Anthesteria 2014   1 comment


pithogia. pithogia! PITHOGIA!


my anthesteria celebrations were very different from last year’s, when i was so bogged down in miasmic grief. (thank you for that, o theoi.) i think the very nature of the festival helped me cope, but it was hard, and sad, and deep. each year i’ve celebrated anthesteria (5 years? 6? why can’t i remember?) it’s gone deeper and stranger and richer, and this year was no exception, but i have to say that i’m glad i didn’t have to embrace the mourning aspect so intimately this time around.

and for me, the best day by far was pithogia which, of course, makes sense on the surface at least, as pithogia is the boisterous day, opening the wine jars and welcoming the God Who Comes.

this year i bought Him new wine, local wine, sweet red and pink wines, and as i hoped, this was well-received and i didn’t get scared (at least as badly) as last year when i forgot. for the first time ever i timed it ‘correctly’ by starting the festival at sunset instead of standard time, and while the jury’s still out on adopting the traditional practice wholesale, i have to confess it was perfect for this one. so instead of beginning on tuesday 11th, as i have on my calendar, i decorated my dionysos bust and opened the wine bottles on the evening of the 10th. i thoroughly enjoyed preparing for the festival, getting the hearth decorated, and the incense selected, and the ritual vessels washed and ready. i was also busy baking cupcakes for some young homeschool friends coming to visit the next day, so the pleasant bustle of baking was also part of the evening. as i came in from the barn, ready to do ritual, it suddenly hit me how close ‘kore’ and ‘keres’ are linguistically, and how weirdly appropriate that is, and wondered why that has never occurred to me before.

it was so gorgeous when i set out with my wine bottle, opener and fresh-baked cupcake in hand to the Dio and Dryad tree. there were a couple of inches of hard-crusted snow on the grass, and a gorgeous near-full moon overhead, and an exciting hint of warmth in the wind. i have the illusion of being very private on my farm, but i’m really not. on the rare occasions the neighbors are out i can hear them perfectly clearly, on both sides and even on sara’s big farm across the lane (and it always frosts me when they intrude on my night wanderings). it was perfectly silent on pithogia night, so silent i could hear that weird buzzing that i associate with stardance, and that i can only hear in winter. my boots were INSANELY loud, crunching through that loud, hard, icy crust, the only sound in the night, perfectly and disconcertingly audible to anyone within half a mile. it bugged me to be so conspicuous, and i wondered how the prey animals felt, unable to move without broadcasting to all the neighborhood predators their exact location.

but when i hit the orchard, all that went out the window. under the trees the snow was clear, and the ground was soft, and spring was waiting for me in the moonlight. i could feel it under my yaktrax, smell it on the night breeze, the burgeoning, swelling growth under the earth pushing and straining to burst forth into the air, exciting and intoxicating. the moon behind the still-bare branches of the apple and pear trees was like a gift. i was rooted there like a tree for a long time, dissolving into the wonder and the privilege of being out there, part of the sacred night.

i poured the wine and laid the offerings at the feet of the dryad. what i got there from the God is personal and not of interest or intelligibility to anyone else, but i will say that involved stamping and pressing, and red red juice, and a variant of the dagaz/infinity symbol shown to me by Demeter at last year’s GEM. and ekstasis, of course. boy oh boy, do i love Dionysos.

i opened the wine. the earth warmed, softened, limbs loosened. the dead came forth.

khoes was just as beautiful, with the onset of a monster winter storm, if not as drenched in Presence. there were already several inches of snow on the ground by the time i made it out to the marshy pond, so my footsteps weren’t as guncrack-loud as the night before, and the silence included the eerie hissing of the snowfall, much like the approach of Trophonios during incubation.

i don’t feel the dead at anthesteria as i do at samhain, as individuals whom i can recognize and know and with whom i might even communicate a little. but i did get a sense of them this time, as a community Presence, not inimical but not friendly either, per se. they were watching me as i processed down the lane, marley as always behind me, and it made me very uncomfortable. it’s rare that a car comes down my quiet lane (there are only 2 homes further down from my driveway) but i always get so butthurt if anyone catches me out there in the lane, and no one did this time. but the feeling of discomfort and annoyance was very similar, and especially strange since i knew the keres were there and expected that they would be around for the limnaios offerings.

but while it didn’t scare me exactly, it did freak me out a little, and i didn’t linger after i left the offerings and prayers to the basilanna and her Bridegroom, and to orestes.

on the way back i hung my girls from Dio’s dryad. i had traced them from the cover illustrations of margaret atwood’s penelopiad, those unutterably sad little girls murdered by monstrous odysseus and his psychotic spawn. after i cut them out i tied purple ribbons around their necks. their sad little paper arms kept lifting while i was slipping on the tiny nooses, as if trying to fend of the rope, and i had to keep patiently and inexorably pushing them down, before i could tighten the knots. it created a lump in my own throat. after i tied them to the tree i poured libations to all the lost girls, and hurried inside. no chimes, or pigeons, or feelings of terror this year, but i didn’t want to linger.

i need to get a swing.

khutroi was almost businesslike. i made the panspermia of 3 grains, and a third of a cup of olive oil, and a third of cup of honey, and water. fortunately my husband had snow-blown the driveway clear earlier, so i didn’t have to push through two feet of snow, but it was icy and slippery on the driveway, and deep and treacherous in the yard. i spent some wonderful time at the herm with Him, reveling in the transformed landscape, all vestiges of spring obliterated, plunged back into winter. shortly thereafter i trudged back through the deep snow to the persephone shrine with her offerings, pomegranate soda, a cupcake and an apple. the flower-faced Maiden, and the Queen of Ghosts. i had never really understood how much this festival is Hers. duh. Hieros Gamos and all.

and finally the banishing of the keres, which turned largely into comedy, although the comedy had a dark edge to it. tramp and marley came out with me and my incense stick, and we trooped around the house in the deep track left by the snowblower, until it ended and there was a sea of snow close to three feet deep ahead. i plunged on, holding my incense high and exclaiming ‘thuraze, keres! ouket Anthesteria!’ and figured i’d catch the dumb dog and goofy cat back at the door. but no. ancient tramp decided he had to defend me from the wandering keres, and leapt after me through the snow. he almost disappeared, and almost didn’t make it around the house. we had to stop several times for him to rest before he could leap up and forward again, and i was starting to wonder if i would have to try and pick him up, bad shoulder and all, or if he was just going to give out and depart in Hermes’ train along with the ghosts.

we finally made it to the cleared patio, and i cleaned the snow off him and praised his heroism, and went back around to the back of the house to retrieve marley.

who wasn’t there.

and is WAY too small, big cat though she is, to be in that depth of snow. so in a minor panic i plunged in again, checking out my tracks and tramp’s, and found her sitting on the AC unit, looking anxious. i convinced her that discretion was the better part of valor, and carried her around to the patio and dumped her in the house.

only to find that tramp was gone.

but he had just followed us to the deep part, and this time decided to wait, and came trotting happily to me when i called.

so the keres did not claim my furbabies, the shrines were uncovered (to my huge relief, it REALLY bugged me to have them covered this time around for some reason), i smudged the inside of the house as well, and closed the ritual.

and now i’m really, really really ready for spring.

oh geez. it’s snowing AGAIN.




Posted February 15, 2014 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

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One response to “Anthesteria 2014

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  1. Pingback: A word from the archiboukolos of the thiasos of the Starry Bull | The House of Vines

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