Given that regionally I am much more connected to the herding and pastoral environment than I am to a grain-providing environment, it is perhaps of little surprise that, while I celebrate both birthdays of Apollon (the Ionic and the Boeotian), that the Boeotian birthday of Apollon has a lot more personal significance to me. I can well imagine in this environment where at this time of the year the waters are just starting to break up with the slow melt of ice and snow the significance of the holy rushing rivers of spring between which Apollon was born on the naturally made island by Thebes, and the drop of new life as in Hellas this would be the lambing season, the first sign of spring as new life is brought forth. The emergence of new animal life is always more apparent here in this far northern latitude than the return of life through greening of the earth. Whereas early spring flowers are blooming there, here it is frigid with ice and snow, but there is that promise of the turning of spring, especially as buds start forming on trees and the gradual appearance of pale fuzz of pussy willows. The tie to the opening and tasting of the casks of winter fermenting wine during the Anthesteria that follows fits in with this idea during this time of the year of emergence of new life after the alchemy of winter time. So the Boeotian birth of Apollon fits so well in this, Apollon the tender herder nursed by the bee nymphs of Mt Parnassos. In this context, in contrast to the Ionic timing in which the killing heat of summer was well on its way that destroys tender flowers, we can well see the significance of flowers blooming over the barren ground in reference to the early spring blossoms associated best with this time of the year. For that reason specifically, even though we don’t have any blooming flowers here right now, I plan on buying some lovely spring flowers to adorn his shrine with to symbolically represent that return of new life at the time of his birth, for he who gathers up the lambs and calves into his kindly arms and protects them from that which prematurely kill them and hungry winter predators, his own creatures.
So on this evening which with the setting sun dawns the day of Prostateria, I will drape sweet flowers on his altar, present him with the sweetest milk and honey offerings to delight the lord. I think my task for today too will be to create a tiny canvas image of the god as a golden babe amid lambs and spring flowers to gift him with on his shrine illuminated by the light of his lamp. While Dionysos is tied to this alchemy of winter that produces the return of new life, and we rejoice in him that renews all things from the remains of Apollon’s destructive force in the autumn, even as the Thyiads of Delphi had in the autumn rended the bull and eaten the ivy, consuming and tearing apart Dionysos and Dionysos was cut down to bring vitality to the harvested vine…..he is the transformation that brings about new existance.It thus appropriate that the finished product is represented in the opening and tasting of the wine casks at Anthesteria is in line with the birth of Apollon as a birth. It further makes sense that Dionysos would later in the spring be honored as the guest of honor at the feast of Apollon at Delphi celebrating the official return of the god just before the city Dionysia. With this frame of mind with the celebration of the birth of Apollon at Prostateria, I also give a small offering to Dionysos even as I do later in the year for the Doric Karneia at the onset of autumn. It is all part of this specific cycle dealing with the relationship of Apollon and Dionysos. Perhaps it is indeed a good omen that today is blue skies and beautiful weather leading into the holy day of Prostateria.