Mount Athos must be the most controversial entity on the list and, the more I learn about its history, the odder (and more interesting) it becomes.
Monk Apollo, the entity’s only op, is now the proud owner of a new Steppir Yagi but it’s unclear if anyone other than he will ever get to use it.
Tact says we should not combine religion with radio – that to do so only invites discord. But with Mount Athos’ existence being purely religious in nature – and being on the DXCC list – that combination is pre-made for us and is therefore a fitting subject.
I know of a handful of YL DXers who have gone on multiple DXpeditions. They will not be welcome to any DXpedition that might take place from SV/A. For over 1000 years, women have not been allowed there as they may tempt the monks with their “natural charms”.
(In a recent blog entry, Paul N6PSE states that on Mount Athos “men must not stand with their hands clasped behind their back”).
The second reason given for this gender exclusion is that Mount Athos was a gift of God to the Virgin Mary and that no female other than she shall set foot on the island. And “female” excludes cows, chickens, sows and ewes. It was conceded that female songbirds and insects were allowed to remain because it was impossible to keep them out. It’s unclear exactly how plausible the danger of a chicken outshining the Virgin Mary is, but rule’s a rule.
Despite the gender ban, there have been a number of (human) females on Mount Athos:
- Alexia Amvrazi disguises herself as a man and travels to Mount Athos.
- The monks harbored women and female children during the Greek civil war.
- In 2008, Ukrainian smugglers dropped four Moldovan women on the coast of Mount Athos. They were quickly apprehended by monks and police.
- Maryse Choisy, a French writer, underwent a double mastectomy in order to sneak into the monastic republic and pose as a servant boy for a month. She later wrote a book about her time there – A Month Among the Men. In it, she describes having to fend off the advances of one of the monks. (Interestingly, her previous book was A Month With the Girls, researched by spending a month living in a whorehouse).
Recently, “due to our daily needs”, Mount Athos loosened up a bit, allowing chickens. “Ultimately, our breakfast has eggs laid by hens” Baslidos Monastery abbot said happily.
I guess there’s hope yet, YL’s.