Nearly three years ago, I wrote about Evolving Patron Relationships, and now I find myself again confronting these issues in my own life. While Dionysos remains part of my core (along with several important spirits), and Hermes continues to be an important though much less prominent part of my religious life, I have come to the decision to cease actively maintaining cultus for Apollon on a regular basis.
This is quite terrifying actually. We have little precedence for how to properly and respectfully stop worshipping a god. In ancient times, the cults of gods were maintained by priesthoods and the average person could come and go as needed or wanted. If they no longer felt drawn to a deity, they simply stopped visiting the temple or attending the festivals. But the temples and festivals still existed. Now, if I stop celebrating a certain festival for Apollon, that festival ceases to exist entirely, as it was my creation in the first place. If I take down His shrine, it has more of an impact than one person ceasing to go to a temple.
So obviously it’s a significant decision, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right one. I made no lifelong vows to Apollon. I made one vow, to perform Delphic-style oracles for Him for seven years, and I completed it. I could see a potential road stretching out before me, where I would transition to a different sort of oracles for another seven years, and then transition again to something else, and I believe that was a perfectly good path. It was A right choice, but it wasn’t THE right choice, and the choice needed to be mine. And suddenly, this last weekend, I just knew that it wasn’t what I was being called to do in terms of the bigger picture. That Apollon’s presence in my life had been significant and powerful, but was no longer part of my core practice, and no longer meshed with the way the rest of my path was going. So I decided to let it go, with deep respect and gratitude.
First, of course, I did several divinations to make sure I wasn’t making a mistake. Then, I dismantled His shrine (though I still have a smaller one in my adyton), took His holy day and all but two festivals off my calendar (the oracles I had been planning seemed essentially more about nympholepsy than about Apollon, so I am going to do them on our nymph festival days), and this Sunday I am bidding Him farewell on a deeper level as He departs for Hyperborea. I am also getting a devotional tattoo right away which I had planned for the future, one to mark my service as His oracle and to permanently acknowledge the role He has had in my life, whatever happens in the future.
I have learned so much in His service, and I hope I have served Him well. It hurts to say goodbye, it’s scary to move forward without Someone who’s been with me in some form for over a decade, but I strongly feel it is time. I don’t expect He will disappear completely, but I think the part of my life where I considered Him a secondary patron has come to a close.
At the same time, I am paring down my practice in other ways. A similar process is happening in my relationship with Persephone, for instance. I also deleted and combined several festivals on my calendar, reducing the total number by nine, but with plans to make the remaining smaller number of festivals a much bigger production. I’ve just been feeling called to dig deep and focus on my core deities and spirits lately, and this is part of that process.
I’m only writing about this publicly because it’s scary to do so, and because I think we need to talk about these things openly as we figure out how to have living, dynamic polytheistic practices. There is great value in consistency and dedication when it comes to devotional relationships, but I feel this shouldn’t prevent us from being able and willing to make changes if it is time to do so, even to the point of ceasing cultus entirely. Like human relationships, divine relationships do not have to be eternal to be important and worthwhile.
Hail Apollon Pythios
Hail Apollon Loxias
Hail Apollon Nymphagetes
Hail Apollon Pholeuterios
Hail Apollon Hyperboreios
Hail Apollon Mantikos