Apollon & Hades

While the lords of light and darkness don’t seem to have much in common, there is a bit. Would any devotees of Hades like to explore this connection for the devotional?

First, there is their involvement in the story of Orpheus.  Orpheus was either the son or student (or both) of Apollon.  His parents were either a Thracian king and queen or Apollon and Calliope, which would give Orpheus his own divine birthright.  On his wedding day, his wife, Eurydice, died after falling into a nest of vipers.  Orpheus played music so mournful that all of the nymphs and gods wept with him in his grief.  He traveled to the underworld, and when he arrived there, his music was even able to move the hearts of Hades and Persephone.  He was given permission to lead Eurydice out from the underworld provided he didn’t turn around to look at her until they arrived in the upper world.  Unfortunately, Orpheus was unable to resist and as soon as he reached the upper world, he turned to look at his wife who had not yet left the underworld.  She vanished before his eyes, and he was unable to retrieve her a second time.

In addition, Apollon and Hades both had lovers who who underwent kataphytosis, or were transformed into plants.  Like Daphne, Hyakinthos, and Kyparissos (Apollon’s loves), Hades loved Minthe, a mountian nymph.  She fancied herself better than Persephone, and either Persephone or her mother, Demeter, trampled her and transformed her into garden mint.  Leuke was another nymph loved by Hades.  He abducted her and took her to the underworld where she was transformed into a white poplar and placed in the fields of Elysium.

Apollon and Hades also share one epithet – Isodotes, which means He Who Binds All Equally, or perhaps Impartial.  For Apollon, it usually refers to his giving of oracles and the binding of the querent to the answer.  For Hades, it refers to the fact that all souls eventually enter his domain.

Finally, there were oracles (of a different sort – these were necromantic) at several temples of Hades.


Family & Ancestral Lines

Living in China over the past year has made conversations about cultural differences much more common in my life.  When I was living in America, my world was filled with people from other countries, but in America, we have (or should have) a certain acceptance and awareness of these differences because there are people of so many different cultural backgrounds, so more detailed conversations on why someone does something differently don’t really happen as much.  In China, this isn’t the case.  I am often the only foreign friend, or only American friend, that my friends have.  One cultural difference that I often run into is that my Chinese friends often cannot understand how I am ok being so far from my family.  They think that I am very brave for coming here alone.  They also don’t understand how I can go more than a month without talking to my younger sister or how my mother and I tend to fight a lot if we have to spend too much time together.  Some of this is because of the Confucian ideal of filial piety, which still persists in China.  However, over the past year of teaching here, I think I have discovered another reason why both adults and teenagers (who in America probably spend the most time in conflict with their parents) seem to have stronger and more positive relationships with their parents than many in America: they aren’t really raised by their parents.  For the most part, parents work long hours, and when their children are not in school (with school days much longer than in America), children are with their grandparents.  Their discipline (or lack of it) comes from their grandparents, not their parents.  As middle and high school students, most students live at school as evening classes often don’t end until 9pm.  Even public schools have dormitories where most students live.  They often spend only one or two nights per week with their parents outside of holidays.  This allows them to have a relationship where they are aware of the work their parents are doing to support them, they don’t fight with their parents because they aren’t home, the time that they spend with their parents is often a celebration, and they have plenty of time to miss their parents.

I don’t have my ancestor shrine with me here in China.  I brought a few tokens, but I gave some of it to my younger sister, and the rest of it is packed up in a bin at my mother’s house.  I was thinking about my shrine earlier and about how my ancestors are divided – by ethnic group rather than into two parts (one for the lines of each parent) or into four parts (one for the lines of each grandparent).  Instead, I had my Jewish ancestors, my Lebanese ancestors, and my Sicilian ancestors.  Culturally, I have always been most tied to my Jewish and Lebanese traditions.  I grew up in a (not particularly religious) Jewish household, and the food that I learned to cook from an early age was all Lebanese food.  However, the ancestors that show up for me are far back in the Sicilian line, which ethnically, go back to the same group as the Lebanese line – the Phoenicians.  I was wondering to myself why this is so when in life I have so little contact with that part of my family.  It was this line that demanded a pilgrimage, and it was only this line that had extra trinkets on my shrine.  The others only had photos and items that had been passed down through those lines.

It came to me today that it is in this line that death is closest to me.  My father is dead, and his father is dead (both either dead or estranged since the time I was five years old) – that is the Sicilian line.  My Jewish mother is still living, and my Lebanese grandmother is still living.  Is it because this line had no living members in proximity to be used to forge a connection that the dead came forward to do the work with me?  Is it also because the other members of this line either died when I was very young or live(d) too far away to forge a relationship that I don’t have the same baggage with them that I might with more recent ancestors if I’d been raised by them?  Is this distance, this removal from family, a positive when it comes to relationships with the dead?

Apollon as Healer

Apollon is the god of a multitude of things, healing amongst them.  This is not just healing of the physical body, but of the mind and heart as well.  His grace is such that darkness simply cannot continue to exist where He is.  However, as He is not ever present, even those of us most devoted to Him must continue to fight our own battles and simply be grateful for the occasional reprieve He offers.  When we are too caught up in darkness, and sometimes this is a darkness caused by neurology, we may not be able to realize that He has come, may not be able to acknowledge what He has done for us, may continue to cry out for Him never realizing that He is here.

Apollon has many epithets related to His healing aspects, and still others that show how He can relate to our pain.  If you are conscious of His aid under one of these guises, I would love to see you explore this for the devotional.

Hyakinthios Mourning for Hyakinthus – Apollon understands loss.  The all encompassing grief over the death of a lover is not something that any one, any god, can make disappear, nor should it be something we want.  This grief is sometimes all that is left of love.  However, the love of Apollon is a balm for a hurting soul.

Ίατρομάντις (Iatromantis) – the Physician and Prophet; Physician and Seer; Healer-Diviner

Ίατρός (Iatros) – Healer; the Physician; the Surgeon 

Katharsios – the Purifier – Some illness has been believed to have been caused by miasma or some other impurity.  If this is the case, purification is certainly the first step toward recovery.

Kerdoios – the Gift Giver – Good health is certainly a gift.  Being thankful for gifts received should always happen before we ask for another.

Κουροτρόφος (Kourotrophos) – Protecting Youth; Rearer of Boys – If the suffering one is a boy child, we can pray to Apollon to protect the child and to help us find a cure for his suffering.

Libystinos – the Plague Raiser – Apollon both brings plague and has the power to defeat it.

Apollon is also literally the father of medicine.  Most of our healing gods are His descendants.  His son, Asklepios, is our most renknowned healer, and his children all follow in his footsteps.  Akeso is the granddaughter of Apollon, and she is the goddess of the process of curing sickness and healing wounds.  Her sister, Panakeia, is the goddess of the cure itself.  Their sisters, Hygeia and Aigle, are the goddesses of good health, and their other sister, Iaso, is the goddess of cures, remedies, and different healing modalities.  Telesphoros, who is presumably the son of Asklepios, is the god of convalescence and recuperation from injury.

Artemis, twin sister of Apollon is also a goddess of fertility and good health as well as being a protector of girl children.

Kheiron, the famous god of surgeons, is also an uncle of Apollon.  He was also the teacher of Asklepios.

May you be blessed with good health!

Apollon & Pan

Pan, nephew of Apollon, is a god of shepherds, hunters, meadows, forests, and mountain wilds.  Aside from Apollon also being a god of shepherds and hunters, they also have some other things in common, like a fondness for nymphs.  Like Apollon pursued Daphne who was transformed into a laurel tree in an effort to escape, Pan pursued Pitys, who also fled his advances and was transformed into a mountain pine, a tree that then became sacred to Pan.  In another unsuccessful bid for love, he pursued Syrinx, who in her effort to flee was transformed into a clump of reeds – the very reeds from which Pan crafted his pipes.

Pan is closely identified with Apollon’s son, Aristaios, which is also an epithet of Apollon. They are both shepherds.

Pan had his own oracle at Troezene and is said to have instructed Apollon in the art of mantic divination.

In appearance, Apollon and Pan are drastically different in all depictions save one feature – they both have long unshorn hair.  Pan is also sometimes, though not always like Apollon, depicted as a youth.

I would love if a devotee of Pan wanted to write about or create art depicting the relationship between Apollon and Pan for the devotional.

The following epithets are shared by both Apollon and Pan:

Άγρεύς (Agraios/Agreus) – hunter; slayer
Νόμιος (Nómios) – wandering; shepherd; protector of pastures and shepherds; god of pastures

Apollon also has a number of epithets that while not shared by Pan, relate to aspects of Apollon that are shared by Pan.

Hylates – He of the Grove; God of the Woodland; of the Woods
Intonsos – Unshorn; He of Eternal Youth
Kereatas – of Horned Animals
Χρυσμωδός (Khrysmodós) – prophesying; oracular
Μαντίκος (Mantíkos) – prophetic; oracular
Napaeus  Worshipped in Groves
Poimnius  God of Flocks
Προόψιος (Proópsios) – foreseeing


Guinea Pigs Wanted

hwa-tu cards

Awhile back, while I was super busy, a friend sent me a gift from her trip to Korea: a set of hwa-tu cards.  Being the k-drama afficionado that I am, she knew I would want them, and she was right.  (In these dramas, we often see characters playing “Go-Stop” with these cards.)  They’re almost the same as hanafuda cards from Japan if you’re familiar with those.  Anyway, I had once seen a drama, I think it was All In, where a fortune teller visited a bunch of gamblers, and well, I knew divination could be done.  They didn’t show what it looked like on the TV show, but I did some research and did find some information.  I would like to try it out.  You can ask a question or get a general reading about the near future.  Since I am just starting out with this type of divination and I’m not sure yet if it works or if it will work for other people or if it will work long distance, please seek confirmation divination if I touch on anything important in the reading.  If you need a referral to a competent diviner, I can provide that for you.  If you’re interested (this is free – you’re helping me by being a guinea pig), please email me at pythioumelissa at gmail dot com.

Apolline Triads

There is much historical evidence that Apollon, Artemis, and Leto were often worshipped together as a triad.  In my own experience, I have found Apollon, Hermes, and Dionysos to form another triad.  I was thinking about how a triad of triads centered around Apollon would form a group of seven (sacred number) gods, and who would make up the third triad.  I had barely begun to consider this question when it occurred to me that a third triad could be made of Apollon with his sons Asklepios and Aristaios.  I don’t currently pay cultus to Asklepios or Aristaios, though they’re occasionally on my mind, especially Aristaios.  I feel like there are implications here in this triad of triads, but I haven’t fully fleshed them out.  If not these two sons, who would you choose for a third triad?  Thoughts about a triad of triads?

7 Degrees of Kevin….Apollon and the Titans

The titans are gods.  The titans are not dead.  Helios is not Apollon.  Selene is not Artemis.  There, that out of the way, let’s explore a few relationships between titans and Apollon.  If any of these relationships catch your eye and spark an idea related to one of Apollon’s epithets, please consider exploring that for the devotional.

Asteria is the goddess of falling stars and of particularly nocturnal methods of divination like oneiromancy and astrology.  She is the aunt of Apollon (sister of Leto).  In her escape from the unwanted advances of Zeus, she became the island of Delos where Apollon was born.

Hyperion is the god of heavenly light.  He holds the eastern pillar that separates earth from sky.  He is the great-uncle of Apollon (brother of both Koios and Khronos).

Iapetos is the god of mortality and the mortal life-span.  He was at one point responsible for holding the western pillar, a position later entrusted to his son, Atlas.  He is the great uncle of Apollon (brother of both Koios and Khronos).

Koios is the god of the north pole and is one of the four pillars that separate the earth from the sky.  This is also called the axis of heaven, and it is around this axis that the constellations (seem to) revolve.  He may also be the god of heavenly oracles.  He is Apollon’s grandfather (father of Leto).  He conspired with Khronos and three other brothers to overthrow Ouranos, and he held him down while Khronos castrated him with a sickle.

Eurybia is the goddess of power over and mastery of the sea.  She rules over external forces that have power over other forces, like the rise of the constellations (perhaps of the turning of the earth on its axis?), seasonal weather, and the force of the winds.  She is the great aunt of Apollon (sister of Koios and Khronos).

Khronos is the god of time.  He is the grandfather of Apollon (father of Zeus).  He ruled the cosmos during the Golden Age and was then deposed by Zeus.

Krios is the god of the south pole and one of the four pillars who separate earth from sky.  He is the great uncle of Apollon (brother of both Khronos and Koios).

Lelantos is the god of air, moving unseen, and the skill of stalking prey.  He is the uncle of Apollon (Leto’s brother).

Mnemosyne is the goddess of memory and mother of the muses.  She is also a goddess of time and the inventer of language.  In addition, she is an oracular goddess who had an oracle in Boeotia.  She is Apollon’s great aunt (sister of Koios and Khronos).

Okeanos is the god of the source of all fresh water on earth, including rain clouds.  He was once considered the god of a great river that encircled the earth, but as exploration improved understanding of geography, his domain shifted to the Atlantic and Indian oceans.  He is the great uncle of Apollon (brother of both Koios and Khronos).

Phoibe is the goddess of bright intellect.  She is also an oracular goddess and the third to hold Delphi.  It was she who gave Delphi to Apollon.  She is his grandmother (mother of Leto).

Rhea is the goddess of female fertility, motherhood, and generation as well as comfort and ease.  Before Hera assumed this title, she was Queen of Heaven.  She is both the grandmother and great aunt of Apollon (mother of Zeus, sister of Koios and Khronos).

Tethys is the goddess of the source of all fresh water on earth.  She is the great aunt of Apollon (sister of Khronos and Koios).

Theia is the goddess of sight and the shining bright blue sky.  It is also she who gives precious metals their sparkle and value.  She is the great aunt of Apollon (sister of Koios and Khronos).

Themis is the goddess of divine law and order.  She is also an oracular goddess who once ruled Delphi.  It is she who first taught mankind the rules of piety, hospitality, good governance, and how to conduct assembly.  She is the great aunt of Apollon (sister of Koios and Khronos).