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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Kore

Posted by on in Culture Blogs



Lo, the fair beauty of earth,

from the depth of the winter arising...


On the island of Syros, the goat-men are dancing.


Achilles Among the Women


Syros, in the Aegean Sea, is perhaps best-known as the place where—in an attempt to avert his predicted, premature death in the Trojan War—the mother of Achilles hid her adolescent son, dressed as a girl, among the female companions of the king's daughter.

The ruse, though, was uncovered by the wily Odysseus, who—knowing full well that the Greeks would need the heroic efforts of the “best of Achaians,” whatever the cost—had laid out an array of mirrors and jewelry, with a lone sword among the display, as gifts for the women of the court.

Just then, an alarm was raised, as if the island were being attacked. Achilles threw off his veil, seized the sword, and rushed out to meet the supposed attackers. So his true nature was revealed, and his fate sealed.

But already the womb of the king's daughter had kindled, and so was born Neoptolemos, only-begotten son of godlike Achilles.



A Modern Dionysia


This week marks the third and final week of Apókries, Greek Carnival, a folk-festival that, while tied to the ecclesiastical calendar, has never—for obvious reasons—been fully countenanced by the Orthodox Church. As elsewhere, the celebration is characterized by immoderate eating and drinking, disguises, and public parades.

These days, secular Greeks tend to associate the wine-fueled festival with the god Dionysos, whose Greater Dionysia were also, in Classical times, celebrated in the Spring.

(I would hasten to add that, while there is no known historical connection between the ancient and modern festivals, one could certainly argue for a certain continuity of spirit between the two.)

But in Syros, it would seem, Aprokries is given to another god—or rather, goddess—altogether.


In the Lust of the Goat is the Glory of God”


Rocky Syros is an island of goats.

During the last week of Carnival, the young men of the island, masked in kid-skins, don furry black goat-herds' coats and goat-bells, and go out, wooden crooks in hand, to dance raucously in the streets.

The more vigorously that they dance, the louder the clatter of the goat-bells that they wear.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



If we can trust the parallels with later Classical art, this “Minoan” bulla (sealing) depicts the goddess known later as Kore (“Maiden”), or Persephone, rising from the Earth, assisted by a male figure, possibly a votary.

In the first century BCE, the Sicilian historian Diodorus wrote that the famous Eleusinian Mysteries had their origin in Crete where, however, they were performed quite publicly and without the secrecy that characterized the later Mysteries (Kerényi 24). We don't know where or from whom he got this information, but if the bulla shown above can be taken as evidence, it would certainly lend support to his theory.

Unfortunately, this bulla, with all its Minoan charm, is in all likelihood a forgery.

Our Kore Rising bulla was supposedly found, along with a trove of other “Minoan” sealings, near Thisbe in Boeotia, in mainland Greece, in the early years of the so-called 20th century. Interestingly—unlike virtually any provenanced Minoan seals—a number of them seem to depict recognizable episodes from Greek mythology. One particularly striking one depicts what is clearly Oedipus talking with the Sphinx, rather charmingly rendered as a Minoan-style griffin.

You know the saying: When something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

(Following Evans, early Minoanists tended to interpret Minoan culture through the prism of Classical mythology, but more recent scholarship suggests instead that comparing Minoan culture with other contemporaneous Mediterranean cultures may offer a less potentially distorting hermeneutic.)

In fact, as Kenneth Lapatin recounts in his 2002 Mysteries of the Snake Goddess, Arthur Evans had barely started excavating at Knossos in 1900 when Minoan fakes began to appear on the market. Everybody wanted a piece of Minoan Crete and, as usual, the market was more than happy to provide them, genuine or not. The Thisbe trove of seals and sealings would seem to be an example of the latter.

Recent archaeology has not been kind to Diodorus' claimed Cretan origins for the Mysteries of the Grain Mother and the Nameless Bride. In Michael B. Cosmopoulos' 2015 study of the excavation history of the Mystery Sanctuary at Eleusis, he cites “a total absence of Minoan imports or even influences at Eleusis during the Bronze Age,” the period during which the sanctuary was founded (Cosmopoulos 156); he concludes that the Mysteries were, in all likelihood, an indigenous local development.

Well. As I write this, here in the North Country, the sugaring is well underway, as sap rises in the trees. Through the coming days, we will actually watch the Rising occur: first the grasses will green, then the bushes leaf out, and lastly the trees open their buds.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Icons of the Maiden Goddess

In 1956, a man had a blinding, overwhelming vision of the Goddess. “That's it, that's it,” he said to himself, over and over again. “She's it!” (Adler 232).

The truth of a vision is judged (among other things) by its impact on the visionary's life. In this case, said visionary spent the next 5 decades of his life working to create the holistic, Goddess-centric culture that sprouted organically from that first transcendent vision, a vision which inspired and shaped the emergent New American Paganisms.

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