The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
— Australian social scientist, Alex Carey, quoted by
Noam Chomsky in World Orders Old and New
Yesterday’s Full Moon was a powerful one in many, many cultures and traditions. In the ancient world, it is the Moon during which the Eleusinian Mysteries were performed.
According to Waverly FitzGerald’s treasure trove of lore at her School of the Seasons, preparations would have begun well before this Full Moon. For example, in the days leading up to the Mysteries, ancient Athens held the festival of Demokratia, celebrating the blessings of democratic government, constitutional law and freedom of speech. During the festival, images of Zeus Agoraios and Athene Agoraias (literally “Zeus and Athene of the low place”) were paraded and decorated in the agora, the lower city area below the Acropolis (which is the “high place.”)
For the Athenians, and other Greeks as well, this broad-based democratic worship of the Gods, especially Gods who treated the great and the humble with equal kindness and severity, was profoundly different from the hierarchic religious practices of Asia and Africa. There, the Gods spoke only to kings and high priests.
The Demokratia also honored Themis (“Order”), mother by Hermes of King Evander, to whom she taught prophecy and letters.
Today, we use the term demokratia to mean a direct democracy, as opposed to our more familiar modern invention, representative democracy. The demokratia was first begun in Athens around 500 BCE. In such a government, citizens’ (no women or slaves) votes were counted directly.
By the same token, in a true demokratia, each citizen is also directly responsible for the various duties of keeping the society running. That is, every voting citizen is expected to participate in some way, in the functioning of the necessary social services, governance, and so on.
What might our own democracy look like if every voter was expected to serve in some capacity? The idea of a national service has been kicked around for a long time, but nothing ever comes of it. Until very recently, every generation equated patriotism with something much bigger and personal than just a sticker on your SUV or a pin on your lapel. It was not just some arrogant attitude.
Patriotism meant service, even sacrifice.
Tomorrow, I’ll discuss more about the Eleusinian Mysteries as well as some other festivals that celebrate this most auspicious lunation.