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Why (not) paganism? I'll start by pointing out that it's been a very long time since I've called myself "pagan" or referred to what I do and believe as "paganism". The word doesn't really hold meaning for me. No one can decide what it means exactly, though the definition which many people seem to subscribe to is that it covers any non-Abrahamic religion. That doesn't work for me, and it certainly doesn't even begin to give the vaguest idea of defining me. And I'm not an ancient Italic country-dweller either.

So...pagan? No. I won't argue that it's incorrect, but I don't actively describe myself as such.

I tried to be Christian for many years. I was a member of ADF for several years- I even got to the point of beginning clergy training. But I'm not any of that. And all three of those points will be addressed later in other posts on this meme.

So to steal a thought from my girlfriend, My religion is Apollo. There are other elements to it as well, but they are (mostly) minor in comparison. I have been dedicated to Him since April of 2007, and he has been a major fixture in my religious life since 2005 and present in some way or other for several years before that. He is the one thing I am always certain of, the one thing I have never been afraid of losing. He came in and took over for another deity (also to be addressed in a later post) and has been connected to pretty much everything ever since.

I don't know if I first called to him, or answered his calling me. It doesn't matter. Why Apollo? Because Apollo is what I want, but more importantly Apollo is what I need. Nothing else would be right.

Okay, I got it done tonight. Oh, and I've made a change to the list. )
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I did the same thing as Gavin today. By now, you've probably seen her post about a devotional hair-wrap as something that isn't easily forgotten about. I used some gold/tan variegated embroidery floss and added one spot to attach/detach a charm.

The charm is the seven stones that I associate with Apollo (Rutilated quartz, Larvikite, Citrine, Iolite, Garnet, Sunstone and blue tourmaline. Here, aquamarine stands in for the blue tourmaline, as it is mindblowingly expensive and the only blue tourmaline I have are some practically microscopic chip beads that already have a sorta-plan for. Aquamarine works- we had some on hand, and hey...Apollo is associated with water, so...yeah. The little spacers are just some copper-metal lined clear glass seed beads that I love. They're very Apollo.

And that's me, totally looking like an evil teenager.

Apollo hair

Apollo hair charm

Thanks so much to Gavin for helping and taking the pictures!

This reminds me, I want to do a blog post on the stones that I associate with Apollo.
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Just posed this over at the blog

Marsayas, After the Contest

You cut to kill, but I may yet survive
and if I do, you've given me much to consider.
Laid bare to blood-drenched muscle,
every movement, every slight breeze
sears my nerves with fresh pain.

If I die, surely it will be of agony, not injury.

I don't think you will be wearing my hide;
such is undoubtedly well beneath you.
Though perhaps someday I will wear yours:
not in death- for you, there is none
but if someday you shed your skin
like you shed a tear, molting like a snake,
if I should come along at just the right time,
I would seize it up and wrap it around me-
could I then be you, for just a moment
before your essence is lost?

Yes, I am delirious.

You may think me a fool to challenge a god,
but even if I die today, I will be immortal.
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A little blurb that I came across in my jury-day readings that could have been fun to have been aware of a while back to throw into a certain, er, conversation that took place once upon a time. Specifically, the last two sentences. (Oh, and the whole thing is also just a beautiful little bit of writing. Not meaning to get all morbid here, but when the time comes for me to pass on from this world I do hope that I can be aware of passing into the presence of the gods.)

From Phaedo:

"They sing before this as well. But when they sense that they are about to die they sing quite frequently and most beautifully. They rejoice because they are about to approach the Gods whose servants they are. Men, however, in their fear of death relate false tales about swans. They say that it is in pain and mourning that swans sing about their deaths. They do not consider that birds do not sing when they are hungry or cold or suffering from some other misery, not even the nightingale or swallow or hoopoe. But they say that the birds sing to bemoan their sadness. But I do not believe that they sing in pain, nor do I believe the lies about the swans. They are Apollo’s birds; they see the future and know therefore all the good which awaits us in death, so they sense on that day a blissfulness greater than ever before. And I consider myself like the swans to be in the service of the same master. I, too, am the holy property of God."
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Return

And now, it is time for your return
to your sanctuary high atop this stark-faced mountain
where curls of smoke from burning incense
drift and melt into a veil
and bowls of wine and honey adorn your altar.
I wait in your temple, a hymn on my lips;
a prayer hangs from my tongue,
longing for your presence so that it may fall.
Time stretches, then stands still,
holds its breath in anticipation:
your arrival never comes quickly enough.
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I intend to post this far and wide.

Apollo: The Great God by Gregory Zorzos

I found this book a few weeks ago while scouring Amazon for books on Apollo. Rather excited to stumble on one that I hadn't heard of, I put out an inquiry in a few places. No one had heard of the author or the book. I decided to go ahead and order it. Even if it was mediocre at best, thirteen bucks plus shipping isn't terrible.

I received the book today and immediately started flipping through it. I could see right away that something was wrong. Very wrong. (Oh, how I long for mediocrity just now.) This book is self-published. Which doesn't mean it will be a bad book- there are many very high-quality, well-written books out there which have been self-published. I own a couple of them. This guy makes the decent self-published authors look bad.

The book (and please understand, I use the word "book" here with a very generous margin of error) is one hundred and fifty-two pages long. Of that, pages twenty-three through one hundred forty-nine plus page one hundred fifty-two are all images. Statues, vases, ancient coins, renaissance-era paintings, modern-day postage stamps. Oh, and one page containing two images titled Secret Symbols of Apollo- one of those so-called images is a grid of numbers that at first glance looks like a sudoku grid. The other is...well, I don't know. And I have no idea how we're supposed to know that these are secret symbols of Apollo- is that part of the secret?

Most of the images are fairly low-quality- often grainy or pixelated. Several are images of the same item, shown from a slightly different angle. Some of the images are duplicates- the same photo of the Apollo Belvedere appears on page twenty-three and forty-one with a cropped version of the same appearing on page forty. (But this is a nice, sharp higher-quality image!) None of them are captioned. No titles or artists given for the paintings, no dates or regions for the coins or statues. If the images were of decent quality with source information, the book would almost be worth it for the pictorial reference. As it is, what's there is less useful than your typical google image search. In fact, I suspect that that's just what this is. Minus any information that would come along with the image search.

As far as the text goes, there's nothing here that you can't find on http://www.theoi.com. In fact, there is significantly less. There is no bibliography. The author mentions a few other authors by last name (No first name. Who the hell is Hermann, for example?), but gives no titles of books. He cites some ancient sources but for the life of me I can't figure out what half of them are because he only uses abbreviations with no key. Every sentence is its own paragraph. The print is huge- sixteen, eighteen points? The first three paragraphs of the book appear on the back cover.

The writing is clumsy and awkward. I find myself wondering if it's an issue of having used a faulty translating service (the book appears to be available in eight different languages, and some of his other books are available in at least a half dozen additional languages.) or if he actually did the English translation himself, it would have been helpful to have someone with a stronger grasp of the language look over it. In any case, it really looks like the translation was done by a babelfish machine.

The er, high point of this book may very well be the author's introduction. Now, it's pretty standard to have a page or so about the author at the end of the book, and often a photo as well. What do we have here but four pages devoted to the author, along with several photos. Included is a numbered list of organizations that he belongs to and awards that he's won. The introduction informs us that "The author has wrote more than 500 books, board games, DVDs and cdroms about ancient and modern history in the fields of economics, technical, board games, martial arts, software, love affairs, feasibilities studies, research, case studies etc. As a reporter, from his teens, the author has written many articles in many newspapers, magazines etc. and was editor in chief in some of them."

(What, he wasn't editor-in-chief of all of them?)

This was when the book was published back in February 2009. As of right now, his Amazon.com author page informs us that "Author and his research work have been distinguished by a lot of official organizations, and Ministries, in Greece and all over the world.
The author has wrote more than 1.300 books, 350 board games, 650 DVDs and 280 cdroms/DVDroms about ancient and modern history in the fields of economics, technical, board games, martial arts, software, love affairs, feasibilities studies, research, case studies, learning languages, logodynamics, inner research etc.
As a reporter, from his teens, the author has written many articles in many newspapers, magazines etc. and was editor in chief in some of them."


Looking at these numbers cited, I initially wonder when he has time to eat or sleep- or breathe what with writing all those books. But then I look at the example in my hands and it becomes immediately apparent how he could conceivably have written so many books. Quantity is clearly the goal. Another book by the author, Hephaestus or Vulcan: The Greatest God was reviewed by another Amazon customer and relays my exact same complaints. (For some unknown reason, this book, which is only fifty-six pages long and almost all pictures costs more than Apollo. Did he have to spend more time on google looking for images or something that it jacked up the cost?)

Finally, when looking over the author's page on Amazon today, I saw a single discussion had been initiated back in September by another author claiming to hold proof of being plagiarized by Zorzos, and knowing of other authors with the same complaint against him. I've not found anything else on the internet regarding this, but that it's there at all is a glaring red flag, especially considering the number of works he claims to have produced.

For those of you who may be wondering, I filed a return request with Amazon within about an hour of opening the box.

No stars, no love, no thumbs up. If you want a book about Apollo, save your money. You could write a better one yourself. And if you don't feel like doing that, just pull up the page on Apollo at http://www.theoi.com.

(Feel free to link or repost, but if reposting, please link to my blog with this link: http://wp.me/plGqo-3S)
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So a couple of weeks ago I came across a book on Amazon, Apollo: The Great God by Gregory Zorzos. I ordered it a bit over a week ago and have been waiting for it since, including some stupidity on the delivery by the post office.

I just opened the box roughly three minutes ago and I can already tell anyone who wants to know more: Don't bother. It's self-published. I knew that before I ordered it. It doesn't mean the book is going to be bad- I have read books by other folks (on my friends list! Hi guys!) which are self-published and have no arguments about the quality of the writing.

Apparently, this is one example of the sort of self-published book that isn't of the greatest quality.

The book is 152 pages long. The cover is nice and shiny! The first three paragraphs of the book appear on the back cover. Pages 23-149 plus page 152 are noting but images- statuary, coins, renaissance-era paintings, modern day postage stamps. Including two images and the title "Apollo Secret Symbols" at the top- but no indication of where these symbols came from or how they are known to be "secret symbols". Basically, it seems that the guy did a google image search and pasted everything he found into a document and shipped it off to press.

The type is huge- 16 or 18-point maybe? Which I have to say- if you're visually impaired and want a book with some basic information on Apollo, here's one for you. The first four pages of the book are devoted to the author telling you how awesome he is- pictures, organizations he belongs to and awards he's won. There is a detailed, numbered list of every group that thinks he's awesome. (Or that he at least pays dues to) Apparently he's written more than 500 books, dvd's, cd-roms and board games on assorted ancient subjects. Five hundred???? I want to say that's an outrageous number, but if they're all like this book, I can totally believe it.

I have yet to carefully examine what little text there is, but so far as I can see, there is nothing contained in this book that can't be found on theoi.com

Also, the writing is rather awkward and clumsy. I can't decide if it was translated into English by a babelfish engine or if he used a rather sucky translating service. I'm assuming that some sort of translating service or the such was used, as the languages in which this book is available number in the double digits.

There is no bibliography, no explanation of any of the abbreviations used. Sadly, amazon provides no information to indicate that the book would be so useless.

I think I'm going to need to post a review.

ETA: Someone posted a discussion on the Author's Amazon page stating that he plagiarized her and other author's works. Awesome. Wish I had bothered to check this out before.

I think I am going to contact Amazon to see about the possibility of a return.
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A statue of Apollo I've never seen before!

Is it sad that I kinda envy his sandals?

http://www.ancientsculpturegallery.com/S032.html

Only $12,000

Why on earth does no one make smaller replicas out of something other than marble or concrete of the statues that I want? A nice shrine-sized cast-resin version would be wonderful. Seriously. I don't need something that is literally the same height as me. Apollo himself is tall enough.
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So the poem from my last post? Who knew it would generate such entertaining reactions?

Posted this poem to a couple of email lists, including one that is devoted to Apollo. Preceding the poem, I explained that it was my interpretation of part of a little-known myth, and I provided a link to the text of that myth, as written in an ode by Pindar. As I said, preceding.

Came home from work this morning and hopped online to find this, er, emotional response (yes, he's serious.):

I wish I had not read this so early in the morning because I am unable to control how upset your poetry has made me. If you were to ever leave a demigod alone in a field I should hope that Hera and Apollo would strike you down as you so deserve by these thoughts. You say you dont know that a demigod would even survive when you leave it in a field. I'm sorry, but you have made me quite ill with that. This would be like Mary leaving Jesus to fend for himself in the stables or something. When in the mythos do any demigods get left to die? Selfish wench. This poem is all selfish undeserving of the gods wench filled horridities! thumbs down.


Following that was yet another response:

i'd like to add, that in Hellenism, the general idea is that the Gods cannot reveal their true selves to us in physical form, as is detailed in the story of Dionysos birth, when his mother was killed when Hera convinced her that she had to see Zeus true form to believe he was who he said he was. She instantly was burned to nothingness. Further, how can you say that you would not love him?

"How could I not have loved the beautiful god"

???

"A son I would have loved, but for shame cannot keep."

I agree with Syd, how could you feel shame for giving birth to a demi-god, what could be more joyous, especially for a Hellenist.

"In this field of violets, surrounded by honeybees, I'll lay him down."

Isn't Pan the God of bees? Isn't that kinda bizarre to leave a child in a swarm of bees? Especially when its a demi god? Sounds like a good way to piss off the Gods if you ask me.


Okay....clearly someone missed the part about it being from a myth and the link to the original story (which, by the way, I didn't stray far from, only wrote from a first person perspective and took the liberties of giving this nymph a few thoughts of her own) and jumped to the conclusion that Apollo walked bodily into my room, had his way with me and got me knocked up. Additionally, I bore the child and then took him to a nice patch of wilderness and plunked him down in a field and let bees eat him, and walked away.

Later, when I posted to "clarify" that I was simply retelling part of a myth, and cited the entire ode containing the story- pertinent bits highlighted, I got a response from the second guy admitting his mistake...

But the first guy? Flat out said that he completely skipped the part where I said t was a myth and provided the link to the myth,"apologized slightly" for the critique, but still basically said that I deserved it for such "horrific horridities" that have spewed forth from my fingertips.

I asked him if he's now insulting Pindar's ghost thusly for telling the story in the first place.

Dude, I don't really give a rip if you don't like my poetry, but I think we've taken this one a wee bit far.

Of course, I think it's hilarious that these two guys think I'm so special as to have gotten knocked up by Apollo and killed his kid.
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This is a departure from my usual writings of ridiculously personal, intense sort of things or the various Homeric-style hymns that I've been writing for a while. I first tried to write this poem probably about a year ago, but in a different form...and it just wouldn't write.

Well, today, it did. This is from the myth of Evadne, a nymph who loved Apollo. As you can probably guess from the title, this isn't the complete story (I posted the story, from Pindar's 6th Olympic Ode on my blog http://painandlight.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/in-reference-to-my-previous-post/

Evadne, Unknowing of Alpheios's Consultation of the Delphic Oracle

How could I not have loved the beautiful god
whose hair and skin are like gold
and whose eyes burn a cool fire?

He spoke to me in a voice so sweet,
words flowed from his tongue like silk.
And the songs he sang, so lovely, surely the Muses
must weep at their beauty.

(And I few, I think, would elicit a blush
even from Erato herself, though this is never mentioned
in the stories they tell of a god such as He.
It wouldn't be proper.)

And when he desired for me to come with him to his bed,
he promised me no great gifts of unerring prophecy or any
dazzling trinkets that gods may offer in the moment of seduction,
but I had no care for these anyway;
He but asked and I went willing, for a song,
for one night that has burned itself on my soul.

In time I found that one night had left its mark
upon more than my soul, and soon I was to have a child.
A son I would have loved, but for shame cannot keep.
If I told, none would believe that he was
begotten by a god.

Four days past, in a hidden thicket I lay,
pangs of the birth like no pain I've ever felt before.
He sent to my side help, the birth-goddess and the Fates.
When it ended, I cried in relief, and I cried in joy, short-lived
and love for the child, so small, now in my arms.

It is with great anguish I chose to do this thing.
I don't know how I will live with it, I'll worry about that later.
If I think twice now, I'll turn back.

In this field of violets, surrounded by honeybees, I'll lay him down.
I'll walk away, and I won't look back.
No doubt he will perish, but I will pray for a miracle and try to forget
this child of mine and of the god of light.

One night that has burned itself upon my soul
Now has torn my heart in two.
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A little while ago, someone posted to an email list I'm on asking if he's the only one who sees Apollo as the god of rock and roll, with the lyre as a precursor to the guitar.

I responded saying that I hadn't thought about it before but I could definitely see that, and not only that, but I can definitely picture Him rocking out on a guitar....

...and then came the mental image of Marsyas challenging Apollo to a Guitar Hero showdown.

So if anyone finds me shot dead with an arrow in the street this afternoon, this is why.
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I'm slowly writing on some of the subjects from the memes that I posted last week, so if you haven't seen yours yet, you eventually will.

From this meme, [livejournal.com profile] raistlynn asked me to write about Apollo. I've yet to do so not because I forgot about it or anything like that, but because I've just not been able to write anything that I find satisfactory.

The fact of the matter is that I don't really know how to write about Apollo in a way that even begins to do Him any sort of justice. Every time I try, I grow stronger in the belief that human language is just not sufficient. How do you explain infinity? How do you describe the brightest light you've ever seen, the most beautiful sight to ever reach your eyes or the greatest terror you've ever known? And how can you explain that yes, it is okay- even adviseable- to place your trust in the source of that terror?

I can always start to write about him, but after a few sentences or a short paragraph, I can't continue. Why? there is plenty to write about...that's the problem, there is so much to write about, so much that can be said, but I can never really say it. The thoughts which, in my head were perfectly fine, become imprecise, faulty and unbeautiful when they see the light of the page or screen.

At best, I can reasonably write about my own feelings. This is probably why I write so much in the way of poetry about him, and why it tends to be so personal, because even if I can't quite get the exact word, I can find something close enough. Whereas with Apollo himself, thre is no such thing as "close enough".

Believe me, I am trying to find a way, because I would really love to write a book about him.

Gravity

Feb. 19th, 2009 05:18 am
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This is a really beautiful song by Vienna Teng that I associate very strongly with Apollo most particularly for the lyrics in the final stanza:

Hey, love
I am a constant satellite
Of your blazing sun
My love
I obey your law of gravity
This is the fate you’ve carved on me

It’s available on her website in mp3 format- http://viennateng.com/listen/ (it’s the last song on the page, click the link to listen or right click and save link to download)

Yesterday morning, I was talking to [livejournal.com profile] sannion and mentioned this song being stuck in my head for several hours. He wanted to hear it, so went off in search and found this video on Youtube…it’s nothing but a bunch of still shots and videos of, if you can believe it, wolves. (Really, taken on its own, it’s not all that interesting, but coming across it now, with this song, that’s pretty loaded for me.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2cJabIxHRU

I’ve been seriously thinking for a while of getting those lines tattooed on me somewhere. I received another swipe by a wolf’s claws over the weekend in a trance while doing a ritual. This was on my upper left arm. I think that’s where it’s going to go.

I’m seriously considering this font:

http://www.dafont.com/marka.font?nb_ppp=50

or this one: http://www.dafont.com/joehand-2.font

Dali is always a favorite http://www.dafont.com/dali.font

Another that I like, but probably way too thin for tattoo work: http://www.dafont.com/honey-i-stole-your-.font

(cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] painandlight)
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This is just a fragment...not sure if I'm going to add to it or no, I kinda like it as-is...I started writing more to it, but it ended up not working out as I thought it would.

Bleed me dry,
I am damaged again.
Oh God of My Nightmares,
This time you've done it-
ripped the pain out. Painfully.
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I am tired, I am dazed.
I am delerious, I am in pain.
These ties that bind my wrists
eat the flesh raw;

but shoot another arrow into my heart,
go ahead, drive another point
straight through my core

and when you’re finished, peel
back my skin layer by layer
until my skin is no more.

I shudder to think about it,
but your torture is comfort.

I won’t be going anywhere, don’t worry.
I don’t have the strength to think about escape,
and escape is not what I need.
Or want.

So it’s a good thing
these ties that bind my wrists
will hold me up.
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I've been rather crazily inspired to write a bunch of poetry in the last week or so it seems, of an OMGWTFBBQ!!!1111oneeleven ridiculously personal-devotional nature for Apollo. They've just been appearing in my brain wholecloth, or with little to no effort. I think I've finished five so far and I've got several partials sitting here. It's kinda crazy, but now that I've got an idea of what's going on...I'm just going to go with it as it rolls in.
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My trust, you demand
repeatedly, constantly
Don't you know this hurts?
What do you want from me anyway?
Don't you know I follow you willingly?
I sometimes wonder if there's
something wrong with me,
that I let it go so far
and why I have no desire for it to end.
But your beauty is my incentive
and your touch burns, sublime.
The slice of your blade across my skin
is so familiar now
though the shock never wears off completely
and terror is new every time.
I know you know this hurts.
Now I know what you want from me.
And I know you know I follow you.
Willingly.
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Oh ancient face of idealized youth,
I've seen what lies beyond your
marble shell,
scarred perfection,
horrifying beauty,
comforting terror
of depths which I can barely
begin to conceive the vaguest iota
you protect the would-be victim
from your own destruction.

In you, contradiction contradicts no more.
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I come to you broken.
I come to you damaged,
cut and scarred by your own doing.
What will you?
Why do you do this to me?
Why do you call me?
Why do you hold me, claws digging deep
into my flesh?
You are the enigma.
You are the dream.
You are the nightmare.
You make me scream
in pain
and tremble with fear.
But you pull me to you
and hold me with an iron velvet grip
which I have no desire to escape.
You've given me freedom
(or the illusion of it).
All I want is to know
what lies in front of me.
But you tell me nothing.
And I only wait.
And follow.
You try my trust.
You lead me blind.
Your gentle touch burns.
Your cruel cut heals.
I bleed by your hand
and rest on your stained altar.
I, a crumpled heap, can barely crawl.
You gave me wings.

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