Apollon of Ge

Pausanias speaks, I believe in Messenia, of an altar to Apollon of Ge (the earth). At first I had assumed that this perhaps referred in similar nature to Apollon as at his temple Daphne in which a statue depicting Apollon demonstrates him libating to Ge, presumably for the resurrection of Daphne as the laurel tree. However it never seemed to fit quite right because logically if it was speaking in relationship to Daphne (and as I said before the Peloponnese also recognized Daphne, though had her as the daughter of their river Ladon) that it would be referring to her instead of a more ambiguous title as being of the earth. As I have also noted before, as per Diodoros Siculus, we understand, via his example through Egyptianized statement of the mysteries, that Apollon and Artemis are conceived mystically as being the children of Demeter, who for all intents and purposes is directly associated with the earth, and I continued this idea with Apollon as the torch-bearing youth/shepherd. So I thought to speak a bit of Apollon of Ge, or more aptly the fire of the earth.

To understand the following, I must share my concept of the Apollon in relationship to the sun. Whereas I understand Helios as the physical sun in our solar system, I understand Apollon as ruling that substance of which Helios is comprised. Apollon is light, but he is also fire. I hadn’t put a great deal of thought into this before because I was so focused on the light, and yet when I was reading a Hindu text the translator in their commentary spoke of how light is inseparable from fire. I myself agree. Light (and heat) are visible byproducts of the presence of fire. And have I not before experienced a small portion of his intense flames. That some connect the origins of his name to a title for Agni, the Vedic fire god (who became Rudra/Shiva), reinforces the fire associations, as does poetic references to Apollon’s arrows being fiery serpents. The very nature of fire is as that of Apollon, it is largely destructive, even as he is the destroyer, when it comes into contact with that which it may consume, but in moderation it is life-giving. This speaks of Apollon’s nature as a nurturing god and bringer of the golden harvest, as well as his fundamental role as destroyer.

As a fiery god that directly impacts his relationship with other gods, most particularly Hestia who is not fire herself, but possesses fire. In her Orphic hymn she is the venerable guardian of the unwearied flame, and as her name means both home and hearth hers is that which contains the vital flame. She is at once the hearth, the household which contains the hearth, and Olympos which contains the hearth of the gods. That in a brief Homeric Hymn (Homeric Hymn number 24) to her she is called upon as the goddess who attends to the house of lord Apollon with oil dripping from her locks. She is the sustainer and nurse of the fire with the locks of her hair dripping with oil. Thus it is understandable how vigilant attendance of the fire for her at eternal burning altars, and even within the oikos, was of tremendous importance as it bespeaks of her very nature to vigilantly tend to the flames that they never extinguish and leave mankind in cold and darkness. For this reason I think that she is perceived at the center of all things because she is seated at the fire that dwells within the center of all things, and Apollon resides at the center as gives mythic reasoning for his decent from Koios (the axis of the heavens), his relationship with Helios, and his dominion at Delphi at the navel of the world. She attends to the fires of all altars, where she is honored first and last as suitable for a goddess who attends the flames of sacrifice. Meanwhile Apollon, as the god of the very substance of the devouring flames, he is the protector of the inviolable nature of the oikos (in which we know him as the god before the gates and doors), and protector of the altar. Thus the nature of Apollon and Hestia are by necessity bound, and the great hearth of his temple at Delphi was of great renown. Naturally they have a mythical connection too in which Apollon, before Hestia became the tender of the hearth-fire, pursued the goddess in courtship, as did Poseidon, who himself shares a very interesting relationship in activity with Apollon which I will speak of more shortly. That she is escapes being permanently bound in marriage to either god is interesting, but even more so that despite her desire to not be married to Apollon, that she shares a permanent relationship with him and his cult, and that of his twin for which there are some illustrations of Artemis in her Ephesian appearance that decorated the surface of oil lamps. In the latter case we have it more pronounced from southern Italy in which lamps were used and left as votary offerings for Diana. Coincidentally it is perhaps an interesting footnote that the eternal altars that were left burning in certain temples and in the cities were lit by the light of the sun, making something of an interesting relationship and how the earthly and heavenly fire was perceived in gradient scale and how they were linked into one idea. For the heavenly fire was perhaps the more pure way to get the earthly fire rather than by means of delivering it from the strike of flint on steel…it is born purely as its nature is rather than from substances that are not of fire.

So this meandering pushed to the fore of my mind by some observations I made last night that I had seen some beads made of pumice and how I had felt compelled that I should make a necklace of them for Apollon (although I had just finished making him his skull necklace, it appears that there is another that needs to be made). This strand as I imagined it would be simple, pumice stones spaced with quartz and flourite (the last and first minerals to form in cooling). When I said above that I saw Apollon as the fire associated with the sun of Helios, this is reflected too more intimately in which we have, as I began this post, Apollon of Ge, the very fire and light within the earth, the perfect rotation of the molten material at the core keeping a perfect harmonic balance in the life supporting capacity of our planet, and the magmatic sea upon which the huge body of rock flows. This core is of course of magnetic properties that establishes are north and south pole running through the core, the north-south alignment being particular to Apollon as we understand his own northern and southern migrations which are imitated my migrating herds and flocks. He in his relationship with the sun may be the bringer of the golden grain, but he is the receiver of life as it follows his north-south course in his internal relationship with Ge.

This magmatic association we can particularly see historically with the sacredness of thermal springs to Apollon, in which heat escape through fissures in the earth’s crust, releasing heat and important minerals into the water. Thermal springs have a long history of being beneficial to humanity’s ailments and perhaps the most direct cultic link to this understanding of Apollon of Ge. This is not to say that I believe volcanoes to be his. More to the point I see the volcano to be of Hestia. Like the hearth it contains and directs the living fire. It is also the house of Hephaistos, who likewise has a close interaction here for he is the only god who can harness the power of fire to create. For instance he makes the bows of Apollon and Artemis. For Apollon it is always a metal bow, whether silver or gold (of which his bow is described as both) which is particularly curious as his bow is made of a substance that has to be shaped and purified by fire on gold and silver mineral deposits. Whereas I may see Apollon as the fiery one associated with the fire within the earth and the fire of the heavens, it is Hephaistos who pulls out and separates the various forms of minerals from the elements and minerals carried within the fiery magma. Hestia I relate as much to Hephaistos furnace as I do to the volcano, the hearth and the altar. The nature of Apollon connected with fire may also highlight many of the similarities between Apollon’s rebellious and sympathetic nature towards humanity and that of the Titan Prometheus who brought fire to humanity. I don’t consider Prometheus and Apollon anything near the same divine being but I do think that there is a fundamental link in their characters that may have something to do with Apollon’s nature and domain.

Apollon’s fire as earthly and heavenly has a direct relationship with Poseidon as I said above. We already know that Poseidon has a very close relationship with earth, in which we get the pairing of Poseidon and Demeter as the parenting of Artemis (and likely Apollon too as via Diodoros we know that the twins were conceived of as twins of Demeter mystically too, and not just Artemis). The kinetic energy of water has a penetrative, fertilizing, corrosiveĀ  and enveloping nature in relationship to the earth. It can therefore be imagined that the kinetic transformative nature of Poseidon merging with Demeter can be perceived as interlocked with the nature of Apollon. Thus the oracle of Delphi, which Apollon inherited, was once originally in joint ownership of Ge and Poseidon. Poseidon traded Apollon for his half, and according to one Delphic myth, Phoebe gave Ge’s half which she inherited to Apollon as a birthday gift. The relationship of Apollon and Poseidon continues further in the myth of Ilium in which Poseidon and Apollon were sentenced to build the walls of the city. Later in the Iliad we find reference this but also an interesting pairing of Poseidon and Apollon against each other, whereas the water of Xanthus (who was said to have a hot and cold stream that fed into the river) was placed opposite of the fires of Hephaistos. Thus we find the cooling water placed in reverse opposition to the fires in both cases. It is of further interest that Apollon refused to fight his uncle, although Xanthus fared less than well against the fires of Hephaistos.

There is a distinctive positive relationship between Apollon and Poseidon which is creative of basic building blocks of earthly material. Thus Apollon himself is a god who laid the foundations of his own temple as well as aid in the building of the walls of Ilium. It is the cooling of fire that allows Hephaistos to draw forms. Any good blacksmith needs the intense white heat of the forge, and the water to cool that which they are working on that it solidifies into the form the blacksmith gives it. We see this is magmatic activity. I spoke of thermal springs, which I also believe are sacred too to Poseidon in some cases, but there is also the matter that magmatic activity under the sea creates new land mass. As someone who lives in the Ring of Fire, much of our land here is created from such activity. Much of my home-state Alaska was created from magma cooled by the sea, as were the pacific islands. Therefore whereas Apollon has a solar relationship with the upper levels of the sea into which the light of the sun feeds the abundance of oceanic life (for far less creatures thrive in the darkest depths where the sun is absent), he also has a magmatic relationship with Poseidon’s water both in the sea and in fresh water.

It is for this purpose that I honor Apollon of Ge, and that I shall make for him the necklace of pumice, calcite, and quartz in remembrance of these vital relationships to his earthly flames that enriches the earth and the oikos.