So last night I celebrated Kourotrophia, and it was simple but lovely. It is simple largely because the main part of the festival…that where children at the age of 12 or 13 would present to the goddess their toys as part of their transition into adulthood….was obviously not part of it. My daughter won’t even be of the age until next year, but that doesn’t mean that the festival is even remotely less important though their are no children of the house to present this offering to the goddess who raises up the children (Artemis Kourotrophoi). But, with this in mind it is nice to give small gifts to the goddess who helps our development, for if we think for a moment what this transition means…from childhood into youth we are seeing the transition from a largely sensory-life of a child (that though it is full of imagination it tends to be more “at the moment”) to a more rational cognitive stage of life in which they are more actively analysizing things and how these things relate to them. They go from being entirely dependent on the parent-figure, to progressively more independent. It is the very symbolism of growth and progress. Therefore it is an important part of her interaction with our living souls…that which she drives forward into transitions, and that which she nurturers into strong growth. Therefore this gifts honors the succor that she provides for our developing souls that are so much as children to the gods.
Also because this is my first kourotrophia I thought of a nice small gift…something my own daughter gave to me as a gift of a child, and it was so appropriate in its symbolizing that it is perserved now at the shrineof Artemis. It is a small silk rose with a small bear (the bear children of a girl’s infancy period) nested in with it. And lavendar oil (for its sweet clean scent) offered to her with a libation into the oil warmer bowl for the vapors to rise to the goddess. As years progress I may think of other additions to add to the festival. I do know that there was a Spartan festival that was performed by nurses in honor of Artemis but with my portable harddrive still down I don’t have access to anyof this information. But it maybe worthwhile to look into in the future when this time of the year comes around again. In any case hail Artemis Kourotrophoi, and apparently also Hekate Kourotrophos!
Below is a poem I wrote for and read during the ritual:
Great are you, Artemis, raising up the young
Great are you, Kourotrophoi, the often sung
For ever have maidens lifted praise to thee,
You who draw the sapling erect to the tree,
As the girls, saffron-clad, address to you
Kiss-smudged dolls by which they imbue
The remnants of infancy; and too the youth
Pays his respect, enjoining his ball with the rest
Of childhood treasures gathered to your breast
For you delight in the innocence of each sound,
Of each shout and laugh that which is ever bound
Within by each bit of cloth, leather and thread
Endlessly singing of happy days, carefree-led.
So hail Kourotrophoi, nurse of the young
By your winnowing care upward we sprung
Like a plane-tree tall, erect, broad and strong
And bless the children, they whom to you belong.