Tag Archive: thoughts

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…


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.

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.

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.

Poetic Ambitions….

Though only a handful seem to be widely known (Daphne, Khyparissos, Hyakinthos and a few others), Apollo is a god of many loves, some of whom are only ever given a single line or two in any of the ancient writings.

I was thinking it might be interesting to see how many of these have enough material to retall a story, or perhaps to even speculate a story for the purposes of poetry. This, I think, could be an interesting project. Would make a great book if there was enough material.

Oooh, now I have ideas.

In case you were wondering…

Yes, I’m quite aware that the poetry that I’ve posted recently here is somewhat graphic and violent.  I think that  most of the people currently reading this are at least somewhat aware of its origin, but just in case…this poetry has been inspired by a long string of dreams and meditative visions that it seems, are shaping up to be one of the defining characteristics of my relationship to Apollo. I will probably post them here eventually, I’ve not entirely decided just yet.

As terrifying and painful as it can be, I have no desire for it to be any different.

Should I?

I’ve been debating with myself for a while now as to just how much I want to post here. I created this blog for discussing my religion, including the more personal, not so conventional stuff.

I used to write everything on my Live Journal, right out there in the open…and then some things veered off in very unexpected directions, so I filtered things- lightly at first, just a few particular posts. Then last spring, I inadvertently got into some nasty Intarwebz Drah-mah(tm) and very quickly started locking down all but the more conventional stuff. The headaches ended pretty quickly for me, but my girlfriend ended up getting picked on pretty nastily for a while.

I created this blog quite a few months after that passed, intending to talk more openly about Teh Cray-Zee as it came up, even wrote up a little disclaimer informing the world that I do, in fact, see a Qualified Mental Health Professional (TM) on a regular basis, who is familiar with my religious beliefs, practices and experiences, and despite all this, he’s yet to tell me that I’m delusional or making it all up or just wanting to feel like Speshul Snowflake, so if anyone wants to make that call and feels that they’re more qualified than the therapist that I see, I’ll be happy to refer them to him.

Well, there are intentions for what to do when something happens…and then things actually happen. For the first time since I created this blog, I’ve had something that I consider big enough to call into question. Do I post it or don’t I?

And earlier tonight, I was talking to a friend about just this and the conflict that I felt between not wanting to deal with what some people might say, and actually wanting to write about this. Knowing that my particular understanding of Apollo is pretty uncommon and if for no other reason than that, feeling a certain obligation to write about it, and about my experiences, hoping to draw out others with similar views, and to make my own sense of it.

I’m going to write about it here. Hopefully I won’t feel the need to question it again. This is mine and this is about Him and for Him.