Accepted Paper:

Rituals in Greek caves through history: from modern case studies to ancient sources  
Evy Johanne Håland (Norwegian Council of Arts)

Paper short abstract:

By comparing the modern religious rituals in the Acropolis Cave with the ancient cult of the spring in the actual cave, and exploiting the cult of springs in other Greek and non-Greek caves, the paper will illustrate how people makes places by using old ritual spaces in new ideological contexts.

Paper long abstract:

In Greece, springs in caves have traditionally shaped, and further featured prominently in religious beliefs and practices. In ancient times springs represented Water-Nymphs. Today springs are dedicated to the Panagia (the Virgin Mary), under her attribute of the Life-giving Spring. Both ancient and modern believers have expressed their beliefs in rituals connected to purity and water by fetching Holy water from the caves dedicated to these female divinities. The water found in these caves is thought to be particularly healing and purifying during the festivals dedicated to the goddesses, this is reflected today in the modern festival dedicated to the "Life-giving Spring", which is celebrated on the first Friday after the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. On this festival Athenians come to Panagia's chapel inside a circular Spring House hewn in the rock on the Southern slope of the Acropolis to fetch Life-giving water. The Sacred Spring is situated inside a cave over which is constructed a church. The cult dedicated to the personified sacred and healing spring-water found in caves, have also been important for political purposes both in ancient and modern Greece, illustrating how people makes places by using old ritual spaces in new ideological contexts.

The paper will compare the importance of the spring in the modern religious rituals in the Acropolis Cave with the ancient cult of the spring in the actual cave. The comparison will also exploit the cult of springs in other Greek caves and similar cult found in parallel non-Greek contexts.

Panel P230
Ritual places through the ritual year II