But this time, I feel as though something has shifted, and I think this is in part due to Mycenae, and in part due to Naxos. In Mycenae, the mountains--a symbol of Artemis in that landscape--tried to eat one of our students. (Not entirely literally, as I suspect the vipers on the mountain would not actually have eaten her, but they certainly attempted to make it very difficult for her to come back to us.) This student was also aligned with Artemis, and though her affinity for the goddess of the wild did not dampen, I discovered that I did not much like Artemis outside of Ephesus--only in the city where she was once a wonder of the world did I feel that same sense of alignment. The wilds have never had terribly much appeal to me beyond fiction: I like hiking and spending time in the wild so long as I have a nice warm bed to come back to in my nice safe house with indoor plumbing and a well-stocked kitchen. I've always been a bit hobbitish that way.
And then we returned to Delphi, a place that, despite Gaia's defeat, had previously seemed to me like a place that belonged more to the goddess of Earth than the god of the sun, despite his temple and oracle there. This year, something changed--I recognized Apollo in the landscape in a different way, in the structure and order imposed on the wild by civilization, and in the passion of prophecy he took on from Gaia, his predecessor. I also further realized the connection between Apollo and Poseidon: Poseidon, the earth shaker, always had a place at Apollo's temple, and when Gaia was displaced, Poseidon, who had been at Delphi with her, remained honored. Poseidon, being lord of the sea, has always been one of my favorites, though never quite at the top.
But, well, I'd never much thought about Apollo. Sure, he was a sun god, an archer. He was also a poet, a god who put beauty into words, into organized form. His art was not Dionysian and chaotic, but formed and cognizant (and yet he retains a good relationship with the god of theater, allowing him to take over the temple at Delphi for several months of the year). If novelists had existed at the time of the Ancient Greeks, they would have called upon Apollo, much like they continue to call on the muses--who are also members of Apollo's domain--today.
My shift in alignment continued at Naxos, where that half-finished temple of Apollo looks out onto the sea. And while the island really belongs to Ariadne and Dionysus, and the ocean around it belongs to Poseidon, there is something of Apollo there--particularly as the sun sets behind his temple--an event I must have captured a thousand times in film.
As my daily jewelry now includes a pair of earrings and a necklace that bear the Eye of Naxos, a shell spiral that, like the eye-shaped wards, is said to ward off the evil eye, I think about the island and why it was that, at the end of the stay, it continued to call to me. While the pull isn't as dramatic or visceral as the one I feel at Ephesus--a place that feels a bit more like home than it has any right to, given that I've only been there three times--it's more like waves lapping up along the beach, splashing my memory and drawing me back into the waters just a bit at a time.
As a note, for those of you keeping track, kinship with mythological figures is not a particular reflection on my own religious life, though it is more profound than empathy with, say, a character in a novel. It is certainly an influence on my writing life and my outlook on sacred geography and myth in landscape, but I do keep that a bit separate. As Mark Vecchio has now begun to advise, experiments in Original Participation* should be done only under careful supervision, if at all, as playing with different states of consciousness, even only through use of imagination, can be dangerous!
*A concept from Owen Barfield's Saving the Appearances that describes the form of consciousness of the Ancient Greeks and other early civilizations.
In other news, Flames Rising has been nominated as best fan product for this year's Ennies! Since I write for them, I'm incredibly tickled, and am wishing Matt and the staff the best of luck!