Living in Season
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Update on Star Gazing
Also thanks to Melanie who sent me this link to her favorite site for information on the stars:
Living in Season: Gardens of Adonis
During this festival, women, especially loose women, prostitutes and mistresses, entertained their lovers on rooftops, burning spices in honor of Adonis and Aphrodite, dancing, feasting, drinking and singing.
One of the features of the holiday was the creation of Gardens of Adonis, by sowing seeds of wheat, barley, lettuce, fennel and sometimes flowers in shallow silver baskets, bowls or even shards of clay. Tended by the women, who watered them daily, the plants grew rapidly but had shallow root systems. Images on Greek vases show the women carrying these little gardens up ladders to the rooftops for the Adonia celebration. At the end of eight days the pots of greenery were thrown into the ocean or a stream, sometimes along with an image of the dead Adonis.
Frazer, the great folklorist, believed that Gardens of Adonis symbolized fertility and growth. But, Marcel Detienne, the author of Gardens of Adonis, a structuralist analysis of the practice, has a different view. He points out that the plants in a Garden of Adonis quickly wither under the heat of the sun. The Greeks have a proverb--"You are more sterile than the gardens of Adonis"-and also use the phrase to indicate something superficial, immature or lightweight. In fact, Plato in Phaedrus contrasts the sensible farmer, who would sow his seeds when it is suitable and be content to wait eight months for them to mature, with a person who sows plants during the summer in a Garden of Adonis. One is a serious act, the other playful; one will come to maturity, the other is strictly for transitory amusement.
If you want to make your own Garden of Adonis, buy wheat berries at your local health food store. Soak them overnight, then plant them in shallow pots or wicker baskets, lined with a thin layer of potting soil. Sprinkle the wheat berries over the top of the soil and keep watered. To speed up the germination, you can cover them loosely with plastic for a few days, but at this time of year they should do fine on a sunny windowsill.
The wheat grows rapidly and is a beautiful vibrant green. These make great decorations for your home Martha Stewart would approve. Of course, you can eat the wheat grass-cut it off near the roots and add to salads, etc. Your cat and dog will love it too, if you set out a pot of wheat grass they can graze.
If you'd like a faster and perhaps more decadent transitory pleasure, I suggest celebrating one of my favorite festivals, with no ancient roots: Ice Cream Day on July 23.
Flower of the Month
You'll learn about the spiritual interpretations of the flower, associations with gods & goddesses, myths about its origins, natural facts, medicinal uses and a recipe for pond lily popcorn.
In my Library: Folklore Bibles
But today I don't have to go to the library. I have my own copy of Funk & Wagnalls, inherited from my mentor, Helen Farias, and full of her penciled margin notes. I keep it right beside my desk. It's still the single best place to turn for folklore. After spending hours researching the lotus in various flower books, I finally turned to F&W and found both three times the qualityand quantity of information. Reliable, user-friendly and now available in paperback.
The other richest source of folklore in my collection is the great compendium (12 volumes when first published in 1890) by the great Scottish folklorist, Sir James George Frazer. Like many other brilliant scholars (Robert Graves and Barbara Walker come to mind), he had an agenda and managed to make the data he collected fit the patterns he discerned.
I am skeptical of his theories about the annual ritual killing of the sacred King (perhaps because it's not a tradition I wish to perpetuate) but I'm Ok with his lumping together Jesus, Adonis, and Osiris as reborn and dying vegetation gods (some scholars don't agree). Also Frazer, in his 19th century way, assumed that "primitive" peoples did things like make love in the fields or light bonfires at summer solstice because they believed that through sympathetic magic these acts would encourage the plants to grow and the sun to rise. It seems just as likely they understood the value of a symbolic act, the same way we do.
Autumn in the School of the Seasons
Last Chance for Lammas
The packet is available in two versions: sent email as a Word attachment or as printed pages sent via regular mail in a portfolio. To order a Lammas packet go to our Store. $9 +$2 shipping for the print version, $7 for email.