The Apollon of My Childhood and Youth

Although I often speak of Apollon and my relationship being established with him at a later age, he is actually one of the earliest deities present during my childhood. However at that time he was the least recognizable of all the gods of this earlier part of my life. Poseidon whom I more often than not called Father Sea before I came to understand Poseidon as his identity was a distinct divine being to me, especially as an island child. Artemis in my youth was very much fully formed in my awareness with her presence in my life. Apollon was ambiguous until much later. He came to me in a wholly unhuman form. He came as a wolf first, a white wolf with burning blue eyes, whom during the period that I was terrified of my closet, would come from the closet and rest his comforting presence at the foot of my bed during the night  between my body and the closet so that I could rest peacefully (along with an army of stuffed animals that I also inserted between myself and the closet). As I grew older I started to understand him in a more anthromorphic wolfish form, although he still regularly appeared as a wolf. I had dreams in which he would stalk through them as a wolf. In one such dream I was a woman in white accompanied by a silver wolf and a black wolf through forest as he observed from a cliff above as I made my way towards him. In another dream he took the form of a man called Raven (funny allusion there to the close relationship of wolves and ravens) who was actually a wolf in the form of a man who was chastising me for not staying where he left me. I can’t even pinpoint when it dawned on me that this was Apollon, but I do recall when I was in my early twenties and made the decision to start worshipping Apollon due to my devotions to Artemis and for this purpose I made an icon painting of him as a anthromorphic wolfman with a silver and black wolf to either side of him. This was the image of my lord of the period when I was living in New Orleans too and was something lost to the Hurricane Katrina’s appetite.

My relationship with Apollon through most of this time was through wild jubilant dancing, howling as a wolf to his honor, burning tobacco for him (which is a practice I have long since stopped doing after my forced departure from New Orleans as I found better things to burn that he prefers more so).  I understood him as a god of appetite, voracious spirit, a god of liquid fire and billowing winds that roared and would steal my breath when I tried to walk through them. This was Apollon as I could understand him best in my far northern origins and homeland in Alaska. In New Orleans I started experience more complicated and varied manifestations of himself that was more appropriate to his Hellenic nature, but his wolfish nature was always foremost. Even in my childhood when I chased after Artemis through the woods he was present like a flash of brilliance or sudden rustle of leaves, consuming fire and heat. He was present in the raw nature of everything I experienced growing up in Alaska, ever watchful and vigilant. He was present in the brush of wolf fur across my cheek the first time I touch a scrap of wolf fur as a child. He was the hunter, protector and loving companion through much of my youth, until I developed my relationship with him as an adult and it took on a different kind of relationship than that which was there during my childhood.

Even now as Karneia nears, he is the wolf beneath the goats clothing, the wolf watching restless beneath the vigilance of the herder. The first stirrings of autumn are in sight, a wind rustling gently across the land, a chill in the night air. The wolf is preparing to shed his domestic guise, to run wild through the winter as Hyperboreia receives him. Like a werewolf of lore splitting his humanized “flesh” and form. During the winter I see him most clearly again as this first form of Apollon I have known so long, during the winter I see Lykeios who dwells ever within Karneios. The wolf who is the goat and the goat who is the wolf. He becomes in the winter very much the bard singing in the comfort of the hearthside. The predator and protector against predators. The guardian of all gateways, beloved Prostaterios who was born in the time of lambs. Apollon who is the god of the wild woods who paves the way for civilization to be born, burnishing the illumination of truth and knowledge for the spiritual progress of mankind. Yet even as he comes in the kindest, most beautiful and gentlest of forms, a songster, a poet, a golden archer, a god of youth and beauty, the wolf is always present, natures destroyer and culler of herds and flocks…of men and beasts, a twilight god destroying both darkness of night and light of day. Yet the wolf is familial, devoted, loyal, a feeling creature rather than a heartless cruel feeding machine. He loves all those under his care, and although he destroys, he is compassionate and loving towards us all, else he would not take the herder guise, the leader of Muses, the lord of civilization. He is a wolf at heart, providing the best for his family, human that we may be.

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