The Theseia was an ancient festival held in Athens in the honor of Theseus--as there were many others this month. The focus of this one is actually on his bones and lasting memory; it's a memorial rite. Will you join us in honoring Theseus? In remembering his deeds and the lessons he taught us? Join us on the 29th of September at the usual 10 am EDT.


Theseus (Θησεύς) was fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, whom had both slept with his mother Aethra, and was thus destined to become a hero. All heroes were given at least one divine parent--usually one connected to their later deeds. The same held true for kings. When he heard about the Minotaur of Krete, and the nine-yearly sacrifices to it--a punishment by King Minos of Krete for the death of his son Androgeus, at the hands of Athenian assassins--Theseus offered to be one of the youths who sailed for Krete. Once there, Ariadne, daughter of the king, fell for him and offered him a ball of yarn so he would be able to find his way out off the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur the youths would be sacrificed to. With Ariadne's aid, Theseus defeated the Minotaur, and brought the sacrificial children home.

The Theseia (Θησεῖα) was not instituted till BC. 469, when Athenian statesman and strategos Cimon brought the (alledged) remains of Theseus from Scyros to Athens. After the Persian wars, around 476/5 BC, Athenian Archon Phaedo was prompted by a Pythian priestess at Delphi to return the bones of Theseus to their city. Cimon, upon hearing the oracle, sailed to Skyros to retrieve them. Plutarch, in 'Theseus' tells the story of discovery, collection and retrieval as follows:

"...when Cimon took the island (as is related in his life), and had a great ambition to find out the place where Theseus was buried, he, by chance, spied an eagle upon a rising ground pecking with her beak and tearing up the earth with her talons, when on the sudden it came into his mind, as it were by some divine inspiration, to dig there, and search for the bones of Theseus. There were found in that place a coffin of a man of more than ordinary size, and a brazen spear-head, and a sword lying by it, all which he took aboard his galley and brought with him to Athens."

The Athenians were delighted with the return and the bones that either were or were not Theseus' were laid to rest where they became an intrical part of Athenian life:

"Upon which the Athenians, greatly delighted, went out to meet and receive the relics with splendid processions and sacrifices, as if it were Theseus himself returning alive to the city. He lies interred in the middle of the city, near the present gymnasium. His tomb is a sanctuary and refuge for slaves, and all those of mean condition that fly from the persecution of men in power, in memory that Theseus while he lived was an assister and protector of the distressed, and never refused the petitions of the afflicted that fled to him."

The festival of the Theseia was held on the eighth of every month, but the eighth of Pyanepsion was especially important because the ancient Athenians considered this the day that Theseus returned from Krete:

"The chief and most solemn sacrifice which they celebrate to him is kept on the eighth day of Pyanepsion, on which he returned with the Athenian young men from Crete. Besides which they sacrifice to him on the eighth day of every month, either because he returned from Troezen the eighth day of Hecatombaeon, as Diodorus the geographer writes, or else thinking that number to be proper to him, because he was reputed to be born of Neptune, because they sacrifice to Neptune on the eighth day of every month. The number eight being the first cube of an even number, and the double of the first square, seemed to be an emblem of the steadfast and immovable power of this god, who from thence has the names of Asphalius and Gaeiochus, that is, the establisher and stayer of the earth."

The festival was celebrated with donations of bread and meat, which were given to the poor people so they could 'fancy themselves equal to the wealthiest citizens'. This happened on the evening portion of the eigth of the month (the ancient Hellenes started the new day at sundown). I suspect the offerings that went along with the shared banquet had a slightly Khthonic character. Heroes and heroines have a special place in Hellenismos, as they had in ancient Hellas. These were humans--most with at least a part divine heritage--who were considered so brave, so skillful, so extraordinary in their lifetime that they became revered. Hero worship was very specific and it's a concept that translates with more difficulty than straight-up deity worship.

Archeological evidence suggests that hero worship was closer to khthonic sacrifice in execution than ouranic ones the further back in time you go; especially in the archaic period, it seems that hero worship consisted of destructive sacrifices--sometimes in the form of a holókaustos where the entire animal was burned, sometimes in a sacrifice where only a part (most often 'a ninth' of the animal) was burned and the rest remained on the altar for the heroes to eat from until gone. The sacrifices were generally burned in an offering pit known as a bothros. The food offered to heroes consisted of meat, blood, and 'food eaten by men' like grains, fruits and other every-day dishes. These were usually offered to the heroes on a table--known as a trapeza--and the heroes were sometimes offered chairs or a bench to sit on. As time went on, the living began to eat part of the meal laid out for the heroes, joining them in celebration.

Contests were also part of the festival, during the daylight hours, but we don't know much about these contests; we don't know what sort of contests they were, for example. All we know is that they were 'gymnastic contests'.

We hope you will join us for the event! If you feel like doing so, the ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.
A Swiss-led team of archaeologists in Greece has made a spectacular find: the temple of Artemis, a famous open-air sanctuary of antiquity. Researchers have been looking for the sanctuary for more than a century. The site was found at the foot of the Paleoekklisies hill near the small fishing town of Amarynthos on the Greek island of Euboea. It’s about 10km from the place where the temple was wrongly thought to be located.


Since 2007, the search for the sanctuary has been led by Karl Reber, a professor at the Universty of Lausanne and director of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Athens.

Now, after also finding artefacts with inscriptions, they are sure that they have located the site of the Artemis Amarynthia, which was the end point of the annual procession of people from the once prosperous trading city of Eretrea, 10km away.

They held a festival in honour of Artemis, who was worshipped as the patron Goddess of Amarynthos, which takes its name from an Eretrean man who was besotted by Artemis.

For many images of the temple remains, visit The Archaeological New Network.
As you may have noticed, it's a new month and thus many festivals are taking place in the coming days. Two today: the Pyanepsia and the Oskhophoria. They are both for the 28th of September, at ten and 11 am EDT.

The Pyanepsia


On the 28h of September, 7 Pyanepsion, we start with the Pyanepsia. The Pyanepsia (Πυανέψια) was one of the many harvest festivals of the season, but instead of focussing on the actual harvest, the Pyanepsia focusses almost completely on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

Theseus (Θησεύς) was fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, whom had both slept with his mother Aethra, and was thus destined to become a hero. In order to claim his rightful place as ruler over Athens, he had to uncover his father's sandals and sword from under a stone in his mother's birth land where Theseus grew up, and bring it to his mortal father. He did, taking the long and dangerous route over land, and fought many Khthonic creatures and mortal bandits in the process. This was long before he would vow to bring down the Minotaur and thus, set in motion the events that led up to the strange festival of Pyanepsia.

Theseus' father, Aegeus, had taken Medea as his new wife. Afraid hat Theseus would claim the throne and take her position of power from her, Medea pressed Theseus to capture the Marathonian Bull. This, he did, but upon returning, Medea tried to poison him. Aegeus recognized his son just in time and Medea fled while father and son reunited. Theseus then heard about the Minotaur of Crete, and the nine-yearly sacrifices to it. These sacrifices were a punishment by King Minos of Crete for the death of his son Androgeus, at the hands of Athenian assassins.

Theseus offered to be one of the youths who sailed for Crete. Once there, Ariadne, daughter of the king, fell for him and offered him a ball of yarn so he would be able to find his way out off the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur the youths would be sacrificed to. Theseus defeated the Minotaur and took Ariadne and her sister Phaedra from their home in thanks for their help. That night, they slept on the beach but Athena woke up Theseus and told him to sail out now, and to leave Ariadne and Phaedra behind. He did, although it pained him greatly. In his dismay, he forgot to sail with the white sails he had promised his father to sail with if he was alive. As he reached the main land, Aegeus saw the black sails and figured his son dead. He then cast himself off of the cliffs overlooking the sea, and drowned.

Theseus blamed himself for his father's death, but was very relieved to be home none the less. He wished to thank Apollon for his safe journey and his victory over the Minotaur and thus, he ordered his men to gather all the foodstuffs that remained. This was mostly beans and grains, and he ordered the food to be cooked up for a feast and a sacrifice.

In celebration, Theseus then put together an eiresiône (εἰρεσιώνη), a branch of olive or laurel bound with purple or white wool. It was decorated with fruits of the season, pastries, and small jars of honey, oil and wine. The eiresiône was also called a 'supplicant branch', as it was intended as a thank-offering for blessings received, and at the same time as a prayer for similar blessings and protection against evil in future. He walked through the streets of Athens with his eiresiône, to signal his victory and the end of scarcity.

In ancient Hellas, and especially Athens, both observances were conglomerated into the Pyanepsia, and boys tended to carry their home made eiresiône through the streets in a Halloween-esque manner. They knocked on the doors of every house and sang a song. In return, they expected a gift. The eiresiône song from Plutarch, Life of Theseus, 22.5, goes as follows:

'eiresiône suka pherei kai pionas artous
kai meli en kotulêi kai elaion apopsêsasthai
kai kulik' euzôron, hôs an methuousa katheudêi.'

Modern Greek pronunciation:
(Capitalized syllables are emphasized according to the poetic meter)
'EE-re-si-ON-NE SEE-ka fe-RE KE PEE-on-as AR-tous
KE me-lee EN ko-tee-LEE ke e-LE-on a-POP-SEE-SAS-the
KE kee-lik EF-ZO-RON, OS AN me-thee-OU-sa ka-THEV-dee.'

Plutarch has the song:
“Eiresione for us brings figs and bread of the richest,
brings us honey in pots and oil to rub off from the body,
Strong wine too in a cup, that one may go to bed mellow.”
A special eiresiône was brought to the temple of Apollon by a boy whose parents were both alive. He was encouraged to recite the song during the procession. By the Classical Period an eiresione was hung over almost every door in Athens and remained here a full year before being replaced by a new one.

The sacrifice to Apollon was upheld for a long while as well. The ship Theseus used on his return from Crete to Athens was kept in the Athenian harbor as a memorial for several centuries. It was maintained and kept in proper shape. Often, this meant replacing parts of the ship, a practice which led to the question if the ship could still ethically be called the ship of Theseus after so much of it had been replaced. This dilemma became known as the 'Ship of Theseus paradox'. 

At any rate, the ship was sailed out to the island of Delos--which housed a sanctuary of Apollon--yearly after Theseus' return. To ensure the sanctity of the sacrifice, executions were not allowed to take place during the weeks it took to sail to Delos and back.

You can join us for this event on Facebook. The ritual for it can be found here. We would love for you to share your experiences and images of your eiresiône.


The Oskhophoria


The Oskhophoria (ὀσχοφόρια), or Oschophoria when Latinized, was an ancient Hellenic festival dedicated to Dionysos, Ariadne, Athena Skiras, and Apollon. This month, festivals are either related to the Eleusinian Mysteries or the mythology surrounding Theseus. This festival is one of the latter. It was a vintage festival and we would like to invite you to join us for it at 10:00 am EDT on September 28th.

The Oskhophoria falls during the vintage season in Attica. The principal feature of this festival, the procession, featured ripe grapevines. As such, we can assume that this festival was a thanksgiving for the grape harvest. In fact, branches of vines with fresh grapes were carried in a great procession from the temple of Dionysos in Athens, to the ancient temple of Athena Skiras in Phalerus. This was the main feature of the festival. After Theseus, hero and king, the festival was augmented to include the recounting of his many exploits with accommodation to earlier traditions. It seems that this recounting was done at the banqueting after the ritual and there would be much recounting indeed. Because the festival adopted features from mythology, Apollon also became one of the Theoi sacrificed to, as He is closely tied to the mythology of Theseus.

Many sources have snippits of information about the Oskhophoria and most disagree, as we have come to expect. We can be fairly certain the ancient Hellenes attributed the mythical foundation of the festival to Theseus, however, and many details of the festival relate back to his journey to Krete:
  • the procession featured two youthful men in female attire, said to recall the trick of Theseus in which he substituted two of the seven female tributes with young male fighters
  • mothers carrying dinner baskets also featured, representing the mothers of the fourteen tributes who made a last meal for their children before they sailed
  • the Oskophoria was an ocassion for storytelling, as the youths sailing to Krete would have needed their spirits raised
Plutarch's account, in 'Theseus', recounts the origins of the festival as follows, obviously trying to make a coherent whole out of contradictory evidence:

"The feast called Oschophoria, or the feast of boughs, which to this day the Athenians celebrate, was then first instituted by Theseus. For he took not with him the full number of virgins which by lot were to be carried away, but selected two youths of his acquaintance, of fair and womanish faces, but of a manly and forward spirit, and having, by frequent baths, and avoiding the heat and scorching of the sun, with a constant use of all the ointments and washes and dresses that serve to the adorning of the head or smoothing the skin or improving the complexion, in a manner changed them from what they were before, and having taught them farther to counterfeit the very voice and carriage and gait of virgins so that there could not be the least difference perceived, he, undiscovered by any, put them into the number of the Athenian maids designed for Crete. At his return, he and these two youths led up a solemn procession, in the same habit that is now worn by those who carry the vine-branches.
Those branches they carry in honour of Bacchus and Ariadne, for the sake of their story before related; or rather because they happened to return in autumn, the time of gathering the grapes. The women, whom they call Deipnopherae, or supper-carriers, are taken into these ceremonies, and assist at the sacrifice, in remembrance and imitation of the mothers of the young men and virgins upon whom the lot fell, for thus they ran about bringing bread and meat to their children; and because the women then told their sons and daughters many tales and stories, to comfort and encourage them under the danger they were going upon, it has still continued a custom that at this feast old fables and tales should be told.
 For these particularities we are indebted to the history of Demon. There was then a place chosen out, and a temple erected in it to Theseus, and those families out of whom the tribute of the youth was gathered were appointed to pay tax to the temple for sacrifices to him. And the house of the Phytalidae had the overseeing of these sacrifices, Theseus doing them that honour in recompense of their former hospitality."

In the myth of Theseus and the minotaur, Theseus, looking to become king of Athens, hears about the Minotaur of Krete, and the nine-yearly sacrifices to it. These sacrifices were a punishment by King Minos of krete for the death of his son Androgeus, at the hands of Athenian assassins. Theseus offered to be one of the youths who sailed for Krete. Once there, Ariadne, daughter of the king, fell for him and offered him a ball of yarn so he would be able to find his way out off the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur the youths would be sacrificed to. Theseus defeated the Minotaur and took Ariadne and her sister Phaedra from their home in thanks for their help. That night, they slept on the beach but Athena woke up Theseus and told him to sail out now, and to leave Ariadne and Phaedra behind. He did, although it pained him greatly. It was here, Dionysos found Ariadne and fell in love with her. He would later end up marrying her and she became his immortal wife.

Because the Oskophoria is in many ways two festivals in one, it is a hard one to pin down in terms of modern worship. The Oschophoria was essentially a banquet celebration in honor of Theseus and the rescue of youths and maidens and even more so, an older celebration of the vintage combining traditions of Salamis and Athens. Well into the fourth century BC, two branches of the Salaminians were involved in preparation, were Deipnophoroi, and received equal portions of the meat. The vintage rituals of the Salamic Goddess Skiras became associated with Athena Skiras and naturally Dionysos. The various Theseus mythos was explained through the numerous recounting which we have added to the ritual.

We hope you join us in celebrating this festival. You can join the Facebook community here and find the ritual here.
We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for the restaurant Guerilla Gourmet and its owner James Canter. Together, they have raised $ 75,- to help support this very worthy cause. Thank you very much!


When Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm, it left thousands of Crossroads residents without water or power. James Canter started cooking and he hasn't stopped. He owns the Guerrilla Gourmet restaurant located on the first floor of the Victoria Advocate. He has cooked food for more than 30 years.

Canter, 45, wasted no time getting his staff together to begin serving free meals to anyone who showed up at the restaurant. All he asked is that the customers pay what they could or wanted to, with the donations going to the cause. In a five-day span, Canter and his staff fed more than 4,000 people in the Crossroads.

Canter encourages those who are hungry or without food to stop by the restaurant at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. According to Canter:

"Food is our common thread as a race. Food brings people together. Just seeing the smiles of what a simple bowl of soup can bring is incredible. As long as there are people who need food and comfort, we're going to give it to them. We're in it for the long haul."

The raised funds go towards providing meals to ground crews and anyone that needs a hot meal in hurricane-stricken Victoria.

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community. Please pitch your cause before September 30th. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
In the daylight hours of the 27th of September, on 6 Pyanepsion, we will celebrate and host a ritual for the Proerosia which, in Attica, honoured Demeter and Apollon first and foremost as Goddess of the harvest and oracular deity who insured bountiful harvest. It seems that in Myrrhinus, the primary recipient of worship during the Proerosia was Zeus. Will you join us at 10 AM EDT?


The Proerosia (Προηροσία) was a festival for Demeter’s blessings in preparation for the ploughing and sowing at the beginning of the agricultural season. In ancient times it was held at Eleusis. The name serves to convey the essence of the rites: 'sacrifice before ploughing'.

The myth goes that the whole of Hellas was suffering from a terrible famine or plague, and the oracle of Delphi was visited to ask how to stop this terrible affair. The Delphic Oracle said that Apollo ordered a tithe to Demeter of the first harvest on behalf of all Hellenes. Except for disruptions during the Peloponnesian War, offerings arrived annually at Eleusis from all over Hellas. While Athens wasn't a big contributor to the rites--perhaps because they already made their own offerings of grain and first fruits to Demeter--most other city-states contributed generously, and the Athenians were welcome during the rites. For His help, Pythian Apollon also received an offering during the Proerosia.

There is some confusion over the dating of the festival. Many modern sources date the festival on the fifth of Pyanpesion, but new research shows that, because of the placement of the Pyanepsia festival, in honour of Apollon and Theseus, the Proerosia could only have been celebrated in the daylight hours of the sixth.

The festival can be celebrated with first fruit-offerings, any offering related to grains (like bread, cakes, or pancakes), or a kykeon libation. The kykeon was made of barley, water, herbs, and ground goat cheese. Sometimes honey was added. Herbs that are described as part of the kykeon are mint, pennyroyal and thyme, although it seems any herb that was found to flavor the drink, was acceptable.

You can join our community for the event here, and find the ritual here.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
  • I have been insanely busy, but next month's project is the ever-recurring issue of weeding out nonsense tags. How do these things keep coming out of my fingers?! 
Statistics:
PAT rituals for Boedromion:
  • 6 Pyanepsion - 27 September 2017 - Proerosia - agricultural festival for Demeter held at Eleusis
  • 7 Pyanepsion - 28 September 2017 - Pyanepsia - festival in honor of Apollon and Theseus
  • 7 Pyanepsion - 28 September 2017 - Oskhophoria - festival of the vintage (grapes)
  • 8 Pyanepsion - 29 September 2017 - Theseia - festival in honor of Theseus
  • 9 Pyanepsion - 30 September 2017 - Stenia - women's festival in honor of Demeter and Persephone
  • 11-13 Pyanepsion - 2-4 October 2017 - Thesmophoria - festival in honor of Demeter
  • 14 Pyanepsion - 5 October 2017 - Sacrifice to The Heroines at Erkhia
  • 16 Pyanepsion - 7 October 2017 - Apatouria - paternity festival. The first day (Dorpia) was celebrated with a communal feast within the brotherhood, the second day ('Anarrhusis') sacrifice were made to Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria, and the third day ('Koureotis') young boys admitted to their father's brotherhood.
  • 30 Pyanepsion - 20 October 2017 - The Khalkeia - festival in honor of Athena and Hephaestus.

Anything else?
There are a lot of terrible things happening all around the globe, but Pandora's Kharis has decided to donate to the situation in Texas this month. Terrible floods have wreaked havoc there and we like grass root initiatives to help make things a little better. This month it's the restaurant Guerilla Gourmet and its owner James Canter.

The deadline to donate is today, September 21, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!

Remember my novel "Survival Instincts," that will be published in March? It now has a cover! There is nothing Hellenic in it, but it would really help me a lot if you supported me on social media, either by following or interacting. You can find my website here, and of course social media: Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. Thank you!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
Remember when I begged American readers to vote wise? I'm sure you all did, but we are still stuck with a raging lunatic in control of nuclear launch codes. On November 8, 2016, I predicted the following:

"There will be war, there will be economic crisis, there will be social crisis and there will be a healthcare crisis."

I hate how right I am so far--and after Trump's thoughtless and incredibly stupid words yesterday, I'm so afraid I'll be even more correct in my prediction. Trump has delivered his first speech to the UN, and in his infinite idiocy, he declared that unless Pyongyang halts the development of its nuclear weapons program the US may may have no choice but to “totally destroy” North Korea. He went on to call North Korean leader Kim Jong-in a: “Rocket man [is] on a suicide mission for himself and his regime.”

Now, this is not a political blog and I'm not a political person. Threatening to totally destroy a country with 25 million inhabitants, however, goes beyond the boundaries of politics and spills into the core of human decency.

Yes, North Korea is dangerous. Their missile program is dangerous. The UN should have stepped up and addressed the issue a lot sooner. None of that excuses genocide. Nothing ever excuses the murder of millions of innocent civilians. Nothing excuses threatening to nuke innocent people. Period. 

I have thrown a lot of ancient wisdom at the "Trump situation" already, from Solon, to Aristotle, a lot of ancient wisdom applies. I'll leave you with another bit of ancient wisdom while I seethe about this situation, from  Plato's, The Republic. I wish the Americans who voted for this man had taken heed of this.

[W]hen the cobbler or any other man whom nature designed to be a trader, having his heart lifted up by wealth or strength or the number of his followers, or any like advantage, attempts to force his way into the class of warriors, or a warrior into that of legislators and guardians, for which he is unfitted, and either to take the implements or the duties of the other; or when one man is trader, legislator, and warrior all in one, then I think you will agree with me in saying that this interchange and this meddling of one with another is the ruin of the State."