Honoring Apollon During the Hyperborean Season

As I have said before, I consider Hyperborean season to be a time when Apollon is at his most wild and chthonic form as a god fully in his most archaic form as a god of the destructive forces in nature (which would be quite mistaken to look at in a malevolent manner but as a fact that as turner of time there are times of structure and times of destruction as cycles turn). During the Hyperborean time he appears to be the furthest apart from us as he takes up his abode in his holy garden and sets down his mantle and crown of civilization. He instead of the wolfish one, the slayer from afar, the lord of the singing/dying swans (a beautiful end of life in the most sacred and holy fashion). In northern climate we experience this as winter, but I can well  imagine to ancient Hellenes during this rather wet and stormy time of the year it was a time in which the sowing season and the tender new sprouts were particularly vulnerable and without the protection of the god who preserves the crops during the summer half of the year.

For this reason for those who focus more exclusively on his solar and civilized cult may find the Hyperborean time one that is withdrawn from him and without any connection. Of course there are ways to adore him in this afar disconnected from human society, wild god form. Understanding his association with the tomb as a point of boundary between the two worlds also gives a very good access  to this part of him and his domain. At Delphi Hippocrates, according to Pausanias, gave as an offering to the god a bronze of a decomposing body. If we understand the Hyperborean time as one that is outside of human form, constraints and control, as a time of the spirit and soul even in climates in which the sowing of new life is taking place and is of great importance is a very spiritually important time of the year, a mystic time between the Greater and Lesser mysteries in which there are a series of festivals honoring the bonds between Persephone and her mother even in their absence from each other. Therefore images of decomposition, skeletal remains (around this time last year I painted Paper Mache skulls that permanently hang in his shrine but for one who doesn’t have much focus on this part of his cult may find this a lovely activity specifically for this time of the year to adorn his worship place with such momentos. Imagery of wolves would also be particularly appropriate, as would swans as representation of transportation between the worlds of his sacred garden and our world.

Colorful glass through which candle light or lamp light can shine indirectly is also very ideal. Especially for those of us who live in parts of the world that get very dark for long hours during this time of the year such lights can remind us of his blessings, love and kindness even when he is further from his active position in human affairs, even when his winds threaten.

One who feels an very extreme disconnection from him in the winter might even find it appropriate to shroud his image. I used to do this until I came upon the realization that it was not accurate for how I particularly experience him since I more or less “follow” him rather than experience a significant separation. I guess a someone who identifies with his wolfish following this is may be natural. That which is untamed and aggressive in me delights in this time of the year in which I feel him closer to me on a personal level whereas I note his absence in other ways that were more prominent. All the same, shrouding his cult image is from my experience a very powerful experience, especially if it just his face shrouded which lends a sort of otherworldliness and mystery to the god obscured in ambiguity. This a very physical reminder his farness and non presence in his regular affairs where it concerns humanity.

All the same it is a time of the year where it is not uncommon for thanksgiving for the blessings that the god provided during that year, as in the case for offerings given to him in thanks during the Proerosia and the offerings in remembrance of those given by Theseus to him in fulfillment of his vow when he arrived safely to Athens on the day following the Proerosia. You may find other occasion to give some offering in the spirit of thanksgiving as well through the long winter in which we are sustained by the harvests of summer and autumn.

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