Before I have talked of the division of the seasons, as per Pausanias, into two one of which is ruled by Apollon, and the other half by Pan, and that this works well for me as an Alaskan. So I wanted to take a moment in light of this winter season and its upcoming holidays, to expound on that a bit more.
The two cosmic seasons more or less, as far as I can discern in their relationship to Apollon and Pan who rule them, as one which is a period of sowing/flowering/growth…the rainy season in which the blessings of heaven permeate the earth and bring forth the beautiful bounties. And the second being the season, ruled by Apollon, as one of cultivation/fruition/maturation. If we take this from lore in which Apollon spends half of the year at Delos and Delphi from equinox to equinox before going abroad (whether that be to Hyperborea or to Lycia) we get a clear idea of the part of the year that Apollon has dominion. By Mediterranean climate, he arrives after the season of lambing, after the season of flowering. He is arriving around the time where the first signs of the immature grains are appearing, those which will be offered to him during Thargelia two month later.
With his arrival we still have the presence of the spring blossoms, and the Hyakinthia exhibits the transition from spring into summer in his seasonal domain with the last signs of the spring flowers before the summer heat that were piled upon his altar. But these are the remnants of those tender flowers that have been growing so vigorously before his arrival. He is not a god of spring blossoms, but rather of the cultivation of the crops for which he has been depicted not with blossoms, though various flowers are attributed to his cult such as the Hyakinth, the Iris, and Crocus, but with shafts of wheat and grapes. His is the season of maturation in which the fruits of the earth are preparing themselves for their respective harvests throughout the summer and into the fall. By the time of the autumn equinox most of this harvesting is well concluded, that of wheat and that of the vine. That bread was forbidden at the Hyakinthia certainly relates it in part to harvest and this cultivation period, though it is left out in respect to Hyakinthos who died prematurely before he was ripe before his time. This phrase also comes to us in the literature of Euripedes in Aclestis (as I have mentioned a number of times) in which Apollon states to Thanatos that death should only come for those who are ripe for it. Here is that firm connection of cultivated ripeness for harvest.
Apollon thus is also connected strongly to creatures which are detrimental to the harvest. First there are the locusts that consume everything, and particularly the tender flowers before they can go to fruit. Then there are the mice which will feed upon the young grains and fruits. These are creatures that ruin the crops and so Apollon is the averter and destroyer of these creatures for the sake of the cultivated harvest, just as he destroys that which would corrupt or cause some damage to us in the cultivation of our souls.
Truly the Karneia marks the coming end of his Season as the spring lambs have matured into rams ready for sacrifice and the first of the grape crops are cut to mark the beginning of the vine harvest. Aside from Boedromia, which shortly follows, this is really the last festival of Apollon of the season (this is distinctly different from Pyanepsia which has less directly to do with Apollon aside from being a thanks giving by Theseus as promised for his safe arrival in Athens). It marks the height of his domain, following the summer killing heat, are the rewards of the vine harvest of that which has endured and from the sun has fattened and sweetened. this marks the beginning of the death of Dionysos as he himself too is preparing to be sacrificed for the essence of the wine. As it was pointed out to me, the pinecone is a natural barometer for the return of the rains, so with that in mind it is natural that Apollon Karneios hold the pinecone because he stands at the threshold of the rainy seasons, and the pine cone matures and opens in preparation for the end of the cultivation season of light for the season of rains and sowing.
Thus we have the second Cosmic Season, the season of the life-bringing rains which causes each seed to germinate and the livestock to fatten with young. This is the season of Pan, the moist fertile season. During this season we have prominent festivals of Zeus the rain bringer, for Dionysos of the flowing vitality, and Poseidon. In fact Poseidon has a whole month named after him in the Attic calendar which is named for his midwinter festival. Here we see the joining of the domains of Zeus and Poseidon intimately that the earth moistens. It is a season of lack in some ways because the season has passed where one can feed off the land. Now one is dependent on their stores until the fruits of the earth come again. Certainly there are winter flowers that are edible and some leafy greens, but it is the preserved harvest which is the main staple. The rainy season thus is a time of hope for the next year that while the previous year yielded its plentitude (or perhaps it has not and you are praying that not another year will pass in famine) you hopes are hinged on the seeds germinating and the young plants that are growing and flowering.
With hope it is thus reasonable to say that this is a season of some joy and merriment. Romans for instance celebrated Saturnalia, with all its mischievous misrule and cheer, with the abundance that the year had brought and gifts exchanged that were made when the rains made it less likely to be doing business outside. But the plentitude and the hope of the next year is apparent in all the festival proceeding from around the Autumn Equinox, from the Eleusinia, the Greater Mysteries, throughout the many festivals of Demeter and Kore, and those of Dionysos to the Lesser Mysteries around the Spring Equinox, it is about hope. And hope is associated with the wine as one ancient famed poet of Hellas indicated. The wine, the gift of Dionysos, bringing warmth in the cold winter. We see this hope too in the programs of Demeter that span this Season of Pan along with those of the wine press for Dionysos and his birth.
Now Alaska is clearly not the Mediterranean by any stretch of the imagination. Yet this division of two cosmic season in the year is quite sound with what I experience here. We have our season of light with its rapid increase of such greater periods of light than experienced elsewhere. We don’t really have a spring. But the four seasons I find to be less cosmic and more local because what seasons manifest and how they manifest is dependent on geography. The two cosmic seasons of light and rain rarely manifest differently for the world continues to turn on its axis in the same course year after year. But geography determines how the four seasons, those beautiful maidens, will progress which varies even in different parts of the Mediterranean as it does world wide. The spring flowers and tender growth is very short lived here, just a few stubborn daffodils and tulips pushing through the snow and a slight blush of blossoms before summer comes bearing forth. And likewise autumn dances through like a leaping doe, barely here one moment before gone to winter. And winter is one lengthy queen.
And yet we depend on our winter precipitation as much as any other place. It may come in the form of snow rather than rain, but it is still a necessity. It keeps the seeds and bulbs warm beneath the earth so that the permafrost which is such a threat to the frozen north, can’t kill them or freeze the ground so solid that in the spring the shoots can’t spring from the earth. And though last summer was atypical, we usually don’t get a good deal of rain during the summer, and thus our ground water, much of which is established from winter melt-off from the mountains, it is vitally important to us and for the growth of our plants as well as being a preventative measure against forest fires. And likewise our wild creatures bear their young during this season. The sheep and rams in the mountains bear their kids, the caribou deer and moose their foals and calves in the earliest blush of spring.
The same song is being sung, even it doesn’t manifest the same. We may not have the lush growth, warm temperatures and sweet flowers in the early months that so many other places experiences them, our summers may be too short to bring a wide variety of fruits or grain crops, but we do have the same cosmic song being sung and bearing out even if those daughters of Zeus vary the interpretation a bit.