Tag Archives: Treasury of Apollon

Move Quietly Through the World

This world is a teeming, vibrant world.  A world full of the bitter struggles of life in all beings and forms, wrenching their existence out of the elements before them. The fish move throughout the ocean, but they also are the ocean, as their molecules constantly shift between those of the water, and other sea life.  The land animals dig and scrape the earth for food, sometimes even taking the lives of their Earthly cousins for survival.  They too are mingled in form with their elements.  We, humanity, are no different, for even in our cities of concrete and glass, we feed upon the structures of our environment.

Ours is a society nourished by many sources.  We are of course sustained by the Earth, though in a way that seems almost secondary to the human construct of fame, and its behavioral partner, ostentatiousness.

The desire for a place in the world is one which nearly all people have.  We want to belong, and we want to be valued within the particular social structures we navigate.  We are an animal which needs its own place in the world, both collectively and individually.  Hence, we have occupied many niches, and in so doing, have attempted to elevate ourselves through our achievements.  In celebrating our advancements within the animal kingdom, we have become lost in our potential as a species, forsaking the now, and our Earthly brethren, and also one another.  Such is our way, reflected, for example, in humanity’s conquest, use, and sometimes misuse of fire.

We think of fire as a mere tool too often, and we as its masters, when instead we should see fire as our honored ally.  It has its own life and will, and as long as we respect it, treating and feeding it with the proper care, we can prevent fire from suddenly taking everything we value, including our lives.  But if we do not respect it and its responsible care, we need only indulge in one moment of neglect, and all is lost.  In the loss of our once reverent coexistence with the non-human, we have also lost much of our ability to empathize and identify with each other.

We must prevent the loss of these crucial perspectives.  The surest way to do so, is to dismantle the construct of human superiority, and indeed superiority over other humans.  There are no lives which are inherently of more or lesser value.  Each of us, and each individual of each other species, even the tiniest protozoa, has the right to life and respect.  We must protect ourselves in certain circumstances, yes, but self-defense is a far cry from the wholesale destruction of species’.  Because life feeds on life, we must respect life at all costs.

How may we begin to assist in this shift of human consciousness?  How can each of us, as mere individuals, help to end the perpetuation of false ideas of mastery and lordship over the whole Earth?  We need first confront any illusions of superiority lying inside us, dormant or otherwise.  And we must be willing to see and accept the inherent equality of all life.

Know also that this is not the dismantling of pride.  Healthy pride is a virtue that all should cultivate within themselves, for one must first know their strengths if they wish to utilize them.  Pride is not boastful, which is a common vice among those seeking an elevated place in society.  Pride is not loud, nor is it domineering.  Pride is the opposite of ostentatiousness, just as quiet humility is the opposite of boastfulness.

One may, and rightly should if circumstance warrants it, visibly champion their right and just causes, and even their personal goals, to those who would listen and contribute.  But we must not let our pride be swept away in this fervor, for to do so may invite hubris to poison our minds.  Sometimes, the easiest and best way to prevent such an occurrence, is simply to choose to move quietly through the world.

In this context, moving quietly means doing right and doing good in small, unassuming ways along with more overt gestures, but also to do so without any expectation of reward or accolades.  When the focus is on the deed and the rightness of it, rather than the audience of the deed, our egos gain the peace of the shadow.  That is to say, we learn that by occupying the background, we may observe the foreground, quietly remaining within the scene while holding our place subtly.  In this position we become more capable of responding to the actual needs of those or what we champion, instead of the opinions of spectators and future contributors, alike.

Imagine what might be accomplished once the ego has stepped aside, what goals might be met quietly, and without controversy.  Imagine how much good can be done when one is focused on the doing, and not the telling.  The gratification of revealing our deeds can be a potent lure, but we have to look past those urges to see what is truly best, and what we truly care about.

By moving quietly, we can attain the perspective needed to see our world in all of its terrible beauty.  In the quiet, truth is found, and once we have attained even a kernel of that truth, we must continue to cultivate it for our own sake, as well as our causes’.   People unknown to us and the world, in circumstances unfathomable, do right every single day, expecting nothing in return.  We can join them if we choose. Then we can accomplish our great deeds, and our vast projects, by moving quietly, like shadows revealed in the burning light of truth.

Perhaps and hopefully, in the quest to better ourselves, collectively and individually, we will begin to reopen the lines of empathic communication between ours and other species.  Moving quietly also facilitates listening, and that is something that we could certainly do more of when it comes to the animal kingdom, and our species, too.

Hail to the Lord Apollon, who provided the images and emotions channeled through me for translation of this article.  May He continue to illuminate our world, while steering us through the chaos which permeates it.

Hail to the Bright One!  Hail to our Prince!

 

Deipnon Purification Ritual (Dec. 29, 2016)

42 minutes of me praying silently for purification from Apollon, on behalf of myself and a few other individuals, while at the shrine. One candle is lit for each person. About halfway through I light some bay leaves in a rather spectacular fire.

Hail Paian! Hail Pythios! Hail Phoibos!

Follow God, Obey the Law

“Follow God”, the first of the Delphic Maxims, if taken at face value may not make much sense from a Polytheistic standpoint, but as with all of the Maxims, there are a variety of overlapping and often congruent interpretations.

Recently, there’s been a discussion within the Treasury of Apollon regarding the first two Maxims.  One of our Sisters has been exercising her brain by translating them each, one by one, and sharing her thoughts with the rest of us.  By her new translation, the first Maxim reads: “Follow the Divine”.

On a surface level it may not seem like that much of a change, but she then went on to elaborate her thoughts on the matter, which are inclusive of other approaches to Deity.

“‘Follow God’ doesn’t make much sense in a polytheist context. There isn’t a god to follow, there are countless gods, so how can a person simply “follow God?” …Essentially, rather than following the God, it might mean to follow that which is divine. The meaning of what is divine will most likely depend on the reader, so you can be everything from a humanist non-theist to a monotheist to a polytheist, pantheist, etc. and still follow that which is divine. Anyone and everyone can follow this commandment.”

I think this is an interesting interpretation that has some value to those who may appreciate the Maxims from different viewpoints than Hellenic Polytheism.  This flexibility can then become a bridge toward interfaith work, which was another of her points during our discussion.

The best part about the Maxims, we agreed, are the many layers in their meaning.  And, in keeping with these layers, I then offered another perspective on the interpretation of Maxim #1.

“Interesting.  I like your interpretation of ‘Follow God’, though I have a different one that I’ve relied on pretty much since I first laid eyes on the Maxims.  I interpret ‘Follow God’ as ‘Follow Zeus’, as in follow the King, which further implies loyalty to the Pantheon and loyalty to the virtues of Hellenism and that which is beautiful/divine.  It’s like a top-down approach to the meaning, as Zeus’ name is often itself interpreted simply as ‘God’. So for me, having the first Maxim be a suggestion to follow this single God, Who is Ruler of the Kosmos and thus the nexus at which all beauty/divinity coalesce into the orchestration of existence, isn’t at all at odds with Polytheism. Because, by following ‘God’ I follow the Gods, and all that is beautiful/divine.

…If we were to trace the ‘Follow Zeus’ interpretation back to the lore, it is not surprising that Apollon would deliver the Maxims to us, with the first being a command or suggestion to keep loyal to His Father.  As Apollon is the Right-hand of Zeus, His actions within the Kosmic Order are, by and large, sanctioned by Zeus pretty much automatically.  You don’t really see the two of Them butting heads, except on those occasions where Apollon acts against the prescribed order, such as the death of Python, or Hera’s rebellion, or His vengeance against the Cyclopses.  All of which got Him into some deep shit, regardless of the circumstances of these actions.  So, this could imply that being in right standing with Zeus, first and foremost, was essential to keeping within the harmonic order of the Universe, of which Apollon is a player.  In some ways, it could even be interpreted as Him giving us some advice based on His own experience, which is pretty amazing and invaluable.”

Soon, another of our Sisters was there, giving us even more insight.

“Laurel pretty much covered anything I would have said to this myself as these have been my own observations, particularly in the relationship between Zeus and Apollon interacting here, and things I have personally remarked on myself. Apollon is a protector of law, and especially sacred law it seems, which gives a new meaning perhaps to the mythic birth of Apollon where he is fed by Themis rather than his mother’s breast. He is nursed on law: common and especially divine!”

This now leads us to the second of the Maxims: “Obey the Law”, newly translated by our Sister in several meaningful ways:  “Rely on Custom”, “Comply with the Law”, “Trust Established Deities”, “Believe in the Melody”, which she explains.

“Here is a case where there’s enormous depth of meaning because of the squishy nature of language. There is an overlying theme of having faith in what is established and, by and large, there’s a great deal of wisdom there. Custom and law exist for a reason and established deities have a history of relationship with humankind that we can learn from. Customs are comforting and laws protect. The last translation is interesting and though I’m not sure about whether it’s a particularly good translation (I’m not a scholar of Classical Greek in the least), there’s a poetic beauty there that I love. It seems to me that if we are able to listen closely, we can hear the melody of life. We talk about the rhythm of our lives, living in harmony, and other auditory metaphors that touch on this idea. If we’re to live in harmony, we should know what we are harmonizing with. Our Lord Apollon knows the melody, plays it on the lyre, and we must believe it’s there in order to hear it. Established deities, just laws, and good customs are like instruments in an orchestra, each playing slightly different notes that combine to create a euphonic symphony. Believing in the melody means that we are better able to contribute to The Song through laws, customs, and practices that show the better parts of humanity. “

All of this ties in perfectly with the idea of the Kosmic Order needing to be adhered to, with Zeus as its Head, and Apollon as its Hand.  We live within Their sphere, within the very melodies and harmonies of all existence.  This is the natural law which governs all things, and finds its expression in all beauty and divinity.  As a Hellenic Polytheist, I find this to be the most satisfying interpretation of both Maxims, but as we explored above, there could be many interesting interpretations for those who are inclined toward other perspectives in regard to Deity.