Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finishing the Dedicant Journey, and beginning the next...

What a journey.

These past few months, as I have said several times (kind of ad nauseum), have been amazing. I can't believe the growth that I have seen in myself! And at my age!

I have been asked to create a Hellenic rite for 3CGs Spring Equinox. I have a basic rite that I perform for devotionals with added cowbell for high days that follows the COoR. All I had to do was edit!

Spring Equinox is in honor of Persephone in an obscure holiday called Anthesphoria, or The Festival of the Flowers. Persephone is returning from the Underworld, and similarly to the Country Dionysia, each area celebrated at a local discretion when there were enough flowers to pick and make wreaths to hang on farm equipment and the like, so the Goddess would bless their growing season. Buying flowers for this was considered blasphemous. This is not a highly documented rite. Most information you will find about it is in the history of the Roman Florisertum, or Flower Festival, of which Anthesphoria is a precursor. Also, it was mostly carried out by the women and children and not directly tied to the state. No taxes, no records. You know how it goes.

So, in honor of my lady, Persephone, I wrote a rite with her as the Deity of the Occasion. I will still have to edit when I know what exactly the grove wants to do for the workings portion. They had said something about blessing tools and the like. But now that the main part of the rite is done, we can nit-pick it to death at the next liturgy meeting.

I am very grateful to have a grove that is allowing me to hijack a rite and perform it in a foreign hearth culture. I am part of the grove. I am part of the grove family. I am at home, and asking me to DIC this rite is proof of reciprocity.

Also, this is the last rite I need to cover for my DP. What a way to end the cycle! I began at Beltaine last year as a solitary with no intention of ever joining a grove, and I am ending with Spring Equinox as a full grove member and DIC to boot! It is almost too much, but I actually feel like I am ready. Not like the Yule fiasco *shudders*.

It is humbling to look back at the gifts I have been given on this journey. Since beginning the Dedicant path, the Kindred have given me everything I have asked for. Everything. I will probably weep through my Dedicant Oath (Druid moon in March!) because of it, but I don't care. May my tears be a gift to my gods.

What a journey.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Anthesteria: Preparing for The More Ancient Festival of Apollonius Sophistes (Dionysos)

Fellow Hellenes will not need an explanation of the festival, but for the non-Hellenes, I will begin with a description of the holiday.

In short, this is another festival for Dionysos. The new wine was ready. When the new jars were opened, the smell of the wine (which had not yet been diluted as is their normal practice) would attract the Ghosts of the dead, and they would come and drink. At sundown, the wine was watered down 1:4 with water, and in the morning a day of drinking begins. I mean, everyone drinks. They have important figures involved in drinking competitions to see who can drain their mug first. Similar to the Winter festivals of Dionysos (The Country Dionysia), there are drinking games among the common folk as well. They even had bands of drunken men in the back of carts who would go around shouting obscenities and insults at people and singing lewd songs.

During these three days the Greeks gave offerings and tolerated the presence of the ghosts of the dead, but on the end of the third day, they carry jugs of wine to the edges of the city and kick out the spirits. Kinda like, "Hey, we did our part and gave you stuff, now get out."

Then the wife of the King becomes Ariadne and sleeps with some guy who represents Dionysos.


The coolest part is the Tree of Life. They had a tall pole that "grew" out of an omphalos-shaped base wound with ivy . "The Tree of Life Grows from the Navel of the World." hehe...I found the Hellenic World Tree.

The main reason I wanted to visit this festival is because of the focus and variation on the relationship between us and the Ancestors. I understand the importance of honoring the Ancestors, but there is a lot of baggage in my Ancestor's box. The Greeks thought of the dead more like we think of the Outdwellers, and Anthesteria was about honoring/recognizing the roaming spirits (Kheres) for one day and then kicking them out. This more than describes how I feel about my ancestors sometimes. I am moving past this point of view, but some days, I want to yell: "Out, Kheres! It is no longer Anthesteria!"

This year, I am going to let go of the past. I am going to embrace for one day all the hurts that have been inflicted upon me that I just can't get rid of. I will allow them to flow through me and then I will look at how much I have changed and rid myself of the hurt and sorrow and anger that I have been holding for far too long. Due to an inspired blog written by dubhlainn I am also going to be relieving the Oath I took in baptism as a Christian to Isu. I definitely forged a bond with my god as a Christian, just like the bonds I have with my current patrons. I think it is safe to say that I have evolved past and moved on from those promises I made (and I made a lot of promises). I am working through my guilt about being a Oath-breaker, and I think that formally recognizing the contributions that Jesus, The Holy Spirit and Father God made in my life and acknowledging that I am moving forward because of the foundation built at that time will aid me in letting go of a lot of other things. I also know that I cannot make my Dedicant Oath in March until I do this. This is one of the most important Oaths I am ever going to make, and I want to come into it pure of heart and mind with as much of my past clearly put behind me as possible.

I'll let you know how it goes. I know how much this is going to hurt, but sometimes the worst of jobs can also be the most rewarding...