Panel 5:


Organizer and Chair: Carl Ruck

Students of ancient theology are well aware that the common understanding of Apollo as the apogee of rational perfection is a pious ruse to hide his darker aspects as the wolf-god. The lycanthropic theme probably implies the traditional opposition between Apollonian and Dionysian modes of ecstatic divine communion and altered states of consciousness.

Apollo’s lycanthropic involvement as a wolf-god (lykos) was given a false etymology, not derived from the ‘wolf,’ but from the ‘light’ of the sun and its solar illumination. Lykios was fancifully associated with the Latin lux for ‘light’ and Greek leukós for ‘white,’ and Apollo’s epithet is explained as derived from ‘the sun shinning and making everything white.’ The god’s tenuous claim to the light of the day, however, is reflected in the word for the dangerous marginal time of the dawn and the twilight as the ‘wolf-light’ (lykóphos). Similarly, the dangerous time when werewolves are abroad, the ‘wolf-walk’ (lykábas), is forced to mean the ‘path of the sun’ and glossed as a period of time, perhaps a year. This motif has entered contemporary culture in the extremely popular film series titled Breaking Dawn, which centers upon teenage lovers and werewolves.
The wolf motif occurs in the myth of Apollo’s birth, which is not so much the story of his birth as that of his rebirth into his newer identity as a member of the Olympian hierarchy, since he already existed in other divine personae before this event. Thus it was a pack of wolves from the Anatolian wolf land of Lycia that led Leto to the Aegean island of Delos as the site for the birthing of Apollo and Artemis into their new identities as the twin offspring of Zeus. A pack of wolves similarly discovered the Corycian Cave at Delphi.
The session will center on the oracle’s transition to Olympian inspiration.

Final discussion with the participation of David C. Hillman (Professor, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota) and Mark Hoffman (Entheos Media, Taos, New Mexico)

Reorientation of the Navel of Gaia

Ruck, Carl A.P.

Professor, Classical Studies, , Boston University

Delphi (Delphoí) is named for the brotherhood of womb mates (adelphoí) who functioned as the priesthood that administered the oracle after its transition in the eighth century to the present site of its archaeological remains at the base of the twin Shining Cliffs or Phaediades, on the northern slope of Mount Parnassus, far below its original location in the Corycian Cave. Apollo’s defeat of the Python that lurked in the Cave reoriented the oracle, reassigning the prophetic voice of Gaia that issued from the subterranean Sarantavali to that of Apollo’s new Olympian father Zeus descending from the heavens. The original brotherhood of priests was supposedly led to the site by a school of dolphins, the sea mammal named for its similarity to the shape of the womb (delphús). Delphi, however, as the name of a site is an anomaly, obscuring the fact that the Python was a male-female also called the womb goddess, the mermaid Delphyne, and the oracle was first administered by her sisterhood, the adelphaí, the probable original name of the site as a feminine plural, Delphaí, like Thebes, Athens, and Mycenae.
The Cave was reassigned to Apollo’s brothers, either Hermes or Dionysus and continued the chthonic orientation in the celebration of bacchanalian revels when Apollo each third year deserted the sanctuary to pursue his career under the ruse of a pastoral poet. Apollo as the guardian of the herds is the pacified version of the wolf that attacks them.

Terebinth and Testament: A Fresh Look at the Ancient Akedah

Abram, Dorothy

Associate Professor, Johnson & Wales University

The story of the Akedah, the near sacrifice of Isaac, may be one of the most examined episodes of the Old Testament. This presentation proposes that there is yet another way to examine the significance of this passage. By considering the Canaanite context in which the biblical Abraham constructs his ritual and reflects the meaning of his actions, a new interpretation of the testament between God and Abraham comes to light. Specifically, Abraham communes and communicates with God and the angels under the Terebinth tree that is known from archaeology and the prophets as the location of agrarian fertility rites and child sacrifice. Thereby, Abraham’s intended sacrifice of Isaac is a challenge to determine the true nature of the identity of his new-found God and means of access to unseen realms of consciousness. Comparing the Abrahamic with the Apolline method of prophecy at Delphi, this presentation unites diverse evidence to create a profound vision of meaning of this ancient passage.

Communion with the Divine

Zakariades-Holmberg, Evie Marie

Professor, Adjunct Professor, Boston University; Art Conservator, Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Hellenic College of the Holy Cross

Since our first artistic creations as the species of Homo Sapiens, numerous paintings deep in the recesses of caves as far back as 40,000 BCE abound, depicting the experiences of a reality beyond the one perceived by our ordinary senses. Shamans portraying themselves as their animal familiars, the animals that they encounter as companions or zoomorphic personae in their spiritual trips when they temporarily leave their bodies to investigate realities beyond ordinary physical experience, stare at us today from the walls of these caves as the evidence of our deep connection with the universe and our ability to transgress our physical boundaries.
In historical times, the description of the path one had to follow in order to access this ability survived in the so-called Mystery Religions. Mystery religions entailed sacred initiations, rites, etc. based on teachings that were reserved for the select few deemed worthy to receive and imbibe them. These teachings aimed at guiding the initiates to cultivate their innate qualities necessary for the evolution of the soul.
Although surrounded by secrecy, there are certain threads that can be traced in the “veiled” language that was used to protect these “esoteric” teachings from the profane.