Three Hymns for Anthesteria

Amanda Aremisia Forrester

i. To Dionysos
On the first day of Anthesteria

Bringer of spring, awake!
Green grass is poking up
Past the icy snows
Winter’s long sorrows are over
Raging Bull, bring the spring!

Lord of the vine, awake!
Green leafs twining on every branch
Let the sun shine to feed your fruit
Let the fertile earth warm to your touch
Lord of the vine, bring the spring!

Dionysos, Marshy God, awake!
I open this cask of last year’s wine
Spill it in Your name
Sweet blood of the grape
Dionysos Limnaios, bring the spring!

ii. To Dionysos
On the Second Day of Anthesteria
A wedding Hymn from His bride the Basilinna

Evoe Dionysos! I await You, bull-headed, ghostly God
The lion-skinned one returning from the lap of Persephone
Into the daylit world the bull-roarer walks
Bringing with Him the shadowy denizens
Of Haides’ underground realms
On this hallowed polluted night the Keres roam free
The drinking games are silent
As Orestes approaches the city
I remove the crown from my head
And loose my locks
Allowing my auburn hair to flow down my back
The priests led me into the inner sanctum of the temple
My lips are sealed as to the rites we performed there
A holy silence reigns
Evoe, Dionysos!
Lover, I await You!
Husband, I await You!
The revels are afoot
The proper sacrifices and rites are observed
The time has come, I await You.
Meet me, O Dionysos, I await You!
I hear you coming now,
A rage of wind and fury of hoof beats
Rattling the already shaky walls of the ox-shed
The sheep outside bray
Somewhere in the distance a wolf howls
The wind is crying like a mournful wraith
All of Nature is awakening to Your arousing touch
Life returns again to the land
The door of the shed bursts open, banging on the wall
And there You stand in all Your glory
Long hair wild, eyes blazing
I lift my arm in welcome
“Come to me, my Husband,”
And You descend on me, inflamed
Filling me with Your Divine presence
On this ghost-ridden, impure night
We unite
Uniting the land of Attika with You
And together, we bring the spring.

iii. To the Spirits
On the third day of Anthesteria

Spirits and souls, ghosts of old
Wandering the earth this night of Khutroi
Shadowy denizens of Haides
Loosened two days ago,
On wine-soaked Pithoigia
The first day of Anthesteria
I offer this sustenance
To those who have no substance
That you might eat, and enjoy
And leave my home in peace, when the time comes
This early morn, for Hermes Khthonios
To lead to you back home
Back underground
I feed you
That you may feed
The crops and vegetative growth
That feeds me.

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