Oct 062018
 

I also wonder about the Tetrarch, who occupies my mind so fully that he is by my side in all but body throughout each day. We are bound, he and I, by ties both seen and unseen. There are ties for all to see because the Tetrarch is an overlord of Delphi and it was he that insisted I should be appointed Pythia when the former priestess was murdered during the war. Then there are the unseen ties, because I alone have understanding of how much he means to me. Even my sisters do not realise the depth of this ocean. To my mind he is the Earthly representation of Apollo himself and loving one enables me to increase my understanding of the other. How fragile we are beneath the ruthless gaze of our Lord, but how sweet is the perfume of crushed flowers, so healing the oil of their divine essence.
My love for Apollo knows no bounds, for his light reaches even into places of darkness, he is my lord and my protector in times of danger, my guide through moments of chaos. He is the husband I cannot have, the mind which inhabits my own and requires me to master this world.
Of all the places that I know to be in existence I have the greatest desire to see Hyperborea, cradle of my Master. It is in Hyperborea that the wax and feathers temple may now be seen, for it was carried there in the chariot of Apollo many moons ago and preserved as a portal to the underworld.
The Tetrarch seldom comes here during the cold and stormy months of Dionysus (The Tyrant Cleisthenes, by contrast, invariably does) but he frequents this place when the God has returned from his travels in Hyperborea. Once – when I was a child and prone to some irrational thinking – I asked Timocrates whether we might follow the God when he journeys through winter to that shining, golden land of sun and ice. His answer was decisive and prevented further query:
“Neither by ship nor on foot could you find the marvellous road to the meeting-place of the Hyperboreans , but in any case it is not for you to pursue Gods or men – wherever they may wander – and if you were ever to leave here in order to do such a thing you could never return and hope to keep your life.”
I never mentioned it again, as I do of course understand perfectly that this life is not my own to have desires with. I have learned to hold my peace, for the war has instilled in me too much knowledge already of the evils men might inflict upon one another and careless tongues or minds can spell catastrophe. As I am under scrutiny from most people for much of the time and some people at all times, I guard my words and deeds minutely, the importance of behaving discreetly having been seriously impressed upon me from an early age.
As a rule, therefore, my thoughts are carefully measured and then voiced with reason, my mind is generally clear and grasps at nothing, for everyone and everything is waiting for the God to speak through me and that is the singular reason for my existence. This is the way it is and always has been and always will be, lest the gods of Olympus are rearranged with another at their pinnacle.
In any case, all of us here are at peace now the war has ended and our fortunes are so very great. Far be it from me to break such peace. Riches beyond most men’s wildest dreams are scattered along our roads as carelessly as leaves, and arts beyond the realms of mortal man’s imagination are conceived of and created quite effortlessly, from beneath the steady gaze of the Master of the Muses. Here it is that the true source of inspiration might be found, the fountain of joy, source of the birdsong.

 

Sep 062018
 

Find the well by the lake of memory. Guardians protect the cold water. Tell them…
Orphic Fragment

I am standing in the centre of a great rectangular hall with my head held high and my long, bright hair wound into an elaborate arrangement that is held in place by a gleaming diadem. My white linen robe is bound with pure gold and I am still as a statue, with one eye fixed upon the future as the other observes what is past.
The air is cool beneath the temple roof. The only sounds that can be heard are an occasional bleating of goats and the distant murmuring of servants as they make ready for the Spring Council, which is to be held here in three and a half days. I have already swept clean the marble floor and it shines like the full moon of Amalios. Early-morning sunrays flood the hallowed space, infusing every atom. Narrow gaps between the thick, rounded pillars reveal sections of a motionless scene, silent as if time had ceased.
Happy are the men who enter this house and ask of me, “What do you see?” The wisest make the best of the answer they are given but others seek more, seldom to any avail, for there is a way that we do things at this place – here at the navel of the world – where the future is inscribed on lead.
I stand within the fourth Apollonian Temple to have been built here, which has undergone extensive repair works following the War that almost destroyed it.
The first Temple was much smaller than the present building and constructed from branches of Thessaly’s sacred laurel trees; the next was created by bees of wax and feathers, designed to bridge the gap between Earth and the underworld. Bees make the journey to and from Hades as a matter of course and the secrets they retrieve are for the golden ears of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis, keeper of the moon.
The third temple was a great bronze edifice which stood for many years before the heat of the Sun God melted it back into the Earth, and the fourth was built before I took up my office. The fifth shall not be put on its foundations before I have left for the Elysium Fields.
It is on the seventh day of each month that the future lives of men are unveiled and they come from all parts of the Earth to know what the fates have in store for them. This is except for during the winter months, when twice-born Dionysus returns and natural chaos reigns in place of Apollo’s measured reason.
When frost is on the ground and the sheaves of wheat have frozen back into the Earth – when the great white star of Maia appears on the horizon – then it is that nine wild maenads will herald the arrival of Dionysus. His body is buried close to where I am standing and during his season our dedications are made for the following year’s harvest, while we pray that the sun God will return, his golden youth resurrected anew.
When I am satisfied that the purification rituals have been performed correctly and the Temple is perfectly clean I walk towards the entrance of the great hall. It is elaborately decorated with all manner of votives – burnished golden shields, statues, cauldrons, tripods and bows – from all four corners of the Earth. Counted amongst them are the ensigns and symbols of every noble family that is known to this world.
I instinctively look up before leaving Apollo’s house, to above the entrance where a thousand garlands of laurel create fragrant canopies beneath the ceiling and pay host to the songbirds that sing his praises. The sweetest voice I ever heard belongs to the nightingale, who reveals to those with ears to hear the innermost longing of the psyche. A pure, shrill note breaks the silence and escapes into Echo’s lonely realm. When daybreak comes I shall return.

Jun 292015
 

sunset-on-acacia-tree-sunset-1725750302As has been already explained, he geographical situation of the former Terrestrial Paradise was variously given. The Babylonians placed it in the Delta of the Euphrates; the Greeks in Crete; the pre-Exilic Hebrews at Hebron in Southern Judaea.

It is of the highest theological importance that Jehovah announced himself to Moses as ‘I am that I am’ or (more literally) ‘I am whoever I choose to be’ from the acacia rather than from any other tree; because this constituted a definition of his godhead.

Had he announced himself from the terebinth, as the earlier Jehovah had done at Hebron, this would have been to reveal himself as Bel, or Marduk, the god of Thursday and of the seventh month, the Aramaean Jupiter, the Paeonian Apollo. But from the acacia, the tree of the first day of the week, he revealed himself as the God of the Menorah, the transcendental Celestial God, the God who presently said:

‘Thou shalt have none other Gods but me….for I the Lord they God am a jealous God.’

The acacia is, indeed, a thorny, jealous, self-sufficient tree, needs very little water and, like Odin’s ash, strangles with its roots all other trees growing near i. Uath, the month dedicated to the acacia, was the one in which the annual Hebron Fair took place, and so holy that all sexual congress and self-beautification was tabooed during it: it was the month of the annual purification of the temples in Greece, Italy and the Near East.

The  not yet completed Ages of the World, quoted from Nennius by Gwion, are based on the same planetary cannon:

‘The first Age of the World is from Adam to Noah’. Adam’s was the first human eye to see the light of the sun, or the Glory of God. Sunday is the day of light.’

Robert Graves, The White Goddess

Oct 102012
 

As for Orpheus’ head: after being attacked by a jealous Lemnian serpent (which Apollo at once changed into a stone) it was laid to rest in a cave at Antissa, sacred to Dionysus.

There it prophesised day and night until Apollo, finding that his oracles at Delphi, Gryneium and Clarus where deserted, came and stood over the head crying: ‘Cease from interference in my business; I have borne long enough with you and your singing!’ Thereupon the head fell silent.

Orpheus’ lyre had likewise drifted to Lesbos and been laid up in a temple of Apollo, at whose intercession, and that of the Muses, the Lyre was placed in Heaven as a constellation.

Some gave a wholly different account of how Orpheus died: they say that Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt for divulging divine secrets. He had, indeed, instituted the Mysteries of Apollo in Thrace; those of Hecate in Aegina; and those of Subterrene Demeter at Sparta.

Orpheus’ singing head recalls that of the decapitated Alder-god Bran which, according to the Mabinogion, sang sweetly on the rock at Harlech in North Wales; a fable, perhaps, of the funerary pipes made from alder-bark. Thus the name Orpheus, if it stands for ophruoeis, ‘on the river bank’, may be a title of Bran’s Greek counterpart, Phoroneus, or Cronus, and refer to the alders ‘growing on the banks of’ the Peneius and other rivers.

The name of Orpheus’ father, Oeagrus (‘of the wold sorb’ apple’), points to the same cult, since the sorb-apple (French = alisier) and the alder (Spanish = aliso) both bear the name of the pre-Hellenic River-goddess Halys, or Alys, or Elis, Queen of the Elysian Islands, where Phoroneus, Cronus and Orpheus went after death. Aornum is Avernus, an Italic variant of the Celtic Avalon (‘apple-tree island’)

Orpheus is said by Diodorus of Siculus to have used the old thirteen-consonant alphabet; and the legend is that he made the trees move and charmed wild beasts apparently refers to its sequence of seasonal trees and symbolic animals. As sacred king he was struck by a thunderbolt – that is, killed with a double-axe – in an oak grove at the summer solstice, and then dismembered by the Maenads of the bull cult, like Zagreus’ or of the stag cult, like Actaeon; the Maenads, in fact, represented the Muses.

In Classical Greece the practice of tattooing was confined to Thracians, and in a vase-painting of Orpheus’ murder a Maenad has a small stag tattooed on her forearm. This Orpheus did not come in conflict with the cult of Dionysus; he was Dionysus, and he played the rude alderpipe, not the civilised lyre. Thus Proclus writes: ‘Orpheus,  because he was the principal in the Dionysian rites, is said to have suffered the same fate as the god’ and Apollodorus credits him with having invented the Mysteries of Dionysus.

The Greek Myths, Robert Graves

 

Nov 202011
 

Standing on the outskirt of the forest, Hermes whispered a message to his light‐headed, wine‐brining friend: “Zeus’s twice‐born son, your time shall surely come. You bear the living vine; on you the sun shall shine”.

The wolf by Apollo’s side pricked up its ears and whined. “And what of me, Father, bringer of the cosmic light, voice of all reason and destroyer of dark night?”

Zeus raised an eyebrow. “How soon, I wonder, my great golden child, ’til you think yourself greater, even, than I?”

It was then that his deer‐daughter put a restraining hand on her brother’s shoulder and entreated him in an urgent voice. “Bait him not, beloved brother; the chariot of the sun shall be struck down by lightening and the silver moon shall die of grief! Then you would see that our licentious youth shall sober in a second and sit upon thy gilded chariot!”

“Ay, sister of the moon, with his hairy hand upon my priceless goblet, while his sluts strum tuneless ditties upon my incomparable turtleshell lyre!”

Dionysus raised his cup to them in a toast: “You have my blessing brother, I think not to steer the chariot of the sun, nor to take your hallowed place in heaven…I’d rather have a bit of fun! You’ll have to watch the lyre, though, methinks the sound of music shall do much to make our mystery.”

Nov 202011
 

High above the clouds, in a dimension where the sun would shine even at midnight, Zeus brought to mind the Eagles of the East and West, lords of land and sea.

Holding them in sight, he gave to them their mission, saying: “Fly now each of you in his own direction; neither is swifter than the other. The place where you meet I shall pin down forever as the centre of this world”.

The gods had come down from their clouds and assembled at this place, to mark forever the foundation of their temple on Earth. Zeus’s fair twins Apollo and Artemis, sun and moon, came down to where they had been summoned, swiftly followed by the others, each in elemental guise.

Bearing fruits of the earth and dressed in garlands of flowers, the earth mother Demeter walked hand‐in‐hand with her love‐struck daughter, queen of the Styx‐bound underworld.

Ares, Hestia and Hera, Hephestaeus, Poseidon and Athena ‐ each transpiring from their own dominion – fulfilled the summons from their central being.

A bull emerged from the forest, metamorphosising with a swagger into a shining youth, handsome as only a handsome youth can be. He walked hand in hand with the loveliest female in the land, raising to his moistened lips an earthen jar of ruby‐coloured wine.

Her love‐child laughed with his magician.

Hera gazed broodingly at the twice‐born son of his father and a cloud descended on the assembly. “I hope you will not reserve too many honours for this youth, Dionysus, husband, for he is only quite immortal, with half true blood in his blue, engorged veins”.

Zeus roared with laughter and raised a glass in toast to his progeny. “But see the ones who are with him, sister; you must admit he is in great company: The body of desire with the power of love and the herald of all ages. I see no issue here but that which is great!”

“But come forth now Apollo and shine on me son, step beyond the clouds, for I would have you build me here a house, where men from all corners of the world will
come to learn their destiny”

Nov 202011
 

Come, venerable, various pow’rs divine, with fav’ring aspect on your mystics shine

*

The owl of Zeus’s daughter Athena sat blinking inscrutably in the branches of a large white tree. Artemis, his deer, second‐born child beneath, blinked her virginal eyes and then ran like the wind towards the edge of the emerald forest.

She sped through the trees until she reached the pebble‐dashed shore of the finite see, where Poseidon threw waters from the churning, ink-black ocean out to land. A vast breaking wave upheld the glistening form of her darling, new‐born brother, Phoebus Apollo.

The top of his fin cut the air like a knife, carving out a circle of pure white light. Seven sacred colours framed his perfect, golden mind, as Artemis declared to him: “We two are one, combined!”

Her love for him supplanted all other desire. “Give me now my silver arrows”, she called out, “for I shall strike down dead any one who dares come between us!”

“Swim, enchanting sister, while my light is still cool, deep, into the salt-filled waters. A weapon such as this,” he held above him a golden bow, “may only be brought from the abyss”. His answering voice was like an echo of her dream before she dreamt it.

She cast off her linen robe and dipped one foot into the ocean, shielding her eyes from the blue‐lit morning star as it rose on the Eastern horizon. Every other face turned toward it as she made her way to the bottomless abyss, heedless of the dragon chained within.

Sep 152011
 

Imagining Orpheus is a different matter. Most people can recall two things about him: that he was a musician, and that he went down to the Underworld to fetch his wife Eurydice. His story is the archetypal myth of the power of music.

With the lyre that was the gift from Apollo, Orpheus could move everything in creation, from stones, trees, and beasts, through humans, to daimonic and even divine beings (whom we might call angels and gods).

Armed only with his songs, he charmed the denizens of Hades and persuaded Pluto and Persephone to let him take Eurydice back.

Orpheus was a prince of Thrace, the land to the north of Greece. His mother was Calliope, the Muse of epic poetry. Some say his father was Apollo, and certainly Orpheus stands under the patronage of that god. Apollo also had northern connections, either coming from Hyperborea (the land beyond the north wind), or else visiting that far northern land after his birth on the island of Delos.

Where was Hyperborea? As it was said to contain a circular temple to the sun, some have identified it with Britain, and its temple with Stonehenge, a monument far older than any in Greece.

Stonehenge, and the people who constructed it, were Apollonian in the sense of being dedicated to the sun, to astronomy, mathematics and music. A number of modern researchers have penetrated beyond the limitations of academic prehistory to reveal, through intuition, the bases of this ancient science.

John Mitchell, the pioneer in this regard, has reconstructed the diagrams and dimensions that seem to lie at the basis of megalithic design. Jean Richar has shown that there is an imaginary zodiac whose twelvefold symbolism links mythology with the geography of the Aegean area. Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller have traced a plethora of Apollonian sites in geometrical alignment, all the way from Ireland to Palestine.

Mitchell, in addition, has traced the myth of ‘perpetual choirs’ maintained at ancient sanctuaries for the purpose of what he calls ‘enchanting the landscape’. If one is attentive to such findings, it is clear that there was a high and orderly civilisation well established by the third millennium BC, of which the archaeologists know almost nothing.

This enchantment of the landscape is exactly what Orpehus is reputed to have done with his music, casting a benign spell over nature and bringing peace among men. As part of his mission, he reformed the cult of Dionysus and tried to persuade his followers to give up their blood sacrifices. In place of Dionysian orgies, Orpheus founded the first Mysteries of Greece. The purpose of these, as far as we can tell, was to transmit some kind of direct knowledge that was helpful in facing the prospect of death.

Orpheus’s journey to the Underworld to fetch Eurydice should be understood in the context of the Mysteries. In the earliest versions of the myth, he did succeed in restoring her to life.

Joscelyn Godwin, The Golden Thread, The Orphic Mysteries

Jul 232011
 

It was the last day of  the Sacred War when I first lay eyes upon the Tagos. I learned that he had come with many horsemen under his command and – together with the hoplites of Cleisthenes – finally razed Crisa to rubble on the Earth. As the cursed polis burned, however, a band of the rebels somehow escaped and stormed up the winding road to Delphi, where they set about slaughtering the saints in their beds.

I was thirteen years old. The saint Timocrates, who escaped the fate of the others while he was tending the holy lantern in the Corycian Cave, snatched me from my chamber and took me for hiding to the secret place of dedication. I saw the fear in his eyes as he spoke. “I must protect the temple. You will remain here, still and silent as a statue, and pray that the God stays with us.”

Then he was gone, leaving me to cower like a new-born goat in the cold, dark place, my only comfort God’s eternal flame as I listened to the sounds of death and destruction crashing like cymbals on the ground above. I do not know how long I was there, only that I moved neither lip nor limb as instructed and hoped the God would protect us, seeing as all else had failed.

I occupied myself with continual prayers to the beloved Deity, King of Light, until I was deep in his hypnotic embrace and did not even notice that the sounds of death progressively ceased, though I knew from the changing light that the sun had risen. When, with an immense clattering of noise – blood splattered but gleaming – a great warrior entered into that sacred space, the first thought to enter my sleep-stilled head was that Apollo himself had come to claim me. So it was that I ran with outstretched palms and tears of joy, right into the arms of the Tagos, my hair flowing like golden rain behind me.

The saints who tutored me were not like this man, who came to me clothed with the sun. He was handsome as only the God could be, that I recall clearly. When I recognised his costume and saw the insignia of Apollo upon his breast I fell into a trance, as if I were already the high priestess. I do not remember if he said a word then, only that he looked at me with a strange light in his eyes as he carried me up to greet the new Dawn.

Jul 152011
 

The tragic ‘almost’ is a poignant commonplace of epic literature. The Iliad tells how the Trojan War was almost brought to a close by a single combat between Paris and Menelaos. How many lives would have been spared had not Apollo intervened, and for the most petty of reasons!

Paradise Lost shows us Satan seriously considering whether he is making a huge mistake by initiating the temptation in the garden….but, alas, he decides to go ahead with it after all. But nowhere is this motif more forcefully present than in the biblical narrative.

Since the Fall of Adam humanity has come close to ultimate fulfillment and redemption on several occasions. Even now just one small righteous action may be all that separates us from reentering Eden. Noah certainly had his chance to restore humanity. The Flood was like a huge mikveh – a ritual bath for all creation, in which evil was subjected to a series of irresistible hot and cold ‘washing cycles’.

Rabbi Yehuda said that in Gehenom the wicked are punished with water for six months and with fire for six months. Why, during the flood were they punished only by water for twelve months? Six months should have been enough. Rabbi Yosi told him that they were sentenced to both punishments: water and fire. They water that fell upon them from above was cold as snow. And they were also punished by fire because the water that spouted from the deep was scalding.

Thus, they were punished for twelve months, receiving the full sentence of Gehenom. This continued until they were completely removed from the face of the world. During this time, Noah was hidden in the ark. As a result, the Angel of Darkness did not approach him, and the ark roamed upon the waters, as it is written: “And they bore up the ark, and it was lifted above the Earth.” (Genesis 7:17), The Zohar, Vol. 2, pp. 388-390.

But when at last the waters had receded, Noah made a tragic mistake. It was, in fact, the same mistake Adam had made, and it came about in much the same way. Popular belief to the contrary, the forbidden fruit that tempted Adam and Eve was not an apple. it was a grape.

Come and behold: Adam’s wife pressed him grapes and bought death upon him, Israel, and the whole world. When Noah came upon these grapes, he was not well guarded, as it is written: “He drank of the wine, and was drunk; and he was uncovered within his tent.:” (Genesis 9:21)

After the Deluge: Temperance, The Essential Zohar, Rav P S Berg