Mixing calendars and When your Deity has Two Birthdays

Most folks who worship Hellenic gods are rather used to the concept of a day being sacred as the symbolic day of the birth of a given deity (such as the fourth day being sacred to Hermes for being born on the 4th, and the 7th of everything for Apollon for his birth on the 7th).  Yet a number of Hellenic polytheists have a tendency to strictly follow one Hellenic calendar, that is to say usually following the Athenian calendar and so rarely have to deal with conflicts in date with major festive occurances. Yet when you are more interested in the overall worship of a deity throughout Hellas rather than how a deity was worshiped in a given polis, it can lead to some interesting “problems” that may potentially crop up…..namely when you have the festival of the birth of the god occurring in different calendars with a huge separation in months between them.

This is definitely the case of Apollon, as I have mentioned before, when it came to two prominent interpretations regarding the birth of the god. The most commonly accepted one among worshipers is the Ionian/Athenian one in which the god is born on the Ionian island Delos in the late spring, at the very time that the green ears of wheat are present on the stocks during the month of Thargelion. This is also accompanied by the Delian myth of the birth of Apollon. Thargelia is so well known and supported by Hellenic polytheists at large that the Boeotian tradition (which Plutarch records as being agreed by Delphi and Sparta particularly (and of course Sparta would agree with Boeotia regarding such an important god rather than the Athenians with whom they were more often than not in some matter of strife with). Like the strong farming characteristic of the Thargelia with its focus on grains given the season events going on, the Prostateria of the month Prostateria (or Bysios in Delphi, which seems to have been Eleusinios in Sparta due to the occurrance of the Lesser Mysteries in the same month which Athenians call Anthesterion) occurred during lambing season in the early spring.

Some Hellenic polytheists may choose to just select one and go with it, but given the different foci of these two birthdays I am motivated to celebrate them both as expressions of births of the god related to the two very important cycles that he is associated with. I have spoken of these before in what I call the Dionysian cycle for the celebration of the major Dionysian festival of Anthesteria and the culmination of the festival for Apollon as herding deity with Dionysos during the Karneia at the end of summer, and the Demetrian Cycle for the obvious grain based association in which Apollon is a protector of the crops. Also given that this is a god, and the “birth” of a god operates as a symbolic devise usually related to something very specific going on as I have illustrated above, it does not need to follow a literalist interpretation of a singular one given birth of the god considering the gods are not flesh and blood people. As such I have no problem celebrating both birthday of Apollon with different emphasis and focus. As such with Prostateria where I honor the season with goats milk, I make the grain thargelos for Thargelia even though I will readily admit that in my region, with as little as grain grows here, that there is perhaps a deeper significant to me on a personal level with the festivities that I undertake during the Prostateria as the doorway to spring (as Prostaterios is associated with Apollon as a doorway god).

This just goes to show that apparent conflicts can end up being complimentary and work together rather than being an either or situation.


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