Hellenic month of Anthesterion

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Hellenic month of Anthesterion

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Thu Feb 10, 2005 11:36 am

Salvete

Anthesterion: 09/10th of February- 10/11th of March

During this month, we have several festivals to celebrate: the Anthesteria and the Lesser Mysteries as the Diasia, a festival in honor of Zeus Melikhios. The Diasia is celebrated during the Lesser Mysteries on the 23rd of Anthesterion.

1) Noumenia
2) Noumenia kata Selene, Dionysos, Agathos Daimon
3) Athena
4) Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes and Eros
5) Ares
6) Artemis
7) Apollon
8) Poseidon and Theseus
9)
10 )
11 ) Anthesteria
12 ) Anthesteria
13 ) Anthesteria
14 )
15 )
16)
17)
18)
19)
20 ) Lesser Mysteries
21) Lesser Mysteries
22) Lesser Mysteries
23) Lesser Mysteries and Diasia
24) Lesser Mysteries
25) Lesser Mysteries
26) Lesser Mysteries
27)
28)
29)
30 ) Triakas, Hene kai Nea
valete
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Anthesteria (Anthesterion 11-13)

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Thu Feb 10, 2005 11:39 am

salvete

I shall describe what happened during the Anthesteria, a festival in honor of Dionysos, but it was mainly celebrated to drive the spirits of the dead away. Piscine, did the Romans had a similar festival where they kept the spirits at bay during this time of the year?

The Anthesteria (Anthesterion 11-13)

Background

In Athens, the Dionysian festival of Anthesteria lasted 3 days and celebrated the return of spring and the new vintage. On the first day, pithoigia or “jar-opening”, the new wine casks were first opened and the product tasted. First fruits offerings were presented to the God in his sanctuary. “In the marshes within Athens” ( a rather cryptic name considering that there were no marshes in Athens.)
The second day Khoệs, is named after the distinctive wine jugs used in the celebration of ritual drinking contests. The jug type, which has been identified, holds over a half a gallon (more than 2 litres). On this day, children between the ages of 3 and 4 received miniature jugs and participated in the public worship for the first time. Slaves also participated.
Yet this drinking contest, like the whole day was uncanny, for it was believed that the souls of the dead were afoot. Doorposts were painted with pitch and people chewed buckthorn leaves to keep the spirits at bay. The ritual drinking itself took place in silence. This was explained with reference to a myth in which Orestes, the matricide, arrived during the Khoệs; since he was ritually impure, he was treated as one of the dead. The jugs, and the ivy garlands worn by the participants were then given to the priestess of Dionysos’ sanctuary in the marshes, but not laid on the altar, as they were tainted by the presence of Orestes. All other temples and shrines were closed during this day. The day ends with a ritual unusual in the Hellenic context; a hieros gamos or sacred marriage between the wife of the Basileus (a Athenian ritual official or king) and the God himself. The exact nature of this rite is not known, although scholars have indulged in speculation, some of it rather prurient.
On the last day of the festival, Khutroi or Pots, the people cooked and ate a pottage of mixed grains and honey, and made sacrifice to Chthonic Hermes (According to Burkert, priests were barred from eating the pottage, as part of the closing of the sanctuaries.) The festival ends with a pronouncement sending the spirits back to their Underworld abode: “out, Keres, the Anthesteria are over.” Competitions were then held: contests on swings were especially popular for girls. The Romans had a similar festival that was held to keep the spirits of the dead at bay.

Modern observance

People wishing to celebrate this festival can take a 3 day weekend to celebrate this festival. But in these times, it is rather hard to do just that and few people can afford this luxury. So the following ritual described in Old stones, New Temples, is designed to be performed in one day, stretching from afternoon into the evening. It is important to leave enough time for each section of the ritual and to provide breaks between sections.
Since this festival is focused on wine, some people may not be able to participate in the traditional sense of the word for any number of reasons: health or because they are recovering alcoholics). It is not recommended to downing a half-gallon of pinot noir at one sitting. Further Traditionally, the Khoệs rite was open for children. Those organising should make sure that the participants are aware of the role alcohol plays and provide grape juice or another beverage for those who do not tolerate alcohol. Those who do drink should remember that the ancients did not take their wine neat, but liberally mixed it with water. Therefor we can either mix a healthy wine or drink proportionally less. Children may take small amounts of very diluted wine, or grape juice with a few drops of wine added, as their parents see fit. In any case, arrangements should be made for safe passage home for anyone partaking of the God’s gifts. The priests of Dionysos may just as easily be a priestess, just as anyone willingly to play the part of basilinna may be male or female, so long as there are willing to play the bride of the God. The people are called the “Komos”, or band of revellers, after the groups of cheerful Bakkhoi, who thronged through the streets of Athens in honor of the God.
The ritual can be found on page 267 of Drew’s book: Old stones, New Temples.

valete optime in pace deorum

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The Diasia (Anthesteria 23)

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sun Mar 06, 2005 4:00 pm

The Diasia
Background:
The Diasia was one of the popular festivals in Attika. It honors the God Zeus Meilikhios, which is a Chthonic aspect of the God Zeus. He’s usually depicted as a “paternal seated figure or simply as a snake”. Burkert suggests that his fatherly image “signifies” reconciliation with the dead, just as his name epitomizes the appeasing affect of offerings to the dead. The wealthiest families made burned offerings, while the common people offered cakes in the shape of animals. Burned offerings would be a sacrifice for them. It was a bloodless offering. Its also been suggested by some scholars that honey was also offered to the God. The atmosphere during this festival was cheerful, perhaps as a rustic fair as been suggested by Aristophanes. The festivities were not held in the city, but at the banks of the river Ilissos.
Modern Observances:
As noted in OSNT page 273-275, I shall give a description of how a modern practitioner can celebrate this festival. This festival lends itself particularly to family-based worship. Family and friends gather around a simple altar and offer their cakes to Zeus with prayers for the dead and the well-being of the family. Since whole burnt offerings leave no food left for a feast, the participants may share in a potluck meal of “comfort foods. ” The menu for the feast may ade up of the following items: Pomegranate-Glazed Roasted Eggplant, Leek and Saffron Pilaf, Spring Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Peasant Bread, Dessert Cookies, Honey Rice Pudding.

Quintus
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