Today a comment made by a friend inspired a few tweets, which are now turning into this post as it prompted some inspiration. It is the suggestion of a classification of gods into “dark” and “light” gods, as if to give some sort of division in the ranks of the gods of that which is innately “good” and that which are “dangerous”. Yet it seems to me that either of these would easily in fact apply to any deity in some manner or another. However, Apollon seems to be, quite erroneously, held up to a standard in which he is a god that opposes all of the traditional associations with darkness as is a god, not only of light, but of those qualities which seems to negate those….reason over magic/illusion. A lot of this seems to be based in early explorations regarding a sort of neo-dichotomy between Apollon and Dionysos which appears largely based on the early work of Neitzche in an attempt to polarize the gods into separation of what is primal and earthly (dark) and what is intellectual and civilized (Apollon). Unfortunately one of the side affects is that it delivers a rather skewed perception of Apollon that actually has the additional affect of driving away worshipers, or alarming new worshipers when they discover he is not all kindness, sunshine and rainbows. That he is as a tempest…and yet that is very true of each of three cousins who are primarily light bearing deities: Apollon, Artemis and their cousin Hekate. Each of them has a kind of violence associated with their activity in nature, which more importantly seems to me that it is directly related to their association with light.
This is because from observation it seems that any who bears any kind of light or illumination is themselves at least partially or mostly obscured in darkness. They shed light in all corners but on themselves except what they wish to be seen. Therefore any light bearing deity would be in this mode considered “dark”. They are obscure and black as pitch. Consider too the darkness of the Agyieus stone, the upright pillar of the the most unfathomable and obscure and archaic part of the nature of the god. This would be no different to any practice of erecting a firey pillar of light as one is so enamored and captivated by the light it sheds that we do not realize instantly that we are not seeing the source of the illumination. We are blinded by their light. Yet that very dark source is the very being which is generative/nurturing, protective, knowing and destroying.
Yet one may protest, but Apollon is a god of civilization, knowledge, healing etc. This is true, yet he is a healer for being a destroyer, for he averts and drives away the miasma that he himself can also inflict one with. He is a prominent lord of civilization in such a manner that he is a god who opens the way of civilized life by holding in check the wilderness that he loves and often dwells in, especially considering how many of his temples were on the boundaries of their cities, and his pastoral nature that allows for the survival of the people. He is that which brutally cuts away illusion, which at times can be painful to us. He is Bacchic, rejoicing among his nymphs and muses in their company of the splendor of Dionysos (as does Artemis). He is a slayer of men even as he is a protector of children with his twin. Like Hekate he holds keys to the fathomless recesses of the unknown from which he bubbles like a sacred spring his holy prophecy. Meanwhile Artemis is a healing goddess and a goddess who brings on madness too. Even though such dichotomy is obvious in any deity, it seems to swing even more sharply and be more apparent in the natures of the torch bearers. So to suggest a pairing of deities (like Apollon and Hekate for instance which inspired this whole mess) as being a good dichotomy of worship because one is “dark” and one is “light” completely misses one of the most important points…..that there is no such division in truth. And what may be perceived as light can be the most pitch black of all.