An Outsider’s View of God-Spousery.


This is interesting mainly because it is coming from an outside observation. I do not agree with it entirely, especially since not all are celibate or can be described as nuns. But I do think that it touches on the potential value of godspouses, not so much as teachers or leaders (though not rejecting that possibility) but rather as someone who has been in a long term ever changing relationship with their god and can offer a wide variety of perspective and experience. After a decade with Apollon I know I have enough accumulated doxa through experience to fill the pages of a book if I ever wanted to do so, and have seen my lord manifest in my life in a myriad ways. I think the only thing I don’t quite agree with is the comparison with mortal relationships because gods really aren’t comparable with people in my opinion and experience. On the whole, though it is a very interesting look at the concept and how it can be understood by outsiders.

Originally posted on Magick From Scratch:

“Let us go, my Beloved, to greet the Bride
The Queen’s Whole Self shall we welcome”
— From L’kha Dodi, the Jewish Evening Sabbath service.

The term “god-spouse” always seems to carry with it a discussion.

“Can a person really be married to a deity?”

“Are they claiming equality to that divinity, and are they really any closer to them than the rest of us?”

“If someone claims to be a god spouse, I expect them to be exceptionally devoted.”

“I can’t imagine that they gods pick and choose favorites.”

While most of the discussion that non-god-spouses seem to have about the phenomenon focuses on the idea of legitimacy, I have an entirely different question to ask. What does it mean? Why have the gods chosen to do this?

Why am I even exploring this issue? My apologies to all the various and sundry god-spouses out there. You fascinate…

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The Hounds of Artemis

I grew up with dogs, I love dogs (I love cats to but lets stay on topic shall we). We have a wide variety of breeds throughout my childhood, everything from huskies to small terriers to Chihuahuas. Dogs have a special place in my heart, which is probably why after many years I have a dog again. Having a dog in the house has made me somewhat reflective on the role of dogs religiously, more specifically in regards to the hounds of Artemis.

Dogs have a long history as human companion and guardian. Their loyal and fierce protective nature likely made them a good model for various spirits. From Cerebrus who happily greeted the newly arrived dead (and not so friendly if the dead tried to leave because hey he is a loyal puppy), and protector of the entrance to Hades, to what I understand as the conception of eudaemons taking the form of dogs as protective benevolent spirit to individuals that they watch over. Overall dogs belong to Artemis, so it would not be surprising if collectively the eudaemons, as imagined as dogs, would belong to her retinue. Dogs to guard the living over whom she takes great care and nurturers, and dogs to drive the souls of those under their care to greater heights.

Of course I can imagine the protest..”but what of the myth of Actaeon?” Actaeon itself is a curious myth that comes with many interpretations to it. The myth itself is complicated. First you have Actaeon, the grandson of Apollon through his father Aristaios. There seem to be two different versions of the myth, one is that in his visit (paying court with design on marriage to Semele I believe, although one play has him as her nephew) during which  time he happens upon the goddess bathing in a stream with her nymphs, and the goddess, so affronted, transformed him into a deer whom his own dogs tore apart. Another version of the myth as Apollodoros tells us is that according to Arkadian account, Actaeon was playing court on Artemis whom he was trying to woo that she would marry him. Same story follows from there. The very idea of the dogs tearing apart the transformed youth can call into question any kind of idea of the hounds of Artemis as benevolent daemons, never mind that in myth it is typically his own hunting dogs rather than her hounds that do the job. But even so there has been commentary of the actuality of a cult that sprung up around the myth in which Actaeon himself played the role of a sacred sacrifice and the result of his own apotheosis. As such, his transformation into a creature sacred to the goddess, and his own tearing apart by dogs that led to his death would suggest that if this were the case it is probable that the hounds here were a medium of his apotheosis. They served the role for which I stated above, that in moving the soul forward. That these are his own dogs specifically could solidify the idea that the dogs were of nature to be loyal and protective of him, which would make this action remarkable. If we read in between the lines we may find a character not unlike Hippolytus in which we have a young hero who has devoted himself in adoration to Artemis. The primary difference here would be that unlike the chaste love of Hippolytus (or so we must presume from the writing of Euripedes), that the love of Actaeon was of such passionate nature that he desired to be united with the goddess in marital bonds. In both instances we would then have the death and apotheosis of young heroes who adored the goddess and gave her reverence above all others. In such a view, his hounds could very well be representative of the eudaemons that she set by his infant cradle, that were destined to immortalize him.

I do personally ascribe, regardless of what the myth of Actaeon does or does not  tell us, that Artemis as a nurturing goddess (by which she also is serving as goddess of the hunt as provider) is a goddess who directs the hounds, as representing eudaemons, to the care and guardianship of mortals. And that perhaps the images of dogs in the cemetaries may well reflect the eudaemon’s benevolent presence in life as the stone dog watches for ages gone by over the final resting place of the dead. This devotion can be seen even in the myth of Hecuba who became the dog of Hekate because of such love and devotion to her family that Hekate granted her this for the grief  over her loss of her family. This may in part inspired some thought that eudaemons could possibly be the souls of those who have loved you. Some philosophical thought has also seemed  to have addressed them as the higher nature of the individual rather than a separate spirit. Regardless, the eudaemon has been  universally addressed as a being of utter goodness.

While not everyone may not agree on what a eudaemon is or how they appear, for reasons outlined above  to me they are ever in the form of dogs, and because of this whenever I look into the eyes of a dog, I see the benevolent grace of the eudameon reflected there. The dog is the perfect symbol of the  kindly protective spirit and Artemis  is the leader of the dogs, O nurse of all.

The Purification and Expiations of Winter

It has been snowing, although at this hour the snow from last night and this morning is slowly melting away, I spent some time this morning before work watching the large fat flakes of winter scatter from the heavens across the ground. Ah winter, it has arrived. I can clearly understand why once it was considered to be two seasons, rather than four to have been imagined. The season of fruition, of life, that which is the summer part of the year, and that of winter. Not a season of death so much, for death happens throughout the year, with the burning heat of the sun and the dwindling of life in autumn. Death is always around everywhere. Rather it seems more to be about the washing away, the purification (for which we have January named after Janus by the Romans, recognizing that there must be a cleansing before the return of life in the spring.

It becomes about sowing the crop for the next year, with prayers and all hope that the next year be fortuitous . It is the rainy season through which the clouds roll over the heavens. In warmer climes winter is marked by downpours, in cooler climes by blankets of snow. Wash away, O Gods, and prepare. This washing of the earth is simultaneously not only purifying but also fertile. The very season in which men dared not to travel on the sea and offered libations to Poseidon is the same season in which Pan, that virile god, fertilizes the land. He seeks and finds Demeter. Zeus, coiled into the recesses of the soil into the arms of Persephone. In the darkness, that which is cleansed is impregnated. Zeus, the impregnating golden shower. And lusty Dionysos rises just before the dawn of spring with his hallowed festivals which the honorable dead hold dear, and the fruit of the last year is tasted with the first casks open in the dawn of spring during Anthesteria, amid the lambing/calving season in which Apollon’s pastoral birth occurs, he who is lord of the season of fruits.

For all this talk of Purifications and Expiations it begs the question, why is the god of purifications, Apollon, away in the far lands during this season? If we consider that Hyperborea on one level, as was observed by some ancient opinions, was synonymous with land of the west (Elysium), even that which the gardens of Apollon in which even his “Libyan” gardens were confused by Pindar and to which he took Kyrene the lion-slayer, we find that Apollon is present in the winter but acting on another plane. This would likely not be too dissimilar to Persephone in the winter who is away from the company of Olympians but very much present on another chthonic level. If we consider that Hyperborea may have been the equivalent to Elysium, or some specific part of Elysium, and Apollon’s own mother was from this sacred land it certainly draws strong parallels to mystic tradition in which Persephone is the mother of Apollon as Iakhos, master of the winds. The great castle of which were considered all the liminal periphery of the next world even as the house of Helios and Selene, the two luminous bodies of the heavens had castles into the underworld to which they retired. This makes Apollon, in the winter, a chthonic force that acts from within/from afar.

He is not present in the downpour of rain, but within the earth, purifying it, even as the Erinyes, his elders (who Aeschylus has complain of Apollon as a usurper god of their providence as a clear demonstration of his powers and direct relationship to them), are purifying the dead who come into the underworld. He is working hidden, the Letoide (child of Leto, the hidden/obscure) on the fruits of the earth. For he makes fruitful, makes the cows carry twin calves, and the ewes twin lambs. He is as wealth in some respect, the wealth of plenty and crops, a suitable brother for Ploutus, the god of wealth. He is the god, who in the Orphic hymn views the very roots of all things. He cleanses all things at its deepest level. Even as the streams themselves lead to the underworld and the greatest among them (Styx, Lethe and Mnemonsyne) run forth there, Hesiod too, in his Theogony, calls all the streams and Apollon among them as those which are ordained for nurturing the young. The waters nurture and purify, and Apollon is among them.

O Apollon Hyoerboreios, you assuredly are working from afar, from the far places, hidden and obscure, O fiery chthonic lord, O Soranus of the wolfen cap, you cleanse all by your fire, you Lykeios stir the howling winds O Telkinhios. For you have set aside your golden crown, dancing in the night, You who purify even as the rain of Zeus washes all the world. Let us begin anew..

I see why the Dorics considered the onset of winter following the autumn equinox to be the beginning of a new year. It makes a certain sense to me. As much sense as the probable reason why the Romans, who were likely strongly influenced by the Southern Italian Hellenic colonies (Grecia Magna) moved their own traditional new year from March to January. All things best begin with the purifications, as who have given ritual unto the gods well know!

Let Madness Reign

Let madness reign
Let panic pray
to the gods above
In the haunt of the dead
In the grove of the dove.
Let madness dance
Let panic laugh
While the wolf god is away
The saffron lord is drinking draughts
Of liquor honey and spice
Beyond the dragon eye of Koios
Beyond the howling breath of winter,
For now is the hour of Pan
Whose laugh is a whirling tune
Of O that madness that we seek
As we trip merrily along
Adorned in a festive array of color
And the masks are grinning in the dark
As we sip from the cup of his shepherd’s song.
The beer it runs, the wine it runs as blood
And like grinning clowns we drink it down
Our lips stained red with our feast
For the king of day is afar and away
And another day he shall strip from us our flesh;
That coin with which we pay
To attend the banquet of Dionysos.

Thanks to One Quote I Am Going to Forever See Apollon as a kind of Whirling Dirvish

The post that put this idea stuck in my head is only vaguely related to what I just wrote about Apollon’s seasonal role but the quotes from it really stuck in there. In this post here by Sannion, he offers a couple of quotes that really struck me hard in the gut. Quotes that played off where my mind has been going in regards to Apollon as herder and a season god (which is all interconnected anyway) and how that plays out in his relationship with Dionysos (which I only touched on in my last post but really it would take a book to talk about ALL of it).

“The Phrygians also call him Goatherd (aipolos), not because he feeds goats, as the psychical people call them, but because he is ever turning (aeipolos) and circulating and impressing the whole universe with turning motion. For to turn (polein) is to circulate and alter matters. That is why the two centers of the heaven are called poles.”

Granted Aeipolos is typically in reference to Pan, but it is entirely descriptive of Apollon not only as a herdsman but also as the grandson of Koios, the heavenly pole. Not to mention the origins of the Crane Dance of Delos that was also quoted. It would be reasonable though that both gods would be related to this spinning dance, the spinning of time and seasons. Of the heavens about the axis, and its reflection at the navel of the world which is Apollon’s (but where too Pan dwells) that we know as Delphi.  Or as quoted from Sannion’s quote:

” For their doctrine concerning the womb is also the tenet of Orpheus; and the idea of the navel, which is harmony, is to be found with the same symbolism attached to it in the Bacchanalian orgies of Orpheus.”

Of course it stands to reason that these two gods are so connected as Plato, in Cratylus, derides both of their names to be of similar part. Calling Pan as Aipolon, for aei polon, and Apollon from ama polon, we have the two gods of the year, one which instigates all movement perpetually, the progenitor Pan, and one who moves all things together harmonically.

Therefore we have, Pan and Apollon, by their natures as gods of the passage of time of seasons spinning, and we have Dionysos (or Zeus if you want to go Arkadian or perhaps Samothrakian) rotating between them.

It is a three way spinning party!


Apollon, Pan, Dionysos and the Seasonal Rule

The other day I had a question about whether or not Apollon had an actual seasonal rulership, aside from his seasonal functions as a shepherding god, and whether there is any evidence of an exchange of rulership of the season with Dionysos. Whereas I cannot say for Dionysos because I am not so versed in his worship and myths as I am with Apollon, for Apollon I can say that I believe so. But not for the reason why many would assume. That is to say, I do not base this on the popular concept of a seasonal exchange of Apollon and Dionysos at Delphi.

First and foremost let me say that overall in Hellas that there seems to be evidence of Apollon’s association with the passage of time via the movement of the seasons. The Orphic hymn to Apollon addresses this specifically in saying that it is his divine melody which turns the seasons around. As the heir of Koios, the axis of the heavens, this can be more clearly demonstrated as we watch the seasonal progression of the stars about its epicenter, most notably the clear turning of ursa major whose position in the sky in the northern hemisphere is always a clear sign all throughout the year of the season. That this constellation was believed to have been Callisto, a devout follower of Artemis ought not to be overlooked as circumstantial, nor that Apollodorus tells us that an alternate telling of the myth was that it was Apollon rather than Zeus who seduced the nymph in the form of the goddess.

In fact, Apollon’s rulership in regards to the seasonal passage of time can be accounted for by the very nature of the original Pythian games and the original system of Apollon’s departure from Delphi which was not yearly but rather once every nine years…at the conclusion of every divine year of the gods. In this original system at Delphi Apollon was absent then for an entire year as he was in his original exile following the slaying of Delphyne, during which time Dionysos was honored on Parnassos. Dionysos did not take up the seat of Apollon, which remained vacant and quiet, but rather roamed the mountains, and for a portion of time was in the underworld searching for his mother Semele. This was later revised under the Amphiktyonia to taking place every four years inbetween the Olympic games (ie the Pythian games would have been as we celebrate the winter Olympics). This revision had a drastic effect on the nature of Apollon’s festivals which were celebrated leading up to the festival. It was likely that there was an in place yearly movement of Apollon though that was subsumed into the Hyperborean system. For which we have later poets speaking of Apollon’s return from Hyperborea, often, as in the case of Kallimachus and Apollonius Rhodios, from Lycia. That is to say that they spoke of Apollon’s passage to Hyperborea as being taken from Lycia and Apollon’s temple at Dodona. This brings up part of why I think that it was originally two different Delphic systems that were compacted, a Hyperborean one and a seasonal one, because it is likely that Delphi had a yearly seasonal seat as he did at Delos where Apollon was said to depart for half of the year to Lycia. This yearly departure would explain why the oracle was silent during the winter. Because Apollon, as a god ruling the dry warm part of the year was absent during the cool, wet time of the year. Did Dionysos rule this part of the year then?

Strictly speaking, I do not believe so. Delphi and Parnassos belonged to Dionysos during Apollon’s absence in Hyperborea, but aside from that I do not see anything that suggests he was a ruler of the winter season in the capacity that Apollon was of the warm dry season. That is not to say that Dionysos did not have many important festivals during the winter and into the beginning of spring, because he did. The seasonal god of winter can be found in another god at Delphi, whose sacred cave the infant Dionysos was said to have been found newborn in by the Thyiades. That god is Pan. In fact in a vase from Delphi we find the three gods together with the rising of either Semele or Persephone in the spring. This would suggest that there was a noted parallel here with the Peloponnese where, in Arkadia Apollon and Pan are addressed as among the eldest of gods, and the two original seasons. As such, in Arkadia it is not with Dionysos that they are presented but rather with Zeus whose childhood and youth closely resembles that of Dionysos. So here we have the mystic god with important local cult ties and the two seasonal gods who are in necessary supportive positions to the mystic god, whether that god is Zeus or Dionysos.

Consider this, if Apollon were exchanging his actual seasonal rule with Dionysos it would be likely have been addressed in the Orphic poem to Apollon, especially since the Orphic hymns seem pretty thorough in cross addressing other deities in their hymns. And given that half of Apollon’s Orphic hymn, that over half of it is given to specific discussion of Apollon’s seasonal rule, yet it is Pan who is addressed. The pairing of Apollon with Pan makes a certain  amount of sense given that they are both oraclular bee-loving goat-horned gods of shepherds, pastures, fields and herds. Pan on one hand having a more fertile associations as a lusty progenitor and sowing of new life, whereas Apollon is concerned with birth and progressive nurture and care until death. There is a kind of fluidity between Apollon and Pan that is appropriate to seasonal exchanges of rule that doesn’t really exist between Apollon and Dionysos, despite Plutarch’s best attempts to make it work with his instance that Apollon and Dionysos are the same god in his mind and that he explains it by the seasonal transference that doesn’t really exist.

This does not negate any importance of Dionysos, but instead puts more emphasis on him, or Zeus, as the god of mysteries moving through time and space. The same can be said of Persephone, The relationship, in fact, of Apollon as bringer of the golden grain may infer such a strong seasonal role in the mystic narratives. If it was indeed Apollon who bore the light  for Demeter there may be some relationship between Apollon’s exile, his role as the purifier of initiates, and his return bearing the golden grains even as he as the torch bearing youth aided Demeter in finding Persephone for her return. His return  relieves the earth of her barrenness as much as the return of Persephone which eases the grief of Demeter. The rule of Apollon as a season god (and that of Pan as well) becomes an important part of the progression of the Mysteries.

Worshiping Apollon in the Autumn, Post-Retreat


It is well into autumn now, the beginning time of winter. Apollon has retreated from his golden throne, and he has traveled past the high peaks of Boreas, greeted by the barking of the griffins, to the land of the two harvests, to the land of apples and fragrant trees, to the lush otherworldly gardens of Apollon, the land of Light. Hyperborea or Lycia (a name also attributed by the Hellenes to an Asia Minor country but likely started more conceptually as an undefined holy land of light of the holy river Xanthus that was identified with the physical river Scarmander in the Iliad), I believe them to be conceptually synonymous. Regardless of what you name his holy land, his land of the blessed where Croesus was taken to dwell and likely too Hyakinthos from images of the youth riding the back of a swan even as the swan chariot takes Apollon to the far-norther regions, land of swans, the attentive gleaming eye of Apollon is acknowledged as being distant from our world.

Many take this time to turn their focus to other gods, and await the return of Apollon, giving their focus instead often to Dionysos who possesses many winter rites. But there are those who are devotion to Apollon that even in the winter they in a sense, “follow” him. We are attentive to this change in the nature of Apollon, where his radiance is afar but still effective, this our far-shooting lord. For, even as Apollon retreated and he called away the gentler winds of the summer year, he releases his hold on the winter winds which rattle the window panes, which usher in the torrents of rain and snow. His warmth and light become subtle, never truly gone but like a gleam of the aurora borealis flickering across the heavens, the gleam of light on the horizon, the play of shadows on the walls from the flickering flames.

In this time of the year I honor Apollon of the winds and shadows, the shrouded lord. After his retreat I have taken to covering his primary icon with a black veil, covering the golden locks of his hair. Upon his shrine I replace the light scented candles of summer with the warm spicy scented candles of winter, I adorn his brow with a crown of evergreen, for though he retreats to his otherworldly garden he is not perishing but ever young and beautiful. Here he is the lord of frogs and dolphins, that which retreats beneath the depths to obscure hidden places but ever-returning to the surface world. He is the lord of the wolves of twilight who sing as he moves between worlds. And the hollowed wooden flute I possess sings a bittersweet call to him.  Whereas the Thyiades were known to haunt Parnassos looking for the winter place of the return of Dionysos, I, in a manner, am at the liminal boundary singing to Apollon, beckoning him, and giving adoration unto him.

In the winter crocus flowers were given to Apollon, blossoms whose three stigmas are the valuable spice saffron. This flower, an autumn bloomer likely in cooler climates and a winter bloomer in warmer climates, being valuable as a producer of spice, yields its precious bounty in the cooler months after maturing all summer long. I do wonder if it is the flower itself or the natural spice of the flower which makes the offering so sweet to Apollon. In the latter case, I imagine one could offer saffron spice to Apollon in the winter, if one is able to make such an expensive and luxurious sacrifice to him (as it takes many pounds of the blossoms to make even a small amount of spice). As the saffron flower was used in Greece as a cure for sleeplessness and for hangovers it embodies the restful quiet of Apollon in the winter in contrast to the vivacity of Dionysos in this season, as well as being a kind cooperative assistant of the latter god. The cure for sleepness certainly strikes home a certain feature in which sleep lures a lion into slumber depicted at the temple of Apollon Karneios at Argos that Pausanias describes to his readers. I have always taken this to mean that not even the greatest can withstand the winter of life which succumbs the living into its restful sleep.  Sleep is the brother of Death, and therefore both  bearing a connection to Apollon, our lord destroyer. So the crocus flower embodies sleep, death but also sweetness of life by its pleasant perfume and  beauty. It is an ideal flower to be given in worship of Apollon, in contrast to the lamenting summer flower of the god, the hyacinth (which is not the modern hyacinth flower but would have been, to my understanding of the myth, a summer bloomer as the flower blossomed after the death of Hyakinthus, probably related to the Iris flower though exactly what flower is unknown). Whereas the tradition hyacinth represents the sorrow of premature death of life (which occurs in the intense heat of summer to the more delicate plants and among the living which get caught out in it) and glorifies the apotheosis of Hyakinthos, the crocus flowers speaks of the sweetness of life that has come to its fruition and natural end, and that it yields so little of the spice from a single flower it reminds us the precious value in every one life.

I would almost say that saffron is the food of Apollon during the winter months, O blessed lord of the tombs and graveyard, destroyer of life, nurturing lord of the living who slays men at the end of their days. If one is to offer saffron, as it is expensive, I would suggest putting a very small amount of it mixed into libation water. Warm spiced candles certainly compliment this offering. Instead of black veils one could perhaps drape purple hued cloths over Apollon to represent the beautiful color of the crocus. I would have but the only veil I have of that color is worn by Leto, which, as a goddess who was honored as a queen of the underworld in Ionia, seems just as appropriate.

I glorify in the majesty of Apollon in the winter, the wealthy and sweetness of his nature in the darkness of the year, even as my eyes miss his golden radiance. But this absence of his radiance is also necessary I think, because we can best appreciate his kind compassionate nature without the distraction of his shining magnificence.