I know I should be in B by now, but turns out, I’ve got too much in my head that starts with A. Plus, I never really had the chance to blog about this year’s Anthestêria, so this seems only fitting.
I won’t go into detail, though, as many others have already written about it so beautifully (here, here, here, and here). But, as a short introduction for the uninitiated, Dver sums it up here quite well:
The first day was called Pithoigia or the “Opening of the Jars”. This was when the wine casks were opened for the first time, and masters and servants alike were allowed to taste the new wine.
The second day Khoes or “Cups” was celebrated with a great public feast, and young children were given their first drink of wine. At Dionysos’ oldest temple, the Lenaeon, the wife of the Archon Basileus “King and Ruler” was wedded to Dionysos in a Sacred Marriage. The Basilissa was thought to represent the country, and thus her wedding with Dionysos was seen as a way of uniting fertility with the land once more. It’s not sure how this was done, whether a Priest of Dionysos functioned as a stand-in for the God, or whether the Basilissa made love to the ancient phallic wooden statue that was housed in the temple, or whether her husband the Archon Basileus impersonated the God. There was a general sense of erotic expectation in the air, which may have culimnated in nocturnal orgies.
The third and final day of the festival, Khutroi or “Pots”, was entirely given over to the spirits of the dead. Sacrifices of cooked vegetables and seeds were given to Hermes and the dead.
On the first day, I brought out all the wine in our house, old and new, and presented it before our household shrine. My best friend and I were lucky enough to chance on the most beautiful flowers and the sweetest grapes in the market, so we presented those, as well. After the hymns and libations, I covered up the shrine, but left out the Hermanubis (Hermês of the Underworld) and Dionysos icons. None of us got drunk, but we had a fitting feast of fruit and meats.
Interestingly, we have a festival of flowers here, too, and it occurs around the same time as Anthestêria.
On the second day, I… I won’t tell you what happened on the second day because I’m keeping it between me and Dionysos. *wink*
God-shrines still covered — with the exception of our shrine to Jesus (he’s died at least once, anyway!) — I prepared for the third and last day of Anthestêria. At sunset, I gathered all the beans in our house and prepared the panspermia (pottage of seeds). I offered some of it to my ancestors at the ancestor-shrine (with a generous libation of cerveza negra, no less) and took out the rest outside to the All-Dead. I turned my back and poured out honey by the doorway for Hermês.
There was no pitch to smear on the door or hawthorn to chew, so I used what was locally traditional to ward off unwanted otherworldly visitors: salt and garlic. Works just as well in my experience.
Come sunrise the next day, any remaining pollution was driven out by chunks of frankincense (known locally as kamanyáng) and the household shrine was uncovered. Out ye Keres, it is no longer Anthestêria!