As night deepens her caresses, as the sun inflects
southward, each decline of light
brings with it sudden shock, a yearning
for illumination now sunk beneath the western rocks.
In the inky sweetness of fast-descending night,
I am torn in two, hungering for summer
while yearning for the lightlessness to yawn deeper
because within myself I feel the stir of light.
Somehow a part of me has pitched so deep
I am far above on the backbone of Heaven,
hearing the sweetness of your kithara that metronomes,
and I sink further through cliffs of light that rise me
into beautiful darkness, collapsing
tenuous expanses of self
into singularity —
and within this, poetry,
winter-blooming flowers of fire,
a sun that burns chilly as lustral water
purifying my neverstill hands,
a crescendo of inevitability abiding
in the halls of Nyx and Mnemosyne
who initiated your steady horses.
All I can do is pray with words rattling
soft as dead laurel branches
for the telos of these darkening nights
to make fine incense from this season’s gifts,
to string each syllable as taut as mind
can pull them,
guided by your hand.
October brings a shift. I noticed it several years ago in a belated way — not until December a few days before the solstice, when a sudden slip into a light trance while listening to music on the campus shuttle and staring out at the deep-as-pitch road and feeling anxiety about winter weather sidewalks shoved me into sudden contact with it. Every devotee experiences a God differently because our lives are different, and for me, a slow awakening of this lightless pull in autumn has happened every year since. I can see traces of it from before, especially in seasonal changes to my habits and interests, but I was not mindfully aware of Apollon the way I am now. He comes with the autumn rains.
Autumn and winter are when I write a lot of poems and prose. What I learn about physics every autumn (in preparation for a work deliverable) saturates into the space in my mind that is filled with symbols. It sloshes around with Platonism and coalesces into something new, usually poems. I contemplate black holes and feel the sharp, close presence of that chasmic edge that always seems to lead down (up?) to the God, pulsating with light that is strangely dark. Chris Liebing’s Goldfrapp remix “And All Went Dark” tiptoes into my playlist. On the prose side, I consider whether the resonant feeling within is enough to do justice to a depiction of Apollon I drafted in a novel several years ago, a complex behemoth that will take immense editing capacity, where I called the God Saämatsra (Sah-ha-maut-SRAH) and did not know it was about him until I realized that le had been tokened with the God’s symbols and that the two were the same, he and le. I weave new ideas into my concept of revising, but barely touch it in favor of continuing along my plodding path to finish the projects I need to draft before I overhaul the entire corpus in revisions.
This year, it’s taking new contours. The second volume of Hermias’ commentary was just released (which I preordered after scoring a discount), and what I am thinking most about it when I read is how beautiful the discussion of Hestia is. Each of the Gods has a Hestia, their abiding place — “The ‘dwelling of a god’ would mean the station and particular nature of each, its hearth and remaining; for each god is not in a separate [dwelling] in the way that we are said to be in a dwelling, but is in itself. So its remaining and its particular nature is its dwelling.” | “Hestia is the cause of their remaining.” | “In the dwelling-place of the gods is equivalent to ‘in herself’, for the particular nature of each god is said to be its dwelling-place; for they are not each in a different place in the way that we are [each] said to be in [a separate] dwelling-place, but the associations and the particular nature of each god, through which it has its existence and is characterised, and through which it also exercises providential care over the cosmos, is called its dwelling-place.” (Hermias On Plato Phaedrus 245e-257c, trans. Baltzly & Share, 2022, brackets theirs) — and I’m mentally syncing it up with what I read with a few others in Proclus’ Platonic Theology over the last year, where a friend emphasized that Hestia is the first deity actually named in the Thomas Taylor translation text. Hermias and Proclus studied under Syrianus together, so they are similar-yet-different to each other.
The Gods each have their seasons, and their activities flow forth differently in each season. Autumn seems to be a shift, at least for my own devotional experience, to contact with what may actually be Apollon’s abiding presence, when all around has fallen quiet. Perhaps that is one way I can interpret Hyperborean, that retreat towards the God’s hearth, as the poles are sacred to Hestia and (according to Hermias) we should orient ourselves towards the poles when praying to her. Hyperborea, and those who dwell there, could symbolize abiding, with the blessed ones who dwell there being his daimonic orders and itinerant partial souls who have tapped into the tokens of this wintertime nature — fully illuminated, no darkness. Damascius praised Hierocles for delivering two course modules on the Gorgias at different times that were both true to Plato’s meaning even though the content of each was almost completely different (§45, Philosophical History/Life of Isidore). There are also many possibilities when interpreting myth and divine connection. I am grateful for these reflections and the neat way in which life is bringing the threads together.
Whichever Gods you hold dearest, I’m sure that if you look closely, you will find your own patterns of abiding, proceeding, and reverting, and your own shifts in practice, as the weather and light and behavioral patterns change in your region and within the rhythms set by your profession and other lifestyle factors. May they guide you to the best vibe possible. 💓
5 thoughts on “Apollon, Abiding”
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Though there are some exceptions to this general trend, today (10/10) is something of the end of a particular yearly cycle for me (a new one, granted) and the beginning of another. The majority of Antinous’ major festivals fall between mid-October and mid-May (with a few exceptions like the Lion Hunt and the Red Lotus in August, etc.); and the majority of Thetis’ festivals fall between mid-May and mid-October (with the exceptions of the Second and Third of the six-ritual cycle in late January and later April). These are the two primary poles of my devotional life at this stage, and thus Their “active times” are rather interesting…including that the period of Antinous the Lover, from late April to late October, and much of Thetis’ time of dominance, overlap largely. Interesting! 😉
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Yes, it’s interesting to think of the ebbs and flows of cycles. I’ve gradually realized that August and September are usually very devotionally frustrating months for me, and then suddenly, a flood. We’re all tuned by our Gods in different ways.
Interesting that you mention that, because while August still has some important things in it for me, September is the quietest month of the year on my devotional calendar. I have long joked that it’s clear that calendar was put together by an academic, because that’s usually when school starts and there’s an awful lot to do on that front…and yet, if there were more dates of major importance in that month for what I know of my own path and the Deities of primary devotion within it, I’d certainly have included such occasions. It’s very odd…I wonder how that compares to many other polytheists and our ritual calendars in general. I mean, yeah, Autumnal Equinox is in there, but of the various “Wheel of the Year” festivals, it’s the one that seems to have the least stuff attached to it in comparison to all of the others…and calling it “Mabon” (which is entirely inappropriate for a variety of reasons!) doesn’t really help! 😉