We have come to another turning of the Wheel of the Year, for now is the time when many flowers have ripened into fruit, grain, or seed, and what has been growing must be harvested. That which we have sown is now ready to be reaped.
Today as we continue our journey to Graceland, the mirthful, flowering Thalia relinquishes Her guidance. We are now led by Her sister, Euphrosyne, the Grace of Festivity and Cheerfulness. Pronounced “you FRAHS uh nee,” She welcomes us as we approach the magical threshold between July and August. For this is the beginning of the harvest festival season for many in the northern Hemisphere.
In ancient Athens, today would have marked the beginning of the Kronia. It was a festival in honor of Kronos as a God of the grain harvest. He is often depicted with a reaping hook, and is the source of our modern image of Father Time.
On this day a harvest supper would celebrate the harvest, giving thanks to Him. Recalling, of course that all Greek festivals, celebrations and gatherings, without fail, first invoked the Graces.
The Kronia was celebrated in ways that were similar to the Saturnalia, not surprising since the Romans associated Kronos with Saturn. But the Roman Saturnalia was held at the Winter Solstice, and the Greek Kronia was at the grain harvest.
The Kronia was celebrated by the ancient Greeks in memory of an even more ancient Golden Age, when Kronos and the Great Mother Goddess Rhea ruled the world. In his epic poem, Works and Days, Hesiod describes the era of Kronos as a time when men “lived like Gods, free from toils and pain,” when old age did not exist, and when the “grain-giving earth brought forth her fruits spontaneously.” Since there was no need for agricultural labor, slavery was also unknown in this mythological era.
This Golden Age was before Kronos was overthrown by His son, Zeus, who took over and introduced law and order to the free-wheeling ways of Kronos. Thus, the Kronia was a chaotic, wild festival. During the days of Kronia, slaves were allowed to run riot in the streets, and were invited to sumptuous banquets by their masters.
During the Kronia that would have begun on this day, let us celebrate by remembering that stories of Golden Ages speak to the deep, universal desire in the human heart for equality, abundance, pleasure, and personal freedom. If we can dream it, we can make it so.
Tomorrow, Euphrosyne will guide us into the time of Lughnassadh. May our celebrations be blessed by Her.