Anthesterion is Dionysos' month. Many--if not all-- sacrifices and festivals feature Him in some form or another. The Erkhian calendar holds a sacrifice to Dionysos and His mother Semele on the 16th of the ancient Hellenic month. Will you join us for it today, on 23 March, at the usual 10 am EDT?


There are many versions of Dionysos' birth. In one--perhaps the most famous--Dionysos is born from Semele and Zeus, and while Semele is pregnant with Him, Hera plants seeds of doubt in her mind about the father of the child truly being Zeus. Semele asks Zeus to reveal Himself to her in His true form, and when He is left with no other option, He does so, killing her in the process. Zeus takes pity on His child, and takes Him into either His thigh or testicle, where He is eventually born from. When Dionysos grows up, He raises Semele to Olympos and grants her eternal life. He also places a wreath into the sky to honor her, the Corona Australis. The wreath would be made of myrtle leaves, for Dionysos left a gift of myrtle in the Underworld in return for His mother, and the followers of Dionysos wore crowns of myrtle.

Although the Erkhians left no explanations of the reason of their sacrifices, I am inclined to believe this sacrifice was a local sacrifice in line with the Anthesteria that took place in Athens two days earlier. Most likely, many Erkhians travelled to Athens for the Anthesteria, then back home to sacrifice to Dionysos and His mother in their own hometown as well.

If you are celebrating the Greater Dionysia with us, you could perform this sacrifice instead of the basic ritual we've provided for that day in the rituals for the Dionysia.

Will you join us and honor Dionysos and His mother in your hometown on 23 March, at 10 am EST? You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
Archaeologists have recently discovered an ancient shipwreck which proves the Greek Historian Herodotos was accurate in his description, almost 25 centuries ago, regarding the construction of a Nile river boat called a 'baris'.


An artistic rendition of the discovered shipwreck. The upper half of the model illustrates the wreck
as excavated. Below this, unexcavated areas are mirrored to pro­duce a complete vessel outline
[Credit: Christoph Gerigk/Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation]

The shipwreck, discovered recently off the Mediterranean coast of Egypt near the ancient, and now sunken, city of Thonis-Heracleion was of a vessel called a ”baris. This exact type of ship was described in great detail by Herodotos in his book Historia following a visit he made to the port city of Thonis-Heracleion in Egypt. Herodotos was impressed by the way people were constructing the ship, which was used to sail across the Nile River.

For centuries, scholars and archaeologists believed that the type of ship Herodotos described never actually existed, because such ships had never once been found by anyone on the planet. This theory was recently blown up when a group of archaeologists discovered a well-preserved shipwreck off the coast of Egypt in the Canopic Mouth of the Nile, in the Mediterranean Sea. What the archaeologists saw witnessed when they dove into the waters was exactly the kind of vessel Herodotos had perfectly described in his book exactly 2,469 years ago.

The 28-metre long vessel was one of the first ships used by the Egyptians to trade during ancient times. The vessels Herodotos described in his book must have been the exact same type of ship, but were only slightly smaller. Dr. Damian Robinson, the director of Oxford University’s center for maritime archaeology, points out that 

”...where planks are joined together to form the hull, they are usually joined by mortise and tenon joints which fasten one plank to the next. Here we have a completely unique form of construction, which is not seen anywhere else.”

Most likely, this unique construction was the reason why Herodotos was so amazed when he saw this type of ship. The eminent historian was also astonished by the peculiar types of wood they were using to construct the ships, which to him was completely unknown.

Archaeologists believe that what Herodotos saw could have even been constructed in the very same shipyard as the vessel they discovered, as a word-by-word analysis of Herodotos’ text exactly matches the appearance of the ship.

Belov's exploration of the ship's construction has been published in a monograph by the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology, Ship 17: a baris from Thonis-Heracleion.
A friend of mine, Riley, has put together a document with an assortment of poetry, literary sources, and quasi-hymns to the twelve Olympic Gods that are not Homeric or Orphic. These are great for your personal worship and a wonderful resource to connect with the Theoi. Some are Hellenic in origin, some are much later Roman additions, but I enjoy the sentiment of them.

You can find the document here.
On 21 March, at 10 AM EDT, Elaion hosts a PAT ritual for the Galaxia. This rather obscure festival was held in many places in ancient Hellas, but most notably at Olympia. The Galaxia was closely linked to the vernal equinox, which was used to date it and was (amongst others) in honor of Kronos and Rhea.


The Galaxia is a festival held in honor of the Mother (of the Gods), who in Hellenic mythology is Rhea, although the title is also strongly associated with Gaia and Kybele, who have similar functions. She was worshipped as the mother of Zeus and the Galaxia celebrated His birth just as much as Her giving birth to him. Kronos--as Her consort and His father--was most likely also sacrificed to, along with Hera, who as Zeus' wife deserved honor alongside Him. In our ritual, we have included Helios and the Horai as well, as the Galaxia was associated so closely with the Spring Equinox.

The Galaxia had a special beverage attached to it--well, a special food item: a milk and barley porridge that may have been sacrificed to the Mother, but which was at least consumed at the festival. Pliny the Elder names the porridge a 'puls', which seems to have been a more general term which included pastes made from lentils and beans as well as from grain. On barley-based porridge, he has the following to say in his 'Natural History':

"There are several ways of making barley porridge: the Greeks soak some barley in water and then leave it for a night to dry, and next day dry it by the fire and then grind it in a mill. Some after roasting it more thoroughly sprinkle it again with a small amount of water and dry it before milling; others however shake the young barley out of the ears while green, clean it and while it is wet pound it in a mortar, and wash it of husk in baskets and then dry it in the sun and again pound it, clean it and grind it. But whatever kind of barley is used, when it has been got ready, in the mill they mix in three pounds of flax seed, half a pound of coriander seed, and an eighth of a pint of salt, previously roasting them all. Those who want to keep it for some time in store put it away in new earthenware jars with fine flour and its own bran. Italians bake it without steeping it in water and grind it into fine meal, with the addition of the same ingredients and millet as well." [XVIII-XIV]

Sources which mention the festival speak only of a milk and barley beverage that can be poured. Fundamentally, porridge is made by mixing oats with a fluid (normally water and or milk) and then heating it. Combine barley, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring continuously. Turn the heat to low and steam until grains are soft and all the liquid is absorbed. Add the milk once the water level drops below the level of the barley. Cooking time depends on the form of barley used. Use one cup dry barley on three cups of water.

- Hulled barley is unprocessed and takes the longest to boil, about an hour and 15 minutes before it's soft.
- Pearl Barley or Pearled Barley is the most common form of barley available and is sold in most supermarkets. Because the outer hulls including the bran have been removed, the grains have a pearly white color. Cooking time: 50-60 minutes.
- Quick Barley, or instant barley is pearl barley that is pre-steamed then dried, shortening the cooking time considerably, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Barley Grits are processed similar to bulghur wheat. The grain is cracked, and toasted or parboiled, then dried, making it a quick-cooking product--about 2-3 minutes. As such, add a little less water or milk.
- Barley Flakes, Pressed Barley, or Rolled Barley have the appearance of rolled oats and are often included in muesli-type cereals. The cooking time is about 30 minutes.
- Barley Flour is hulled barley that is finely ground and has a lightness and delicate sweetness. It can be stirred into milk until the right consistency is reached.
To get a consistency where the puls can be poured, add milk or water to thin the porridge. If you want to sweeten the porridge a little, add warmed honey to the mixture.

We hope you will join us tomorrow, on March 21 at the usual 10 AM. The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.
The Dionysia ta en Astei (Διονύσια τὰ ἐν Ἄστει), Dionysia ta Megala (Διονύσια τὰ Μεγάλα), Great(er) Dionysia, or City Dionysia, was and is a true theatric festival of Dionysos. The City Dionysia is held on the 10th to 17th days of Elaphebolion and I have realized I have not posted up the PAT ritual yet! Elaion usually hosts an eight day festival for it, which is now two days less. Oops! Apologies! The Dionysia ta en Astei runs from 17 - 24 March, at the usual 10 am EDT.


The City Dionysia is thought to have been founded, or at least revived, by the tyrant Pisistratus (around 530 BC), and was held in Athens, when the city was once again full of visitors after the winter. The festival honors Dionysos Eleuthereus (Διονυσος Ελευθερευς), who was said to have been introduced into Athens from the village of Eleuterae (Ελευθέραι). The festival focuses on the performance of tragedies, but has included the performing of comedies since 487 BC. It was the second-most important festival after the Panathenaia.

According to myth, the festival was established after Eleutherae, a border-town between Attica and Boeotia, chose to become part of Attica. The Eleuthereans had an established festival of Dionysos--which then became the rural Dionysia--and celebrated to occasion by bringing a statue of Dionysos to Athens. The Athenians, by then not big on the worship of Dionysos, initially rejected the statue, but Dionysos punished the Athenians with a plague affecting the male genitalia. The Athenians, rightfully spooked, accepted the statue and honor of Dionysos, and the plague was cured. These events were recalled each year by two processions, the first, carrying the statue of Dionysos from His temple outside of the city of Athens into the city, and the second where various groups proceeded through the city to the theater, arrayed in groups distinguishable by color or other articles of dress.

Dionysos was a métoikos in a city of Athens, a resident alien, and on the first two days of the festival, the métoikoi of the city got to wear brightly colored festival clothes--mostly purple--and carried trays of offerings in the processions, something métoikoi never got to do otherwise. The Athenian citizens, on the other hand, wore their day-to-day clothes and carried wine and bread with them, or herded the bulls which would be sacrificed. At the end of the processions, the statue of Dionysos was placed in His temple in the theater district, and sacrifices were made to Him. Flute players and poets held contests, and were eager to outdo each other. After all of this, the festival most likely became very Dionysian, indeed.

Singing and dancing had always been a big part of the City Dionysia, but after a while, the structure of the eight day festival became more apparent. Instead of random singing and dancing, from the third day onward, everyone flocked to the theaters to view the plays, whose names and creators had been announced the day prior. The next three days of the festival were devoted to the tragic plays. The three chosen playwrights performed three tragedies and one satyr play each, one set of plays per day. Famous playwrights include Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. They were judged by judges (agonothetai) chosen on the second day.

On the seventh day of the festival, five comedies by famous playwrights like Philemon, Chionides, and Aristophanes were performed. Comedies were of secondary importance at the Dionysia--the Lenaia was far more important for those--but winning the comedic prize at the Dionysia was still regarded a great honor. It seems that, from the fifth century BC onwards, plays could be recycled, and the audience seemed to have appreciated it. These plays were fan favorites, and were not rushed to completion.

Another procession and celebration was held on the final day and the winners of the competitions were declared. The winning playwrights won a wreath of ivy or a goat, and when old plays were performed, the producer was awarded the prize rather than the long-dead playwright.

For the city Dionysia, we will be reading 'The Bacchae', a play by Euripides. We did it last year as well and we wanted to keep it a tradition. The play premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included 'Iphigeneia at Aulis' and 'Alcmaeon in Corinth', and which Euripides' son or nephew probably directed. It won first prize in the City Dionysia festival competition.

The Dionysus in Euripides' tale is a young God, angry that his mortal family, the royal house of Cadmus, has denied him a place of honor as a deity. His mortal mother, Semele, was a mistress of Zeus; while pregnant she was killed, through trickery, by Hera, who was jealous of her husband's affair. When Semele died, her sisters said it was Zeus' will and accused her of lying; they also accused their father, Cadmus, of using Zeus as a cover-up. Most of Semele's family refuse to believe Dionysus is the son of Zeus, and the young God is spurned in his home. He has traveled throughout Asia and other foreign lands, gathering a cult of female worshipers (Maenads or Bacchantes).

At the play's start he has returned, disguised as a stranger, to take revenge on the house of Cadmus. He has also driven the women of Thebes, including his aunts, into an ecstatic frenzy, sending them dancing and hunting on Mount Cithaeron, much to the horror of their families. Complicating matters, his cousin, the young king Pentheus, has declared a ban on the worship of Dionysus throughout Thebes. The Bacchae is considered to be not only Euripides' greatest tragedy, but one of the greatest ever written, modern or ancient. You can find links to several versions of the play in the rituals document.

You can find the rituals for the event here and join the community here. The first and last days have larger rituals and we've made a small ritual for the days in-between. You can skip two of those to catch up. The idea is that you read part of the play every day and finish it on the day of the last ritual. We hope you will join us in honoring Dionysos in his many, many forms.
Projection: First Light is a platform computer game that follows the adventures of Greta, a girl living in a mythological shadow puppet world, as she embarks on a journey of self-enlightenment with the assistance of legendary heroes from each culture she explores.


Accompanied by atmospheric visuals and an ethereal soundtrack made with antique instruments used for shadow puppet performances, Projection: First Light takes players on an inclusive voyage through the history of shadow puppets as it evolves through Indonesia, China, Turkey, Greece, and 19th century England.

Early in her expedition, Greta takes control of a source of light and learns of her ability to manipulate it. Shadows become platforms and walls, other elegant and imaginative solutions irradiate puzzles, and enemies can be dispersed – as Projection: First Light explores themes of worldliness, respect and understanding.

Project: First Light is developed by Shadowplay Studios, a small indy developer based out of Australia. Although the release date is expected to be fall of 2019, you can go check out the game on Steam and their website. The game will be available on Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, and the Xbox One.
We all know the Orphic Hymns; a collection of eighty-seven short religious poems composed in either the late Hellenistic or early Roman (first or second century AD) era. They are based on the beliefs of Orphism, a mystery cult or religious philosophy which claimed descent from the teachings of the mythical hero Orpheus. The Mysteries were mostly connected to Demeter, Persephone, life after death and reincarnation. From the Orphic Hymns also comes a list of which incenses to offer to which deity. For all Orphic Hymns, go here.

Beyond the Orphic Hymns, there are the Orphic Fragments, poems and lines connected to the Orphic school of thought. Many of these are a true treasure-trove of information and religious material. As I'm swamped today, I am leaving you with one of these poems on queue.

"Zeus is the first. Zeus the thunderer, is the last.
Zeus is the head. Zeus is the middle, and by Zeus all things were fabricated.
Zeus is male, Immortal Zeus is female.
Zeus is the foundation of the earth and of the starry heaven.
Zeus is the breath of all things. Zeus is the rushing of indefatigable fire.
Zeus is the root of the sea: He is the Sun and Moon.
Zeus is the king; He is the author of universal life;
One Power, one Dæmon, the mighty prince of all things:
One kingly frame, in which this universe revolves,
Fire and water, earth and ether, night and day,
And Metis (Counsel) the primeval father, and all-delightful Eros (Love).
All these things are United in the vast body of Zeus.
Would you behold his head and his fair face,
It is the resplendent heaven, round which his golden locks
Of glittering stars are beautifully exalted in the air.
On each side are the two golden taurine horns,
The risings and settings, the tracks of the celestial gods;
His eyes the sun and the Opposing moon;
His unfallacious Mind the royal incorruptible Ether."

The cost of entry fees to 24 archaeological sites, museums and monuments in Greece will increase after the Central Archaeological Council (CAC) approved proposals put forward by a working team responsible for determining the new pricing system for sites across the country. According to the proposals, the 2-1 euro ticket category will be replaced by the 3-2 euro class, while there will be an increase in fees in a total of 24 archaeological sites, museums and monuments and a reduction in five sites. The new costs will take effect from 2020 onwards.


The new proposals presented to the CAC took into account statistics and revenue from tickets, the state of the sites, their location, their popularity, the completion of NSRF projects and, in particular, their visitation rate.

More specifically, there will be increases in ticket prices in archaeological sites and museums, such as the National Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, where the full and the reduced ticket of 10 and 5 euros, respectively, will become 12 and 6 euros.

-In the Archaeological site of the Ancient Agora and Museum of the Attalos Lodge, as well as in the Archaeological Site of Sounio, the entry ticket will cost 10 euros from 8 euros (4 euros reduced) (5 euros reduced).

-The Archaeological Site of the Roman Agora and the Archaeological Site of Dodoni from 6 euros (3 euros reduced) to 8 euros (4 euros reduced).

-In the Archaeological Site of Hadrian’s Library, the Archaeological Museum of Ioannina, the Archaeological Site of Ancient Thera, the Diachronous Museum of Larissa and the White Tower from 4 euros (2 euros reduced) to 6 euros (3 reduced).

I'll be completely honest and say these prices should probably be doubled. The new prices, not the old ones. Why? Because Greece is strapped for cash, and the archaeology budget could use a boost. So many sites are struggling, so many research is currently unfunded--and all of it could increase our understanding and awareness of ancient Hellenic life and worship. I live in The Netherlands where tickets to anything cost $5 - $50, and the $5 things are things no sane person would spend money on. It helps fund these things. It's healthy economy. 

The ancient sites are Greece's main draw--and biggest source of revenue. Make use of it. Pour the money back into restauration and research. Create more sites. Repeat. It won't solve all issues, but a $2 boost is going to solve even less.

On the eighth day of Elaphebolion, the Asklepieia (Ἀσκληπίεια) was held in honor of Asklēpiós, who was honored monthly on the eighth. The Asklepieia is linked to the Epidausia, celebrated six months later, as both were special days where those in the medical profession--as well as those seeking medical counsel--made sacrifices to Asklēpiós. Will you join us today, on the 15th of March, at 10 am EDT? (Sorry, this one slipped by on me!)


In 242 BC, during the Mercenary War, the sanctuary at Epidaurus was granted immunity from war, and the Asklepieia Megala was established as a festival of athletic and musical competitions, held every four years, for a nine day period. Theater performances were also a huge part of the festival, and the famous theater of Epidaurus still stands today, one of the seven wonders of ancient Hellas.

The first of the festival days was spent preparing for the actual festival. The second day, religious exercises were undertaken. All temples and shrines were richly decorated and sacrifices were made to Apollon, Asklēpiós, Artemis, and Leto. Perhaps and the children of Asklēpiós--Hygieia (health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (recuperation from illness), Aceso (the healing process), Aglaea (beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment), and Panakea (universal remedy)--also received sacrifice. Apollon received the first offering along with Asklēpiós: a cock, the fowl associated with Asklēpiós. They also received barley meal, wheat, and wine. Asklēpiós was then gifted a bull, a second bull was sacrificed to His male associates, and a cow to His female associates.

On the eve of the third day, a statue of Asklēpiós was driven through the precinct, and followed by torch-bearers and priests, who sung hymns to Him. The priests sang and spoke the praise of the Theos. There were vigils throughout the night, and during the daylight hours of the third day, there were feasts. The succeeding days were given up to athletic contests in the stadium, races, wrestling contests, singing contests and theater performances.

The Asklepieia Megala was only held at Epidaurus; all other asklepieia--as well as at Epidausus the other three years--held only a small ceremony for the Theos. The festival did not include athletic games outside of the Asklepieia Megala, but there might have been a focus on singing, and there might have been large banquets, held after sacrifices were made to the Theos.

You can find the ritual here, and we really hope you will join us on the Elaion Facebook page for this one, too!
Mentalfloss recently put together twelve facts about the Acropolis in Athens, which was quite entertaining. You can read the whole thing here, but below are the highlights.


ITS HUMAN HISTORY IS NEOLITHIC.
Humans have inhabited the limestone slopes of what became the Acropolis for centuries; they were likely drawn to the water from its natural springs. There's evidence of habitation in the area dating back to the Neolithic period between 4000-3200 BCE, with both a house and a grave identified from around this era. A series of shafts have also been discovered, with several vessels found in their deep chasms. One theory is that the shafts were once wells, while another is that they were a site of ritual burial, since human bones were found among the objects buried within.

ITS FIRST STRUCTURES WERE BUILT FOR DEFENSIVE PURPOSES.
From its central position above Athens, the Acropolis is perfectly positioned for strategic military defense—and its major initial structures were in fact focused on preparing for war. The ancient Mycenaeans built its first defensive wall in the 13th century BCE (a structure so strong that fragments still survive today), which was the primary defense of the Acropolis for around eight centuries. Eventually the site would gain religious significance, with temples being added to the area.

A COLOSSAL ATHENA ONCE PRESIDED OVER THE ACROPOLIS.
The Acropolis is the most complete surviving ancient Greek monumental complex, which is remarkable considering the centuries of natural disasters, war, and reconstruction. Still, much of its ornamentation and art is now gone. One of these losses is a colossal statue of Athena once located inside the Parthenon. Known as Athena Parthenos, it stood almost 40 feet tall and was made from gold and ivory by the sculptor Phidias. Dressed in armor and covered in jewelry, it was an awe-inspiring spectacle that reaffirmed Athens's spiritual and economic power.
The statue disappeared in late antiquity, and was likely destroyed—but thanks to Roman replicas, we can still get an idea of what the Athena Parthenos looked like. To experience a facsimile of its full scale, however, you must travel to Nashville, Tennessee. There, in the 1980s, artist Alan LeQuire created a full-sized reconstruction of Athena Parthenos, now housed within the city's Parthenon replica.

BRINGING MARBLE TO THE ACROPOLIS WAS A MONUMENTAL TASK.
The marble that composes the Acropolis’s classical structures, including the Parthenon, is not local. It was quarried at Mount Pentelicus, located 10 miles to the northeast of Athens and famed for the uniformity of its white marble. It was hard labor to quarry the marble, with stonemasons using iron wedges and mallets to pound apart blocks along their fissures. From Mount Pentelicus, workers used a downhill road to move the marble on its long journey to Athens, where they still had to get the rocks up the steep slopes of the Acropolis.

THE WORLD’S OLDEST WEATHER STATION IS AT ITS BASE.
Located on the slopes of the Acropolis is what's considered the oldest weather station in the world. Known as the Tower of the Winds, the octagonal marble structure dates back 2000 years, and is likely to have once held a bronze wind vane above its sundial. Many historians also believe that it contained a water clock that was hydraulically powered with water flowing down the steep Acropolis hill, so that Athenians could tell the time even after dark. Lord Elgin, who brought many of the Parthenon's sculptures to London, wanted to bring this structure as well, but was denied. After a recent restoration, it opened to the public for the first time in nearly two centuries in 2016.

RESTORATION STARTED 40 YEARS AGO—AND IT'S STILL GOING.
A major restoration of the Acropolis started in 1975, under the new Committee for the Conservation of the Monuments on the Acropolis, which meticulously examined the state of the hilltop and began work to return it to its ancient condition. Marble from the exact mountain where the original stone was quarried is used for structural interventions, and conservators employ similar tools to those employed by ancient artisans. But since just one block can take over three months to repair, the project is still ongoing—and will hopefully stabilize the site for centuries to come.
“Beyond the theater is the shrine of Aphrodite. In front of the foundation is a stele on which Telesilla, a poet of lyric, is depicted. Her books are tossed near her feet while she looks at the helmet she holds in her hand as she is about to put it on her head. Telesilla was famous among women and especially honored for her poetry.

But a greater story about her comes from when the Argives were bested by Kleomenes the son of Alexandrides and the Lakedaimonians. Some Argives died during the battle itself and however many fled to the grove of Ares died there too—at first they left the grove under an armistice but they realized they were deceived and were burned with the rest in the grove. As a result, Kleomenes led the Spartans to an Argos bereft of men.

But Telesilla stationed on the wall of the city all the slaves who were unable to bear arms because of youth or old age and, after collecting however many weapons had been left in homes or in the shrines, she armed all the women at the strongest age and once she had armed herself they took up posts were the army was going to attack.

When the Spartans came near and the women were not awestruck by their battle-cry but waited and were fighting bravely, then the Spartans, because they reasoned that if they killed the women the victory would be ill-rumored even as their own defeat would come with great insult, yielded to the women.

The Pythian priestess had predicted this contest earlier in the prophecy relayed by Herodotus who may or may not have understood it (6.77):

'But when the female conquers the male
And drives him away and wins glory for the Argives,
It will make many Argive women tear their cheeks.
These are the words of the oracle on the women’s accomplishment.'”

Greece is a varied country that presents numerous opportunities for subsistence, survival, and livelihood. The terrain changes significantly from one region to the next, imposing limits on the forms of livelihood of individuals of any particular region. Coastal and flood plains provided some poleis with rich fertile lands capable of producing large amounts of barley and wheat. The history of ancient Hellas is in many ways the story of how environment and geography shaped the ways that communities and individuals interacted with each other.


A changing climate could demand the adaptation of any particular region to those changes, either by forging human ties and relations or by encouraging revolutions in technology. The construction of terraces was a way of changing the face of the landscape to increase the amount of arable land for a region. In this regard, there is ample literary evidence that humans recognized the fertilizing value of manure and spread it on their gardens and fields to produce larger crop yields. Technological innovation in metallurgy, agriculture, and milling occurred at various points in antiquity, each time providing humans with a little more control over their environment.

In classical Hellas the natural environment was transformed but not destroyed. People were not conservation-minded but they seem to have known the strengths and weaknesses of their environment. This knowledge probably helped them to also develop an advanced civilization.
The ancient Hellenic landscape included both city and country. The basic political unit of the Hellenic world was the polis that included an urban center (asty) and its surrounding land (chora), often incorporating additional towns and villages. The Greek word polis is usually  translated into English as "city-state". But, whereas we usually think of cities only as urban centers, the Hellenic concept was that of the city plus its surrounding land as an integrated whole.

Τhe individual in ancient Hellas could use the land in a number of other ways. The shepherd could lead flocks from one patch of unused or unclaimed land to the next, following seasonal patterns of migration . Local potters could make use of clay beds to produce pottery and roof tiles; builders could use the same source to construct mudbrick houses. Moreover, the gathering and collecting of a variety of vegetation could supplement local diet, as could the hunting of hares and wild boar and fishing for a wide variety of sea creatures.

But even with the variety of exploitative strategies, nature was always unfair. The geography and the climate preferred some regions to others and provided limited economic opportunities for each city-state. It seems that people in classical Hellas had exploited the environment and used its natural resources or even abused some of them such as forests and game species. 

Overall, however, the practices they employed were not devastating but rather moderate resulting in a heterogeneous landscape. They did not exceed the limits of Mediterranean ecosystems to resilience. As a result, these ecosystems did not collapse but were able to self-regenerate and recover. By clearing, burning, terracing, coppicing, grazing, browsing, hunting and constructing, people in the classical period modified their natural  environment and established an agro-silva-pastoral equilibrium which apparently helped them to live in harmony with nature and create cultural artifacts as well as viable human societies.
On the sixth of the month of Elaphebolion, the people of Athens and Phocis (Φωκίδα), and perhaps other cities and city-states, held a modest festival for Artemis that gave lended name to the month: the Elaphebolia (Έλαφηβόλια). Will you join us on March 13th at the usual 10 am EDT in celebrating the rite?


It appears that the festival was a major festival in honor of Artemis Elaphêbolos (Αρτεμις Ελαφηβολος) down to the time of Plutarch. It was mainly observed at Hyampolis, to commemorate a Phocian victory over the Thessalians. Afterwards, it seems to have lost its grander, most likely in the face of the Greater Dionysia which was held only a few days later, starting on the tenth of the month, and the Asklepia, held on the eighth.

Artemis Elaphêbolos is the stag-killer, the shooter of deer, the huntress who relishes the chase. She's the slayer of prey, both animal and human, and in ancient Hellas, she guarded Hyampolis and the surrounding cities from the horrors of war.

The festival was most likely quite grand right after the war, but slowly became a festival which consisted almost entirely of a single offering. In the early days, the offering was always a stag, one per family, most likely. As the years went on, however, and the expansion of cities drove the stag far into the Athenian hills, only the city's elite was able to offer a stag to the Goddess. Everyone else made due with cakes in the shape of stags. It seems these stag cakes--called 'elaphos' (ἔλαφος)--were made out of the basic dough mixture with honey, and sesame seeds.

You can find the ritual here, and we really hope you will join us on the community page here.
I've never heard the voices of the Gods and Goddesses I worship, but I have been in contact with them on numerous occasions. I know people whom the Gods actually, literally, speak to. I have never been that girl, and that is just fine by me. That way, I'm sure it's not just the inner sock puppets--a term gratefully borrowed--I'm dealing with. See, I talk to myself all the time. I talk out loud--to my dinner, my computer, my cat, my books, anything--but I also talk to myself a lot in my head. I have entire internal dialogues, especially when I'm in bed. Adding a Divine voice to that would freak me out.

This, however, does not mean that I'm never in contact with the Gods. I have come to rely on a certain gut feeling that is impossible to describe. It feels a little like someone puts a hand on your neck and lower back at the same time and pinches. I spoke about the feeling in my post about synchronicity, and those times, I definitely feel that presence. Due to that feeling, I also know exactly which of my divinations and meditations are Divinely inspired. Then there is another thing by which I know I'm on the right path in life: déjà vu's.

I haven't figured out exactly how it works, but I am absolute rubbish at remembering my dreams. I just can not remember them. I tried training my memory to remember them for a while, trying to keep a dream diary, but as soon as I wake up, the dreams fade into my subconscious. Unlike my girlfriend, they also don't come back to me when I go to bed at night. Yet, when I get one of those Divinely inspired déjà vu's, I simply know that the situation was already shown to me in a dream.

Sometimes, these situations are situations in which I could use some help. The déjà vu shows me what to do, say or where to go. Sometimes, I get a feeling that I need to go somewhere and I get rewarded with a déjà vu on the way there, letting me know I'll experience or find something that will aid me. And I always do. Sometimes, I do, buy or try something and I get rewarded very shortly after with a déjà vu. These déjà vu's usually don't have anything to do with the situation at hand; they are simply scenes to show me that I took the right fork in the road and ended up in the right place at the right time for the Divine plan to come to fruition.

I realize this may sound very New-Agey. In fact, I don't really like talking about these things. I'm better at talking about my practice. But this is part of the kharis between me and the Theoi, and that is important to me. It's all UPG, of course, but it has been--and still is--one of the foundations of my daily religious life.

Do you interact with the Gods you worship? If so, how? If you don't, is this something that bothers you? I look forward to hearing your stories.
Spring is in the air here, but then it gets washed out by a ton of rain or a freezing spell, so why not some not-exactly-according-to-mythology-but-super-cute comic love between Hades and Persephone, hm?

Source of the art: Linda Luksic Sejic