Having one of those metaphysical “a-ha!” moments after reading Marcel Detienne’s “Apollo’s Slaughterhouse” and gaining some insight to Apollo’s role as both a killer and purifier (1986: 51-52).. A beginning glimpse into the god of bloody ash altars and healing springs is found in this small passage:
In archaic Greek, phoibos signifies pure and holy, like Ocean’s water or the sun’s brightness. In the religious vocabulary, according to Plutarch who was well versed in it, phoibos in composite form designated a state of segregated purity…to be phoibos is to be so rigorously separate that one becomes consecrated, as are, in effect, the priests which Apollo loves to surround himself with. It means to become consecrated like the Hosioi, the perpetually Pure of Delphi; but also like the suppliants of Cyrenus…personally tied to the god…and part of his property…among the latter are found the “decimated ones,” the dekatoi, homicides whose abominable pollution places them entirely on the side of the gods, on the side of phoibos. It is precisely here that the totally impure tends to merge itself with the pure. Apollo is fully phoibos. He is the untouchable in his two poles: murderer to the point of madness…[and] Apollo, the Hyperborean purifier, [the] emblem of a way of life so pure that it excludes the blood of death and the blood of birth.
The article goes on to tell about how at Delos, a site linked to Apollo’s birth, two altars were placed side by side: one “pure and pious” unsullied by blood, the other formed out of the entwined horns from previous sacrifice, upon which the “bloodiest sacrifices” were freely invited to take place. Acknowledgment of Apollo’s dual nature is something that I’ve found missing from a lot of introductory literature about Him…much of it focuses on his role as a healer, diviner, musician, poet, leader of the muses, archer, etc….while I desire to work with these aspects of Him, I also know that I personally need to give cult to both polarities of Phoibos Apollôn, the “Prince of Sacrificers”.
“A Sacrifice to Apollo” — Gayley 1893