Please, please when researching herbs for paganism/witchcraft, make sure you also look up its physical, botanical and chemical properties as well. Some websites seem credible but don’t put warnings about dangers of herbs/flowers/plants. Some are poisonous, some are irritants, some are abortifacient. AND NEVER INGEST HERBS/FLOWERS/PLANTS WITHOUT LEARNING EVERY POSSIBLE THING ABOUT THEM.

Thank you, this has been a PSA.

Ancient Greek Holidays: Proerosia

On the Vernal Equinox in March, some reconstructionist and revivalist pagans (check out my ‘Glossary of Terms’ if you need an explanation!) celebrate the festival of Proerosia. Though Proerosia in ancient Greece would have taken place at the beginning of Pyanepsion (around late October; more information on the ancient calendar can be found in my ‘Greco-Egyptian Calendar’ post), it is a festival connected to the end of the winter season and preparations for spring, and as such I place it on the traditional “last day of winter” for those of us living in more northern countries. Other practitioners do choose to celebrate it on the historically-accurate date later in the year, but since October for me is when winter is gearing up I place it earlier to fit in with the beginning-of-spring theme!

As an Eleusinian festival, the Proerosia (also called the Prerosia and Plerosia in some sources) primarily honours Demeter, as well as Athena, Zeus, and Apollo depending on the locality. All Eleusinian festivals are tied to the sacred agricultural cycle in ancient Greece, including the Thesmophoria in late October/early November, Haloa in December, and the famous Eleusinian Mysteries around the end of September, among others.

The foundation of the Proerosia is tied to a myth wherein the Greeks were struck by plague and crop-failure, and the Delphic Oracle ordered the Athenians to make a pre-ploughing sacrifice to Demeter on behalf of all people to bring this misfortune to an end (Parker 2005). In later years pre-ploughing sacrifices were brought to Eleusis (the namesake of the Eleusinian Mysteries, located a handful of kilometres from Athens) by the surrounding communities as repayment for the original sacrifice by the people of Athens and to offer prayers for an abundant harvest.

Though it’s still a bit early for me to begin planting things, I like to celebrate Proerosia by baking bread or honey cake (which I also do for other Demeter-centric festivals), pruning, watering, and re-potting my indoor plants, and giving offerings of fresh fruit and/or flowers. I also recite hymns to Demeter and to the Horae (goddesses of the seasons) and pray for the arrival of spring (never a sure thing in Canada!). As an Apollo devotee, and knowing that the Proerosia began with Him demanding ‘extra’ work from the Athenians, I also spend some time thinking of ways I can improve my relationship with the gods and things I may have been slacking on recently. It’s also a celebration of new growth and opportunities, and the recognition of my own ability to better myself in the upcoming months!

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