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Now I don’t normally write about syncrenization, and it is because it is a very tricky subject, and one that is very varied in its interpretation. However, I decided that I would include a page on my blog about the cross-cultural syncrenization of the Hellenic gods Apollon and Artemis, with those of the Hindu gods Shiva and Parvati. I do understand that there are some fundamental differences which may bring the many objections, but this page is purely how I have seen things after many years of devotion and love for Apollon and his twin, and a fascination with Shiva and Parvati from childhood. Truthfully my current reinterest in Hinduism I have felt to be as a nudge from Apollon to get a more indepth look at his domain. So first I will write of Apollon and Shiva (also addressing some of the objections I have seen come up regarding this syncrenism), and then following with Artemis and Parvati. I would look to note upfront, that this is an evaluation of domains of the gods, with the understanding that how the gods are perceived culturally, which includes geneology of the gods and so on, can and does shift from culture to culture. I mean, if you want to get right down to it, we see it shifting a bit from different Hellenic states too. Therefore, I don’t place a great deal of weight on such associations.
Perhaps it is at first glance at the external representations of Apollon and Shiva that one can be initially jarred from the association of the two. The tigerskin does not appear to be anything that Apollon would wear after all, and most link that imagery automatically towards the leopard skin of Dionysos, who also, like Apollon, has the flowing unshorn locks of hair. Nor does the drum or trident seem to have any symbolic connection to Apollon, which is typically associated again with Dionysos who is processioned with drums, and the stretching of imagination to match the spear tipped thyrsos with the trident, though if we are going that route Apollon does have a spear that he was depicted as holding in his most important sanctuary in Amyclae. So in light of this, I am going to start with the symbols and work my way from there. I am not going to be touching on the Hellenic myth of the journey of Dionysos into India, because whereas I do think it is an acceptable part of the mythos that tie the countries together, I don’t think it is valid evidence that Dionysos is Shiva rather than another god…and certainly he had a lot of other divinities going with him, including Apollon which Diodorous Siculus points out that Apollon went everywhere with Dionysos in his forays into new countries. Nor am I going to address the speculation that because Alexander participated in some ritual to what appears to be some proto-type of Shiva that it means Shiva is Dionysos. These are not weighty enough peices of evidence to influence my opinion on the matter, nor is veins of modern scholarship which support this association make any impression on me since there are other veins which do not agree with it, such as Allan Dahlaquist who addresses the issue in his book Megasthenes and Indian Religion. So I am going to set the entire matter of Dionysos aside, who, while an important deity on a personal level, has an entirely different purpose in the cosmos. I place a great value on what Dionysos does for us and in our relationship with the gods, because in many ways he acts as unifier between gods and men, working towards bringing us out of common existence and into divine bliss. That said, there is a lovely blog which examines the possible relationship of Dionysos with Indra, and the points she brings up makes a great deal of sense when speaking of the soma bowl and the almost maenadic figures surrounding Indra. Personally, though, I see Dionysos in Krishna, the god who is a kind of liberator and saving deity, and one with a very intimate connection with humanity that is befitting that which Dionysos has, and as such is linked as a young earthly part of Vishnu who is more reasonably associated with Zeus as such that Dionysos himself is contained within Zeus according to Hellenic mysteries and is himself a young Zeus on earth, wherein Radha’s relationship with the god is quite reminiscent of the role of Ariadne. But that shall be continued on the page for Dionysos and Vishnu. Suffice to say here, that the role played out between Shiva (and his incarnations) and the incarnations of Vishnu, is one in which Shiva plays a supportive role as the incarnation labors and sacrifices. This is a mirror image in which Apollon’s relationship often plays out to Dionysos that Apollon aids Dionysos (whether it is prophecying the labors that Dionysos, like Herakles, must accomplish to join the gods and establish his worship on earth, accompanying Dionysos to India as we read from Diodoros Siculus, or sending his favorites to aid Dionysos in another version of the same myth wherein Dionysos is hailed as a kind of herald/representative of the gods on earth, or even as the leader of the mystic chorus of Dionysos.).
In a sense, if we look at Dionysos as Krishna, being a god contained within Zeus as Vishnu, we can understand the juxtaposition in Hellenic mysteries in which there are two kings. There is Zeus the king of the earth, gods and men, and then there is the king Apollon. Apollon has been referred to as king in literature including that of Homer. His kingship functions differently than that of Zeus, but through it he is not only depicted as a son of Zeus, but also as a god who proceeded Zeus as father of the Corybantes (the nurses of Zeus). The closely tied relationship between Zeus and Apollon, looking through another cultural lens, can easily translate to that of Vishnu and Shiva, and the emphasis of Dionysos and Herakles can easily be contained in Krishna and Ram (in the latter case even as Ram received the bow of Shiva for his trials, Herakles also received a bow from Apollon). In the Ramayana with Vishnu (as Ram) honoring Shiva, and Shiva (as Hanuman) honoring Vishnu we see two kingly gods who are honoring each other as king gods in the cosmos.
So on that pleasant note, I will begin with the symbols of Shiva since the symbols often seem to attach the most objection to them.
1) The lingam. The oval, or egg-shaped, stone, which when upright looks quite phallic, is often the strongest objection to the Shiva-Apollon syncrenism. After all, the most well known phallicly represented gods are Dionysos and Hermes (for the herm is actually decorated with a phallus). Truthfully, however, just about any god of Hellas probably has been depicted with some kind of phallic representation. But I am not going to go there. In all actuality the lingam reminds me a great deal of the black Agyieus stone of Apollon Agyieus that was placed before the entrance (typically the courtyard) of every home as god of the boundary, where he shared his place with his younger brother Hermes. Like the lingam, offerings to Apollon Agyieus were poured directly over the stone as the direct representation of the god. Unlike the herm, which is often represented with a human head and phallis, the unadorned (other than garlands)Agyieus stone itself represents the god which I don’t see occur anywhere else among Hellenic gods with the exception of Zeus. The image of the Agyieus stone was has been perserved on the backs of coins and in an adopted image from the temple of Apollo in Rome in which it was modified to have what appears to be a bowl-like structure at the top for libations, and around it were set the lyre and bow as to signify that this was Apollon.
2) The tiger skin. Granted, Apollon is not depicted with tigers or carrying around a tiger skin, but if we are going to get carried away with general cat associations, well Apollon and Artemis are associated with lions, as numerous lions which decorate their birthplace Delos are a testimony to this, as are the lions in the Ionian parades of Artemis Ephesia (the goddess at Ephesus), which have a similar status to tigers in iconography. But then the association of the tiger with Shiva is on a very specific symbolic level. Shiva is seated on the skin of the dead tiger (and wearing it), but the tiger is not sacred to him or really directly related to him as a sacred animal. From what I have read this represents the god’s mastery over passions/desires, over energy. I feel that this really is confirmed in the nature of Apollon as a god who is not typically motivated by his passions, but like Shiva who (though he made the god of love, Kama, burn into a crisp upon his approaching Shiva) was ultimately moved by love of Parvati. But I don’t consider love to be in the same category as animal passions. And it is the instinctual passions which both Apollon and Shiva have attained mastery of. I have written more on this subject in regards to Apollon here. Strictly speaking though the tiger represents force, is associated with Shakti and symbolizes that the god has victory over every force. Or rather to put it in other terms, that the energy of Shakti is that which Shiva directs. This is not unlike what I wrote of the energy of Artemis and the mastery of Apollon here. The tiger representatively comparable to the lion in the cults of Artemis and Apollon.
3) The bull. When most think of Hellenic gods associated with bulls they think of Poseidon, Zeus and Dionysos, the latter of whom has been portrayed with bull horns. The bull is often used as strong evidence against an association with Shiva for Apollon. The problem is that this further from the truth as cattle come up many many times associated directly with Apollon. In the Iliad we see Poseidon speaking to Apollon asking him for what reason Apollon protects the city when he (Poseidon) built the walls, and Apollon tended the herds and flocks. That is point one, Apollon is the divine shepherd tending to herds and flocks (and for the latter part iconically we see Apollon Karneios with the rams horns and Apollon Amyclaeus represented with a goat at his side, just as at Claros in Ionia Apollon was depicted, as we learn from Pausanias, with his foot upon the skull of an ox). The emphasis on cattle we can also see in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes in which the younger god steals the cattle of his older brother, after which Hermes was given Apollon’s bullwhip and the staff in exchange for the kithara and pipes. Hermes wasn’t given the cattle though, Zeus had him return the cattle to the god, but Apollon gifted him with tools for being as a shepherd himself as well who quite likely tends to his brothers cattle. More indirect associations include Apollon’s son Aristaios who is also a divine shepherd and was the first to take cows milk and teach men to make cheese with it (though I also associate other dairy gods with Aristaios like yogurt curds which is falls along similar processes). That Shiva has been associated with Pasupati, the keeper of herds, is quite telling I think. And it makes sense because historically shepherds spent a great deal of their time away from their communities, far in the feilds tending to the herds. Now, Nandi, the bull of Shiva, setting the fact aside that he is in the form of a bull, portrays something very important in relation to Apollon. Nandi is the gatekeeper. Sound familiar? Apollon who protects the gates, god of the boundaries. As Nandi is described as the chief of Shiva’s armies, which correlates a bit in my mind to the divine armies of the gods mentioned by Plato in which each Olympian has a divine host that falls within their domains, and foremost disciple of Shiva, it would be logical that Nandi himself embodies certain parts of Shiva’s domain, just as Shiva is believed to be bullheaded in one form. Nandi essentially represents the follower of Shiva from what I understand. Nandi surrenders himself completely to Shiva that he has all of his powers and protection as told from the story of Shiva drinking the poison and ending up with the blue throat. Therefore it all falls into a kind of interlinked accord.
4) The snake. Again, there are many many hellenic gods that are associated in some fashion with serpents. The snake is a holy symbol in general when you get right down to it. Apollon no less. I don’t think everyone sees it because what is most prominant to them is the myth in which Apollon slew the serpent Python (also called Delphinia) who guarded the sacred spring about which Apollon was destined to dwell as his most sacred center. Therefore it is all too easy to say that Apollon is anti-snake. However, that disregards the following parts of the myth that the god, so aggrieved for what he had done in committing this murder(despite that this serpent was related to being as a plague on humanity), exiled himself for a year (and a divine year being equal to 10 mortal years) and sought purification for it…and there are various places that claim to be the place where he, or in other versions he and his twin, was purified. The entire episode is repeated through the Delphic rituals of Stepteria and Herois. The body of the serpent became the ground of Pytho were Apollon built the foundation of his temple, and Apollon took the name Pythios. Pytho referring to the state of rotting that he has control of as demonstrated in the Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollon. In statuary frequently Apollon is demonstrated in the company of a serpent, and in a particular vase painting he was depicted as seated in a chariot drawn by snakes. This is not to mention that some oracles had sacred serpents in the temple too. Nor can we forget that Apollon himself is believed to take the form of a serpent as Pausanias speaks of in relating the transference of the statue of Apollon Karneios to Corinth in which the god accompanied his statue in the form of a snake. Poetically too his arrows are referred to as serpent-darts which probably refers to the venomous bites of snakes which is appropriate for a god who destroys and heals. Really similar to the way that Shiva seats on the tiger skin can be related to Apollon’s relationship in some ways with the serpent, he masters the principles represented by the snake. Master of immortality to speak, which is also appropriate for a gatekeeper and god of the boundaries to be associated most specifically with the boundary of immortality. And it is for this reason that Apollon is both the serpent himself, and the slayer of the serpent too. This seems not unlike the coiled serpent around Shiva’s necks whose looped coils represent his transcendence.
5. The moon. There is an overly prevailing idea of Apollon in association with the sun, that the idea of any association of Apollon with the moon is greeted with dismissal. However, the symbolism of the moon is quite pertinent in the worship of Apollon, specifically in his domestic worship, which is perhaps the most important form of his worship just as the Agyieus stone. The moon represents the cylic nature of things, for which Shiva wears it as he is said to delight in the moon. This cyclic moon is quite easily seen in Apollon Noumenios who rules the beginning of each new month when the sliver of moon can be seen. Many holy days of Apollon were also said to have culminated on the full moon.The association with moon in the case of Apollon and Shiva is connected specifically with the cycle of death and rebirth…a symbolism which is also pertinent in Apollon’s governance over purification. Ultimate purification being that which is accomplished, according to Hellenic philosophical texts, that which occurs at death. It is through death that Apollon purifies. Therefore death and renewal are importance features that are connected to the beauty of the moon that figures so strongly for both Shiva and Apollon.
6. Trident. The symbolism of the trident of Shiva has little to do with the bacchic-thyrsos-spears of the maenads, nor with the spear of Apollon Amyclaeus. It is not a mere weapon but rather represents the three fundamental powers of Shiva of will, action and knowledge. The only trident we really see in Hellenismos is directly associated as the weapon of Poseidon, without any symbolism particularly ascribed to it though can be represent his liminal association in the three realms governed by the brothers. However, this doesn’t seem contrary to Apollon at all even if he doesn’t have the trident because he has been associated with other sets of threes himself, but that is besides the point. In any case Apollon is directly associated with the will of heaven. He reveals this will, but also carries it out, as in the case that we see where Apollon champions the Trojans due to carrying out the will of his father in the Iliad. His own will is prominent too as a god who has mastered himself and therefore has a strong and focused will, therefore we see him as a victorious god who is not overcome, illustrated too in his footrace with Hermes the messenger and his boxing-match with Ares the lord of war, and even in his struggle with Herakles over the tripod. Naturally action is intimately related with will as will influences action. However knowledge informs will, and knowledge is Apollon’s place of great importance. He is the leader of the muses, they who in turn teach the arts of knowledge to humanity for which he shares a place with Athena when it comes to education in general. This is hardly surprising either if we consider that manifestations of Parvati also carries the trident is can be associated directly to Athena. In fact I would that the fact that Durga and Kali are manifestations of Parvati, one could argue that Parvati represents the perfect combination of Durga and Kali…the perfect combination of what are his dearest and closest sisters in Hellenic myth which would account how one can see Artemis in Durga at times, and at times Athena in Kali. However, I see Durga/Kali/Parvati as Artemis, the other half of Apollon, whereas I associate his beloved sister Athena, who often acts in close connection with him, with Saraswati,who also manifests as the guardian warrioress Druga, who specifically rules the domain regarding knowledge and education as is the sister of Shiva. Artemis with the trident works in that as the other half of her twin, they interchange and possess common symbols and functions. Specifically though, the trident is a fragment (for lack of a better a word) of the sun. The myth goes that the sun, in order to make himself less overpowering for the sake of his wife, removed some of his energy and these he gave to Shiva, illustrating the close relationship between Shiva and the sun which we also see between Helios and Apollon. One Shiva kept, and was the trident, and the other he gave to gave to Vishnu in the form of a disc. So strictly speaking, aside from everything mentioned above, the trident itself is light and is born from the sun and its qualities have to do with the highest principles of light.
7. The drum. Ok, yes I do know that the drum is not associated with Apollon. If you look and look you will probably never find one instance. However rhythm and vibration very much are a part of him, which may also account for an almost drum-like instance that occurred at the yearly festival of his birth in which the Delian maidens would stomp their feet about the ground as they sang to him, and at this same festival cymbals have been shown to be used. Any kind of vibration instrument would be appropriate to attach to him. The sound of the kithara is nothing more than the vibrational sound waves from the various lengths of strings. All music is vibrations of sound on the air which are akin in nature to the waves of light. They are waves flowing to our minds from the world around us that inform us of the nature of the world. They are tools of revealing the truth of things in the most rudimentary form. So I see no real difference between descriptions of Apollon dancing with his kithara, or images of Shiva dancing with a drum in hand. It is the instrument which is part of the force and power of the dancing god which leads forth proper order. The drum represents cosmic sound, divine word. And though many hellenic gods are associated with word, from Athena who creates the first words, to Hermes who is a god of Logos as persuasive speech, there is another form of Logos that belongs to Apollon as that is Right Logos, or Truth. More of what I wrote on Apollon and sound can be seen here. The symbols of kithara (or lyre) and the drum differs only slightly. The drum in Hinduism represents the creative force of the joining of the male and the female, whereas the lyre in my modified Theban Lyre philosophy represents the soul (in the original it represented the body with the sound representing the soul)…and the soul itself is neither male or female, but perhaps both at once, though it is feminine in its receptivity of the gods which creates within the soul. Therefore we can see a link between this union for the cosmos and represented throughout. The bells that hang from Shiva’s waist echo along these lines too as far as I can see.
8. Bilva leaves. The Bilva tree is associated with medicine and healing. In the same manner the three eyes of Shiva it can be related to light and enlightenment. Therefore, while there is no direct plant like the Bilva for Apollon, the laurel comes in pretty close. Still what is represents can be seen in common with Apollon who is a god of good health, enlightenment, and light.
9. Rudraska. The garland, made of blue fruits the seeds of which are used when dried as beads, that hangs about Shiva which symbolizes purity, 108 beads for the 108 names of Shiva. These are the tears of Shiva which are said to have fallen from his eyes in mourning the death of Sati. This would be in a similar vein to the myth of amber in relationship to Apollon in which the amber fell from the gods eyes in his own grief, usually attributed to the tears he wept at his banishment to Hyperborea. That said the purifying nature of the rudraska shares symbolic commonality with the laurel garlands draped around the Agyieus stone, and the use of laurel in general in association with Apollon…the difference being that with the laurel it is leaves rather than beads made from dried fruit. But the symbolism of purification is the same.
10. Ash. Shiva smears himself with ash as god of the cemeteries. Apollon is also a god of death and cemeteries which I follow further in my article here. Nuff said on that point. He is the god of the cemetery, and is also the Lord of Ashes which links to the older traditions of the funeral pyre. Linked of course to the cemeteries is the relationship Shiva has with ghosts…or souls of the dead. This makes an interesting relationship to the afore-mentioned myth of the cattle of Apollon since in Hellenic imagery it is not uncommon to see the herds associated the souls, and from what I understand Shiva as a shepherd god is also related to this same idea. Therefore this shepherd of souls is common. Therefore when Apollon offers his bullwhip to Hermes it is intrusting these souls/cattle to be guided by Hermes in the same vein in which Ganesh is made the leader of the ghosts by Shiva.
11. Deer. Both Shiva and Apollon are depicted as grasping deer. Shiva grasps the deer to symbolize control over the mind (which by its nature leaps about like a deer, and the mastery of which is part of his meditative nature). Apollon is also depicted on coins as holding a deer in his hands, and in other imagery with a deer beside him. The deer is that animal which Herakles, in his labors for immortality, chased into the sacred lands of Hyperborea and therefore is a symbol that I associate in the evolution of the self to unity with divinity. Therefore this contrasts the more frequent images of the fawn with Artemis..the immature deer which she chases, and the grown stag with Apollon (the exception being the horned hind which is sacred to her). Both seem then as a symbol of evolution and attainment. See more here, about the deer symbolism.
12. The third eye of Shiva. Shiva has three eyes which represents the moon, the sun, and the third that of the enlightened mind. All three manifests as forms of light. And as such is pertinent in Apollon too who is associated with all forms of light (the moon and sun included both as I said above) and with the spiritual light of enlightenment.That the dancing image of Shiva is depicted standing upon a demon of ignorance is quite profound because Apollon is a god who destroys ignorance and superstition, a bringer of truth. This imagery was repeated in a French Revolution era statue which depicted Apollon as Enlightenment, holding his torch up-high, as he steps on a representation of superstition.
13. Fire. Shiva has associations with fire and heat, and spawned from his own forehead a daemon which is as fire and, after being dismembered, is that of fevers and other heat illnesses. This is not unfamiliar to a follower of Apollon who recognizes the god as healer and plague bringer. And of course fire is a fundamental part of light as a destructive source. Apollon, upon killing Python directs the sun to rot the body for instance. But fire is also beneficial. Even those fevers are actually positive too because they are symptom of the body fighting illness. The fires devouring all which is ill. And then as the source of light, it is natural that Apollon is often carrying a torch (as associated with Hestia as the goddess is said to dwell too in Delphi, a goddess he once courted, and a goddess whom he protects in Hittite inscriptions of Apollon being the guardian of boundaries and altars), and that Shiva holds fire in his hands and within his third eye. The fire is both life and destruction altogether at once. It destroys for there to be evolution and life.
14. Bow. Though Shiva isn’t often depicted with it, the bow is his and he is at times represented holding it. I saw one particular statue of Shiva with a bow that I really liked. Specifically his manifestation as Rudra, the archer (sava), in the Vedas. The bow of Ram was given to him by Shiva if I remember correctly. The bow is the instrument of Apollon and has been compared by philosophers with the strings of the lyre/kithara because it is the perfect tautness of these which makes them as they are. In Hellenic mysteries the bow shoots up the soul. So Artemis who receives the young soul has a bow that the one she nurturers she also begins in its upward evolution as she chases after it in the sacred hunt. These are the only two deities, aside from Eros, with whom we see the bow associated in Hellenismos. Of course the bow is held by Parvati and in her form as Kali.
15. Hair. As I said above the unshorn locks of Apollon can be intimately related to the long tangled hair of Shiva. The depiction of Apollon at Delphi with literally gold hair, and descriptions of Shiva as a god with hair like molten gold is a very interesting coincidence and probably relates along similar ideas associated with their domains. The main difference is that Apollon’s hair, while long flowing tends to hang in organized locks down his shoulders like other Hellenic gods who are depicted with long hair. Occasionally his long hair is alternatively bound up in what seems to be a knot of some kind. And though he never places a sacred river in his hair, Apollon is connected with many sacred rivers, often through a romantic sense. There is even the case in which a body of water, a spring, was bound by him. Though this way not by his hair, but rather than he contained Telphusa by trapping her.
16. Singing: Apollon is a singer par excellence and his signing with accompaniment on his lyre is strongly linked to his worship (as the paian is a particular notably form of singing worship), and contests involving singing were the first form of the games in his honor. Likewise Shiva is considered an expert in Dhrupad, which is a specific form of metered poetic singing often used particularly in songs of worship but also extending to other subjects. Whereas Apollon sang accompanied by his kithara, Shiva had his Rudra Veena (the instrument even carries his name, Rudra) which is a stringed instrument made with a gourd that vaguely resembles a really big banjo).
And thus I have concluded the symbolisms associated with Shiva. Now I move further into discussing the domains which shall likewise be numbered for convenience.
1. Destruction. With all the ingrained association with Apollon with light and life it is hard to remembered that a large part of his domain is focused on destruction too, the link of which you have read above in the discussions of cemetaries for the post Apollon and Death. Apollon’s name in fact is generally agreed, even among ancients this seems to be consensus as Plato mentioned that his name is typically translated as such, to mean “Destroyer”. He is the god which destroys illness, evil, darkness, ignorance/superstition, destroyer of hubric men and women (i.e. Niobe) who are contrary to the law of heaven. Meanwhile Shiva’s fundamental role in the cosmos is likewise, he is the destroyer on many levels.
2. Truth. To carry on from point 1, both Shiva and Apollon are gods ultimately of truth. Though when speaking to mortals Apollon can be ambiguous (and it is up to us to figure out what he is saying), his speech is never with lie but ever truthful. Apollon is truth much in the same way that Shiva is truth. The light penetrates the dark veil of obscurity and reveals. For such reason is truth contrary to ignorance and superstition because the latter blinds people, while the former brings enlightenment and evolution of the soul.
3. Light. I believe I covered light quite a bit in the first list, but I will touch on it again here because it bears repeating. Truth is inseparable from light, and light manifests spiritually, and physically and both Shiva and Apollon hold under their domain these manifestations of light. It is quite meaningful I think that the disc given to Vishnu by Shiva is considered a spark of the sun….and why Shiva is also represented with it (as is Durga..and probably several other gods too). Shiva bestows the gift because the light is a part of him, and therefore the disc is just as much of his symbol as it to Vishnu, just as Apollon accidentally slew Hyakinthos with his disc which is interpreted by many to relate to the sun since Hyakinthia is celebrated just before the killing rays of the sun of summer descend.
4. “Hermit”. That is the best word I can think of for it, the god who is in the far places in the wild. Though Apollon is often associated with arts and products of civilization, he himself spends a great deal of time high in the mountains, and a good half the year away in Hyperborea past the far northern mountains. Most of his association directly with people is usually done via seers, or the inspiration of his muses. Yet many of his major sanctuaries are in the high mountains. He dwells in the mountains with the muses, goddesses of memory and the mind which delights him. And such that is why you see him as the first Dionysos comes across in his journey…in the mountains where he is hailed by Apollon and the muses with him. It may seem like a stretch to relate this to the meditation of Shiva, but the principle of be surrounded in isolation by the powers of the mind….well that seems to measure up for the most part. For more on Apollon in this function I would point you to my post on Apollon of the Far Zones here.
5. God of wind storms and seas. Shiva is a god associated with the seas, and the water pouring forth can be seen in many devotional imagery of him. He is also, particularly in the form of Rudra, a god of the fierce wind storms. Both of these images are common to Apollon as Apollon is a god who travels across the sea and votive offerings were left to him at Delphi depicting the god with his hand at the prow of a boat, just as we see imagery relating to the myth of the god as a dolphin who lead the Cretan sailors across the sea. Such close association with the sea may have something to do with close relationship Apollon shares with his uncle Poseidon which likely influenced the Homeric pairing of Poseidon and Apollon in contest in the Iliad, as well as the myth of their joined efforts in the construction of the walls of Troy, and the myths of the trading of oracles in which Apollon’s land was traded to Poseidon for Poseidon’s share of Delphi which he owned co-jointly with Gaia. Apollon is also strongly associated with harbors and ports. So there is a strong sea association with Apollon. But equally there is the association there with the wind storms, perhaps even more particularly when it comes to storms at sea, under the name Apollon Telchinios. Therefore we see a commonality between Apollon and Shiva on these volatile elements of nature.
6. The male-female unity. Shiva’s image in which he is half female and half male is a perfect representation of the union of Shiva and Parvati, the completeness of their unified powers. This seems less apparently with Apollon, as very few gods cross these gender boundaries though Artemis as Hyakinthia was demonstrated as a bearded goddess, so there is a point. Certainly that Apollon is the most feminine of male gods and Artemis the most masculine of the feminine has a certain revelation about it. To really see it though I have found it helpful to look at it from another angle. And this is where the differences made in Hellenic myth can be helpful, because their unity is represented by the fact that they are twins. That they are born from the same source, the obscured womb of Leto…thus reasonably their powers mirror and play off of each other which can be most effectively displayed in my previously mentioned post of Artemis and Apollon that I linked to above in my point about energy and mastery. Bill Collens in his series of lectures about Vedic myth and religion sums up Shiva and Parvati in a similar way…Shiva is the sun and Parvati is the light, Shiva is the sea and Parvati is the harbor and so forth. This unity of playing off of each other is fundamental in the relationship of Apollon and Artemis as it is with Shiva and Parvati. And it does represent itself in a marital fashion too symbolically because Apollon’s bride Kyrene is a mirror image of Artemis, and even a favorite of the goddess, as was his first love Daphne from all accounts. So it is hardly coincidentally that Apollon finds a sexual relationship with the duplicate of his twin even though in Hellenic myth he doesn’t unite with her specifically.
A fundamental thing going on in symbolism of both Apollon and Shiva falls along a very specific pattern, that if we accept that Artemis and Parvati represent the domain of energy, then we see Apollon and Shiva as that who focuses the energy towards a purpose. And this manifests in waves of energy: lightwaves, soundwaves, vibrations, currents of air and water etc. It is all movement of energy that is focused towards purpose in the cosmos and in our spiritual evolution. Thus as she energizes us, he is at the pinnacle of our focused and harmonically aligned energy…the beautiful song of our souls. And it seems to me that there must be something to this in the myth in which Shiva takes poison, created from the churning of the celestial milk–bringer of immortality, into him and holds it in his throat, turning it blue. For the throat is a vibrational center of sound…the musical strings of our own bodily instrument. If the milk is the substance of immortality in this case, then it seems that the poison would be associated with death and perhaps mortality in general…it seems as the promise of Shiva that nothing stays the same but is ever singing new songs, ever growing, ever changing, even as representing a process of purification in itself in which the enlightened soul joins the gods and the separation of the beautiful essence of the soul..a kind of distillation…that we see happening here. Such separation we can see too in the myth of Marsyas, though instead of the lovely imagery of poison and milk, we have the flaying of skin to strip away the base element from the pure beautiful singing soul.
Thus concludes my discussion of Apollon and Shiva.
When it comes to Artemis and Parvati it is a bit less fluid because, on the surface there appears to be a number of differences, among which is the manifestation of Parvati as Durga, whereas for Artemis, while possessing functions associated with battle, it is a bit less apparent in her myth and worship. However at the moment I am going to focus less on Parvati on the whole, and focus here for a moment on Kali.
Kali is truly a goddess of fairly terrifying visage. Truth be told her face reminds me of imagery of gorgons which is common to both Athena, in her assocation with Medusa, and most intimately with Artemis. I spoke more of this in my PBP post on Gorgons. And though Artemis does not manifest quite as a literal mother, she is a nurturer in which the goddess has been honored by nursemaids and women. The earliest form of Artemis in Crete refers to Artemis as the younger sister and companion of Eleythia, the goddess of birth, as Artemis is the goddess who in turn gives sustenance to the young. I have written more of it here and here. So even as the nurturer of life, as such a nurturer she is the provider of energy towards life, she is on the same token, and towards the same domain of energy, the huntress, a slayer in her own right. As a goddess who is a goddess of primal energy, she is herself a goddess directly linked to cycles of nature for which is the most probable root of alternative interpretations of Artemis as the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon (rulers of the earth and sea). Her imagery isn’t quite as that of Kali, and really can’t compare when it comes to the heads that adorn the body of the goddess, but the principle of slayer and mother is still present in the Hellenic goddess.
More to come on Artemis and Kali…I will announce when this has been updated.