44. Σεμέλης, θυμίαμα στύρακα.
Divine connection: styrax/storax
Κικλήσκω κούρην Καδμηίδα παμβασίλειαν,
I call the daughter of Kadmos, Queen of all,
εὐειδῆ Σεμέλην, ἐρατοπλόκαμον, βαθύκολπον,
Beautiful in form, Semele with lovely braids and deep-bosom,
μητέρα θυρσοφόροιο Διωνύσου πολυγηθοῦς,
Mother of thyrsus-bearer Dionysos and the many blessings of Ge.
ἣ μεγάλας ὠδῖνας ἐλάσσατο πυρφόρωι αὐγῆι
In great travail you gave birth, released by the fire-born light
ἀθανάτου φλεχθεῖσα Διὸς βουλαῖς Κρονίοιο
Of immortal, blaze-slaying Dios, as counseled by Kronos,
τιμὰς τευξαμένη παρ' ἀγαυῆς Περσεφονείης
Honorably preparing the way so that august Persephone
ἐν θνητοῖσι βροτοῖσιν ἀνὰ τριετηρίδας ὥρας,
For mortal humans can give rise to three yearly Seasons.
ἡνίκα σοῦ Βάκχου γονίμην ὠδῖνα τελῶσιν
When Bacchos’ birth travail is complete
εὐίερόν τε τράπεζαν ἰδὲ μυστήριά θ' ἁγνά.
Then the most holy altar forms sharp mysteries.
νῦν σέ, θεά, λίτομαι, κούρη Καδμηίς, ἄνασσα,
Come, Goddess, we beg thee, daughter of Kadmos, Anassa,
πρηύνοον καλέων αἰεὶ μύσταισιν ὑπάρχειν.
Gentle, beautiful, eternal, mysterious underlying foundation.
 Semnos (σεμνός) means revered, august, exalted, honored, solemn.
Many scholars say that Semele is the Phrygian Goddess Zemele, the Goddess of earth, and many also identify her with the Great Mother Rhea-Kybele because the uproarious rites of Semele’s son, Dionysos, closely resemble the ecstatic rites of the Great Mother.
“Some scholars have thought that Semele’s name, certainly non-Greek, is the same as Semelo, a Phrygian name for the Great Goddess attested on inscriptions.” (Classical Myth by Barry B. Powell, Prentice Hall, New Jersey 2001, p. 272)
“(Dionysos) is the son of the Phrygian Earth-[G]oddess Zemele, who in the Greek Olympian theology became Semele…so that the Cretan Rhea displaced the Thraco-Phrygian [G]oddess, Zemele” (The Ancient Gods, by E. O. James, p. 166-167)
Euripides Bacchae 66-67, (translation Herbert M. Howe in Classical Myth by Barry B. Powell, p. 260, Prentice Hall, New Jersey 2001.)
“Dionysus: ‘take up your pipes and your drums, your native Phrygian music,
inventions of me, Dionysus, and of Rhea, Great Mother of [Goddesses and G]ods.’”
“…who and what is Semele?...The Phrygian ζεμελω [zemelo] is the Greek γῆ [ge] (earth)…Semele, mother of Dionysos, is the Earth.” (Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of the Greek Religion, Princeton, New Jersey, 1991, p.404)
Jane Ellen Harrison in Themis, p. 168 writes, “The Earth is barren till the Thunder and the Rainstorm smite her in the springtime—till in his Ephiphany of Thunder and Lightning Keraunos comes to Keraunia, the Sky-[G]od weds Semele the Earth, the ‘Bride of the bladed Thunder.’”
aka Zemyna, Earth Goddess (Lithuania) “From late seventeenth-century sources (as described by Praetorius in Lithuania Minor in 1690), we hear that a black suckling pig was offered to Zemyna (as it was to Demeter in Greece) during the harvest feast presided over by a priestess.”
Gimbutas, Marija; Miriam Robbins Dexter (2001). The living goddesses. University of California Press. pp. 208–209.ISBN 978-0-520-22915-0.
Zemlya is the Slavic Goddess of Earth, Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book, by Miriam Robbins Dexter, NewYork: Teachers Colllege, 1990, ps. 41-42
Semla is the Etruscan Goddess of Earth Gimbutas, Marija; Miriam Robbins Dexter (2001). The living goddesses. University of California Press. pp. 168-169.ISBN 978-0-520-22915-0.
Semelos (Σέμελος) is Laconian for kochlias (κοχλίας), which means anything that twists spirally, such as a screw or snail shell or vine tendril. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphibian#mediaviewer/File:Alytes_obstetricans_almogavarii_-_male_with_eggs_2.jpg )
In the Lexicon, the word Semele (σεμέλη) is associated with the word for toad (φρύνη) as “παρὰ Φρυνίχῳ,” or, like a toad (φρῡνοειδής). It is interesting to note that some toads lay their eggs in bunches like grapes and the male “common midwife toad” twines the eggs around his thighs until they are ready to hatch.
Seemeion (σημεῖον) is Doric for tomb; In general Greek it means sign, omen, signal, mark, standard/flag, signet, badge, boundary/limit.
Soma (σῶμα) means the body of a person (opp. spirit/soul)
 Kadmeia is the acropolis of ancient Greek Thebes, founded by Kadmos.
 Basileia means ruler, Queen.
 Semele is the mortal mother of Dionysos, the immortal God of wine and its effects. While pregnant Semele was consumed by flame when Zeus came to her as the God of lightning. Zeus sewed the fetus of Dionysos into his thigh to complete gestation.
As Jane Ellen Harrison writes in Themis (p. 91), “In Greece a place that was struck by lighning became an ἄβατον [abaton], a spot not to be trodden on, unapproachable. On the Acropolis at Thebes were to be seen, Pausanias [IX.12.3] tells us, the bridal chambers of… Semele—and even to his day, Pausanias adds, no one was allowed to set foot in the chamber of Semele.”
In Nonnos’ Dionysiaca 7.136, Semele has a prophetic dream regarding the birth of Dionysos:
“She had brushed away from her eyes the oblivious wing of sleep, and sent her mind wandering after the image of a dream with riddling oracles. She thought she saw in a garden a tree with fair green leaves, laden with newgrown clusters of swelling fruit yet unripe, and drenched in the fostering dews of Zeus. Suddenly a flame fell through the air from heaven, and laid the whole tree flat, but did not touch its fruit; then a bird flying with outspread wings caught up the fruit half-grown, and carried it yet lacking full maturity to Cronion. The Father received it in his kindly bosom, and sewed it up in his thigh; then instead of the fruit, a bull-shaped horned figure of a man came forth complete over his loins. Semele was the tree!
“The girl leapt from her couch trembling, and told her father the terrifying tale of leafy dreams and fiery blast.”
It is interesting to note that in Oregon, a mountainous state in the U.S., grapes grow more prosperously after mild fires, suggesting that perhaps the Dionysos fire legend reflects agricultural practices:
"The percent cover of Oregon-grape was greater after prescribed spring and fall fires in 1973 compared to a control site on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming ."
When lightning strikes a row of grape vines, re-growth will begin at the base of the vine. (p. 22 What is Killing my Vines? Plant Failure in New Vineyards, Bill Cline, Plant Pathology Department North Carolina State University Horticultural Crops Research Station Castle Hayne, NC
This is a type of “natural” pruning. Pruning grape vines results in a better yield.
In Euripides Bacchae 238-241 (translation Herbert M. Howe in Classical Myth by Barry B. Powell, Prentice Hall, New Jersey 2001, p. 261) Pentheus doubts Semele’s story of giving birth to Dionysos by Zeus, saying:
“‘That fellow, they call him Dionysus?
That’s the one Zeus once sewed up in his thigh?
The one who was vaporized by thunderbolts
Along with his mother, self-styled “bride of Zeus”’?”
 The thyrsus is the pinecone-tipped staff associated with Dionysos.
 Ge is the immortal Goddess of generative earth.
 Dios is another name for Zeus, the immortal God of lightning storms and the spark of fire/spark of life.
 Kronos is the immortal God of time, father of Zeus.
 The Horai are the immortal Goddesses of the seasons and the natural time (hour) for things to occur. The three season are, perhaps, spring (growth), summer (fruition), fall-winter (decline).
 Thago (θἁγω) means sharp, sharpen; perhaps pertaining to the sharp pains of birth travail.
 Anassa means Queen, Lady.