The Adeia – a modern festival to Demeter

Historically, it’s often during times of hardships and crisis that new cults would be established and religious innovations would appear. This one is no different. It’s through discussion with @iliosflower that the idea of creating a new festival, one that would more accurately respond to modern problematics, came to fruition. This is what we’d like to explain in this post and hope that the idea finds an echo, and hopefully, validation from the wider community.

Why? What is it supposed to do?

On a global scale, we’re dealing with a climate crisis that is putting food sources at risk. On a more local level, conflicts and abnormal weather are creating risks of bad harvests, resources shortages and/or inflations.

We are aware that not everyone is impacted directly by the current ongoing issues, but we hope that this festival (or at least the idea) can be useful beyond these and be seen through a wider scope of praying for food security at large.

We named the festival Adeia, from the ancient Greek ἄδεια, which conveniently can signify both “abundance”/”plenty” and “freedom from fear”/”security”. All things the festival aims for.

How? What would the festival entail?

  • For whom? Demeter Soteira (the saviour) and Herakles Alexikakos (averter of evil). While this is what we thought was appropriate, we gladly encourage additions, especially if it fits your local situation (eg. Poseidon or Zeus could both make logical additions to protect from droughts or other natural disasters that impact food security).
  • For what? An answer to the needs of current events; fear of food shortages/wheat shortages
  • Purpose; invoke the Saviour and Averter of Evil, ask for their continued blessings for plentiful food in the home for you and your loved ones, thanking them for past blessings, ask them to watch over those that will be hit the hardest by the current food crisis. Ask for Herakles’ strength and forbearance in the coming year; ask for Demeter’s continued blessing of your home’s stores.
  • Date: 1st weekend of September (2022: 3-4th of September) / a week before Eleusinian Mysteries. These dates are based on the Northern hemisphere, feel free to make the dates match your local harvest calendar.

    Ideal food offerings:

  • Pig; preferably piglet (if findable); fat and smoke to go up to Demeter; BBQ will do perfectly.
  • Rye, barley, and wheat as grains (if rice/corn or another grain is the majority grain in your area, go for that instead), baked into cakes, and/or tossed on the fire for Demeter.
  • Some kind of honey fritters; honey and bees are connected to Demeter, as a thank you for their pollinating the plants, flowers, and all that grows; or fruits and vegetables; to honour the “fruit of Demeter’s labour” and all she does for mankind.

    Ideal drink offerings;

  • Grain-based drinks (see: Kykeon at her festival in Eleusis); you can get close to this with beer, mead, with a mint flavouring preferably.

    Other ideas to offer;

  • Donate either food/money to your local food banks or charities that help in relief from food shortages.
  • Support local farmers/buy your groceries for this weekend solely from regional products.
  • Bring awareness to the current crisis and see what you can do to support others.
  • Make a votive offering and give it to Demeter and/or Herakles on this date.
  • Read the Hymn to Demeter out loud/listen to a recording of it, as a reminder of her blessings to mankind and how she relieved us from famine before.
  • A simple libation and prayer of thanks goes a long way; offering what you can afford/can do in your situation is historically attested and perfectly valid. Offerings should be made according to what is possible and reasonable for your means.

Feedback, discussion & questions welcome.

Sources used in the making of the festival;

Hesiod, Works and Days
Pindar, Olympian XIII
A Companion to Food in the Ancient World,Nadeau, Robin Wilkins, John
Earthquakes and the Gods: Reflections on Graeco-Roman Responses to Catastrophic Events, Fritz Graf
Demeter, Myths, and the Polyvalence of Festivals, Sarah Iles Johnston

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