I recognize the fact that most of my writing, especially within my poetic works, rarely touches directly on the healing facet of Apollon’s domain. Rather I more often write of light, of musical harmony and the cosmos, of the martial qualities of the god, and even some few forays into agricultural-spiritual areas. But it is seldom I write of Apollon as a healer or father of the medical arts.
This is not because of I have zero interest in medicine. I have a great passion for herbal medicine, and have had since I was a teenager an obsession with it. Likewise I have been intrigued by the effects of aromatherapy (what brings pleasure or comfort to the senses…I don’t think it outright heals but can effect a general sense of internal wellbeing). I had even played with the idea in my youth of being a doctor, and had a college professor who had tried to convince me to change my major because he thought I should go to medical school since I had finished near the top of his Biology class (which I guess is saying something since a large precentage of the class failed or just barely managed to get by as he was a notoriously difficult teacher). But I ended up not pursuing a career in the medical feild, and practice herbal medicine only in my own household. So, even so, it is not outside my relationships with Apollon, despite most of my talents and worship activities being connected to the inspirational feild. So I may not be a great doctor, but I am a passable poetess and that works for me.
So then why do I not crow on and on about Apollon the healing god? It is largely because as far as I see it, his healing work is a byproduct of two interrelated activities within his domain. First, as the destroyer, he is destroying the darkness….not literal darkness as is oh look it is night-time, but rather he is destroying pollution, and most specifically he is destroying that which is corrupting the natura balance of things. It is this reasonable how a god of wolves, mice and grasshoppers is alternatively the destroyer of the same when the balance excessively tips to the point of devastation, whether these act as bringers of plague or famine. By destroying the corrupted elements Apollon is the restorer of harmonic balance, or order if you will. This is naturally the same effect that is prayed for when he is called on as a god of purifications as purifications shows much of the same purpose. And the laurel, which is a plant associated directly with purification, is also via its direct association with the oracle, is a plant associated with the revelation of divine order of things. And of course the acquiring of personal pollution and the process of releaving oneself from it can also be part of the order of things as we can infer from a reading of Aeschylus’ Oresteia.
What we end up having is a god who, as his name indicates, acts as a destroyer of evil, of corruption, and by this destruction by his harmonic nature realigns the natural balance of things. So then, does this not sound like a healing deity? Isn’t a large part of what medicine does is to maintain the balanced wellbeing and health of the body on preventative measures, or in the case of illness to destroy the source of the illness and aide the body in its recovery. There is evidence that there was a belief that illness of the body often manifested from a spiritual balance, or an imbalance of the soul…an idea which is attributed largely to the healing techniques that were celebrated on the part of the Thrakians. Though I do believe that spiritual conflicts can cause hazardous health issues to the body, on the flip side I do not think that all damage caused to the body are manifestations of a spiritual imbalance. Some things are directly related to this world and it’s environment which breeds all manner of disease. And here divides what I properly attribute to Apollon and what I attribute to his son Asklepios. Those illnesses which I deem might be related to a state of internal imbalance (which includes problems that stem from brain activity like insomnia, nervous disorders, bipolarism etc) I would pray to Apollon to aid in their management and removal….which is of course to be backed up with appropriate medication. However for situations which deals with wounds, diseases and general hazards of living a mortal existance I would pray to his son, the doctor god Asklepios. Therefore I distinguish the healing god, Apollon, from the God of health, Asklepios. The latter of which doesn’t NOT involve Apollon, for he can be called on in such situations to deliver aide and his care…especially in the case of disease which destroys the balance of the body, but is largely assigned to Asklepios who deals directly with the art of doctoring.
So wherein Asklepios is a doctor god by his trade, I may say less of Apollon as a healing god as a result of what he does. But this does not mean I revere him any less when it comes to art of healing and medical sciences…for afterall he is the father of these things, and Hygeia, good health/grace, is issued from his line.