Apollon, the road and the labyrinth

I have written about his before, and in fact devoted pretty much an entire chapter to this subject in my book under the chapter of Apollon Agyieus, but during this season I was inspired to write about it more intimately in my blog.

Apollon is, as we understand from his epithet Agyieus, the god who presides over the roads. This aught not be mistaken for the role of Hermes which is directly related to that of Apollon (and the Homeric hymn to Hermes does conclude that they are the closest of brothers, not to mention both of these gods are honored together in the domestic cult outside the courtyard gates). Whereas Apollon has the roads within his domain, Hermes is the god upon the roads, the companion of travelers and guide though Hermes is more commonly thought of in association with roads via his herms and sacred points at which he is honored as the god of travelers. But all of this does not pertain to the roads themselves, which is under Apollon’s providence.

So to sum up some of the important points: the function of the road, other than acting as a social nervous system, is to lay out the travel from the point of origin to the destination. This can be seen literally such as in the myth in which Apollon, in the form of a dolphin intercepted the Cretan ship and guided his soon-to-be-priests to Delphi. And metaphorically as the god serves to lay out the road of the future, particularly onto heroes, which is reflected in the god’s role as an oracular deity. It can be said that Apollon, the harmonic organizer of the spheres enthroned at the axis, leads movement by his purpose and actions. And this movement is quite often of a round, in which their are the orbits about the axis, the dancers about the musician etc. And what better symbol is there of this than the labyrinth, the form of which Apollon was honored with by the populace of Delos in the Crane Dance first introduced by Theseus who, by Apollon’s (and Aprodite’s) guidance safely manuevered the labyrinth of Minos. There are even coins from Crete which depict Apollon on the face and the labyrinth on the rear, Much of this laying of the roads is directly provided from Zeus to whom Apollon serves as the voice of Zeus (which may also explain alternative coins from Crete which featured the head of Zeus instead), but much of it also directly from his own domain and function within nature and the cosmos.

And nothing makes this more profound than the feeling of the passage of the year, especially with winter during which all things retreat. Persephone has retreated from the company of the gods, the earth is barren, animals are hibernating, and even the people have more and more retreated into the warmth and comfort of their homes. The autumn and the winter often deal with this idea of retreat beginning with the storage of food for the winter and the focus on the hearth and family, and the cold dark nights of winter which gathers all within. It enters within and spiral down into the heart of the labyrinth.

Every spring during the Thargelia I dance a dance that I have created in which I spiral inwards and then emphatically outwards. Spring has long since come in her full glory. I may not do this dance during the winter, but it is a cosmic dance that doesn’t necessarily need dancing. Even Apollon has moved away, to the far places in Hyperborea, the origin point of his maternal family. It is a place of rejuvination and the starting point of new beginnings as we refresh and await for the return of spring. Oh those delicate dancing seasons that Apollon summons on his lyre! And the dance will begin again outward, expanding with life. And there is Artemis leading the dancers, the most lovely of all the dancers by her art. The huntress who drives all down the roads of her brother. But of course they are dancing! And the labyrinth is symbolic of the sacred group over which Zeus had given him governance in his domain.

So in this winter season, as Apollon is away, and Artemis too for that matter as far as I understand enjoying their maternal root, lets give thanks to the divine mothers, and to the earth and night who are the mothers of all, and to the far-shooting god and goddess who will light up the road again for us to travel forward.

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5 thoughts on “Apollon, the road and the labyrinth

  1. I did not expected this connection between Apollon and the labyrinth. At the moment I’m dealing with this issue and it’s quiet interesting. So I’m really surprised to find this here.

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