May 9, 2013

Reference Festival Calendar

January – Libation to Hera

23rd – 26th Lenaia. Dionysos festival.

February – Libation to Aphrodite

7th Theogamia. Zeus & Hera sacred marriage.

21st – 23rd Anthesteria. A three-day festival that literally means Festival of Flowers, it celebrates the Spring, new wine and the dead.

March – Libation to Hephaistos
2nd – 7th Lesser Mysteries. Persephone & Demeter.

5th Diasia. Appeasement festival in honour of Zeus Meilikhios.

20th Asklepieia.

22nd – 29th City Dionysia.

29th Pandia. Festival of Zeus?

April – Libation to Artemis & Apollon

26th Mounykhia. Festival of Artemis.

29th Olympeia. Games in honour of Zeus.

May – Libation to Zeus

15th & 16th. Thargelia. Artemis and Apollon festival.

June – Libation to Athena

4th Aphrodisia. Bathing festival of Aphrodite

11th Arrephoria. Festival of Athena.

21st Prometheia. Modern festival.

22nd Dipolieia. Festival of Zeus of the city.

July – Libation to Hermes

20th Kronia. Kronos the Harvester.

August – Libation to Ares

1st – 6th. Panathenaia ta mikra. Dressing of the Athena statue.

26th Hera Telkhinia. Minor offering to Hera.

31st Adonia. The death of Adonis.

September – Libation to Demeter & Persephone

1st Zeus Epoptes. The Overseer.

7th Niketeria. Offering to Nike.

10th Genesios. Festival honouring the dead.

11th Artemis Agrotera. Feast of Artemis.

20th – 26th Eleusinian Mysteries.

October – Libation to Poseidon

3rd Sacrifices to the Nymphs, Akheloös, Alokhos, Hermes, Gaia and Athena.

10th Proerosia. First Fruits festival.

11th Pyanepsia. Apollo, Helios and the Horai.

13th Stenia. Ritual purification before the Thesmophoria.

15th Thesmophoria.

November – Libation to Hades

9th Pompaia. Offering to Zeus and Hermes.

December – Libation to Dionysos

19th Poseidea. Festival of Poseidon.

19th & 20th Heliogennia.

 

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April 5, 2013

Nymph Lifespan

Nymphs in relation to mortal lifespans are immortal, yet unlike the Theoi they can die.

Hamadryads and spring nymphs especially. Their ‘souls’ or life essences are tied to their particular tree or spring and if the tree is cut down or the spring dries up then the nymph perishes alongside it.

Nymphs, living in the mountains and wearing low-slung girdles, will raise him

            —Nymphs that live on this great and fertile mountain.

            They associate neither with mortals nor with immortals,

260       they live for a long time, and they eat immortal food.

            They put on a beautiful song and dance, even by the standards of the immortals.

            They mate with Seilênoi or with the sharp-sighted Argos-killer,

            making love [philotês] in the recesses of lovely caves.

            When they are born, firs and oaks with lofty boughs

265       spring out of the earth, that nurturer of men.

            Beautiful trees, flourishing on high mountains,

            they stand there pointing to the sky, and people call them the sacred places

            of the immortal ones. Mortals may not cut them down with iron.

            But when the fate [moira] of death is at hand for them,

270       these beautiful trees become dry, to start with,

            and then their bark wastes away, and then the branches drop off,

            and, at the same time, the psûkhê goes out of them, as it leaves the light of the sun.

Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite

April 5, 2013

Nymphs as Nurses

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In mythology nymphs are well known for raising both gods and heroes. Here are but a scant few examples;

Zeus – The Nymphs Adrasteia and Ida raised Zeus, feeding him wild honey and milk from the divine goat Amaltheia. Adrasteia is an epithet of Rhea Cybele in her attribute of the Mother who punishes human injustice, which is a transgression of the natural right order of things. She is also called Nemesis. Other legends tell, Amaltheia suckled and raised Zeus. Some legend say, Amaltheia was a nymph, who nourished Zeus with honey and the milk of a goat.

Apollon – The Thriai were Bee-Nymphs who used honey to make prophesies on Mount Parnassos. The three of them raised Apollo, the god of the Oracle of Delphi. Their name is shared with the little stones that are thrown to tell the future.

Dionysos – The Nysiades were, three, five or six Okeanid nymphs of the mythical Mount Nysa. Zeus entrusted the infant god Dionysos to their care who they raised with the assistance of the old satyr-god Seilenos. When the god was grown they joined his company as the first of the Bakkhantes. Later Dionysos placed them amongst the stars as the constellation Hyades.

Aeneas – The mountain nymphs of Ida raised Aeneas until he was five years old, when he was sent to live with his father. Aphrodite had made Anchises (Aeneas’ father) promise not to tell anyone that she was the boy’s mother. Still, he did so and was struck by lightning. In some versions of the legend, the lightning killed Anchises; in others, it made him blind or lame. Later variations have Anchises surviving and being carried out of Troy by his son after the war.

Maia – Meaning nurse. Maia was the eldest of the Pleiades, the seven nymphs of the constellation Pleiades. She was a shy goddess who dwelt alone in a cave near the peaks of Mount Kyllene (Cyllene in Arkadia where she secretly gave birth to a son by Zeus, the god Hermes. She also raised the boy Arkas in her cave, whose mother Kallisto had been transformed into a bear.

March 31, 2013

Local Pegaeae Naiad

My offering to the Pegaeae Naiad (Fresh water spring Nymph).

I call her Syfia after the name of her spring.

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This spring actually surfaces at two places but this one is the largest and with them being connected, the nymph can reside in both places.

About 100 yards up the hill sits the remains of the Roman wall that encircled the 4th century fortified encampment.

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March 31, 2013

Gods Associated with the Nymphai

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While nearly all the gods have relations with the Nymphai including the big three, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, this list is not exhaustive. I wanted to focus on deities associated with the rural environment and those that have special classes of nymphs in their retinue.

Hermes

Son of Zeus and the Pleiad (of the Pleiades constellation) nymph, Maia. As the god associated with animal husbandry and herding, he is one of the divine shepherds closely linked with the wilderness and the nymphs who dwell there.  In myth, Hermes has a long list of nymphai lovers;

Karmentis – An Arkadian (of Southern Greece) Naias Nymphe who was loved by Hermes. She bore him a son Euandros, with whom she emigrated to Latium (in Italia).

Nymphe (Unnamed) – A Nymphe of Sikelia (Sicily, Southern Italia) who bore Hermes a son named Daphnis.

Okyrrhoe – A Naias Nymphe of Teuthrania (in Asia Minor) who bore Hermes a son named Kaikos.

The Oreiads – Nymphai of the Mountains were said to mate with Hermes in the highlands, breeding more of their kind.

Penelopeia – An (Oreias) Nymphe of Arkadia (in Southern Greece) who bore to Hermes the god Pan (or one of the Panes named Nomios).

Rhene – A (Naias) Nymphe of the island of Samothrake (in the Greek Aegean) who bore a son Saon to Hermes.

Sose – An Oreias Nymphe of Arkadia (in Southern Greece) and Prophetess of the god Hermes. She bore him a son the pan Agreus.

Tanagra – A Naias Nymphe of Argos (in Southern Greece) for whom the gods Ares and Hermes competed in a boxing match. Hermes won and carried her off to Tanagra in Boiotia.

The Thriai (or Thriae) were three prophetic Nymphs of Mount Parnassos in Phokis (central Greece). They were minor goddesses of the art of divination by pebbles and of the birds of omen. Hermes received them as a gift from the god Apollon.

The Thriai may have been identified with the Korykiai, Nymphs of the prophetic springs of Mount Parnassos, or with the Nymphai Themeides daughters of the oracular goddess Themis. They also appear to be related to the Melissai, bee and honey nymphs.

Dionysos

Born a second time from the thigh of Zeus, Dionysos was raised by the nymphs of Mt. Nysa.

The nymphs attended the god in his processions through the wilds.

The Bakkhai – The Bacchic nymphs, companions of Dionysos. They were also known as Thyiades and Maenads.

Dirke – The Naias Nymphe of the spring Dirke on Mount Kithairon, in Boiotia, central Greece. She was transformed into a fountain by the god Dionysos after Amphion and Zethos had her killed by binding her to a wild bull.

The Kydnides – Naiades of the River Kydnos in Kilikia, Anatolia (modern Turkey). They joined Dionysos in his war against the Indians.

Apollon

Another archetypal shepherd rather famous for his promiscuous nature with the Nymphai.

Aithousa – A Nymphe of Boiotia (in Central Greece) who was loved by Apollon. She bore him a son named Eleuther.

Akakallis – A Nymphe of Krete (in the Greek Aegean) who was loved by Apollon. She bore him twin sons: Philanderos and Phylakides.

Daphne – A Naias Nymphe of Arkadia (in Southern Greece) or Thessalia (Northern Greece) who was loved by Apollon. She fled from his advances and was transformed into a laurel tree.

Khrysothemis – A Nymphe and Queen of Bubastos in Karia (Asia Minor), the wife of King Staphylos. She had three daughters, one of which, Parthenos, was sometimes said to be a child of Apollon’s.

Korykia –  A Naias Nymphe of Phokis (in Central Greece) who bore Apollon a son named Lykoras.

Kyrene – A Nymphe (or Princess) of the Lapith country (of Thessalia in Northern Greece). She was seduced by Apollon whilst hunting and bore him two offspring: Aristaios and Idmon.

Melaina – A Naias Nymphe of Phokis (in Central Greece) who, according to some, bore Apollon a son named Delphos (others say his mother was Thyia or Kelaino).

Melia – An Okeanis Nymphe who was abducted from the home of her father to Thebes by the god Apollon. Her brother Kaanthos was sent to retrieve her and after burning down the temple of Apollon was slain by the god. Melia was the mother of two sons: Teneros and Ismenos (and perhaps Keos, unless the mother of this hero was another Melia).

Okyrrhoe – A Naias Nymphe of the island of Samos (in the Greek Aegean) who was pursued by Apollon and took refuge on a boat leaving the island. The wrathful god turned the boat to stone and the skipper into a pilot-fish.

Othreis – A Nymphe of Mt Othrys in Malis (in Northern Greece), who bore Apollon a son named Phagros.

Ourea – A Sea-Nymphe of Troy (in Asia Minor), daughter of Poseidon, who was loved by Apollon during the building of the walls of Troy. She bore the god a son named Ileus.

Rhetia – A Nymphe who, according to some, was the mother of the Korybantes by Apollon.

Sinope – A Naias Nymphe of Sikyonia (in Southern Greece) who was abducted by Apollon to the Black Sea coast of Assyria, where the city of Sinope was named for her. According to most sources, she tricked Apollon into swearing an oath promising her her virginity. Others, however, say she became the mother of Syros (eponymous King of Assyria) by the god.

Stilbe – A Naias Nymphe of the Lapith country (in Thessalia, Northern Greece) who bore Apollon two sons: Lapithes and Kentauros.

Syllis – A Nymphe of Sikyonia (in Southern Greece) who bore Apollon a son named Zeuxippos.

Artemis

Goddess of the Hunt accompanied by a large retinue of Nymphai.

The Amnisiades – The twenty Naias Nymphe daughters of the River-God Amninos (in Krete) formed the core retinue of Artemis.

The Okeanides –  Sixty (of the three thousand) Okeanides formed the core of the retinue of Artemis, along with twenty of the Naiades Amnisiades. They were all nine years old in observed appearance.

“Artemis far-shooting  ranges the mountainside – on lofty Taygetos, it may be, or it may be on Erymanthos – taking her pleasure among the boars and the running deer; Nymphai of the countryside, daughters of Zeus who holds the aigis, are all around her and share her pastime; Leto her mother is glad at heart. With head and forehead Artemis overtops the rest, and though all are lovely, there is no mistaking which is she.” – The Odyssey

One of the most famous nymph and goddess myths is the tale of Callisto, who Artemis angrily turned into a bear after she was seduced by Zeus. The nymph was later honoured as a constellation among the stars.

Hekate

The Lampades were the torch-bearing Khthonian Nymphs of the underworld, companions of the goddess Hekate in her night-time revels and hauntings.

They were associated with the Eleusinian celebrants who carried torches during the nocturnal Mystery rites of Demeter.

March 31, 2013

Nymph Genealogy

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Circe by Wright Barker

Hesiod – Sprung from Gaia and the blood of castrated Ouranos. The Meliai (Ash trees and honey bees.)

“Then the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father’s members and cast them away to fall behind him. And not vainly did they fall from his hand; for all the bloody drops that gushed forth Earth received, and as the seasons moved round she bare the strong Erinyes and the great Giants with gleaming armour, holding long spears in their hands and the Nymphs whom they call Meliae.” – The Theogony

Homer – Daughters of Zeus and River Gods.

“The Nymphai, the daughters of sovereign Zeus.” – The Odyssey.

“He [Orpheus] sang of … how, together with their Nymphai [the Naiades], the murmuring Potamoi (Rivers) and all four legged creatures came to be.” – Orphic Hymn

Achelous and Asopos among many others.

Okeanos and Tethys – Titans

“She [Tethys] brought forth also [in addition to the River-Gods] a race apart of daughters [the Okeanides] … there are three thousand light-stepping daughters of Okeanos scattered far and wide, bright children among the goddesses, and all alike look after the earth [trees, plants and flowers?] and the depths of the standing water [i.e. springs, streams, lakes and wells].” – The Theogony

Daughters of Seilenos (Foster father of Dionysos)

“The band of sister Hamadryades as well as the Sileni and the father of the company himself [Silenos].” – Propertius

The daughters of the various Sea-gods were the nymphs of the sea, including the Nereides born of Nereus, and the daughters of Triton, Proteus and Phorkys.

Circe daughter of Helios and Perseis (Her seductive garden and sexual nature are reminiscent of the description of nymphs even though she is referred to as a sorceress.)

“Kirke, a goddess with braided hair, with human speech and with strange powers; baleful Aeetes was her brother, and both were radiant Helios the sun-god’s children; their mother was Perse, Okeanos’ daughter.” – The Odyssey

Calypso daughter of Atlas.

“Far from here there lies an island called Ogygia. The daughter of Atlas has her home there, Kalypso (Calypso), a goddess of awesome power and many wiles.” – The Odyssey

 

March 31, 2013

What are Nymphs?

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Female spirits of the natural world, minor goddesses of the forests, rivers, springs, meadows, mountains and seas. They are responsible for the crafting of nature’s wild beauty, from the arrangement and growth of the plants, flowers and trees, to the nurture of wild birds and animals, and the formation of rocky caverns, springs, wetlands and brooks.

Nymphs are also companions of the gods. Dionysos has his wild-eyed Mainades and Bakkhai, Artemis is accompanied by a band of huntress nymphs, Hekate by the dark Lampades nymphs of the underworld. Poseidon’s court is attended by Nereides and sea nymphs, and the Olympian court by nymph handmaidens.

All nymphs, whose number is almost infinite, may be divided into two great classes.

The first class embraces those who must be regarded as a kind of inferior (minor earth dwelling) divinities, recognised in the worship of nature. The early Greeks saw in all the phenomena of ordinary nature some manifestation of the deity; springs, rivers, grottoes, trees, and mountains, all seemed to them fraught with life; and all were only the visible embodiments of so many divine agents. The salutary and beneficent powers of nature were thus personified, and regarded as so many divinities; and the sensations produced on man in the contemplation of nature, such as awe, terror, joy, delight, were ascribed to the agency of the various divinities of nature.

The second class of nymphs are personifications of tribes, races, and states, such as Cyrene, and many others. These nymphs usually have names derived from their location, for example Mt Kithairon has the Kithaironides.

Their genealogical origins stem from either individual male river deities, such as Achelous or from Zeus.

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