Elaion is proud to announce that on the sixth and seventh of Thargelion, we will be hosting another PAT ritual, this time for the Thargelia. PAT rituals, or Practicing Apart Together rituals, have become a staple for Elaion, where we, as an organisation, provide a date, time, and ritual for the festival at hand, and around the globe, as many of our members as possible perform the ritual at their homes. Some do it alone, some in groups, and we tend to share experiences and photographs of the altar or the festivities on the Elaion Facebook page.

On the 6th and 7th of Thargelion the two day festival of the Thargelia was held in honour of Artemis and Apollon Pythios. The Thargelia was a pre-harvest festival at Athens, and we will celebrate it over the course of two days. The rituals can be found here and here, with the focus on Artemis and Demeter on the sixth, and on Apollon on the seventh. You can join either for a one day celebration by combining the two.

The Thargelia (Θαργήλια) was essentially an agricultural festival, and as such, the Thargelia included a purifying and expiatory ceremony. While the people offered the first-fruits of the earth to Apollon, especially, in token of thankfulness, it was at the same time necessary to propitiate Him, lest He might ruin the harvest by excessive heat, possibly accompanied by pestilence.

In ancient times, two poor, ugly men (or a man and a woman) were chosen each year to be Pharmakoi. They were often prisoners, and fed for a while at public expense and were then paraded around Athens as scapegoats for the people, one wearing a string of black figs to represent the men, the other white figs to represent the women.  At the end of the procession, they were flogged and beaten with fig branches and squills (sea onions), and driven expelled from the city. It could be that in very ancient times, these men were  stoned to death themselves once they reached the place of sacrifice on the shore, but it's likely that they were soon replaced with animals, if they were ever even sacrificed themselves at all. Whatever the case, the bodies were burned, and the ashes thrown into the sea or land, to fertilize. The purificatory preceded the thanksgiving service. That first day, a sheep was also sacrificed to Demeter Khloe on the Acropolis, and perhaps a swine to the Fates.

The second day was a lot less gruesome: a great pot of vegetables was prepared as an offering of the first fruits to Apollon. A panspermia was ritually sown into the earth. The Thargelia also featured choral contests among pairs of phratriai, and was recognized by phratriai as a day of festival and sacrifice. An eiresione (olive branch of supplication) with fillets of white wool and first fruits attached was carried in procession along with a winnowing basket full of fruit. This was either a new one, or the one created for the Pyanepsia.

We hope you join us for this celebration at 10 am on 25 and 25 May, and that you will perhaps feel comfortable sharing your experiences on our Facebook page.