Silver Bow, Beautiful Quiver

The epithet, Argyrotoxos, is connected to Apollon in book 1 of Homer’s Iliad.  For citation purposes, the translation that I use is that of Richmond Lattimore.

Argyrotoxos (Αργυρότοξος) is generally translated as He with the silver bow or He who has the silver bow.

Apollon has another epithet, Eupharetres, that may also be in this book of the Iliad, but it is not obvious in Lattimore’s translation.  If you find a reference to it, please post a comment or write about it for He Who Rules With Honey.

Eupharetres (Ευφαρετρης) is generally translated as having a beautiful quiver.  I admit that I’ve always seen a bit of a double entendre in this epithet, as I am sure that Apollon does indeed have a very beautiful quiver.

Anyways.

Lord of the silver bow is used in the section beginning on line 36.  Just prior to this, we read about the sea captain, Agamemnon, who has kidnapped the daughter of one of Apollon’s priests, Chryses.  Chryses went to Agamemnon, with the accoutrements of a priest of Apollon (a golden staff with the god’s ribbons) and offered to pay ransom for his daughter, Chryseis, and acknowledged that they had a right to plunder the city and even wished them well in the effort to return home, but couldn’t his daughter be returned to him?  Agamemnon essentially told him to get away from their boats and leave them alone and that his god couldn’t help him as Agamemnon would be taking his daughter home with him to weave for him during the day and to keep him company in his bed at night.  He tells Chryses that his daughter will die of old age in Argos before he’d ever let her go, and he threatens him not to make him angry.  Chryses, terrified, leaves Agamemnon, and he prays to Apollon:

“King Apollo, whom Leto of the lovely hair bore: ‘Hear me, lord of the silver bow who set your power about Chryse and Killa the sacrosanct, who are lord in strength over Tenedos, Smintheus, if ever it pleased your heart that I built your temple, if ever it pleased you that I burned all the rich thigh pieces of bulls, of goats, then bring to pass this which I pray for: let your arrows make the Danaans pay for my tears shed.'” (lines 36-42)

Apollon answered his prayers and shot down the mules, hounds, and men of Agamemnon for nine days.

What is mysticism? Who is a mystic?

Words have meanings.  When we use the wrong words, our questions don’t get answered.  When we use the wrong words, we are misunderstood.

Mysticism isn’t magic.  Mysticism isn’t religious fervor or adherence to orthodoxy.  Mysticism isn’t strict academic work.  Mysticism isn’t reconstruction.  Mysticism isn’t philosophy.  Mysticism isn’t ritual.

Mysticism is when you join with a god in such a way that that god is inside of you, outside of you, around you, holding you up, pushing you down, squeezing you, expanding within you until you feel you might burst, lifting you, whispering to you, screaming through you, and permeating the essence of your being.

Mysticism is religious or spiritual ecstasy.

Mystics, people who experience mysticism, come from all religious backgrounds and faiths (minus solely atheism).  I have often heard it said that mystics from two different religions will understand each other better than a mystic and a layperson (or non-mystic, whether they are lay or not) from the same religion.  In some ways, I have found this to be true and in others not.

Mysticism cannot be forced.  You cannot decide that you will become a mystic and make it so through sheer will alone.  For me, mysticism brought love into my life, and I became a mystic because of that love.  Without that love, I could not have chosen to become a mystic.  I still cannot choose to have a mystical experience.  Mysticism involves at least two entities – you and the god (or goddess, or spirit, or…).  You cannot unilaterally decide what will happen; this is why it is not an experience that can be forced.

Mysticism is a Mystery.  No matter what I write here, if you have not had the experience, my description will not be adequate.  If you have had the experience, you know that my description has not been adequate.

 

The Agathos Daimon

There is more than one spirit that is referred to as the agathos daimon, but in this post, I will discuss my experience venerating the agathos daimon that is the protective spirit of a given dwelling.

I live in a third floor apartment in a city with a lot of spooky people and spooky tourists who don’t clean up after themselves in a neighborhood that was once stolen from massacred Native Americans (you could say that about anywhere in the United States, really), and then much later where twenty people were accused of witchcraft and killed by their community, and then later still, the tanneries of the neighborhood caught fire and the entire neighborhood needed to be rebuilt.  It’s a fairly bloody history for a known history that is so young.

I keep apotropaic charms and amulets on all my doors, windows, and mirrors.  I make monthly offerings to the agathos daimon of this place.  So far, I’ve been pretty lucky.  Situations that could have gotten a lot worse and hurt me and my home didn’t get worse, or the worse part hit elsewhere, and I was spared.  I thank both the gods and the agathos daimon for this.

Every lunar month, on the evening that begins the second day* of the month, I go outside to the backyard that I otherwise do not use.  There is a tree trunk there from a tree that was cut down between my seeing the apartment and loving that there were two big trees in  front of my kitchen window and actually moving in.  On this tree trunk, I pour the remainder of the last bottle of wine from offerings made on Noumenia, and I place a portion of the meal that was shared on Noumenia.  I hold out my hands, palms down, and I tell the agathos daimon that this offering is for him.  I thank him for protecting me and my home.  If I’ve noticed any close calls that month, I mention them specifically and tell him that I noticed what’s been done for me, and I thank him more profusely.  Most of the time, I feel the distinct sensation of the weight of a snake slithering over my feet and twining around my ankles.  I wait until this sensation disappears, then I say “good night,” turn around, and go back up the stairs to my apartment.

I try to be fairly quick about this process as I don’t want a talking to by my second floor neighbors.  I almost always (unless I’m not home) do this after dark both because chthonic gods and entities should generally be honored at night and to decrease the likelihood of my neighbors watching me.  Rather than using a plate that would be need to be removed, I use corn husks as dishes to hold the food offerings.  The offering is always completely gone in a few days.

I’d love to hear about the experiences that you’ve had honoring the agathos daimon of your home in the comments.

*The next three days (or the evening before these days) to make sure you make an offering to the agathos daimon of your home are July 7th, August 5th, and September 3rd.

Hand Crafted Statues and Icons

Some of you may know that I have an etsy shop where I sell some things.  Some of them may be of interest to you, so I’d appreciate your looking, but that’s not really what I want to focus on today.

I know that it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things that we have for our gods.  Shrines seem to multiply.  Gifts that can’t be burned stay with us because we haven’t found away to dispose of them properly.  Honestly, this is where I am right now.  I maintain eleven shrines in my home (my two bedroom apartment that I share with a roommate), and sometimes, I feel a bit suffocated by everything.  I wish that I could walk down to a local shrine to make offerings instead of essentially having to serve as a shrine priest for every god with a presence in my life.  I don’t feel like this all the time – I love when all of the shrines are lit up on Noumenia.  I love being able to give to the gods.  I am just in a place where I wish I could do that and have all of my belongings fit in one box or backpack.

I don’t have a solution for my problem, so I’m going to tackle someone else’s problem instead.

For people in the opposite of my situation, where can you find beautiful art for your shrines?  Etsy is full of artists, and some of those artists are polytheists themselves who produce beautiful pieces to help us find and maintain connections to our gods.  I’m going to spend some time tonight making a treasury* for some of the gods.  If you are in need of something, please check them out.  None of these treasuries contain any of my own work, so please don’t feel like I’m trying to sell you something.  I just want to do what I can do, and tonight, this is what I can handle.

Zeus  Poseidon  Hades  Apollon  Hestia  Ares  Demeter  Aphrodite  Artemis  Hephaistos

Hermes  Athena  Kronos & Rhea  Dionysos  Asteria  Hekate  Ouranos & Gaia  the Horai

Please feel free to make treasuries of your own for these or other gods and share them in the comments.

*A treasury is a collection of pieces with a common theme on etsy.  If you click on the link, it will take you to a curated collection for each deity.  You can then click on individual items in the treasury if you are interested in purchasing them or seeing other pieces made by that artist.