In my post on the Purpose of the Universe, I talked about how I came to believe that the purpose of the universe is beauty, and that beauty is the highest purpose of my own life, too. So how does this blog fit into that purpose? Blogs, after all, are not often thought of as beautiful things.
Simply put, I’m blogging because Apollo asked me to. Here’s how that came about.
In the late spring of 2006 I was struggling with a number of issues, including debt, exhaustion, and fear — a lot of fear. My family had just moved to a new state, and I’d gotten a new job and a new home, and my then-wife was in a car accident that nearly took her life. I was afflicted with a lot more fear than I’m generally used to having. (You can read more about this fear, and some of the things I did to overcome it, here and here.)
It so happened at this time that I read Erin Pavlina’s article called “Go to Your Room“, which describes a simple meditation exercise. The technique is very powerful and very simple, but it does require you to be quite good at visualizations. This was not a problem for me, fortunately: my Zen Buddhist mother taught me to meditate when I was pretty young, and I’d practiced a lot over the years. In Erin’s exercise, you first visualize yourself going down an elevator a certain number of floors; then you get out, and ask to be shown to your room. You are brought to a door, which you open, and find your room. Your subconscious — or spirit guides, or whatever — takes over after that. You may find messages left for you, meet individuals, and otherwise interact with your higher self.
I figured my higher self was just to the gentleman I wanted to talk to. But I’ve always been one who preferred the outdoors, so I visualized myself walking down a forest path; and instead of floor numbers, I imagined trail markers. At the end of the path, rather than going to “my room”, I would find myself in a glade, or at a pool, or something similar, where I would meet whatever I was going to meet.
Another meditation that inspired me was Steve Pavlina’s meditation in which he meets is younger self and older self. I thought it might be valuable to meet someone who exemplified the virtues I would like to have myself — intelligence, wit, creativity, craftsmanship, and so forth. These things were beautiful to me, and I wanted to cultivate that beauty in my character. The idea came into my head (and now I’m wondering who put it there…) that I would like to talk to Apollo.
At this point, you must understand, I was not a Druid, and I knew almost nothing about druidism; I was not familiar with the Celtic gods, I was not a polytheist in any way; and I was pretty sure that whoever I was meeting in these meditations were just symbols pulled from my subconscious. So I figured the meditation would just be a simple matter of visualizing myself talking to a representation of Apollo, and asking him for advice.
The meditation turned out to be quite different from ones I’d been having. First, instead of the forest path that went downhill, I found myself climbing up a rocky staircase toward the top of a mountain. I got partway up, and suddenly the path disappeared. I wandered for a few moments until I came to a redwood grove, and there I encountered a small fawn — rather like Mr. Tumnus of Narnia fame, but much more businesslike.
He and I both knew what I was trying to do, so he wasted no words.
“If you want to meet with Apollo, there is something you need to do first,” he said. “You need to dedicate yourself to five virtues, and show some progress on developing them.”
Neat! I thought. My subconscious Apollo archetype has a gatekeeper!
I agreed to take a look at the principles, and he he handed me a book which would explain the five virtues in detail. Then he left, and I sat down to look at the book. The five virtues were:
- 1. Strength of body and mind.
- 2. Gentleness/Kindness.
- 3. Wit: Wisdom and laughter.
- 4. Charity/Healing.
- 5. Curiosity.
I was very interested to see this list. It was certainly not a comprehensive list of human virtues, but they were ones that it made sense for Apollo to value. So I worked on these virtues for a couple of days, and made a little progress in each. Then, a lot sooner than I expected, I did a meditation in which I met Apollo himself.
The following are some notes I made at the time.
First I was climbing up into the mountains… Then the path leveled out and I came to a region of honeysuckle at the edge of a deep, green lake. A lady was there, dressed in the style of the late Victorian period, looking as though she had stepped out of an impressionist painting. She took me in a rowboat across the lake to an island in its midst. There I found a thick wood of dark green leaves. I followed a path of worn flagstones, white like marble embedded in the turf. The path led in a spiral around the island. I quickly came to a temple in the center of the island, a classic Greek edifice consisting of a platform, columns supporting a small dome over all. I seated myself on a bench to wait.
After a few breaths, he came. He was clothed in a brown robe that covered his face; he said I wasn’t ready to look at him yet. But I hadn’t expected to meet him so soon, so I was grateful. His voice was deep and sweet, and communicated easy, convivial power. He said I was his own dear son, and that he loved me; and I said I loved him, too, because really — there in his presence — it was impossible not to. Although everyone on earth is his child, he said, that does not diminish the very personal relationship between each of us and him.
We spoke of a blog. It was clear he had great plans for it. He tried to show me a visual representation of it, but all I could make out was a complex digital web of information. He wanted it to be infused with his presence. Not necessarily about him, I think — except perhaps as a symbol — but dedicated to the principles he is passionate about. This would include history and the future as well, since he is the embodiment of time-binding…
I found myself somewhat worried that he appeared in a dark cloak and did not show his face. Some things that I have read suggest that evil spirits lie in wait for humans who venture too boldly into the spirit realm without protection. But others say that as long as your heart is pure you have nothing to fear; and besides, I can’t quibble with the five injunctions he gave me. Following them can only lead to good.
At any rate, my vision began to dim as I tried to assimilate the information he was giving me. Realizing he was losing me, he handed me a book, saying that it would answer all my questions. I glanced at it briefly, and saw that it was filled with vivid pictures in motion, and illuminated text. Then the vision dissolved into present-day reality.
So there you have it: I’m on a mission from a god. I’m still not at all sure what his vision is for this blog, or what its ultimate purpose will be. But I continue to receive direction and inspiration from him, and as long as I do, I’ll keep writing.
Was it really Apollo? I’m inclined to believe it was; you can read my post here for why I think that.
Is it weird to be a druid, but serve a Greek god? A little, yes. I’ve struggled with the issue. However, the question isn’t as stark as you might think:
- Lugh, the king of the Celtic gods and one of only two gods believed to have been worshipped wherever there were Celts (the other is Bridget), was probably associated with Mercury by Caesar, but descriptions I’ve read of him make him seem much more like Apollo — he is a sun god, a god of healing, and a god of all the arts, with special mention made of music. It’s true that Lugh was also a mighty warrior, something Apollo wasn’t known for — but then, Mercury doesn’t fit that description any better.
- Apollo was actually adopted and worshipped alongside local gods all across Celtic continental Europe towards the time of Roman conquest, and became even more popular afterwards. It seems likely (to me, anyway) that the Celts simply started calling Lugh “Apollo”.