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 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