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Author Topic: Re-interpreting Halloween  (Read 4264 times)
Derek
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« Topic Start: October 03, 2009, 09:35:19 pm »

Strangers in disguise roam the land; they knock on strangers' doors.  Those who fail to show proper hospitality are punished, while those who welcome are heaped with blessings.

Is this a shortened retelling of a myth from Ovid?  Or is it a description of America's modern Halloween?  Is it both?  Does it matter.

Inspired by a suggestion to celebrate modern holidays Hellenically, this is presented as a re-interpretation of Halloween through the lens of the tale of Baucis and Philemon.
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Metamorphoses/Book_VIII#The_Story_of_Baucis_and_Philemon

On the 31st, we have the option of donning costumes in honor of the disguised Zeus Xenios and Hermes Enodios, or staying home to serve food (candy) and be otherwise hospitable as reverance towards the Honorable Baucis and Philemon.

We may wish to decorate with Oak and Linden, the trees they transform into; and to hang wishes and requests to be granted, as is retold in the myth.

Taking further inspiration from the myth, we are given the meal made for the Deathless guests.  "Pallas Began the Feast," and we set out olives of two colors as appetizers.  Also pickled cornel cherries followed by a salad of endive, radish and chicory.  Then comes curds and cream (like cottage cheese) with "new-laid eggs... turned by a gentle fire, and roasted rare." http://www.helium.com/items/1111337-how-to-roast-eggs-for-passover  All this led to a main course of boiled ham and wine ("still working in the must, and lately pressed"). 

"The second course succeeds like that before,
Plums, apples, nuts, and of their wintry store
Dry figs, and grapes, and wrinkled dates were set
In canisters, t' enlarge the little treat:
All these a milk-white honey-comb surround,
Which in the midst the country-banquet crown'd."


On the 30th, it is approptiate to honor the Apotropaioi, the Averters of Evil.  We entreat them to protect the revelers on the following evening.  As part of the celebrations, we can watch horror movies and go to haunted houses and otherwise be scared by what They protect us from.  The Averters of Evil are Apollo, Herakles, Hermes, Athena, and Zeus. http://www.mgilleland.com/averters.htm  Other entertainments may be tales of modern superheroes, ie. Batman et al.  This is in connection with the Soteroi, Saviors.  This epithet seems to have been applied to most Theoi at one point or another.  Most notably Zeus.

Of especial interest might be Hekate and Hermes.  Hermes as Psychopompos, the Guide of Souls, that he guide the dead to Hades, and away from any mischief they may make for us.  And Hekate as having an interest in most aspects of the holiday: the Night, Ghosts, and the terrors of Magic.
Quote
Hekate Einodia, Trioditis [Trivia], lovely dame, of earthly, watery, and celestial frame, sepulchral, in a saffron veil arrayed, pleased with dark ghosts that wander through the shade; Perseis, solitary goddess, hail! The world’s key-bearer, never doomed to fail; in stags rejoicing, huntress, nightly seen, and drawn by bulls, unconquerable queen; Leader, Nymphe, nurse, on mountains wandering, hear the suppliants who with holy rites thy power revere, and to the herdsman with a favouring mind draw near."
  Orphic Hymn 1 to Hecate

We may also entreat those who are Kurotrophos, the Protectors of Children: Hekate, Hermes, and Artemis.  They would be appropriate because of the many children going out trick-or-treating.
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Conversly: Monotony is an experience.  Therefore, stagnation can be integral to fulfilling the purpose of Life.

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Derek
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« Reply #1: October 03, 2009, 09:37:46 pm »

Strangers in disguise roam the land; they knock on strangers' doors.  Those who fail to show proper hospitality are punished, while those who welcome are heaped with blessings.

The neo-pagan Samhain has never really spoken to me, with it's focus on reunion with the dead; but I love the activities of Halloween.

I must admit, I will probably not do anything involved.  This is mostly a thought experiment for me.  I feel neglectful without thinking of things like this, but don't feel pushed to act them out.

There are a few things I would like to know, if anyone has this information handy.  If anyone has links and references to dressing in costume in ancient Greece, it would be appreciated.  Google only returned links regarding normal clothing ie. "traditional costume" and referencing a prevailing theme of "you never know who could be a god in disguise."

Is there any time when the normal, "open house" mindset of hospitality is *more* open?  I ask because, at least in my area, Halloween is kind of the start of the Holiday Season (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years).  This entails a kind of hightened sense for visiting with others.  It might be interesting to make that "opening"  part of the xenios festivities.  The closing could be worked into secular New Year celebrations.

Also, if anyone can elaborate on the nuanced differences in the epithets from the Averters of Evil link, it would be interesting.  Taking from the context of the works shown, I've guessed at (alexetor) as a  more active boundry warder, (alexikakos) along the theme of "the best defense is a good offense", (alexeterios) a more passive wall-like defender.  If I guessed wrong, feel free to correct me.
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The purpose of Life is to experience. In order to experience new things, one has to change and grow. Therefore, to grow is integral to fulfilling the purpose of Life.
Conversly: Monotony is an experience.  Therefore, stagnation can be integral to fulfilling the purpose of Life.
Carnelian
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« Reply #2: October 04, 2009, 12:19:31 am »

Thanks for posting this, it's really interesting. I haven't really read much of Ovid's work, but that's a really interesting interpretation.
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sailor_tech
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« Reply #3: October 04, 2009, 08:37:47 pm »

Strangers in disguise roam the land; they knock on strangers' doors.  Those who fail to show proper hospitality are punished, while those who welcome are heaped with blessings.

Is this a shortened retelling of a myth from Ovid?  Or is it a description of America's modern Halloween?  Is it both?  Does it matter.

Inspired by a suggestion to celebrate modern holidays Hellenically, this is presented as a re-interpretation of Halloween through the lens of the tale of Baucis and Philemon.

Which thread had the suggestion to celebrate modern holidays Hellenically?
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Derek
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« Reply #4: October 04, 2009, 10:00:21 pm »

Which thread had the suggestion to celebrate modern holidays Hellenically?

*goes off searching, sounds of pots and pans clanging* Ah-haha, here it is.  It's brought up in the last 5 posts of the "Major Holidays" thread.  Note: I'm all in favour of striking the American requisite.

...but I really like the idea of combining our festivals or observances with federal holidays (american, that is) aa well as widely celebrated secular holidays.
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The purpose of Life is to experience. In order to experience new things, one has to change and grow. Therefore, to grow is integral to fulfilling the purpose of Life.
Conversly: Monotony is an experience.  Therefore, stagnation can be integral to fulfilling the purpose of Life.
sailor_tech
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« Reply #5: October 04, 2009, 11:13:36 pm »

*goes off searching, sounds of pots and pans clanging* Ah-haha, here it is.  It's brought up in the last 5 posts of the "Major Holidays" thread.  Note: I'm all in favour of striking the American requisite.


Thanks.

Wow, that thread was old.

I suspect I mentioned it in the originial thread, but I'm not convinced that taking holidays that celebrated by another religion and adapting Hellenic elements to it is appropiate.

Halloween / Samhain is a Wiccan holiday and it's also a Christian holiday. And, yes, it's a great time for death imagry, pranks and selling candy as a secular event.

Taking some of the Halloween activities and adding them to a Hellenic holiday that celebrates the dead is OK in my mind.

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Carnelian
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« Reply #6: October 04, 2009, 11:38:54 pm »

Taking some of the Halloween activities and adding them to a Hellenic holiday that celebrates the dead is OK in my mind.

There are no universal Hellenic holidays. Each polis would have its own religious calendar, though many people adapt the Attic one in modern times. If someone wants to incorporate Halloween into their personal practice, I have no problem with that. It's a major holiday in our culture, and attributing Hellenic religious associations to it based on its original meaning is fine with me. A person could also attribute Halloween associations to a traditional Hellenic festival for the dead like the Genesia. There aren't really any major prohibitions about what is celebrated as long as it has relevance to the gods.
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zoe
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« Reply #7: October 27, 2009, 03:03:27 pm »

Strangers in disguise roam the land; they knock on strangers' doors.  Those who fail to show proper hospitality are punished, while those who welcome are heaped with blessings.

Is this a shortened retelling of a myth from Ovid?  Or is it a description of America's modern Halloween?  Is it both?  Does it matter.

Inspired by a suggestion to celebrate modern holidays Hellenically, this is presented as a re-interpretation of Halloween through the lens of the tale of Baucis and Philemon.
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Metamorphoses/Book_VIII#The_Story_of_Baucis_and_Philemon

On the 31st, we have the option of donning costumes in honor of the disguised Zeus Xenios and Hermes Enodios, or staying home to serve food (candy) and be otherwise hospitable as reverance towards the Honorable Baucis and Philemon.

We may wish to decorate with Oak and Linden, the trees they transform into; and to hang wishes and requests to be granted, as is retold in the myth.


As a Hellenic parent of a 7 year old, I wanted to thank you for this on 2 counts:

1) I have always connected with the Dionysian side of this festival - to don masks and transform yourself is part of theater, and honors Dionysus.  See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharsis great article on the Hellenic debate on Katharsis!
Anyhow, living so close to San Francisco, this is like our mardis gras -  a chance to use our imagination and be other for a couple of hours.

2) I adore any chance to teach xenia, and this is an excellent time to bring up one of my favorite stories.

-Zoe, a sucker for oak leave decorations any day
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