# Friday, October 07, 2011
Our next event is our Harvest Celebration, incorporating elements of Pyanepsia and Oskhophora and the festival of Demeter, and it will be held on Saturday, October 15 starting at 3 pm. The location is a private house in North York near Sheppard and Bathurst.  RSVP to Stephanie (stphgryyy at gmail dot com) and request the address and directions.  This is a pot luck featuring vegetarian and dairy foods, so let Stephanie know what you're bringing. We will provide the panspermia (bean stew) that was traditionally eaten at the Pyanepsia.

posted on Friday, October 07, 2011 11:23:42 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beginning at sundown on Wednesday the 28th of September 2011, we celebrate the month of Pyanepsion, which is the fourth month of the third year of the 697th Olympiad. The month is named for the festival of Pyanepsia, which refers to the bean dish eaten on that occasion.

Proerosia– 6th Pyanepsion (from sundown on the 3rd October). The Proerosia was held with great pomp in honour of Demeter and was held at Eleusis, site of the Great Mysteries. The Proerosia, though technically about the things to be done “before ploughing”, was actually a harvest festival, in which the main offering was from the “first fruits of the cereals”. The offerings to Demeter were made to invoke her blessing on the ploughing and seeding to come.

Pyanepsia – 7th Pyanepsion (from sundown on the 4th of October), the Pyanepsia was celebrated in honour of Apollon. The Pyanepsia festival derives its name from a stew of boiled beans and other leguminous vegetables. Pyanepsia refers to the mixture of beans boiled together by the crew of the ship and the youths who were brought back safely by Theseus. They put the mixture of beans, which was all they had left of their provisions, into a common pot and after making an offering of them to Apollon feasted upon the rest. It is also an offering that is ritually sown with prayers that the next harvest may be bountiful. At this feast the ancients also carried the “eiresione,” which is a bough of olive wreathed with wool, such as Theseus used at the time of his supplication, and laden with all sorts of fruit-offerings, to signify that scarcity was at an end.

Theseia – 8th Pyanepsion (from sundown on the 5th of October). The Theseia on the day following Pyanepsia and Oskhophoria the return of the (alleged) bones of Theseus to Athens from their original burial place on the island of Skyros, as ordained by the Delphic oracle. The Athenians created a temenos near the agora (and likely near the temple of Hephaistos) to re-inter the remains and instituted a festival in 475 BCE to honour the state hero. The observance became a major festival with a procession, athletic games and consumption of meat sacrifices. Another distinctive feature of this festival was the serving of athara, a special "pudding" made with milk. The eighth of the month is a day devoted to Poseidon, divine father of Theseus, and often to Theseus himself, hence it lent itself to an observance of such an important event as the return of the state hero’s remains.

Oschophoria - 8th Pyanepsion (from sundown on the 5th of October. The Oskhophoria was a separate ceremony held on the same day as the Pyanepsia honoured Dionysos and Athena Skira who protects the grape harvest.  The celebration consisted mainly of a procession from a now unknown temple of Dionysos to the temple of Athena Skiras (at Phaleron). Two young males dressed as women (relating again to the events from the legends of Theseus), carried vine branches with bunches of grapes (oskhoi) still attached (Plutarch, Theseus, XXIII, 2-3).  The herald accompanying the procession did not wear a garland, as is the custom, but attached it to his herald’s staff, because of the precedent set in the legend of Theseus.

Stenia – 9th Pyanepsion (from sundown on the 6th of October). The Stenia was celebrated, a women’s festival in honor of Demeter and Kore held at Eleusis and featuring a night banquet characterized by the trading of insults.  Sacrifice was also made to Demeter and Kore by the members of the Prytaneion at their own expense on behalf of the Demos.

Thesmophoria - 11-13th Pyanepsion (from sundown on the 8th through sundown on the 10th of October). The Thesmophoria, a major women’s festival, was a pan-Hellenic festival that in Athens lasted up to five days during the time of the fall planting. Scholars debate what the thesmoi were that were borne by the women leading the procession of all the women of Athens (except for maidens) up to the Thesmophorion, a site probably on the hillside of the Pnyx, where they encamped in huts and tents for three days apart from all men. Among other features of the festival, they celebrated without wearing wreaths and avoided foods that appear to relate to Demeter, such as pomegranate seeds that had fallen on the ground, for these, apparently, were deemed to be an offering to the Chthonic Deity.

Note that, as a proto-demos of Hellenion, we also include on our calendar a small libation to Poseidon on Saturday, October 8. 

posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 10:10:04 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, August 29, 2011
Beginning at sundown on Monday, 29th August 2011, is the Noumenia, of the new month of Boedromion (month of “running to help”), which is the third month of the third year of the 697th Olympiad. 

Genesia – 5th Boedromion (from sundown on the 2nd of September). Genesios was a festival in honor of the dead. Today, it is a day to remember deceased ancestors, especially parents, and to hear and tell stories about them and what they did and to look through family albums or create them.  If graves of these ancestors are nearby, go visit them and perhaps lay flowers or bring small offerings or libations (of water, milk or honey) if permitted. Aeschylus wrote: "And may they worship forever the gods who possess the land with native honours of laurel bough held aloft, and oxen slain, even as their fathers did before their time. Since reverence for parents stand written third among the statues of Justice, to whom honor supreme is due" (Suppliant Maidens, 703-8).

Democratia – 12th Boedromion (from sundown on the 9th of September). This festival, at which the Athenians celebrated democracy, included sacrifices to Zeus Agoraios, Athena Agoraia and to the Goddess Themis.  Images of Zeus and Athena were paraded in the agora, the lower city below the Acropolis (high city). Themis, one of the Titans, is “goddess of divine law--the primal, unwritten laws governing human conduct which were first established by the gods of heaven. She was believed to have issued these edicts to mankind through the great oracle of Delphoi over which she presided alongside the god Apollon” (thoi.com).  Clearly, the establishment of democracy in Athens was seen as a divine gift of Themis, especially, as well as Zeus (her father) and Athena.  This festival may coincide with an observance of the victory of Marathon.

The Greater Eleusinia – 15th Boedromion (from sundown on 12th of September), the greater Eleusinia was celebrated for nine days.  It was a major part of the Eleusinian Mysteries.  The greater Eleusinia offered hope of immortality through initiation.  The Eleusinian Mysteries centered around Demeter and Persephone.  Women, slaves, and foreigners, as well as citizen males were accepted.  The nine-day festival, held every year in September, began in Athens and, after a procession, ended at the Telesterion in Eleusis.
The abduction of Kore by Aidos (also called Ploutos) and grief of Demeter is a poignant reminder of the death of a girl who would never become a mother.  Yet, from Kore’s abduction comes the ever renewal of crops and bountiful harvests.  Ploutos means wealth, and Ploutos is the wealth of Earth.  Kore brings that wealth to the living.  She represents life, death, and the eternal renewal of life.  Demeter is the culmination of the renewal of life in the harvest.

posted on Monday, August 29, 2011 4:00:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, August 28, 2011
Hellenic Spirit dedicated an altar to Apollo and Asklepias in the woods of Muskoka on Saturday, August 27.  Ten adults and children took part in the dedication, held in a temenos delineated by stones at the cardinal compass directions, created by the owner of the property some years ago.  The building of the altar fulfilled a dream and brought people together in worship and festivity followed by camping inside the stone circle in hopes for special healing dreams.  The Altar was built by members of Hellenic Spirit in July.  Part of the ritual included dedication of a small shrine to the Topikos Agathos Daimon, the Good Spirit of the Place, a representative of Zeus Ktesios, Zeus of Abundance.  The ritual followed the process outlined by Apollo in the Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo.  Ie paian!

Here are some photos.  To see more, click on "Read more" below.  Click on each photo to see a larger version.

posted on Sunday, August 28, 2011 11:08:26 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, August 20, 2011
Here's a list of currently-planned events for 2012-2013 (including other Embolden groups as well as Hellenic Spirit, in bold, since we plan our schedule jointly) and tentative dates for each.  Please check back in a few weeks for details.  Note: dates and locations are subject to change.  For more information or directions, please call Stephanie at 647 427 1678.
  • Libation to Hera - January 20
  • Libation to Aphrodite - February 3
  • Anthesteria - TBD
  • Libation to Hephaistos - March 10
  • Libation to Artemis - April 14
  • Celebration of Beltane with Celtic group -
  • Libation to Apollo - May12
  • Libation to Athena - June 2
  • Libation to Athena - July 14
  • Libation to Hermes - August 11
  • Festival of Apollo, Askleipias and Hygieia in Muskoka - August weekend; details to follow
  • Libation to Demeter and Kore - September15
  • Libation to Neptune - October 13
  • Celebration of Samhain with Celtic group - late October
  • Libation to Ares - November 10
  • Libation to Dionysos - December 14
  • Celebration of Heliostasi/Solstice - December 21

Here is a link to the updated Hellenic Calendar for 2013.  You can print out the PDF or use the online version with links to descriptions of all the holidays and special occasions.

posted on Saturday, August 20, 2011 10:07:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, August 15, 2011

On Saturday evening, Hellenic Spirit joined with Thyrsos in Greece and other people and organizations around the world in celebrating the August full moon.  We held a ritual for Selene (the moon) and Artemis, offering prayers, incense, honeyed sweets and torchlight. 

"And next, sweet voiced Muses, daughters of Zeus, well-skilled in song, tell of the far-flying Moon... at eventime in the mid-month ... then her great orbit is full and then her beams shine brightest as she increases. So she is a sure token and a sign to mortal men."
--Homeric hymn 32 to Selene, the moon

Here are a few photos, and we apologize for the poor quality, as they were shot in low light without a flash.  To see a larger version, click on the photo.

posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 9:46:29 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
Hellenic Spirit libation to Hermes was held Saturday afternoon, August 13.  Although the weather had been forecast to be stormy, Zeus held off and the weather was perfect.  The ritual was followed by a backyard feast and additional ritual that evening (see next).

"Hail, Hermes, giver of joy, guide, and bestower of good things!"
--Homeric Hymn 18, to Hermes

Below are some photos of the event. Click on each to see a larger version.

posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 9:25:22 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, August 14, 2011
Hellenic Spirit enjoyed a reunion this past week when one of our members who had moved out west returned for a conference and a visit with us.  We celebrated at a local restaurant with good food, wine and music.  We were delighted to have an ever-so-brief visit with Matthew and pray that there will be many more reunions with Matthew and others in the future.

Below are a few photos.  To see a larger version, click on the photo.

posted on Sunday, August 14, 2011 9:30:30 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Here is a link to the updated Hellenic Calendar for 2011.  You can print out the PDF or use the online version with links to descriptions of all the holidays and special occasions.

posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2011 7:53:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beginning at sundown on Sunday the 31st of July 2011, we celebrate the new month of Metageitnion which is the second month of the ancient Athenian calendar named after Apollo Metageitnios, Apollo of Emigration, of a time when people “changed their neighbours.” There are no major festivals this month, which is why it was often the month of war fare and pan-hellenic games, but there are two minor ones to note.

Festivals during this month in ancient times include:

  • Kourotrophos, Hekate and Artemis – On the 16th of Metageitnion (sundown on August 15 to sundown on August 16) Kourotrophos (child rearing) is honored along with the two Goddesses who protect women and children, Hekate and Artemis, in the Attic demos Erchia, but apparently it duplicates similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens.  Kourotrophos apparently receives offering several times during the year, usually as a preliminary before other gods are honored, but on this occasion receives primary cult along with the two other Goddesses.
  • Hera Telkhinia – On the 20th of Metageitnion (sundown August 19 to sundown August 20), a minor sacrifice to Hera Telkhinia was held in the Attic demos of Erchia. The Greek title as commonly given, Thelkhinia, is probably a mis-spelling of the epithet, for there is no such word as “thelkhinia.”  The epithet is more likely Telkhinia, which indicates a connection with the inhabitants of Telkhis, on Crete.  These were considered the first metal-workers and, later, as “sorcerers.”  The epithet is also bestowed upon Apollo and the Nymphs and there was a festival of Telkhinia at Delphoi, which already has a connection with Crete, through the Cretan sailors that Apollo selected to become priests of his temple.  Therefore, although the myth of the connection of Apollo, Hera and the Nymphs with Telkhis is lost to us, it apparently a reflection of bronze age interactions with Crete.

Note that, as a proto-demos of Hellenion, we also include on our calendar a small libation to Hermes on Saturday, August 13.  (Entry and photos about this libation are above.)

We will also be dedicating an altar to Apollo and Asklepias in Muskoka on Saturday, August 27.

posted on Saturday, July 30, 2011 6:06:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]