Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why Nothing to Excess?

Nothing to Excess, a message engraved in Delphi ,is a universal message.

For the Buddhists, the Middle Way and the story of the Buddha, who realized that neither extreme riches nor extreme poverty were the answer, represents Nothing to Excess.

For Christians the Tenth Commandment, “Thou shalt not covet” means precisely the same.

More recently, Gandhi said that the world has enough for what everyone needs, but not for what everyone wants.

Even psychologists studied this phenomenon and found that when you are in extreme poverty increasing riches, sexual pleasure, power, and so on, will bring you more happiness, but once you achieve a certain point the increase in happiness is so small that it is not enough to compensate the anguish produced in our quest for more.

So, I ask, why do we keep wanting more, why is our society always praising excess? I pray Apollo may give me the answer and guide me in achieving Nothing to Excess.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Delphi, Python and Human Development

The myth of the Python tells u show Apollo fired a hundred missiles (Hekateros) to slay the Python and take over the Oracle at Delphi. Modern scholars believe this may be a reflection of a male society taking over a female society, or a male cult over a female cult. However, I believe that this holds a deeper message for us, a message found among all Word Religions.

The first to hold Delphi was Gaia, Mother Earth. Later, she passed it to Themis, who was in charge when Apollo, through means of slaying the Python (dragoness daughter of Gaia), got the Oracle.

I find Delphi a most curious metaphor to human development. Psychologists now recognize three stages of development: pre-personal (or pre-conventional), personal (or conventional), and trans-personal (or post-conventional). Curiously, these stages were already known to mystics from both the East and the West, and they find a striking correspondence with the stages of Delphi.

The pre-personal stage, I believe, corresponds with the time Gaia ruled over Delphi. This is the stage we are brought into the world, the primordial stage or, should we say, the earthly stage. This is before education, before we realize we are a person and other people are people too.

The personal stage naturally takes over, through education. This is the stage most people live and die in. It is the stage of conventions and acquiring culture, not the rules set by law but those set by society and tradition – the very essence of the Goddess Themis, second ruler of Delphi.

Finally, comes the third stage. This stage is found in every religion and it is described as enlightment, freedom, recognizing the ultimate truth, liberation. The transpersonal stage is described the same way as Apollo, the third ruler of Delphi.

This last stage was also described by the Greeks, namely by Plato. He says that the transpersonal stage is like, having lived our entire life in a cave seeing shadows, we get to go out and see the light. And he describes, just like Buddhism, Taoism, Christianism, Judaism, Islamism, Hinduism and many others, that to set ourselves free from that cave we need to look inside.

Looking inside is the very essence of Delphi – “Know thyself”. Know that the ultimate truth is inside you, know yourself and you will see the ultimate truth, Apollo will shine on you. Recognize the importance of Gaia and Themis, but don’t let your body rot (root of the word Python) without passing to the last stage, don’t just meet Apollo “whose temple lies at the door of Hades”, know thyself and meet Apollo the slayer of the Python.

Contrary to modern scholars, I believe that “Know thyself” doesn’t mean “Know you are not divine”. Quite the opposite, it means, to me, “Know that the divine is inside you.”

Release yourself from the Asian maya, the dream or illusion, Know Thyself is, to me, one of the most important messages of Delphi, one that should be heeded by today’s followers, far more than oracles, rituals or the many stories surrounding that place that is, after all, each and every one of us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Know thyself

I haven't writen anything lately. I am in an internship, so I don't have much time. But I just came across this in Bates' Guide to Physical Examination and couldn't help but think of how Apollon's Know Thyself is interlinked with his son's job. So, here it is:

As clinicians, we encounter a wide variety of people, each one of whom is unique. Establishing relationships with individuals from a broad spectrum of ages, social classes, races, ethnicities,
and states of health or illness is an uncommon opportunity and privilege. Being consistently open and respectful toward individual differences is one of the clinician’s challenges. Because we bring our own values, assumptions, and biases to every encounter, we must look inward to clarify how our own expectations and reactions may affect what we hear and how we behave. Self-reflection is a continual part of professional development in clinical work. It brings a deepening personal awareness to our work with patients and is one of the most rewarding aspects of providing patient care.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


This night begins the Asklepieia. It happens in the same day as the Kyklos Apollon ritual, so it will be a double festival. Today eat moderately or even fast or go in a purifying diet (such as melon only, or juice only) to prepare yourself. At night ask Asklepios for guidance or healing. Then celebrate the God and His Father during the day with offerings, ritual, meditation, yoga, exercise, healthy food! Commit to an healthier life and make an appointment to check your health next year.

The Asklepieia is a great time for a general check up with your doctor. Don't remember that doctors are the hands of Asklepios!

Happy Asklepieia.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Apollo, the Guide

Apollo is a guide God, he guides humanity and that is why he is distant and yet so close: he is both the light at the end of the tunnel, our objective, the place which we should try to reach; and the one by our side, supporting us, the torch we hold to guide our way. Evidence for Apollo as a guide God come from many, many sources, here I'll list but a few of them:

  • The Dolphin: let us start with the animals. The dolphin is seen as the guide of sailors and it is in that quality that he his linked to Apollo: he guided the to-be-Delphians, as an objective, and at the same time he is friendly and is a messenger from the water.
  • The Raven: the raven is clearly a guiding animal, one who brings messages from Apollo, one who takes messages to Apollo and also one who, at times, guides people directly with his voice.
  • The Wolf: the wolf is also seen as the leader of the pack, Apollo linked with the wolf can have many meanings, but leader of civilizations is one, as is leader of flocks and even Oracle God (and thus a guide).
  • The Ram: the ram guides civilization and is the shaman, the guide of the tribe, the settler, the one who runs in front and backs us up.
  • The Delphic God: from Delphi would sail the fires of Greece, each lighting a new colony. Not to mention how many would go to Delphi seeking the oracles and advice of the God, which brings us to:
  • The Oracular God: many are Apollo's oracles and it can't be argued that Oracles are guides.
  • The Light: light is so interlinked with guidance, sight and advice, purity and foreseeing that it doesn't need any sort of explanation why Apollo of the Light is Apollo the Guide.
  • The Healer: when in despair one seeks a healer, in our most fragile moments it is a healer we seek. Healers are guides and their advice is highly regarded. The healer Apollo also acts as the guide of other healers.
  • The Musitian: we all know the tales of animals that follow some sort of music. We all heard a music that made us feel like chasing it. Music is a great symbol of guidance - in silence we always follow the music.
  • The Archer: the archer not only protects us and shield us in our journeys, he is also the God of aiming and accuracy - of wanting and reaching.
There is much more evidence of this aspect of Apollo and countless myths. It is something that permeates most of his being, but it is something quite so obvious that few people seem to consciously realize it.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A&A make the show

Another brief reflection on how Apollon and Artemis work together. The music to day is much interlinked with show and dance. When you have a music show it has dance and, obviously, a dance show has music. Apollon is the patron of music and Artemis of dancing, thus this is another activity in which the twins work together as a single force with two components.

I think that the fact that the gods are twins means much more than most people ever care to investigate.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Paean and Paeonia

It is possible that Paean and Paeonia and its inhabitants, the Paeonians, are connected. The Paeonians were a Northern tribe present in the Iliad, sided with the Trojans. They lived in the place that later became Macedon. The hypothesis of some form of connection with them and Paean or Apollo in general has been suggested, rejected, re-suggested and re-rejected only to be suggested once again.

It may be possible that Paean is an adjective, meaning "of healing", since it has been associated with Apollo and Asklepios, both healing gods, and when used in the Iliad alone also refers to a healing god. Some scholars say that maybe then this was the title given to the healing deity of the Paeonians, which seemed to be their patron male deity, possible Helios, Apollo or some other God associated with the sun, who was worshipped along with Artemis, associated with the moon.

Not much is known about the Paeonians. We know their religion was centered not only on the sun and the moon (as Apollo and Artemis), but also on the rivers and lakes. In fact, the Axius, a river, was the great-grandfather of the chief Paeonians in the Iliad. From the Iliad we also know that they used to wash their to-be-kings in the water of this river and that would make them kings.

Herodotos says that they offered to Artemis offerings in the same fashion as those sent from the North to Delos from the Hyperboreans. Another clash with Apollo's cult is the fact that they worshiped Helios with rituals similar to those performed in the Daphnephoria.

Their chief god, whomever he was, was linked with not only the sun but also with water. He was a great healer, the god of healing waters and, mostly, of healing herbs, just like Paean and, not surprisingly, Apollo.

It appears that the Paeonians themselves were known for their salves and their knowledge of healing herbs and that Paeonian could also mean "doctor", as iatros.

Another curious thing about the Paeonians, one which I find beautiful and easy to incorporate in modern devotion and cult of Paean, Apollo, Helios or Asklepios, is that they were refered as the famous Northmen of famour pharmakoi and their land was in the road of rose gardens (because in their land grew roses and peony).

One last thing, besides Paean, Apollo and Asklepios, another healer linked with them is Chiron, whom they taught how to heal to Asklepios himself.