I Worship Apollon
In a day and age when the gods have been reduced to stories and archetypes some may question the relevance that a god such as Apollon has in our lives, a god whose worship is placed in the context of a time much removed from our own and our way of life. Regardless, the very principles which made Apollon such a vital god to our spiritual ancestors continues to make him such today for it is these principles which endure and transmit across time and space. For the light which Apollon holds within his domain, with all of its physical and metaphysical qualities, is the axis of life, justice, freedom and happiness. It is easy to intellectualize mythically who Apollon is and those symbols associated with him, and therefore it is merely another step further to understand why his worship is important to us as human beings, for each myth and every symbol is but another golden ribbon drawing him closer to us if we pay attention and open our hearts to him. He is already present in the world around us. If ever you have let your heart be carried by the sweet measure of music; if you have rejoiced in the principles of justice, equality and freedom to which all people have inherent right; if ever you valued knowledge and reason over ignorance and superstition, or marveled over the harmonic order of all life and the universe you have caught a glimpse of the god. All of this is encompassed within his light.
There are those who will tell you that the world is divided into dark and light, negative and positive, and predator and prey which in turns develops into spiritual ideas comparable to the Christian concept of a benevolent God and malevolent Satan, or at the other end of the spectrum becomes comprised of deities that possess a duality in nature that is both good and bad, or “dark.” But nature possesses no element of evil, and thus the gods who rule over the natural and spiritual world as higher beings cannot be evil, neither in whole or in part. That there are polarities, both within nature and in our own selves, there can be no mistake. But these forces within the world are conduits of different flows of energies and cannot be labeled bad. Despite their differences, whether it is aggression or passivity, instinctual or logical, they work in unity together in creating the whole. It is the balance of these energies which is the ideal state and Apollon is essential in helping us to find the middle path as we find a harmonic balance within ourselves and in our relationship with the world around us which he orders.
“..And with your versatile lyre
You harmonize the poles, now reaching the highest pitch,
Now the lowest, and now again with the Doric mode,
Balancing the poles harmoniously, as you judge the race of mortals.”
This means that Apollon is instrumental in our personal growth and improvement that we can became greater than we were before. He effectively destroys the old to bring the rebirth of the new like a phoenix rises from her ashes. Therefore, the root of his name believed to have come from the word “destroyer” has no fearful connotations to those who live righteously, for his destruction serves them only as being constructive, just as the equal partition of winter to summer renews the land and brings vitality to the dormant seeds. He is the god by whose music ushers in the turning of the seasons in both nature and within mortal lives. By honoring Apollon we recognize the positive role that a seasonal death has in our own spiritual development, which in turn reduces fear of the eventuality of death itself since it is a significant part of the law of Apollon.
“Yours, too, are the beginning and end to come
You make everything bloom…
…You have infused harmony into all men’s lot,
Giving them equal measure of summer and winter.
The lowest notes you strike in the winter, and the highest in the summer
And your mode is Doric for spring’s lovely and blooming season.”
Certainly no god has as close personal contact with death as Apollon, but that does not mean that all situations of death are doled out by Apollon or directly associated with the god. This is in direct contrast to some common beliefs out there that ascribe a divine agent as directly responsible for any occasion of death, including premature death and murder. In worshipping Apollon we honor that which is a cyclic gateway which transforms and we lay greater responsibility on our own decision making abilities and those of others. We understand Apollon as a god who presides over the law which brings natural death as we see from his argument with Death in Euripedes’ Aclestis. In his confrontation with Death on the part of Aclestis when Death remarked that his function in bringing an end to mortal lives is in accordance with the law and gives Death his office in killing, Apollon responds “Not so. But to cast death on those that are ripe for it.” 
Apollon then is a god important in all of our lives because he is a god who balances out life, death, rebirth, and is champion of the heroic cycle that rewards great deeds born of love and sacrifice with spiritual evolution. Therefore, he is the guardian of life through the implementation of harmony, the balancing of the poles, which aids in our development not only as a species as the centuries pass but also in the development and health of the individual soul. His arrows may strike and bring conclusion, but it is cooperative with his music which sets the measure and the tone of all living things. Even as music grows and evolves, and fades away to be replaced by a new strain, he is the master of the cosmos, and the father of civilizations which too rise and eventually die out. But this destruction is not a bad thing. In order for the birth of the new, the old must decay. Within the Mysteries this is evident by the procession to Eleusis on the nineteenth and twentieth of Boedromion. Apollon is represented subtly by the presence of the mystagogs, those who guide the people through the mysteries, and preserve order on their journey. The initiate must symbolically die in order to be reborn just as the perfect fruit of the grape vine must also be destroyed in order to cultivate the wine, and the ideas born from ignorance and superstition are eventually crushed beneath those born of knowledge, reason and education.
Even so he is the god the transitional periods of the human life, though he is active in the lives of men and women he is especially important in male life cycle as much as his sister is to the female life cycle. A baby becomes a boy Apollon carefully guards, who transforms into the youth who sings in the choruses for Apollon in the hopes to someday wed as a man. Then as they become adults they are brought into society where he would be introduced to the council where they too will one day become elders before they die. This idea is interestingly represented mythically in the island Syria where Apollon’s arrows slew the men when the period of their lives came to an end.
It is perhaps the destructive nature of Apollon that can be a bit unnerving to those new to Hellenismos and those who are becoming initially aware of the god; enough so that it may discourage people from worshipping him. Certainly there are those who derive dark connotations from certain myths which often make the god appear quite brutal. This probably is the root of suggestions by some that Apollon has a “dark side.” The slaying and skinning of Marsyas is a perfect example, one that seems to overshadow the myths of the slaying of Pytho and the deaths of the children of Niobe in its violence. In this myth Apollon is revealed to the audience as a god who, seemingly uncompassionate, skins alive the satyr over whom he triumphed. The misunderstanding of myths like these which are interpreted in literal terms solely based on their surface appearances, whether it is presented as necessary suffering or as a so called “dark side” of the god, is potentially alienating for those coming into Hellenismos. But when taken as they are, as a collection of symbols that serve to carry certain information about humanity’s relationship to the gods and their relationship to each other, which may or may not be based on historical figures, rather than as literal religious histories they become valuable and can inspire greater devotion to the god. This removes myths from the modern use, which places them in realm of culture and entertainment, and returns them to that of spiritual expression. The myths then, rather than making the god less real and personable in a modern life, brings your own experience into a closer relationship with the god that will further enrich your spiritual lifestyle when you seek to honor him.
Despite some current fashions, there is a human tendency to revere light as the opposition of all that frightens us, clouds our minds, or can potential harm us from within or without; therefore, it only makes sense that a god who wields all the powers of light would be beneficial to us not only personally but as a society. It is because he, whose eyes are like the tireless illumination of the sun, the soft hues of twilight, and the field of stars with the orb of the moon in the night, cannot be blinded from evil, tyranny and injustice. It can never pass by unnoticed by the god. He sees the way and makes it visible to us as all if we care to see. This is perhaps the stem value for the ancient oracles and sibyls. This is not to say that we need anyone to broadcast to us the will of Zeus, or to serve as a mouthpiece for Apollon, but rather to illustrate of why Apollon has held such a place of importance within human society and why he continues to do so. He is the god who shows us the road to our liberty and greatest potential.
It is in this sense that we understand that the opposition of his light by “darkness” is not the natural darkness. It doesn’t mean that he is the opponent to the unknown or the hidden mysteries, or the very night, though he is instrumental in illuminating these things to mankind. For expressions of natural darkness is not entirely absent of light, or his presence. The true darkness the light devours and ferrets out is the darkness of the heart which cognitively refutes the light, and embraces all that is contrary to nature. This is the real darkness upon which Apollon sets upon with his arrows. Where there is festering of some internal disease, soon there comes a visible sign of its corruption by his illumination. He destroys the illusion of health and brings the reality of deterioration and death to the forefront, seen and experienced by all. Perhaps this is what is meant when one calls Apollon a plague bringing god. He strikes affectively with his far traveling darts, so called flaming serpents, as into the nest of Delfine where Typhon was suckled. Typhon represents the evil which we are capable of which in turn destroys us, and Delfine the dragoness, and illness, which nurtures it. By the destruction of this serpent he routs out evil from the land where it feeds. It is the aversion and destruction of this evil which can have devastating effects on ourselves and our society that makes Apollon a good ally to humanity and each of us personally. 
This illness and evil may manifest in our cities, unsanitary and rotting from within by the suppression of many into squalid conditions, or in the tyranny which abuses us and attempts to strip us of our humanity and those basic rights which we all possess. By its destruction Apollon heals the corrupt state. By his word he purifies and restores balance and order. This makes Apollon a healer, not only of the sickness of the body and spirit, but of social ills, those things of injustice, tyranny and slavery whether it inflicts the bodies, the minds, or the hearts of its populace. In the face of social ills Apollon is the inspirer of orators, those who in turn inspire others into corrective action as the heralds of change and evolution. To promote order and justice, Apollon must enforce it by the destruction of that which is against nature and that which violates the social contract, that is to say the rules by which people peacefully and successfully live together upon which they agree. It is for this reason that Apollon gives a voice to everyone to have an equal say in their society, and therefore embodies all which we enjoy from a democratic state. Apollon’s importance in such governing affairs is illustrated by Plutarch who names a possible source of Apollon’s name to have come from the world apella which refers to the community council. No man can block the freedom of another when all are in council with shared citizen’s privilege to speak equally. When you take your political place, as is your right and responsibility when you reach the point of coming of age, you enter into adulthood officially with full capacity to be a determining voice in your fate. Our rights to petition our government, our freedoms of speech and jury of peers we owe to Apollon. And it is the duty of adults, young and old, to embrace and exercise what rights they have which is particularly important to remember in this age when political apathy is so wide spread.
If we can appreciate his light which balances and instructs, which destroys and illuminates, it is then that we can fully appreciate the significance of the beauty of Apollon, the most beautiful god. It is not the marble face or perfect locks of hair that demonstrates what his beauty means to us, but rather it is these things. And it is these things which make the aesthetic beauty that we enjoy possible. What art can truly thrive if it is smothered beneath the rigid guard of agents of suppression, or if it is manipulated in order to serve some subversive agenda to place a yoke on the people? It is because of who Apollon is that places all things of beauty and creativity within his domain, and those of us who reap enjoyment from them have it because of Apollon who endows the souls with these gifts.
 “To Apollon,” The Orphic Hymns, trans. Apostolos N. Athanassakis, The Society of Biblical Literature (1977, 1988): n. 34.
 Euripides. “Aclestis,” Ten Plays, trans. Moses Hadas & John McLean, Bantam Books, In, NY (1960) :4-5, 28
 Robertson, Noel D. “Two Processions to Eleusis and the Programs of the Mysteries,“ The American Journal of Philology, 119, 4: 552, 557, 566.
 Homer, The Odyssey 15.410; Cartledge, Paul. The Spartans, Vintage Books (2003): 59; Plutarch, , Plutarch’s Lives, trans John Langhorne, D.D & William Longhorne, A.M. William and Joseph Neal, Baltimore (1831): 35.
 “To Apollon,” Orphic Hymns.
 Homeric Hymn to Apollon, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Perseus Digital Library.
 Plutarch, Plutarch’s Lives: 35.