I post below some traditional information about the 9th ancient Athenian month of ELAPHEBOLION and which Gods were honoured during this month in ancient times. ELAPHEBOLION started this year (2011) at sundown on Saturday 5th March. There is also a footnote with some practical points for modern day worshippers.[Thanks once again to Bob Clarke of the Hellenic Recon Yahoo chat group for supplying the traditional information.]



Elaphebolion - 9th Month
2nd Year of the 697th Olympiad (2011)


Beginning at sundown on Saturday the 5th of March 2011, is the Noumenia, the new month and Noumenia kata Selene - the first crescent moon which marks the beginning of Elaphebolion which is the ninth month of the second year of the 697th Olympiad. Each Olympiad lasts four years.

Noumenia kata Selene, Agathos Daimon

On the first day of Elaphebolion, the day of the first crescent moon, beginning at sundown on Saturday the 5th of March, the Noumenia kata Selene is celebrated in honor of Selene, Apollon Noumenios, and the household Gods. For every month, on the second day the Agathos Daimon (spirit of abundant goodness, usually Zeus as the bringer of abundant goodness) is honored.

On the third day, Athena is honored, and on the fourth day, Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes, and Eros are honored. On the sixth day, Artemis is honored and, on the seventh day, Apollon is honored. On the eighth day, Poseidon and Theseus are honored and, for this month, the Asklepieia is celebrated in honor of Asklepios. It is a time to seek His blessings in guiding doctors as well as bringing healing and Hygieia (Health).

The Elaphebolia

This month, the Elaphebolia, a festival of honoring Artemis as the shooter of deer, was likely held on the sixth day of Elaphebolion beginning at sundown on Thursday, 10.March when Artemis is normally honored. Cakes in the shape of deer were prepared in homes with likely a modest sacrifice made to Artemis.

The Asklepieia

The Asklepieia was held on the eighth day of Elaphebolion beginning at sundown on Saturday, 12 March six months apart from the Epidauria which also honored Asklepios. The two festivals were likely the time when public doctors made their twice yearly sacrifices to Asklepios. Today, we should be reminded that doctors take the Hippocratic Oath and we should honor Asklepios and seek His guidance for all doctors and those in the medical profession.

Paean of Erythrae ((380-360 B.C.E. - P.M.G. 934)

Sing youths, of Paean, skill-famed, Leto's son,
Far-shooter –
ië Paean! -
who fathered a great joy for mortals
when he mingled in love with Coronis
in the land of the Phlegyae -
ië Paean! -
Asclepius, the most famous god -
ië Paean!
By him were fathered Machaon and Podalirius
and Iaso (Healer)-
ië Paean! -
and fair-eyed Aegle (Radiance) and Panacea (Cure-all), children of
Epione, along with Hygieia (Health), all-glorious,
undefiled;
ië Paean! -
Asclepius, the most famous god –
ië Paean!
Greetings I give you: graciously visit our
wide-spaced city -
ië Paean! -
and grant that we look on the sun's light in joy,
approved with the help of Hygieia, all-glorious,
undefiled;
ië Paean! -
Asclepius, the most famous god -
ië Paean!

Inscribed copies of the paean with some textual variation are known from Ptolemais in Egypt (97 C.E.), Dium in Macedonia (2nd c. C.E.), and Athens (2nd or 3rd c. C.E.).

The Dionysia

The Dionysia begins at sundown on the 14th of March (10 Elaphebolion) and lasts for eight days. The Dionysia included competitive performances of tragedies. The great classic tragedies we treasure today for their revelation of the human condition represent only the winning plays, and of those winning plays less than one percent survive. There are profound religious understandings exemplified in the tragedies such as piety and right action. Although the Gods bring only goodness, the plays provide dramatic realization that what Fate provides in life is not always kind or fair and life is often filled with hardship. It is how we respond to events that the Fates bestow upon us and how we practice right action even under the most difficult of circumstances that cultivates our own agathos daimon, our spirit of goodness and provides examples of right action for others.


The Galaxia

The Galaxia honoring the Mother of the Gods was held at the Vernal Equinox, beginning at sundown on 20.March. Rhea is honored with a dish of barley boiled with milk and likely sweetened with honey and flavored with cinnamon.

The Pandia

Immediately following the Dionysia on the last day (beginning at sundown on 21st March), the Pandia was held in honor of Zeus.

But may Zeus grant that it go well with us. For Zeus' desire is hard to trace: it shines everywhere, even in gloom, together with fortune obscure to mortal men.

Aeschylus - Suppliant Maidens

But whoever willingly sings a victory song for Zeus, he shall gain wisdom altogether,- Zeus, who sets mortals on the path to understanding, Zeus, who has established as a fixed law that "wisdom comes by suffering." But even as trouble, bringing memory of pain, drips over the mind in sleep, so wisdom comes to men, whether they want it or not. Harsh, it seems to me, is the grace of gods enthroned upon their awful seats.

Aeschylus - Agamemnon

Hekate's Deipnon

Hekate's Deipnon will be celebrated on the thirtieth of Elaphebolion beginning at sundown on 3rd April.



Footnote for Modern Day Worshippers:

(Here are some extra practical points from Melissa Gold:)

Elaphebolion - 9th Month of Athenian Calendar

Festivals for modern worshippers during this month, although all are
relatively minor, include:

* Elaphebolia –sundown on Thursday, 10 March to sunset 11 March, a
holiday when Artemis Shooter of Deer is honoured. If you wish to observe
this one, prepare Elaphoi, cakes in the shape of deer – made of dough, honey
and sesame seeds – as offerings and read Homeric hymn #27 to Artemis and
perhaps Orphic hymn #36 to Artemis.

* The Asklepieia - Held on the eighth day of Elaphebolion beginning at
sundown on Saturday, 12 March to sundown 13 March; a time to honour
Asklepios and seek His guidance for all doctors and those in the medical
profession. Read the Orphic Hymn #67 to Asklepios and #68 to Health.

* The Galaxia – An occasion to honour the Mother of the Gods, held at
the Vernal Equinox, beginning at sundown on 20 March. Rhea is offered a
dish of barley boiled with milk and likely sweetened with honey and
flavoured with cinnamon. Read Homeric hymn #30, to Mother of All or Orphic
Hymn #14, to Rhea.

Note: these hymns are suggestions; there is nothing prescribed about which
hymns to read. Also, the reading of hymns is usually part of some ritual
involving incense, fire (candle or other), libations and offerings as noted
above.

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