30 Days of Devition: 11 ~ Festivals, days, and times sacred to Eros

I’ve written a lot about the Feast of Eros, so go read that, if you haven’t, yet. This is set for 4 Thioyios of the New Boeotian calendar (sunset 3 April of the Gregorian calendar, this year).

Dr Susan Block has created “Eros Day“, and the date is selected for when the planetoid Eros, an asteroid belt object that has actually been studied to learn more about the origins of the solar system, is at its closest to Earth. This is usually 20 January, by the Gregorian calendar.

While i honestly have no personal problem with people deciding to honour Eros on St. Valentine’s Day, and I can certainly argue a folk-religion justification connecting Chaucer’s referencing to birds finding a mate in 14 February with the creation of birds by Eros (as per Aristophanes), but honestly, I haven’t started doing this just yet. This last eight years, i’ve actually actively abstained from honouring Eros on St. Valentine’s day simply because it’s been far too commercialised and just plain hokey, and not at all related to Eros as I know Him. Actually, mentioning the thing about the birds, I’m going to meditate on that and hopefully return to the topic of a festival honouring Eros’ position as the father of the birds, later.

I also honour Eros on the fourth-to-last day of the year, by the New Boeotian Calendar, as the anniversary of the date I bonded myself to Him in 2009. The date was chosen by Him, and I celebrate by soaking pieces of quince in wine, giving Him the first piece, and performing several divinations for guidance in the year to come –at least that’s the part of it I can talk about. This year, I plan on making quince preserves as a part of this ritual, at least a preparation for it, but it depends largely on finding good quince in-season.

  1. A basic introduction of Eros
  2. How did I become first aware of Eros?
  3. Symbols and icons of Eros
  4. A favorite myth or myths of Eros
  5. Members of the family – genealogical connections
  6. Other related deities and entities associated with Eros
  7. Names and epithets
  8. Variations on Eros
  9. Common mistakes about Eros
  10. Offerings – historical and UPG
  11. Festivals, days, and times sacred to Eros
  12. Places associated with this deity and their worship
  13. What modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?
  14. Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?
  15. Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
  16. How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?
  17. How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?
  18. How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG)
  19. What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?
  20. Art that reminds you of this deity
  21. Music that makes you think of this deity
  22. A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with
  23. Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity
  24. A time when this deity has helped you
  25. A time when this deity has refused to help
  26. How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
  27. Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered
  28. Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently
  29. Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?
  30. Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

A Brief History of Eostere

You know, I’m willing to meet the Evangelicals halfway —the Christian holiday, Easter, did not begin as a pagan celebration of “the Goddess Eostere”. In fact, there’s no evidence of such a goddess as part of any pantheon prior the 8th Century CE, and the first time She was attested to in any writing was from a Christian text, to boot. The etymology of her name is likely from either the proto-Germanic “Austro” or the Hellenic “Eos”.

That said, as loathe as I am to quote Parker & Stone, I think the character of Stan Marsh put it best when, in the especially surreal “Fantastic Easter Special” eppie of South Park, he asked, several times and never to any logical answer: “What is the connection between Jesus and rabbits and colored eggs?”

The origin of Easter, in specific, even “Eostere”, may be Christian, but the traditional activities associated with the holiday are, to put it bluntly, pagan in origin.

300px-Belarusian_Easter_EggsEggs are fertility symbols. Modern Orthodox Christian Hellenes may say the deep reds of theirs represent Christ’s blood, but honestly? Most of them look pretty damned menstrual. Am I really supposed to believe that the origin of this has nothing to do with the Orphic World Egg?

Furthermore, the reputation of rabbits have for fucking is, indeed, an ancient one, and is likely why rabbits were a common courtship / engagement gift from ancient through to Renaissance years. Again, what does this have to do with a crucified prophet ascending bodily from his grave? Pretty much nothing, the rabbits are a fertility symbol for a fertility festival.

Even if “the Goddess Eostere” was unattested to prior the 8th Century CE, clearly She has a following now. She may not be an historical origin for pre-Christian celebrations that were later absorbed into Easter, but not only is She a part of the current pagan celebrations, there is, in fact, reason to believe that “Easter traditions” far pre-date Christianity.

Now, I do find the etymological liklihood between Eostere and Eos interesting — as Goddess of Dawn, has been given associations with things that “the dawn” can symbolise, such as New Beginnings, as per the 2000s Battlestar Galactica reboot. The traditional New Year in the Anglosphere was springtime, and the “head of the year” in Mesopotamia was springtime, ad well. Mythology of spring consistently centres around new beginnings, or beginning anew. It also makes for a curious coincidence that Eos’ personal mythology is loaded with many young lovers — many who die, some of whom metamorphosise — which brings us back to aspects of fertility in the springtime festivals.

Now, this is all coincidence with Eos — indeed, if her cult ever existed, the only surviving “evidence” of it comes from Ovid, who is incredibly vague:

Ovid, Metamorphoses 13. 576 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
“[Eos addresses Zeus :] Least I may be of all the goddesses the golden heavens hold–in all the world my shrines are rarest.”

…but considering that The Feast of Eros is a springtime festival (with symbolism that is certainly in line with a majority of that associated with Easter), it might seem fair to include Eos, if one might be so inclined.

Reading up a little more on Eostere, it seems some do associate her with dawn, which may or may not reflect Grimm’s first suggestion that the etymology of Eostere may be linked more closely with Eos. It’s also intriguing, to me, that in spite of many people trying to connect the association of Eostere and rabbits to Freya, it seems that Freya has no clear associations with rabbits — but Eros and Aphrodite do have traditional symbolisms with rabbits and hares.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Eros would approve

kp05

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Eros is NOT the Reason for the Season

©Pierre et Gilles

©Pierre et Gilles

I really have to abandon the inertia I seem to have adopted toward removing myself from a certain e-mail list. This owner/s of the list in question, in spite of repeated issuance from members, including myself, of correct information that points out the Feast of Eros is a springtime festival —not mid-winter— still maintain a calendar that places the Feast of Eros as a replacement for St. Valentine’s Day.

While there is very little surviving information about the Feast in question, there is enough to place this as a springtime festival. Furthermore, there is nothing about Eros’ symbolism that is specific to winter, and plenty that makes a springtime festival seem more appropriate —the cockerel, the hare, eggs, birds, youth.

by Erte

by Erte

Furthermore, the ancient, pre-Christian origins of St Valentine’s Day are well established. Daidala (Attic: Gemalia), the wedding of Hera and Zeus is traditionally held around the time of mid-February. Rome’s Lupercalia, celebrating the bitch wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus. Eros has nothing to do with either day. I’ve explained this at great length before. Yet the pinhead/s in charge of that list still insist “it’s a modern syncretism in line with the ancient practice”.

What ancient practice? There is NO “ancient practice” that can easily link Eros with any mid-February festivals, and the “love” portrayed in the Catholic St Valentine mythology was closer to agape than eros. The “love” we see in the Lupercalia mythos is compassionate, not erotic.

"Winter" by Erte

“Winter” by Erte

The union of Zeus and Hera, even as per the mythology, was one less of passion than of politics.

That said, I acknowledge that people are going to do whatever they want to, anyway, no matter what makes sense or not. Oh well. If you want to celebrate Eros on 14 February, have fun with that. On the other hand, when you call it “The Feast of Eros” you are inviting confusion with the ancient festival. When you insist that “it’s a modern syncretism”, you not only demonstrate a misunderstanding of what syncretism actually is, you demonstrate a gross misunderstanding of the ancient calendars.

I’m willing to make a post like this every fucking year, so that people who are genuinely interested in the ancient practice can learn that this idea of a mid-winter “Feast of Eros” is just borderline eclectic nonsense based more on medieval softcore subversion of Christian mythology than on pre-Christian Græc

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.