And the time has returned again for Poseideia. Last year to celebrate Poseideia I had posted regarding the relationship of Zeus and Poseidon in regards to the moisture of winter. You can find that post here. So I have thought perhaps to continue my discussion of the divine blessings of the moisture to the earth this Poseideia with heartfelt wonder of the mingling of the moisture with the ploughed fields of Demeter. For even as Demeter was seized by Zeus on the mountains of Rhea and fertilized with the holy daughter Kore (Persephone), so too do we have in this time of the year, during Demeter’s mourning for her daughter, that Poseidon pursues and mates with Demeter to bear Despoina (Artemis), keeper of the sacred kiste, the mystic box.
This is symbolized beautifully by the union of horses, Demeter in the form of a Mare and Poseidon in that of a Stallion. She hides herself in the herds of Apollon’s son, to escape Poseidon’s attentions but the god is not fooled and pairs with the goddess in their horse forms. Though Pausanias says that the identity of Despoina is not to be known outside of initiates he makes it pretty clear a few paragraphs later when he says that Artemis is the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon. This is stated at Delphi, and is particularly celebrated in Messenia and Arcadia, the latter of which Pausanias says had identical practices as those at Eleusis. Furthermore the connection to Artemis to horses is pretty well known in the Peloponnese where, particularly in Sparta, numerous jewelry has been found in which the face of Artemis is depicted with that of a horse to either side. And another locality praises Artemis at the spot where Odysseus was able to catch his horses that had escaped. Artemis here can be identified in some respect to the tamer of the horse, even as Athena is the yoker of the horse. But this is going quite afield of what I wanted to talk about.
The month of Poseidon is largely a celebration of the planting season attached to those that also occur around the end of November that are typically attributed to Zeus. This is perhaps the festival that is part of the germination of the seeds. Persephone is the queen in the court of Hades, and Demeter is wandering in her sorrow, withdrawing her abundance from the world with the winter season. The moisture of Poseidon finds Demeter and impregnates her, as the winter rains cause the tiny grains to burst open for tender sprouts. This is a hazardous time because anything can makes these small sprouts die in their very vulnerable stage. Demeter afterwards takes herself to cave in Arcadia where she hides away, and where she likely bears Despoina. Depoina as keeper of the mystic box I feel has a great deal to do with this tender return of life. Dionysos is also born shortly thereafter and so the box is perhaps more intimately associated with the birth of Dionysos in the Corycion cave.
The Kiste in this instance seems to take the place of the basket that we also see next month in the Leanea where Dionysos is represented as a baby in the basket. The kiste can also refer to the heart of Dionysos that was carried by Athena in a box to be implanted in Semele for the birth of Dionysos in Thebes. However here it is likely to refer in general to the arrival of Dionysos with the first germination of young plants. A parallel can be found here in the Ionian tale that Pausanias tells in which after the fall of Troy in which the kiste which carried the sacred image of Dionysos, and drove anyone mad who caught a glimpse of it, arrived in the sacred citadel of Artemis and there was kept with certain mysteries of Dionysos that seemed to have included Artemis. In a sense hear Artemis is bearing the mysteries of Dionysos, much in the same way that we see Artemis represented in relation with Despoina, she is the mistress and is also represented as a torch bearer, the leader of the way, the goddess Hegemone.
Thus Poseideia sets all of these things in motion as Poseidon fertilizes the land and Demeter. He is sea-foaming stallion, white as the whiteheads of the waves, crashing upon the land. Or in more northern climates the rush of the snow blowing through the sky. It is the run of rain stamping with a steady thrum of hoof-beats on the ground. He takes the broad dusky mare of the earth. The fertile mare, whom the Sycthians treated much in similar manner to the cow, by taking the milk from her which was remarked upon in Hellenic literature. This flows after the mating, when she is infused with moisture from him.
So happy Poseideia to all, and may we all takes thanks in the heavenly moisture (in its myriad forms) that permeates our world.