it was that I should give or do for him just then, and just then, a simple stick of rosemary incense and some of my time was what he wanted. Don’t be afraid to ask.

And sometimes a little effort is the most important thing. Apollo is a god of a few things for which most people have the physical capacity- even if they don’t have great skill. Poetry and music are great offerings for Him- even if you’re not a very good writer or singer, I do believe that making the effort carries a lot of weight. I also believe that it’s possible that one’s efforts in these endeavors may be somewhat augmented by the intent to honor Apollo. (Then again, I may also be insane. But I tend to find that the poetry which I write in his honor is better- in my opinion at least- than most of the rest of my poetry. I don’t make a conscious effort to make it any better- I want all of my writing to be as good as it can- it just seems to turn out that way. Additionally, I’ve recently started singing for Him sometimes. I’m no great singer- I think I could be reasonably decent, except that my voice itself just doesn’t sound that great. Maybe it’s just the acoustics in my temple room. Or maybe it’s by virtue of being an offering for Him, but I always seem to sound better in there.)

My point? Give it a try. It’s between you and Him. No one else has to know.

Try to learn at least a little bit about the other gods to which he is connected. I’ve found this to be helpful in developing my understanding of Apollo. And if you’re not already, you may very well find yourself eventually worshiping some of them.

There is a reason for the common image of Apollo as a sort of impersonal, shining white statue (I sometimes call this Apollo, the Pretty Statue God) but this is not His only face. Some people will only see this, others will see other faces. You may see other sides- they may surprise or scare you. He can be soothing and comforting…or terrifying. And He can turn from one to the other so smoothly and seamlessly, you’ll wonder if you didn’t imagine the opposite face just a minute ago.

Read and study the myths in which He appears- but don’t hold them as the be-all-end-all of who He is.

Learn about how He was worshipped in ancient times and different regions. Even if you’re not a reconstrctionist and don’t plan to be, this is still good to know. As I see it, if you’re not sure what you want to do or how you want to do it, basic traditional worship is as good a jumping-off point as any and changes can always be made along the way.

This post has gone on long enough for the moment. I may come back later and add more thoughts in a second post or expand on some of the points I made here. I hope that it’s been helpful.

Earlier this morning I was in the temple room, spending some devotional time focused on Hyporborean Apollo. I had lit some candles and incense and made foferings of bay leaves and white the (this has recently become one of my regular offerings for no reason that I’ve yet discerned) and settled down

I gazed for a while at the white statue in front of me, a beautiful figure standing on the back of a swan, one hand resting on an unstrung bow. I watched as the shadows cast on the wallsflickered with the jumping candle flame.

I started thinking about the time of year and what it meant. In a few weeks, Dionysus will take up residence at Delphi, while Apollo will depart for the land of the Hyperborens, His favored people, said to be most pious.

For many of His worshipers, this is a time of distance, of separation from Apollo. His absense is felt in the darkness of the year.  A few years ago when I was becoming more strongly devoted to Him, I remember coming upon this time of year and feeling a bit sad in anticipation of the separation. But as November came and passed and I read discussions onemail lists and people described their feelings of distance, I waited in anticipation for the same feeling to desend on me. it seemed odd that it enver did.

I finally brought this up and one or two other people commented much the same. Someone mentioned the nature of individual relationships making a difference in how people respond to the activity of the gods. As the winter moved on and I learned more about the nature of my own relationship with Apollo, the feeling of closeness only grew stronger.

In the last year or so, for reasons of my own doing (though unintentional) my relationship with Apollo has been overall a distant one, but most of the closest and most personal moments were during the Hyperborean months.

I’ve had thoughts occasionally in the past, never amounting to much but enver abandoning them, on the idea that there are places- both in the physical and non-physical worlds that may be homes, of sorts, to people’s souls. Having seen, several times in meditative vision, what I believe to be Apollo’s Hyperborean temple and feeling as I do at this time of the year, I have entertained (and not discounted) the possibility of the mythical Hyperborea being jsut such a place for me.

Who were the Hyperboreans? Are they a strictly mythical race of highly pious people? Or did they actually live at one time? And where? The article Apollo at the Back of the North Wind by J Rendel Harris explores three possibilities for their origin- as well as for the origin of Apollo himself- based on ancient Amber trade routes. I’ve only just read the article so I haven’t had a chance to research further, but being published in 1925, it is old, and I beleive likely to be very inaccurate but if nothing else, the possibilities make for fascinating speculation.

The answers to these questions are Apollo’s guarded secrets, and we can only guess at them. But what if the Hyperboreans were simply his most dedicated devotees? I would never presume to even begin to consider myself one of His “favorites” but otherwise, the idea makes sense to me.

With no other evidence, it’s as valid an idea as any.

A Request…

I keep finding my blog linked from more and more places. (Good to know people like me!)

If you link to my blog, and I don’t already know about it, please comment here and let me know.  (With one or two exceptions that I just haven’t gotten to yet, I have links back to all of the blogs that link to me that I’m aware of. )

More Stuff For The Gods…

I’ve continued on my little spree of making things for the gods, mostly jewelry. I’m going to try to take some pictures tomorrow, as my poor-quality camera phone seems to do a lot better in daylight than in indoor lighting, but I thought I’d write a little about what I’ve done and what I want to do anyway.

Aside from the previously-posted bracelet for Dionysus, I’ve made…

-A necklace for but Apollo and Dionysus: two twisted strands, one of rhyolite, one of citrine chips. When I was looking at them in the store, I was just thinking they’d look really nice together. And then, I suddenly thought “Ooh, something for Apollo and Dionysus together!” Just as Gavin looked at them and said “Apollo and Dionysus?”

I need to get back to more exploration of my ideas of these two being so closely related…

-A bracelet for Apollo, specificly Hyperborean Apollo, of citrine chips and little Larvikite spheres. Larvikite is one of the stones I’ve come to associate with Apollo (I think I’ll be making a post on the stones that I associate with him in the near future, so I’ll save my explaination) Since Larvikite isn’t a very well-known stone, here is a picture the beas that I have are more of a silvery-grey color than that in the picture, but I do have a couple of tumbled pieces that have this steel blue color.

-a necklace for Selene/ the moon, Helios/the sun, the stars and the sky- this is made from blue lace agate beads- they kinda look like a daytime sky with clouds, sunstone and peach moonstone chips for the sun and moon (I picked peach moonstone for color symetry with the sunstone, it looked better than white moonstone) and aqua-blue apatite chips for the stars- this was chosen mostly arbitrarily, heavily influenced by the fact that I liked the way it looked with the other beads.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to make some little jewelry boxes to keep the pieces in. Michael’s sells a variety of wooden boxes in different sizes and designs that you can paint or otherwise adorn. I’m definitely going to make one separately for Apollo, and probably one more for everything else for now.

I will also continue making more jewelry as the inspiration strikes me, and as I have the funds. I have decided that I am going to turn the two-stranded prayer beads that I made some time ago for Apollo into a necklace. As they are, they just aren’t very good for a lot of handling, and I’ve noticed that I’ve taken to wrapping them around my hand and twining them in my fingers, and for that, I will need something sturdier. I would have liked to make something involving each of the seven stones that I associate with Apollo (Larvikite, champagne citrine, rutilated quartz, sunstone, iolite, red garnets and dark blue tourmaline) but blue tourmaline, while easy enough to find, would be absolutely cost-prohibitive to use for the sort of design that I’d like to come up with (actually, I’ve never seen the sort of beads I’d like to use- smooth-polished spheres, in tourmaline. I don’t think that sort of thign works so well with the crystaline structure.) I’m hoping to come up with another stone that could substitute for tourmaline so I could have seven but I’m not worrying terribly over it right now.