breaking news: Baby St. John presides Greek solistice festivities again this year.

Pretty young girl jumping the fires of Saint John in Ikaria

Dear readers, I can’t but share with you these wonderful photos from the ritual of «Klidonas» in Ikaria which took place on Saturday, June 24 in a little chapel celebrating Saint John in the forest just outside Christos Raches. Related to summer solstice, this ritual is practiced in many places around the world in wilder or milder ways. The description of the ritual is this:

«The 24th of June is one of the biggest summer festivals of Greek tradition, since the feast of St. John the “Klidonas” is accompanied by the traditional custom of burning the flower wreaths of May and passing over the fires.
The nickname «Klidonas» comes from the ancient Greek word «κλήδων» (klidon), meaning “the predictor sound” and was used to describe the combination of random and incoherent words during a divination ceremony.
Essentially «Klidonas» is associated with a folk, divination process, which is said to reveal to the unmarried girls the identity of their future husband.
According to custom, on the eve of St. John’s celebration, the single girls are gathered in one of the houses of the village and one of them goes to the well to bring the «silent water». It is called that way because she must speak to no one of the way to and back from the well.
At home they pour the water into a clay pot in which each girl throws a personal object, called “rizikari” (coming from the word “riziko” which means destiny). Then and then they cover up the pot with a red cloth and tie it up while praying in St. John. Afterwards they place the pot in open space, where it stays overnight. On that same night, Is said that the girls will see in their dreams their future spouse.
Meanwhile, on the eve of Saint John celebration also revives the well-known custom with fires: At the village square they light a big fire where everybody burns the flower wreaths they made on Mayday, and over which all the villagers jamb. According to the tradition, the fire brings catharsis and people are exempted from evil.»

But enough with Greek lore. Take a look at the photos! 😀

Pretty young girl jumping the fires of Saint John in Ikaria Raches 09

Klidonas Ikaria 01 Klidonas Ikaria 02

Klidonas Ikaria 03 Klidonas Ikaria 04

Klidonas Ikaria 05 Klidonas Ikaria 06

Klidonas Ikaria 07 Klidonas Ikaria 08

It’s fun! Isn’t it!?


Add to it the sound of the big bass drum banging over the fire jumpers!

😛 😛 😛

a photo for the solistice & KALO KALOKAIRI

Ikaria 244  the (...*BiiiP*...) : traditional sign

Here is a funny picture. It’s a traditional landmark or *road sign* on the trail from one end of Ikaria to the other. I won’t write the name, because it’s too obvious (oh no, it’s not a turtle!..). I discovered and took a photo of it because instead of the existant path, I followed my old neighbour’s instructions. They went like a story : when we walked from M. to R. first we had to see «the hat», then «the hare’s ears», then «the big X», then «the club» and then ….»tin ps.. (BiiiiiP) …» (lots of laughter).

My old friend knew all this because for some mysterious reason  their family used to keep gardens in some incredibly distant place in summer. She as a young girl and everybody else trotted the mountain so often and casually as we take the bus, walk or drive to work everyday.

The landscape and the trails have changed since then.
(A lot of irreparable damage has happened too -but never mind now…)
Still the most important landmarks stand in place. Hikers put their own smaller ones every year. On my way I saw some very brilliant «ars tempora» constructions (see my Flickr «signage set» for more). These piles of stones will only last for a few months. But they are so friendly. It’s as if I saw the man or the woman who erected them.

Btw, maybe it’s not a coincidence and the photo is not out of time.

Do you know the old European legends connected with this period? So profane… (blush, blush,  blush) In old Greece they jumped over fires all night long. The fires of St. John, the Kledonas (= *the locker*  or *the unlocker* of secrets) This old practice survives (or has been revived?) in Ikaria on St. John’s day. It has to do with the tightening of the young fruit and crops on the way to ripeness, I guess.

St. John's festival in Ikaria

Καλο Καλοκαιρι!
(τα τζιτζικια ξεκινησαν το τραγουδι τους στην Ικαρια)

A harvest fly. The shot is taken at Ikaria island



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(wild laughter…)
Do you happen to know if this was natural or carved?

«Agios Yiannis» stis Rahes!!!

Jump high over the fires!

Jump high over the fires!

Thursday June 22, 2006 – 10:48pm (EEST)

Φίλες μου, ήσαστε κι οι δυο σας παλιοκόριτσα και στο θερινό ηλιοστάσιο πρέπει να σας κλείνουν σε μοναστήρι.

Klidonas Ikaria 08
x x x

Friday June 23, 2006 – 10:08pm (EEST)

Eleni Perforata in Ikaria 1 (March 27, 2006)


Βαλσαμόχορτο της Ικαρίας

This is ‘Johanes Perforata’, St.John’s Weed, ‘Valsamo‘ or ‘Valsamo-horto’ in Greek.
It’s a weed, a wild plant; it’s growing very fast now in the gardens and in every patch of flat land.
This photo is to show the perforations, the tiny holes through the tiny leaves which btw have tiny hairs on them.
Johanes Perforata is not a coOol weed.  It’s just a good weed. 😀
How good? Well, it’s nature’s own natural PROZAC.  That good. 😀

It has many other medicinal uses, for wounds and burns in particular, and you make even make a sunproof cream from it, but this is not the point now. The point is that good old Valsamo (this the root word for Balm or «Baume«) is an efficient (however slower in action than a pill) anti-depressive.

Because depression  😥  is so natural. Especialy in spring. April in particular.

Well, this is exactly when Johanes Perforata is ready to start collecting. Before the buds open (that is when it’s strength is concentrated). We cut and let dry in the shadow for a week or two and then we boil it and we make tea. It doens’t have a funny taste; just «herbish» and slightly bitter like dandelions. The local anti-depressive cure says: 1) three mugs a day max. 2) for a severe sudden crisis take a bath in it or pour it over your head and then cover with a towel.

Except for coffee which I’ve finally grown used to having straight and sugarless (or I’d be a Greek fat ass), I don’t like bitter tastes; so I always have my Johny (-:lol) with honey. Mind you, it’s not a pill and there is no chemistry, so after I start, I have to wait for a couple of days for the cure to take effect:

ease loneliness, ease boredom, soothe stress, stop the «what’s this all about» thing -in one word (choose one), «the pain of existence«, the gdmn «blues of life«, spring blues, the «oh here we start all over again» blues.

(Valsamo doesn’t get me high, so watch your comments -lol . Oxyzen and laughter -which is oxyzen again- only do that to me, ok?)
^^’ ^^’


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Is this the stupid side of you Elle, or is the isolation playing with your head? Spring, depression? Nuh-uh! Here we get depressed by the hounds of winter, the dog days, so little light, so much rain and wind. Springtime is special, its the time for love and life, activity, knocking about happily. But I do appreciate the herbal lore, and I wonder, why do they not grow grapes in the terraces anymore?

Monday March 27, 2006 – 01:34pm (PST)

oh, there is death in Spring, death and resurection -that’s why the biggest of celebrations for us is not Christmas, but Easter. Now in churches in the evenings there are the most solemn and melancholic mess services. Soon Jesus, Adonis (add a name) will die.
After that starts for us the time for lovemaking etc and it peaks up in August.
Funny= I ask the local kids for their birthday date, then I subtract 9 months and I find out that many of them were conceived (is the term correct?) in mid May -:)) As many were conceived in mid October and the rest random =Funny 🙂

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 02:10am (PST)

A doctor writes… Hmmm this is a well documented phenomenon, «Spring depression». Nettle tea is also very good at fighting it. Myself I prefer the stimulating tang of thrashing myself on the legs with the nettles, raw.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 11:12am (BST)

τσουκνιδες =nettles
When you were a kid did you chase and torture girls with them? I was victimized like that many times by boys.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 02:19am (PST)

I was not that sort of boy. I was the sort who was chased by the girls. That’s why I am shown running into the sea, to escape. Thanks for τσουκνίδες.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 06:56pm (BST)

Your observations about birthdates and conception dates (and yes «conceived» is quite correct, even though it also means «thought of» – Shakespeare uses this double meaning to comic effect – I paraphrase a little – «Sir, I cannot conceive….» «No but your daughter could, therefore look to it» [From «Hamlet» I think] ) People like myself, born in Feb are thus the most numerous, followed by Jan and March, then April and there is another peak in May, i.e. nine months after Aug. The same all over Europe I think.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 07:04pm (BST)

I suspect there is a difference in the perception of Spring between people who have children and those who haven’t.

El, your birth date polls and date of conception statistics contain truth. So open the lids, oil the wheels and turn on the good old primeval ‘machine’ as Nana would have called it.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 10:42pm (EEST)

Compare highlights of neighbour islands (according to me)



  Have you ever bought or given one of those series of postcards that are attached to each other. It’s a small packet like a pocket book and it opens like an accordeon. There you have the ‘standard’ monuments and sights and nice views from a place, all in one. My father’s favourites, mine too. You can also find them in many houses in Ikaria. Accordeon series of postcards from Japan, Brazil, USA, Venice and Bilbao, in short, from where ever a cargo ship with Ikarian sailors in it catches port. From these postcards I understood the meaning of the word ‘highlights’ which there’s no exact equivalent for either in French, or in Greek.
So here I’m presenting an accordeon of highlights from three neighbour islands:

Delos, Ikaria and Patmos
(I’ll ignore Mykonos. Mykonos is a state apart. Looking for highlights for Mykonos will lead you to ‘tits’, ‘crowded beaches’, «stone drunk college girls dancing on tables» and it’s the same for Ibiza, Faliraki in Rhodes island and so many similar places -even in the Crimean peninsula recently- so they are not highlights anymore.)
(I’ll also ignore Samos. It’s too big and too close to the continent -Asia. Though I like it (don’t tell that to my Ikarians), it doesn’t feel like an island for me. Except perhaps for mt. Kerkis which rises over the waves of the Aegean (see that photo of mine in Flickr) and it’s so island-ish and superwow. But I’m a hiker, so perhaps my tastes are doubtful and «off-the-beaten-path» -to use the term I found in )

I’ll start with Delos. I had two photos and I couldn’t choose so I put them both in. I found these two photos in Flickr.

The first one shows a part of the row of the ‘Lions of Delos’ along some sort of monumental boulevard. It’s a wonder that these statues were not stolen from Greece by the Venitians or later by the British. I suppose they appeared too ‘abstract’ for their taste. These lions not just shine in sunlight -they multiply and reflect the sun light -they are light amplifiers and it’s very difficult to take good photographs of. They are ‘highlights’ !

The second one shows something that is supposed to be an ‘altar of Dionyssus’ though it’s obvious it’s not a wine taverna. This is actually the sign at the gate of one of the dozens of whorehouses of Delos ! What could they have written to describe it? «House of the rising….»? Anyway, it’s funny. Because of its strategic position, the temple of Apollo and some major tax deductions, Delos had been the most important port in the eastern Mediterranean for about 300 years from Hellenistic to Roman times. Hence the whorehouses and their marble signs (which can be seen from very far away and the sailors would cheer). However, for obvious reasons there are very few (if any) postcards of the (all mutilated) phalluses of Delos in the souvenir market today. But tourists love to take pictures of them. They are sooo photogenic ! So it’s a ‘highlight’ !

After the proliferate, here’s the ascetic. The next picture is from Ikaria. This is Theoskepasti (Θεοσκέπαστη =roofed by God’s own hands) an old chapel as well as a hermitage. This picture was taken by X.M. the local photographer who I think was the first to make this monument known to the public though his pictures, so by now it decorates the frontpage of the good old . Natural, human and divine connect and there are some typical Ikarian concepts involved too, such as balance (the rock), poverty (obvious), economy (obvious too), integration and harmony with nature (though it’s by no means small, you can’t see it until you are actually there). So I’d call this a «lowlight» -an Ikarian highlight !

Then it’s Patmos of course! This is the bells of the monastery of St. John (10th cent. AD) from a ‘standard’ postcard. Are you sonic? These bells can be heard from an unbelievably long distance. The secret of it lies in the Russian bronze of which they were made centuries ago. When you hear them in the morning mist covering the Aegean it makes you think of the quest for the Holly Graal, the knights and the monks, the Saracin pirates and the slave virgins, all that which still haunts our imagination (and made St. Spielberg a rich man, among many others). This is a ‘highlight’ !

That’s all folks ! (who was saying that? Buggs Bunny, wasn’t it?)

P.S. I’m so proud ! Did you know? My photo with the sunset in Flickr which I had also tagged ‘Delos’ figured first in the «most interesting photos tagged Delos» in Flickr last week ! It seems that I’ve beaten the phalluses and the lions for a while at least. It’s so funny.

A photo about Delos without the actual island in it ! What does this mean Doctor S.?



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Porky Pig actually 😉

Saturday February 11, 2006 – 03:06pm (PST)

A doctor writes: Hmmmm…probably a simple unconcious play on words is involved here; Delos has suggested δειλινο and hence sunset, together with δειλος bringing into play those feelings of shyness and withdrawl once more; we have once more stumbled upon the central conflict at work within the Psyche: the brave lion-like public persona (masculine principle)and the shy creature which seeks to withdraw from the light (feminine)(NB these terms have nothing to do with the subject’s actual gender). This does indeed make your Delos «most interesting» and for you there is no need for a real island with its overtly masculine imagery of Lions and Phalluses «shining in the sunlight» as I think you put it. This island you have «beaten» or overcome (i.e. this aspect of your nature is, for now, submissive)- you are pulled instead towards the darkness (feminine/unconcious principle)evident in the sunset photo and by empowering this side of your psyche you have tapped into the collective unconcious so powerfully at work in the flikr site, with the result that your photo «wins» – or I would say is most representative of the collective feeling around «Delos.» More wine please.

Sunday February 12, 2006 – 01:05am (GMT)

you should drown in wine that doctor of yours. Have him have a long sweet death that will last for 100 years…

Sunday February 12, 2006 – 03:16pm (EET)

((:-biu-:)) Το καινούριο σου avatar είναι σαν εξώφυλλο από CD με νησιώτικα !

Sunday February 12, 2006 – 07:30pm (EET)

-I know… the doctor is trying to make me crazier than I am already.
– Is my avatar really like a CD cover? Would it make you think there is good music inside?

Sunday February 12, 2006 – 12:13pm (PST)

I think the music would be very dreamy.

Sunday February 12, 2006 – 10:17pm (GMT)

ρεμβώδης (wow -thanks dictionary)

Monday February 13, 2006 – 12:29pm (PST)