Saturday, June 5, 2010
Plynteria is here!
Plynteria, along with Kallynteria, are Athenian festivals of purification associated with Athena. The Kallynteria was celebrated on Thargelion 25, which is June 6-7. Kallynteria is the "festival of sweeping". It was a thorough cleaning of Athena's temple by women under the direction of Athena's priestess. The priestess also refills and relights Athena’s eternal flame in the temple. Kallynteria is an excellent day to refresh your Athena shrine or just erect one.
Kallynteria is followed by Plynteria, the "festival of washing". During Plynteria the cult icon of Athena was divested of its peplos and veiled. The icon was then carried by women in a pompe to the ocean where it was ritually bathed. The pompe was led by a woman carrying a basket of figs. Two girls, the Loutride, or bathers, washed the icon in salt water. In the evening the icon was returned to the temple in a torchlight procession and was re-clothed in her peplos. Only the Loutrides and the women who dress and undress the Goddess are permitted to see Her naked.
The ancient statue of Athena Polis at Athens was of human size or less, carved of olive wood, and probably showed the Goddess seated without weapons. She wore a tall, golden stephane (crown) and She may have had a Gorgoneion (Medusa head) on her breast.
Plynteria was a time that was considered apophras, or unfortunate, because the icon of Athena Polis was not guarding the city.
Tomorrow I'll be veiling my own icon of Athena and escorting her down to the pond where I will ritually bathe Her. After the bathing I will clean and rearrange my shrine to Her, light an oil lamp to symbolize Her eternal flame, and return the icon to its place on the shrine.
Here are some links for further information on Kallynteria and Plynteria.