“Chthonic” visions of Apollon and Hyperborea

Due to recently reading about Chthonic Zeus by Aj, it provoked me into thinking about just how many Olympians have Chthonic orientations whether directly in myth and most visible forms of cultis, or more subtly and indirect that is alluded to rather than outright addressed. In my book I had written a little of my thoughts regarding the semi-chthonic vision of Apollon in writing about his relationship with Demeter, Hermes and to a lesser degree Dionysos. Alot of this character seems to take the form of the interaction of sunlight upon and within the earth that penetrates the hard shell of the buried seed, ripens the earth, and sends about the seasons. Even so there were cults to Apollon that established the god as a cave-dwelling deity, perhaps in part as a deity who illuminates the hidden recesses, and his close association with the serpent by which the god is depicted not only the vanquisher of Python, but also carried forth by a serpent/dragon drawn chariot, and taking the form of a serpent himself as Pausanias describes the god accompanying his statue in such a form from Epidaurus to his temple in Corinth to which the statue had been gifted.

The serpent itself commonly represents not only chthonic powers as the serpent goes within the hidden places of the earth (which is very much akin to Apollon as the cave-dweller and may also refer to Apollon’s influence from the tips of the tree to its deep running roots which is inferred by the Orphic Hymn to Apollon) but also immortality (by which the serpent is also connected in respect to the sun). As such we see the myth in which the child of Gaia, Python, is slain by the infant god that was replayed as part of the spring festivities at Delphi. This refers to several things as far as I see it. 1. Apollon takes into himself more or less the essence of Python and the whole sacred precinct is settled upon the remains of the serpent. Thereby Apollon is the master of the daemon guardian of the oracular spring…the direct god of the wellspring of oracles…the foreknowledge of Zeus as well as being associated with the interpretation of the omenous dreams produced from Gaia and Nyx according to myth that comes forth from the horn gate.  More or less this illustrates Apollon quite adequately as the god of the portal, for he emerges at either side but is in truth straddling both sides in an interconnected fashion to be the guardian of the portal/boundaries. He is at once the god of light, and the light upon/within the earth. This puts him in the position in which he gifts Hermes with the serpent-entwined wand.

This certainly colors my perception of Apollon in Hyperborea…not so much as place which inspired the mythic Hyperborea…but the idea that the god is traveling to an island of blessed individuals, to which Creosus was taken with his daughters upon loosing Libya. The farland beyond the seas. I consider it to this point. In myth the east and west in the underworld is more or less connected at a point through which the sun and the moon travel as described by Hesiod in his Theogony if my memory serves. So I place each direction (north, south, west, and east) like a four point compass star. If I cut this out I may fold the east and west points to where they connected upward, and on a flat square plane I would fold this to connect upward and downward. Now as Hyperborea was seen in the north, modeled after a northern people (for which there are many interpretations of whom they came from..but I rather support that they are modeled off of the Celts) and there is a similar southern version (that we know from Delos) in which Apollon travels to Lycia..the place of light. Strabo or Diodorus Siculus, I don’t recall which offhand, talked of a similar place in which people from Libya departed to that was south of India that contained many mythic similar characteristics to that of Hyperborea. As Hyperborea, the garden of Apollon, is specifically a place of blessed associated with those who were beloved by Apollon who were carried off to this place by swans, or became as swans to travel there, is associated like the western isles as a island of blessed I likewise fold the north and south corners along the flat plane. The result  from one perspective would look like a four sided pyramid from our abode. There we have everything which is associated with the “underworld” or otherworld…the castle from which the winds originate, the isles of the blessed. And the axis, which is represented by the north-south dicotomy can likewise represent the interconnecting axis between our world, the blessed, and the divine levels, as well in reflection downward/inward (so viewing away from the flat plane instead of a four sided pyramid it may resemble a prism—the refractor of all light and hues). It is said that Odysseus’ travels legendarily extended symbolically into the next world by which we find all of this connected together as a central area through which the hero traveled helplessly rather than located specifically to the side of our world. The serpent of Apollon represents a connectividity of the axis…that Cthonic and heavenly, the portal of ascent, guardian of the boundaries. God of winds and seasons…axis point at which all things are connected which takes him both to the greatest heights and depths as the dolphin (another of his sacred symbols that is connected with the god in the spring) emerges from the unknown.

These are just my thoughts 🙂


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