UNDER THE SPIRIT OF HEK-A-T-EE THE GREEK INVISIBLE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT,RELATED WITH HEC-T-IA
Most societies, even today, rely on an agricultural sector to provide their food and, therefore, survival. If the harvest is adequate, most people will survive; otherwise, there will be famine. Whatever power provides the bounty deserves praise. While many of us have stopped thanking “God” for the bounty, that was why we celebrated Thanksgiving, originally. Even today, many people who ordinarily chow down without saying “grace” add this prayer to the fall feast.
Around the same time of year a festival used to be held in Ancient Greece in honor of the goddess who taught mankind to tend the soil. Then there was no question but that the festival was part of the goddess’ worship. The festival, Thesmophoria, was held during a month known as Pyanopsion (Puanepsion), in the lunisolar calendar of the Athenians. Since our calendar is solar, the month doesn’t exactly match, but Pyanopsion would be, more or less, October into November, the same months as the Canadian and U.S. Thanksgivings. In ancient Greece this was the time of the fall planting.
Asking Demeter’s Help
On the 11-13 of Pyanopsion, Greek matrons took a break from their usually homebound lives to participate in the autumn sowing (Sporetos) festival known as Thesmophoria. Although most of the practices remain a mystery, we know that the holiday was a bit more involved than our modern versions, and that no men were allowed to participate. The matrons probably symbolically relived the anguish Demeter suffered when her daughter Kore/Persephone was abducted by Hades. They also probably asked for her help in obtaining a bountiful harvest.
Demeter (the Greek version of the Roman goddess Ceres) was the goddess of grain. It was her job to feed the world, but when she discovered her daughter had been kidnapped, she became so depressed she wouldn’t do her job. Finally, she found out where her daughter was, but that didn’t help much. She still wanted Persephone back and the god who had abducted Persephone didn’t want to return his lovely prize. Demeter refused to eat or feed the world until the other gods arranged a satisfactory resolution to her conflict with Hades over Persephone. After her reunion with her daughter, Demeter gave the gift of agriculture to mankind so we could plant for ourselves.
Before the Thesmophoria festival itself, there was a preparatory night-time festival called the Stenia. At the Stenia women engaged in Aiskhrologia, insulting each other and using foul language. This commemorated Iambe’s successful attempts to make the grieving mother Demeter laugh.
Here’s the story about Iambe and Demeter.
A long time she sat upon the stool without speaking because of her sorrow, and greeted no one by word or by sign, but rested, never smiling, and tasting neither food nor drink, because she pined with longing for her deep-bosomed daughter, until careful Iambe — who pleased her moods in aftertime also — moved the holy lady with many a quip and jest to smile and laugh and cheer her heart.
During the Stenia portion of the Thesmophoria women may have placed fertility objects, molded bread, pine cones and piglets, in a snake-filled chamber called a megaron. After the uneaten pig remains had begun to rot, the women retrieved them and the other objects. This happened during the Thesmophoria proper. Two days may not have been enough time for decomposition, so some people think the fertility objects were thrown down not during the Stenia, but during the Skira, a midsummer fertility festival. This would have given them 4 months to decompose. That presents another problem, since the remains might not have lasted for four months.
The first day of the Thesmophoria itself was Anodos, the ascent. Carrying all the supplies they would need for 2 nights and 3 days, the women went up the hill, set up camp on the Thesmophorion (the hillside sanctuary of Demeter Thesmophoros ‘Demeter the law-giver’). They then slept on the ground, probably in 2-person leafy huts, since Aristophanes* refers to “sleeping partners”.
The second day of the Thesmophoria was the Nesteia ‘Fast’ when women fasted and mocked each other, again using the foul language that may have been a deliberate imitation of Iambe and Demeter. They may also have whipped each other with bark scourges.
The third day of the Thesmophoria was the Kalligeneia ‘Fair Offspring’. Commemorating Demeter’s torch-light search for her daughter, Persephone, there was a night-time torch-lit ceremony. The Antletriai ‘Bailers’ ritually purified, descended to the megaronto remove the decayed matter thrown down earlier (either a couple of days or up to 4 months): pigs, pine cones, and dough that had been formed in the shape of men’s genitals. They clapped to scare the snakes away and brought back the material so they could place it on the altars for later use as especially potent fertilizer in the sowing of seed.
“It is called Thesmophoria, because Demeter is called Thesmophoros in respect of her establishing laws or thesmoi in accordance with which men must provide nourishment and work the land.”
From < http://www.lamp.ac.uk/~davidnoy/greek12.htm > David Noy’s Notes on the Scholiast to Lucian’s Dialogues of the Courtesans
2)POMONA- ROMAN THANKSGIVING
OPS was the Latin goddess of plenty. Single parts of her province were taken over by various other divinities, among whom was Pomona (pomorum patrona, “she who cares for fruits”). She is represented as a maiden with fruit in her arms and a pruning-knife in her hand.
“I am the ancient apple-queen.
As once I was so am I now–
For evermore a hope unseen
Betwixt the blossom and the bough.
“Ah, where’s the river’s hidden gold!
And where’s the windy grave of Troy?
Yet come I as I came of old,
From out the heart of summer’s joy.”
Many Roman poets told stories about her, the best known being by Ovid, who says that she was wooed by many orchard-gods, but preferred to remain unmarried. Among her suitors was Vertumnus (“the changer”), the god of the turning year, who had charge of the exchange of trade, the turning of river channel, and chiefly of the change in nature from flower to ripe fruit. True to his character he took many forms to gain Pomona’s love. Now he was a ploughman (spring), now a fisherman (summer), now a reaper (autumn).
At last he took the likeness of an old woman (winter), and went to gossip with Pomona. After sounding her mind and finding her averse to marriage, the woman pleaded for Vertumnus’s success.
“Is not he the first to have the fruits which
are thy delight? And does he not hold thy
gifts in his joyous right hand?”
–OVID: Vertumnus and Pomona.
Then the crone told her the story of Anaxarete who was so cold to her lover Iphis that he hanged himself, and she at the window watching his funeral train pass by was changed to a marble statue. Advising Pomona to avoid such a fate, Vertumnus donned his proper form, that of a handsome young man, and Pomona, moved by the story and his beauty, yielded and became his wife.
Vertumnus had a statue in the Tuscan Way in Rome, and a temple. His festival, the Vortumnalia, was held on the 23d of August, when the summer began to wane. Garlands and garden produce were offered to him.
Pomona had been assigned one of the fifteen flamina, priests whose duty it was to kindle the fire for special sacrifices. She had a grove near Ostia where a harvest festival was held about November first. Not much is known of the ceremonies, but from the similar August holiday much may be deduced. Then the deities of fire and water were propitiated that their disfavor might not ruin the crops. On Pomona’s day doubtless thanks was rendered them for their aid to the harvest. An offering of first-fruits was made in August; in November the winter store of nuts and apples was opened. The horses released from toil contended in races.
From Pomona’s festival nuts and apples, from the Druidic Samhain the supernatural element, combined to give later generations the charms and omens from nuts and apples which are made trial of at Hallowe’en.
3)Halloween (Oíche Shamhna)-CELTIC(=CELEETES) THANKSGIVING
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.
(TO BE CONTINUED)