Friday, 5 June 2015

Apollo's priestess.

Apollo served 'the wild man' king Admetus for nine years. Admetus treated him well and so Apollo rewarded him...

"Admetus, you are fated to die soon. But I give you a gift, if you can find someone to agree to take your place   Death will pass you by..." Alcestis, his wife (her name means Power in the Home)  took his fate to herself, choosing to die to save him.
She left her husband, her children sobbing on the cold, hard ground...for Persephone's garden.

Apollo's gift to Admetus - and this story is found in the play Alcestis by Euripides - recalls a theme in Mesopotamian myths; the numbers must add up, death must have a body. Admetus could not avoid death unless someone took his place, recalling the older story of Geshtinanna and Dumuzi.

In this story, Apollo sees into the future and has knowledge of Death. This image conflicts with modern interpretations of Apollo as a sun god of intellect and music.

The problem lies in the modern symbolism of the sun.

The sun wasn't always seen as constantly bright...and nor was the 'Netherworld' always an 'Underworld'. Apollo so often portrayed as a bright, golden, solar god of intellect and culture is also the black sun: the Lord of the dark power of the sun, Lord of rot and decay. From the story of Gilgamesh we are given the image of the sun returning from the night-time journey in the 'underworld' being blown alight (like charcoal) it rushes through the tunnel...The idea of an upper, middle and lower world isn't as constant as we are led to believe. Nor is the sun always bright and consciousness personified.

The theme of Apollo as a solar god included this dark solar aspect, and this is shown most clearly in his connection with Delphi

When he arrived as a dolphin bringing with him priests from Crete a great monster was the Castalian Spring.

The python, whose name comes from Greek pythoπύθω.
Meaning  'rot'.

Rot is also a power of sun...
Clearly an attribute of death.
And clearly I see in the stories of Apollo, another name.


Aplu Enlil...a name from the Hurrian cultural crossroad?

Aplu means Son of Enlil.

Apollo is therefore the Enlil of the Underworld.
Also known as Lord of the Great City.
Apollo, Nir-erra-Gal

His temple
Became a war memorial
Celebrating the defeats of city by city.
3 coiled serpents upon a tripod..
The Battle of Plataea.

A lord of rot, plague and decay would be pleased by this...

Delphi was most famous for its oracle, for predictions of the future.

Another aspect of the sun is that it sees all.
And it is as if it is the black sun that has the ability to see all that is happening in the future.

I don't understand how the Netherworld is connected with seeing the future, and yet the whole basis of hepatoscopy (reading the future based on the liver of a dying animal...dying because its liver was being cut out!) relied upon this principal of future echoes. The most successful readings came from the freshest liver.

A description of hepatoscopy is given in the Book of Ezekiel 21:21:
"For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the household idols, he looks at the liver."
Once again there is a connection between Apollo and underworld plague god, Nergal, this time from the Iliad.
Apollo, the son of Leto and Zeus, angered by the king, brought an evil plague on the army, so that the men were dying - Link...

Perhaps my inability to understand rests upon my culture. Mesopotamian time (Hebrew time...) is backwards (!) compared to English time. In Mesopotamian and Hebrew language the past is described as before us and the future is behind, unseen. This makes total sense. I cannot see the future, and everything I see is the result of past action. It makes no sense to say, as we say in English that the future is before us...

So..the future as behind us, and we face the past.
The future belongs in the place we cannot see.
Only the sun can travel from the future to the past...

Ultimately though it was the job of the priestess to unite with Apollo.
To become possessed by the god.

Her title of Pythia has led many to assume that noxious gasses seeping up from cracks in the rock, stinking of of rot perhaps, were the cause of her power.

But perhaps there was a less polite version...
A more ecstatic union.

Each time
The priestess
Suspended above...

Took the breath of Apollo
Not into her mouth, but...

Between her legs.

Was she 'married' to the God?

No mortal woman ever truly married a god.
No woman married Apollo.

Possession by Apollo was seizure
Male or female seized..
Taken for the ride of their life...

The priestess was his gift
An offering.
A transaction.

The woman, in return for the oracle.

Originally it happened only once a year
The 7th of  Bysios.

Then it became once a month for nine months, until Apollo left Delphi
A dolphin, swimming in a sea of stars.

Leaving his brother
The Winter king Dionysos...Fire buried deep in the heart of the wood...