Not particularly Homeric

I know among modern Hellenic polytheists there is this love affair with Hellenic religion as it was practiced in Athens and the works of Homer and Hesiod. I certainly like their work myself but am not particularly inclined to rely on it in primary when it comes to my worship of the gods. This is largely because I favor Sparta and other Doric states myself. 

In fact outside of Ionian literature, we find a fascinating tapestry of familiar gods appearing in very different ways. This is the land where we likely find the strongest presence of a possibly earlier and definitely more divergent Apollon from the commonly understood son of Zeus. Here Apollon as herder and Lord of the destroying force of nature and lawkeeper is a startling contrast. Via the Spartan colony in Crete we have Apollon with the labrys as god who punishes adulterers. We see throughot Doric lands Karneios with herding staff and pine cone. Also from the colony at Crete is where we here of what may have been the Doric understanding of Apollon’s parentage. Not as son of Zeus but son of the black dragon Corybas, who took this form in punishment by Zeus as myth tells us for trying to violate Rhea if memory serves me correctly.

Corybas himself was the son of Samothrakian Demeter (aka Rhea or Cybele) and the Corybantes named after him as those who give up praise to his mother and were the children of his son Apollon who led them. This may have inspired the mystery cult of Demeter in which Iakkhos bears identity of Apollon but as her son directly and leader of the initiates as Diodorus relates to us through his Egyptian style lens of the mysteries. 

This Apollon thus would have preceeded Zeus and have legitimate reason in challenging Zeus for the right to rule in Doric-Cretan myth. This may likewise bear some relationship to the Arkadian concept of Apollon and Pan as the original seasons of Apollon was of an older pre Olympian line before he became the son of Zeus.

I have often wondered how the relationship initially may have differed between Apollon and Artemis before they became Olympian twins. Certainly in Doric-Crete she is called not the daughter of Leto but the daughter of Hera who worked in company of her sister who midwived new babies into the world with Artemis as their divine nurse. As closely networked as Apollon and Artemis were I have to wonder if before they were brought in as twins if they may have been spousal deities as you commonly find in these kind of situations. Certainly Artemis’ s Doric cult seemed to be of a different bent than that if the Ionian Artemis, the latter with clear virginal boundaries than the other has. That Artemis’ sacred haunt where Adonis was slain is among the same mountain sacred to Apollon (and named for one of his sons) gives a distinct but meshed together view of cohabiting more or less. Of course the mysteries of Demeter says only that Leto was nurse to both…..meanwhile whereas Apollon may have been son by proxy via his hereditary relationship to the mysteries of Samothrakian Demeter, we have Artemis in the Peloponesse and at Eleusis as the daughter of Poseidon and Demeter: Despoina.  If the mystery writing of Diodoros be given any credit Artemis may have been considered wet nursed by Leto.To make it more interesting Pausanias tells us that in the temple of Hera that Artemis and Apollon are grouped with Demeter and Persephone in the hall.

This all has far more significant impact on my relationship with Apollon, Artemis and Leto than the Homeric and Hesiodic recountings of the Ionic system and view of the Olympians…which was far from uniform!

vitality of community?

​Because I am focusing on worship rather than politics. ..I just want to drop a brief note about folks harping on getting involved in your local community as the be all of polytheistic or pagan worship and would like to insist that you are not doing it right if you aren’t involved in your local community here is a bug meh for you. While there is value in community worship, and certainly state cults and temples were a thing in Hellenic religion, the emphasis has always been on the oikos as being utterly important and necessary. I am sure this is likewise in many polytheistic religions. Getting together during festivals was wonderful but the majority of ones daily kharis shared with the gods was at your own family altar. This means that your gods and your worship was largely defined by…your family. It is not about what we as a widespread religious identity *agree* on. Worship together by general owrscripted guidelines if methodology does not mean we are all going to share the same domestic cultus or same relationship with the gods.  

Fact of the matter it was so individual to each family that when someone left their parental home to join another family (typical in the case if marriage but also likely applicable in case of adoption ) one was luteralky leaving ones family gods and modes of worship to adopt that of their new family. So those who say community is everything if we want our traditions to survive….not at all. Each house with children or “adopted” members into their family worship will continue it. It has zero dependency on an idea of agreement or public consensus.

Therefore those of us who are unable to join in public worship with the others by choice or design are not doing it wrong. Granted we know well the things we are missing out on. Trust me as someone who works graveyard and is stuck at home with the babies while my husband is at work during the day, there is a lot I miss out on. No weekend camping trips, no study groups, no temple visits on the one day the hindu temple is open here. Nada. And then there are those who have no co religionists to worship with who dont feel inclined to alter their religious tradition to make it more desirable by the public which is me in my Hellenic worship.

Yet my house is doing well with our family worship and that is life, vitality of our religious worship and the heart of our kharis with the gods. And online I have enjoyed sharing ideas and practice🙂

Reordered oikis altar

Apollon is the god my soul orbits and tunes into so to speak to his oarticular frequency. This extends to his sister (who I knew before him) and their mother Leto. My spiritual life is vastly informed by and through my relationship with them. In fact my relationship with Aphrodite, despite being the divine matron of our family,  improved largely by this (and considerably helped along by giving her worship). Because of this I have made sense and discovered the whys of what I felt inclined to do. I no longer have numerous shrines. Not oven a separate shrine to Apollon any more. Instead the family altar has become his residence around which all other household gods orbit. This includes a small inset shrine to Aphrodite and another one that will be developed for Hera (incidentally my household tends to give her slightly more personal focus than Zeus even while acknowledging his supremely awesomeness).

Despite commonalities and shared religion,  when you get right down to it every oikis is different. This was true anciently as it is now. For a woman to leave home and marry into another family literally meant to leave the gods of her family and the manner of worship of her family. My oikos doesnt look identical to anyone else and that is just how things are meant to be.

 

Fall approaches

As most are probably aware, spring equinox through to autumn equinox is my busy time of the year ritually as Apollon has a large number of festivals during his season, and yet the fall is a more intense devotional time in my worship of him which most dont know about. 

With fall arriving and his departure imminent,I value the Boedromia as his final city festival. I will be returning to discussing this festival within the next couple of days as it gets closer. Essentially this festival battens down the hatched and prepares for winter with the city wide invocation of fear to drive all evil from the city. I consider it an important spirit festival not unlike how many view Halloween. It can be a time of mask wearing purification in the streets in procession or even by yourself. The shout Boe causes harmful spirits to flee in fear.
After fall equinox and the season  of Pan beginning, Apollon returns to the halls if his mother. His mother is Hyperborean and Hyperbirea itself has been among the blessed isles although established in the north rather than the west. Given that Leto is also an underworld goddess it is likely she is governess and ward of Hyperborea as a blessed isle. It is appropriate that his late autumn festival Pyanepsia is centered on a meal of beans…the last of provisions as they reach journeys end in thanksgiving to Apollon. It seems appropriate an offering to the god of Hyperborea! 

Yet more commonly October and early November are filled with thoughts if the dead . As Apollon strips away his mask of civilization don’t forget him as you go to the graves of the dead for he is the protector of cemeteries and the tomb. He is the wolf or wild dog there safeguarding their place of rest. 

It is this wild archaic face that fills me with anticipation every fall rattling his bells of purification and blowing his huntsman horn when he is not howling on the wind. Winter is harsh and unforgiving and yet even on the tempest he bestows his somewhat chaotic blessings of protection.

Hang the bells by the door and as he rides the wolf wind he will rattle them to scare away what baleful things that may be attracted to the light and warmth of the home in winter.

healing paean

Following is the paean that can be sung or chanted as you like:
Wash this away, wash this away Paean

Take this and wash this away

Take away that which has come and wash it away

You cleanse and purify all things wash this away O Paean

Wash this away, averter of evils, rid me of this

Restore my body whole to me O Lord,  wash this away Paean.

Bring back sound health which has been lost, wash this away

As you washed the Delphyne blood from you in the waters of Peneus

And garlanded yourself in the laurel leaves upon the shore

O lauded Lord, who brings goid health and distributes plagues,  wash this away

Cleanse me and behold me whole before you, with offerings laden.

O paean, Lord of healing springs and medicinal art wash this affliction away.

Ie Paean, Ie Paean I behold you who are great approaching.

Ie Paean Ie Paean the waters part before you and all light shines

Pure you are, ie Paean ie Paean

Wash this away!

31 days/ days 28-31

Day 28 worse misconception encountered?

I can’t say that I have ran into any really out of the ball park conceptions of Leto….at worse a lot are just really vague and limited. As the goddess present herself on a level as she is more commonly presented as a gentle mother, it is not erroneous,  but rather in devotion your understanding becomes a lot more nuanced. Leto does possess the calm kindness and gentleness of a loving mother….she also equally possesses an Ill fuck you up if you push me or threaten my children. As I said…nuanced lol.

Day 29 something you wish you knew about the deity?

Frankly the biggest thing is that I wish there was more known about her worship. Few particulars are known and nothing of sacred days that she must have had. For the most part, despite being well known,  LetoS cult has been lost to obscurity. 

Day 30 interesting upg?

Most of my upg is presented in my post Vision of Leto. I consider her a bean goddess, especially the Italian in me associating her to the fava bean that has a history associated with the dead which may have to do the danger of favism. I generally hold January sacred to her as proceeding the Theban birth of her children and a period of transition. I also October particular to some of my worship of her as everything is rapidly decaying and winter creeps in. As much as she likes veils, I think not only veils but costume masks are really her thing.

Day 31 suggestions for learning about this deity?

Alot of it is going to be intuitive, just look at clues as they pop up and it will lead you. Myth and archaeology reveals quite a bit that you will find useful. Generally tho I would caution against jumping too far into the unknown where innovation has less and less support mythologically or historically. 

31 days/ days 22-27

Day 22 share music that makes you think of this deity…

Ok I give…I dont have any. Unless a song directly mentions a deity or something specifically pertaining to the deity I am at a loss. I dont have much in the way of playlists for this reason. I am lucky when I get that kind of feels. For Leto I have nothing. Although if I gad to pick something that kinda gives me a bit of feels…In the Hall of the Mountain King gets close as Leto transverses between planes of existence. .ever of the twilight hour. The haunting sweetness of the midnight minuette works to.

Day 23 share song/poem that resonates with this deity.

Mostly see above. Even her Orphic hymn is rather blah for me. It starts as praising her for a great mind and uses an epithet I still haven’t figured the meaning of….then goes quickly downhill from there to focusing just her children.

Day 24 share personal writing of the deity

Surprisingly I cannot find any of the poems I wrote for Leto…so here’s something off the cuff, the / designates end of the line because my phone us an assailed that gives me formatting issues:

Veiled Mother,  oft beseeched, oft lauded/ Unephable Lady of the myrtle bough, mother of initiates all/You are seated in the hidden lands upon a shining throne/ Illumination in the darkness, a silvery water flows/ Oh star of the depths, all perceiving and knowing/By your children you rise from the shadow of your veil like a serpent from the slip/ And with a breath of thy nocturnal wind, bring forth your revelation to the race of men/ You lady of the bean sprout, sustainer and mother to the living and dead.

Day 25 a time this deity has helped you?

Leto is inseparable from my daily life. ..as a mother I feel she is always present and helping. As a liminal goddess of the passages between I think she also aids my family daily at the doors that her shrine that she shares with her children faces. She is the breath of patience, the protective mother wolf. When I was in labor and calling on the goddesses if my house she felt as a tangible presence almost at the head of the delivery bed, soothing back my hair with coolness (ah that feel from a mother’s touch..the soothing cool hand). 

Day 26 when this deity refused to help?

I can’t think if any offhand, but I don’t typically think of my relationship with my gods in those terms of helping and not helping. They do as they do when it is their providence to do so and if they feel you need it. I rarely ask for help from my gods, and least probably from Leto to date (other than a mothers plea of please keep me from killing this naughty child lol). I but give her honor, adoration and worship out of devotion and love. I dont keep an enumerated lust of when my gods help and when they refuse to do so  It may well happened at some point but I never found in worrisome enough to mentally note.

Day 27 how has your relation changed over time?

It has more recently turned devotional to serve her as a devotee in a more direct sense. I serve her in a triad with Apollon and Artemis (the Letoides). This started seeping into my mind over the last couple of years as I have incorporated her icons into their shrine. But this has been a gradual thing from early worship honoring her mostly as just their mother.  I think perhaps the change in the wind for me was about 5 years ago when I came back from Morocco with a stork’s feather from under one of numerous trees that they were nesting. I associate storks with mother Leto among the birds. Last year I bought a Naga dragonness type icon of brass as an icon of her to represent her form as believed by Helpless as they equated her with Wadjet. I just recently completed a lovely handmade icon for her shrine! One in deep greens and black veiled, and hematite eyes to have a starry shine.