Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jason, Fleeces, & the Nekuomanteion.





Beginning at 02:30 and continuing to 5:30 or so.

Why is this interesting? First, the mountain is Pelion, the legendary haunt of Asklepios. Second, the cave shown around 04:30 or so is held by local custom to be Chiron's abode. The tales of men wearing recently killed Ram fleeces into the cave? We actually have plenty of evidence of the type of rituals in such practices were involved:
“In literary accounts of necromancies at tombs, the manifestation of the ghosts follows seamlessly from the performance of the necromantic rites. But what “really” happened after the consulter had performed his rites at the tomb? How did he experience the ghost? There is no direct evidence, but there is a strong circumstantial case for believing that he went to sleep and dreamed (“incubation”), perhaps on top of the tomb, and perhaps on the fleece of the sheep that he had just jugulated for the ghost and immolated for the nether gods. Curiously, the Greeks and Romans tended to attribute the practice of incubation on tombs of the ordinary dead to other races or religions, but in doing so at least demonstrated their familiarity with the custom.” (Ogden, Greek and Roman Necromancy, p.11)

Asklepios, the God of the mountain that the cave is in, was also an incubatic healer. His Greek temples had a long tradition of accepting pilgrims, who would come for the healing services and who would sleep on the floor of the temple. Alas, I can't grab my copy of Peter Lamborn Wilson's Shower of Stars to quote from, but that was my first source for the subject of incubatic dreaming.
Quoting Ogden, further: 
“Plutarch's tale of the Pythagoreans discussed above may imply that Theanor slept at Lysis's tomb to receive his prophecy; Pythagoras had himself wittily affirmed that the dead spoke to the living in dreams. Ammias's promise in her epitaph to send her consulters visions by day or night suggests that incubation was at least one of the methods that could be employed to receive one's prophecy from her, whether actually on her tomb or not. The evidence is more decisive in the case of the (indisputably) heroic dead. Strabo tells that the Daunians (Apulians) had a pair of oracular tombs on Mt. Drion, one of Calchas and one of Podalirius (the son of Asclepius), and that one consulted Calchas by sacrificing a black ram to him and sleeping on its fleece. The scholia to Lycophron's Alexandria tell that the Daunians used to sleep on the sheepskins actually on the tomb of Podalirius to receive dream-prophecies, so we may conclude that one probably slept on the tomb, on a black fleece, in both cases. Both texts add that the healing river Althaeus, good for humans and flocks alike, flowed from the tomb of Podalirius. Broadly comparable is the oraclular chamber raised over the pyre of the Cynic philosopher (and much else besides) Peregrinus, after he had immolated himself at the A.D. 165 Olypmic Games.” (Ogden, ibid, P. 12)

But that's not all:
The fleece was that of a sacred ram, and would likely originally have been black, possibly dyed purple, as with sacred rams in Crete, Samothrace and elsewhere. Ram skins of this kind were worn in important purification rituals and were obtained from sacrificial victims. It is extremely important to note that the ram was by far the most common sacrificial victim offered to heroes. The idea of a golden fleece, and the likely change in colour from the original, derives from the use of fleeces to capture gold particles in a river bed. Both the Hebrus in Thrace and the Phasis in Colchis were gold bearing rivers. A common relative of Jason and Pelias, Phrixus, had fled to Colchis with this ram, and there had been basely murdered and buried far from home. As a result his homeland was cursed, and the purpose of the quest was to rescue the unquiet spirit and lift the curse.” (Jake Stratton-Kent, Geosophia vol. One, p.14)

I was thinkin'... Cult site?

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