Reflections on August

So this is something I wrote in word when I was sans internet. Just some of my thoughts about the month August at the end of the month.

August it seems is a time religiously in which we have the celebration of mature fruition in many forms. This serves as a kind of prelude to the autumn harvests which follow around the descent of Persephone with the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries in Boedromia, and the death of Dionysos whose death vitalizes the wine from which we draw succor, serving a purpose that runs a kind of parallel to the death of Zagreus. But August, or more specifically the lunar months of the Attic Metageitnion, and the Doric Karneia are focused on the first initial prelude to the autumnal season, marking the end of summer.  And as it was remarked to me the pinecone of Apollon Karneios is quite significant in this symbolism as a barometer for rain, and thus distinguishing the god at the crux of the period of the ripening sun, the decent of death, and the rainy planting season.


Significant festivals during this period carry forth this idea, and several major, and pertinent, festivals are focused on Apollon and Artemis as rearers and nurturers.  In the case of Apollon Karneios we can see the manifested function of Apollon understood as a rearing and nurturing deity (perhaps not unlike the powers of the sun for growth) as he takes his epithet from a child of Zeus whom he, with the aid of his mother Leto, nurtured into maturity. The importance of the myth of Admetus and Aclestis to Karneia plays further on this as we see a king whom Apollon aided and cultivated during his sentenced period of forced servitude even as he did so for the land and livestock of Admetus, culminating in his aid for the winning of the bride Aclestis, and later her sacrifice and resurrection, so honored in the Karneia, on behalf of her husband and people. Therefore we see a kind of focus on the nurture and rearing, on life itself, but life that has culminated to its natural end and walks the edge of death.


It seems to be of no coincidence that Artemis is also honored as Kourotrophos during Kourotrophia, in which children between the ages of 10 and 12 would dedicate their toys to her altar, and perhaps of a related nature that Spartan nurses of boy children held a private celebration for Artemis as divine nurse. Likewise the Romans adopted the Latin festival Nemoralia which celebrated the light bearing Diana who was praised by mothers and beseeched by young brides in hopes of their own young. A festival which also served a purpose of holding off the autumn storms until the completion of the reaping.  Now it is known that Artemis has festivals in the spring in which she is honored as a goddess who guards over children, but I believe that these are of a distinct nature from her later festivals which honors her as nurse as girls and boys become maidens and youths. Therefore we have during the month Mounykion the festival Mounykia in Athens and quite probably, due to it is nearly parallel character, the Brauronia in Brauron. Brauron likely was host to a couple of different festivals for Artemis as scholars have noticed two entirely different characteristics present at relics from Brauron which shows selections on one hand of young girls running, and yet other images which depict teenage girls, the latter which are actually more plentiful. This has caused speculation that there was another kind of festival which was carried out by teenage girls, quite likely as a transitional festival in which the girls exited childhood. Such has been mentioned about another festival in the region of Attica which claimed credit for the statue of Artemis Tauropolis and Iphigenia that had initiatory festivals of both boys and girls in their coming of age, not unlike the Kourotrophia.


The month is then closed by the festival of Zeus Epoptes, Zeus the overseer, just before the beginning of the autumn festivals honoring Persephone and Dionysos.


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