I have to confess, I’d been worried about this Anthesteria. I wanted to celebrate it properly, but I just didn’t have the emotional or financial resources to put together a major ritual at the moment, much less a three day festival. In the end, I decided to keep things casual and see what happened.
The first day, Pithoigia, went beautifully. Early in the day, I found the ideal wine – a locally made organic sangiovese, well within my very limited budget. (I’ve never met a red wine grape I didn’t like, but I’ve got a soft spot for sangiovese.) I live well north of the wine regions of California, so I had expected any local wines to be hard to find or pricey, likely both. I took the fact that this was neither, and my favorite varietal to boot, as a very positive omen.
I gathered some ivy and wild flowers for the shrine. The flowers were still pretty sparse at this time of year, so I supplemented them with clippings from some neighbor’s gardens. The result was quite lovely. (I took some pictures, but the only ones that turned out were of the dolls.)
My husband joined me for the celebration itself. We opened and drank the new wine, ready poetry in honor of Dionysos, listened to the Doors, and danced badly. Later, there were more intimate celebrations.
A triumphant night!
Day two, Khoe, was problematic. I had a job interview first thing in the morning, and guests joining us for dinner later in the day, so I was unable to really get in the proper frame of mind. I made dolls for Erigone during my dinner party (much to the amusement of my guests), and my husband and I made plans to take them to the park and hang them later that night.
Unfortunately, but the time our guests had gone home, Francis was feeling quite sick. So ill, in fact, that I wasn’t comfortable leaving him alone. I had to improvise.
I went alone to my shrine and performed my rite in total silence. This was eerie and surprisingly effective.
Drinking wine with Orestes and musing on his dilemma – divided loyalties and obligations. I thought on my own obligation and desire to be a good wife conflicting that night with the desire and obligation to be a good devotee of Dionysos. I was grateful that, unlike Orestes, I was able to come upon a compromise that I felt did right by both. I drank my wine – all in one swallow, which was an interesting experience – and shouted praise to Dionysos.
Afterwards, I went outside in the rain and hung the effigies I had made earlier that night from a small tree in the yard. In lieu of swinging for Erigone, I made a vow to write a post for this blog – thus remembering her and sharing her story with those who perhaps did not know it.
On the final day, Khytroi, Francis and I watched Schindler’s List and remembered the dead. I thought of my immediate ancestors, those I had known in life, and mourned the fact that I could only remember my grandparent’s faces as they existed in photographs. Then I got a very clear image of my grandmother laughing happily. They all started to laugh – my grandfather, dad, my uncles – it made me feel much better.
Later, I made panspermia and took it to the cemetery to offer it to Hermes and the spirits of the dead. I was planning to visit a particular spot in the cemetery that was off to one side and shielded by some trees. I am still a little self conscious about public ritual and figured this would offer some privacy. When I got to the cemetery, the trees in question – which I had only half remembered – turned out to be giant pines, covered in climbing ivy. Again, a good omen.
As soon as I made the offering and directed the keres “to the doors”, I felt lightened. The headache I had had all day eased up.
I could feel spring at hand.