Preparing for Adonia

I often forget to write about rituals that come up, but I haven’t forgotten this time to mention it!¬† So at the moment I am getting ready to celebrate Adonia,which I tend to celebrate on Easter. I know that others hold their celebrations for Adonia later in the year, closer to summer, but I know others who also celebrate on or around Easter, and the fact that I celebrate Hyakinthia at the end of spring makes it rather convenient for my calendar in any case ūüôā There of course seems to be a fair similarity to my mind between the myths of Adonis and that of Hyakinthos. You have competition between two gods (in the myth of Adonis you have him spending part of his year with Persephone, and the other part with Aphrodite, likewise you have Apollon and Zephyrus¬†desiring Hyakinthos), and some seasonal correspondance. However, this does not mean that I feel it is appropriate to lump them together as being representative of the same kind of thing going on in the same time of the year. Rather, the details of the myths reveal certain things about when it may be best to celebrate it, or perhaps even when they were celebrated if one dares to stretch that far.

First, Adonis strikes me as being specifically about spring due to the gods which are involved. Particularly the time between the tail end of summer and in mid-spring, long before the coming of summer. In the myth this seems to highlighted by the fact that he is being torn between Persephone (with whom he spends time while she is in Hades’ court) and Aphrodite. It is suggested to me that when, or perhaps shortly before, Persephone returns to her mother Adonis would have been released to Aphrodite’s company. As such you have Adonis transitioning between winter and spring most specifically, and then destroyed in the flower of his youth by Ares or Apollon, one¬†out of jealousy and the other for retribution,¬†via a boar¬†depending on which version you prefer. Pigs being an animal it seems that have some special connection with the spring and autumn seasons in which you have transitions into¬†and out from winter. It seems that the Calydonian boar is a perfect example of the autumnal transition as the harvest is completed and the boar has been sent out to revenge Artemis¬†upon the people. Turning this over now we have the boar which slays Adonis, which, if you have read my post on boars and pigs, has an especial connection with Artemis as per the location of where he was killed and how this same area once spawned the Calydonian boar too. Therefore Adonis’ boar is the spring equivalent which is also threshing life, though rather than mature life ready for harvest, this boar is destroying the flower that will never, thereafter,¬†fruit. It, therefore, is not entirely logical either to place his festival at the end of spring or anywhere towards summer in which the maturation cycle takes place. Adonis is forever captured as a tender youth hunting in the woods. He is the very imagery of youth prior to taking up the mantle of manhood, and therefore a good reason why you have imagery of the company of Hippolytus hunting with Artemis as the occupation of boys.

This is quite different in character from the Hyakinthia, wherein Hyakinthos is believed to have been portrayed as a¬†deified being¬†as a bearded male as his deification may very well been on the¬†mark the period of transition from youth with which Apollon is particularly concerned. Even the contest over Hyakinthos has a different character from that of Adonis. You have Zephyrus, the spring wind, contending with Apollon over the youth’s affections. And then there is Apollon who accidentally slays the boy with his disc, which seems reasonable to represent the greatest disc of his: the sun. Unlike the transition of winter-spring that we particularly see in the case of Adonis, we are seeing spring-summer in the case of Hyakinthos. As such it is reasonable that Hyakinthia is celebrated at the end of spring, and likewise Adonia would have been celebrated prior after the first blush of spring had faded.

What do I mean by the first blush of spring? I, for one, never would have though in my youth that spring had stages that it went through. Alaska has a spring so short that you take a breath and you pretty much miss it. All the soft flare of spring is just barely¬†a glimpse in the year. However when I spent time in warmer climates I saw first hand the blades of the spring flowers poking through the soil in the middle of winter. And when I went over seas to Morocco¬†in January I was quite startled. A place I had visited previously thick with the heavy scent of big summer blossoms and rich colors, in the winter time was like some fairy paradise with feilds of soft green and the tiniest pale flowers dotting the landscape in the valleys as snow accumulated in the mountains. The weather was chilly, and damp, but it was full of a freshness and innocence that I didn’t realize would have been possible in that landscape. Yet the winter flowers of December and January are rapidly replaced with the spring flowers of February and March more or less. And I recall from my gardening lessons at my mothers knee that a good gardener has stuff planted together that will bloom alternating as the months pass so that there is never a flower free spot in the garden. Therefore the first half of spring is dwindling down getting ready to be replaced by the latter part of spring with its more luxuriant flowers than the small enchanting flowers of the first half, as the season progresses.

I have heard mentioned a practice, which many base their modern festivals from¬†what I understand,¬†in which in Egypt I believe, where greens were grown and left to perish under the sun. Now having read above what I have described I am pretty confident that in Egypt, as another North African country, such greenery would be very unlikely to be growing so near summer. In these climates the greenery goes to town during the rainy months of winter, and then the flowers start really showing up in the beginning of spring. Therefore it seems more likely to me that perhaps sometime in the end of winter, if this was indeed a practice, since I don’t recall if there was a citation for it so I won’t make any positive claims about it, it seems that these would have been growing¬†largely in the latter part of winter and into the spring. Then as spring progressed and the days grew hotter, as the mediteranean heats up quickly, the tender plants would have died long before summer even began. This is my take from what I have seen in any case.

Now following this model specifically doesn’t work for my geographic location. If I had started plants in January or the end of December, if they hadn’t died from the cold they wouldn’t be getting ready to die as spring came around. Because of the particulars of this part of the world, they would be getting ready to really get going instead.¬†¬†For this reason I prefer not to use this agricultural model in my observation of Adonia.However, that said, a northern equivlanet could arguably be made for the season in which mollasses is harvested from maple trees. It is a very brief part of the year in which you wouldn’t know that spring had started for all the snow everywhere, but the trees waking from their slumber let the sap rise and this is tapped by those who are hardy enough to weather the cold to get it. This is perhaps a good distinction in more nothernly places the differences between the first flow of spring compared to the latter part.

The way I celebrate Adonia then is in large part how many celebrate Easter. I cook a ham, perhaps an ironic device considering the boar that did him in, with its sweet glaze that I reserve only for this time of the year. A lot of it is about family, togetherness, and feasting together. Of course this is followed by the solomonities the night before in which sorrow is exhibited for the passing of Adonis. I can imagine some folks can really get into this. I am not so good at it to tell the truth. The Hyakinthia without its overt show of grief is more suited to me than the outpourings for Adonia, but I do my best.

This year I am looking forward to having a statue of Adonis for the occassion. A surprise gift among some other things I get to pick through, it is apparently a fairly valuable little statuette of bronze that is going to make the perfect¬†image. For the first time I will have an image of Adonis for my Adonia! It is just a shame I won’t have my apartment for the occassion so that I can really get into the spirit of things. But, having the Adonia being celebrated around about Easter gives me the oppertunity to enjoy my family for the festival even if I don’t have the oppertunity to do all that I like this year. Therefore, though it will be on a small scale without all the ritual and ceremony that I enjoy, I am thinking it will be a lovely Adonia.


Aphrodite and Apollon

I am of the opinion that the relationship between the Olympians, wherein it can be broken down into segments of close relationships between very specific deities (such as for instance Apollon and his twin Artemis) that the Olympians altogether interact and are working together in ways that we may never really expect or understand. Therefore wherein it is more often that I may think of Apollon in connection with say Zeus, Athena or Artemis among the Olympians, I also must acknowledge Apollon’s roles in cooperation with the others too even if they are a little less evident on the surface.

That said one of the more interesting of Apollon’s relationships that I enjoy considering is that between him and Aphrodite. Over the years I have developed a great deal of respect and fondness for Aphrodite whereas in my youth I had considerable apathy towards her (not really disrespectful but not giving two figs about her either) that changed as I matured and especially after some misadventures indirectly involving Aphrodite that gave me a healthy respect for her at the beginning of my relationship with her. Still, it took me a long time to really see how closely Apollon’s and Aphrodite’s domains touch and where they overlap. And of course after I saw it I wanted to smack myself for not seeing it earlier.

Aphrodite in her nature rules over beauty, and beauty in and of itself is a harmonious arrangement to create perfection (or as near to it as we humans can get, but I think Aphrodite herself represents the true perfection beyond what we can even understand that makes her uniquely the most beautiful of goddesses). Even the name of her daughter by Ares, Harmony, clearly indicates how much a part of this attribute is imbued in the identity of Aphrodite so much so that she can take the raw energies of a god such as Ares and by her union with him she can create perfection by drawing him into a harmonious relationship with her which gives Aphrodite such a reputation as perhaps the only deity to be able to so greatly influence Ares as far as I see. In such the beauty in which she has such influence is one of harmonizing which creates the most beautiful of forms by which we can honestly call her Aphrodite Morpho, the goddess of many forms as she is imbuing beauty everywhere.

How then does this relate to Apollon? Well we know from Plato’s Cratylus and Proklus’ commentary on this text that much in Apollon’s identity refers to him as a god of harmony. Perhaps not so much as a god who creates harmony, even as he is not the god who created the lyre or flutes that he bargained from Hermes, but rather as the god which perfectly utilizes these tools from other gods. This is perhaps one of the beautiful things about the Olympians, and how evident it is that they are working off of each other and cooperatively with each other is in how much of what they do is specifically tied to what another god does. And so Aphrodite is truly the mother of harmony and harmonical principles, but Apollon is the one who most beautifully uses these principles to wrought change as the seasons move around to his tune and he is successively able to gather together all the Muses into a unified train of arts. Such harmonic principles aids him too as a healer in which he restores the balance of the body, and as a destroyer of evil. Therefore it is not unusual that Apollon would have told Theseus to make Aphrodite his guide, for even as the labyrinth (the wind road) can be said to be his in some manner, the way belongs equally with Aphrodite whose strikes the harmonious accord necessary for navigating the labyrinth and to emerge heroic. This harmonizing is of course represented as the love between Ariadne and Theseus for she helped him to succeed (and the Labyrinth has been called Ariadne’s Dancingfloor) but its greater representation must be alluded when Aphrodite’s statue is dedicated to Apollon at Delos. Perhaps this is because of Apollon’s oracle, but is more likely to represent that the heroic triumph and the transofrmation that the labyrinth brings (being under the domain of Apollon in part) is a gift from Apollon, with the necessary aid of Aphrodite. For without the beautiful harmony there is no progress. Without Aphrodite’s harmony, the beauty of the arts over which Apollon reigns would fall flat and lifeless. Therefore the relationship of Apollon and Aphrodite is one that imbues beauty to the soul, and is of significant assistance to the artist.

A small shrine to Aphrodite

Very few gods in my home have their own shrines. I mean my Herm has he small spot beside my doorway but I don’t think that really counts as a shrine. Apollon, Artemis, Zeus and Hera are the four that do as these four are the most important gods in my household worship and the four that receives the most attention from me. Dionysos is more or less added to Zeus’s shrine. The way it generally works out is that I ended up loving Zeus (and Dionysos) rather out of the blue that I suspect has something to do with the relationship between Zeus (and Dionysos) with Apollon. Artemis is a no brainer, and Hera really isn’t either all considered. Then of course there is the fact that my daughter is particularly fond of Zeus and Hera herself. So how does Aphrodite fit in?

Well I could take the easy way out and say that I set up Aphrodite for my daughter since she is also fond of Aphrodite, except that I had a small shrine set up for her since before my daughter started taking an interest in her. This happened largely because I never had any idea how mischevious Aphrodite’s sense of humor can be if you ignore her (clearly I did not read Hippolytus yet either). After a failed marriage, and a handful of brief relationships in my early twenties that were just a mess I decided that Aphrodite was playing with me and set up a shrine to her in my bedroom. At that time is consisted of nothing more than a goosefeather, a small candle in the shape of a cupid, and a print of psyche and eros together.

Today she is in the living room and her shrine has expanded a bit more since then. It includes a bust of Aphrodite, a smaller one of Eros, her goosefeathers, a magnolia seedpod, pearls, and various odds and ends, including a teaset because I associate the familial affection and coming together during teatime with Aphrodite. This provides a balance in my life that is for certain and Aphrodite more or less rules the living room (along with Hestia for other reasons). It just goes to show you don’t have to be a big devotee of a deity to have a shrine, sometimes it is more or less for peace of mind and acknowledgment than anything else. Aphrodite is the mother of Harmony and let there be peace!

Aphrodisia 2011

Today I celebrated Aphrodisia. I know some friends were celebrating it yesterday, but I wanted to wait for the 8th (and yes I am aware that my blog is posting one day in the future but I hate messing with the time zone stuff) since that is a number significant in the worship of Aphrodite. I was a little worried at first because this morning there was a rather impressive thunderstorm and I feared that the weather would be foul for the ritual. I had been finishing the sculpture of Hera in the morning and it always seems to rain whenever I am working on it. But the weather did clear up so that there was bird song coming through the open door and the temperature was mild rather than being cool and damp or hot and humid.

Sadly I couldn’t find any flowers growing anywhere in the vicinity of where I live. Mind you that in this climate many of the flowers have long since expired by the end of June, and what few wild flowers were growing in the ditch beside the neighbor’s property were mowed down. Add that to the fact that since I do not as of yet have a car I couldn’t exactly run to the florist and get some flowers. However, my mint had some lovely flower blossoms on it. Herbs, unlike the tender spring flowers, flower in summer with musky-sweet blossoms. So I pulled some springs of mint (which had small buds on it but not yet bloomed) and popped them in a vase. I am not aware of any mythic connection between menthe and Aphrodite, but it is a pleasant aromatic plant. I also gathered some clippings of oak leaves from the tree in my yard. This association honors her as the daughter of Zeus and Dione, particularly as she was worshipped at Dodona. Therefore it seemed appropriate. I arranged everything on my floral scarf.

During the ritual I read the Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite, a couple of my own poems (especially the one of Aphrodite Morpho), the hymn to Eros. I finished it up with performing my modern version of the crane dance. Arnold (I can’t remember the first name offhand) in her article regarding the Festivals of Delos spoke of the celebration of Aphrodisia in July on Delos and the performance of the Crane Dance in honor of Aphrodite as it is performed also for Apollon. So my personal¬†¬†interpretation is, as most already know, a spiral inward movement accompanied by lyre and chanting, and then returning out again.

Afterward a lovely delicacy of ice cream (a perfect summer treat) in honor of the humid-breathing goddess who surely loves such confections herself! Therefore in closing I say Hail Aphrodite! Blessed Aphrodisia!

Upcoming Aphrodisia July 8

I spoke in another post of the upcoming Hyakinthia coming next week, well anothe ritual that is coming up close is Aphrodisia. Evidence provided in article on the festivals of Delos indicates that the Aphrodisia in Delos occurred every July, but it doesn’t specify an exact date that I can remember (and since my portable harddrive¬†has been¬†out of commission for the time being it means I don’ thave access to my notes of even seeing if it does have a more specific date gah). So I have set the festival for July 8th in honor of Aphrodite. According to the article, like at the festival Delia/Apollonia (the name of the festival at Delos corresponding with the Athenian Thargelia), the festival of Aphrodite also involved the Crane Dance. Is this because of the prominant role of the goddess in the Delian legend of the return of of Theseus and th einitiation of the Crane Dance that was continued to be used in the worship of Apollon? It is hard to say for sure. But that there is a link in Delos between Aphrodite and Apollon is quite ascertained by this myth, and the dedication of the statue of Aphrodite carried from Crete by Ariadne.

My plan for the occassion is to purchase some roses (since for the first time in a long time I don’t have a rose bush growing outside my front door heh), and some decent wine that I shall mix with honey for the libation. Sweets for the sweet ūüôā I will also have my painting of Aphrodite holding her pigeon/dove (if you look at the images of these birds on the post cards from ancient Greek wall paintings they look like pigeons rather than the white birds we normally call doves), crowned with eight roses with myrtle in the background.

I also have several poems to Aphrodite of my own composition that will be read in addition to the Orphic and Homeric Hymns to the goddess.

I do wish, though, based on reading a festival of Aphrodite that some have celebrated recently, that I had access to the ocean or to a rose garden (or any botanical garden for that matter!) Living out in the country without a car makes some planning a bit difficult. I would be pleased even to go down to a lake or something. But we will do the best we can. And in any case I am sure it will be a lovely ritual for Aphrodite ūüôā