Thursday, September 18, 2014

Maetreum of Cybele Pandora's Kharis Boedromion 2014 cause

By unanimous vote, the Maetreum of Cybele is Pandora's Kharis' Boedromion 2014 cause. The Maetreum of Cybele, a Pagan temple and convent located in upstate New York, is a non-profit organisation which has been struggling against the city of Catskill in an ongoing tax-battle.


The Wild Hunt has frequently reported on this issue, and posted a good overview at the end of august:

"The legal issue at hand is if the Maetreum uses its property primarily for religious purposes, which would exempt them from paying property taxes. The Town of Catskill says the group is an “illegitimate religion” and is using the property for residential, rather than religious uses. The Maetreum says the town doesn’t want to “open the floodgates” to other nonprofit groups claiming tax exemptions which deprives the town of tax revenue.
 
Despite the unanimous decision in 2013 by a three judge panel of the Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court favorable to the Maetreum, the Town of Catskill took the unusual step of appealing the ruling to the New York State Court of Appeals. A ruling by the Court of Appeals is expected later this Fall and the Maetrum expects it to uphold the previous decision that the Maetreum is a religious nonprofit and as such is exempt from paying property taxes. Catskill also recently filed charges against the Maetreum for refusing to allow a municipal inspection to look for code violations and a trial is now scheduled for late September. The Maetreum, in an effort to preserve their property rights while the September trail takes place, filed suit against the town’s attempt to use property codes to condemn and foreclose on the property in the Greene County Supreme Court of New York.
 
So far the Maestreum has paid out more than $65,000 in legal fees. The Town of Catskill, the Maestreum estimates, has spent hundreds of thousands. But the town’s deep pockets, Rev. Mother Cathryn Platine says, is how the town plans to win despite their losses in the courtroom, “Rather than being over, we now find ourselves in three legal actions at once. The town dragged the original two legal actions out for years with multiple bullshit motions and now this. The town attorney is known for this tactic against non-profits all over the state. To make it too expensive to keep fighting them.”
 
The town may finally be successful. If the Maetreum can’t raise $10,000 in the next few weeks to cover legal fees for the appeal, the Pagan convent may close."
  
The Maetrum is a Neo-Pagan organisation. It has been running since 1997 and has developed a full theology and method of practice. Their theology starts from the simplest basis:  
 
"That the Divine Feminine principle is the basis of the universe. That all of us, all that we encounter is Her in the aggregate.  We are all the Great Mother learning about Herself.  From this simple beginning springs our organizational models, our rituals, the principles of what we call Wholistic Feminism, our mission of charitable outreach and indeed the way we, as Cybelines, live our lives.  We are sometimes called the 'scholarly Cybelines' because we have invested many years of strict historical research in order to embrace the essence of what proved to be literally the oldest surviving religion in the world.  We embraced the essence and then stepped away from "Pagan Reconstructism" by bringing those essences into the modern world.  We re-introduced to the world a model for Pagan Monasticism.  We've recovered long believed lost principles, our drumming patterns, ritual practices and corrected history.  The world centre of our Religion is in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York at the foot of the Kaaterskill Clove.  Unlike many neo-Pagan groups, we have a "horizontal" organization, our Priestesses all considered equals but also expected to live our religion, dedicate themselves to a live of charitable works and ministry to others according to their strengths.  We welcome all to our services and to visit our first Phrygianum of the modern era.  We do not require anyone to renounce anything to join us."
 
This organisation is in danger of going bankrupt, and we would like to help prevent this from happening. You can now donate to Pandora's Kharis at baring.the.aegis@gmail.com or by clicking the 'donate' button to the side of the Pandora's Kharis page. Thank you in advance for any amount you can spare. It will matter. The deadline to donate is 26 September, 2014.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Antikythera dive sure to pay off

In the ongoing saga of the new dive down to the Antikythera wreck, I am here to report that things look positive in the murky water. The Archaeology News Network reports that the divers and researchers are almost certain that they will make new discoveries.


The Antikythera wreck is a shipwreck from the 2nd quarter of the 1st century BC. It was discovered by sponge divers off Point Glyphadia on the Hellenic island of Antikythera in 1900. The wreck manifested numerous statues, coins and other artefacts dating back to the 4th century BC, as well as the severely corroded remnants of a device that is called the world's oldest known analog computer, the Antikythera mechanism.

I first blogged about the new Antikythera wreck dive when I posted about the brand new exosuit that was going to be used. The cutting-edge diving suit will be worn by U.S. divers who will be able to remain deep underwater for extended periods of time, enabling them to conduct excavations and handle the fragile ancient objects with due care. The 1.5-million-dollar Exosuit was made by the Canadian robotics firm Nuytco Research and comes equipped with a number of features that will allow divers to work at the 120-metre depths for an essentially unlimited period of time, without being at risk from decompression sickness.

As for the goals of the dive: Angeliki Simosi, head of Greece's directorate of underwater antiquities is positive after exploratory dives in the area in 2012 and 2013. She is sure there are dozens of artefacts left in the original wreck, and the archaeologists also hope to confirm the presence of a second ship, some 250 metres away from the original discovery site. All in all, there is a lot left to discover, and the Exosuit will help the archaeologists do that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hellenic mythology 101

Do you know what I dislike more than working a 16 hour day? Exactly, working two in a row with another one ahead. Please forgive me, kind readers, but I need to work and sleep. All I have for you is a video on the Hellenic Gods that I quite enjoyed. I hope you do too.

 
"Greek mythology is the body of myths and teachings that belong to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. It was a part of the religion in ancient Greece. Modern scholars refer to and study the myths in an attempt to throw light on the religious and political institutions of Ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

The oldest known Greek literary sources, Homer's epic poems Iliad and Odyssey focus on events surrounding the aftermath of the Trojan War. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are also preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, and in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.

Archaeological findings provide a principal source of detail about Greek mythology, with gods and heroes featured prominently in the decoration of many artefacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes."


Monday, September 15, 2014

Plutarch on heroes

I'm sorry guys, I literally have no time to write anything for the blog today. Juggling four jobs sucks sometimes. As such, I am going to quote a few interesting bits and pieces from the 'Quaestiones Graecae' by Plutarch. He was a Hellenic historian, biographer, and essayist, who later in his life became a Roman citizen. As such, he was extraordinarily qualified to write two standard works: the 'Quaestiones Graecae' (Αἴτια Ἑλληνικά, or 'Greek Questions'), and the 'Quaestiones Romanae' (Αἴτια Ῥωμαϊκά, or 'Roman Questions'). These essays are part of the book series 'Moralia' (Ἠθικά, loosely translatable as 'Matters relating to customs and mores'), and can be found in book IV of the series. The Greek Questions contain fifty-nine questions, the Roman version hundred-thirteen, and all pertain to matters concerned with their respective culture. Many of the answers are names or customs, and because Plutarch often refers (back) to Hellenic customs, both are extremely valuable for research on ancient Hellenic life. Today, I am focussing on the questions dealing with ancient Hellenic heroes.

27. Why is it that among the Rhodians a herald does not enter the shrine of the hero Ocridion?

"Is it because Ochimus affianced his daughter Cydippê to Ocridion? But Cercaphus, who was the brother of Ochimus, was in love with the maiden and persuaded the herald (for it used to be the custom to use heralds to fetch the brides), when he should receive Cydippê, to bring her to him. When this had been accomplished, Cercaphus fled with the maiden; but later, when Ochimus had grown old, Cercaphus returned to his home again. But the custom became established among the Rhodians that a herald should not approach the shrine of Ocridion because of the wrong that had been done."


28. Why is it that among the inhabitants of Tenedos a flute-player may not enter the shrine of Tenes, nor may anyone mention Achilles' name within the shrine?

"Is it that, when Tenes’ stepmother falsely accused him of wishing to lie with her, Molpus the flute-player bore false witness against him, and because of this it came about that Tenes had to flee to Tenedos with his sister? But as for Achilles, it is said that his mother Thetis straitly forbade him to kill Tenes, since Tenes was honoured by Apollo; and she commissioned one of the servants to be on guard, and to remind Achilles lest he should unwittingly slay Tenes. But when Achilles was overrunning Tenedos and was pursuing Tenes’ sister, who was a beautiful maiden, Tenes met him and defended his sister; and she escaped, though Tenes was slain. When he had fallen, Achilles recognized him, and slew the servant because he had, although present, not reminded him; and he buried Tenes where his shrine now stands and neither does a flute-player enter it nor is Achilles mentioned there by name."

40. Who was the hero Eunostus in Tanagra, and why may no women enter his grove?

"Eunostus was the son of Elieus, who was the son of Cephisus, and Scias. They relate that he acquired his name because he was brought up by the nymph Eunosta. Handsome and righteous as he was, he was no less virtuous and ascetic. They say that Ochnê, his cousin, one of the daughters of Colonus, became enamoured of him; but when Eunostus repulsed her advances and, after upbraiding her, departed to accuse her to her brothers, the maiden forestalled him by doing this very thing against him. She incited her brothers, Echemus, Leon, and Bucolus, to kill Eunostus, saying that he had consorted with her by force. They, accordingly, lay in ambush for the young man and slew him. Then Elieus put them in bonds; but Ochnê repented, and was filled with trepidation and, wishing to free herself from the torments caused by her love, and also feeling pity for her brothers, reported the whole truth to Elieus, and he to Colonus. And when Colonus had given judgement, Ochnê's brothers were banished, and she threw herself from a precipice, as Myrtis, a the lyric poetess of Anthedon, has related.

But the shrine and the grove of Eunostus were so strictly guarded against entry and approach by women that, often, when earthquakes or droughts or other signs from heaven occurred, the people of Tanagra were wont to search diligently and to be greatly concerned lest any woman might have approached the place undetected; and some relate, among them Cleidamus, a man of prominence, that Eunostus met them on his way to the sea to bathe because a woman had set foot within the sacred precinct. And Diodes a also, in his treatise upon the Shrines of Heroes, quotes a decree of the people of Tanagra concerning the matters which Cleidamus reported."


58. Why is it that among the Coans the priest of Heracles at Antimacheia dons a woman's garb, and fastens upon his head a woman's head-dress before he begins the sacrifice?

"Heracles, putting out with his six ships from Troy, encountered a storm; and when his other ships had been destroyed, with the only one remaining he was driven by the gale to Cos. He was cast ashore upon the Laceter, as the place is called, with nothing salvaged save his arms and his men. Now he happened upon some sheep and asked for one ram from the shepherd. This man, whose name was Antagoras, was in the prime of bodily strength, and bade Heracles wrestle with him; if Heracles could throw him, he might carry off the ram. And when Heracles grappled with him, the Meropes came to the aid of Antagoras, and the Greeks to help Heracles, and they were soon engaged in a mighty battle. In the struggle it is said that Heracles, being exhausted by the multitude of his adversaries, fled to the house of a Thracian woman; there, disguising himself in feminine garb, he managed to escape detection. But later, when he had overcome the Meropes in another encounter, and had been purified, he married Chalciopê and assumed a gay-coloured raiment. Wherefore the priest sacrifices on the spot where it came about that the battle was fought, and bridegrooms wear feminine raiment when they welcome their brides."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Exhibition on the Aegean Sea

The Aegean Sea (Αιγαίο Πέλαγος) is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the Greek and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus. The Aegean Islands are within the sea and some bound it on its southern periphery, including Krete and Rhodes. In ancient times, there were various explanations for the name Aegean. It was said to have been named after the Greek town of Aegae, or after Aegea, a queen of the Amazons who died in the sea, or Aigaion, the 'sea goat', or, especially among the Athenians, Aegeus, the father of Theseus, who drowned himself in the sea when he thought his son had died.

In ancient times, the sea was the birthplace of two ancient civilizations–the Minoans of Crete and the Mycenean Civilization of the Peloponnese. Later arose the city-states of Athens and Sparta among many others that constituted the Athenian Empire and Hellenic Civilization. Plato described the Greeks living round the Aegean 'like frogs around a pond'. The Aegean Sea was a major part of ancient Hellenic life, and it is celebrated in an original exhibition titled 'Aegean – Creation of an Archipelago', which is taking place in cooperation with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s Geology and Paleontology Museum and the University of Crete’s Natural History Museum. It has already been shown at the Noesis Science Center and Technology Museum in Thessaloniki and will remain on display in Athens–in an enriched version–through October, before continuing to other venues in Greece and abroad, this reports Ekathimerini.
The exhibition took two years to put together after a more ambitious plan for a show on the birth of the entire Eastern Mediterranean had to be scrapped due to financial constraints.

"The Aegean Sea has a tumultuous history. Long before it became the subject of disputed claims and diplomatic tensions, it was rocked by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, violent weather phenomena and many more dramatic events. The history of how its distinctive archipelago was formed over the course of 20 million-plus years, and how the islands became the cradles of culture and in many cases the fields of great battles, is the subject of an exhibition at the Eugenides Foundation in the southern Athenian suburb of Palaio Faliro.
 
[W]e tend to regard the Earth’s landscapes as being relatively stable, a set for the rise and demise of human civilizations that leave a trace yet lack the power to bring about radical changes. Rivers and marshes are drained, canals forged, forests destroyed and mountains quarried, but the mountain ranges themselves, the islands and the seas are seen as constants, maintaining a sense of the historical continuity of mankind through the passage of time. This sense of permanence is challenged by the “Aegean” exhibition, which illustrates that everything we take for granted had a beginning and, inevitably, an end, shaped by unstoppable geological forces."

At the Eugenides Foundation, the 'Aegean' exhibition is split into three sections. The first goes back to the beginning, telling the story of how Aegeis, a vast landmass that emerged from the Tethys Ocean, emerged from the Tethys and eventually broke up to become the Aegean, explains Zouros. Intense volcanic activity in the region and how this shaped the archipelago through the eons is the subject of the second section, which explains how the still-active volcanoes of Santorini, Nisyros, Methana and Sousaki in Corinthia, which form the Aegean Volcanic Arc, helped shape islands such as Milos, Lemnos, Santorini, Kimolos and Samothraki. The third section explores ecosystems in the region by explaining the evolution of its biodiversity through displays of primal flora and fauna – such as a short-necked giraffe from Chios, a dwarf elephant from Tilos and an early antelope from Samos. The predecessors of modern man are also present in this section in the form of plaster casts of three humanoid skulls.

The exhibition is suitable for adults and children alike, offering two separate approaches: The first focuses on the tangible exhibits and the rich audiovisual material available, while the other is more profound, focusing on the Aegean’s geological history, with texts and a 15-minute informative video. Visitors are encouraged to set aside at least an hour to take in the whole display.

'Aegean: Creation of an Archipelago' will remain on display through October 23. Admission is free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Opening hours are Wednesdays-Fridays 5-8 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. More information is available here. Eugenides Foundation, 387 Syngrou, Palaio Faliro (entrance from 11 Pendelis), tel 210.946.9600.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend

Guys! Guys! You know I am Dutch, right, and that I thus did not grow up with all these awesome kid's shows? And you guys know I love kid's shows, right? So why did no one tell me that there is a Canadian-produced animated television series that was a fixture of CBS' Saturday-morning cartoon line-up and featured retellings of popular Hellenic myths that were altered so as to be appropriate for younger audiences? Because I feel a marathon coming on!

The show is called 'Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend'. From what I can tell, all of the stories told are very.... liberal interpretations of the myths, but that does not make them any less enjoyable to me. There were twenty-six episodes, and at least thirteen can be found on Youtube. I'm going to leave you with a few today and then binge watch all episodes I can find. Please excuse me while I revert to my six year old self. Also, how awesome is that intro?






Friday, September 12, 2014

The Epidauria and the Mysteries

On the ninth of September this year (15 Boedromion), the festival of the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries started. The Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) had festivals throughout the year, which were tied to agriculture through Demeter's refusal to perform her duties as an agricultural Theia while her daughter Persephone is with Hades, and to the afterlife and Underworld through Persephone's return to the surface of the earth after Her mandatory stay with Hades has ended. Initiation ceremonies were held every year at Eleusis. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, the mysteries at Eleusis are assumed to be of great importance to a large portion of the ancient Hellens. The cult itself likely has origins dating back to the Mycenean period of around 1600 to 1100 BC, and it is believed that the cult of Demeter Herself was established in 1500 BC.

The Eleusinian mysteries consist mostly of two festivals, but the worship of Demeter and Persephone consist of a cycle of seven festivals: the Greater Mysteries (13-23 Boedromion), Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), Haloa (26 Poseideon), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion),  and the Skiraphoria (12 Skirophorion). These are placed in sequence of the Athenian year. Sunset yesterday (or today, depending on the source) marked a special event during the Greater Mysteries, however: the Epidauria.

The Epidauria was a festival of Asklēpiós placed smack in the middle of the Mysteries--exactly six months after the other major festival of Asklēpiós in Athens: the one during the Greater Dionysia. The day was named after Asklēpiós' healing centre to the south at Epidauros. It was said that on this day, the cult of Asklepios and Hygeia joined the Eleusinian Mysteries rites in Athens.

What, exactly, happened during the Epidauria is unclear as discussing the rites that took place at Eleusis carried a death sentence, but I think we can safely say that the rites at Eleusis involving Asklēpiós were most likely similar to the rites to Asklēpiós that took place at other places--including Epidauros. What we do know is that the evening rites of sacrifices were held at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple in Athens to honour Asklēpiós, His daughter Hygeia, and Demeter and Persephone, who also were revered as healing deities. Special blessings were invoked for doctors and healers, and perhaps healing practices were offered at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple.

Then started the part that we have to guestimate by way of other practices involving Asklēpiós. Asklēpiós' worship almost always included a 'night watch'; a night time period of meditation and contemplation at a temple to Asklēpiós; the Asklepion. the initiates would most likely sit, contemplate, and cleanse themselves of ailments, distress, and anything that might distract them form the proceedings to follow. The temple of Asklēpiós was built near the enclosure of a sacred spring in a small cave and it included an abaton, a sleeping hall sacred to Asklēpiós where initiates could sleep while watched over by priests of Asklēpiós who prayed to Asklēpiós to visit these initiates in their sleep and give them messages intended to heal and cleanse. The following morning, initiates would tell their dream to a priest of Asklēpiós or Hygeia, called 'therapeutes'. The initiate would then be encouraged to put the advice he or she had gotten into practice.

The Epidauria took place as a preparatory intermezzo: afterwards, the initiates were cleaned and focussed, ready to be drawn further into the Mysteries. As these proceedings took place late at night, a certain lack of sleep might also occur, leaving the initiates more susceptible to the coming proceedings. Whatever the case, the initiates would soon be enveloped in the hectic but highly ritualized proceedings of the Mysteries, and likely feel far more ready--and worthy--to face them.