La Vie Avec Les Dieux

Sorry for being out of touch! My 29th year is proving to be very, very eventful, indeed.

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Shortly after the Vialia, the first full moon of the year called for a full table and an intimate dinner with the Two Lords and our household spirits.

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The end of January also called for a feast for those who blessed the opening month with many gifts (and there were many). May every month end with such gratitude!

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Didn’t get a chance to get my fortune read, but nevertheless welcomed the Fire Monkey at the oldest Chinatown in the world, our very own, where Jesus, Buddha, and the Shen have dimsum every night.

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A recent movement at work called for a lovely Wednesdate with Man’s dearest companion, His gifts are generous beyond count.

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Come Anthestêria, things got a little more earthy.

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Even this young bull was drawn.

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Bull meets mask in a perfect display of Dionysian imagery.

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On the last night of Anthestêria, we feasted in Their names.

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And shared the same feast with Them.

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One of the many unexpected but joyous events in my 29th year was deciding to move out from home (on the 29th of February, no less) and living with my dearest friend, the Indophile. It’s a bitter-sweet feeling to leave the place of your childhood to carve your own space in a strange city, but our lords are with us — we shall not weep. Here is our shrine at the new pad, our second home. They are generous beyond count.

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Of course, never a feast without the Goodly Gods in a new place. Here we celebrate the Calends of March, quite appropriately, on our first day at the pad.

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Despite being far away from the town I grew up in, praying with the same fire from home feels like I’m still there, praying with my family. And maybe it truly is so.

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Never forget the Goddess of cities who guards all.

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Old keys and new keys to old homes and new homes.

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Old spirits, new spirits — one fire and one song.

Roughly a month to go until I turn 30. Wondrous things are about to happen.

 

 

 

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Welcome, Anthestêriôn and Year of the 羊!

I’m going to spoil my upcoming entry and announce that our House has chosen a new date for our lunar new year: Anthestêriôn. Prior to this, we used Athenian reckoning and started on Hekatombaiôn, but we felt that the date had little significance to our cultus and to the general cultural setting of where we live.

In case our Western readers are unaware, the noumênia of Anthestêriôn (i.e. the second new moon after the winter solstice) coincides with the beginning of the first month in the Chinese calendar (thus being the New Year). It is also a significant coincidence that both months are associated with springtime, flowers, and a link between the past and the present.

And whilst there are only a handful of Filipino families that are actually of Chinese origin, the Chinese New Year remains a culturally significant time for many urban and suburban households. It is not uncommon for Filipino Catholics, for example, to flock to nearby Daoist or Buddhist temples to offer prayers for a prosperous new year. And who doesn’t want to know their feng shui around here? Everybody who isn’t a fundamentalist Protestant seems to be so concerned about the lucky colour of the year or which charms to hang by the door or which parts of their house they want to rearrange on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Staying true to the mestizo heritage of our house, we have included symbols and auspicious offerings from both East and West in our celebration below:

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Coincidentally, I’ve also taken up gardening again, starting with this pot of earth. The petals you see are for mulching, and come from last Theogamia‘s roses. I say, fertility for fertility! Wish my tomatoes good health!

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Flowers, Dead Things, and Spring

Sometimes, I wonder whether this is a blog or a photo album. Nevertheless, I’m sharing you this year’s Anthestêria through the following pictures:

Burong manggá for Pithoigia.

On the first day of Anthestêria, Pithoigia, I pickled some mangoes. We call them burong manggá around here, and they’re best eaten (IMO, at least) when they’re bordering on alcoholic. The jar, along with the wines, was presented to Dionysos and the Household Gods to kick off the festivities.

Burong manggá, lambanóg, and my mulled wine from Lênaia.

Here, you see my freshly pickled mangoes, a new bottle of lambanóg (“coconut wine”), and old mulled wine from Lênaia. True to my Mestizo heritage, I make it a point to offer produce/products from both sides of the family.

To the God who wears many masks.

After the sacred fires were lit, many songs were sung to the God who wears many masks…

To the Raging Bull.

…to the One who causes flowers to spring from the cold, dark earth.

A generous libation of mixed wine, a gorgeous bouquet of Marsh rosemary, and some upo from our farm.

The altar is graced with a generous libation of mixed wine (in a boat-shaped wooden bowl, no less), a gorgeous bouquet of Marsh rosemary, and upo (or calabash), freshly cut from the vine.

A libation of mixed wine crowns our rice supply for the next few months, blessing it.

Here, the mixed wine crowns our rice supply for the next few months, blessing it.

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On the third day of Anthestêria, Khytroi, the gracious Spirits Below are invited (and sent off) with the rattling jingle of sleigh bells.

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The Immortals and Once-Mortals who keep the Dead in peace watch on…

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In keeping with Asian custom: paper money to burn in sacrifice.

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As I keep one shrine for all the gods of my family, I leave two-thirds of it veiled (the portion for the celestial ones) and the remaining third open (for the ones below).

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Hermês Khthonios as Hermanubis grants our Blessed Dead passage and mediates between us and them.

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After setting aside portions for our family’s ancestors, the rest of the panspermia pottage was left outside to be buried, to feed the All-Dead, not just our blessed and beloved. We who survive, remember and honour those who have gone before us, as Deucalion and his kin once did.

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As we ended Anthestêria with a proper send off for overstaying “visitors” (including the “kindly” Keres and Lemures), we ushered the beginning of Parentalia, informing our Blessed Dead that they are welcome for the next 9 days to share our joys and hopes, and to bless us if they so will. Salvete Dii Parentes!

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Hail to You, ye beautiful, laughter-loving sons of Zeus, Openers of the door, deathless friends of mortals and once-mortals! Even when the shrines are veiled and the fires burn low, You are with us, standing in between, ye faithful guides and saviours of Men, in darkness and in light! Hail!

And that, my friends, is how I spent the first half of February. I hope you had beautiful celebrations yourselves, and I pray for only bigger smiles and better food in the coming festivals. As the old hymn goes:

« καὶ σὺ μὲν οὕτω χαῖρε, πολυστάφυλ᾽ ὦ Διόνυσε:
δὸς δ᾽ ἡμᾶς χαίροντας ἐς ὥρας αὖτις ἱκέσθαι,
ἐκ δ᾽ αὖθ᾽ ὡράων εἰς τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐνιαυτούς. »

“And so hail to you, Dionysos, god of abundant clusters!
Grant that we may come again rejoicing to this season,
and from that season onwards for many a year.”

Hail days past! Hail days to come! Hail Winter’s end and Spring’s beginning! And hail the Spirits that stand in between! Hail Hermês! Hail Dionysos! Hail our Blessed Ancestors!

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PS: In case you missed last year’s, here they are, too.

A is also for Anthestêria

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 (herehere, 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.

Sannion also has a lovely set of poetry reposted here, too. I read each aloud over the three days.

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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.

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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*

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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.

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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!

Flowers, Fire, and Springtime Snakes

Tonight, as the new moon rises, we welcome the Athenian month of Anthesteriôn (Ἀνθεστηριών), the month of flowers, a month special to Dionysos and our ancestors.

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At the same time, we welcome the return of springtime winds here in the south-eastern seas as the Year of the Water Snake begins. May you have happy flowery, snakey, warm days ahead. (But, not too warm!)

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In addition, I have had plans to incorporate the cultus of Brigindo (“Gaulish Brighid“) as a distinct part (and not “merely” as an interpretatio of Vesta or Minerva) of our household worship. I am unsure, though, how to do that at this point as there are so many festivities going on at the same time. A perfect time would have been a few days ago on the 4th (the “astrological” Imbolc), which was also the beginning of Lìchūn (節氣)–or “Chinese New Year”. I should have prepared, I know.

brighid(Image sources 1, 2, 3)