After the quiet month of Maimakterion, Poseideon brings with it a slew of festivals. We'll start on Monday, december 5th with the Plerosia. Will you be joining us at 10 AM EST? If you are a woman that is; it seems the Plerosia was a women-only festival.


The Plerosia is a non-Athenian festival. As such, the details of the celebration are somewhat vague. So we extrapolate from the placement of the festival and the little information we have. What we know for sure is that Zeus was worshipped, and that it's often linked to the Proerosia. As such, we can assume Demeter was also honoured, and that it was a harvest festival of sorts--the name translates roughly to 'festival of completion'. This is where the assumptions begin, but we get an extra hint of the intended purpose of the festival because of Zeus' inclusion and the name of the festival.

Poseideon marks the end of the harvesting season, as well as the trading season. The majority of the work is done. Now it's time to return home, take stock, and stay warm. It's a time to thank the Theoi for all that has been recieved and all that will get us through the winter. The word ‘plerosis’ means fulfillment, satiated, filled, and implies banqueting and celebration of the bounty of the season that is ending. This is also the spirit we have tried to capture in the ritual.

As a separate--and very important--note: the Plerosia seems to have been a women-only festival, like the Skira(phoria) and the Thesmophoria. We're not sure this is correct, but we'll go with it anyway. Once reason I could think of is that now the winter is upon us, we turn to the domain of the women: the house(hold). As such, it is her prerogative to thank the Gods for the food she can feed her family with.
 
The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here, and you can join our community page here. We hope you will join us in celebrating this joyous event.
We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for the restauration of the ancient theatre of Cassope! Together, they have raised $ 80,- to help support this very worthy cause.

 

The Grand Theatre of Cassope is located in the ruined hill northwest of cassope. It was constructed in the 3rd century BC and had a capacity of about 2,500 people. According to some authors it could accommodate 6,000 people. It was the largest of a total of two theaters that existed in the city. The other, called the Conservatory of distinction, could seat 300 to 500 people. The large theater is now largely destroyed due to natural decay and is nearly inaccessible. This is about to change, though.

The act4Greece program is run by National Bank of Greece, with strategic partners including the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, the John S. Latsis Foundation, the Bodossaki Foundation, the Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO, and the Hellenic Network for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Diazoma, a citizens’ group that works to protect and promote Greece’s ancient monuments, recently came up with a proposal to include the Cassope theatre in the act4greece program – an idea that received the green light from National Bank. The target is set at 80,000 euros, and it must be reached by December 31. They are currently not even half way there, but we have hope!

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community. Please pitch your cause before December 10th. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
  • I have had no life. sorry, very few changes
  • By the way, next month the number dates of the modern and ancient calendars will be exactly the same; Poseideon 1 is December 1; very rare!
Statistics:
PAT rituals for Poseideon:
  • 5/12 - Poseideon 5 - Plerosiafestival at Attic deme of Myrrhinus
  • 10/12 - Poseideon 10 - Rustic or Lesser Dionysia in honor of Dionysos
  • 16/12 - Poseideon 16 -  Sacrifice to Zeus Horios at Erkhia
  • 21/12 - Poseideon 21 - Poseidea - festival in honor of Poseidon
  • 26/12 - Poseideon 26 - Haloa - fertility festival in honor of Dionysos and Demeter
Anything else?
Act4Greece has become Pandora's Kharis' cause for Maimakteria 2016. The money will go towards the crowdfunded restauration of the ancient theatre of Cassope, in the region of Epirus. The Grand Theatre of Cassope is located in the ruined hill northwest of cassope. It was constructed in the 3rd century BC and had a capacity of about 2,500 people. According to some authors it could accommodate 6,000 people. It was the largest of a total of two theaters that existed in the city. The other, called the Conservatory of distinction, could seat 300 to 500 people. The large theater is now largely destroyed due to natural decay and is nearly inaccessible. This is about to change, though.
The deadline to donate is November 30th, 2016. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
I wasn't going to write more about the Terracotta Warriors of China and the recently formed theory that the 8,000 statues may have been crafted under the guidance of ancient Hellenic sculptors in 3rd Century BC. I reported on it, then on the subsequent row that formed in China and by global archaeologists alike. that was enough, as far as I was concerned, seeing as it's not exactly of interest to the modern Hellenist. It's just my inner history nerd that finds this interesting.

And then Heritage Daily wrote a background piece about this affair and darn it, it makes a few points that I do want people to read. Points that are of interest to the modern Hellenist because they speak to something that I encounter a lot: the glorification of ancient Hellas. I would like you to read the full article, but I am going to copy into this post the parts that jumped out at me.

"For centuries, archaeologists and art historians have been eager to see the imprint of the Greeks in works of art and architecture throughout the world. But this view rests on a Eurocentric logic which has long assumed other civilizations were fundamentally incapable of creating highly technical, impressive and aesthetically pleasing works of art.
 
In the West, classical Greek art and architecture is often presented as a singular achievement. The Greeks are credited with the invention of forms and techniques that were leaps and bounds ahead of their contemporaries. [...] Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, explorers and anthropologists [also] explained exotic foreign customs through a lens of Greek traditions. Likewise, travelers and archaeologists often fell back on theories of direct outside influence. How else could they explain sophisticated artistic techniques and engineering genius among “primitive” societies?
 
Whenever we say the cultural achievements of other societies are due to geographically remote – but familiar – genius and inspiration, there’s a cost. [...] It makes us forget the diversity of places that many look to for inspiration and validation. Erased are ideas of origins and narratives of belonging."

Ancient Hellenic culture produced many great thinkers, scientists and builders. There can be no debate about that. What can be debated, though, is that modern civilization started with them. When ancient Hellas was forming, the Egyptian empire had already largely formed and had made great advances in many fields of science, including medicine. By 1550 BC--long before Hypocrates--they had grasped the basics of medicine in examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. In the ancient Near East they were working on mathemetical laws millennia before Pythagoras became famous for them. And we're not even talking about the truly basic formation of civilization that started from at least 7000 BC on with the formation of a written script, the domestication of plants and animals and the fundamentals of astronmy and alchemy.

I am facinated with ancient Hellas and there is no denying that we have much to be grateful for when it comes to them. Astronomy, medicine, physics, biology, geology--the ancient Hellenes greatly furthered the research into all fields of science. But that is exactly what they did: they furthered it. And civilizations that rose after them furthered that knowledge even more until we end up where we are today.They did not rise to greatness in a vacuum. Many civilizations already existed, mixed and built with them. Not everything is Hellenic--and the ancient Hellenes don't have the basic and sole right to all advances in these fields. Great minds arose everywhere--that's what humanity does. that they came to simplar conclusions and had similar ideas is not unthinkable--and actually quite probable. It's the mixing of cultures we should be interested in, not in claiming victories for a sole people.
For those to whom it may be of interest: Cornell University in collaboration with research network ZOOMATHIA are looking for contributions to a conference on depictions and descriptions of animals in ancient Hellas, Rome and beyond. th deadline to submit is Wednesday, February 1, 2017.


Cornell University, Ithaca NY – September 8-10, 2017

Greek and Roman culture is replete with verbal and visual descriptions and depictions of animals, from Herodotus’ gold-digging ants or Pliny’s bestiary to Greek vase painting or the decoration of Roman houses and gardens. Research on ancient zoological knowledge has traditionally centered on identifying animal species in texts and images, determining the various sources of such knowledge, and relating these inquiries to their broader socio-historical and philosophical contexts. While these approaches can be fruitful, they often operate on the assumption that verbal and pictorial testimonies always record and illustrate specific information, echoing concrete ancient zoological knowledge.

This conference takes a decisively different approach.  We propose to consider depictions and descriptions of animals as methods of inquiry in and of themselves, rather than illustrations of knowledge ex post facto. Thus, for instance, Aristotle’s account of gregarious animals at the start of Historia Animalium may serve as a mode of understanding humans’ position within the animal world, rather than an account of ancient discoveries. In addition, ancient zoographers’ views might have been shaped by encounters with animals in contexts and media other than 'scientific' study or simple observation in nature. In this sense, do we seek to consider visual and textual sources as creative and active modes of representation and thereby forms of knowledge production, rather than reflections of it.

Contributions may focus on a single ancient description or depiction of an animal, or on a group of cases.  We particularly welcome contributions that engage with cognitive or media studies in their approach to texts or images;. And we also encourage contributors to think aboutconsider how ways in which ancient and medieval European zoological knowledge was produced differently from that in other times or areasof other cultures.

Papers Submissions may address the following questions:
- How do ancient descriptions and depictions of animals work as forms of inquiry to produce knowledge? 
- How do visual and verbal studies of animals interact with each other?
- How do descriptions and depictions of animals reflect human observation and experience?
- How do rhetorical images or metaphors work function as methods of inquiry?
- How do common knowledge vs. specialized inquiry influence depiction and description?
- (How) do sources distinguish between mythical and real animals?
- If depiction and description of animals create knowledge, do they shape literary or artistic styles? How do they relate to concepts of aesthetics and rhetoric?
- How do shifts in historical and cultural context affect animal description and depiction?
- What is the reception of famous depictions or descriptions (e.g. Herodotus' crocodile, Aristotle’s elephant, Myron’s cow?)

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words by February 1, 2017 to the conference organizers: Annetta Alexandridis (aa376@cornell.edu) and Athena Kirk (aek238@cornell.edu).
One of the most frequently heard frustrations about sacrifice in Hellenismos (at least from what I hear) is how to pour wine into your libation vessel (or fire) without making the darn fire go out. Trust me, I have been there! Just like with my incenese burning hack, though, I have found a solution: a pouring spout. Sometimes things are obvious.

Perhaps you have been doing this forever. Perhaps, like me for years, you've been pouring from a wine bottle and spilling wine all over the place--including pouring far too much into the bowl. Well, no more. They are cheap, simple and super easy to use so happy pouring!




Poseideon is the sixth month of the Hellenic calendar and we are slowly moving towards it. Poseideon is a special month; it was the month that would have been repeated (in a minor way) should the ancient calendar not line up with the phases of the moon (whch it didn't, after a while). You can read more about that here as it is beyond the scope of this post. What I would like to talk to you about today is the divine triad that oversaw Poseideon (the quartet, actually, but we'll get to that) and its significance.

Poseideon was ruled by Poseidon (honoured during the Poseideia), Zeus (during the Plerosia and a seperate sacrifice to Zeus Horios) and Dionysos (during the Lesser Dionysia and secondarily during the Haloa). Poseideon is the first true winter month; the first harvest was over, seafaring had ceased and thus war had come to an end. The focus was on the home and preparation for true, deep winter: the weather turned and the crops needed protecting. Because of this, it was also a month of threat; if the crops failed, if the seas became too rough when a daring fisherman was out on it, or if a river went out of bounds and flooded a well populated area there would be death.

I get on my soapbox a lot on my blog. One of my main points is that everything is connected in the ancient Hellenic religion. That everything was constructed the way it was for a reason; the pantheon, the calendar, the festivals, the way festivals were celebrated--if you spend time to sort out the why, you will discover it's all part of an intricate web that formed an entire civilization. Nothing--absolutely nothing--in our religion and in the ancient civilization it was formed in ended up in it by accident. We have lost a lot of knowledge and understanding of this society but we can try to piece things together if we put in the effort. So today I will put in a little effort to explain why Poseideon was ruled by Poseidon, Zeus and Dionysos. And why it mattered that it were Them.

During the Poseideia, Poseidon as savior of ships, protector of those who voyage in ships, and God of the lapping waters both salt and fresh important for agriculture, is thanked for the many gifts that came from faraway places that were likely given at that time. The immense trade and distribution was nearly all through shipping, relatively little overland, whether it be perfume from Cyprus or pottery from Corinth. One of Poseidon’s epithets is prosklystios, 'of the lapping water'. He is also invoked as Poseidon phytalmios which implies natural fertility and human procreation.

The Plerosia is a harvest festival of sorts. It was held to honour Zeus but presumably als Demeter. Poseideon marks the time to return home, take stock, and stay warm. It's a time to thank the Theoi for all that has been recieved and all that will get us through the winter. The word ‘plerosis’ means fulfillment, satiated, filled. Important note: the Plerosia seems to have been a women-only festival, perhaps because now that winter is upon us, we turn to the domain of the women: the house(hold). As such, it is her prerogative to thank the Gods for the food she can feed her family with.

The lesser Dionysia, a vintage festival, was celebrated in the various demes of Attica in the month of Poseideon. It was probably a very ancient festival, perhaps not originally associated with Dionysos. The Dionysia was a time when classes came together in order to celebrate their shared origins in the natural world; it was a vintage festifal for all.

The Haloa was held in honor of Demeter, Dionysos and a little bit in honor of Persephone. Like all festivals of Demeter and Persephone's 'Kore' persona, women were the only ones who were allowed to handle the religious and sacrificial side of it. The Haloa is assumed to be a celebration of the pruning of the vines and the tasting of the wine after its first fermentation, or it may be to encourage the growth of corn from the seed.

A few links between Poseidon, Zeus and Dionysos are clear instantly from the descriptions of these festivals. Poseidon and Dionysos are linked through water--moisture, actually. Plutarch already noted that Dionysos was a God of moisture--in particular the moisture associated with life and vigour as can be seen in plants and trees and most telling in the wine produced from the fruits of the vine. Poseidon is all but the personification of water of all kinds. Furthermore, one of the epithets of Dionysos is Dendrites, ‘of the trees’, connects him to branching life. The tree was similarly a metaphor for rivers whose branching nature was morphologically similar. This links Dionysos to Poseidon even more.

And what of Poseidon and Zeus? Poseidon is the brother of Zeus and Hades, and together they form a triumvirate who represents the dominion of the sea, the sky and the underworld respectively. In Hellenic mythology, the underworld is seen as an exact mirror and equally valid version of the ‘celestial’ world. In other words: Zeus is Hades inverted and Poseidon is the synthesis of both. Dionysos therefore unifieds these god-themes and manifested them in the mundane world.

This brings us to Hades, the fourth member of this triad. He is worshipped too, just not directly--never directly. the ancient Hellenes very rarely honoured Hades, not even Plouton, His ouranic epithet. But Hades' influence was most definitely felt; he's the third of the triumvirate, He is prevalent in the threat of death that hangs over the month and He is appeased though a medium who is perhaps unlikely: Demeter.

Mythological and epithological links exist between Demeter and Hades. Hades was celebrated as an important divine figure in the Eleusinian Mysteries. The seasonal drama of nature was said to depend on her annual passage into the underworld in the depths of winter when fruitfulness and vegetation dies back. Through Kore (Persephone) Hades and Demeter rule over the harvest. Hades takes and Demeter gives--or more accurately: Hades causes Demeter to take instead of give. In praying for fruitfulness of the earth to Demeter, it is also Hades who is spoen to and appeased, which makes Him an unofficial member of the triad (this is likewise true for Demeter and even Kore/Persephone).

To compelete the circle, Dionysos and Demeter are worshipped together during the Haloa, which drives home the agricultural ties all these five deities have  and the way they link to the mundane issues of this time of year; Demeter and Hades (Plouton) through the fruitful earth (underworld), Zeus through mild weather (sky) and Poseidon and Dionysos through sweet water (the intermediate). Because of Their links and domains, it can be only these deities that govern Poseideon.