[permaculture] Gaia & agricultural practices treated as mysteries during the time of the Greeks.

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Mon Jan 16 00:20:39 EST 2012

A Facebook discussion thread I found tonight was a rare and fascinating 
delight....emphasis on the intent to preserve the mysteriousness and 
sanctity of life and agriculture, during a more primitive time and in 
rural settings...

A parallel in modern times, in Vietnam, rice growing is almost a 
religion to the people. I am sure this holds true for many cultures in 
many countries around the world, to include natural farmers and 
gardeners and permaculturists wherever they may be. I really liked the 
connection between great mystery and agriculture. You can easily imagine 
beliefs in the spiritual connection between Man and The Earth
flourishing for thousands of years amongst cultures seeking to live in 
harmony with Nature. Gaia smiled.

Here are a few snippets from writings by the contributors to this 
discussion, The Myth of the Dew Carriers:

"The Myth of the Dew Carriers. Gea gives birth to Erechethonius and 
hands him to Athena. She places him in a basket and gives him to the Dew 
Carriers (three maidens) with instructions not to look in the basket. 
They do. At which they go mad and throw themselves off the Acropolis."

"‎(though I would venture off the top of my head that it may have 
something to do with forbidden knowledge and a warning to stay away from 

"It certainly ranked as one of the Mysteries of the Acropolis, and so no 
one wrote much about it in ancient sources."

"The first part of the myth - the impregnating of Gea - is a rain myth. 
Agricultural. This part is about dew, evidently. So what is the role of 
dew in this type of agricultural mythology?"

"Thus the three "dew carriers" are the tripartite lunar deities (three 
phases of the moon) "

"I'm connecting this up to the Arrhephoria festival, (aka Hersephoria) 
connected to Herse, the youngest of Kekrops' daughters in the myth. 
Arrhe stems from άρρητον=mystery, and the festival featured young girls 
aged between 7-11 carrying closed baskets supposedly containing secrets 
bequeathed by Athena. Dew in this context (apparently) stood for fertility."

"So in both cases there is an "other" and a "darkness" to be reconciled. 
Both kings developed and enriched the city with the help of Athena, 
chosen by Kekrops. One part of that enrichment was fecundity, as seen 
both in Athena's gift to the city, as well as the dew ceremony - which I 
would see as being in keeping with the way agricultural practices were 
treated as mysteries."

"Acropolis mythology is especially complicated because originally the 
sanctuary was rural and so we find agricultural myths, sacred ploughing 
etc. but then the city surrounded the sanctuary and we find the cult of 
the polis imposed on top of the other agriculture myths. There must be 
interchangeability with Demeter/Persephone here, yes, I would think so. 
That possibility is very interesting. The serpent is a resurrection 
motif. Snakes appear to hibernate in the earth over winter and are then 
reborn in the spring, shedding their skin, renewed."

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