The first of May, May Day (protomagia in Greek), is a public holiday in Greece, the usual tradition is for families to take picnics to the countryside, where they collect flowers, said to represent the beauty of God, and bring health and happiness, to make May wreaths, symbolising fertility and fruitfulness, prosperity and happiness, which are taken home to hang on their doors. The seven daughters were transformed into doves so that they could escape from the great hunter Orion, and as they flew up into the sky they were changed into the seven stars that we know as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. ", Ovid, Fasti 4. It is known that She is the mother of Hermes and one of Zeus’s lovers, and She was important enough to have the month of May named after Her. And when the purpose of great Zeus was fulfilled, and the tenth moon with her was fixed in heaven, she was delivered and a notable thing was come to pass. "[After stealing the cattle of Apollon, the infant god Hermes returns to his cradle in the cave of Maia :] Then the god went straight back again at dawn to the bright crests of Kyllene (Cyllene) . The month of May (Latin Maius) was supposedly named for Maia. By bards who died content on pleasant sward. Better to live in fellowship with the deathless gods continually, rich, wealthy, and enjoying stores of grain, than to sit in a gloomy cave: and, as regards honour, I too will enter upon the rite that Apollon has . . God of the underworld and punisher of broken oaths. 112 : Her gentle heat causes growth. ", Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) On a clear night, you can see the Sisters clustered close together, though their light is not very bright. Carm. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) : Fairclough) (Roman bucolic C1st B.C.) "Your [Hermes'] mother's [i.e. and still youthful Maia! And luck-bringing Hermes, the son of Zeus, passed edgeways through the key-hole of the hall like the autumn breeze, even as mist: straight through the cave he went and came to the rich inner chamber, walking softly, and making no noise as one might upon the floor. 435, Hymn. In Zagoria, Epirus, a region in northern Greece, young children dress up, or dress an effigy, as Zafiris, who is then covered in leaves, and plays dead. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) She was worshipped on 1 May and 15 May; that month is named after her. . Then Hermes answered her with crafty words : ‘Mother, why do you seek to frighten me like a feeble child whose heart knows few words of blame, a fearful babe that fears its mother's scolding? . "O Hermes Khthonios (Chthonius, Of the Nether World), come to my aid, summon to me the [ancestral] spirits beneath the earth to hear my prayers, spirits that watch over my father's house, and Gaia (Earth) herself, who gives birth to all things, and having nurtured them receives their increase in turn. 836 ff (trans. The Month of March – a Month of War – Ares the Greek God of War versus Mars the Roman God of War. Maia is a Goddess of Growth and Increase. 110 (trans. With such words they spoke together, the son of Zeus who holds the aigis, and the lady Maia. Originally, she may have been a homonym independent of the Greek Maia, whose myths she absorbed through the Hellenization of Latin literature and culture. She also raised the boy Arcas in her cave whose mother Callisto had been transformed into a bear. All over Greece, on the first of May, people are to be seen heading for the countryside, with picnics, to gather flowers for their May wreaths – ‘Magiatika stefania’, calling out to each other, ‘Kalo mina’ – have a good month, or ‘Kali protomagia’ – have a good May Day, determined to ‘grab May’, one way or another! Any youthful man, touched by the May stick, was blessed with fertility and guaranteed many offspring. Go to, then; your father got you to be a reat worry to mortal men and deathless gods.’ The wreaths are meant to stay in place until 24 of June, Eve of Saint John the Harvester and Midsummer’s Eve, when they are taken down, the villagers then burn them altogether on a bonfire. Other references not currently quoted here: Horace Odes 1.10.1 & 2.42, Macrobius Saturnalia 1.12, Gellius 13.22, Servius on Virgil's Aeneid 8.130. Ever she avoided the throng of the blessed gods and lived in a shadowy cave, and there the Son of Kronos used to lie with the rich-tressed (euplokamos) Nymphe at dead of night, while white-armed Hera lay bound in sweet sleep : and neither deathless god nor mortal man knew it. Goddess associated with snakes and Medea. She is associated with the Earth (Terra) and Bona Dea. The month of May, a month celebrating spring and the summer ahead, a month of rebirth, nuture and flowers, takes its name from Maia, in Greek mythology, the eldest of the seven nymphs of the Pleiades, daughter of Atlas, the Titan god, doomed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, and mother of Hermes, messenger of the gods. Maia is a Goddess of Growth and Increase. She was one of the Goddesses known as “Bona Dea” or Good Goddess whose rites were restricted to women. As an act of absolution, people jump over the fire three times, at the end of the celebrations, a human effigy, made from straw, is thrown on the fire as a scapegoat, to get rid of all evil. "If for harvest of wheat and for hardy spelt you ply the ground, and if grain alone is your aim, first let the daughters of Atlas [the Pleiades] pass from your sight in the morn . Goddess of agreement, understanding, and marital harmony. 26 (trans. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Apollon comes to Maia to demand back the cattle, but she does not believe him and thinks the god is talking nonsense.
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