Between sunset and the evening star when the gentle west wind blows, there dance the Horai, goddesses of the hours that guide the Sun across the sky, opening and closing the Gates of Heaven, and yoking & unyoking the horses of the chariots of the gods. In the sunset hour they are led by their sister Dysis, whose name means “setting”. Dysis is the handmaid of Harmonia, the Allmother, and she protects the west gate of Harmonia’s house in the vault of heaven against the west wind.
“Far on the sloping margin of the western sea sinking Sol (the Sun) [Helios] had unyoked his flaming steeds, and laved their bright manes in the springs of Oceanus . . . and the swift-striding Horae (Hours), who strip him of his reins and the woven glory of his golden coronet, and relieve his horse’s dripping breasts of the hot harness; some turn the well-deserving steeds into the soft pasture, and lean the chariot backward, pole in air.”
~Publius Papinius Statius, Roman poet who flourished in the late C1st A.D
When the last New Moon of the Spring happens on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, the evening sky responds to the seasonal call by getting decked out in its favorite jewels: the evening star and the starry crown. It being evening, the sky is attended to by Dysis, goddess of the hour of the setting Sun, who is the “nurse of the world” and attendant of Selene, the Moon.
It is said that when Venus/Aphrodite was born, Dysis and her sister Hours welcomed her joyously, clothing her with heavenly garments and placing on her head a crown of gold, which makes her a brilliant evening star. Venus/Aphrodite then gifted to Ariadne at her marriage to Dionysus, the starry crown, which we know as the constellation Corona Borealis. She was joined in this gift-giving by the Horai.
And all of this sparkles through the evening sky this week, when the crescent Moon rises into the scene Thursday and Friday, June 14 and 15, attended by the guardian Hour of the setting Sun, Dysis. The Moon and Dysis will then join hands with the evening star Venus as they all make ready for the beautiful dance of the gods under the starry crown, Corona Borealis, which appears directly overhead just as Dysis is closing the western gate of the sunset world.
You can follow this link to my radio segment about The Last New Moon of Spring and the Hour of Sunset
The names of the Horai are below. They are sometimes only three, sometimes 10, and sometimes 12 in number ~ when they are 12, they are not in equal division throughout the day all year long, because the daylight hours grow longer or shorter depending on the season. Instead of having hours of fixed length, the Ancient Greeks divided the hours of daylight into twelve portions which they identified according to the position of the Sun in the sky. This meant that the length of the hour varied throughout the year. But the Horai had particular tasks that always belonged to the same portion of the day.
“The hall of Allmother Harmonia [in the vault of heaven], where that Nymphe dwelt in a house, self-built, shaped like the great universe with its four quarters joined in one. Four portals were about that stronghold standing proof against he four Aetai (Winds). Handmaids [i.e. the Horai (Hours)] protected this dwelling on all sides, a round image of the universe : the doors were allotted–Anatolia (Rising) was the maid who attended the East Wind’s (Euros’) gate; at the West Wind’s (Zephyros’) was Dysis (Setting) the nurse of Selene (the Moon); Mesembrias (Midday) held the bold of the fiery South (Notos); Arktos the Bear was the servant who opened the gate of the North (Boreas), thick with clouds and sprinkled with hail.”
~Dionysiaca by Nonnnus of Panopolis, Greek poet who flourished in Egypt in the C5th A.D. He was the author of the last of the great epic poems of antiquity
Auge ~ Daybreak
Anatole ~ Rising
Musica ~ Music
Gymnastica ~ Athletics
Nympha ~ Bath
Mesembria ~ Midday
Sponde ~ Libations
Elete ~ Prayer
Acte ~ Corn/Meal
Hesperis ~ Evening
Dysis ~ Setting
Arctus ~ Bear