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The Anastenaria fire walking ritual of Greece


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#1 Emm. Papas

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 12:57 PM

The Ancient ecstatic tradition, annually, 21-23 May.
The Anastenaria is a northern Greece traditional ritual of fire walking which dates back to pagan times. There are variations in the ritual from place to place, and though the "Anastenaria" is a ceremony that derives from times before Christ, it is dedicated and attached to the christian faith. This ceremony takes place on Saint-Konstantinos day, 21st of May. The whole celbration lasts three to four days.
The communities, which celebrate the Anastenaria, are descendants of refugees from Eastern Thrace that settled in Northern Greece following the migrations necessitated by the Balkan Wars and by the later exchange of populations in 1923.The names <Anastenaria> and <Anastenarides> for the ritual and the fire walkers respectively derives from <Anastenari>,(which originates from the Greek verb <anastenazo> = suspire) the icon that the Anastenarides hold during the feast and consider as their inspirer.Every year, barefoot villagers of Agia Eleni and Kerkini at Serres, of Mavrole**i at Drama and of Langada near Thessaloniki, get themselves worked up into a trance before walking over hot coals. Those celebrating the Anastenaria are descendants of refugees from Eastern Thrace who arrived in Greece in the 1920s.Each village community of Anastenarides is headed by a "group of twelve" who, on the eve of the feast of Saints Constantine and Helen, gather in the "konaki", which houses the icons of Saints Constantine and his mother Eleni. These are draped with large red kerchiefs (simadia), which are believed to possess the power of the icons. In the konaki they work themselves into a trance-like state through hours of devotional dancing. The main aspect of this festival is at night, when they firewalk. They make a huge fire, and when it is down to extremely hot coals, some of them (only some people are "called" to do this) walk and dance on the fire. They believe that during the dance they are "seized" by the saints.
The next day, a ritualistic sacrifice of animals takes place. After lunch the Anastenarides gather again and resume their dancing. A candle is lit from one of the oil lamps in front of the icons, and is used to light a bonfire. When the wood burns, coal is spread down. Initially the Anastenarides dance barefoot around the hot ashes, but when the saints moves them, individuals run across the burning coals. Sometimes devotees kneel down beside the fire and pound the ashes with the palms of their hands. This continues until the ashes are cool.The Anastenarides have unlimited faith to the miraculous abilities of the water,therefore all their acts are connected to the Agiasma, (from the verb agiazo=sanctify) a source with miraculous-healing water.During the fire walking they envisage Saint Constantine and Saint Helen throwing water on the burning coals and protecting them from the scalds.
During the next two days, the Anastenarides process around the village visiting each house. On 23 May they conclude with a second dance over the fire, although this one is in private and not for tourists to gawp at.
According to the story told by the refugees, the origin of the Anastenaria lies in a fire, which took place at Kosti, a village by the Bulgarian borders(Eastern Thrace), in the thirteenth century. One night the church of St. Konstantinos caught fire, and as it burned the people heard cries coming from the flames. It was the icons calling out for help. Some villagers ran into the building and rescued them, neither the icons not their saviours being burned or injured. Since that time, the Anastenaria has been held to celebrate their delivery.
The Greek Anastenarides, who are unique in all the world, by their fire-walking, they present us one of the inexplicable mysteries in earth, the n o n - f l a m m a b l e phenomenon.
Among scholars the origins of the Anastenaria, as opposed to what the cult has become today, are a matter of considerable dispute. Although there is no evidence in ancient literature of fire-walking rituals associated with the god Dionysos, most scholars connect the Anastenariawith the widespread cult of that divinity. This association was also made by the Church authorities when they condemned the practices of the cult. Folklore scholar George A. Megas observes that “the cradle of Dionysiac worship was precisely in the Haemus area where the Anastenaria are danced today, passed down by the Greeks to the neighboring Bulgarian villages.” This latter point is made clear by the fact that the prayers used by the Bulgarian Anastenaridesare recited in Greek, and that the transmission of the rites from Greeks to Bulgarian settlers in the area is a matter of historical record. Moreover, the evidence of mid-winter and carnival customs is that much that was associated with the Dionysian cult has survived throughout northern and central Greece. Katerina Kakouri has established a close connection between these customs and the Anastenaria in Ayia Eleni.
Megas has also pointed out that the state of frenzy among worshippers, observed among the Anastenarides, was characteristic of the cult of this god, whose Maenads, or female worshippers, “rushed in a frenzy over the mountains at night, lighted by torches and goaded on by the wild music of deep-throated flutes and thundering drums.” Certainly some observers have noted in the dance of the Anastenaridesover the hot ashes, with their trance-like faces and outstretched arms, the modern successors of the infamous ancient Maenads of Dionysos, the God-intoxicated women who might, in their trance-like state, tear apart any animal they came across in their frenzied nocturnal roamings over the mountains. Of crucial importance in this context is the evidence that the modern Anastenaridesmay, in their frenzy, run away with the icons for a period “into the mountains”, and that this is expected as an integral part of the sacred ritual. In the last century A. Chourmouziades described how “now beside themselves, [they] run and speed like birds up the hills and into the woods and up escarpments.” D. Petropoulos observed as recently as the 1930s that “when the dance was at its height, many folk broke away in their joy and ran up towards the mountains.” This certainly recalls the frenzy of the Maenads, who roamed the mountains while out of their minds.
It would appear that in the practices of these settlers from Eastern Thrace may be found one of the most distinctive living survivals, under a very thin Christian guise, of an important part of the ancient religion of much of rural classical Greece.


Some photos of Anastenarides from Ayia Eleni,Serres prefecture:
http://www.naserron....aria/index.html
45_1072_28.jpg

And some videos:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqvaNRhXvuM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozsP8ifuz8s&feature=related

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#2 Drakul

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 02:01 PM

Thanks for posting about the Greek fire-walking. Fascinating. How do you think it is possible? Just to provide a sense of perspective - I'll never forget - once I spent a week living on an uninhabited Cay (island) in Belize with a Belizean fishing family. That evening, after a dinner of roasted fish, someone threw the coals and ashes from the fire onto the beach. The next morning I walked down to the beach and accidentally stepped on just one small coal. That one coal that had been laying on the beach cooling ALL NIGHT burned my foot so deeply I couldn't believe it. My feet were fairly tough too, as I had been going mostly barefoot for several months. Then the NEXT DAY I stepped on another coal from the same fire and burned my foot AGAIN. I was careless because I thought for sure the coals would be cool by then but they weren't. It took TWO DAYS for those coals to completely burn out. And this was just a few coals, spread very thinly on the sand. Not like the thick bed of coals in the pics you posted.

Walking over the coals in those pics is no joke and should cause anyone to be very severely burned. So how do they do it?

Also a close friend of mine did a fire-walking program in California where they walked successfully over hot ashes. There are a number of groups who teach people how to do this for money. It is definitely about mind control. But that doesn't make it any less amazing. :confused:
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#3 Drakul

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 02:14 PM

I was sad to read about the ritual sacrifice of animal during the ceremony. Animal sacrifice was banned at the Council of Nicea in 325AD as propitiation of DEMONIC entities. Note - it was a BLACK goat in the last video link.
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#4 Epsilon

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 02:36 PM

Oh! Nice thread Emm. Papas! :clap:

[URL="http://grhomeboy.wordpress.com/2007/05/27/greek-tradition-of-anastenarides/"]Greek tradition of
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#5 Emm. Papas

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 02:50 PM

No one can't explain it by common logic,as you said it's a matter of mind control,or,better to say,the triumph of the spirit over the material body. This ritual is disapproved by the official Orthodox churhc as paganistic or even satanistic ceremony and indeed it traces his roots from the paganistic worship of Orpheus by the ancient Thracian tribes.Don't forget that it originates from that Thracian territory which in ancient time was the center of this worship.This explains also the animal sacrifice,something very common to the ancient paganistic religions.There also other remnants of the ancient paganistic religion that were adopted by the Greek Orthodox Christians and approved by the official church.
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#6 Epsilon

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 03:18 PM

Yes, the mysticism of that Spring night is indeed spectacular, almost magic...
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#7 Sirius_El

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 04:49 PM

Excellent thread!!! :clap:
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#8 Drakul

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 05:09 PM

Here's the thing that tells us we are being duped - our true powers and abilities are hidden from us by SCIENCE. Firewalking is practiced all over the friggin world. Is SCIENCE studying it? Hell no - you'll get BURNED if you walk on hot coals that's all there is to it and we're simply not interested.

There was a recent program on TV about an American doctor who became fascinated with the practices of certain sufi sects who can pierce their mouths with skewers, stab themselves, etc and there is NO PAIN NO BLOOD AND THE WOUND HEALS INSTANTLY. This is also done in India.

This US doctor went to the ME and studyed with the Sufis and learned how they do it. Then he returned to the US and under laboratory conditions, he showed a small group of doctors/scientists how he could do it - put a big skewer through his mouth and feel no pain, no blood etc. And they filmed him doing it.

Guess what? The `scientists' were simply not interested!!! It was some kind of `phenomenon' and that was that. The doctor got NOWHERE with the medical establishment. Is that SCIENCE? True Science is objective. Science is curious. Science is experimental. But Noo-oo all this doctor's efforts were IN VAIN.

So even though it's been known for literally thousands of years that the average person has the POWER to stop the blood and instantly heal himself from say a savage stab wound, `SCIENCE' and the medical establishment refuse to study how it's done - because of course then everyone would want to be able to do these things and people would be hugely empowered.
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#9 Asterix

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 05:23 PM

Here's the thing that tells us we are being duped - our true powers and abilities are hidden from us by SCIENCE. Firewalking is practiced all over the friggin world. Is SCIENCE studying it? Hell no - you'll get BURNED if you walk on hot coals that's all there is to it and we're simply not interested.

There was a recent program on TV about an American doctor who became fascinated with the practices of certain sufi sects who can pierce their mouths with skewers, stab themselves, etc and there is NO PAIN NO BLOOD AND THE WOUND HEALS INSTANTLY. This is also done in India.

This US doctor went to the ME and studyed with the Sufis and learned how they do it. Then he returned to the US and under laboratory conditions, he showed a small group of doctors/scientists how he could do it - put a big skewer through his mouth and feel no pain, no blood etc. And they filmed him doing it.

Guess what? The `scientists' were simply not interested!!! It was some kind of `phenomenon' and that was that. The doctor got NOWHERE with the medical establishment. Is that SCIENCE? True Science is objective. Science is curious. Science is experimental. But Noo-oo all this doctor's efforts were IN VAIN.

So even though it's been known for literally thousands of years that the average person has the POWER to stop the blood and instantly heal himself from say a savage stab wound, `SCIENCE' and the medical establishment refuse to study how it's done - because of course then everyone would want to be able to do these things and people would be hugely empowered.


Science today is in very bad shape.
In order to perform research you need to write a proposal
Someone has to fund your research
This means that the average research project is borring and in the interest of those who fund the project
Then you get the MME machinery which propagates false information to the vast population to convince them that mankind is going extremely well and extreme progress has been made
The bottom line : in 100 years from now all natural resources are going to be consumed, Earth may have a population of 20,000,000,000 people and an increased temperature by almost 10 oC, while we have a fundamentally wrong system of socia and economic organization based on exploatation and maximization of consumption of natural resources.
No one is sitting down to solve these serious problems, because they count to live another 30 years and they consider that there is not their problem.
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#10 Jenny

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 11:06 PM

Yes, the mysticism of that Spring night is indeed spectacular, almost magic...


You used the right word...'magic'. :devil:
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#11 Jenny

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 11:43 PM

:wonder:

No one can't explain it by common logic,as you said it's a matter of mind control,or,better to say,the triumph of the spirit over the material body. This ritual is disapproved by the official Orthodox churhc as paganistic or even satanistic ceremony and indeed it traces his roots from the paganistic worship of Orpheus by the ancient Thracian tribes.Don't forget that it originates from that Thracian territory which in ancient time was the center of this worship.This explains also the animal sacrifice,something very common to the ancient paganistic religions.There also other remnants of the ancient paganistic religion that were adopted by the Greek Orthodox Christians and approved by the official church.


I believe that it is also practiced in India, and I can't help but feel that it might have come into Greece with Alexander the Great's army.:wonder: I know that the Macedonians were able to innoculate people against smallpox, and that too, I can't help but feel might have entered Greece with his army.

There is also the trial by fire that was used by the West in the Middle Ages to establish one's guilt or innocence. :goodbad:

Could there be some kind of relationship to the dancing on hot coals? What the dancers are doing though is known in the West as Santaria. It is the mixing of pagan customs with Christianity and sometimes it is frowned upon, but not all the time...after all, how would Christianity have spread unless it adopted the prevalent pagan customs and holidays and incorporated them into its own worship.

I think these things can be tolerated as long as the message of Christianity isn't ignored. Unfortunately though, many times the magic seems to become more important. I can't help but wonder about the moral and spiritual 'condition' of those dancing on the coals. Are they true Orthodox Christians
?:confused:
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#12 Epsilon

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 07:35 AM

The Greeks were doing similar things from the time of Orpheus it is a custom totally fading in the depths of time, I don't think that Alexander needed the Indians to see that and bring it back to Greece, after all, these kind of practices were most of the times part of hidden and close mysteries like the Kaverian and the Elefsinian, which Alexander after all like his mother and father was initiated.
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#13 Sirius_El

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 09:10 AM

:wonder:

I believe that it is also practiced in India, and I can't help but feel that it might have come into Greece with Alexander the Great's army.:wonder: I know that the Macedonians were able to innoculate people against smallpox, and that too, I can't help but feel might have entered Greece with his army.

There is also the trial by fire that was used by the West in the Middle Ages to establish one's guilt or innocence. :goodbad:

Could there be some kind of relationship to the dancing on hot coals? What the dancers are doing though is known in the West as Santaria. It is the mixing of pagan customs with Christianity and sometimes it is frowned upon, but not all the time...after all, how would Christianity have spread unless it adopted the prevalent pagan customs and holidays and incorporated them into its own worship.

I think these things can be tolerated as long as the message of Christianity isn't ignored. Unfortunately though, many times the magic seems to become more important. I can't help but wonder about the moral and spiritual 'condition' of those dancing on the coals. Are they true Orthodox Christians
?:confused:


Epsilon is right these were ancient Greek customs.

Have you ever read about the campaign of Dionysus in India?
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#14 Drakul

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 01:40 PM

THREE MILLION people have successfully firewalked - trained by the Firewalking Institute. Yet `Science' hasn't figured it out yet?

Here is the founder's theory:


A FIREWALKING THEORY THAT CAN BENEFIT EVERYONE
Reprinted from EXTREME SPIRITUALITY: Radical Approaches to Awakening

by Tolly Burkan, founding father of the global firewalking movement
(This article may be reproduced without permission.)


Over Three Million Westerners Have Firewalked
Knowing the secret behind firewalking can improve your life! Even if you never do it yourself, knowing how it works can bring you better health and increased personal power. Why? Because firewalking demonstrates how your thoughts impact everything else in your life. Thoughts change brain chemistry, and that results in an alteration of body chemistry as well. This is immediately apparent when you entertain a sexual fantasy. Firewalkers are instructed to pay close attention to their thoughts, since those very thoughts are the way in which we create our own realities. Positive thinkers literally live in a different chemical environment than negative thinkers. They impose less stress on their immune systems, and the result of that should be obvious.

I have been researching firewalking since 1977 and am considered to be the foremost authority on the subject. Because of this work, the United States now has the largest firewalking culture in history. Never before have so many common people participated in this ancient ritual which had previously been reserved for only a select few. My ideas regarding the phenomenon have evolved over time and it is only now, in the year 2000, that I feel enough confidence in my point of view to publish my own theory about why people are not burned when walking on glowing, red coals. My theory is remarkably different from all the others, but I have found each of the other theories flawed in one way or another.

Water Vapor Theory Dismissed
One theory I encountered on the subject was based on the
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#15 Sirius_El

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 08:51 AM

I watched once in T.V a documentary about these fire walkers.

They admitted that there are some techniques that everyone could use them... ;)
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