Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Older than wine: Intoxicated with the Honey Goddess

Daydreams being in season, I let my mind wander unchecked lately. It's been stimulating and painful. I went back to the Pindus mountains, and the time I was roaming around that part of the world. I was aiming for the site of the Dodona oracle, which I reached. I remembered the effect this place had on me, but I can't describe it. It's not too easy to reach, in the middle of rocky wooded wilderness. A collection of ruined temples, theater and stadium, surrounded on all sides by mountains. Indescribable.
This was apparently the earliest oracle in Greece, mentioned by Homer in both Iliad and Odyssey. According to Herodotus, the oracle was a woman who interpreted the rustling of the wind in the oak trees as well as the sounds of copper vessels being struck.
Dodoni probably isn't as famous as Delphi, which I think was called the navel of the world. The Delphic oracle was a shrine to the god Apollo, but before Apollo took over, there was a more ancient deity. In his own hymn Apollo gets his gift of divination from three bee-maidens (Thriae). The Delphic priestess was called a bee.
Before the earth goddess Demeter came along, there was the more ancient mistress Potnia, called the "pure mother bee". Potnia is also Artemis, more ancient than the Olympians, goddess of the hunt, wilderness and wild animals, fertility and childbirth. The priestesses of Artemis were young girls described as 'Bees'. Artemis is also connected to Mellissa, the honey-goddess.
Before wine, the Cretans fermented honey. Because of these ancient roots the Classical Greek phrase for being drunk was "honey-intoxicated."
Back in the mountains, night is falling and it feels good. I think I'll stay for a while.

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