I’ve been hounded into doing this. Which is fine by me, all the merrier to get me actually on a blogging schedule instead of random life updates. I’m a few weeks behind on the prompts, so I’m going to combine the letters and get caught up that way.
The prompts for A are first up, and I’ve chosen to go with Apollo and Artemis as the obvious first choices. Pictures are from the ever amazing Theoi.com.
What force, what sudden impulse thus can make
The laurel-branch, and all the temple shake!
Depart ye souls profane; hence, hence! O fly
Far from this holy place! Apollo’s nigh;
He knocks with gentle foot; The Delian palm
Submissive bends, and breathes a sweeter balm:
Soft swans, high hov’ring catch the auspicious sign,
Wave their white wings, and pour their notes divine.
Ye bolts fly back; ye brazen doors expand,
Leap from your hinges, Phoebus is at hand.
~from Callimachus ‘s Hymn to Apollo, translated by H. W. Tytler
Apollo has long been considered the most Greek in character of all the Hellenic gods. Indeed, reading through a list of what he is interested in, is an insight into what the Ancient Greeks thought about themselves. Truth, light, prophecy, medicine and the arts…not to mention through the fruits of those arts, masculine beauty. And I think these things aren’t all that removed from what we consider important either.
For all this, he’s also complex. Like layers upon layers. He embodies that idea of those that heal can also harm. He’s the god of healing, but also the god of plagues. Like his father, he has a complex love life. He’s a skirt chaser, but rarely does he get the girl or nymph — and one of my favorite parts is that the women he loves change because of this chase. Things don’t usually end well for them, but a high flung love affair rarely does anyways.
Here is a god who shines a light on the people who follow him, and inspires them to perform at their best. What I have found to be the best way to follow and honor Apollo is to be your very best and live up to the changes that happen when he has shined that light. Bonus points if it’s in his sphere of influence: music, arts, medicine, and of course, divination. Unlike say, Dionysos, a more ordered approach is usually more well-received.
My personal experience with Apollo has lessened in the past few years, but not to any particular detriment or poor relationship. Gods can just come and go as needed. But Apollo is the god that lead me to Hellenic paganism, through a series of signs and dreams during my first year of college (crows just kept following me around. The same ones. College crows may not be scared of people, but they don’t stay outside the same dorm window for days at a time, while you are having Apollo-themed dreams). No matter what, Apollo is the god who gave me over to his family, and I’ve been happy in their sandbox since.
Muse, sing of Artemis, sister of the Far-shooter, the virgin who delights in arrows, who was fostered with Apollo. She waters her horses from Meles deep in reeds, and swiftly drives her all-golden chariot through Smyrna to vine-clad Claros where Apollo, god of the silver bow, sits waiting for the far-shooting goddess who delights in arrows.
Homeric Hymn to Artemis, translated by H.G. Evelyn-White.
Unlike a lot of people, Artemis has never been a goddess that I’ve connected with. As the female twin, I can begin to approach her that way, but I think we’ve always been at odds with each other. I’ve long for attachment and she wants none of it. I see why people, women especially love and honor her. There’s so much to admire, a woman who wants to try to live for herself and not at the mercy of anyone else. She’s femininity at its base, primitive roots: nature and childbirth, animals and arrows, and a dangerous beauty. And she will fiercely defend her own autonomy, by force when needed.
But there’s good reason that women have been drawn to her, and I don’t think it has anything to do with her Moon connection. It’s that she’s choosing for herself how to be defined, and it’s not by another person (except perhaps, her Father. But how can we escape being defined by our families?) but by her actions. She’s defined by what she does –hunting and playing in the woods with friends, assisting in childbirth. And she skirts between childhood and motherhood, the teenager seeking out her place in the world. What woman wouldn’t identify with that?
So what does this mean if you want to pay her honor? In daily life, be yourself and don’t be ashamed or afraid of it, no matter if you link yourself to another person and go in your own way. Develop your own interests and individuality. I’ve found that there are gods and goddess that respond best to living our their values in modern daily life, and Artemis is one of those for me. For her I be the best sister, and try not to let other people define me too much, and not at the expense of my own values and interests.