Commentary on Hymn XVI: To Antinous Apollon, Navigator

With you is the light of day, O Antinous Apollon,
the light of music and poetry, the light of true prophecy,
the light of healing, all the light we need. In your light
we can walk a straight path, we can see our way clear,
we can reach our destination. Guide us, Antinous Apollon,
Navigator, guide us when the day is cloudy, when the rains
are falling, when the sun is setting; guide us, glorious Phoebus,
and do not forget us when the sun sets, when the night
has come, when the lyre is silent, when the lips are closed.
Be our light when there is no light, slayer of Python,
god of Delphi; be the light that shines from within.

One of Apollon’s most frequent titles is “Phoibos”, or “Phoebus” in the Latinised spelling. It simply means bright, or radiant. Apollon is not, strictly speaking, a god of the sun, though he came to be seen as such, displacing Helios and Sol in the popular imagination, but he is undoubtedly a god of light. He is the light of day, the light of knowledge, the light of insight and inspiration, the light of prophecy, and his light is the source of guidance, as Antinous Apollon.

To make a good decision, to choose with discernment, requires internalizing that divine light, being guided by our own principles and by our communion with the god. Over and over again I come back to the understanding that divine guidance, embodied in Antinous the Navigator, means knowing what your values truly are and abiding by them. The problem for most people, I think, is not seeing that our values may not be what we think they are. To use the most obvious possible example, in our work-driven American culture, many people say they value family above everything, but the number of hours spent at the office versus the number of hours spent with their family proves that work is in fact their highest value.

It also is not necessarily easy to make your actions line up with your values. You may genuinely love your family yet be trapped in a work culture that demands frequent overtime and weekend availability. You may love your family yet be constrained to work two jobs in order to provide for them materially. You may want to do more creative work, yet be stuck with health issues and thus (in the United States) be stuck working a full-time job in order to have healthcare.

I believe the gods can and do help us to do the right thing, the ethical thing, the action which aligns with our values, if we ask for their help. And, of course, if we have an ongoing relationship with them, a basis on which to ask. That’s why there’s 31 hymns to a set, one for every day of the month, to begin establishing that relationship with Antinous and to build it and keep it up.

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