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.