About Apollon

Apollon and Hyakinthos

Temple of Apollo in Delphi

Apollo

Apollo (Greek Apollon) is the son of Zeus and Leto, and twin brother to Artemis. Artemis assisted her mother in giving birth to Apollo on the island of Delos when Hera made Leto's labor difficult out of jealousy for having slept with her husband. It was said that he was born on the seventh day on the seventh month, hence the number seven and the day is sacred to Him.

He is a god of sunlight, oracular prophesy and visions as well as divination, healing and medicine, archery, law, order, moderation, and of the Muses in the arts, sciences, music and writing. Apollo is also associated with purification and truth. It is said that a lie could never fall from His lips, and as a result all oaths are sworn to Him as proof that they will not be broken.

Apollo has many names: Pythios, Delphinian, Loxias, Phoebus (Greek Phoibos), Far-Darter, Distant Deadly Archer, Lukeios (Wolfish), Iatros (Physician), and Daphnephoros (Bay-Bearer), just to name a few. One of Artemis' requests of Her father was to have as many names as Him.

His animals are the crow, the raven, the dolphin, the lion, the hawk, and the swan.

Apollo is a god who did not originate in Greece. Rather, he was brought over from the invading Dorians. One of the original spellings for his name is Apellon, and it came from the Dorians. In the Etruscan religion, he was known as Aplu. It was the Romans who called him Apollo, as they dropped the Greek letter nu (Roman letter n) at the end of his name, and we mostly know him as Apollo today as a result, but the actual spelling of his name is Apollon: Alpha, Pi, Omicron, Lambda, Lambda, Omega, Nu. It can be seen written out on the main page.

The most famous oracle in history is known as the Delphic Oracle, and while Gaea had it before Him, under His occupation was when it gained renown. The Pythia was His priestess, and in the beginning had to be a young woman who was a virgin, and she would prophesy for Apollo on the seventh day of the month. As time went on, the words of the Pythia grew to become more in demand, and she prophesied more frequently and even would have two Pythias under her to replace her if need be--apparently it was tiring work! The Pythia would sit on a tripod while she inhaled burning bay leaves--bay laurel being sacred to the god--and would utter oracles while in trance. The end of the Delphic Oracle typically marks the end of the Hellenic period of religion for the ancients as far as most scholars are concerned.

The Delphic Oracle was known for a number of mottos, many of which were said to be quotes from Apollo Himself: "know thyself", "nothing too much", and "avoid hubris".

As a god, He had many loves, and nearly all of them ended in tragedy. One notable exception is a maiden named Cyrene (Greek Kyrene). He found her on top of a mountain wrestling lions, fell in love with her, and asked her hand in marriage. She accepted, and He built a city in her honor in which is known today as modern-day Libya. Together they had a son named Aristaeus, who is associated with honey and bee-keeping. To this day Kyrene is the only woman that I've ever found that was positively associated with Him who wasn't a family member, nor was she killed, cursed or turned into a tree. As a result, she became my namesake in honor of the god.

 

Among the many ways to honor Apollo in everyday life, I recommend the following:

  • Sing
  • Listen to music
  • Write! Especially poetry about the god, or to the god.
  • Take up archery, or a stringed instrument
  • Learn at least one form of divination. I personally like tarot, even though it's not Greek.
  • Enjoy the sunshine and spend time outdoors. Watch a sunrise or a sunset.
  • Go to an opera show.
  • Study, read, and learn about a science or an art.
  • Meditate on what balance and moderation mean to you.
  • Consider taking up the healing arts, whether it is a CPR class or a Reiki attunement.
  • Read up on channeling and automatic writing. See if you can find a technique that inspires you. This can be a great way to get ideas on writing in general, whether it be fiction or poetry.
  • Meditate on one of Apollo's attributes or epithets.

    For more details on the worship of Apollo, see the Greek and Roman religious library page.

    Good incenses for him include a blend made from frankincense, myrrh, and bay laurel. Some add cinnamon to it. For something more "divinatory," I add extra bay laurel and some mugwort. Mileage may vary, and it's open to experimentation. Bay laurel is sacred to the god, and frankincense and myrrh were popular and widely used fragrances in ancient Greece.

    There is also a tea that I recommend that is made from fresh bay leaves. You need to get them from an herbal shop, and seal up the rest in an airtight container--otherwise you may have some health problems, as bay that is not fresh and is ingested could potentially be poisonous. Do NOT use the bottled bay used in supermarkets. Add a few bay leaves to a tea ball (I recommend seven, as that's Apollo's number), and let it steep for about 5-15 minutes depending on how strong you like your tea. It has a bitter taste to it, and if you're uncertain as to whether or not you will like it, steep for five minutes. Drink it before bedtime, and write down any and all dreams that you can remember upon awakening.

    For rituals honoring Apollo, it need not be elaborate or fancy. Honoring him at the time you wake up and/or bedtime would be appropriate. Some "affirmations," or phrases to honor the god at the time could be as follows:

    Waking up: Kalimera (good morning) Apollon! May your light shine upon me as I rise for the day.
    Bedtime: Kalinichta (good night) Apollon! May your light inspire me even as I dream.

    Prayers in ancient Greece went along the following formula:
    1) Greet the god in as many of his or her names as you can--especially those relevant for the task. For a dream oracle, Apollon Pythios, Apollon Daphnephoros, Apollon Delphinios, and Apollon Loxias are especially good to remember.
    2) Remind the god of all of the good things that you've done for him or her in the past
    3) Request the favor of the god
    4) Thank the god and promise to offer some form of formal sacrifice or thanks when the favor has been granted. It goes without saying that you must remember and honor that promise.

    The best incense to burn for Apollo is granules of frankinense, which is a standard offering to Greek gods, and bay laurel.

    At the Oracle of Delphi, bay laurel and barley were burned as an incense. It was said that this indicated the humbleness of the oracle to not burn something "fancy" such as frankincense.

    The best book that I've found about Apollo is Karl Kerenyi's Apollo: The Wind, the Spirit and the God. I highly recommend it.

    We are forming a community online--and hopefully from which will have offline communities--of people who worship Apollo. For the most part we will be Greek reconstructionist as far as our ritual and festival practices, but we welcome anyone who is genuinely devoted to the god.
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