Cascadia Druids: White Mountain Druid Sanctuary Blog

White Mountain Druid Sanctuary (WMDS) is a Druid inspired Pagan site in Trout Lake, Washington. This blog describes the planning and creation of the Stone Circle, Shrines and physical surroundings that are being built there.

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Sanctuary of Apollo (Cyprus)

April 14, 2019

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates

This incredible precinct lies outside of the ancient town of Kourion in the south of the island. The appellation of the God, Hylates, means "God of the Woodland". Currently there is a scrub forest surrounding the Sanctuary, and in ancient times it was also a preserve for deer. The worship of the God here began as early as the 8th century BCE and continued until the 4th century CE when it was destroyed in the massive earthquake in 365 CE.

There are two entrances to the Sanctuary, one on the east, called the Kourion Gate (nearest the town), and one on the west, called the Paphos Gate, which leads to the road to the town of Paphos.

Entering through the Kourion Gate, immediately on the left is the Palestra, or gymnasium, where athletes would work out and have competitions.


The Palestra

Inside the Palestra is a huge stone carved cauldron which held water for the use of the athletes.


The stone-carved water pot in the Palestra

Nearby, on the side of the Palestra, was a building that housed the more expensive votive offerings (like those made of precious metal), presumably protected by a gate which allowed the items to be viewed from outside.


The Treasury on the side of the Palestra

Across the road from the Palestra were the baths, which were there for the use, presumably, of the athletes, though others such as priests may have used them as well.


The baths across from the Palestra

Continuing into the Sanctuary, on the left side, are a series of five dormitories in what is called the South Building. These long rooms could accommodate a large number of people for overnight sleeping.


One of the dormitories in the South Building


Another dormitory. The platforms behind the columns were where the athletes or visitors would stretch out their bed rolls.

Across from the South Building, by the Paphos Gate, is a place that looks like a staircase to nowhere, but is really the place where pilgrims would place their votive offerings for Apollo. It must have been quite a site when full.


The place for Votive Offerings by the Paphos Gate.

And when it did get full, the priests would gather them up and deposit them in a big pit. Archaeologists found all kinds of statuettes and pottery in the Votive Pit, covering the time period of the 5th century BCE to the Roman period.

Heading towards the north, on the right side, are the priest quarters leading up to the beginning of the Sacred Way, which leads to the Temple of Apollo.


 The Sacred Way

On the left side there is what is called the Circular Monument, which may be extremely old, and which was actually a Sacred Grove for the God. The soil is very thin here, and so great holes were hollowed out of the rock to hold enough soil for the root systems of the myrtle and laurel trees which were planted here. It was surrounded with a pebbled walkway and dance floor for processions and dancing for the God.


A view of the Sacred Grove. Note the hole carved out of the rock to hold the root ball of a tree.

Continuing up the Sacred Way, on the right hand side, is the Archaic era altar. This doesn't look like much now, and appears only as a low pile of stones. But when this was excavated the archaeologists found a huge pile of ash mixed with animal bones and votive offerings, primarily terracotta figurines and pottery. The altar actually consisted of an ash pile which got bigger and bigger with each offering fire, and the altar was really just the huge pile of ash.


The site of the Archaic Altar

Continuing on, we come to the Temple itself. Originally it was a large, single-room structure in Classical or early Hellenistic style, but it was rebuilt in Roman times to have a pronaos (porch) and inner naos (or room, sometimes referred to as the cella). It stands on a raised platform and is reached by stairs from the road below.


The pronaos (porch) of the temple


 The naos (cella) of the temple where I made my invocation and offering

This Sanctuary truly moved me. I could almost hear the crowds, smell the smoke of the sacrifice, and hear the chanting of the priests. I went into the naos at the back of the temple and made a short invocation to Apollo, offering Him a silver bead. A breeze came up at that point, and I like to think that the God heard me.


The Temple of Apollo

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We are Cascadia Grove of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF). Our local Grove serves the Puget Sound area. We meet 8 times a year to celebrate the equinoxes, solstices and the cross quarter days (including Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain). We also support the planning and building of White Mountain Druid Sanctuary in Trout Lake WA.


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