Tag Archives: death

Words From Apollon, For the Dying

[This was channeled and written quite a while ago for reasons, though Apollon told me to hold off on it until now.  I actually wasn’t going to post this at all, also for reasons.]

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“For the one who lays upon the deathbed. I know how your breath is labored, and how the feel of air over your chest is now like the hand of a moonless night, sapping away life’s heat. I know how the sound of blood flowing– that sound only you can hear– is your comfort, perpetually proving that life continues. I know how you long for these moments of lucidity to last, though they come only in shortening intervals.

“I know how the delicate path of a single tear from your far-off eyes can delight you, briefly, as it tickles a shining trail across your cheek. I know your memories, for they are also My memories, and in them I see the pain of regret stinging you in all the places you had anticipated.

“This is the end of a path that was not without consequence, or decision– but I am here. I know the song in your heart. The one that swirls your thoughts to its rhythms, and beats like a drum upon the wall that separates life from death. I am here, in the rhythms with you, and I know the peace you have longed for, secretly, in your dreams.

“Now, dream once more to the sounds of life lived around you. Whispers delivered in sheaths of pity, and sobs well rehearsed upon the inevitable. This is no longer your time. Let them have their pity and their sobbing rites, for you, in all of your pure nakedness, are Mine, now and forever.”

Lamenation for L

L is my cousin who is currently on life-support, thousands of miles away. When L’s mother, my aunt, takes her off of life-support this Saturday, those who were able to travel will attend L’s memorial service.  L and I were the best of cousins, and truly the best of friends.  Since I can not attend her memorial service, I have written a Lamentation in honor of her.

Aside from all this, I’m feeling almost relieved and grateful that this sudden turn took hold of L quickly (I learned of her collapse on the 4th), and that she will soon no longer be attached to the body that caused her so much hurt.  I will always be thankful that she lived into her thirties, enriching my life and the lives of everyone around her, because we’ve come close to this point many times as we were growing up.  I will miss everything about L, especially her smile and her laughter.  I think I spent a few hours this morning just remembering the sound of her laughter…

~

You were my first true friend

As children, we ran with the dogs

Laughing and playing

Truly, you were the greatest friend

My cousin

O, humorous one

Quick-witted

You were the kindest among us

In your innocence

I will remember you

O, radiant one

Who dwelled in beauty

For all of your days

Smiling

With eyes that could not see

Simple Pythaea Ritual

For my Sisters, and the benefit of any who were perhaps wanting to celebrate with us, I present one of my Pythaea rituals.  This modern funerary celebration of the power of Apollon as Pythios, the Rotting God, may be held in a variety of ways, however, I have decided to share the most traditionally inspired ritual I can stand.  I think this one is the most widely accessible version I’ve ever done, and so the most worthy of being shared.

Pythaea occurs on the twentieth day of Treasury Month Pytheion (V), which we are currently in, falling upon the Julian date of May 8, 2015.

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The Pythaea

A modern, though traditionally inspired, ritual to exalt Apollon Pythios, He who rules over Death, the Enlightener, who strips away the pretense of the flesh, revealing the untarnished truth, and sending souls forward on their evolutionary paths.

You may find Him in the cemetery, or the mortuary.  You may find Him standing over the roadkill you saw on your morning commute.  Pythios is the Rotting God who commanded the corpse of Python to fall into oblivion, and He is the God whose Temple lies before us, after death.

This is a funerary rite, in which we acknowledge the power of Death, and contemplate Apollon’s role in its implementation.  Death is not an end, but a first step on a journey we can not yet know, just as we may not yet know our enlightenment until we have received it.  But by this rite, may we shed a little of what holds us back.

This ritual is but one example of what might be done for the Pythaea.  Feel free to alter or fix the ritual to suit yourself, and your needs.

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Be washed and dressed in clean, comfortable, perhaps mournful clothing. Then begin by transferring flame from the sacred hearth/candle to a another candle which can be carried to the altar, while saying: “Hestia, who guards the holy fires of the Lord in Pytho, who holds the sacred task of keeping the ever-burning hearth, we/I ask that You bless this rite and consecrate all that is affected herein.”

Alternatively, if you do not keep a sacred flame burning all, most or some of the time, you may instead light and dedicate the flame to Hestia for this ritual specifically, by saying: “Blessed Hestia, keeper of the universal hearth, She who is the nurturer of all flame, everywhere, we/I ask that You bless this rite and consecrate all that is affected herein.”

Here is the procession toward the altar, where all participants gather before walking together, led by you (the facilitator), who carries the sacred flame. The burning candle should be placed on the altar at this time.

Now, you will take a large bay leaf (or a bundle of other preferred herbs) and light it with the newly consecrated flame.  Quickly plunge the flame into the previously prepared bowl of water, saying:  “This water is purified in the essence of Hestia, Virgin Most Holy.”  Khernips are now prepared.

Next, you will asperge (sprinkle with khernips) first the altar and all implements thereon, moving to each participant in turn, yourself included, while circling the altar.  All should hold a prayerful mindset throughout the purification.  A prayer to Apollon the Purifier may also be spoken aloud at this time, if you like.  Example: “Apollon, our Lord called Daphneios, hear the prayer of Your people.  Our Lord called Katharsios, cast out the impurities herein.”  The space is now ritually pure, and the leftover water should be placed outside of the ritual area, to be poured onto the ground later.

At this time, participants should place their offerings upon the altar, each saying a personal greeting to the Lord Apollon as they approach, or they may do so silently.  Offerings for this rite should include a few previously prepared “bodies for cremation” in the sacred fire, in Apollon’s name. These bodies need not be any more complex than paper cut-outs in vaguely human shapes.  Upon these bodies should be written labels of undesirable traits that are relevant to the person(s) present.

Now, you may call to Apollon in earnest, saying (something to the effect of): “Apollon Pythios, our Lord, and commander of the decaying flesh, we/I do call to You, Releaser of the spirit from physical bonds!  Dread Apollon, Most Equitable Pythios, hear us/me and arrive!”  Calls may continue until you feel the Lord’s presence.

Next comes the explanation of the ritual, the reason(s) why you have come and your intent, spoken thus, or similarly: “Apollon Pythios, Lord called Destroyer, He who waits at the brink of death, who rules the transition at the sacred cemetery, we/I have come here to know You, to exalt You, and to be released from our/my bonds, just as You release the pure souls of those lain to rest before Your holy feet.”

You will now hold each of the “bodies” out toward the image of Apollon upon the altar in turn, saying aloud the labels each were given.  Participants will at this time call out any other undesirable traits that they wish to have stripped away by the Rotting God. After all are finished, you will hold the “bodies”, one by one, over the sacred flame until they are consumed.  Any leftovers should be collected in a small bowl for burial later.  During this process, participants, including yourself, should pray intensely and silently to the Lord Apollon. They may also choose to meditate upon Him in this aspect of Pythios, and the lessons which may be learned from Him.

Afterward, you and participants may light incense from the sacred flame to be placed on the altar in offering and thanks to Apollon Pythios for His presence and purification.  Thanks may be verbalized at this time.  Example: “Apollon Pythios, Lord of the rot who wields the all-cleansing light, we/I thank You for Your presence at this rite, and in our/my lives/life. Thank You for the enlightenment You bring, and for the gift of death’s release.  If we/I have ever pleased You, and if You have ever seen fit to assist us/me in our/my turbulent lives/life, then remember us/me as we/I remember You.”

Next, comes the final offering, in the form of libations poured into a separate bowl.  I have determined that the most appropriate libations for this rite are water and wine, though you may use your own discretion in choosing for yourself.  As each libation is poured into the bowl, say something like: “May You receive this sustenance in exchange for Your presence and attention.  Blessed Apollon, we/I thank You.”

At this time, all participants should follow you outside to pour the libations onto the Earth, as well as to bury any leftovers from the “cremated bodies”, and to pour out the used khernips.  Thank Lord Apollon and Lady Hestia one last time to conclude the ritual.  Example: “Lord and Lady of Purest Flame, we/I thank You for the kindness You have shown us/me, and we/I humbly seek to remain worthy of Your Divine intervention.  If it pleases You, stay; if it pleases You go, and be welcome with us/me, always.”

Hail Apollon!  Hail Hestia!  Hail the Blessed, Deathless Gods!

The Dead Are Not Silent

Hello, everyone.  I am still not really in a position answer any correspondence, which includes comments for this post, but I find myself temporarily with internet service during this tumultuous time, so I thought I would type up a little something that has been brewing in my mind for a while. I will be back less sporadically after a few more days, I hope.  :)

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It is March, and during this month, in addition to the many purification festivals I’ll be trying to observe, of which there are more now due to consolidation of the Treasury’s calendar, I will also be celebrating the lives and deaths of persons who have become very important to me and my spiritual practice.  The first to be recognized in March, at least this year, was Saint Katherine Drexel, whose feast day in the Catholic tradition was yesterday, March 3rd.

Saint Drexel was the second American born Saint to the canonized, which was completed October 1st, in the year 2000, by Pope John Paul II.  I do not have much love for most in the Catholic tradition, however Saint Drexel is a important exception for me.  This is the first year she’ll have been talked about and celebrated by my family, but certainly will not be the last.

As a socialite in 1800’s Philadelphia, no one expected her to enter a religious order, but she did not allow those opinions to sway her from her mission to better the lives and conditions of the indigenous American, and Black American populations.  Her entire life was spent for the betterment of these disenfranchised peoples, while using her considerable inheritance to build schools, missions and churches for the least cared for peoples in the country. From her, I’ve learned that it is possible to devote oneself to the unceasing calling of one’s God, and that it is possible to make a difference in the lives of the poor and dispossessed.  I do not have to be a Catholic to understand and appreciate the impact of Saint Drexel’s legacy on American society.

The second person to be honored in March will be the philosopher and mathematician, Hypatia of Alexandria, who was murdered by a Christian mob on March 8th, 415 A.D., in Alexandria, Egypt, after much civil unrest and bloody attacks by feuding Jewish and Christian citizens of Alexandria.

Hypatia’s only crime was to be a learned woman of Pagan leanings in a city where the Jewish and Christian peoples were at each other’s throats.  After much back and forth between the two warring sects, and after being accused of influencing one of the leaders of this feud, Hypatia was kidnapped, beaten, stripped naked, flayed with oyster shells while still alive, dismembered, and finally burned.  And though her death was brutal and unforgivable, Hypatia’s legacy of philosophy, astronomy and higher mathematics lives on today in those who remember and honor her, as well as those who follow in her footsteps, especially women.

What I have learned from her personally, is that no matter what one does or doesn’t do, knowing and being oneself is most important, simply because we can not always sway the minds of others.  The world is a dangerous place, and sometimes we will be targeted for our beliefs, or for political reasons, but we must not allow fear to silence us, not even the fear of pain or death.

Near the end of March, I will celebrate the life and death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I, of England, whose date of death was March 24th, 1603. Queen Elizabeth is widely regarded as one of the most successful monarchs in English history, having presided over what is often now called the Golden Age.

After much contention and religious strife in the country during the reigns of her half-siblings, King Edward VI and Queen Mary I, the succession of Elizabeth was a welcome opportunity for change.  Through her moderate rule, Elizabeth was able to quiet the civil unrest that had long plagued her people, though these reforms were not without risk to her life and person. She was targeted several times by plots to return England to the control of the Roman Catholic Church, especially after Pope Pius V’s papal bull in the year 1570, which released all Catholic citizens of England from allegiance to their Sovereign.

But, as history tells us, Queen Elizabeth was ultimately victorious in winning the hearts and minds of her people.  The lessons I take from this, are that striving for the middle way is oftentimes the most desirable course, when in fact one’s goal is to reconcile disparate factions.  Compromise can lead not only to the coming together of things once thought irreconcilable, but also to the growth and maturation of newborn respect for one another’s differences.

So, there you have it; all those whom I will have celebrated, or will be celebrating, during this month of March, 2015.  May the many Gods and spirits, especially those of our honored dead be remembered, and may they continue to observe our trials and accomplishments for the betterment of our world and societies.

Hail to the Deathless Gods!  Hail to the Beloved Dead, and may they, and we, never be silent!

Death and Accomplishment

Have you ever had a near death experience?  Like barely being missed by a car, or something?  I saw a video last night of a girl who walked away from nearly being crushed under a dump truck.  She was understandably shaken up afterward, and watching her brought back memories of two similar incidents from my past.

The first time I came near death, was my very first visit to the ocean.  I was at the beach, swimming in the Atlantic.  I was about five years old at the time, and my uncle thought it would be a good idea to take me way out in the water, on his shoulders.  Of course, we were totaled by a wave and separated.  I can remember trying to figure out which way was up.  I wasn’t a good swimmer, in fact at that time, I’d hardly ever been in a pool.  I blacked out in the water, and when I regained consciousness, there was a lifeguard leaning over me, while I coughed up sea water.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a distraught look in my uncles eyes as I saw that day.

The second incident was very similar to what I saw in that video.  I didn’t look before crossing the street and was nearly hit by a woman in a sports car. Thankfully, she slowed enough so as to only bang my knee (very hard).  I took a single step backward then, and was nearly splattered across the road by a speeding SUV that whizzed behind my back.  That was the single most terrifying moment of my life.  I really thought I was dead.

Now, I bet you’re wondering what this has to do with religion, as this is a religious blog.  Here’s the thing.  When I saw that girl almost get killed, it made me wonder if she changed anything significant about her life afterward. Was there something that she’d always wanted to do, that she’d been putting off?  I’ve heard of people who’ve changed themselves pretty drastically after such an experience, and usually, it is through the prism of their religion that they make that evaluation.

It also made me think of my own life and religion.  How many promises have I made to the gods?  How many have I fulfilled? Is there anything I would like to change? I suppose it was a healthy fear of death, and wasted potential, that caused me to reevaluated what I’m doing with my life, but since the gods don’t put ideas in our heads for no reason, I’m definitely going to make some changes.

I’m starting small, with little things that have held my interest for a long time. First, I am resolved to read the Tarot for the public, which I have been avoiding like the plague.  I usually only divine for friends and their acquaintances, but for the past year, there has been a push to get me to do it publicly.  I suppose it can’t hurt, especially if I do it during the local Art Walk.

Secondly, I’m going to learn how to belly-dance.  I have been infatuated with that style for so long, and there is a conveniently located studio next to where I would be reading the Tarot.

And the third thing on my immediate list:  I will shoot my bow at least once a week, every week from now on.  I will no longer allow my weapon to gather dust for months, or my arrows to lean, unused against my altar.  In the name of Apollon, my Lord, will I do these three things.  And in so doing, I will improve my life, my wellbeing, and my happiness.

Hail Apollon!