Tag Archives: Winter

Happy Solstice!

I have only a quick post for today, since it is the Solstice and I will be celebrating the honor of Zeus our Father, and His birth, rearing and defeat of the Titan Gods.  This is not an historical observation, and indeed some may see this celebration as a bit of a stretch, however, it truly makes perfect sense to me and mine, and we have upheld this tradition for several years now.

There will be a savory meal prepared for us to share with Zeus, our Father, Mother Rhea, and with Gaea, our Great-Mother.  And we will stay up late into the night to mark off the individual observations that we have for this holy night. And during the night, as Mother Rhea labors to bring forth our Father, we will bake sugar cookies in the shape of the Sun, which will be finished near to the time of His delivery (as we have conveniently and perhaps arbitrarily determined for our own household).  And while we eat our cookies, we will tell the tales of our Father’s youth, and we will dance for Him and His glory.

And after all of that, those of us still awake will sit quietly, awaiting the Sunrise.  In those moments of twilight, we will honor the lifting of the darkness, as Zeus, young and virile, leads the Olympians to ultimate victory. We will then praise Him in the light of the young Sun, for ending the time of darkness and stagnation, and for ushering in a new age of light and growth.

And this shall be our celebration for the Winter Solstice.  How shall you celebrate, friends?

Leto, Glorious Mother

[Originally posted here at the Treasury of Apollon’s blog, October 4, 2014]

~

I see Her there, seated upon the exposed root of a great and aged tree, its leaves turning the colors of blood and fire.  She is in Her element, upon Her throne, a visage of civilization still apparent, yet noticeably porous; the act during the feast.

Her host, Her court, all make wide circles within their crowded space, trying to come ever closer to Her, but She is the distance between the stars, and none can traverse the few steps separating them from Her.

In that area, Her Son stands vigil, staring the crowd into submission.  He will not allow any to draw near, and delights in the power to instill fear within those who love Her.

She laughs, having been brought to joy by the appearance of Her Daughter, wild and freely dancing with the forest nymphs.  They circle Her, and the great tree with hands clasped together.

And Her Son turns to look upon them all, to smile in that sincere way that would cause a mortal heart to stop.  And His Sister dares Him with Her haughty eyes.

With one graceful wave of Her delicate arm, the Mother, the Enthroned One, compels the crowd to stillness, while simultaneously inviting Her Son to rule the dance.

And when He takes up His lyre, the forest falls into silence.  When He plucks the strings, all the nymphs and spirits swoon.  When His voice carries over the tree canopy, all those gathered are entranced.

And She, upon Her throne, is pleased; served sweet water by the creatures of the forest, while nymphs adorn Her golden hair with night-blooming flowers, each as white as the snows which soon will fall.

This is the court of the Dark Mother, this is the feast of the wild things which dwell in the night.  This is the host which follows Her over the threshold between Seasons.  And this is the stark beauty of life.

Hail to You, Leto, Glorious Mother, and Mistress of Winter’s long nights.

When a God Tells You Something…

…Or, Little Syncretism Things…

Some of you may know that I have a budding relationship with Odin.  When He appeared in my life the first few times it did nothing but scare the crap out of me.  That has lessened, thankfully, and now I can concentrate on what I’m supposed to be learning from Him.  There are circumstances that He wants addressed, but other than that He has yet to suggest anything that I wasn’t already involved in, or anything that I didn’t already know needed fixing.  He and I have a pretty easy-going relationship, partly due to Zeus and Apollon keeping a watchful eye on my interactions with Him, and partly due to Him being incredibly understanding of my situation.

There are several things I work with Him on, but the most important thing He tries to teach me is how to be Sovereign; what that looks like in my life and with the spirits under my care, and what I need to do in order to project that Sovereignty without stepping on Apollon’s toes, and also how not to let Apollon walk all over me in the marriage.

As I’m sure you can guess, Apollon isn’t always pleased with the subject matter, but this education stems from an agreement between the two Kings, Zeus and Odin, and as much as He might not like it, He still has to abide by it, and so do I.  So, I listen and I watch, and I try to apply what I’ve heard and seen.

Now, as Hunt season has already begun (early, so I’ve heard) I’m in the position of being truly involved in my Court’s activities.  The Waiting Ones (which is the name they’ve called themselves since before I was finally given to them) are a host of dead fighting men and women, most of them previously human, some not so much, or at all.  After having spent so long just waiting for me to be born for them, they now get to act upon their extreme boredom.

Sometimes that means chasing terrified wildlife, sometimes it means giving me nightmares, and still other times it means merging with another long established Hunt during the darkening days of the year.  This is where Odin comes in again, though perhaps not in the way one might first expect.

I was told a story by Him, about two young Goddesses who once fled Their Homeland for reasons I am not at liberty to mention here.  They came to a place entwined with another Pantheon, and over the course of many, many years, were accepted into that Pantheon via personal human experience and established myth.  When looking back upon this, I’ve seen traces, though I claim it as nothing more than my personal doxa, even if I have spoken with the Goddesses in question about it, and even if They have vouched for the authenticity of Odin’s tale.

In the story, it was told that these Goddesses did not travel alone, but with a host of Their own– a Hunt, if you will, that remains loyal to Them to this day. It is this Hunt that my Court runs with during the darkening days, and their time with Them is soon to begin.

The Autumnal Equinox is, depending upon what calendar one uses, either tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.  According to my calendar, it’ll be the day after.  As most Hellenic Polytheists I know of will perhaps be celebrating Persephone’s decent, I will be honoring Leto, and the riding of Her Hunt across the lands.

Of course, many also celebrate Apollon’s departure to Hyperborea on the Equinox, and this makes sense and is incorporated into my doxa, as Apollon and Artemis both will be riding in Their Mother’s Hunt, for at least the time between the Equinox and the end of Aegletia (the Treasury of Apollon’s October festival).  So, there is certainly a departure at the Equinox, but Apollon hasn’t gone completely from the world yet.  He remains on the outskirts of civilization, in our peripheral vision.

[And before anyone dares to tell me that this is “wrong”, please remember that Gods do not have to be in only one place at a single point in time.  If that is your reason for rejecting my doxa, fine, but don’t think to explain to a bride of Apollon, who regularly interacts with other brides of Apollon, that her God (or any God) can not be in more than one place at a time. Save your breath.]

So, Leto, the fair-haired and veiled Consort of Zeus, seems to have a lot more going on than the motherly demure that She is so often characterized by in what writings on Her that survive, which of course gives us very little information on how peoples of the past actually viewed Her.  In this, I rely on my doxa and on interactions with Her via dreams and symbolism.

When I see Leto, I do not see one who is tied down by conventional motherhood, though a large portion of our understanding of Her come from Her role as Mother of Artemis and Apollon.  I see a Goddess of liminality, of twilight, flanked by wolves, who takes no shit and doles out justice of the finest quality.  Leto suffers no insult lightly, either to Herself or to Her Children, and when She rides out on the darkening days, She does so unveiled, hair streaming behind her in awful glory.  This is the Goddess whom Niobe insulted– the Goddess whose honor was defended by Artemis and Apollon, and these traits are but a few inherited from Her, by Them.

When I look at Leto, I see a Whole Goddess, Someone who has a past, a history, a life that began long before the birth of Her Children, and in that I find common ground for the growth of our relationship, as well as for personal growth.  There is much I have (and have yet) to learn from Her in regard to keeping my own identity intact after becoming a mother.  In this culture, motherhood is so easily dismissed, yet it is also lauded as the highest pedestal a woman can be seated upon, to the detriment of society.

Leto, who is quiet, who is veiled, is the same Leto who does not flinch in the presence of Hera, or any Other.  She is the same Leto who throws off her veil to ride vigorously through the wilderness, and the same Leto who, for reasons of Her own, fled Her birthplace along with Her Sister and Their host to stake Her claim to the varied lands in ancient Hellas.  And She was well respected throughout.

So, as the days darken, my spirits will wander off to follow Her, as they have done in years past, while I will remain here preparing to receive Apollon and His Mother and Sister for the Aegletia.  And then They will leave to carry out Their various concerns for the Winter months.

It’s fascinating how so many of these revelations were brought about by a God with whom I never imagined I’d have anything to do with, directly.  It’s fascinating how Zeus arranged this.  And it’s fascinating how right it all feels… for me.

Many Layers

When Apollon speaks, His words are rigid and stinging, like an onion, and even more so due to the many layers of meaning behind them.  Oftentimes He weaves the meanings together so you can never quite tell which one He means, until after one or another has come to pass.  But sometimes, when you look deep into yourself, meeting your many expectations and fears head-on, you can see which possibilities are only mirrors for past failures, and which are worthy of striving toward.

He loves in layers, also.  His love is like a warm blanket, but with a static charge; soft, and clingy and maybe a little painful.  But when you are still, it holds the most comforting warmth imaginable.  When you peel the blanket away, the sting of static may distract you until the brisk air moves across your skin.  Then you remember that this, too, is another layer of Apollon’s love.

The distance.  The cold.  The loneliness.  You hear and feel only yourself. But you begin to shine in the darkness when you remember His warmth, comforting you, and you are illuminated from within.  Therein exists a relic of His touch, perhaps, and by this glorious light you can not escape self-examination, because the only thing you can see at all is yourself.

Looking into ourselves, we may be faced with questions of worth, questions of skill, questions of ambition, and so on.  But these are the questions that mold Apollonians, yet must we not forget that the answers are what temper us.  The answers are what truly make us great.  We are steel, repeatedly heated, folded, then cooled; made into a hard and useful metal.  Layered.

All life is an obstacle to be overcome.  But how do we overcome?  There are no standard answers.  The way in which I overcome is through stillness.  I let the waves pass over me.  I do not struggle.  I ride the storm– and the storm breaks, leaving behind only me, in my stillness.  This doesn’t mean that I expect to survive, of course, for what expectations can I, who am bound to Apollon, truly hope to fulfill?  Only His expectations.  If it is His will that I be destroyed in the seeking of greatness for Him and for our Family, then it shall be.  If His will lay elsewhere, then there is no reason to fear the storm.  It can not harm me.

In this way, I overcome my ego’s incessant need to know, to dictate, to act. I am not my ego.  I am the purity of Self which radiates out of this human form, thus I am Divine.  And so we all are, especially those who have been touched, those who are illuminated from within by the love of a God.

Love has many layers, and many moods.  Remember that moods change, like the weather and like the tides– and the Seasons, also.  The Seasons are changing again.  Apollon is returning soon.  So, if you feel cold and lonely now, depending on what His expectations of you are, you may soon be lamenting His enveloping heat, rather than His distant, frosty chill.

And His words are coming again, themselves stinging and stringent… and soothing and enlightening.  Apollon Himself is many things, made up of many layers, and He will cover us in them until we adapt, or suffocate.

Solar Spring

Originally, I was going to write a more technical post, describing and comparing climate zones for the various expressions of Winter in the United States.  It would have been an interesting post, unfortunately I don’t think it would have captured the nature of the celebration that I acknowledge at the time of Solar Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, so here is round two.

Of all the holy times throughout the year, this period of roughly three to four weeks (beginning in early February), is and has always been my favorite time of the year, even before I realized the importance it holds for me, personally. It is the time when the Sun’s newly burgeoning warmth is just beginning to be felt by the land, when the flowers begin to peek up through the soil, and new buds can be seen on the trees.  This is the time when my diligence at the Perihelion is rewarded with the flicker of Apollon’s attention turning back upon me, and indeed upon this world.  It is when I begin preparations for His Return to Delphi.

As it stands, I haven’t been able to fully embrace this time as I’d like to. What I am compelled to offer my Lord is at least a weeks worth of cleaning, with the remaining time devoted to decorative pomp.  As I am the only one here who finds creating a welcoming environment for my Lord to be a top priority, I am the only one who can make it happen.  And I do what I can for Him in my limited capacity, but truly, what I (and I suspect He, also) would like to see are a small handful of His women coming together in honor of Him.  Perhaps a sort of voluntary religious seclusion, where we inform ourselves of our femininity, and prepare ourselves to receive again the pinnacle of Masculinity that is our Lord Apollon.

For myself, it is very much centered around the bridal role, that of the welcoming homemaker who provides the comfort and release from the battles of the outside world.  Only Apollon knows what lay beyond the horizon, where we can not see, but I feel as though these weeks of preparation and anticipation allow me to be the excursion He desires during this transition.

Of course, I haven’t yet forsaken my wish for companions with which to celebrate, because who wouldn’t want to clean and pray and bond with other women of Apollon, while singing His praises and awaiting our Lord on the coming day?  *sigh*  How I wish.  In the meantime, I’m afraid He will have to make due with my lonely and meager presence, as He has for the last several seasons.  But, even as I long for a bit of physical community, I am reminded that I was charged with the expression of this holy time for a reason.  Perhaps He doesn’t mind it so much as I seem to, as the time approaches.