Garland (or Wreath)

A garland is a decorative wreath or cord used at festive occasions, which can be hung round a person’s neck or on inanimate objects. Originally garlands were made of  flowers or leaves.  Wreaths have much history and symbolism associated with them. They are usually made from evergreens and symbolize strength as evergreens last even throughout the harshest of winters.  In Ancient Greece, the harvest wreath was a sacred amulet, using wheat or other harvested plants woven together with red and white wool thread. The harvest wreath was hung by the door year-round. Wreaths originally were made for use with pagan rituals in Europe, and were associated with the changing seasons and fertility.

“Greeks held the yew to be sacred to Hecate… Her attendants draped wreathes of yew around the necks of black bulls which they slaughtered in her honour and yew boughs were burned on funeral pyres.”

Regarding the cult of Hekate in Rhodes, figures of Hekate were adorned with wreathes of        asphodel:

“Asphodelos (Asphodel): A bulbous plant, having long leaves and an edible stem; and its seed when roasted and the root chopped up with figs fetches a high price. [It is] sacred to Persephone and the underworld [deities]. Also Rhodians wreath Kore [Persephone] and Artemis [Hekate] with asphodel.” 36

[Teiresias performing the rites of nekromankia] bids the dark-fleeced sheep and black oxen be set        before him … Then he entwined their fierce horns with wreaths of dusky hue, handling them himself, and first at the edge of that well-known wood [sacred to Hekate] he nine times spills the lavish draughts of Bacchus into a hollowed trench, and gifts of vernal milk and Attic rain [honey] and        propitiatory blood to the Shades below; so much is poured out as the dry earth will drink. Then they roll tree trunks thither, and the sad priest bids there be three altar-fires for Hecate and three for the maidens born of cursed Acheron [the Erinyes]; for thee, lord of Avernus [Hades]…

“…calling on Hekate Brimo to help him in the coming test. This done, he withdrew; and the dread      goddess (Thea Deinos), hearing his words from the abyss, came up to accept the offering of Aison’s son. She was garlanded by fearsome snakes that coiled themselves round twigs of oak; the twinkle of a thousand torches lit the scene; and hounds of the underworld barked shrilly all around her.” 37 Book 3. Line 1194

References:

36 Atsma, A. 2000-2011. Cult of Hekate. Available from: http://www.theoi.com/Cult/HekateCult.html

37 Seaton, R.C. trans. 1912. Apollonius Rhodius Argonautica. Loeb Classical Library Volume 1,        London: William Heinemann Ltd. Available from: http://www.theoi.com/Text/ApolloniusRhodius1.html

The Symbols of the Goddess Hekate
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