Ancient Sicilian Devotion

As we prepare for our annual Feast of Santa Lucia on Sunday, Dec. 9 in NYC at Cacio e Vino (Details and register at https://experiencesicily.com/events/festa-di-santa-lucia/), we must first start long before Lucia’s time, in the 7th century B.C.E. During this ancient Greek era, women devotees prayed to the goddesses Persephone and Demeter for healthful fertility…

‘Tis His Season

The current grape harvest season makes me think of Dionysus (The Romans called the God of wine Bacchus.). This is a terracotta bowl fragment featuring a relief of Dionysus, god of wine, vegetation, theater, and ecstasy, from Morgantina, an ancient Greek town in Sicily (3rd to 1st century B.C.E.).

Demeter’s Joy: Summer 

Happy Summer! I present to you the magnificent Goddess of Morgantina, in celebration of the solstice. Scholars don’t know if she represents Aphrodite, Demeter, Persephone, or Hera. But her size (2.20-2.25 meters high), indicates that it was certainly a mystery cult statue of great importance. Personally, I believe that she is Persephone because her right…

Persephone’s Guidance 

As the seasons change where I live in the northeastern United States, and the days are darker longer, I turn to Persephone for assistance during the transition to winter. Part of the “Queen of the Underworld’s” responsibilities, once she descends into Hades each autumn, is the role of psychopomp–a guide for new souls crossing over;…

A Bust of Persephone

Clay busts of Kore/Persephone, such as this one pictured from the archaeological museum in Aidone (Enna Province), have been found throughout Sicily, proving the significance of the goddess and her story. In the 5th century to the 3rd century B.C., for example, women devotees prayed to Kore for healthful fertility and protection during various stages…

Silver Scylla

The hill-top town of Aidone hosts a world-class archaeological museum containing treasures unearthed at Morgantina, an ancient Greek town down the road a stretch. Morgantina was founded in 850 BC, and over the next 400-600 years the settlement was destroyed and rebuilt until it was finally abandoned in 211 BC. Throughout the centuries, the citizens…

Hail Demeter, Hail Kore

Demeter and Kore-Persephone were fervently venerated in Sicily in ancient times. This exhibit from the Regional Archaeological Museum at Aidone features two acroliths (That is, sculptures that have been constructed of stone, such as marble, and other materials, such as, in this case, iron, and draped with fabric) most likely depicting the mother goddess and…