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PYANǼPSIA - ΠΥΑΝΕΨΙΑ
and the Ækthǽohsis of Thiséfs


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The Pyanǽpsia: Generalities

The Pyanǽpsia (Pyanepsia; Gr. Πυανέψια, ΠΥΑΝΕΨΙΑ) is a major festival of all Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, that is celebrated by many modern people who worship the Gods, both in Greece and beyond. The name of the festival is derived from the words pýanos (Gr. πύανος) meaning “bean” + ǽpsein (epsein; Gr. ἕψειν), “to cook by boiling,” a reference to a thanksgiving meal that was offered to the God Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων) by the originators of the feast. Traditionally, the Pyanǽpsia is an Athenian festival honoring the hero Thiséfs (Theseus; Gr. Θησεύς) and his accomplishment in freeing the city from a monstrous tribute. The Pyanǽpsia also commemorates and honors his Ækthǽohsis (Ektheosis; Gr. Ἐκθέωσις) or deification, and thus, represents a mighty goal for all those who pursue arætí (arete;Gr. ἀρετή), genuine virtue. The Pyanǽpsia is yet a great holiday of Apóllohn, who on this holiday gives us the Eiræsióhni (Eiresione; Gr. Εἰρεσιώνη), a protection for our families and homes. It was originally observed in ancient Athens on the seventh of Pyanæpsióhn (Pyanepsion; Gr. Πυανεψιών), usually in early October.  

The essential background  

There is more than one way that this story is told; in the Vivliothíki (Bibliotheca or Library; Gr. Βιβλιοθήκη) of Apollódohros (Apollodorus; Gr. Ἀπολλόδωρος), the compiler of myths and history, the author says that Evróhpi (Europa; Gr. Ευρώπη) of Phoenicia was loved by Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς). The God transformed himself into a bull and transported Evróhpi over the sea to the island of Kríti (Crete; Gr. Κρήτη), where he consorted with her, and she bore him three sons, Mínohs (Minos; Gr. Μίνως), Sarpidóhn (Sarpedon; Gr. Σαρπηδών), and Radámanthys (Rhadamanthys; Gr. Ῥαδάμανθυς). After she settled in Kríti, Astǽrios (Asterius; Gr. Ἀστέριος), a prince of the island, married Evróhpi and adopted her children. The three sons, however, became enemies as they reached manhood and the result was war. 

When Astǽrios died leaving no children of his own, Mínohs desired rule of Kríti. He had been living there with his wife Pasiphái (Pasiphae; Gr. Πασιφάη ), the daughter of Ílios (Helios = the Sun; Gr. Ἥλιος). But his rule on Kríti was opposed by the other brothers. Mínohs declared that the Gods themselves gave him the kingdom, and as proof, he said that for whatever he prayed, it would be accomplished. So Mínohs sacrificed to Poseidóhn (Poseidon; Gr. Ποσειδῶν) and prayed that a bull would arise from the sea and he promised that he would sacrifice this bull to the God. Poseidóhn honored the king's request and sent up a superb bull, but Mínohs so admired the animal that he hid it in his herds and sacrificed another in its stead.

Poseidóhn was now angry that Mínohs had broken his promise, so he made the bull wild and caused Pasiphái to develop a lust for this bull. Pasiphái employed the great inventor Daidalos (Daedalus; Gr. Δαίδαλος) to devise a way to seduce the bull so that she could couple with it. Daidalos created a wooden cow on wheels in which Pasiphái hid inside. This decoy drew the bull to her, and thereby she bore a monstrous son, the Minóhtavros (Minotaur; Gr. Μῑνώταυρος; etymology: Μίνως + ταύρος, i.e. “the bull of Mínohs”), a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull, whom she named Astǽrios (as was named the husband of Evróhpi) Now that this plague had come to his land, Mínohs shut it up in a great labyrinth, another construction of Daidalos, in order to contain the beast. [1]


Aiyéfs and the Curse of the 
Minóhtavros on the Athenians

During these same years, Pandíohn II (Pandion II; Gr. Πανδίων Β'), the king of Athens, was dwelling in Mǽgara (Megara; Gr. Μέγαρα) in exile, for his uncle Mætíohn (Metion; Gr. Μητίων) had usurped the throne. But after he died, the sons of Pandíohn attacked Athens and regained the kingdom, with Aiyéfs (Ægeus, Gr. Αἰγεύς), one of the sons, as king. But Aiyéfs and his second wife were childless and in fear of his brothers, so he journeyed to Dælphí (Delphi; Gr. Δελφοί) to consult Apóllohn. The Pythía (Gr. Πυθία) gave Aiyéfs an oracle: 

"Do not loose the mouth of the wine-skin until you reach the height of Athens."

Aiyéfs could not make sense of it. He decided to return to Athens by way of Trizín (Troezen; Gr. Τροιζήν). While there, he lodged with Pitthéfs (Pittheus; Gr. Πιτθεύς), son of Pǽlops (Pelops; Gr. Πέλοψ). Aiyéfs told him what the oracle said and Pitthéfs immediately understood its meaning . Acting on this knowledge, he had Aiyéfs bed his daughter Aithra (Aethra; Gr. Αἴθρα). Having agreed to this, Aiyéfs made Aithra promise that if a male child should result from their union, she should raise the boy without revealing to him just who was his father. Aiyéfs now took a sword and sandals and placed them under a great rock. He told Aithra that when this boy had the strength to push the rock away and retrieve the sword and sandals, that she should send the lad to him. 

Aiyéfs then returned to Athens and during the Panathínaia (Panathenaia; Gr. Παναθήναια), the great feast of Athiná (Athena; Gr. Ἀθηνᾶ), Aiyéfs sent the son of Mínohs, Andróyæohs (Androgeus; Gr. Ἀνδρόγεως), against the bull of Marathóhn (Marathon; Gr. Μαραθών), but the bull killed Andróyæohs. In anger at the death of his son, King Mínohs attacked Athens and captured Mǽgara. He prayed to Zefs to avenge him. And a great famine and pestilence fell upon the Athenians and they inquired of the Oracle how they might be delivered. The God told the Athenians to go to Mínohs, to his palace at Knohssós (Cnossus; Gr. Κνωσσός), and give him whatever he asked. Mínohs agreed to this and required of the Athenians that every nine years seven young men and seven virgins must be sent to Kríti to be placed in a labyrinth as food for the Minóhtavros.  


The birth of 
Thiséfs and the Slaying of the Six Highwaymen

In the meanwhile, Aithra bore a son to Aiyéfs whom she named Thiséfs (Theseus; Gr. Θησεύς). When he grew to manhood, Thiséfs pushed away the rock and retrieved the sword and sandals and went in search of his father to Athens. On his way there, Thiséfs had adventures, displaying great bravery by slaying the six highwaymen who plagued the localities in which he passed, taming the road. Thus, Thiséfs commenced a series of trials likened to the Labors of Iraklís (Heracles = Hercules; Gr. Ἡρακλῆς) by the ancient Greek historian Diódohros Sikælióhtis (Diodorus Siculus; Gr. Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης), who indicates that in his own lifetime, this was a commonly held belief [2]:

First, in Æpídavros (Epidaurus; Gr. Επίδαυρος) Thiséfs encountered Pæriphítis (Periphetes; Gr. Περιφήτης) the Korynítis (Corynetes; Gr. Κορυνήτης) or Clubman, for he was the son of Antíkleia (Anticlea; Gr. Ἀντίκλεια) and Íphaistos (Hephaestus; Gr. Ἥφαιστος) and he carried an iron club by which he murdered those who passed by. Thiséfs wrested the club from Pæriphítis and slew him. 

Second, Thiséfs killed the Isthmian criminal Sínis (Gr. Σίνις), son of Polypímohn (Polypemon; Gr. Πολυπήμων) and Sylǽa (Sylea; Gr. Συλέα), known as the Pityokámptis (Pityocamptes; Gr. Πιτυοκάμπτης) or Pine-bender, who forced passersby to bend pine trees, but not being strong enough to do so, they were flung to their deaths. Thiséfs made Sínis share their fate. [3]

Third, Thiséfs slew Phaiá (Gr. Φαιά), the wild pig of Krommyóhn (Crommyon; Gr. Κρομμυών), who was the offspring of Ǽkhidna (Echidna; Gr. Ἔχιδνα) and Typhóhn (Typhon; Gr. Τυφῶν).

Fourth, in the rocks of Mǽgara (Megara; Gr. Μέγαρα) Thiséfs slew Skírohn (Sciron; Gr. Σκίρων), son of Pǽlops (Pelops; Gr. Πέλοψ), who forced passersby to wash his feet, but as they did so, he kicked them into the water where they were eaten by a gigantic turtle. Thiséfs grasped his feet and hurled him into the sea.

Fifth, near Ælefsís (Eleusis; Gr. Ἐλευσίς) Thiséfs killed Kærkýohn (Cercyon; Gr. Κερκύων), the son of Vrángkhos (Branchus; Gr. Βράγχος) and the nymph Aryiópi (Argiope; Gr. Ἀργιόπη), who wrestled travelers to their death. Thiséfs took him and hoisting above his head, he threw him to the ground and slew him.

Sixth, Thiséfs slew Damástis (Gr. Δαμάστης; also known as Προκρούστης or Πολυπήμων) who kept a resting-place for travelers in the plain of Ælefsís which contained a small bed and a big bed. Damástis took the short people and nailed them to the long bed and stretched them to fit it, but the tall people he put on the small bed and cut off whatever hang beyond the end of the bed.

Thiséfs, the Bull of Marathóhn, and the Minóhtavros

By the time Thiséfs arrived in Athens, Aiyéfs had married Mídeia (Medea; Gr. Μήδεια), who persuaded her husband to kill Thiséfs, as she convinced him that the young man was a great threat to him. In hopes of destroying Thiséfs, Aiyéfs first sent the boy to the Bull of Marathóhn, but Thiséfs defeated it. Now Mídeia and the king conspired to poison the lad, but just before Thiséfs drank the poison, he gave Aiyéfs the sword and sandals. When the king saw these things, he dashed the cup from the hand of 
Thiséfs and saved his life. Having uncovered Mídeia's treachery, Aiyéfs expelled her from the city.

Now the time arrived for the third tribute to King Mínohs. In hopes of slaying the Minóhtavros and ending the torment of the Athenians, Thiséfs offered to be one of the seven young men. Before leaving on his voyage, Thiséfs went to the Delphinium as a suppliant, carrying a bough of olive wrapped with pieces of white wool, asking Apóllohn's help. He also consulted the God at Delphi and the oracle commanded that the entourage honor Aphrodíti as their guide.

Having arrived at Kríti, Thiséfs won the help of Ariádni (Ariadne; Gr. Αριάδνη) the daughter of King Mínohs. The young woman had fallen in love with Thiséfs. She consulted Daidalos, the creator of the labyrinth, who had Thiséfs enter the maze, laying a string behind him to find his way out. Thiséfs slew the beast and escaped from the labyrinth, leading his Athenians back to the ship to flee home to Athens. 

The slaying of the Bull of Marathóhn and the Minóhtavros completes the eight Labors of Thiséfs, the other six being the killing of the six highwaymen on his journey to Athens (see above). These labors represent obstacles which Thiséfs had to conquer on his great journey in pursuit of arætí. [4]

It had been arranged that if Thiséfs survived and killed the Minóhtavros, they were to raise white sails on the returning ship as a sign, but Thiséfs forgot and absent-mindedly left black sails in place on the ship. Seeing this, his father, King Aiyéfs, killed himself, assuming that Thiséfs was dead[5] 

After the burial of Aiyéfs, Thiséfs paid homage to Apóllohn on the seventh day of Pyanæpsióhn [6] for the safe return of his entourage and his great victory over the Minóhtavros. The men made a dish of pýanos (Gr. πύανος), broad beans or fava beans, and vegetables, the only provisions remaining from their journey, cooked in a common pot (χύτρος or χύτρα, an earthen pot), from which they ate a thanksgiving meal, offering some to the God. [7] The men also carried the Eiræsióhni (Eiresione; Gr. Εἰρεσιώνη) in procession "to signify that scarcity and barrenness was ceased..." [8] It is this meal given in thanks to Apóllohn and the carrying of the Eiræsióhni that we recall in our practice of the Pyanǽpsia. And we ponder and celebrate the great Arætí (Arete; Gr. Ἀρετή) of Thiséfs and all the mighty heroes who achieve Ækthǽohsis.


The Meaning of the Eiræsióhni and Its Use in the Pyanǽpsia

There is Mystical meaning to the journey of 
Thiséfs to Kríti. The Minóhtavros represents the power of Nous (Gr. Νοῦς), the mind of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς). [9] Thiséfs conquered the powers of Nous and achieved deification. The Minóhtavros is represented in the feast by the Eiræsióhni, a branch of olive. If you do not have an olive-tree available, use a branch of oak (sacred to Zefs), a branch of bay-laurel (sacred to Apóllohn and all the Gods), or a branch of any tree (representative of the Aithireal Vehicle of the Soul); all are appropriate. The Eiræsióhni represents the cortex (the outer shell) of the Orphic Egg. It is Nous, the mind of Zefs, wisdom itself, symbolic of the enlightened mind.  

The word Eiræsióhni suggests two possible derivations. It may be from the verb, “I ask” or “I say” (ærόh; Gr. ἐρῶ), denoting a supplication to Apóllohn. It may also derive from a word meaning “wool” (ǽrion, Gr. ἔριον), as the Eiræsióhni should be decorated with pieces of wool, deep red or purple (porphýra; Gr. πορφύρα) and white. The deep red wool symbolizes the kosmogonic fire; the white symbolizes the upper levels of deification. White is also the color associated with Apóllohn, who is the chief God of deification and the guardian of the Mystíria (Mysteries; Gr. Μυστήρια). In addition to pieces of wool, you may decorate the Eiræsióhni with figs, cookies, small bags of beans, honeycombs, tiny jars of honey or olive oil or wine, candy. If you cut a large Eiræsióhni, you may mount it vertically and keep it for a couple weeks in a place of honor in your home, after which you would mount it above the entry-door of your home as a protection. In times of great trouble, leaves of the Eiræsióhni may be burnt as an offering to Apóllohn. The Eiræsióhni remains above the door for a year, until the next Pyanǽpsia, where it may burned on a fire or placed outside where you make offerings, and replaced with the new Eiræsióhni.

In ancient times, as a part of the Pyanǽpsia the Eiræsióhni was carried to the temple by children who had both parents still alive. The children also brought Eiræsióhni to private homes in hopes of getting presents. A song was sung with the procession of the Eiræsióhni:

"Eiresione bring figs, and Eiresione bring loaves;
Bring us honey in pints, and oil to rub on our bodies,
And a strong flagon of wine, for all to go mellow to bed on." [10]

There are some who believe the ceremony of the Eiræsióhni is in memory of the Irakleidai (Heracleidae = the descendants of Iraklís [Herakles; Gr. Ἡρακλῆς]; Gr. Ἡρακλεῖδαι), who were honored with such a festivity. [11] Although the Eiræsióhni is associated with the city of Athens and the Pyanǽpsia, there is evidence that other festivals used the Eiræsióhni in various places throughout ancient Ællás (Hellas = Greece; Gr. Ἑλλάς).

Pyanǽpsia Hearty Bean Stew

In remembrance of the pýanos stew made by victorious Thiséfs and his men, it is traditional to make a bean stew for Pyanǽpsia. There are various recipes circulating around; here follows that used by the author.  

This recipe includes chick-peas. They have a texture something like cooked peanuts. If you do not care for that, substitute a softer bean or simply eliminate them. For garum use Red Boat Vietnamese fish sauce or Colatura di Alici Italian anchovy sauce, or eliminate it altogether and just adjust the salt. This recipe makes enough for about four people, with the addition of some other dishes.

Fill a 2-cup measure with 1/3 each lentils, white chick-peas, and fava beans (or similar). Cover with water overnight and rinse thoroughly. Put all this in a large pot and add water to about an inch above the beans. Bring to a boil and then lower the flame to a simmer.

In the meanwhile, sauté two onions until somewhat caramelized.  Add these to the beans.

Add a few carrots cut into pieces.

Add two fresh cloves of minced garlic.

Add about a half-cup chopped parsley.

Add some oregano and rosemary, salt, and black pepper.

Add 1 teaspoon garum (see above), no more.  (optional)

Add a teaspoon each of dried shallot and dried parsnips.  (optional)

Add about a ½ cup of good olive oil.

Add about three bay leaves.

Simmer an hour or two; adjust salt level and other spices.



PLEASE NOTE: Ritual in our tradition is not permitted to be displayed in a public place, such as this website. If you have a sincere desire to learn more, please write: Inquire.HellenicGods@gmail.com.



Festivals of Apóllohn:  

KÁRNEIA-ΚΑΡΝΕΙΑ 

PYANǼPSIA-ΠΥΑΝΕΨΙΑ

THARGÍLIA-ΘΑΡΓHΛΙΑ



NOTES:

[1] All this story, from the love of Zefs for Evróhpi to the confinement of the Minóhtavros in the labyrinth, can be found in the Vivliothíki (Bibliotheca or Library; Gr. Βιβλιοθήκη) of Apollódohros (Apollodorus; Gr. Ἀπολλόδωρος), Book Three, i.0 through i.4. (J.G. Frazer's numbering) or Book 3.1-11 (R. Scott Smith and Stephen M. Trzaskoma numbering).

[2] Diódohros Sikælióhtis (Diodorus Siculus; Gr. Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης) Vivliothíki istorikí (Library of History; Gr. Βιβλιοθήκη ἱστορική) Book IV.59. On the Internet there is repeated reference to the six highwaymen as "guardians of the underworld," but there is no support for this idea.

[3] All this story, from the exile of Pandíohn II to the coming-to-age of Thiséfs, can be found in the Vivliothíki of Apollódohros, Book Three, xv.5 - xvi.2. (J.G. Frazer's numbering) or Book 3.206-218 (R. Scott Smith and Stephen M. Trzaskoma numbering).

[4] This according to Gaius Julius Hyginus Fabulae 38. 

[5] All this story, from the slaying of the highwayman Phaiá to the death of Aiyéfs, can be found in the Vivliothíki of Apollódohros, Epitome I.1-10. (both J.G. Frazer's and R. Scott Smith/Stephen M. Trzaskoma's numbering).

From Ploutarkhos (Plutarch; Gr. Πλούταρχος), we have a similar description of the events described by Apollódohros:

"Androgeus (ed. Andróyæohs; Gr. Ἀνδρόγεως) having been treacherously murdered in the confines of Attica, not only Minos (ed. Mínohs; Gr. Μίνως), his father, put the Athenians to extreme distress by a perpetual war, but the Gods also laid waste their country; both famine and pestilence lay heavy upon them, and even their rivers were dried up. Being told by the oracle that, if they appeased and reconciled Minos, the anger of the Gods would cease and they should enjoy rest from the miseries they laboured under, they sent heralds, and with much supplication were at least reconciled, entering into an agreement to send to Crete (ed. Kríti; Gr. Κρήτη) every nine years a tribute of seven young men and as many virgins, as most writers agree in stating; and the most poetical story adds, that the Minotaur destroyed them, or that, wandering in the labyrinth, and finding no possible means of getting out, they miserably ended their lives there; and that this Minotaur (ed. Minóhtavros; Gr. Μῑνώταυρος) was (as Euripides hath it)--

A mingled form where two strange shapes combined, 
And different natures, bull and man, were joined."

(Ploutarkhos Parallel LivesTheseus XV; trans. John Dryden, 1683; found here in the 1992 Modern Library Edition, Random House, New York NY USA, The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans: Plutarch Vol. I, p. 8)


And from the writings of Pafsanías (Pausanias; Gr. Παυσανίας):

"The land of the Cretans and especially that by the river Tethris was ravaged by a bull. It would seem that in the days of old the beasts were much more formidable to men, for example the Nemean lion, the lion of Parnassus (ed. Parnassόs; Gr. Παρνασσός), the serpents in many parts of Greece, and the boars of Calydon (ed. Kalydόhn; Gr. Καλυδών), Erymanthus (ed. Ærýmanthos; Gr. Ερύμανθος) and Crommyon in the land of Corinth, so that it was said that some were sent up by the earth, that others were sacred to the Gods, while others had been let loose to punish mankind. And so the Cretans say that this bull was sent by Poseidon to their land because, although Minos was lord of the Greek Sea, he did not worship Poseidon more than any other God. They say that this bull crossed from Crete to the Peloponnesus, and came to be one of what are called the Twelve Labours of Heracles. When he was let loose on the Argive plain he fled through the Isthmus of Corinth, into the land of Attica as far as the Attic parish of Marathon, killing all he met, including Androgeos, son of Minos. Minos sailed against Athens with a fleet, not believing that the Athenians were innocent of the death of Androgeos, and sorely harassed them until it was agreed that he should take seven maidens and seven boys for the Minotaur that was said to dwell in the Labyrinth at Cnossus. But the bull at Marathon Theseus is said to have driven afterwards to the Acropolis and to have sacrificed to the Goddess; the offering commemorating this deed was dedicated by the parish of Marathon." 

(Pafsanías Description of Greece, I Attica: XXVII:9; trans. W.H.S. Jones, 1918; found in the 1959 William Heinemann [London England] - Harvard Univ. Press [Cambridge MA USA], Vol. I, pp. 143-145)


And again Ploutarkhos:

"Now, when the time of the third tribute was come, and the fathers who had any young men for their sons were to proceed by lot to the choice of those that were to be sent, there arose fresh discontents and accusations against Ægeus among the people, who were full of grief and indignation that he who was the cause of all their miseries was the only person exempt from the punishment; adopting and settling his kingdom upon a bastard and foreign son (ed. Thiséfs), he took no thought, they said, of their destitution and loss, not of bastards, but lawful children. These things sensibly affected Theseus, who, thinking it but just not to disregard, but rather partake of, the sufferings of his fellow-citizens, offered himself for one without and lot." (Ibid. Dryden, Plutarch Theseus XVII, p. 9)

"When he arrived at Crete, as most of the ancient historians as well as poets tell us, having a clue of thread given him by Ariadne, who had fallen in love with him, and being instructed by her how to use it so as to conduct him through the windings of the labyrinth, he escaped out of it and slew the Minotaur, and sailed back,..." (Ibid. Dryden, Plutarch Theseus XIX.1, p. 10)

"When they were come near the coast of Attica, so great was the joy for the happy success of their voyage, that neither Theseus himself nor the pilot remembered to hang out the sail which should have been the token of their safety to Ægeus, who, in despair at the sight, threw himself headlong from a rock, and perished in the sea." (Ibid. Dryden, Plutarch Theseus XXII p. 13)


And again Pafsanías:

"On the right of the gateway (ed. to the Akrόpolis [Acropolis; Gr.Ακρόπολις]of Athens) is a temple of Wingless Victory. From this point the sea is visible, and here it was that, according to legend, Aegeus threw himself down to his death.  For the ship that carried the young people to Crete began her voyage with black sails; but Theseus, who was sailing on an adventure against the bull of Minos, as it is called, had told his father beforehand that he would use white sails if he should sail back victorious over the bull. But the loss of Ariadne made him forget the signal. Then Aegeus, when from this eminence he saw the vessel borne by black sails, thinking that his son was dead, threw himself down to destruction. There is at Athens a sanctuary dedicated to him, called the hero-shrine of Aegeus." (Ibid. Jones, Pausanias I Attica: XXII:4-5; p. 111)

[6] "Theseus, after the funeral of this father, paid his vows to Apollo the seventh day of Pyanepsion; for on that day the youth that returned with him safe from Crete made their entry into the city."  (Ibid. Dryden, Plutarch Theseus XXII.4, p. 13)

[7] "They say, also, that the custom of boiling pulse at this feast is derived from hence; because the young men that escaped put all that was left of their provision together, and, boiling it in one common pot, feasted themselves with it, and ate it all up together." (Ibid. Dryden, Plutarch Theseus XXII.4, p. 13)

[8] "Hence, also, they carry in procession an olive branch bound about with wool (such as they then made use of in their supplications), which they call Eiresione, crowned with all sorts of fruits, to signify that scarcity and barrenness was ceased..." (Ibid. Dryden, Plutarch Theseus XXII.5, p. 13)  

Lewis Richard Farnell's opinion: 

"And the Εἰρεσιώνη, which has been mentioned in connexion with the Thargelia, figures again and more prominently in the Pyanopsia: its magical use is set forth in the song of the boys which has been handed down by Pausanias and Plutarch: 'the eiriesione brings figs and rich loaves, a measure of honey and oil to mix, a cup of pure wine, that it may go mellow to bed.' The wine is poured over the bough as a charm, and this method of sympathetic magic needs no comment. An interesting gloss in Hesychius preserves for us the fact that the Εἰρεσιώνη was called κορυθαλία (ed. korythalía), a word meaning 'the nurse of children,' whence it appears that this ritual, like the Thesmophoria, aimed at securing the growth of the family as well as the fertility of the fields, an extension of purpose which followed, perhaps, when the Εἰρεσιώνη was engrafted on the Apolline worship. For these agrarian rites with their vegetation-magic and cereal sacraments were certainly older in Attica than the coming of Apollo..."  (Lewis Richard Farnell's The Cults of the Greek States Vol.IV, 1907; Clarendon Press, p. 287)

[9] First the basic story:

“Asterius dying childless, Minos wished to reign over Crete, but his claim was opposed. So he alleged that he had received the kingdom from the Gods, and in proof of it he said that whatever he prayed for would be done. And in sacrificing to Poseidon he prayed that a bull might appear from the depths, promising to sacrifice it when it appeared. Poseidon did send him up a fine bull, and Minos obtained the kingdom, but he sent the bull to the herds and sacrificed another. Being the first to obtain the dominion of the sea, he extended his rule over almost all the islands. But angry at him for not sacrificing the bull, Poseidon made the animal savage, and contrived that Pasiphae should conceive a passion for it. In her love for the bull she found an accomplice in Daedalus, an architect, who had been banished from Athens for murder. He constructed a wooden cow on wheels, took it, hollowed it out in the inside, sewed it up in the hide of a cow which he had skinned, and set it in the meadow in which the bull used to graze. Then he introduced Pasiphae into it; and the bull came and coupled with it, as if it were a real cow. And she gave birth to Asterius, who was called the Minotaur. He had the face of a bull, but the rest of him was human; and Minos, in compliance with certain oracles, shut him up and guarded him in the Labyrinth. Now the Labyrinth which Daedalus constructed was a chamber ‘that with its tangled windings perplexed the outward way.’ “ (The Vivliothíki of Apollódohros, Book III. I. 3-4; trans. J.G. Frazer, 1921; found in the 1990 Loeb edition of Apollodorus The Library Vol. I, pp. 303-307)

Pasipháiwhose name means “wide-shining” and who is the daughter of Ílios (Helios; Gr. Ἥλιος), is the mother of the Minóhtavros (Minotaur), who is also called Astæríohn (Asterion; Gr. Ἀστερίων), “full of stars.” 

"In the market-place of Troezen is a temple of Artemis Saviour (ed. Ártæmis Sόteira; Gr. Ἄρτεμις Σώτειραwith images of the Goddess.  It was said that the temple was founded and the name Saviour given by Theseus when he returned from Crete after overcoming Asterion the son of Minos." (Ibid. Jones, Paus. II Corinth XXXI.1, p. 415)

The father was a bull sent by either Poseidóhn (Poseidon) or Zefs (Zeus) (Lactantius Placidus, on Statius, Theb. V. 43). The bull represents the influence of Zefs. The Minóhtavros is represented in iconography as having a human body with the head of a bull. The Minóhtavros lives in the Labyrinth of Daidalos.


In the Iliad, Homer tells us that the God 
Íphaistos (Hephaestus) fashions a dancing floor like that at Knohssós on the Armor of Akhillefs (Achilles; Gr. Ἀχιλλεύς): 

“On it furthermore the famed God of the two lame legs cunningly inlaid a dancing floor like the one which in wide Cnosus Daedalus fashioned of old for fair-tressed Ariadne.” (Ómiros [Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος] Iliad, Book 18, beginning at 590; trans. A.T. Murray, 1925; found here in the 1999 Loeb edition [LCL 171] Harvard Univ. Press [Cambridge MA USA and London England] of Homer’s Iliad Vol. II, on p. 331)

Ariádni (Ariadne; Gr. Ἀριάδνη) is the daughter of Pasiphái (Pasiphaë) and the consort of Diónysos. She dances in the Labyrinth of Daidalos (Daedalus), the dwelling of the Minóhtavros (Minotaur). 

Thiséfs “kills” the Minóhtavros, achieving deification. 

[10] Plutarkhos Theseus XXII.5, p. 13.

[11] "Although some hold opinion that this ceremony is retained in memory of the Heraclidæ, who were thus entertained (ed. with the Eiræsióhni) and brought up by the Athenians. But most are of the opinion which we have given above,(ed. that the Athenians used the Eiræsióhni in honor of Thiséfs' destroying the Minóhtavros)." (Plutarkhos Theseus XXII.5, p. 13) When Iraklís (Herakles = Hercules; Gr. Ἡρακλῆς) died, his progeny fled from the tyrant Evrysthéfs (Eurystheus; Gr. Εὐρυσθεύς), the tyrant of Tíryns (Gr. Τίρυνς), approaching Athens as suppliants bearing boughs of trees.  

Lewis Richard Farnell states that the Pyanǽpsia was "a thanksgiving service and a consecration of the later fruits and cereals to the harvest-God." (Ibid. Farnell Vol. IV, p. 286)



The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e.the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the
 two kosmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς). 




PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes.  While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result.  The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level.  Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.


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