Thargelia

The Pan-Ionian Thargelia is a special time of the year that many Hellenic people are celebrating about now. Many folks seem to celebrate it as a two day festival, reserving the first day for Artemis who was believed to have been born the day before Apollon and assisted her mother in his birth at Delos. Although there is little evidence for the worship of Artemis on the previous day as the twins seemed to have both been honored on the seventh day conjointly, with Demeter Chloe (the green, in reference to the green ears of grain that were just beginning to ripen which are sacrificed to Apollon during the Thargelia) honored on the 6th day, the occasional purification rituals of the pharmakos during times of duress could in some sense be connected to Artemis who is herself, like her twin, a purifying deity. However in most cases I go with honoring Demeter Chloe on the day previous and celebrate Thargelia on the 7th of Thargelion within the understanding of this cycle of myths which deal with the ripening and preparation of the wheat ear for harvest. We offer to Demeter, the mother of the wheat ear who cherishes her daughter blossoming into maturity, and we honor Apollon whose birth here is linked to the wheat harvest as much as his Theban Delian birth in the month Prostaterios is linked quite likely with a herding mythic cycle that culminates with the sheep harvests to Apollon Karneios, which is likely why the Spartans agreed with it.  But at Thargelia we see his other birth in reference to the god who brings with him the ripen grains of the earth which corresponds directly to the idea of Apollon bringing the golden grains from Hyperborea, as well as roles of Apollon as god of mice and locusts to protect the grains from their predation, even as a herding god he is a god of wolves to protect the flocks.

His birth with the coming of the green wheat ear therefore is of a very important symbolism in the Thargelia. Although this festival is the first harvest of wheat, hereafter Apollon presides as protector over the grains not only as they continue to ripen but also likely the process in which the grain is prepared for storage. As grain was harvested in the summer shortly after the appearance of the green ears of grain, it is clear that as important as this role is, it is probably one of his shorter mythic cycles, and one that may be connected to the Hyakinthia too in which we find the absence of bread around the same time of the wheat harvest, indicating a specific seasonal focus with the cutting down of the grain and sacrifice of life. Apollon’s appearance at his birth in this cycle therefore is a birth to be a protective-destructive god, a god of the sacrifice, honoring him with the green sacrifice of the immature youth at his own birth understands very well the importance of is part here and undoubtedly a strong link between Apollon and Persephone (and/or Demeter), who is alternatively given as his mother in mystic material. He is born to be the reaper, to be the divine mystagog, the one who indicates the way, lord of the winds, luminous and all shining one.

So on this Thargelia keep that in mind when celebrating his birth, that Apollon is ultimately the god who is born to be the sacrificer and reaper of life at his birth at the Thargelia 🙂

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