Cult of Cybele: Today is The Day of Blood

How’s that for a gruesome yet intriguing title?  And believe it or not, it’s completely true.  March 24 was designated as The Day of Blood for worshipers of the Goddess Cybele.

The cult of Cybele is said to have originated in Asia Minor.  As a deity connected to the concerns of women, as a healer, and as a protector from enemies, Cybele was often associated with Rhea, mother of Zeus and Demeter.  Ancient Greeks were initially against the practice of Cybele worship  However, after being stricken by plague, Greeks in Athens were said to have consulted the Oracle at Delphi, which told them to build her a Temple.

Statue of Cybele, Delos Museum. © E. Brundige.

The cult of Cybele was a wild one, to say the least.  Frantic dancing and chanting was required.  Priests and Priestesses were known for banging cymbals and drums, wearing bright attire and heavy jewelry, their hair long and ‘greased’.  But it is their practices on The Day of Blood that earned the cult the title of “Demonic” among early Christians.

During The Day of Blood, Priests were charged with re-enacting  the death of Cybele’s  lover, Attis.  The rituals that took place on this sacred day were, shall we say, a bit emasculating.  Each of the priests began the Day of Blood by taking a sharp sword to their crotch and castrating themselves.   After offering their testicles up to the Goddess as an offering, they buried them in shallow graves.

Now that the Priests were free of their male organs, they would dress up in women’s attire, and continue with the re-enactment.  After the festival was over and the day was done, these priests would continue to dress as women for the rest of their lives.

How would the Priests celebrate the Day of Blood the following year?  Certainly they’d already done enough by slicing off their own manhood, right?  Well, apparently not.  For the already castrated Priests, each March 24th, they would bite into their own arms and slicing their skin until blood flowed freely.

Interestingly, I’ve recently learned that there is something of a Cybele revival afoot.  One website, called my blog, celebrates just that.  Although, I’ll step out on this limb and guess that there won’t be any bloodletting in their festivities.  According to the site:

fda ambien NVOur theology starts from the simplest basis:  That the Divine Feminine principle is the basis of the universe.  That all of us, all that we encounter is Her in the aggregate.  We are all the Great Mother learning about Herself.  From this simple beginning springs our organizational models, our rituals, the principles of what we call Wholistic Feminism, our mission of charitable outreach and indeed the way we, as Cybelines, live our lives.  We are sometimes called the “scholarly Cybelines” because we have invested many years of strict historical research in order to embrace the essence of what proved to be literally the oldest surviving religion in the world.

We embraced the essence and then stepped away from “Pagan Reconstructism” by bringing those essences into the modern world.  We re-introduced to the world a model for Pagan Monasticism.  We’ve recovered long believed lost principles, our drumming patterns, ritual practices and corrected history.  The world centre of our Religion is in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York at the foot of the Kaaterskill Clove.  Unlike many neo-Pagan groups, we have a “horizontal” organization, our Priestesses all considered equals but also expected to live our religion, dedicate themselves to a live of charitable works and ministry to others according to their strengths.  We welcome all to our services and to visit our first Phrygianum of the modern era.  We do not require anyone to renounce anything to join us.