Ecclesia Ordinis Caelestis Templum Olympicus/Celestial Order and Temple of Olympus

Feast of Arrhephoria

June 18

(Greek) 3 Skiraphorion (June-July)
The exact date is unknown, but it was near the beginning the month of Skiraphorion (mid-June–mid-July).
Two young girls (perhaps seven years old), the Arrhephoroi (perhaps “Carriers of Unspoken Things”) who are the ritual daughters of the Archon Basileus (Priest-King), have spent the preceding year living by the temple of Athena Polias. Some say they have been weaving a new peplos (robe) for Athena, which they will bring to Her in the sacred procession (see Panathenaia).

In a secret nocturnal rite, the Priestess gives the Arrhephoroi a package, the contents of which are hidden from all three. They take the package by a secret path to the sanctuary of Aphrodite in the Gardens, and bring back another secret package. Thereafter the Arrhephoroi are replaced by two new girls. This rite recalls when Athena gave the casket containing Erichthonios to the daughters of King Kekrops, who acted as nurses. Two of them disobeyed Her order not to look in the casket, and when they saw the serpent-man they jumped to their deaths from the Acropolis. The name of the faithful nurse was Pandrosos (All-dew), or, according to others, the two self-sacrificing daughters were Pandrosos and Herse (which also means Dew). (The festival’s name might also be spelled Ersephoria—Dew Carrying.) The olive tree, which was Athena’s special gift to Athens, bears small olives if there is not sufficient dew at this time of year. Aphrodite, as Goddess of the Morning and Evening Star, was responsible for the dew, and so Her cooperation was essential.

The Arrhephoroi wear white robes and eat Anastatos (Made-to-rise), a special light bread.