A Hymn to Epione for Relief of Pain

I was blessed by the muses tonight. I’ve wanted to write a song, a plea, to Epione for several months now, but I didn’t have the right music in my head. I normally wouldn’t ever post a song online that I’d just written – you never know what it will sound like in the light of day tomorrow, next week, or next month, but I am feeling moved to share this one. This is very much a rough draft, so please do give me your feedback.

Epione, Epione, Epione
Fair and gentle you are
in face and form and charm
Io Epione, Epione, Epione
Pain, I feel pain, pain beyond what I can stand
Epione, Epione, Epione
I pray for your grace, for your gentle outstretched hand
I pray, for your grace, please come and find me.
Io Epione, Epione, Epione
Epione, Epione, Epione,
Praise Epione, Epione, Epione

You can listen to it here.

Blessings Big and Small

I just returned home last night after spending two weeks learning to scuba dive in the Philippines. Poseidon blessed me with getting to see sea turtles (green turtles and hawksbill turtles) on nearly every dive, and on the one dive where I did not see any turtles, I was mere meters from a passing whale shark.

My trip home was full of stress and anxiety with countries canceling all flights to China (both the Philippines and Korea doing this affected me) and airlines changing their flights with very little notice (which also affected me). I ended up getting to spend four days in Korea with a friend I rarely get to see (instead of a two hour layover) and then a cheap flight to Taipei where I was able to get a flight back to China. The airline caused me a lot of stress in changing the flight from Shanghai back to where I live and making the connection absolutely impossible, but as I was running around the airport trying to get the airline to change my flight, I thought, well, maybe this is Hermes helping me to not be on a flight with someone who has coronavirus. I found another flight on another airline that I could afford (even if unhappily) and that got me back to my city in time to make it through all of the health checkpoints and into my apartment complex before I wouldn’t be allowed in until tomorrow (which my original flight would not have done). I am now under quarantine with my temperature being reported twice a day, but here’s to hoping that Apollon and Hermes have kept me safe.

I was making offerings to Artemis this morning, and today I used a prayer called Prayer to Artemis for the Protection of the Beasts by Hearthstone where as I was praying, I started thinking about how coronavirus jumped to humans, and I prayed to her to keep those civet cats and monkeys and other animals who can pass diseases like this to humans out of human hands, keeping both them and us safer.

The friend I was with in Korea is both very active in his religion and very respectful of the fact that we do not share the same one. He was telling me why he loves being Christian so much, and honestly, everything he was talking about is what Apollon has given me – the knowledge that I am never walking alone in this world.

As I was in various airports over the past few days, I passed many shops selling bags and luggage (I really do love bags), many of which are anti-theft. My last anti-theft bag died two years ago, so I’ve not been using one at all this year (didn’t travel much last year). Still, Hermes has kept me safe from thieves. A huge blessing.

I made it home. Thanks be to Hestia, to Apollon of the Roads, to Hermes, patron of travelers, to all the gods who helped get me here.

My sister and mother have been sending me more pictures and videos of my new baby nieces, both of which I haven’t met yet. Thanks to Leto and Artemis for protecting them.

While I was in the Philippines and Korea, I had much more access to news than I usually do. I was able to read a lot about the coronavirus and be more strategic in my decisions and actions. Thanks be to Athena for keeping me informed and helping my decision making process.

I believe that Hebe is the goddess who teaches us to serve others, to put the welfare of others above our own. Thanks to her, I have returned home to teach my students instead of bailing on them and fleeing to the United States. I was also able to be patient with a friend who can at times be selfish and self-serving, but I don’t think he sees himself that way. He has also always been helpful, but usually there’s something in it for him. I am able to let things go and get along with him, and if you knew me personally, you might understand more about this blessing.

Due to the emergence and spread of the coronavirus, I have had someone who I wasn’t sure ever thought about me anymore contact me to make sure that I am ok and to offer her advice (her way of caring). Thanks to Hera and Aphrodite for keeping this connection alive.

In the Philippines, there is this Filipino rum that locals mix with lime juice and drink with lots of ice. It’s actually really tasty. I was staying at a family-run diving resort, and the uncles there were really into sharing this rum. At times, I needed to claim headache and put my hand over my cup because my cups became impossible to empty, but their hospitality and inclusion was genuine and appreciated, and the rum was the sort of alcohol that makes everyone just a bit happier. Blessed by Dionysos.

In the Philippines, I saw more stars than I’ve seen in years. Blessed by Maia.

The Chinese government is really cracking down and trying to isolate the coronavirus. I might not agree with all of their actions, but they are most certainly imposing order, and may be finally teaching folks around here the finer points of personal hygiene. In addition, all of my flights landed safely. Blessed by Zeus.

My facebook account is essentially inaccessible forever now because they won’t let me in without a code sent to a cell phone number that I haven’t had in three years. Other people have been surfacing to share memories. Blessed by Mnemosyne.

When people ask why the gods won’t do x in order to prove that they exist, remember the lessons of Semele.

I had great weather during my trip – the sun shone every single day. Blessed by Helios.

The moon was beautiful over the sea, and it peeked at me from between buildings once I reached cities. It was full the last two days I was traveling. Blessed by Selene.

I have been sleeping well. Waking up early without being exhausted. Blessed by Morpheus.

Consider your blessings both big and small. Which other gods can you find blessing you every day? Give an offering of thanks.

Zeus and Apollon

Zeus, father of Apollon and king of the gods, has quite a large number of epithets, and quite a few of these are shared with his son. If you worship either Zeus or Apollon under any of these epithets or are curious about them and would like to do more research, I encourage you to submit a piece (prose, poetry, prayer, art, and academic papers are all encouraged!) to the devotional.

Άγήτωρ (Agétor) means leader and ruler. It is perhaps more obvious why this epithet belongs to Zeus than why it belongs to Apollon, but we should remember that Apollon, in his oracles, speaks the law of Zeus.

Άγώνιος (Agónios) means helper in struggles or who helps in contests, or maybe just of contests. Translating epithets has certainly turned out to be tricky business. This epithet actually also belongs to Hermes, for obvious reasons, but seeing as how Zeus and Apollon also had ancient games (the Olympics, the Pythian Games) held in their honor, it makes sense to call on them for help as well. Perhaps you can find other connections?

Άγοραιος (Agoraios) means god of the agora. The agora is the open public space used for assemblies and markets, so quite a few gods have this epithet.

Άλεξίκακος (Alexíkakos) has been translated in quite a few ways that all mean very similar things – he who wards off evil, restrainer of evil, he who diverts calamity, averter of evil, and then also plague healer. Apollon was given this epithet by the Athenians because he stopped a plague during the Peloponnesian War. What about Zeus? Care to dig into it?

Καταιβάτης (Kataibátes) is another epithet with quite a few translations, some similar and some not. I have seen it translated as he who grants a happy return home (from war or abroad), who comes down, who leads down, and he who descends. In Zeus’s case, this epithet often refers to his thunder and lightning, which descends from the heavens, and he had an altar under this epithet at Olympia. What do you think it means for Apollon? Apollon and Zeus also share this epithet with Hermes – would you like to find the connection between all three?

Καθάρσιος (Kathársios) means the purifier but has also been translated as the atoner. Apollon is well-known as a god of purification, and Zeus had a temple under this epithet in Olympia.

Κλάριος (Klarios) has been translated in some very different ways that are actually related. I have seen both supervisor over cities and colonies and distributing by lots or of lots. The last one is probably the most accurate, but as a κλάρος is an allotment of land, you can see where the connection came from. For Apollon, this has often been connected to both his roles as an oracular god and as a god of colonists. According to Pausanius, a hill near Tegea was sacred to Zeus Klarios.

Λύκειος (Lykeios) is an epithet whose meaning is hotly contested. The translations vary from of the wolf, wolf-slayer, protector from wolves, wolf god, deliverer from wolves, and of wolves to of the light, light bringer, giver of light, and born of light to destroyer to born in Lycia. It is from this epithet that Apollon gets his association with wolves, but as he is also the preeminent god of light, that association is also clear. As for Lycia, well, Delos isn’t in Lycia, but there are some who say that Leto came from there, and some argue that even though many call Apollon the most Greek of gods, that he was actually originally a foreign god who came to Greece by way of Turkey. In Zeus’s case, this epithet is a little clearer yet wholly different. It refers to his worship on Mt. Lycaeum in Arcadia. Zeus and Apollo also share this epithet with Pan (who has his own reasons for it). Care to weigh in on the mystery?

Μοιραγέτης (Moiragétes) has been translated as leader of the moiroi (meaning ruler of fate) and guide of the moirae. For Apollon, this was one of his epithets at Delphi, where he shares the will of Zeus.

Πατρώος (Patroios) has multiple translations, but they pretty much all mean the same thing (in context) – he of the ancestors, father, protector of families, protector of the Ionians, and ancestral. This epithet is used for any god to whom the people trace lineage or whose worship has been handed down from their ancestors. Zeus was an ancestor god in Athens and in any area where the kings descended from Heracles.

Φυξιος (Phyxius) means protector of fugitives. It was an epithet of Zeus in Thessaly.

Σώτερ (Sóter) means savior. It was used for Zeus in several places, and in addition to Apollon, it was also used for Helios and Dionysos.

Χρυσάορος (Khrysàoros) means with sword of gold or wearer of the golden sword. Zeus had a temple under this epithet in Caria, and this epithet was shared not just with Apollon but also with Artemis and Demeter. Many people don’t think of or perhaps easily forget that Apollon has a golden sword (and a golden bow as well as a silver one). Would anyone be interested in working on the connections between this epithet and any of these deities and Apollon?

I support the Xenia Declaration.

The Xenia Declaration is very simply a value statement regarding the upholding of xenia. By saying that I agree with or support the Xenia Declaration, I am saying that I agree with and agree to uphold the spirit of xenia as stated in the declaration. It is not all-inclusive.

There has been some controversy over the Xenia Declaration, and in my opinion, some attacks that are based in misunderstanding. I do not personally know the writers of the Declaration, nor do I personally know most of the other people who signed it. I’m also not part of any of the organizations that agreed to it. The only thing that we have in common is that we say that we agree with the text of the Xenia Declaration. That’s it. By signing, I am not supporting or condoning any behavior by any other signer that is either contrary to the Declaration or that I think is wrong for some other reason. We are not a group; we are individuals.

The writers of the Declaration have removed some names and/or organizations because someone else provided them with evidence that the signer does not, in fact, uphold the ideals of xenia. However, I do not believe that they should be expected to monitor or vet each person or organization that signs. If you see a name listed that you know (and have evidence to support your claim) should not be there, contact them. If you provide them with evidence, they will likely remove the name. However, by signing the Declaration, I am not in any way, shape, or form suggesting that I condone behaviors (such as sexual assault) that may have been committed by a co-signer.

The writers of the Declaration are human and fallible. I am sure that some mistakes will be made. I still agree with the statement that they wrote. If you think that you have been unfairly removed or you think a name is there that should not be, please contact them, but don’t suggest that the rest of us support something that isn’t xenia.

The Greatest Gift

As I was reading The Real Allure of Monotheism this morning, I started thinking about the greatest gift Apollon, the Gift Giver, has given me. I think that it is faith and confidence in him.

I have been in love. More than once have I loved a person with my whole heart, been told that they wanted to marry me, come around to that desire myself, and then suddenly (to me), they just didn’t. Not anymore.

Apollon won’t do that. He, for the rest of my lifetime, will never leave me. He has tied me to him in a bond that cannot be broken, and I have consented to that bond and needed it. The faith that I have in that bond is unwavering. I make offerings to him because I love him. I write things for him because I love him. I learn more about him because I love him. I am trying to put together a devotional for him because I love him. He also loves me, in his own way.

Apollon has tied me to him with an unbreakable thread. Through this thread, we are ever connected. Even when I am living in a rather polluted place, one that inhibits spiritual clarity, the thread is there shining right through any dirty barriers. It cannot be severed. I can always follow that thread back to Apollon. He will always be at the other end.

For me, the faith, knowing that he will always be there, has been his greatest gift. I am secure in his love.

The Gift Giver

There once was a temple to Apollon in Larisa. There once was. It’s such a sad statement, but it seems that while there are some temple remains in Larisa, it is unclear if they are from the temple to Apollon Kerdoios or not.

Sometimes researching epithets is easy, and sometimes it is frustrating and sad. Sometimes we have immediate visceral connections, and sometimes we have slow epiphanies. Sometimes nothing ever becomes clear.

This epithet, according to a paper presented in 2008 that was written by Maria Mili, was only used in Thessaly, of which Larisa is its largest and capital city and notable for being the birthplace of Achilles. Larisa has always had close and strong connections to Delphi (even today, if you are in Delphi and trying to head north, Larisa will need to be your next stop) and the only place that there is any evidence at all of this epithet being used outside of Thessaly (though perhaps by Thessalians) is in reference to Apollon at Delphi in Lykophron’s Alexandra.

Κερδος, the root word of this epithet, means “profit.” Now, while related, “profit” and “gift” are not synonyms. According to Mili, they weren’t in ancient Greek either, so why “the gift giver?”

Other epithets with the κερδ- root generally belong to Hermes, which makes a lot of sense when you consider that κερδεα were skills of both warriors and traders that “allowed them to gain at the expense of others” and κερδος was personal profit acquired through guile and trickery. (Mili) Artemis was also once called Kerdoia, but this was in Larisa, and as we know, Apollon and Artemis often share epithets.

It seems that some believe that while Hermes as quite well known as a god of trade, Apollon has his hand in this field as well, and that’s why he has this epithet. In myth, Apollon did trade with Hermes (see the Homeric Hymn to Hermes), and this is how he came to forgive Hermes for the theft of his cattle as well as become the player of the lyre.

Mili, however, disagrees with this interpretation. She suggests that this epithet could be connected to an initiatory cult for young men, perhaps for boys who had served as laurel bearers during the Daphnephoria. This, however, did not leave her convinced. She returns to the Alexandra and suggests that this epithet is related to Apollon’s oracular functions (which would again connect it to Delphi, the only area outside of Thessaly where it was used) as meaning the god who brings gains to those who consult him.

All of the suggestions so far have seemed tenuous at best, and Mili waits until her conclusion to bring up what she’s been waiting to say all along. In Thessalian society, trade was not a noble profession. It was a land of landed aristocracy, and when rich families use their wealth for the betterment of society, everyone profits. To her, it seems to be this that is connected to Apollon, the gift giver.

What do you think? Please explore this epithet through poetry, prose, prayer, and academic exploration and submit to the still open Call for Submissions to He Who Rules with Honey.

Hellenismos: FAQ

What is Deipnon?  How is Deipnon determined?
How Is Deipnon Determined? by Melia
Deipnon by Melia
Get Hellenic Calendar Notifications maintained by Melia
Deipnon, Noumenia, and Agathos Daimon: Monthly Festivals by Elani Temperence
Hekate’s Deipnon according to Hellenion

What is a reconstructionist?  Is it different from a revivalist?Reconstruction or Revival? by Melia
The Beginner’s Guide to Hellensmos: Introduction by Elani Temperence
Living Hellenic Reconstructionism by Dave of Neokoroi
What Does Hellenic Revivalist Mean? by Lizzie Heffner

Do Hellenic Polytheists converse with gods?
Do Hellenic Polytheists converse with gods? by Melia
Prayer in Hellenismos by Kallimakos
Prayer Format anonymous (as far as I can tell)
The Power of Prayer/Reciprocity by Ruadhán J McElroy
My Practice and Worship of Lord Ares by an anonymous (as far as I can tell) devotee

Is it acceptable to offer a song to the gods and goddesses?
Music for the Gods by Melia
The Beginner’s Guide to Hellenismos: Ritual and Sacrifice in Hellenismos by Elani Temperence
Ancient Hellenic Musical Instruments by Elani Temperence
Music in Rites. Some Thoughts about the Function of Music in Ancient Greek Cults by Jana Kubatzki

What is miasma?
What is miasma?  by Melia
The Basics of Miasma and Purification by TJ Alexander
What is and is not miasmic?  by Elani Temperence
Miasma, Katharmos, and Preparing for the Gods by Elani Temperence
A Little Rant on Miasma by Dver

Disclaimer: On the whole, Elani does a very good job explaining miasma.  However, menstruation (actively menstruating, anyway) does not cause miasma.  Contact with someone else’s menstrual blood or with spilled menstrual blood, however, does.

Is there a specific structure to follow when making offerings or devotions? Are there recommended rituals?
Honoring Artemis by Melia
A Hellenic-Style Ritual by Jason Mankey
The Beginner’s Guide to Hellenismos: Ritual and Sacrifice in Hellenismos by Elani Temperence
Theogamia Rite by Hearthstone
My Practice and Worship of Lord Ares by Anonymous (as far as I can tell)

In ancient Greece, they placed a coin, called an obol, in a person’s mouth when they died as a way to pay for the ferry.  What coin should be used in this day and age?
Charon’s Obol by Melia
Charon’s Obol and Other Coins in Ancient Funerary Practice by Susan T. Stevens
Charon’s Myth in Relation to Classical Athenian Funeral Practice by MH
The Final Journey: Crossing the Styx by Renee O’Brien
Old Funeral Customs: Placing Coins on the Eyes of the Dead by Stillinger Family Funeral Home (presumably a place where they might be more willing to help you organize a Hellenic funeral)

How should one dispose of offerings?
How Should One Dispose of Offerings?  by Melia
Proper Care of Offerings to the Gods by Kallimakhos
How to Offer to the Gods by Bekah Evie Bel
Untitled by Artistic-Annhilation
Offerings  by Adana

How many gods are there?  How many can I worship?
How Many Gods?  by Melia
7 Degrees of Kevin… Apollon and the Titans by Melia

Is Hellenism about personal glory? It is about using gods and magic for your own ends and becoming more powerful?
Why Hellenismos? by Melia
Kleos: Death and Glory by Van Bryan
Kharis (Χάρις): Our Relationship with the Gods by Elani Temperence
Pillars of Hellenismos by Jay Alexander (I’m not actually certain that this is his blog, but those are the pillars that he identified, so…)
Practical Xenia by Elani Temperence

Is there a list of holidays or days that each god is celebrated?
The Calendar by Melia
Noumenia Thesmophorios by Melia
Upcoming Festivals by Melia
2019 Hellenion Calendar by Hellenion
Hellenic Festival Year by Elani Temperence