Aspects of daily life in Idaea
Philyra (Linden tree)
Zominthos, the main village of Idaia, has not one, but two sacred trees. One, located in the center of the village, is a Hawthorn, which not only offers its flowers in the spring and its fruits with their healing properties in the Autumn, but is also a gate. Through it, all the residents of Zominthos can visit friends and relatives throughout Idaea In September they go wherever there is a vine harvest and throughout the winter to the mass olive pickings. This last custom is very useful, because every winter night they can return home instead of wintering where the olive picking takes place. After all, most of the gate-trees in Idaia are olive trees! But I got carried away.
Let us go back to talking about the sacred trees of Zominthos. Apart from the Hawthorn, the second most important sacred tree is the Ancient linden tree. And we call it ancient because it has been there for as many years as the village has existed, that is more than 600 years ago. It was planted by the settlers who came to find refuge when they were chased by the Venetians. From this we understand how important the linden tree was to them. And they had many good reasons for it, as linden is a tree with many wonderful properties. But let's see how our heroines talk about it:
It was the end of May and the sun had warmed the earth all day and it was now setting, leaving behind soft orange hues. A light breeze brought sweet scents from the neighboring gardens. Maria welcomed it with relief, as the sweat flowed down her forehead, soaking her white headscarf. She was in the garden and with a hoe in hand she was broadening the furrows for watering. In a little while she heard the garden door open and turned to look. It was her little daughter Despina, who rushed in, hurrying as always, laden with two baskets.
-Mom, I'm back! Look, are these flowers enough? I brought both my baskets full! In this one, I have the hawthorn flowers and in the other I put flowers and leaves from the linden tree.
- Of course! They are just fine. Leave them on those boards. Come on, let's spread them out in the shade to dry. With these we will make the medicine for grandma's heart. It will last her for the whole year. When these linden leaves dry, we will collect more for us to have when needed.
-And what do we need them for mom? Isn't your heart fine?
- Of course, it's fine! But tell me first: what do you feel when you smell these flowers? How did you feel perched on its branches while they rested on your cheeks and head?
- Oh, mom how come you always know what I have to tell you? It really felt so nice! It was like I was a baby again and you wrapped me in a blanket that smelled great and you rocked me. At the same time, I felt so happy that there is this plant that will give grandma many more beautiful years and very proud that I can collect it and take it to her!
- Do you realize what you are saying? Indeed the linden is the tree of love, care and justice.
-And surely there is a wonderful legend about her, she was interrupted once again by her daughter
- Oh, my daughter, how come you always know what I have to say to you? Maria joked. Well, yes. According to the myths, Philyra was the mother of the first healer who walked this earth. Or should I say gallop? Come on, let's go inside and wash our hands. I’ll make something fast for dinner, and then I'll tell you the legend. Maria didn't have to say it a second time. Despina, when she was about to listen to a story, immediately did what her mother asked. She ran into the house poured water into the basin for washing her hands and in a few minutes, she was ready sitting at the table.
Dinner was really simple but delicious. Bread baked by mom and cheese from dad's mitato,tomatoes and cucumbers from their garden and of course, infusion of linden leaves that bring the sweetest sleep.
-Well mom, if I understood correctly, you said that healer, galloped? Was Philyra Chiron mother?
-Exactly. The mother of Chiron; and also, daughter of Oceanus, a beautiful and wise nymph, with knowledge brought from the depths of the sea where she came from, but also of the land where she lived. Saturn was very fascinated.
-Wasn’t Saturn the father of Zeus?
-But of course. He too used to have relations secretly from his wife Rhea, like Zeus later. And just as Zeus feared Hera, so Saturn feared Rhea. So when Rhea appeared while Kronos was with Philyra, he got scared. In order to run away as fast as he could, but also in the hope that his wife would not recognize him, he transformed himsef into a horse. And he chose the worst moment to change form! We are sure of this, because when his son came into the world he was half a horse because of that crazy situation.
-Ooooo, what did you just tell me! Is that why Chiron was a Centaur? Haste is a bad thing!
-But his mom didn't see it that way. Some say that Philyra was very ashamed of her son's form and asked to be transformed into a linden tree for that reason. But I can assure you: no mother with as much love as Filyra felt, thinks of her baby as a monster. She loved the little centaur that came out of her very much. He also inherited some of her features: He was full of wisdom and love for the world, he became a beloved teacher and a unique healer. Some other time we will talk about their life in a cave in Pelion, about the things she taught him and more things that he learned on his own being an immortal god. But also, how and why, though he was immortal he finally asked to die. For today, just know that grief for his death and not shame for his form made Filira a tree. A tree that still gives us abundant gifts.
-Something tells me healing herbal recipes are coming now. And I think that today I have more appetite to listen to them than other times. Perhaps Chiron's story made me want to be like him.
- You may have an appetite but your eyes are closing. You already know grandma's medicine, the pleasure that its aroma brings and of course the sleep it brought you tonight! Learning is a morning affair. Tomorrow, as we drink malotira and your brain is rested, we will say a lot more about Chiron and as many recipes as your soul desires.