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Hellenic Calendar

 

The Hellenic new-year start at the end of the month June begins of the month July and is called Hekatombaion. This calendar is based upon the Athenian calendar. There are other calendars of other city- states, but the Athenian one is the most intact and preserved. The Athenians use a calendar that started at sundown on the corresponding civil date. This way many Hellenic festivals were observed the next civil day. This way of counting days was common in ancient cultures (even the Celts and Hebrews use it). It wasn't uncommon for festivals to be observed at a time convenient for a given community, so a rigid attitude towards the given dates here is not needed.  The ancient Greeks use the Olympic Games as a reference point to count years, so every 4 years was an Olympiad and they use the year 776 B.C.E. as a starting point of the Olympic Games and Olympiads. Right now (2001-2005) we are in the 3rd year of the 695th Olympiad.

These are the Attic months:

Hekatombaion: July- August

Metageitnion: August- September

Boedromion: September- October

Puanepsion: October- November

Maimakterion: November- December

Poseideon: December- January

Gamelion: January- February

Anthesterion: February- March

Elaphebolion: March- April

Mounikhion: April- May

Thargelion: May- June

Skiraphorion: June- July

 

There is another Hellenic calendar as i have heard of a Boeotian/ Theban one. This calendar corresponds more with the labors of Herakles. There are 360 days. The 5 last days are considered the most sacred and are left open to celebrate the death and resurrection of Herakles.

January-February: Nemeaneon

February-March: Lerneon

March-April: Archaedeon

April-May: Erymantheon

May-June: Augeon

June-July: Stymphaleon

July-August: Creteon

August-September: Diomedeon

Sept-Oct: Hippeon

Oct-Nov: Gereon

Nov-Dec: Hespereon

Dec-Jan: Cerbreon

 

Modern Hellenes/ Hellenic pagans use this Hellenic calendar with its festivals and devotions as these come from Drew's book: Old Stones, New Temples. There is a regular schedule for monthly devotions in every month that goes as following:

1)      Noumenia (new moon)

2)      Agathos Daimon

3)      Athena

4)      Hermes, Herakles, Aphrodite and Eros

6)       Artemis

7)      Apollo

8)      Poseidon, Theseus and Asklepios

15) Dikhomenia (full moon)

16) Artemis/ Selene

30) Hekate and the ancestors

 

Noumenia:

The day of the new moon was considered so holy that no other festival was held on that day. This is a day to look forward and refresh one's spiritual practice. Ask your patron or matron deities for special assistance. This day is also thought to be holy to Apollo. Some modern Hellenes burn frankincense to mark this day.

 

Agathos Daimon:

The Agathos Daimon is a personal tutelary spirit, comparable to the genius/ juno in Religo Romana or the guardian angel in Christianity. The Agathos Daimon could be seen as the personification of the conscience or as the higher self. If you don't normally do so, pour a libation to the Agathos Daimon at the end of your main meal on this day. This is the day to begin self-improvement plans.

 

Dikhomenia:

The full moon is a time of fearful power, but yet the perfect time to perform any rituals to a chthonic deity or prayer. It's ruled over by Horkos (Oaths) and the Erinyes. This is the time to face hard facts and to meditate on your motivations. Your oaths have an extra force on this day, be careful not to break your word.

 

The month of Hekatombaion has 30 days. It begins at 30/06/- 01/07/2003 and ends at 29-30/07/2003.

For the Americans these are the dates: 2003/06/30- 2003/07/01 and ends at 2003/07/29-30.

In this month we have 3 important festivals: Kronia, Sunoikia and the Panathenaia.

 

Hekatombaion:

 

The first month of the Athenian year falls during the high summer. Next to each day of the month will be a festival or a deity (ies) listed to whom the day is dedicated or when the festival begins. So on the day that is dedicated to a deity or deities, one can pour libations in their honor or sacrifice in their honor.

1st (06-30- 01/07/2003): Noumenia Kata Selene

2nd (2003/07-01/02): Agathos Daimon

3rd (2003/07-02): Athena

4th (2003/07-03): Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes and Eros

5th (2003/07/04-05): Ares

6th (2003/07/05-06): Artemis

7th (2003/07/06-07): Apollo

8th (2003/07/07-08): Poseidon and Theseus

9th (2003/07/08-09)

10th (2003/07/09-10)

11th (2003/07/10-11)

12th (2003/07/11-12): Kronia

13th (2003/07/12-13)

14th (2003/07/13-14): Full moon

15th (2003/07/14-15)

16th (2003/07/15-16): Sunoikia

17th (2003/07/16-17)

18th (2003/07/17-18)

19th (2003/07/18-19)

20th (2003/07/19-20)

21st (2003/07/20-21)

22nd (2003/07/21-22)

23rd (2003/07/22-23): Panathanaia ta megala (the greater Panathenaia)

24th (2003/07/23-24): Panathanaia ta megala (the greater Panathenaia)

25th (2003/07/24-25): Panathanaia ta megala (the greater Panathenaia)

26th (2003/07/25-26): Panathanaia ta megala (the greater Panathenaia)

27th (2003/07/26-27): Panathanaia ta megala (the greater Panathenaia)

28th (2003/07/27-28): Panathanaia ta megala (the greater Panathenaia)

29th (2003/07/28-29): Panathanaia ta megala (the greater Panathenaia), new moon

30th (2003/07/29-30): Panathanaia ta megala (the greater Panathenaia), Triakas, Hene kai Nea

 

Festivals

 

Kronia

 

Background:

 

Although the Kronia is the first major festival of the Athenian year, it belongs to a carnavalesque time where social roles are inverted. Kronos was the king of the Gods before Zeus, and was imprisoned by his own son with the other titans. These tales may underlie the Kronia, for during this festival Athenian slaves ran free and were treated to a sumptuous banquet by their masters. It is a celebration of the golden age where the current social order did not exist yet.

 

For modern day:

 

For Hellenists, this day might stand for being free of nagging habits, social obligations as financial, free of any restraints even if it is only temporary. A ritual may be performed on this day to honor Kronos and the elder Gods. This ritual can be performed outdoors, in a park or other convenient setting. This ritual includes purification by water, hymnodia, sacrifice & libation and concluding the ritual by feasting. A suggested feast menu: grilled meat and/ or vegetable skewers, bulghers and chickpea salad chopped salad, sweet cakes or breads and light wines. This festival takes place on Hekatombaion the 12th.

 

The Panathenaia

 

Background:

 

The Panathenaia was perhaps the most glorious of all Athenian festivals, celebrating the city's patroness, Athena. The festival was held annually as the lesser Panathenaia, while a greater a Greater Panathenaia was held every four years. The festival began with a pannukhis, an all- night vigil held on the night before the festival proper. At daybreak, runners fetched new fire and raced from a grove outside the city to Athena's temple on the Akropolis. The whole community, including both young and old, processed from the Dipylon Gate to the temple, where, among abundant sacrifices of sheep and cows, a new gown (peplos) was offered to the ancient statue (xoanon) of the Goddess. Chariot races, a regatta, and other athletic and musical competitions stretched over several days. The athletic prize was an amphora of oil from sacred olive trees while the musical winners received gilded olive crowns and money.

 

Modern observance:

 

This is the festival where we celebrate the birth of Athena and we do not ask her for any favors on these days, but rather we thank her for her continuing protection and care. The participant uses the many epithets of the Goddess to recall her many gifts and care for humanity. First, a purification ritual must be performed in order to get started. This usually is purifying one self through water. The hymnodia begins where the participant(s) calls upon Athena using all of her epithets. The sacrifice and libation are next - a loaf of olive bread, olives or any other food is burned. Libations-vine, red wine, is poured in honor of Athena. A feast follows containing the following menu: olive bread, stew, red wine, feta cheese and marinated olives.

 

Sunoikia (Hekatombaion 16)

 

Festival in honor of community of Attica and Athene
Every two years, the two-day celebration is held. Not sure which years.

 

Metageitnion:

 

Next to each day of the month will be a festival or a deity (ies) listed to whom the day is dedicated or when the festival begins. So on the day that is dedicated to a deity or deities, one can pour libations in their honor or sacrifice in their honor. During this month the Herakleia is celebrated in honor of Herakles. In ancient times, this was done at Kunosarges gymnaisium outside Athens.

 

1) (2003/07/30-31): Noumenia Kata Selene

2) (2003/07-08/31-01): Agathos Daimon, lammas, Herakleia

3) (2003/08/01-02): Athena

4) (2003/08/02-03): Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes and Eros.

5) (2003/08/03-04): Ares

6) (2003/08/04-05): Artemis

7) (2003/08/05-06): Apollon

8) (2003/08/06-07): Poseidon & Theseus

9) (2003/08/07-08)

10) (2003/08/08-09)

11) (2003/08/09-10)

12) (2003/08/10-11)

13) (2003/08/11-12)

14) (2003/08/12-13)

15) (2003/08/13-14)

16) (2003/08/14-15): Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hekate and Artemis at Erchia.

17) (2003/08/15-16)

18) (2003/08/16-17)

19) (2003/08/17-18): sacrifice to the Heroines at the Attic deme of Erchia.

20) (2003/08/18-19): Sacrifice to Hera Thelkhina at Erchia

21) (2003/08/19-20)

22) (2003/08/20-21)

23) (2003/08/21-22)

24) (2003/08/22-23)

25) (2003/08/23-24): Sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes at Erchia.

26) (2003/08/24-25)

27) (2003/08/25-26)

28) (2003/08/26-27)

29) (2003/08/27-28): Triakas, Hene kai Nea

 

Boedromion:  15/16th of September- 13/14th of October

 

Next to each day of the month will be a festival or a deity (ies) listed to whom the day is dedicated or when the festival begins. So on the day that is dedicated to a deity or deities, one can pour libations in their honor or sacrifice in their honor. In this month we also have the Eleusinian mysteries dedicated to Demeter and her daughter Persephone. During the second day, we celebrate the Niketeria is a festival in honor of Nike, Goddess of Victory. On the 5th day we offer sacrifices to Ares, Epops and we celebrate the public festival of Genesios, a festival for the dead in honor of Ge. On the Sixth day, we offer sacrifices to Artemis Agrotera and to Artemis in general. The Demokratia festival that is celebrated on the 12th day is a perculiar one since it has no real religious significance besides to celebrate democracy.

 

1) Noumenia kata Selene

2) Agathos Daimon, Niketeria

3) Athena

4) Aphrodite, Herakles, Eros and Hermes Basile

5) Ares, Epops, Genesios (festivals)

6) Artemis, Artemis Agrotera

7) Apollon

8) Poseidon and Theseus

9)

10)

11)

12) Demokratia festival

13)

14)

15) Eleusina Ta Megala (festival that lasts from 15th to the 21)

16) Eleusina Ta Megala

17) Eleusina Ta Megala & epidauria (in honor of Asklepios)

18)

19) Eleusina Ta Megala

20) Eleusina Ta Megala

21) Eleusina Ta Megala

22)

23)

24)

25)

26)

27) Nymphs, Akhelous, Alokhus, Hermes, Gaia and Athene

28)

29) Triakas, hene kai Nea.

 

Genesia (Boedromion 5) :

 

Background :

 

Herodotos describes the Genesia, the annual festival commemorating the dead that were known to all the Greeks. This probably refers to the commemorating the ancestors and those who had fallen in wars. One widely accepted theory says that the Genesia began as a individual, private, annual festival of commemorating the dead, but that Solon’s reforms transformed these individual displays of grief into a single, community- wide memorial day.

 

Modern observances:

 

Unlike the established families in the Greek city-states, most modern people can not point to a singly burial plot and say that there lie their ancestors. In our times, this has become almost impossible. Instead we can commemorate the dead in homes by the shrine of the ancestors and we can visit the plots of family members who were buried or cremated.

 

The Greater Mysteries of Eleusis (boedromion 14-21):

 

For over a thousand years, the Eleusinian Mysteries offered hope to people all over the Greek-speaking world. It was by far the most famous mystery religion in the Greek and Roman world. Its initiatory religious experiences were also famous. Most people are fascinated by the mysteries of Demeter and Persephone. There are still people who are attracted to them and want to revive them. The problem lies here that we don’t know much of what happened behind closed doors as it was a norm for mystery religions to now to share anything what happened behind these doors. Drew Campbell has a good rite to use during these times. And Jennifer Reiff’s Mysteries of Eleusis are also recommended reading for this.

 

Puanepsion: 14/15th of October- 12/13th of November

 

During this month we celebrate the Thesmophoria, Theseia and Stenia festival and Samhain. The Theseia festival takes place at the 8th day of Puanepsion (21st /22nd of October). The Thesmophoria festival takes place between the 11th day and the 13th day of Puanepsion (24th/25th- 26th/27th of October). The Puanepsion festival is celebrated on the 7th day (20th/21st of October) and the Proerosia festival on the 6th day of Puanepsion (19th/20th of October).

On the 27th/28th of October we honor the heroines and pour libations in their name. 

 

1) Noumenia

2) Noumenia kata Selene, Agathos Daimon

3) Athena

4) Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes and Eros

5) Ares

6) Artemis, Proerosia festival

7) Apollon, Puanepsia festival

8) Poseidon and Theseus, Theseia festival

9) Stenia festival

10)

11) Thesmophoria festival

12) Thesmophoria festival

13) Thesmophoria festival

14) Sacrifice for the heroines

15)

16)

17) Samhain

18)

19)

20)

21)

22)

23)

24)

25)

26)

27)

28)

29)

30) Triakas, Hene kai Nea, Khalkeia festival

 

Apatouria

 

The Apatouria is a paternity festival that can be celebrated on various dates throughout the month. Each phratry can set their own dates for this festival. This festival lasts 3 days. On the first day, called the Dorpia, the phratry members feast together.  The 2nd day or Anarrhusis, sacrifices to Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria were made. On the third day, called the Koureotis, the young boys were admitted to their father’s phratry.

 

Puanepsia: ritual for Pythian Apollon on Puanepsia 7:

 

We don’t know that much about this festival besides that it was held in honor of Pythian Apollon and was a popular harvest festival.

Since there isn’t much information out there, Hellenic pagans may chose to make a simple sacrifice to Pythian Apollon in thanks for his oracle at Delphi, following the standard ritual form. For details on this ritual check out Drew Campbell’s book: Old Stones New Temples, pages 242 and 243.

 

Thesmophoria: (with the Stenia) Puanepsia 9, 11-13

 

The Thesmophoria was a foremost women’s festival of the Athenian calendar and was dedicated to Demeter. It is connected with the Skira festival, held in early summer where pigs were sacrificed. On the first day of this three- day festival, the women left their homes and carrying sacred implements, climbed up the pnyx to the sanctuary of Demeter where they built temporary shelters to camp in. On the 2nd day the women fasted and wore no garlands and ritualized verbal abuse was exchanged and thought to take place. On the 3rd day, they made sacrifices to Kalligeneia (She of beautiful birth, presumed associated with Demeter and Persephone) and feasted before returning to their homes. The Stenia, which takes place 2 days before the Thesmophoria is thought to be a time for preparations. 

 

Modern observance:

 

For modern women wanting to celebrate this festival, they can use this time to meditate on the relationship of their dark side with creativity. It can also be used to blow of some steam. They can camp in the woods to meditate on this relationship. Camping outdoors is sometimes good to blow of some steam and to meditate.

 

Maimakterion: 13/14th of November- 11/12th of December

 

During this month we also celebrate the festival of Pompaia, in honor of Zeus and Hermes. Not much is known about this festival or when it was celebrated during this month. So anyone can chose a date that suits them best to celebrate this festival.

 

1) Noumenia

2) Noumenia kata Selene, Agathos Daimon

3) Athena

4) Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes and Eros

5) Ares

6) Artemis

7) Apollon

8) Poseidon and Theseus

9)

10) Pompaia festival

11)

12)

13)

14)

15)

16)

17)

18)

19)

20)

21)

22)

23)

24)

25)

26)

27)

28)

29) Triakas, Hene kai Nea

 

 

Poseideon: 12/13th of December- 10/11th of January

 

The month’s November December is the time of the Hellenic month Poseideon in the Athenian calendar.
During this month we celebrate the feast of Poseidon called the Poseidea. We also celebrate the Haloa and the Lenaia (the country Dionysia)
The Haloa is mostly a women’s festival in honor of Demeter and Dionysos.

 

1/ Noumenia
2/ Noumenia, Kata, Selene, Agathos Daimon
3/ Athena
4/ Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes and Eros
5/  Plerosia: festival at the Attic deme of Myrrhinus
6/ Artemis
7/ (first quarter): Apollon
8/ Poseidon and Theseus, Poseidea
9/ 
10/
11/
12/
13/
14/
15/ (full moon):
16/ Sacrifice to Zeus Horios at Erchia
17/
18/
19/
20/
21/
22/
23/ (last quarter):
24/
25/
26/ Haloa
27/
28/
29/ (new moon):
30/Triakas, Hene Kai Nea, Hekate

Poseidea (Poseideon 8)

Not much is known about this festival of Poseidon, but according to Parke it may have something to do with the stormy winter months where the God of the Seas showed his formidable power.
According to Drew, the ancients envisioned Poseidon as a powerful, rather violent deity, patron of sailors and fishermen. He's also known for his horses. Poseidon remains an embodiment of elemental force; sea storm and earthquakes are the most violent forms of energy directly encountered by man, but horses are an incredible force controlled by men.
For modern day observance, we can do a basic devotional ritual for Poseidon close to water (shore, river, any other body of water) or in a room decorated with sea shells and an image of the God or one of his attributes like the trident. This devotional ritual can be found in Old Stones, New Temples. Although I twill be more a outline for a devotional ritual, than a devotional ritual for Poseidon.

Haloa (Poseideon 26)

Again not much is known about this women festival except that it was in honor of Dionysos and Demeter. Such foods like pomegranates, apples, eggs, fowl and certain type of fish were not allowed. Where cakes in the shape of female and male genitalia were allowed. As at the Thesmophoria, the participants may have engaged in ritual obscenity. It is even suggested that this was a kind of fertility festival.
For modern day observance, this could mean that there would be kind of erotic entertainment included in the feast and sacrifice in honor of Demeter and Dionysos. Or frank talk among the participants.

Lenaia (late Poseideon- Gamelion 12)

This festival was celebrated at a convenient time between late Poseideon and mid Gamelion. According to Kereny, this rural Dionysia were celebrated when the country folk had the time.
For modern day observance: This could be done in the 2nd half of December. It is the celebration of the birth of Dionysos. The tone is light and celebratory, as befits a phallic festival. An image of the God should be displayed in the ritual space. One traditional image is a mask hung on a pole, which is draped with a peplos or piece of cloth with ivy twined around it; another is phallus made of wood or other material. Grapes could also be used for display, and it is particularly appropriate for food items associated with the God- roast, beef, goat or vegetables, grape leaves, a pot of vegetable stew and above all wine- to be offered and consumed at the feast. Comic plays such as those of Aristophanes may be watched or read. The festivities would not be complete without games and much wine. For children, this would be non-alcoholic beverage as for designated drivers and non- drinkers

 

Gamelion: 11/12th of January- 08/09th of February

 

 

1) Noumenia kata Selene

2) Agathos Daimon

3) Athena

4) Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes and Eros

5) Ares

6) Artemis

7) Apollon

8) Sacrifice to Poseidon and Theseus, Apollon Apotropaios- Apollon Nymphegetes, Nymphs

9) Athena

10)

11)

12) Lenaia

13) Lenaia

14) Lenaia

15) Lenaia

16)

17)

18)

19)

20)

21)

22)

23)

24)

25)

26)

27) Sacrifices for Kourotrophos- Zeus, Hera Teleios, Poseidon and Theogamia (Gamelia)

28)

29) Triakas, Hene kai Nea

 

The gamelia: wedding feast of Zeus and Hera. (Gamelion 27)

 

The Gamelia also known as the Theogamia (marriage of the Gods), celebrates the wedding of Zeus and Hera. As is so often the case, we know little about how this festival was celebrated, only that it included a feast. This lack of information is rather disappointing, because Hera rarely shows up in the Athenian religious calendar, despite her great and enduring popularity throughout the Hellenic world. Not only are her temples among the oldest known, but as the primary Goddess honored by married women (which would have included the vast majority of adult Hellenic women), she would have received a great deal of attention in private devotions- about which we are also poorly informed.

The word “Gamelia” was also used to refer to the offerings made by a new husband at the first celebration to the Apatouria after his marriage. His bride may also have been introduced to and registered with the phratry at this time.

Modern observance

This festival is an opportunity to revive Hera’s worship, at least on a small scale. Before the ritual is performed, the participants may want to spend some time thinking about what loving partnership means to them, (and what they do and do not like about the marriages and partnerships they have witnessed or been a part of).

This month was also a traditional month for weddings to take place and some details of the ritual described in Drew’s book are adapted from the Athenian wedding rites (see chapter 16 of OSNT).

 

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

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.

 

 

Elaphebolion: 11/12th of March-  08/09th of April

 

 

1) Noumenia kata Selene

2) Agathos Daimon

3) Athena

4) Aphrodite, Hermes, Eros & Herakles.

5) Ares

6) Artemis

7) Apollon

8) Poseidon & Theseus- Asklepieia Festival

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10) Dionysia ta Astika festival; in honor of Dionysos; The City or the Great Dionysia

11) Dionysia ta Astika festival

12) Dionysia ta Astika festival

13) Dionysia ta Astika festival

14) Dionysia ta Astika festival

15) Dionysia ta Astika festival

16) Dionysia ta Astika festival

17) Dionysia ta Astika festival & Pandia

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29) Triakas, Hene kai Nea

 

Elaphebolia ( Elaphebolion 6)

Background

 

In Antiquity, this festival seems not to have been very prominent; undoubtedly the institution of the City Dionysia overshadowed it. The festival honors Artemis Elaphebolios, the Deer-Shooter, and offerings of stag-shaped cakes called elaphoi were made to the Goddess.

 

Modern Observance

 

Since we don’t have much historical information about this festival, today it might be celebrated with a simple devotional rite for Artemis in her role as hunter and protector of wildlife. The ritual stand on page 277-278 of OSNT written by Drew Cambell.

 

The City Dionysia (Elaphebolion 10-17)

Background

 

The Greater or City Dionysia was only established as a festival in the 6th century BCE. It is the last of the annual cycle of Dionysian festivals that also includes the Lenaia and the Anthesteria.

The God is worshipped here as Dionysos Eleuthereus, a name which refers to the town of Eleutherai and contains the root of the word “Freedom.” One particular myth tells of the statue that was taken from the town to Athens. During the City Dionysia, the same statue was taken to the road to Eleutherai until the end of the festival. When the festival was done, the statue was taken back to Athens. By the classical period, the festival was centered around theater. Men would spend their days in the theater watching tragic trilogies followed by comedies and satyr plays. The celebration also included phallic processions and revels, not unlike those of the rural festivals held earlier in the year. There is also some indication that the myth recounted in one of the Homeric hymns, may also be connected to a ritual, perhaps taking place at this festival, in which the image of the God was carried on a ship-cart.

 

Modern observance

  

In many ways this festival parallels the Lenaia, although the focus is on tragic performances. The Dionysian mask, also used at the Anthesteria, or perhaps another image of the God, can be carried in and placed prominently in the ritual space. After a brief ritual of sacrifice, the participants may either read aloud, act out or view plays (live if possible or on video). It is important to remember that, while we think of play-going as a secular activity, to the ancients it was a religious act, although surely not a wholly solemn one. Food, drink and dance may be enjoyed as part of the revels.

 

Mounikhion: 09/10th of April-  08/09th of May

 

 

1) Noumenia kata Selene

2) Agathos Daimon

3) Athena

4) Aphrodite, Eros, Herakles & Hermes

5) Ares

6) Artemis- Delphinia festival

7) Apollon

8) Poseidon & Theseus

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16) Mounikhia festival; in honor of Artemis

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19) Olympia festival

20) Sacrifice for Leukaspis at Erchia

21) Sacrifice for Tritopatores at Erchia

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30) Triakas, Hene kai Nea

 

Mounikhion (Mounikhion 16)

Background

 

The name of this festival derives from a steep hill, Mounikhia, which is near the Athenian port of Peiraeus. Here Artemis on the Hill, always at home on mountain slopes, held sway.

Two types of offerings are indicated, which seem to point to two different sides of Artemis’ character. The sacrifice of she-goat (in recompense for the slaying of a she-bear in Artemis’ shrine) refers to her as Potnia Theron, Mistress of Animals. But the second type of offering and the timing of the festival at the Dikhomenia connect her to the moon; cakes called amphiphontes (“shinning all around”) were brought to her.

“They had lighted candles stuck in a circle,” writes Parke, “and ancient commentators were probably right in seeing in this some reference to the circle of the moon.”

In later times, the festival became focused on the port itself and involved a boat race by the ephebes (young men in military training).

 

Modern Observances

 

The Mounikhia is an opportunity to honor the lunar aspect of Artemis. A candlelight procession under the full moon lends itself to this intimate devotional holiday. The ritual can be found on pages 284-285.

 

Olympia (Mounikhion 19)

Background

 

This festival for Olympian Zeus is not to be confused with the Olympian Games at Olympia. This festival was celebrated in Athens with cavalry exhibitions and contests as well as massive sacrifices to the God. Sadly we know little about its history.

 

Modern Observance

 

 The Gamelia shows us Zeus as a youthful bridegroom and the Diasia honors him as a merciful father, the Olympia is an opportunity to worship him as a just ruler. The ritual for this festival is described in OSNT pages 286-287.

 

Thargelion: 09/10th of May- 06/07th of June

 

Like with the following month, its unclear to me whether the month is named after the festival of Thargalia or vice versa. However, the Thargalia is a major festival in honor of the God Apollon. This festival is celebrated over two day period. 

 

1) Noumenia kata Selene

2) Agathos Daimon

3) Athena

4) Aphrodite, Eros, Herakles & Hermes- Sacrifice for Leto, Pythian Apollon, Zeus, Hermes & Dioskouroi.

5) Ares

6) Artemis- Thargalia

7) Apollon- Thargalia

8) Poseidon & Theseus

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16) Sacrifice for Zeus Epakrios

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19) Sacrifice for Menedeios, Bendideia Festival

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25) Kallunteria & Plunteria festival

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29) Triakas, Hene kai Nea

 

Thargalia (Thargelion 6-7)

Background

 

The Thargalia was traditionally celebrated over a two day period. The first day was about purification and driving out the human scapegoats (two ugly men) who represented pharmakoi. One represented the men, the other the women of the city. On the 6th day, bad things were driven out. On the 7th day, offerings of thargelos, mixed vegetables were made to Apollon. Also on that day, good things were carried in the city.

There were some important people born on these two days. Alexander was said to have been born on the 6th day of this month, while Plato was said to have been born on the 7th day. Important military victories were also remembered on these days.

 

Modern Observance

 

In our modern ritual (described on pages 290-292) , we may chose a person to act as pharmakos or as suggested below, an effigy may be used. In reconstructing the pharmakos ritual, Drew incorporated one of the purification rites used after death; this is not historically based, and may be omitted without damaging the integrity or effectiveness of the ritual. Appropriate offerings include sprouted-grain loaves or one of the festive braided Greek breads.

 

Kallunteria

 

Traditionally, this time was reserved to spring clean the temple of Athena. This was usually done between the 20th and 25th day of the month. It’s a good time to clean the shrines and altars of Athena, one might have.

 

Plunteria

 

The Plunteria was a festival of washing. During this day, Athena is preoccupied and it was considered to be a dangerous day.

 

Skiraphorion: 07/08th of June-  06/07th of July

 

During this month, there is a major festival that takes place and whether or not the month was named after the festival or vice versa is not really clear, but the Skira festival is a major festival. It’s a festival in honor of Athena, Poseidon, Apollon & Demeter; the Tritopatores were worshipped at Marathon on the eve of this festival.

 

1) Noumenia kata Selene

2) Agathos Daimon

3) Athena, Sacrifice for Kourotrophos, Athena Polias, Aglauros, Zeus, Polieos, Poseidon Pandrosos.  Arrephoria; festival in honor of Athena also called Arretophoria.

4) Aphrodite, Eros, Herakles and Hermes

5) Ares

6) Artemis

7) Apollon

8) Poseidon & Theseus

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12) Skira festival

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14) Bouphonia; festival in honor of Zeus Poleios & Dipolieia festival

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30) Triakas, Hene kai Nea

 

Arrephoria (Skiraphorion 3)

Background

 

The Arrephoria, also known as the Arrhetophoria, was a secret observance carried out by a few omen and girls in Athens. Two young girls, known as the Arrephoroi, having served for almost a year weaving the Goddess’ peplos, carry at night a mysterious basket from Athena’s temple through the sacred precinct of Aphrodite of the Gardens and into an underground passage. They leave the package and return with an equally mysterious veiled object. The girls are forbidden to look at the contents of either parcel and their term of service ends immediately after the festival. This is thought to refer to the myth of the daughter of Kekrops, who when entrusted with the task of carrying the sacred snake-child Erikhthonios, peeked into the basket and fell to their deaths from the Akropolis.

 

Modern Observances, suggestions for it

 

This ritual (page 294) has some earmarks of initiation and could be adapted for girls who show a particular affinity for Athena.

 

Skira (Skiraphorion 12)

Background

 

The Skira, sometimes also called the Skiraphoria, has puzzled modern scholars- as apparently, it did the ancients. Our evidence speaks of a procession of a priestess of Athena, a priest of Poseidon and a priest of Helios or Apollon (the source is rather vague on who the priest belonged to) on foot from the Akropolis to the river Kephisos on the Eleusinian road. The group was escorted by attendants carrying a large parasol or canopy. The purpose of the whole procession remains obscure.

The Skira is also associated with another festival of Demeter; it is at this time that sacrifices of pigs were made to the Goddess. The remains of these animal sacrifices were retrieved at the Thesmophoria. Apparently the women were expected to eschew contact with their husbands on this day, and ate garlic to avoid sexual advances. That is about all we know of it.

 

Suggestions for Modern Observances

 

On this day, women, who intend to participate in the following ritual year’s Thesmophoria may get together for a sacrifice and feast featuring garlicky food. This would be a good time to think about things (perhaps represented by sacrificial bread piglets) that one wants to transform in the coming months.

 

Diisoteria: Skiraphorion 30

Background

 

Our evidence for a festival of this name, celebrated in the Peiraeus, derives mainly from the post-classical period. It seems to have been a standard festival, with processions and sacrifices to Zeus and other popular deities, such as Athena and Asklepios. Another sacrifice to Zeus the savior took place in Athens proper, at which time the new magistrates took office. The ritual probably thanked Zeus for the year just past and asked his blessing for the one about to start.

 

Modern Observances

 

This is a time of thanksgiving and new beginnings. This simple sacrifice to Zeus is a thank-offering for his care in seeing us through the year and a request for his continued blessings. Participants should spend some time before the ritual thinking about what they want to give thanks for and what changes they hope for in the New Year. The ritual can be found on pages 296-298.

 

Source:

Drew Campbell: Old Stones, New Temples: ISBN: 0-7388-3201-

The HMEPA (Hellenic Month Established Per Athens : http://www.numachi.com/~ccount/hmepa/calendars/695.html