This month, there will be a LOT of PAT rituals, and I would like to take a post to discuss what and why. Boedromion was a month dominated by two things: war and death. Many famous battles were fought and/or commemmorated in this month and it was also the month of the Eleusinian Mysteries. We will come back to those in a bit but we will talk about war first.

Wars were very common in ancient Hellas. City-states like Athens, Sparta, Corinth and Thebes were locked in recurring wars over their borders. Often they would band together in leagues to fight as allies. Sometimes ancient Hellas was invaded, sometimes the ancient Hellenic city-states did the invading. In the ancient Hellenic world, warfare was seen as a necessary evil of the human condition: the vast rewards of war could outweigh the costs in material and lives.

For many centuries, the ancient Hellenic campaigning season lasted only for the duration of the Summer months--which for the ancient Hellenes started around April on the Gregorian calendar, roughly late in Elaphebolion, early in Mounichion. Especially in the early years of the ancient Hellenic world, the campaigning sewason ended once the harvest season started: every able bodied man and woman was required to assure the family got through the winter ahead. As such, this time of year saw the end of many wars, the birth of many heroes, and the remembrances of the fallen. Of the eleven  festivals in Boedromion, seven are fairly directly linked to war and its victims:

  • Niketeria (17 September)
  • Plataia (18 September)
  • Sacrifice to Basile (18th September)
  • OPTIONAL: Genesia (19 September)
  • Sacrifice to Epops (19 September)
  • Kharisteria (20 September)
  • Boedromia (21 September)

  • Seeing as we will be holding PAT rituals for all of these and I will post the announcements on the blog, I won't get into them, but in short: the Niketeria is a festival in honor of Athena, Nike, and perhaps Poseidon to commemorate the contest between Poseidon and Athena for Athens. The Plataia (or Plataea) seems to have been a commemorative festival, for the Hellenes fallen at the battle of Plataea. The heroine Basile was most likely a war hero. The Genesia seems to have been a festival of the dead--especially of dead parents. Epops seems to have been another war hero. The Kharisteria is another commemoration of a battle, in this case, the battle of Marathon, and the Boedromia might have been another war commemoration as the epithet of Apollon associated with this festival is 'Boedromios', the helper in distress.

    Now, death. As war and death are intricately linked, the theme of death also applies to the previously mentioned festivals, but Boedromion was also the month in which the Eleunian Greater Mysteries were held. Mythologically, the foundations of the Eleusinian Mysteries can be found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Within the hymn, Demeter travels the globe in her grief over losing Her daughter. She eventually settles at the home of Keleus. Demeter plans to make one of his sons immortal in return for his hospitality but She is interrupted. Instead, she tells Keleus to build Her a temple and altar so she can teach human beings the knowledge they need to have a good life.

    The Mysteries were obviously celebrated to honor Demeter--Demeter Eleusinia, specifically. Through the honoring of Demeter, the ancient Hellenes prayed for a good harvest, and through the worship of Persephone--Kore--those who were initiated in the Mysteries assured they would be looked upon favorably in the Afterlife.

    Since the proceedings of the eleusinian Mysteries were kept secret in fear of the punishment of death, we will never be able to restore these rites. As such, usually Elaion would not celebrate them. None of the Mysteries have a place in Traditional Hellenismos as participating was optional even back then. But this year, we wanted to give it a try. As such, we will celebrate the Mysteries over the course of ten days. We'll start it off with an opening rite, work in the Epidauria, and then host the main event. On the day of the Epidauria, we would like you to fast--if at all possible--until after the nighttime rite for Demeter and Persephone. The other days, you could chose to restruct your diet like the ancient Hellenes would have: no pomegranates, apples, eggs, fowls, and (some varieties of) fish. there will be a blog post about the Mysteries later on in the month, but for now, this is the basic time table:

  • Start (27 September)
  • Epidauria (fasting day) (2 Oktober)
  • Eleusinian Greater Mysteries (nighttime) (2 Oktober)

  • In conclusion: this time was a time where death and the afterlife were on the mind, and where the dead were honored--because the Mysteries most likely also included appeasement and remembrances of the dead. It's a time to remember our beloved dead, and think of those falling every day in modern wars. Elaion hopes you will celebrate these festivals with us.