Today I’m interviewing Lykeia, priestess of Apollo and author of Crowned with Nine Rays: a Handbook to the Modern Worship of Apollon. Lykeia, thank you for being with us today. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Thank you Amanda, it is a pleasure. Well I must say you covered about half of it above, since being a priestess of Apollon is perhaps the one thing that fills all aspects of my life. As a visual artist through painting I praise Apollon whose light reveals form and color, as a poet his inspiration that touches my soul, and as individual with a great passion for the arts and sciences I am aware of his touch in all these fields. All that which I take upon me, or that I invest myself in is inseparable from this identity as I believe that those gods we belong to leave a kind of fingerprint upon our souls. Otherwise my life is pretty ordinary. I went to school and got my BA degree in history with a minor in Literature while raising my daughter as a single-parent, got married (which was a real challenge for me emotionally since so much of my person and heart belong to Apollon so it required me find a certain balance and alot of patience on the part of my spouse), spend spring through autumn gardening, and go to work just like everyone else.
How did you find your way to Paganism?
It is funny how small events like those, even happening a long time ago are still very fresh in our memories. I remember I was twelve and my teacher was ordering each student a book from the book-order. I had liked the cover of a book of Greek Mythology largely because it had Pegasus on the front of it and I was a typical horse crazy child. As soon as I got the book I just fell in love with the stories, but most especially the story of Artemis and Actaeon. Flash forward two years and in researching Amazons for a school project I came across Starhawk’s Spiral Dance. I experienced a sudden wonder of revelation that hey someone out that worshiped the ancient gods. I didn’t particularly agree with her writings so I found myself throughout high-school digging up history books that specifically spoke of ancient cults. Since I was really into Artemis that was who I focused on, and to a lesser degree her Roman counterpart Diana. I was so devoted that I pledged a certain number of years chastity to her which lasted until my 18th birthday, and asked that I have daughters when I finally had children. I had some attempts to fit in with other groups, such as a stregheria group in my early twenties since I was attracted to the fact that they honored principally Diana, and then that led to Religio Romana, but the truth being that I favored the Hellenic Artemis and so when I discovered that there were Hellenics around I went “home” so to speak.
How did you come to be a worshiper and Priestess of Apollo?
He kind of snuck up on me, though in retrospect I can see how influential he was on my life in a more subtle to fashion…his fingerprint as I said above. It had never occurred to me in my youth to even think of Apollon irregardless of my early childhood passion for poetry and rhyme that continued through my youth along side with my love for the arts, dance, archery—a lot of which intersects with the worship of his sister Artemis. For some reason I was just utterly blind to Apollon’s presence throughout my childhood, though considering what an extreme feminist I was back in those days perhaps there is a reason for that after all. So I had his twin with whom I could “run wild,” until I matured. In my early twenties I began to acknowledge him in joint cultus with his sister, mostly for politeness’s sake as I outgrew my extremism, and by my twenty-fourth birthday I fell completely in love with him. That point, the experience of Eros acting upon my soul towards Apollon is the moment where I became a priestess of Apollon.
What does he teach you?
I honestly think he taught me a lot about love, which would probably sound less strange coming from a devotee of Aphrodite, but there you have it. I didn’t really have any idea of how to give myself into love without the jealous and selfish nature peeking through. He taught me how to give of myself and receive love in return without that, and he is a god with a lot of love to give which is evident by how many do love him. It was a freeing experience. And he taught me about freedom, to remove myself from that which attempts to poison me and to work towards finding my own harmony, for that is what is necessary to be free of the self. This includes the importance of memory, for he is the leader of the daughters of Mnemosyne. Memory too is an important part of this, which is something that I am also aware of a individual who studies history, because we cannot move forward and cannot progress towards are higher being with forgetfulness. Part of the internal harmony directly involves memory. He also teaches the value of the word. Words are perhaps one of the most beautiful things we are given from the gods, and thought English may not have the many layers of meaning to it that Hellenic has, it is still a gift. This means no abusing this gift with monstrous lies, or poisonous/hurtful words. This also means a lot of self-responsibility for which he may deal a little sterner with those in his following.
Besides Apollo, are there any other Gods you are particularly devoted to?
Well Artemis clearly *smiles*. Artemis hasn’t removed herself from my life just because she prepared the way for Apollon and he has long since taken up residence. They both of their altar in my home, as well as Zeus and Hera (who are the pair of gods my daughter particularly adores and whom I love too), and that of Aphrodite (largely because a lesson I learned throughout most of my early twenties was that if I ignored Aphrodite she takes little amusements with my life…apparently I should have read Hippolytus a little sooner than I did) though I don’t consider myself particularly devoted to her. For me it pretty much is Apollon, Artemis, Zeus (which includes some irregular devotion to Dionysos) and Hera.
I really enjoyed your new book, Crowned with Nine Rays. Why don’t you tell the readers a little about it?
I am glad you enjoyed reading, it was truly my great pleasure writing it. It was a book I head felt a little nudging for quite some time to write. I am a prolific researcher, reading and researching are almost a hobby so I was quickly amassing a great deal of information that I shared occasionally with others in discussion. It turned out I was hit with a stretched out period of unemployment and it proved to be the perfect opportunity to write this book. I literally spent several months working on research and writing from the moment I woke up until I went to bed, and countless sessions of editing. I admit I left some parts out of the book. For instance, though I enjoy a variety of divinations which I think are inspiration to the imagination (such as scrying, divination with dice, cards, and more recently learning to read coffee grounds that a friend showed me how to do from enjoying a cup of Greek coffee) I am not very public with it, so I had considered writing a chapter on the subject but ended up removing it in the end in one of the editing sessions. The reason is that I wanted Crowned with Nine Rays to be a practical book that ties together worship and history. Therefore my focus involved a lot of philosophy too as I discussed epithets, festivals, and certain areas which pertain within Apollon’s domain of light, as well as discussions of rituals. Therefore some parts I had previously planned to put in the book such as poems, divination etc ended up being cut. I may put them out separately in the future but I haven’t committed myself to any decision yet. Still with what the book has I feel that it touches on many important areas about worshiping Apollon and how Apollon is important for everyone regardless if you are devoted to him or are just including him as one of the Olympians (since something I do particularly believe is that none of the Olympians should be disregarded) it really gives a little something for anyone. The chapters of rituals are a bit more freeflowing, they give background, and some ideas but leaves the ritual construction up to the reader in the end. My main goal was to inspire thinking of the god and how much more there was available in his worship aside from the Thargelia and Pyanepsia which tend to be the core focus by many modern worshipers.
Crowned with Nine Rays is just the first in a series about the Olympian Gods. Whose book are you writing now, and when can we expect it to be out?
I have been working on a second volume to Artemis, which I plan to follow with a volume on Hera. This volume of Artemis I an estimating perhaps by winter of 2012 it shall be ready. This is because of some unforeseen delays in the writing, and the fact that I no longer have as much free time as I did when writing the Apollon volume.