Apollon, the wolf god, and the autumn harvest

Inspired by a conversation elsewhere, I want to take a minute to speak about the wolf god Apollon as related to this seasonal time of the year as summer is winding down and autumn is on its way. I have said before that Apollon typically acts as the destroying (and also in contrast in the preserving) divinity in nature. As such he is the god of (and repeller of) such harvest/crop destroying creatures as mice, locusts and even wolves who prey on livestock. Yet as a seasonal god at this time of the year I have spoken more particularly about Apollon Karneios as the god pastoral god who holds back the autumn storms for the ripening of the vineyards (and likely orchards etc). As someone who lives in a very northern climate which most fruiting crop doesn’t work because of how quickly the autumn weather moves in and lack of long periods of warm dry weather necessary for fruit to adequately ripen. Thus Apollon Karneios who allows the crops to ripen is not a solar god, but rather a god of the winds, who controls the stormy weather to permit the ripening and successful harvest of crops. The connection between the averting of harmful winds/storms can also been seen in Rome with the Nemoralia which served a secondary purpose of averting harmful storms from the fields. This is very much the key in understanding Apollon as the ruler of mild half of the year, in which he tames the destructive winds to allow life to flourish, even as a deity of the wild places permits civilization to rise from the wilderness, which is very much how I see Apollon and Artemis in relationship to civilization as typically both deities prefer abodes outsides of the city limits.

So what has this to do with Apollon as the wolf god you may ask? It is really a very simple play on symbolism that we find in common with Pan, Zeus and Apollon, that the pastoral god who protects the herds from the wolves is also the wolfish deity. The god is quite literally the wolf in the sheep’s (or goat’s in the case of Pan and Apollon) clothing! He is identified with the herds and represented as horned as the very beast he is aligned with. As a herding god for Apollon it is more commonly goats whom the Dorics used as flock leads for their sheep. This doesn’t replace the wolf god, but rather delivers another aspect to him. He is both the wolf and the god who holds back his very nature from consuming that which is under his care. Therefore the honoring of Apollon Karneios, regardless of his horned imagery, is very much the honoring of the wolf god Apollon, as he is giving honor for preserving the herds even as he perserves the crops from famine and storms, and is so honored with sacrifices of goats and sheep.

Therefore as the god of the approaching autumn he is very much the howling wolfish god as August storms threaten to roll in with gusting winds. In my mind, as I don’t put much emphasis on later solar cult associations, I consider Apollon’s Hyperboreia retreat in the autumn and through the spring, during the stormy season, as being an unleashing of his own tempest. Apollon is not a god who seasonal dies but one who brings around the seasons himself. I have stated before that in my locality I don’t see Apollon as departing but rather released from his civilized duties back to the wilderness, running as a wolf with ravens flocking around him. The winds making the doors and walls of the house shudder and groan….and in the winter creating potential white out conditions from snow. His restraint during the warm dry time of the year when his heat can be felt most keenly felt and his illumination is most apparent with his restraint is no longer present as the purpose has been done. He is as the wild hunter with his twin, of same spirit together unbound. He is the one who slays the seasonal dying god, the bull Dionysos, as the Thyiades of his own Delphi rave and tear the bull as Apollon, the wolf god (as he was so represented at Delphi) is the sacrifice of the bull. His are the winds unleashed destroying ever vine and shriveling every greenery by their blasts. The Dioskoui, wind gods in their own right, so hail him their king! For this purpose too he has been identified in some cases with Iakkhos, the boy of the winds.

Karneios and Lykeios are one, and elements are both are present in the Roman cult of Soranus, Apollon is foremost the wolf god, and from him issues the flames bringing warmth and illumination like flowing magma, whereas his the divine exhalations, at Delphi the mingling of the essence of the earth and the air. Even as he is the winds billowing the seas surface, and the god is the heavens axis about whom the heavens turn to predict the periods of fair and foul weather for  prosperity of farmers and seafaring men. He is Apollon Telchinios, the storm and wolf god of Rhodes who destroyed the storm sorcerers, the Telchines. He is also the wolf-light, the god of the interminably periods between the movement and change of seasons just as the wolf light of the day, the twilight during which wolves were believed to be especially active and prowling, divides the transitions between night and day. The light, just as the civilization, is issued by his grace. He opens the doorways for the sun for which Helios lauds him. His winds are the movement of the cosmos, his divine song issuing from his breath, pushing and drawing all things forward. His winds carry one through the gates on the wings of a swan.

These same ideas can be applied almost entirely to Rudra too who was petitioned to preserve people and herds etc, and who had wide mouthed howling dogs (or perhaps more in the likeness of wolves than real dogs considering how non domesticated this god is), and who sons were said to be as voracious wolves.

Hail the wolf god of the wind, preserver and destroyer of life!

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