It's the final day of the Anthesteria, and it has been a wild ride so far. Although I did the rites alone, I did time them with a very dear friend in the US so we performed our rites together. It was very inspiring, and gave me a sense of community that was wonderful to feel. I created a wreath on the first day, and took it out yesterday afternoon with copious amounts of wine offered to Dionysos. I'm not a drinker. In fact, I only drink alcohol when I perform rites to the Theoi, so the amount of alcohol I have consumed the last few days is really quite extraordinary. Still, it would probably measure out to two wine glasses total. It's enough to give me a buzz, and the carpet some beautiful wine stains. Such is the nature of a rite to Dionysos.

Today--or, actually, last night--the last day of the Anthesteria started. On this day, called Khytroi (χύτροι 'pots'), everyone joined in a procession to the temple of Dionysos. It was a somber day consisting of the preparation of a mixture of a panspermia, grains and beans boiled together, along with honey which was offered to Hermes Khthonios on behalf of the spirits of the dead, especially those who died in Deukalion’s flood. The slaves, as well as the dead, were then told to go home, as 'the Anthesteria had ended'.

A special part of the appeasement that took place during Khytroi was the appeasement of the Keres, most notably in driving them off. The Keres are the female daímōns of violent or cruel death, including death in battle, by accident, murder or ravaging disease. They hound the battlefield, in search for the newly dead. They might have help those not favoured by a certain Theos or Theia to find a gruesome death at the hands of an enemy. From Hómēros', Iliad:

"Aphrodite forever stands by her man [Paris] and drives the Keres away from him. Even now she has rescued him when he thought he would perish." -- Zeus to Hera.

The Keres might be the evils released from the jar Pandôra opened in her curiosity. From Hesiod's Works and Days:

"For ere this the tribes of men lived on earth remote and free from ills [kakoi] and hard toil [ponoi] and heavy sickness [nosoi] which bring the Keres [Fates] upon men; for in misery men grow old quickly."

No matter where they came from, they might very well have visited upon the ancient Hellenes quite often during the winter time. With sickness, possible food shortages, cold spells in certain areas, and other disasters that can have a profound influence on life already strained by winter time, the threat of the Keres would have been very real to them. With the Anthesteria, the house and people were cleansed and the dead, along with the Keres, were appeased and driven off. The ancient Hellenes prepared for spring, by casting out the baggage of winter. Much like we clean out the old at the Hene kai Nea, so we can start fresh on Noumenia.

I'll be making a (slightly improvised) panspermia today, and will be putting out a plate at the same crossroads I would usually set out Hekate's dinner at the Hene kai Nea. I will yell 'out you Keres, daímōns, and spirits, the Anthesteria are over!' and come home to uncover my shrines. I hope you have had a wonderful Anthesteria, I most certainly have. Until tomorrow, when we are cleansed and ready for spring.