Saturday, September 5, 2015

John Keats - To Sleep

Sorry guys, managed to trigger my intolerances again and it's all pain and discomfort. Poetry blogging it is. Today, I turn to one of my favourite poets agian: John Keats 31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821). He was an English Romantic poet and one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite his work having been in publication for only four years before his death. He very frequently used Greek mythology as a theme in his work, and used in this poem as well.

'To Sleep' summons images of Hypnos (Ὕπνος), the God of sleep. Dreams (Oneiroi - Ὄνειροι) are sons of Hypnos, sent by Zeus, and delivered by Hermes, but Hypnos is the one who lets us fall asleep. According to myth, Hypnos lives underneath one of the Greek islands, hidden away in a cave without doors. The entrance is overrun by poppies and other hypnogogic plants. The river Lethe--the river of forgetfulness--runs through the cave. Morpheus (Μορφεύς), the leader of the Oneiroi and God of dreams, stands guard to assure none wake Hypnos.

O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the "Amen," ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,—
Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.

Friday, September 4, 2015

PAT ritual announcements: The Heroines and Hera Telkhinia

A little short notice, but today and Saturday, we will hold a PAT ritual for two sacrifices originally performed at Erkhia. These were a sacrifice to the Heroines and Hera Telkhinia. Will you be joining us today at 10 AM EDT, and Saturday at the same time?

PAT ritual for the Heroines
The ancient Erkhians honoured the Heroines twice a year, once on the 19th of Metageitnion, and once on the 14th of Pyanepsion. Now, the 19th was actualy yesterday. We were going to hold these two sacrifices together, at the same time, but we reconsidered at the last moment because we felt the nature of these sacrifices did not go together after all. We apologize.

Now, the Heroines! Certain heroines--like Basile--were worshipped separately from the group as well, most likely because they were local heroines instead of universally accepted heroines like Atalanta, who hunted the Calydonian boar, slew Centaurs, defeated Peleus in wrestling, or Kallisto, who was an Arcadian princess and hunting companion of the Goddess Artemis. The Heroines recieved a white sheep in sacrifice, of which the meat was partly sacrificed and partly eaten by those who came out to sacrifice. The skin of the animal went towards the priestess.

Heroes and heroines have a special place in Hellenismos, as they had in ancient Hellas. These were humans--most with at least a part divine heritage--who were considered so brave, so skillful, so extraordinary in their lifetime that they became revered. Some were priests or priestesses of a temple, some excelled in battle, others were skilled healers or good rulers. Once they passed to the realm of Hades, their names were remembered at least once a year on a special ocassion, because the ancient Hellenes believed that if the name and deeds of a person were remembered, they would live forever and potentially look out for those they had looked out for before.

Archeological evidence suggests that hero worship was closer to Khthonic sacrifices in execution than Ouranic ones the further back in time you go; especially in the archaic period, it seems that hero worship consisted of destructive sacrifices--sometimes in the form of a holókaustos where the entire animal was burned, sometimes in a sacrifice where only a part (most often 'a ninth' of the animal) was burned and the rest remained on the altar for the heroes to eat from until gone. The scrifices were generally burned in an offering pit known as a bothros. The food offered to heroes consisted of meat, blood, and 'food eaten by men' like grains, fruits and other every-day dishes. These were usually offered to the heroes on a table--known as a trapeza--and the heroes were sometimes offered chairs or a bench to sit on. As time went on, the living began to eat part of the meal laid out for the heroes, joining them in celebration.

You can find the ritual here, and join our community page here. We have added some of the other main Hellenic Goddesses to the ritual as well. Feel free to add more of our Goddesses and heroines to your own ritual, especially if you feel close to Them! This ritual will be a celebration of the feminine power in our religion!

PAT ritual for Hera Telkhinia
Two days after, the 21th, Hera Telkhinia was honoured. Hera Telkhinia (and Apollon Telchinios) were revered by the mythic Telkhines, masters of storms, at Rhodes. Hera Telkhinia is She who brings bountiful rains, and it is She who is prayed to in order to minimize their damage and a quick passing, if it cannot be directed away. Diodorus Siculus, in his 'Library of History' notes the following about the Telkhines:

"The island which is called Rhodes was first inhabited by the people who were known as Telchines; these were children of Thalatta, as the mythical tradition tells us, and the myth relates that they, together with Capheira, the daughter of Oceanus, nurtured Poseidon, whom Rhea had committed as a babe to their care. And we are told that they were also the discoverers of certain arts and that they introduced other things which are useful for the life of mankind. They were also the first, men say, to fashion statues of gods, and some of the ancient images of gods have been named after them; so, for example, among the Lindians there is an "Apollo Telchinius," as it is called, among the Ialysians a Hera and Nymphae, both called "Telchinian," and among the Cameirans a "Hera Telchinia." And men say that the Telchines were also wizards and could summon clouds and rain and hail at their will and likewise could even bring snow; these things, the accounts tell us, they could do even as could the Magi of Persia; and they could also change their natural shapes and were jealous of teaching their arts to others.

Poseidon, the myth continues, when he had grown to manhood, became enamoured of Halia, the sister of the Telchines, and lying with her he begat six male children and one daughter, called Rhodos, after whom the island was named. And at this period in the eastern parts of the island there sprung up the Giants, as they were called; and at the time when Zeus is said to have subdued the Titans, he became enamoured of one of the nymphs, Himalia by name, and begat by her three sons, Spartaeus, Cronius, and Cytus. And while these were still young men, Aphroditê, they say, as she was journeying from Cytherae to Cyprus and dropped anchor near Rhodes, was prevented from stopping there by the sons of Poseidon, who were arrogant and insolent men; whereupon the goddess, in her wrath, brought a madness upon them, and they lay with their mother against her will and committed many acts of violence upon the natives. But when Poseidon learned of what had happened he buried his sons beneath the earth, because of their shameful deed, and men called them the "Eastern Demons"; and Halia cast herself into the sea, and she was afterwards given the name of Leucothea and attained to immortal honour in the eyes of the natives.

At a later time, the myth continues, the Telchines, perceiving in advance the flood that was going to come, forsook the island and were scattered. Of their number Lycus went to Lycia and dedicated there beside the Xanthus river a temple of Apollo Lycius. And when the flood came the rest of the inhabitants perished, — and since the waters, because of the abundant rains, overflowed the island, its level parts were turned into stagnant pools — but a few fled for refuge to the upper regions of the island and were saved, the sons of Zeus being among their number. Helius, the myth tells us, becoming enamoured of Rhodos, named the island Rhodes after her and caused the water which had overflowed it to disappear. But the true explanation is that, while in the first forming of the world the island was still like mud and soft, the sun dried up the larger part of its wetness and filled the land with living creatures, and there came into being the Heliadae, who were named after him, seven in number, and other peoples who were, like them, sprung from the land itself. In consequence of these events the p251island was considered to be sacred to Helius, and the Rhodians of later times made it their practice to honour Helius above all the other gods, as the ancestor and founder from whom they were descended. His seven sons were Ochimus, Cercaphus, Macar, Actis, Tenages, Triopas, and Candalus, and there was one daughter, Electryonê, who quit this life while still a maiden and attained at the hands of the Rhodians to honours like those accorded to the heroes. And when the Heliadae attained to manhood they were told by Helius that the first people to offer sacrifices to Athena would ever enjoy the presence of the goddess; and the same thing, we are told, was disclosed by him to the inhabitants of Attica. 6 Consequently, men say, the Heliadae, forgetting in their haste to put fire beneath the victims, nevertheless laid them on the altars at the time, whereas Cecrops, who was king at the time of the Athenians, performed the sacrifice over fire, but later than the Heliadae. This is the reason, men say, why the peculiar practice as regards the manner of sacrificing persists in Rhodes to this day, and why the goddess has her seat on the island." [55]
The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here, and you can join our community page here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I weep

No, they are not remantts of the ancient Hellenic world. No, these are not the temple complexes of my Gods--but they are the temple complexes of someone's Gods and cultural heritage. Recently, satalite images were released of the destroyed temple of Bel, the most important site in Palmyra, and the temple of Baalshamin. These unique treasures, which had stood in the Syrian desert for over 2000 years are now lost to us forever due to the destructive actions of Islam extremists in the ISIS movement. So, this post is not Hellenic, but I don't care. This is a homage to these temples and the many other wolrd heritage sites already destroyed.

Satellite images show that only rubble remains at the site
of the Temple of Bel in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra.

Those are satalite images of the after and before, clearly showing this temple complex has been wiped off the map--literally. Known as the Pearl of the Desert, Palmyra – which means City of Palms – lies 210km (130 miles) north-east of Damascus. Before the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, more than 150,000 tourists visited Palmyra every year. Palmyra was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world, according to cultural agency UNESCO, which has described it as the crossroads of several civilizations.

Construction on the temple began in 32BC and ended in the second century. It later served as a church and a mosque. This used to be one of the best preserved Roman-era sites in the Syrian city of Palmyra.

This image provided by Airbus Defense and Space, shows that
the temple of Baalshamin was also destroyed by the Islamic State.

The grainy images show that the famed temple of Baalshamin, considered the second-most significant in ancient Palmyra, was also levelled. Militants from the Islamic State set off explosions at the 2000 year old temple dedicated to the Canaanite sky deity Baalshamin. The temple's earliest phase dates to the late 2nd century BC. It was rebuilt in 131 AD, while the altar before the temple is dated to 115 AD. With the advent of Christianity in the 5th century AD, the temple was converted to a church. Uncovered by Swiss archaeologists in 1954–56, the temple was one of the most complete ancient structures in Palmyra.
The temple stood right next to th Roman amphitheater where the Islamic State held a mass execution, killing 25 prisoners. On top of that, last month Islamic State beheaded the guardian of Palmyra's ruins, Khaled al-Asaad, an 82-year-old Syrian archaeologist who had looked after the site for more than four decades, and hung his body in public. Here is my homage to him, a man who has all my respect. May his name never be forgotten!Him and that of all others who have been murdered by ISIS.

Khaled al-Asaad

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ancient well identified as Apollon divination site in Athens

Keramikos (Greek: Κεραμεικός), formerly known by its Latinized form Ceramicus, is an area of Athens, Greece, located to the northwest of the Acropolis, which includes an extensive area both within and outside the ancient city walls, on both sides of the Dipylon (Δίπυλον) Gate and by the banks of the Eridanos River. It was the potters' quarter of the city, from which the English word 'ceramic' is derived, and was also the site of an important cemetery and numerous funerary sculptures erected along the road out of the city towards Eleusis.

It was originally an area of marshland along the banks of the Eridanos river which was used as a cemetery as long ago as the 3rd millennium BC. It became the site of an organised cemetery from about 1200 BC; numerous cist graves and burial offerings from the period have been discovered by archaeologists. The cemetery was also where the Ηiera Hodos (the Sacred Way, i.e. the road to Eleusis) began, along which the procession moved for the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Archaeological excavations in the Kerameikos began in 1870 under the auspices of the Greek Archaeological Society. They have continued from 1913 to the present day under the German Archaeological Institute at Athens. Now, on friday, the Greek Culture Ministry announced a significant find at the archaeological site: a well probably used for hydromancy rituals. The well was revealed when archaeologists overturned a marble stone and it bore an inscription on the walls addressed to Apollo, the ancient Greek god of phrophecy and was probably used for divination in early Roman times, as the lettering suggests.

The ancient Greek phrase “ΕΛΘΕ ΜΟΙ Ω ΠΑΙΑΝ ΦΕΡΩΝ ΤΟ ΜΑΝΤΕΙΟΝ ΑΛΗΘΕC” as well as about twenty other pieces of writings have been found on the mouth of the well previously solely attributed to either Artemis of Hekate. The invocation phrase seems to have been addressed to Apollon, however, and it identifies the spot as the first and unique Apollon divination site in Athens, confirming the worshipping of the ancient God along with his sister Artemis and restoring the accurate interpretation of the site as a shrine.

The excavation was carried out under the direction of Dr Jutta Stroszeck from the German Archaeological Institute and the supervision of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A country for all...

Yesterday there was a local gathering to protest the deportation of two refugee children and their family back to Angola. Their green card request had been denied previously, but in response to the protest, mother and children were approved for cirizenship. Dad, who has been acused of war crimes simply for paking part of mandatory military service, is still to be deported.

Over the last few years, our immigration and refugee policies have been gettin stricter. Our political lanscape is slipping to the right when it comes to these matters and the influx of African refugeees into Europe has made the acceptance of refugees even worse than it has been. To me, it's shameful. I believe everyone is entitled to aid and safety, especially if they are risking life and limb to escape the atrocities of their homeland. We have plenty, we can share. And if we give these refugees the tools and opportunities to fit in, they can become some of our most valued citizens. That's how it was in ancient Athens, after all!

Ancient Hellenic society was notoriously strict about who was part of it and who was not. If you were not a citizen, you were either a doûlos--slave--or a métoikos, more commonly referred to as 'metic'. All three classes had their parts to play in Classical Hellas. In Athens, about half of the population were doûlos and métoikos. Métoikos were citizens of other Hellenic cities and beyond who came to Athens because of the unique opportunities the metropolis offered. Doûlos who bought their freedom also became métoikos. Because of their skill sets, métoikos were welcomed with open arms in Athens, but they very rarely became neutralized citizens; the best they could hope for was to become an isoteleia. As an isoteleia, they were freed from the liabilities the métoikos had. Former slaves never received either status; isoteleia or citizen.

Many famous contributors to Athenian culture and Hellenic history--like the philosopher Aristotle and the painter Polygnotos--were not Athenian citizens. Many builders of temples, as well as some of the richest businessmen and women weren't Athenian citizens. Egyptians, Cypriots and Phoenicians, all came to Athens and founded their own districts, with temples in which they could pray to their own Gods. It were the doûlos who were entrusted with the money trade, and all métoikos were welcomed to become doctors, teachers, or any other very important profession.

I want these ideas to become more prevalent again. Not as slaves or lesser inhabitants, but to give these people who are looking for safety and opportunities the chance to truly add to the country they journey to in their desperation. They want to, we need them to, and sadly we do not give them the opportunity. These two children--18 and 13--now have a chance to fullfil their potential. The eldest has already secured a scholarship for university and her brother is doing very well in school as well. They will be wonderful additions to our workorce one day and we would have been without them if the governement had, indeed, deported them. We still have a lot to learn from ancient Hellas, I fear, but at least common sense and kindness has prevailed in this case!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Inaugural Onassis Festival in NYC

It's a little early, but everyone might want to plan their October accordingly! The NYTimes’ 'ArtBeat' column this week highlighted the inaugural Onassis Festival of New York, which will run from Oct. 8 to Oct. 11 under the title 'Narcissus Now: The Myth Reimagined', thus reports Protothema.

Hosted by the Manhattan-based Onassis Cultural Center, more than 40 free events, including dance, music, film, visual art, lectures and talks, site-specific installation and a walking tour of Midtown, will be included. The inspiration for these events is the myth of Narcissus, which the center described in a statement as 'the defining allegory of the postmodern age' and 'an emblematic example of the unparalleled influence of classical antiquity on our culture'. Most events will take place at the center’s newly renovated space in the Olympic Tower, off Fifth Avenue.

Participating artists include choreographer Jonah Bokaer, dance historian Jennifer Homans, actor Paul Giamatti, fashion designers Mary Katrantzou and Narciso Rodriguez, composer Stavros Gasparatos, journalist Vanessa Grigoriadis and artist Jenny Holzer.

According to Amalia Cosmetatou, the executive and cultural director of the Onassis Foundation in America, the annual event will offer opportunities for Greek and American artists to work together on commissioned projects, and 'to explore how Hellenic culture inspires the creative arts and informs our lives'.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

PAT ritual announcement: the Kourotrophos

Yes, once more, beginning at sundown on the 29th of August, the Kourotrophos (child nurturers) were honoured. This time, we know from the Arkhian calendar that the focus of this sacrifice were Artemis and Hekate. Elaion will be organizing another Practicing Apart Together ritual for this event in the daylight hours of the 20th of August, and you can join us here.

The Kourotrophos are (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. This specific offering is known from the demos Erkhia (or Erchia), but duplicates similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens.

In this ritual, we honor Artemis and Hekate. Artemis is named Kourotrophos by Diodorus Siculus, a Hellenic historian, in book five of his library:

"And Artemis, we are told, discovered how to effect the healing of young children and the foods which are suitable to the nature of babes, this being the reason why she is also called Kourotrophos." [5.73.5]

Hesiod, in his 'Theogony', explains why Hekate is Kourotrophos:

"So, then. albeit her mother's only child, she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Kronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Eos (Dawn). So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young (kourotrophos), and these are her honours." [404]
You can find the ritual here. The festival will be held on the 30rd of August, at 10 AM EDT, and we would love to have you join.