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Author Topic: Mysteries of Demeter  (Read 20583 times)
Melamphoros
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« Reply #15: April 07, 2009, 06:51:36 pm »

Cauldronites who are recons, please feel free to correct any errors in what I've said.

I don't typically call myself a recon (although I fit with your definition of a soft recon), but I think your assessment may be accurate.  Not sure though Undecided
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« Reply #16: April 07, 2009, 08:55:59 pm »

I don't typically call myself a recon (although I fit with your definition of a soft recon), but I think your assessment may be accurate.  Not sure though Undecided


I don't call myself a recon, either. There is a faction within our community that has what I can only call fundamentalist tendencies, and self-identifies as 'Reconstructionist'. Some people reading this may have already run afoul of them.

I reject some of their theological certainties, so I call myself a revivalist.

Sunflower's assessment is spot on, in my opinion. I might be categorized as a "Soft recon".
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« Reply #17: April 08, 2009, 01:36:41 am »

Reif's book was one of the reviewers talking about her having constructed a Hellenic "Wheel of the Year" - that may well have said more about the reviewer's POV than about the book, and the reviewer might have just been using the phrase to refer to seasonal/agricultural cycles in the broad sense, but the phrase usually refers to the seasonal celebrational structure of eight festivals at the quarter and cross-quarter days.  Someone could take only the idea of eight festivals approximately equally-spaced, and apply it to the Greek agricultural year; the result would be consonant with actual Greek conditions, but it wouldn't be at all recon, because it's applying a festival cycle that we know wasn't part of ancient Greek practice.  (That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with doing that, if that's the religious practice that's right for that person, it just means they're not reconstructing what was done in ancient times.)

A softer recon, especially one with a personal relationship with one or more deities, would be more willing to use UPG (unverified personal gnosis) to fill in gaps; a harder recon would avoid UPG as much as possible, preferring scholarly extrapolation from known info

Riefs book does put forth a calendar of festivals.  As far as I know they are based on actual Greek festivals.  They aren't equally spaced.  When I first read the book, I was approaching it from a generally Wiccan perspective, so, it was very strange to me.  One thing I noticed in particular was that most of them were attuned to agricultural things like planting and harvesting of wheat.  Most of them centered around parts of the mythology of Demeter, Kore/Persephone, Hades, Hecate and a few other deities.  Each ritual honored many deities, though.  Also, I wasn't used to the idea of festivals being scattered throughout the year as they were, some of them lasting for days.  One thing that I thought would be problematic was the times that planting was celebrated and other such things.  I'm not really sure that the times these festivals were supposed to be celebrated would coincide with the seasons here.  So, that was another problem I had.  Again, this was me approaching them from a perspective and not really sure if you could adapt these rituals to the climate or if they had to be. Which brings me to another question.

As far as UPG goes, if there is such an agricultural festival that it isn't possible to physically participate in because of the climate, what would you do? Celebrate it at the correct time and then do the physical work of planting later?  Is this something that would really be an issue?  In the case of the book Mysteries of Demeter, I am thinking it could be.  How would a recon handle this?

I have been looking at some links and came across a book called Kharis today.  I am adding it to my wish list to.  Is this also a good source?
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Melamphoros
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« Reply #18: April 08, 2009, 07:24:56 am »

As far as UPG goes, if there is such an agricultural festival that it isn't possible to physically participate in because of the climate, what would you do? Celebrate it at the correct time and then do the physical work of planting later?  Is this something that would really be an issue?  In the case of the book Mysteries of Demeter, I am thinking it could be.  How would a recon handle this?

I wouldn't, then again I don't celebrate any festivals.  And if I were to celebrate an agricultural festival cycle, it would be one I created from scratch to correspond to my region's climate.  I don't live in the Mediterranean region and the chance that the agricultural cycles where I live match up with it are very slim.  Then again, there seem to be plenty of Wiccans who follow the Wheel of the Year and live in a climate not even remotely similar to Northern Europe so ymmv.

Quote
I have been looking at some links and came across a book called Kharis today.  I am adding it to my wish list to.  Is this also a good source?

I haven't read it myself but I heard it was good.

(sorry if I'm a little incoherent, I haven't had any caffeine in me yet this morning)
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« Reply #19: April 08, 2009, 07:47:08 am »

I have been looking at some links and came across a book called Kharis today.  I am adding it to my wish list to.  Is this also a good source?

I'll second Mel's "haven't read it, but heard it's good" here.  IIRC it's aimed at aiding in a modern-day practice, which makes it worth checking out right there--that sort of book is not very common, and there are these wee little issues with finding one that hasn't been out of print for ages because Hellenion can't get their act together on a new edition...

Ahem.  Sorry.
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« Reply #20: April 08, 2009, 08:22:15 am »

One thing that I thought would be problematic was the times that planting was celebrated and other such things.  I'm not really sure that the times these festivals were supposed to be celebrated would coincide with the seasons here.

The seasons in Athens are closer to the seasons in South Texas than they are the seasons in the northern US or northern Europe.  Wiccan holidays have the same problem in South Texas (where there are 2 or 3 growing seasons and it has been known to occasionally still be in the 80s some days in December -- just a few years ago we has 110+ degree temperatures in late October in Central Texas.)   

Quote
As far as UPG goes, if there is such an agricultural festival that it isn't possible to physically participate in because of the climate, what would you do? Celebrate it at the correct time and then do the physical work of planting later?  Is this something that would really be an issue?  In the case of the book Mysteries of Demeter, I am thinking it could be.  How would a recon handle this?

Recons tend to handle it by following the Athenian calendar because that's the only complete calendar available. However, this really isn't very "recon" IMHO because we know that every Greek City-State followed their own calendar with somewhat to very different days for festivals and even different festivals from what info is available.  Certain festivals were apparent only done in Athens -- for example, most of mysteries was apparently were Athens only.
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« Reply #21: April 08, 2009, 07:44:52 pm »



I have been looking at some links and came across a book called Kharis today.  I am adding it to my wish list to.  Is this also a good source?


Kharis is an excellent book, one that I've picked up again and again.
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« Reply #22: April 08, 2009, 08:25:11 pm »

I'll second Mel's "haven't read it, but heard it's good" here.  IIRC it's aimed at aiding in a modern-day practice, which makes it worth checking out right there--that sort of book is not very common, and there are these wee little issues with finding one that hasn't been out of print for ages because Hellenion can't get their act together on a new edition...

Ahem.  Sorry.

AFAIK, Kharis is not distributed or affiliated with Hellenion. You may be thinking of another book they put out that I know has been discussed here before. Kharis is self-published by Oinokhoe and is available on her website. Note: the edition on her website is the updated 2008 version, not the original 2004. I recommend the 2008 version, though.
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« Reply #23: April 08, 2009, 08:44:07 pm »

AFAIK, Kharis is not distributed or affiliated with Hellenion. You may be thinking of another book they put out that I know has been discussed here before.

The bit about Hellenion was intended to refer to Drew Campbell's Old Stones, New Temples (which Hellenion now holds the copyright for and has been allegedly intending to put together a new edition of forever and ever), not to Kharis.  My point was that books of this nature are so few and far between that OSNT's being out of print is more than a bit of a hindrance to someone looking for material on contemporary Hellenic practice, and that because of that similarly-themed books (such as Kharis, if memory serves) are probably worth taking a look at. 

Sorry about the confusion.
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« Reply #24: June 22, 2009, 07:53:21 am »

I read a book called Mysteries of Demeter by Jennifer Reif.  I am new to the idea of reconstructionism and I was wondering if those currently following Hellenism have read this book and if  you would consider it an accurate source or a good starting point.  I'm still trying to figure out what the standard is for reconstruction and I thought maybe someone more familiar with it could give me an opinion on this book or maybe another book that I could start with.  Thank you.


Long time is gone by last post under this thread, but I just needed putting my two cents in Wink I feel way too strongly about this subject.
I’ll admit, I read and adored this book. As everyone are been pointing out, it’s not about strict and pure reconstructionism,  but then, it never claims to be. Rather, Jennifer Reif tries to reinterpret  the story of Demeter and Persephone according a more modern dimension, and that idea is worthy of praise in its way, because it’s undeniable that myths evolve with the ages and cultures.

It’s true that Persephone descent is a metaphor of a coming of age more than it is of a meeting with suffering and death. Growing into a powerful queen, Kore moves past  her identity of Demeter’s child and acquires a new name, a woman’s name, which is symbolic of her learning to know herself as adult.

Jennifer Reif remarks on this aspect of her mythology rather than focusing on the rape, according to certain pre-Hellenic versions that had Persephone facing the darkness of Underworld on her will, out of compassion  for the wandering, queen-less ghosts  in need of a comforting guidance (check Charlene Pasternak book to read this version, it’s a delightful experience ), and eventually expands this concept to paint a new story, while trying to explain realistically how the Eleusis ‘s Great Mysteries and other Demeter’s feasts were once celebrated.
Personally, I found her work inspiring… I was born close to that famous Locri Epizefiri sanctuary (I was lucky enough to visit it when I was in high school) and so I had developed a fascination of sorts with Persephone, yet I didn’t seem able to properly ‘connect’ with Her and Her myths, until I opened ‘Mysteries of Demeter’. It just clicked right emotionally and intuitively, and it helped a lot to add depth to my understanding of two beautiful and magnificent goddesses… this is what makes a book good for me, whether the viewpoint it express it’s classic or not.

So to answer your question, I think you could use it in building the basics of your practice if you are interested in Hellenistic Witchcraft, because it’s not wicca-ish at all.  For a more scholarly work, you could try something and anything by Sarah Iles Jhonson… she’s wonderfully informative and a very serious author. Her ‘Hekate Soitera’ completely won me over.  And Charlene Pasternak ‘s ‘A Recollection of Pre-Hellenic Myths’ is also especially enticing.     
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« Reply #25: June 22, 2009, 05:56:03 pm »


 For a more scholarly work, you could try something and anything by Sarah Iles Jhonson… she’s wonderfully informative and a very serious author. Her ‘Hekate Soitera’ completely won me over.  And Charlene Pasternak ‘s ‘A Recollection of Pre-Hellenic Myths’ is also especially enticing.     


Thank you for the book suggestions.  I will definitely add them to my wishlist.  It is always nice to get a new book Smiley
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« Reply #26: June 22, 2009, 06:14:18 pm »

It’s true that Persephone descent is a metaphor of a coming of age more than it is of a meeting with suffering and death. Growing into a powerful queen, Kore moves past  her identity of Demeter’s child and acquires a new name, a woman’s name, which is symbolic of her learning to know herself as adult.

Actually, it was more about the changing of seasons then either of the things you mentioned.

Quote
Jennifer Reif remarks on this aspect of her mythology rather than focusing on the rape, according to certain pre-Hellenic versions that had Persephone facing the darkness of Underworld on her will, out of compassion  for the wandering, queen-less ghosts  in need of a comforting guidance (check Charlene Pasternak book to read this version, it’s a delightful experience ), and eventually expands this concept to paint a new story, while trying to explain realistically how the Eleusis ‘s Great Mysteries and other Demeter’s feasts were once celebrated.
Personally, I found her work inspiring… I was born close to that famous Locri Epizefiri sanctuary (I was lucky enough to visit it when I was in high school) and so I had developed a fascination of sorts with Persephone, yet I didn’t seem able to properly ‘connect’ with Her and Her myths, until I opened ‘Mysteries of Demeter’. It just clicked right emotionally and intuitively, and it helped a lot to add depth to my understanding of two beautiful and magnificent goddesses… this is what makes a book good for me, whether the viewpoint it express it’s classic or not.

So to answer your question, I think you could use it in building the basics of your practice if you are interested in Hellenistic Witchcraft, because it’s not wicca-ish at all.  For a more scholarly work, you could try something and anything by Sarah Iles Jhonson… she’s wonderfully informative and a very serious author. Her ‘Hekate Soitera’ completely won me over.  And Charlene Pasternak ‘s ‘A Recollection of Pre-Hellenic Myths’ is also especially enticing.    

A search of B&N didn't pull up this book so do you know off hand which type of sources Pasternak used.  I'm asking because (I think) this version of Persephone came up on these forums before and the one member who has a degree related to this subject said it was nothing more than a bowdlerized version of the original story.
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« Reply #27: June 24, 2009, 12:59:21 am »



A search of B&N didn't pull up this book so do you know off hand which type of sources Pasternak used.  I'm asking because (I think) this version of Persephone came up on these forums before and the one member who has a degree related to this subject said it was nothing more than a bowdlerized version of the original story.

Her biblyography is endless and includes a lot of books on archeological preellenic sites... I might copy part of it down if you are interested,but her research sounded quite solid to me.
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« Reply #28: June 30, 2009, 03:15:13 am »

Actually, it was more about the changing of seasons then either of the things you mentioned.

A search of B&N didn't pull up this book so do you know off hand which type of sources Pasternak used.  I'm asking because (I think) this version of Persephone came up on these forums before and the one member who has a degree related to this subject said it was nothing more than a bowdlerized version of the original story.

I just tried googling the author, title and a number of different combinations of the words and names thereof and have yet to find the book.
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« Reply #29: June 30, 2009, 08:02:08 am »

I just tried googling the author, title and a number of different combinations of the words and names thereof and have yet to find the book.

try this:

Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths by Charlene Spretnak: http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Goddesses-Early-Greece-Pre-Hellenic/dp/0807013439/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246362939&sr=1-1
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