(2017), ‘Dance of Persephone: the Trata of Megara’ in H. Hye-Sook Hwang and M. A. Beavis (eds), Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess. Mago Books, 2017, 202-207.

‘Dance of Persephone: the Trata of Megara’ (2017)

On feminismandreligion.com May 7 2016. Here is an excerpt:

    'In a previous post on FAR I explored Greek Easter customs which interweave Christian and pre-Christian beliefs.  Today I would like to take a closer look at one of these customs, the women’s ritual dance known as Tráta, ceremonially performed on ‘Bright Tuesday,’ the Tuesday after Easter. Versions of Tráta survive in the towns of Mégara and Elefsina just west of Athens, on the island of Salamína directly across from them, and in the surrounding area as far as Thebes.

    Elefsina, of course, is Eleusis, where for over 2,000 years the Eleusinian Mysteries enacted the story of Demeter and her daughter Persephone’s descent to the Underworld. Choral dance was a central part of the ceremonies at Eleusis – as at other sacred sites including Delphi, Knossos, Athens, and Vravrona – and the ‘Well of the Beautiful Dances’ can still be seen at the archaeological site. It is a a visible reminder of the circle dancing which was a part of the initiatory experience, bringing cosmic order – symbolised by the circle – into the human world. This is still one of the functions of the Tráta as performed today.

    Initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries involved the understanding that an ear of grain first must die in order to give new life (whether planted as seed, baked into bread, or made into beer). The phenomenon of death leading to life through the medium of a sacred marriage was celebrated in other archaic springtime festivals, such as those of Aphrodite / Adonis, Cybele / Attys, and Isis / Osiris), from which the Resurrection story of Christian Easter is directly descended. I believe something of these ancient customs survive in the women’s Tráta dance, whose every detail hints at the story of Persephone’s descent and return....'

Continue reading and add your comment at:

https://feminismandreligion.com/2016/05/07/dance-of-persephone-the-trata-of-megara-by-laura-shannon/

Or you can read the full article in the book Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess, edited by H. Hye-Sook Hwang and M. A. Beavis. Lytle Creek, CA.: Mago Books 2017, pp 202-207. Order from https://www.magobooks.com/update-on-mago-books/celebrating-seasons-of-the-goddess/