First a little background about me and how I discovered this path and what I mean by the Living Orphic Tradition. As a small child my bedtime reading was the Greek myths. I was fascinated by tales of Gods and Heroes, and how the natural world was inhabited by nymphs and daemons, and by how closely entwined the realms of Gods and mortals were, and also, the wisdom and lessons about life; the importance of virtue and the heroic quest, of piety and honour, the dangers of Hubris (pride) and other moral lessons the myths contained.
My love of the Greek Gods was further inspired through school and college days through their appearance in English literature, from Chaucer to Shakespear and the English poets. At University I was introduced to Plato for the first time, as well as Classical Greek plays. I also at that time became involved first in Buddhism and Yoga, and then in the Fellowship of Isis, and began exploring various pagan traditions. Upon moving to Wales I was initiated into a Wiccan coven, with Wicca being my main path for several years, and living in Wales, also learned about the Welsh Celtic tradition, as well as studying Heathenry for a year or so. But the Greek Gods continued to call to me, and I wanted to honour them not just as part of an eclectic Wiccan or neo-pagan tradition, but to explore more traditionally Greek ways. I initially became involved in some online Hellenic pagan communities, had some good, some bad, some ugly and some crazy experiences, but eventually in my search I discovered (one version of) the living Orphic tradition, which I have been following for the past 4 years or so.
We are lucky that much has survived in terms of written and material evidence of Ancient Greek paganism, which gives those who wish to practice Reconstructionist Greek Religion a wealth of information from which to piece together the ancient religions. Although much has also been lost, far too much has also survived for the religion to ever have been destroyed completely. What’s more, the philosophies continued to be developed in the works of the Platonist philosophers over the following centuries up to the present day.
There are still families in Greece who have practiced pagan traditions passed down and practiced through generations, that have developed organically and naturally through the centuries, though firmly rooted in the myths, philosophies and spiritual practices of the ancient mystery traditions. Each family has its own traditions, and each is slightly or sometimes greatly different from the other. I have learned something of one of the family traditions from Greeks who are willing to share their tradition. This is very different to Hellenic Reconstructionism, which attempts to recreate mainstream rituals of Ancient and Classical Greece, but is a tradition which includes ideas and practices which have developed through the philosophical schools throughout the centuries, but based in the mystical traditions known as Orphic. The Orphic philosophical tradition is often very different to mainstream practices and beliefs, and the Theoi (The Gods) in particular may be interpreted very differently. Most pagans and Goddess worshippers are aware of Hekate’s role as Mistress of Magic and Goddess of Witchcraft, but in the Orphic tradition, Hekate’s role is a bit different. She is a Goddess who embodies Virtue and the mystic path, she is a savioress (Soteira) and mediator. She is considered to be the Advocate of the Virtuous. She is also seen as the World Soul, as described in the Chaldean Oracles and by the later Platonic philosophers.
First a bit about Orphism, as understood in the Living Tradition -Orphismos (or Orphism) is a mystery tradition or group of traditions, within Hellenismos (or Hellenism), closely connected with the Bacchic mysteries, and is often known as the Bacchic-Orphic mysteries. It can be seen as the religion of Dionysos, who in Orphismos is Soter, the Saviour. It is also closely connected with the Eleusinian mysteries, with Persephone also having an important role as Soteira, Saviouress. The Gold tablets often referred to as the Bacchic-Orphic tablets, which have been discovered in burials of Bacchic-Orphic initiates throughout ancient Greece and Rome, dating from the 5thCentury BCE to the 3rdCentury CE contain funerary inscriptions giving instructions for the afterlife, in which Persephone and Dionysos are petitioned, or where the intitiate is instructed to tell Persephone that they have been liberated by Dionysos Himself. For example a late 4thCentury BCE tablet from a woman’s grave in Pelinna, Thessaly says:
Now you have died and now you have come into being. O thrice happy one, on this same day.
Tell Persephone that the Bacchic One himself has released you…
As a bull you jumped into the milk,
Quickly you jumped into the milk…
You have wine as your fortunate honour
And below the earth there are ready for you the same prizes as for the blessed ones
And from another 4thCentury BCE grave of a woman:
I come from the pure, Queen of the Cthonian Ones
Eucles and Euboleus and the gods and other daimones
For I also claim to be of your happy race.
I have paid for the penalty of unrighteous deeds.
Either Moira overcame me or the star-flinger of lightnings.
Now I come as a suppliant to holy Persephone,
So that she may kindly send me to the seats of the pure.
(Eucles (Good Fame) and Euboleus (Good Counsel) are epithets of Dionysos, Euboleus is associated with the Eleusinian mysteries as a torchbearer, leading initiates back from the darkness of the Underworld)
And a rather interesting (but fragmentary and interspersed with untranslatable letters, possibly magical formulas) one from Italy, full of specifically Orphic references:
To Protogonos, Earth Mother, Cybele, Daughter of Demeter, Zeus, Air, Sun, Fire that overcomes, Fortune, Phanes, All-remembering Moirai, Father, Master of All correspondence, Air, Fire, Mother, Night, Day. Seventh Day of a Fast, Zeus who digs in, and Watcher over all, always, Mother hear my prayers, beautiful sacred things, sacred things, Demeter, Fire, Zeus, Cthonic Kore. Hero, light to the mind, the mindful one seizes Kore. Land, Air, to the mind.
And from the same area from a small tumulus:
I come from the pure, Queen of the Cthonian Ones
Eucles, Euboleus and the other immortal Gods
For I also claim to be of your happy race.
But Moira overcame me and the other immortal Gods and the star-flinger with lightning.
I have flown out of the heavy, difficult circle,
I have approached the longed-for crown with swift feet,
I have sunk beneath the breast of the Lady, the Cthonian Queen,
I have approached the longed for crown with swift feet,
“happy and blessed, you will be a god instead of a mortal”.
As a kid I fell into the milk.
Being a kid leaping into the milk is a common feature of the Orphic tablets, and its mystical interpretation at least in the tradition as I have learned it, is that the milk is the breast milk of Hera, Queen of the Gods, which is the milky way, and that the liberated soul is leaping out into the Kosmos, as a kid or a bull, which are animals associated with Dionysos, having flown out of “the heavy, difficult circle” of rebirth, being nourished by the wine-aethir of Dionysos, and deified, going forth as a god instead of a mortal, having achieved liberation and deification of the soul, which is the desired culmination of the Orphic path.
So what has all this got to do with Hekate you may ask? She is not mentioned in any of these Orphic tablets, so how in Orphism is Hekate Soteira, saviouress? Why do we need Her, when we have Persephone and Dionysos as Soteira/Soter? Well, Hekate obviously does have an important place in Orphismos, as it is significant that Her hymn appears at the beginning in the Orphic Hymns, immediately after the instruction To Mouseus. In the Orphic Hymn to Hekate, She is described as holding the keys to the whole Kosmos, and being venerated in Earth, Sea and Sky, as well as in the realm of the dead. She is therefore a Goddess who can traverse the realms, a psychopomp, walker between the worlds and guide of souls, much like Hermes. Hekate is also found in the Orphic Argonautica – Orpheus invokes her in order to gain entry into the grove which harbors the Krysómallon Dǽras, the Golden Fleece. In Orphic interpretation, the Golden Fleece symbolises the deified soul, and therefore, Hekate is opening the gateway to deification of the soul.
Hekate also had an important role in the Eleusinian mysteries, and was one of the chief Goddesses honored in them, alongside Demeter and Persephone. In the story of the abduction of Persephone and Demeter’s search for her daughter, Hekate was the one Goddess who aided Demeter, as she had heard the cries of Persephone as she was abducted by Ploutohn, and helped her in the search for her daughter, bearing torches to guide her. Hekate also became the chief hand-maiden of Persphone in Hades. As assistant to Demeter and hand-maid to Persephone, this subsidiary role might seem like a bit of a demotion to those who worship Hekate as The Great Goddess, Queen of the Earth, Sea and Sky, holder of the keys to the Kosmos etc.,
But in fact, in Orphismos, Hekate’s role as mediator is extremely important, and we need to understand what is meant by Her role as Mediator and Advocate of the virtuous. As the Goddess who is the Mediator between (in NeoPlatonic terms) the Intelligible and Sensible Realms, between the realm of Divine Forms and that of the Physical World, who facilitates passage from one realm to the other, It is Hekate who facilitates Persphone’s journey. Homer tells us in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, that “Queen Hekate was the preceder and the follower of Persephone, which conjures an image of Hekate as surrounding and protecting Persephone. Hekate is present at Persephone’s descent, and Her return, and as Her guide, companion and handmaiden, escorts Persephone on a very difficult and significant journey, and continues to escort Her across the boundary, and ease her transition, in Her annual descent and ascent. As Mistress of Souls, Hekate also escorts the dead back and forth across this same boundary.
It might be helpful at this stage to say a little about the basic principles of the living Orphic tradition as I have learned it, in order to give a context for understanding the importance of Hekate’s role as mediator and advocate of the virtuous. I have already mentioned the importance of Dionysos, Soter, the saviour, and Persephone Soteira, the saviouress in the tradition. Orphic myth says (at least in the version most commonly cited in this tradition), that Zeus seduced Persephone in the form of a serpent, and she subsequently gave birth to Zagreus (the first birth of Dionysos, known as Zeus’s first influence on the soul), whom Zeus intended to be his successor as king of the Gods. Zeus gave the infant Zagreus his staff, thunderbolts and throne. However, at the instruction of Hera, the Titans distracted the infant Zagreus with a number of toys (each of which has mystical significance). “A pine cone and a spinning top, and limb-moving rattles, and golden apples from the clear-toned Hesperides, where apples grew which bestowed mortality, dice, a sphere, a top, tufts of fleece and a mirror. Zagreus, was delighted with the toys, and abandoned his thunderbolts, and whilst He contemplated His changeling countenance reflected in the mirror, Mesmerised, beholding of Himself, He proceeded into the whole fabrication of the Universe. The Titans took that opportunity to seize Him, and destroyed Him with infernal knives. Seven parts of the Child in all did they divide between them.”
The toys of Dionysos all have mystical or magical significance – and the spinning top particularly is associated with Hekate (the Iynx-wheel), which is used to mediate between the realms and is associated with Iynges, or Daemons which mediate between the Divine and mortal realms, and which are under the dominion of Hekate.
When Zeus got to hear of this, He destroyed the Titans with thunderbolts, but the heart of Zagreus was saved and placed in a silver casket and taken by Athena to a place of safety. Zeus then created the races of mortals from the ashes of the Titans and the burned remains of the limbs of Zagreus. Thus the mortal races are created from the sinful substance of the Titans, which binds them to the cycle of death and rebirth; and the divinity of Dionysos Zagreus, through whom liberation may be achieved.
Zeus then made a potion from the heart of Zagreus, which he gave to Semele, semi-divine daughter of the Goddess Harmonia and the mortal King Cadmus to drink. Semele then became pregnant with the infant Dionysos, and the birth of Dionysos on earth through Semele is known as Zeus’s second influence on the soul. Dionysos is sent as a savior and liberator to aid us to escape from the cycles of rebirth and to achieve gnosis of our divinity and reunion with the Divine. Persephone, has an important role both as the first mother of Dionysos, and as compassionate receiver of souls who births us into the next life. Her role in myth of continually descending and ascending, represents the soul incarnating back into matter, and being liberated and reunited with the Divine.
Along with Dionysos, who may be seen as the central figure of Orphismos, the 12 Olympians are also honoured, each one having an important role in guiding the human soul on the path to liberation, and each also connected with a sign of the Zodiac, the wheel around the central hub that Dionysos represents.
The Orphic path itself can be said to have Four Pillars. The first is Akoi, “things heard”, which relates to the traditions, stories of the Gods, the myths, rituals, practices and philosophies. The second is Theurgy, which is Divine work, and in the tradition is seen as communion with deity through ritual and meditative practices. The third is Philosophia, which is the love of and striving for wisdom, and refers to intellectual work which endeavours to discover genuine truth and wisdom and to challenge our own ideas, the raw philosophy of Sokrates, rather than self-justifying philosophical theories. So, on the one hand, there is the tradition, what we are taught, and on the other there is our questioning of all beliefs and the scrutiny of everything with the rational eye of philosophy. The fourth pillar is perhaps the most important, and that is Areti, which may be translated as Virtue or Excellence. This is not the pursuit of glory as some understand the word due to the way it is used in ancient texts such as Homer’s Iliad, but is the source from which all virtues are generated. Plato said that Areti is a kind of harmony of the soul, a type of constant between one’s emotions and one’s reason. Plato also described four principle manifestations of Areti: Courage or fortitude, Temperance or Moderation, Wisdom and Justice. These are the four Cardinal Virtues of Classical Antiquity. The development of Areti involves understanding one’s place in the Kosmos and living in accordance with the Natural Laws, whilst seeking to develop ones Consciousness, and to be the best that one can be. In the living Orphic tradition the striving for and achievement of Areti is the most pleasing gift we can offer to the Gods. The Gods desire us to achieve Areti and endeavor to help us to achieve it, if we put the effort in.
Hekate, She who has Far-Shooting Power, is the mighty Goddess who is our greatest advocate in the pursuit of arætí (arete; Gr. ἀρετή), genuine virtue:
Hekate first appears in Greek literature in Hesiod, in Works and Days, which tells us:
“And Astæría conceived by Perses, and bare Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless Gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hekate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the Goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with Her. For as many as were born of Gaia and Ouranos amongst all these She has her due portion. The son of Kronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was Her portion among the former Titan Gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because She is an only child, the Goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her. Whom She will, She greatly aids and advances: She sits by worshipful kings in judgment, and in the assembly whom She will is distinguished among the people. And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the Goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom She will. Good is She also when men contend at the games, for there too the Goddess is with them and profits them: and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents. And She is good to stand by horsemen, whom She will: and to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hekate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious Goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so She will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if She will, She increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then, albeit Her mother’s only child, She is honoured amongst all the deathless Gods. And the son of Kronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Dawn. So from the beginning She is a nurse of the young, and these are her honours.”
This passage in Hesiod has sometimes been considered to be an Orphic intrusion into Works and Days, as it seems to appear out of nowhere, and does not follow the context of the rest of the work. Hekate was thought in Hesiod’s time to be a minor deity, yet Hesiod suddenly goes into a quite lengthy hymn of praise and exultation to Hekate, which appears to mark Her out as a very important deity. Yet following this passage, Hekate plays no further role in the Theogony. This Hymn to Hekate appears just before the account of the birth of Zeus and the other Olympians. Hekate is the last-born of the older Gods (with the exception of the sons of Iapetus). The Theogony concludes with the triumph of Zeus and the Olympian order, and the story of Prometheus and the creation of man and woman. The Olympians rule supreme, with Zeus at their head, yet we are told in the passage about Hekate that “Zeus honoured Hekate above all and gave Her splendid gifts, to have a share of earth and the sterile sea. And She also received a share of honur from the starry sky”. Here, the Greek is quite precise in saying that Hekate is not given earth, sea and sky, but that She is given (or rather retains) a share of honor on earth, heavens and sea. The notion of a portion or share is repeated throughout the Hymn. During the battle with the Titans, Zeus promised all who aided Him on his side, that they would be allowed to keep the honur they held previously, and whoever had been without honur or privilege under Cronos would receive both. Hekate does not appear to have a role in the Titonomachy, or to render any special services to Zeus, yet She not only keeps Her honours but receives new ones. The text stresses that it is Zeus who honours Her, not the other way round, as if Zeus Himself sees the importance of keeping in Hekate’s favour, and maintaining Her functions in His new regime. Helate is called Mounogenes “only daughter”, indicating Her unique position over the three Cosmic Realms. Hekate’s powers over the lives of men are also listed, and it is clear that Hekate’s good will will assure the success of every human endeavor, but it is also clear, that this is given in conjunction with other deities, as can be seen from this passage:-
“to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hekate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious Goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so She will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if She will, She increases from a few, or makes many to be less”
In this passage, prayers to Hekate work in conjunction with prayers to Poseidohn in the first instance, and to Hermes in the second instance. Similarly, She grants, pre-eminence in war, and brings Victory and Glory, yet this is the realm of Nike, who dwells with Zeus and with Athena. Hekate therefore has extensive, but not fully independent powers. She has an influence in each realm, but manifests Her powers in areas which belong to other Gods or to a diversity of Gods. But, in each sphere, it is the good will of Hekate that ensures success. If Hekate’s good will is absent, the implication is that prayers and offerings will be useless and failure will follow.
In the Living Orphic Tradition, Hekate is called the Advocate of the Virtuous, because it is by cultivating Areti, or Virtue, that one can win the favour of the Goddess who has the power over success or failure in all realms.
So, Ækáti is the mighty advocate of the virtuous who holds our hands while we pray, allowing the Agathós Daimohn, (Gr. Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων), represented by Her dogs, to take our prayers to the Gods. The agathas daimones can take our supplications to be heard by the Olympian Gods. Hekate will always listen to those who strive for virtue, and Her dogs will take our prayers to the Olympians, advocating on our behalf.
When a person decides to commit to a life of virtue, the Gods take notice, as though their eyes open wide; and they move close to us and give help, for they know that this is a difficult road and they find such an endeavor beautiful. Ækáti is particularly interested in the souls of those who embark on this pursuit. She assists the suppliant and works alongside Athiná(Athena; Gr. Ἀθηνᾶ) who, according to the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogonyis virtue itself.
Ækáti is often considered a “dark” Goddess and is often connected with witchcraft and magic. Ækáti is called Nyktǽria (Gr. Νυκτέρια), an epithet meaning “of the night”. This is because, like the GoddessNyx, Ækáti operates in areas that are generally unknown to mortals and inaccessible to the rational mind, hence they are hidden from us as though concealed by night. But Ækáti is the daughter of Astæría, the starry one, and Pǽrsis, who is also connected with the stars and fire; therefore, even though her parents are connected with the night, they are of the stars, celestial bodies which give light, but which can only be perceived in darkness. One of Ækáti’s epithets is phohsphóros (phosphorus; Gr. φωσφόρος), an epithet meaning “bringing light.” Ækáti has hidden means to give help, but particularly when we cannot see our way through difficult problems.
Ækáti is the Queen of Mayeia
Ækáti is the great Goddess of mayeia (mageia; Gr. μᾰγεία). She has intimate knowledge of and control of the natural world and is capable of using this power to great ability in order to assist worthy mortals. This mayeia, or magic, does not defy natural laws but is, by its very nature, only available to evolved beings who are in harmony with the Natural Lawssuch that they reflect its power and can employ it, souls such as the genuine Iærophántis (Hierophant; Gr. Ίεροφάντης) at the Ælefsínia Mystíriaand Gods. Such mayeia is exercised for the benefit of the virtuous when in need.
Ækáti is associated with the Middle Sky, the area which extends from just above the sea and the land up to just below the moon. This is the place where the souls dwell, the souls of those whose mortal bodies have died and are awaiting rebirth. As such, She is dwelling with the dead. Although Hekate has a portion of earth, sea and sky, She likes to dwell in this middle region and assist the mortals and deities who reside there. The idea that the souls of the dead inhabit the middle sky can be found in various texts such as Plutarch:
“All soul, whether without mind or with it, when it has issued from the body is destined to wander in the region between earth and moon…”
(Πλούταρχος Ἠθικά Concerning the Face Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon Chap. 28, 943C; trans. Harold Cherniss and William C. Helmbold, 1957, as found in the 1967 Loeb reprint entitled Plutarch’s Moralia Vol. XII, Harvard Univ. Press [Cambridge MA]-William Heinemann [London] p. 201.)
This idea can also be found in Pythagorean writings:
“When cast out upon the earth, the soul wanders in the air like the body. Hermes is the steward of souls, and for that reason is called Hermes the Escorter, Hermes the Keeper of the Gate, and Hermes of the Underworld, since it is he who brings in the souls from their bodies both by land and sea; and the pure are taken into the uppermost region, but the impure are not permitted to approach the pure or each other, but are bound by the Furies in bonds unbreakable. The whole air is full of souls which are called Genii or Heroes; these are they who send men dreams and signs of future disease and health, and not to men alone, but to sheep also and cattle as well; and it is to them that purifications and lustrations, all divination, omens and the like, have reference. The most momentous thing in human life is the art of winning the soul to good or to evil. Blest are the men who acquire a good soul; if it be bad they can never be at rest, nor ever keep the same course two days together.”
(Διογένης Λαέρτιος The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Book 8.31, trans. by C. D. Yonge, 1828; Henry G. Bohn Publ. [London]).
Hekate in the Chaldean Oracles
In later antiquity, Hekate’s role as intermediary becomes linked with the World Soul. In Plato’s Philebus, Plato has Sokrates say that the souls of individual bodies are derived from that One which ensouls the body of the Kosmos, this soul is similar to, but fairer than the souls of men. The idea of the World Soul is expanded upon in Plato’s Timaeus.
In the Chaldean Oracles, which appeared during the time of the Middle Platonic philosophers, and attempted to unite philosophy. Religion and theurgy, Hekate has renewed prominence, being linked to the World Soul in Plato’s Timeaus, whose form was a celestial X (Greek letter Chi). In the Timeaus, Plato describes two cosmic principles which are conjoined in the form of two intersecting circles, which looked at face on, make the form of the X (the Crossroads of Hekate. These he described as “the same” and “the different”. The Same and the Different are unified within Soul. Later Platonic philosophers understood these principles ats the Intelligible and Sensible realms – the realm of Unchanging Divinity and that of Changing mortality.
Plato says that the motion of the Different is the course of the planets, whilst leaving the explanation of the motion of The Same somewhat vague. Later writers, from Cicero to Manilius to Macrobius and beyond, who influenced the development of Platonic cosmology link these circles to the circle of the Zodiac (the path of the planets) and the circle of the milky way, which cross in the sky. At the intersection of these two celestial circles are the Heavenly Gates. Hekate is the Holder of the Keys, She who has the keys to unlock and lock the Heavenly Gates, and also the Gates of Hades. The Crossroads of Hekate can be seen as the celestial X of the Gates of Heaven.
Hekate is present wherever souls cross boundaries between life and death, and where the soul experiences the “death and rebirth” of the mysteries. Depictions of the Eleusinian Mysteries in ancient art, also show a torch in the form of a X, and Hekate carries two torches representing the two cosmic principles.
In the Chaldean Oracles and to the Middle Platonists, The Cosmic Soul was a multi-faceted intermediary between two worlds. The “Forms” or “Ideas” of the Intelligible realm, were received by the Cosmic Soul, who in turn cast them onto Primal Matter, which then became the physical Universe. It is through the Cosmic Soul, that the Cosmos is structured into its proper proportions and order. The Cosmic Soul is also the generator of individual souls. In the Philebus, Plato’s Sokrates argues that if our bodies are derived from the greater body of the Cosmos, then logically our souls must be derived from the Cosmic Soul. Soul also encloses the Sensible (Physical) world, and is receiver and transmitter of Ideas or Forms, giving proportion and harmony, and ensouling individual living beings. As the Cosmic Soul, Hekate became the intermediary between the Sensible and Intelligible realms, and it is at Her discretion that passage from one realm to another can occur. This intermediary role is an extension of Her older role as Goddess of physical crossroads, doors, and liminal places.
Hekate’s connection with the Moon in later antiquity is linked to Her role as intermediary, as the Moon is both a liminal point and a mediating entity, receiving the light of the Sun, and reflecting the light to the earth. Plutarch said that the Moon conducts down the warmth of the sun, and conducts upwards the exhaltations of the Earth, refining them in the process. Thus the Moon not only brings down the powers of the Heavens and the Intelligible realm, but can help to lift us to the Divine realm.
Xenocrates describes the Moon as the intermediate layer in a three tiered Universe. Xenocrates also placed the classes of daemones in the realm of the Moon, the daemones also being intermediate between Gods and men.
Hekate traditionally is the Queen of intermediary spirits, of phantoms and daemones. In the Living Orphic tradition, the intermediary daemones are represented by Her dogs, which are the agathes daemones, or good spirits which guide us and help us on our path, carry our prayers to the Gods, and can aide us in spiritual work. The daemones in Orphic and Platonic philosophy and mysticism also function to escort souls between realms.
As a Goddess of boundaries and liminal places, as psychopomp, guide and intermediary, Hekate was also associated with a number of other deities, such as Hermes, who She is often invoked in conjunction with, with Artemis as the Goddess who aids in the transition of birth in the physical realm, and with Rhea, the Great Mother, who births the physical world. The Ideas of the Intelligible realm are given structure and harmony in the womb of Hekate, or Rhea, and then birthed into the physical Universe. She was also associated with the Roman Janus, another God of boundaries, as can be seen from Proclus’s Hymn to Hekate, Janus and Zeus.
In this hymn, the first to be invoked is the Mother of the Gods, generally considered to be Rhea. Proclus says of Rhea that “the cause of generation, has proceeded from Her principle, having received the rank of mother among all the paternal orders and introducing the Demiurge before all the other Gods, the universal Demiurge and the inflexible safe-keeper.” He goes on to say “Concerning Rhea, the generative source, from whom all divine life, intellectual, spiritual and mundane, is generated, the Oracles speak as follows, ‘Truly Rhea is the source and stream of blessed and intellectual (realities, Because She, the first in power, receives the birth of all beings in Her inexpressible womb and pours forth (this birth) on the All as it runs its course”.
So in Proklus’s Hymn, Rhea, Hekate and Janus/Zeus are mentioned together: first the Mother, then the median principle of the World Soul and then the Father and Demiurge.
Proklus’s Hymn to Hekate, Janus and Zeus
“Hail, many-named Mother of the Gods, whose children are fair
Hail, mighty Hekate of the Threshold
And hail to you also Forefather Janus, Imperishable Zeus
Hail to you Zeus most high.
Shape the course of my life with luminous Light
And make it laden with good things,
Drive sickness and evil from my limbs.
And when my soul rages about worldly things,
Deliver me purified by your soul-stirring rituals.
Yes, give me your hand I pray
And reveal to me the pathways of divine guidance that I long for,
Then shall I gaze upon that precious Light
Whence I can flee the evil of our dark origin.
Yes, give me your hand I pray,
And when I am weary bring me to the haven of piety with your winds.
Hail, many-named mother of the Gods, whose children are fair
Hail, mighty Hekate of the Threshold
And hail to you also Forefather Janus, Imperishable Zeus,
Hail to you Zeus most high.” 
In summary, Hekate is an important Goddess who has many roles. She is the Goddess of crossroads and thresholds, who holds the keys to the gates of Heaven and to Hades. She is a Goddess who dwells in the darkness, but brings light, shedding light on and guiding us through the mysteries. As a goddess of thresholds, She is an intermediary between us and the Gods, as an advocate, and leading us to virtue and to the Divine light of the Gods. She aids us through all transitions, as a Goddess who holds the keys to the three worlds, but dwells in the “middle place”, the intermediate between the unmanifest and the manifest. She is the Goddess of the liminal, of boundaries, where paths and forces converge. She is honoured at the dark of the moon, in that space where one lunar month has ended and the next is about to begin. Hekate can guide us through and help us to understand the mysteries.
On a more mundane level, Hekate guards the threshold of our homes, along with Hermes and Apollon Prostaterius (Apollon standing before the door) and Apollon Horion (Apollon of the limits, of boundaries).
Penta Sponde (five libations) Offering to Hekate
Homeric Hymn to Hestia – light candle
Purify water with flame
Aperging with water and bunches of rosemary.
Orphic Hymn to Hekate:
I call Einodian Hecate, lovely dame,
Of earthly, wat’ry, and celestial frame,
Sepulchral, in a saffron veil array’d,
Leas’d with dark ghosts that wander thro’ the shade;
Persian, unconquerable huntress hail!
The world’s key-bearer never doom’d to fail;
On the rough rock to wander thee delights,
Leader and nurse be present to our rites
Propitious grant our just desires success,
Accept our homage, and the incense bless.
Begin Chant ΙΑΩ
Changing to HEKATE SOTEIRA
As we are chanting, people take it in turn to pour libations/offerings to Hekate:
2. Almond milk,
3. Honey water,
5. Rose Water.
Other participants may then offer Bay leaves, placed on the altar in the form of a wreath.
Pore Breathing meditation – connecting with the World Soul
Sit in meditative posture and relax body and mind. Visualise yourself sitting in the centre of a Universe that is filled with light, a light that has some substance to it, like a radiant white plasma.
Imagine that this white light is pulsing with energy that is radiating outwards in all directions, and is also pushing in on you from all directions, trying to expand itself into you.
Now imaging your body is hollow and empty, filled with the blackness of empty space.
Inhale slowly and let the vital force expand into you from all directions. Initially you may see the white light and energy coming in through your nose as you breathe in, but remember that we breathe not only through our nose and mouth, but that we also breather through every pore of our bodies. Begin to see the white light entering your body through every pore, your body absorbing it like a sponge.
At the fullest point of inhalation, feel the energy totally filling your body, and see your body glowing brightly, filled with the energy. Allow a natural pause to experience this, but do not hold your breath.
Exhale and push all of the radiant white light and energy back out through your skin with your breath. At the end of the exhalation, you should again be hollow and completely empty.
Repeat this process 10 times.
Now we ask Hekate for Guidance on our paths, what we can do to be the best we can, to achieve Areti:
ὦ φωσφόρ᾽ Ἑκάτη, Ἑκάτη, πέμπε φάσματ᾽ εὐμενῆ.
O phosphor Hekate, Hekate, pempe phasmat evmeni
O torch-bearing Hekate, send visions that are favourable!
Quiet meditation to commune with Hekate and ask for Her guidance.
Μακαρ οστισ ευδαιμων
Τελετασ θεων ειδωσ
Βιοταν αγιστευει και
Εν ορεσσι Βακχευων
Makar hostis efdaimon
Teletas theon eidos
Viotan agistevei kai
En orresi Vakcheaion
Blessed are they who, being fortunate,
And knowing the rites of the Gods
Keep their souls pure
And are initiated
Into the Rites of Bacchus
Evohe, Evohe, Evohe
Hail Hekate, Soteira, Blessed Maid
Embodiment of Arete
Hail Hekate, Soul of the World,
Advocate, and Queen of Mystery
Hail Dionysos, Lord of the Mysteries,
Who gives the Aithir of Wine
Hail Hera, Mother of Life,
Hail Zefs, King Divine
May we receive Your Divine blessings wherever we go
Yaenito, Yaenito, Yaenito, Yaenito!
Thargelia is a Spring Festival which honours Delian Apollon, as the Great Purifier, and also honours Artemis and Demeter. The first fruits of the earth are offered to the God in token of thankfulness, preceded by a purification ritual. In the Athenian Calendar, the festival was celebrated during the month of Thargelion which generally falls around May. The seventh day of every month was sacred to Apollon, who is known as Aevdomayaensis (born on the seventh day) with the 6th being sacred to Artemis, as Artemis was said to have been born the day before her twin brother Apollon, and 6th and 7th of Thargelion were celebrated as the birthdays of Artemis and Apollon respectively.
The name Thargelia has been translated as “first loaf” or “pot of grain”. Jane Harrison, in Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (p. 78), says :
“about the meaning of the word Thargelia there is happily not the slightest doubt. Athenaeus quotes a statement made by Krates, a writer of about the middle of the 2nd Century B.C. in his book on the Attic dialect as follows: “the thargelos is the first loaf made after the carrying home of the harvest”. Now a loaf of bread is not a very primitive affair, but happily, Hesychius records an earlier or at least more rudimentary form of nourishment: Thargelos he says, is a pot full of seeds. From Athenaeusagain we learn that the cake called thargelos was sometimes also called thalusios. The Thalusia, the festival of the first-fruits of Demeter, is familiar to us from the lovely pictures the Seventh Idyll of Theocrites.”
The Thargelia therefore was likely to have been a festival celebrating the first fruits of the harvest, where Demeter was also honoured, as well as being a purificatory festival and celebration of the Yaenethlia of Apollon. In the UK, the grain is not ripe at this time of year, but some vegetables may be harvested in May. Fields of oil seed rape are in bloom, bees are busy collecting their nectar, and the gifts of Demeter can be seen all-around. A loaf of bread (don’t use the same dough that you used for the Pharmakoi if you have put negative thoughts into it) may be made and offered, or dish of sweetened boiled barley with fruit and nuts.
In modern times, in the Orphic tradition, using the Orphic Zodiacal calendar, the 21st May is celebrated as the birthday (Yaenethlia) of Apollon. it is the date we enter the Zodiacal month of Didymi, or Gemini, which in the Orphic tradition is ruled by Apollon. The birthday (Yaenaethlia) of Artemis is therefore celebrated on 20th May. A festival to honour the birthday of a God is called an Aepivatrion, and so the Aepivatrion of Artemis is 20th May, and the Aepivatrion of Apollon is 21st May. Prior to celebration of the Aepivatrion of Artemis, the purification of the Polis was carried out, beginning with sacrifices to Demeter Chloe, and two people, generally one male and one female (though the exact nature of the ritual, the people chosen and what was done to them change dover the years), were chosen as a kind of scapegoat sacrifice, called Pharmakoi. These two people, were fed at public expense and treated well until the day of the purification ritual, when they were either killed as ritual sacrifices (in earliest times) or beaten and or driven outside the boundaries of the Polis, taking the miasma and sins of the Polis with them. In modern times we don’t of course use human sacrifices, but the Pharmakoi can be represented by bread people or biscuit/gingerbread people. These scapegoats can be thought to carry all our faults, follies and miasma that we have accumulated over the year, and rather than purifying the Polis, we purify ourselves and our household (Oikos). Kneading the dough when making the images can be a very effective way of putting one’s negative energy into it, as you are pummelling it and beating it. A chant of some kind as you are kneading can help focus. I use something like:
As I mix this blessed dough
All negativities into it go
Absorbing all my anger, hate
Faults, transgressions, sins abate
Emotional, mental, spiritual affray
And physical illness I send away
Go into these Pharmakoi
This sacrificial girl and boy.
I give you my….
I give you my …
I give you my …
Yaenito! Yaenito! Yaenito!
The dough is then formed into one male and one female figure, and baked. A ritual may then be performed on the 19th May, whereby the Pharmakoi are anointed with olive oil, given offerings of food and wine, in a meal you share with them, and then removed from the home and burned or cast into a river. Do not eat them! prior to casting them out, you may take them to the boundaries of your property and instruct them to leave your Oikos forever, taking al miasma with them. I walk round carrying them saying something like “I have walked with you, I have lived with you, I have feasted with you, now go, leave me and my home forever”.
Before the Pharmakoi ritual, make offerings and prayers to Demeter.
On 20th May offerings to Artemis are made and prayers to her are recited. As well as using the Orphic Hymns, you could write Her a birthday poem or prayer celebrating her birth.
On 21st May offerings and prayers are made to Delian Apollon. The Orphic Hymn to Apollon, and the Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollon, which tells of His birth, may be read. Purificatory meditations may be practised, and artwork or songs offered.
Hellenismos as a Living Tradition relevant to the UK
As a young child my bedtime reading was the Greek myths. I was fascinated by tales of Gods and Heroes, of how the natural world was inhabited by nymphs and daemons and by how closely entwined the realms of Gods and mortals were. The Gods walked on earth, consorted with mortals, heroes and heroines became deified and became themselves Gods, and others shape changed into flowers, trees or animals, merging with the natural world, and giving their names to the flowers, trees or other concepts, which they became, – such as Narcissus, who falling in love with his own reflection in the river, thinking it was a beautiful water nymph, was transformed into the narcissus flower which grows by the river, bending ever over the water to gaze upon its own reflection; and the Mountain Nymph (or Oread) Echo, who loved Narcissus, but ignored by him due to his love for himself, and cursed by Hera for her deception of the Goddess, such that she could only repeat the last words that another person had just said, pined away, and faded until she was but a voice, echoing what others said. At the same time, the myths contained wisdom and lessons about life, the importance of virtue and the heroic quest, of piety, of honour, the dangers of Hubris or excessive pride, of self-obsession, of greed and other human vices, and the common pitfalls that could befall mortals. The human condition is explored to its full in the Greek myths. What was also apparent was how much of our everyday language comes from Greek mythology, words such as echo, atlas (from the Titan Atlas who carries the heavens upon his shoulders), cloth (from Clotho, the youngest of the three Fates, who spins the thread of life), hypnosis (from Hypnos, the God of sleep), Ocean (from Okeanos, the God of the rivers and seas) and many more. Greek mythology and the Greek Gods are inherent in our very language and culture.
As I grew older and went to high school, I began to study English literature and poetry, and again, the Greek and Roman deities appeared, from Chaucer to Shakespeare, to Byron and Keats, and even in modern poetry. Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, written in the 14th Centure CE, tells of the Greek hero Theseus, though embellished with the values and chivalry of medieval England. Shakespeare’s epic poem Venus and Adonis is based on Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and presents contrasting views of love and passion, with an Elizabethan veneer. Lord Byron wrote The Curse of Minerva whilst in Athens, to express his vehement disapproval of the removal of the Elgin marbles from Greece (the Romantic poets didn’t distinguish between the Greek and Roman pantheons as many modern pagans do today), and was so enamoured with Greek culture, that he joined the Greek War of Independence to help the Greeks fight against the Ottoman Empire, such that he is still revered as a National hero by many Greeks today (including the teachers of my Hellenic tradition). I have always felt that there is a strong connection between British culture and the Greeks, and the Hellenic path has certainly been with me for as long as I can remember. I think I knew of the Hellenic Gods before I heard of Jesus or the Christian God, and most certainly well before I knew anything at all about the Celtic or Saxon Gods.
When I went on to University and began a Humanities degree, I studied the works of Plato, and Classical Greek tragedies and Comedies, such as the works of Euripides, Aeschylus and Aristophanes, and I was hooked.
Throughout my life I felt particularly drawn to Dionysos, the God of Wine, with all his contrasts – He who is perhaps the most human of Gods, but also the most Divine, who teaches the mysteries and brings us liberation. When I began to seek out pagan groups in my late teens, I was surprised that given the influence on our culture and language of the Greek and Roman religions, that there were very few pagans in the UK who actively worshipped or celebrated the Hellenic Gods. Those who were eclectic in practice would sometimes include them amongst other deities in their rituals, but few seemed that interested, inclining more towards what they deemed to be “’native” traditions such as Celtic or to a lesser extent Saxon or Norse, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that so much less was known about those traditions or deities. However, being a seeker of wisdom and generally interested and curious in a lot of things, I explored many different paths throughout my life, both Eastern and Western. I explored Buddhism and Hinduism, which I still have a lot of respect for, trained as a Priestess in the Fellowship of Isis, was initiated in Wicca, which I pursued as my primary path for many years, explored Druidry and spent a year or so studying Heathenry, and of course, living in Wales for the past 30 years, studied the Welsh Celtic tradition. But the Greek Gods continued to call to me, and I wanted to honour them not just as part of an eclectic Wiccan or neo-pagan tradition, but to explore more traditionally Greek ways, with every holiday to Greece I had, increasing that desire. We are lucky that so much literature and archaeology has survived from Ancient and Classical Greece – though so much more has been lost, destroyed and burnt by Christian fanatics from the time of Constantine onwards. But nevertheless we have a wealth of literature, myths, philosophy, plays, hymns and ritual texts, as well as material remains. Far too much for the religion to ever have been destroyed completely! What’s more the philosophies continued to be developed in the works of the Neo-Platonists over the following centuries up to the present day. In my research and search for others who honour the Hellenic Gods, after encounters with various Reconstructionist groups (mainly American), I came across people who practice a tradition passed down and practiced through generations, that has developed organically and naturally though the ages, though firmly rooted in the myths, philosophies and spiritual practices of the ancient mystery traditions. This is not the same as Hellenic Reconstructionism which attempts to re-create the mainstream rituals and religious practices of Ancient and Classical Greece, but is a tradition which includes ideas and practices which have developed through the philosophical schools throughout the centuries, but based on the mystical traditions known as Orphic.
Hellenismos refers to the native religions of Ancient Greece, whereas the term Hellenism refers to a love of or study of anything Greek. Orphism is a mystical tradition or traditions within Hellenismos, based on the teachings of Orpheus, the famous musician who was said to have calmed wild beasts with his music, even lulling Cerberus the guardian of Hades, and charming stern Queen Persephone and mighty Plouton, the Goddess and God of the Underworld. Orpheus may or may not have existed, we have no actual proof of his existence, but a number of myths and legends, and writings, texts and philosophies which are considered to be Orphic. Orpheus is said to have reformed Greek religion, and to have put an end to human sacrifice. He may well have tried to put an end to animal sacrifice too, but this was far too ingrained in Greek culture and he was unsuccessful, though many texts refer to the followers of Orpheus as being vegetarians, and Orpheus is often depicted surrounded by animals, suggesting his love for and care of animals. If Orpheus existed, it is likely that he lived around 2,000 BCE or earlier, and may have been of Thracian origin. In images he is generally portrayed wearing a Thracian hat. Some scholars believe that Orphism was a precursor not only to the Classical Greek religions and the great philosophical traditions of Ancient Greece, but also gave rise to the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions (see Ralph Abraham, Orphism: The Ancient Roots of Green Buddhism at ralph-abraham.org). Theosophists (and some Buddhists) believe that Orpheus was a previous incarnation of the Buddha, teaching a philosophy of peace and benevolence. So what are the teachings of Orphism? Orphism and Hellenismos have survived and
The author on the steps of the Temple of Apollohn in Cyprus
developed through the works of the great philosophers, from ancient times, throughout the ages to the present day, particularly Pythagorus, Socrates, Plato, and the Neoplatonists. The Greeks are a nation who have always been proud of their past, their philosophers, myths, temples, architecture, sculpture, and all those largely Pagan things which Greece is famous for. Paganism/polytheism was therefore never entirely stamped out by Christianity in Greece, but carried on in the art and philosophy, the retelling of myths, and in folk practices. Paganism just went more underground. The Neoplatonist philosophers during the Christian era had to at least be nominally Christian, though evidence exists that pagan practices and beliefs carried on in secret. The C14th CE philosopher Georgius Gemistus Plethon, for example, a Greek scholar of Neoplatonic philosophy during the heavily Christian Byzantine era, and Chief Magistrate of Theodore II, founded a Mystery School in which he taught polytheism, and his students prayed to the Olympic Gods. After his death, manuscripts were found which he had not made public, due to their what would be considered then, heretical nature. His Nomon Singrafi, or Nomoi (Book of Laws) detailed his esoteric beliefs, and discussed daemons, astrology and the transmigration of the soul. He recommended religious rites and hymns to petition the Classical Gods, such as Zeus, whom he saw as universal principles and powers. The document was unfortunately destroyed due to its “heretical” nature. Plethon’s friend Marsilio Ficino, an Italian scholar and Catholic Priest, was one of the most influential humanist scholars of the early Italian Renaissance, reviver of Neoplatonism, and the first person to translate the Orphic Hymns, as well as the writings of Plato, into Latin. Although there are some fundamental differences between Neoplatonist philosophy and that of Orphism, Neoplatonism does preserve some Orphic ideas, and it is likely that just as the Neoplatonist philosophers may have been outwardly Christian, but practiced their pagan religion in secret, that so did other less well known Greeks, and that Orphismos and Hellenismos survived through family traditions passed down in secret through the generations.
The author’s garden altar
Side by side with the continuation of philosophical and hidden family traditions in Greece and Rome, the theurgic tradition first developed by the philosophers, developed further through its contact with other religions and mystery traditions. The neoplatonist philosophers were heavily influenced by the Chaldean Oracles and their Middle Eastern ideas and deities. Following the persecutions of pagans by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, the neoplatonist school firstly was influenced by Christianity, and the philosophers had to be at least nominally Christian, or to adapt their philosophy so that it wasn’t overtly Pagan, but talked more of The One, whilst still developing meditative and theurgic practices. But persecutions continued, and following the subsequent closing down of the Platonic Academy by Emperor Justinian in 529 CE, the Neo Platonist Philosophers fled to Persia, where they were welcomed by the Persian Philosopher King, and met Sufi, Asian, Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Jewish mystics. From this meeting of different traditions, the theurgic practices were developed and refined, and the first Hermetic school was formed. Hermeticism was later brought back to the West and influenced Renaissance magic and the Western Mystery Tradition. So Western Magic is also heavily influenced by Greek thought, as is every other aspect of our culture.
In Orphic tradition the Nativity, Epiphany or birth (Genethlia) of Dionysus is celebrated in the evening of 24th December, and is the beginnng of 12 days of ritual worship of Dionysus the Saviour, and with each day one of the Olympian Gods (and their Divine Consorts) is also honoured. In Orphic myth, Dionysus has two (or three) births hence He is known variously as the Twiceborn (Digonon) or Thriceborn (Trigonon) God.
In His first birth He is born to Persephone, as the infant Zagrefs (Zagreus), sired by Zefs (Zeus). This first birth is known as the first influence of Zefs. Zefs united with Persephone in the form of a serpent, and from this union Zagrefs was born. Zefs was pleased with his son and enthroned him, naming Him as his successor, and gave him His thunderbolts and sceptre, and presented him to the Gods as their king. But, spurred on by the jealousy of Ira (Hera), the Titanes (Titans) smeared their faces with gypsum, and lured Zagrefs away and distracted him, giving him seven toys, referred to as the toys of Dionysos, such that He put down His thunderbolts and was unprotected. One of these toys was a mirror, and Zagrefs became fascinated by His reflection in the mirror, and whilst he was distracted by His own reflection, the Titanes grabbed him and prepared Him for a sacrifice, cutting Him into pieces with knives, but carefully preserving his heart and limbs. Then they took the remaining pieces of his flesh and roasted them on spits and each ate a portion. Zefs smelt the burning flesh and sent Athena to rescue the still beating heart. Athena took the heart of Dionysos Zagrefs to Zefs in a silver casket, and Apollohn took the limbs of the child and interred them at Mount Parnassus. Zefs then struck the Titanes with a thunderbolt and from their ashes He fashioned the races of mortal beings, who have immortal souls, from the essence of Dionysos Zagrefs, but also the sinful flesh of the Titans and are chained to a sorrowful cycle of births and deaths. But in His compassion, Zefs also conceived of a solution to the problem of the sufferings of mortal life.
Zefs made a potion from the heart of Zagrefs, and gave it to Saemaeli to drink, and She became pregnant with Dionysos. Saemaeli was the daughter of Kadmos and Armonia, Armonia being the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares. Zefs fell in love with Saemaeli and promised to grant her anything she desired. Ira, having discovered the affair between Her husband and the girl, convinced Saemaeli to ask Zeus to appear to her in the same form that he appeared to Ira in. Zefs was unable to refuse this request because he had made an oath, and appeared with all his lightning and thunder. Saemaeli was burned up by His divine flames, but wreaths of ivy grew around the babe in her womb, protecting Him from the flames, and Zefs rescued the baby, and sowed him up into his own thigh, until He was ready to be born, to teach the mysteries and free mortals from the cycle of births. Thus was born Dionysos Aelefthaerefs, Dionysos the Liberator.
It is this second, (or third) birth of Dionysos that we celebrate on 24th December, and it is known as the second influence of Zefs. The date is set not according to the Roman calendar, but according to to the Hellenic Zodiacal Mystic calendar. It is the fourth day of the fourth month of the Mystic Year, the month of Aigocaerus, or Capricorn , ruled by Iphaistos, the Smith God who governs the Natural Law of Morphe or form. It is on this fourth day of the fourth month, which falls on the evening of 24th December, that we celebrate the first appearance of the God in the world, the influence of Zefs on the soul, and fulfilment of Zefs’s divine providence.
On the Twelve Days of Dionysos we recite hymns and make offerings to Dionysos Aelefthaerefs each day, as well as to the Olympian of the day and the divine consort of the Olympian, beginning with Aestia (and Iphaistus), who rules the first Orphic month of Libra on 24th, then Ares (and Aphrodite) on 25th, Artemis (and Apollohn) on 26th, Iphaistos (and Aestia) on 27th, Ira (and Zefs) on 28th, Poseidon (and Demeter) on 29th, Athena (and Aermes) on 30th, Aphrodite (and Ares) on 31st, Apollohn (and Artemis) on 1st January, Aermes (and Athena) on 2nd January, Zefs (and Ira) on 3rd January, and finally, Demeter (and Poseidon) on 4th January.
Happy Gaenaethlia Tou Dionysos!
A Song for the Birthday of Dionysos (to the tune of Deck the Halls)
In a basket, lowly, hidden
Sweetly sleeps the newborn king
Born a saviour, come to free us
And to Earth great joy to bring
Watched over by nymphs and satyrs
Away in the mountains wild
To lead us all to joyous rapture
Dionysos, Divine child
Dionysos, Dionysos, Dionysos Divine Child
Lead us on to joyous rapture
Dionysos Divine Child
TO ALL THE BLESSED ONES
By Ariadni Rainbird
Oh blessed gods to Thee I pray
Eos who heralds the light of day
Spreading with joy your rosy glow
Awaken my mind, my body and soul
Oh gracious Goddess of the dawn
Through Thee each new day is born
As rises high the Golden Sun –
Helios the all-seeing one
Oh Mighty Titan, Lord of light
Who rules the day with unconquered might
Watch over me lord, I plea
And steer me on the path of piety
Theia Euryphaessa’s Mighty Son
– The Far Shining Goddess of inspiration
And who’s Father is Hyperion
– Lord of light, the All High One
Oh Titans, powers of natural law
Forefathers and mothers of natures awe
I call on Thee – expand my soul and mind
Great Iapetus, ancestor of mankind
Thou who governs mortality
May my life be true, just, and worthy
Thǽmis, Divine Law, Justice and Truth
Of Oracular power, giver of sooth
Mother of the blessed Horai
And Who bore by Zefs the holy Moirai
Eunomia, Dike, Eirine, never cease,
In giving Wise counsel, justice and peace
Clotho, Lachesis and Átropos, fates dread,
Spinner, measurer and cutter of life’s thread
Prometheus too was sprung from Thee, Titans great
Who’s name means Foresight, seeing our fate
Who brings progress and the holy fire
That illumines our minds and sparks our desire
To create and to grow to learn and problem solve
Who with Blessed Dioni helps us evolve
Oh Dioni, Oracle and prophetess,
Sister to Phoebe, Mnemosyne and Themis
Each Titan and Titaness with a unique role
In awakening and stretching the human soul
Okeanus, the river that around the earth flows
Firstborn Titan from whom Gods and men arose
Help us connect to the source of our being
The waters of life forever overseeing
The Okeanides are Thy blessed daughters
With Tithys, Mother of rivers, clouds and fresh waters
I give honour to Thee Gods of primal creation
Accept my offerings and adoration
Kreios who measures the temporal portions of the year
Let me tread the path with a heart with no fear
Thou who governs the stars, and beginnings anew
Let me face each beginning with a heart that is true
And Blessed Mnemosyne, Thee I beseech
To bless me with memory and the power of speech
For time destroys all, yet itself is immortal
Whilst memory preserves, and opens the portal
To a life that’s divine, blessed and free
I call on the bright one, the Goddess Phoebe
In whom the sources of oracular ability we find
And Coeus, Titan of the questioning mind
By Coeus, Phoebe bore Astæría, the starry one, bright
Goddess of falling stars and oracles of night
Who, bore Hekate, the holy dark maiden,
Goddess of Virtue who reveals what is hidden
And Phoebe by Coeus also Leto bore
Who bore the divine twins, on Delos’s shore.
And I call on great Rhea, mother and queen
And Kronos who ruled the Golden age supreme
Who wears the crown and holds the rod
That passes the power from God to God
First great Phanis from the cosmic egg emerged
The egg created when Chronos and Ananke merged
Time and Necessity in sacred elation
Forming the cosmogenic substances of creation
To reveal the mysteries in all their glory
Phanis, the revealer, the beginning of the story.
Both male and female, Oh being of light,
From Thee came Nyx, Goddess of night
Who holds the mysteries in her dark cave
And to whom Phanis the rod of kingship gave
All potentials of the Universe are Thine Goddess profound
And Phanes’s light reveals the forms that are found
Nyx, Whom the Gods consult and of whom all are in awe
Dark Lady of mysteries, Thee I adore.
I give honour too to Thy Divine progeny
Ouranous the foundation of divinity
The abode of the Gods, whose aetherial nature whirls
through the cosmos and permeates our souls
Panypertatus Daemon the most exalted and high
Accept my offerings, Lord of the Starry Sky.
The rod of Kingship was passed to Thee
The progression of aether coming to be
And to Gaia, Earth Mother, of Queenly form
from whose womb all earthly life is born
Fertile goddess with prolific powers
Producing grain, fruits and flowers,
To Thee all mortal life owes its birth
I honour Thee Mother, with love and mirth
From Oranous and Gaia the race of Titans were born
And Kronos took the rod and the crown
And Kronos and Rhea in turn, with grace
Produced Zeus and Hera, and the Olympian race
The personal Gods whom we adore
Who govern every natural law.
Hestia firstborn, who tends the sacred flame
The fire at the centre from whence all came
Who sets into motion the soul on its path
The Demiurge, the first and last,
Ares who rules the battle which is life
Thou who thrives in times of strife
Give me the courage to face life head on
To go bravely into the battle throng.
And Thy daughter Eris, Goddess of Strife
Who rules the challenges that bring growth in life.
Artemis, lithe, swift huntress of souls
Give me the energy to achieve my goals
With your silver arrows aiming true
You help the souls progression to virtue.
Hephaestus, God of crafts and archetypal flame
Mighty and strong, skillful, though lame
Giving beauty and form, making manifest
Ideas and aspirations, the goals of our quest
Hera, beautiful queen of the skies
Noble and regal with wide open eyes
All seeing, Goddess who torments the soul
With challenges to make us whole
Yours is the law of Eros, attraction
That stimulates human and divine interaction.
Poseidon, Lord of the sea and of storm
The law of progress is Thy dominion
The journey is Thine, God of travel and horses
As you help ships to stay on their courses.
Grey eyed Athena, who art crafty and wise
Who Sprung from Zeus’s head armed and full size
When He swallowed Thy Mother, Metis, of good sense.
You rule the law of co-influence,
And fair Aphrodite, Goddess of love
Who brings harmony from the heavens above
Bring peace to our hearts, lightness and Joy
Mother of playful Eros, the winged boy
Whose arrows shoot straight to the heart and inspire
The flames of passionate love and desire.
Next I praise Golden haired Apollohn bright
God of music, science, Art and light
The Natural Law of freedom is Thine
Liberate me, lead me to the life divine.
And to Hermes too I offer up my praise
Messenger of the Gods, with wiley ways
Guide of souls with winged feet
Guide me when my life is complete
Son of Maia, Violet-haired Goddess of the Spring
Loveliest nymph Who takes care of every living thing.
Zeus, Thundering God, who rules the skies
All is seen by Thy divine eyes
Lord of life in the realm divine
The earth and all that lives is Thine
Demeter who gives us the grains and the seeds
Oh Blessed Mother who cares for our needs
Bringer of peace, who taught mankind the skills
To plough and to sow, to rid us of ills
Oh Queen of the Earth, of abundance and growth
Energise our souls to move towards divine truth.
And Thy blessed daughter Persephone,
Plouton’s Kthonic Queen, Holy Kore
Soteira, Saviouress, daughter of Zeus
First Mother of Dionysos as Zagreus
In Plouton’s dark realm you spend half the year
All who know Thee face death with no fear
Though to Thanatos too I call
On whom the measure of our lives must fall
I pray Thee not in haste to take my last breath
But when it comes, to grant a peaceful death
I call on Great Aesclepius, healer of mankind
And Hygiea, – bless me with good health, Goddess kind.
Panacae, Goddess of Universal Cure
Give me strength when sickness I endure
Aid me to recuperate O Iaso
The healing process is Thine, Oh Acaso,
Aglaea, Splendour and Beaty from Thee are poured
When glorious health is once more restored.
To Plouton the keys to earth’s mysteries belong
In Thy dark kingdom, deep and strong.
And for Lord Dionysos I carry the rod tipped with pine
Who teaches the mysteries and gives the aethir of wine
Thrice-born God crowned with ivy and vine
Liberator, saviour, God of ecstasy divine
And wise Ariadne you took to wife
Who teaches the mysteries of the labyrinth of life.
To the nurses of Dionysos I also pray
To Ipta, Great Mother who hid the babe away
To Leucothea, protector of the divine child
And to Palaemon, doomed to dwell in oceans wild
To Chiron, best of centaurs, gentle and wise
Healer and teacher, with the power to civilize.
And to Silenus, wise satyr, teacher and guide
And to Pan who is Nature, in whom we abide
Earthly, aetherial, watery, firey, whole
The substance of all, and all are of Thee, Great soul.
To Phisis, all parent, ancient and divine
Mother of all, all sustaining, all life is Thine
To the nymphs, to the Satyrs, to the Nereiads and Dryads
To the Korybantes, Kouretes, Oreads and Naiads
And to the Great Mother of the Gods, Meter Theon
Source of life whom all depend upon
To the Anemoi, the winds, Boreus the North’s icy blast
Notus’s hot and humid clouds from the south are cast
From the West are blown Zephyrus’s sweet breezes, bringing flowers,
Whilst from the East Eurus brings Autumn rain and showers.
And swift-footed Iris, robed in the rainbow
Lighting the darkness with many-hue’d glow
Herald of Hera, glory of the sky
Blazing a glorious trail as You fly.
And fair Adonis loved by Persephone and Aphrodite
Who engages the soul with thought of absolute beauty
The Goddesses hearts with love are burning
For Beauty is The object of every love’s yearning.
And as the daylight fades and night draws near
And the silver light of the moon and the glow of stars appear
I call on Selene, blessed Queen of the Night
All-seeing Goddess, diffusing silver light
Shine on me I pray with Thy prosperous rays
Watch over me through the night and accept my praise.
Agathos Daemon, noble spirit, bring wisdom and good health,
Come with Tyche Agatha, pouring forth a fruitful store of wealth.
And as I prepare myself for sleep
I call on Hypnos, my soul to keep
Thou who takes away cares, and gives repose
From whom healing and peaceful rest flows.
And I call on the Oneiri, Blessed powers of dreams divine
May peaceful and inspiring dreams be mine
Morpheus, shape my dreams, whisper gently to my mind
The will of the Gods and of heaven kind.
That I may wake refreshed and inspired I pray
To greet the dawn another day
Theurgia is one of the Four Pillars of Orphismos, and refers to communication with Deity through ritual and meditative practices. Making offerings to the Theoi and reciting hymns and prayers is one form of Theurgia, but there are also more contemplative practices, such as quieting the mind in order to allow for direct experience of the divine, breathing exercises which energise the body and soul and work on inner energies. Such meditative practices are generally thought of as being Eastern, rather than part of Hellenic religion, but there is evidence that such meditative theurgic practices were part of Hellenic practice in the past, but that the specific practices have been lost. The philosopher-physician Praxagora for example, discussed the role of pneuma in the body, theorising that this breath-energy had multiple mental and physical functions, much like the Hindu concept of Prana. Stoic philosophers also talked of pneuma, and included it in their cosmology and cosmogenesis. Plato also talked of pneuma, and Aristotle discussed how pneuma is absorbed. At the time that these ideas were coming together in Greece, yogic and Ayurvedic philosophy was developing the same ideas. In the West, this tradition continued in philosophy and early Roman alchemy. However, due to Christian oppression, the development in the Western world was not allowed to continue, and much was lost. Just as Theurgia is one of the Four Pillars of Hellenismos, Theurgia itself may also be seen to have Four Pillars. The following description is summarised from The School of Divine Science website http://www.thedivinescience.com/category/articles.
There can be said to be four main components of theurgy – Theoria, Therapeia, Muesis and Teletas.
Theoria, from which we get the word Theory refers at the outer level, to the investigation of knowledge. However, the “theo” in theoria meansGod, and the theory is therefore about knowledge of the Divine. Ora means speaking, so theory can be said to mean “speaking about divine matters”. IN its internal, mystical dimension, theories the basis and root for several other terms, translating as “seeing”, “viewing a spectacle” and “shining”. The mystical component of theoria thus refers to meditation. Theoria therefore refers to both knowledge and meditation, and particularly the knowledge and wisdom which comes through meditation.
Therapeia, from which we get the word Therapy refers at the outer level to obligatory religious rites, which lead to purification, reform or resolution. In Platonist terms however, it indicates living in righteousness as a general rule (and its therefore closely connected to the Pillar of Areti – ed). Devotional practices of any kind of custom, together with the honest attempt to live a virtuous life through religious practice or personal ethics are encompassed in this term.
Muesis, according to Proclus, is the condition of the seeker as opposed to the adept, and refers to having the eyes shut (from muo-), as opposed to the adept who sees with eyes open. This item can be see to refer to initiation, the portal which the seeker passes through, with spiritual practice, and acceptance into a set of teachings. The rites of initiation themselves are psychologically powerful and transformative, and a transference of power or authority may occur. This is closely connected to the last Pillar of Theurgia, Teletas.
Teletas refers to the sacred rites which are learned following initiation. Before the time of the philosopher Iamblichus, Theurgia was often called “telesiourgia”, which meant “the workings of perfection”. Telos means total and utter completion and perfection. The rituals of teletas are intended to bring about a union of the inner world, outer world and “vast world” simultaneously.
A DAILY MORNING PRACTICE
Set up a simple altar or shrine, with an image of divinity such as a statue or picture or a God/Goddess or both. This may be a deity or deities you feel particularly drawn to, or the deities who rule the zodiacal month, deities of house and home (such as Hestia or the Agathas Daimon) or solar deities such as Ilios (Helios), Apollon or Eos, Goddess of the Dawn. Have a seat, cushion or chair in front of the altar, covered with a linen or cotton cloth, or use a prayer mat on the floor. The prayer mat, or linen/cotton cloth should only be used to sit on for spiritual/theurgic practice.
First thing in the morning on waking up, do some stretches to wake the body up, wash or shower and have a cup of herbal tea with a little honey. Mint is good to wake up and cool the body’s energies, to allow the solar energy to flood in. Honey creates a gentle salve for the throat and helps open the airways.
Sit in fronton the altar/shrine and light a candle and some incense. A short prayer to Hestia may be said as you light the candle, such as “blessed Hestia, bring light to my home and heart”. Joss sticks or incense cones are fine for the morning practice and probably more suitable than charcoal ad powdered incense as it will not be a full blown ritual but a short daily meditation and greeting of the Sun. Open the meditation session with the Orphic Hymn to Iohs (Eos), followed by the Orphic Hymn to Ilios (Helios):
Hear me, O Goddess, whose emerging ray
Leads on the broad refulgence of the day;
Blushing Iohs, whose celestial light
Beams on the world with reddening splendours bright:
Angel of Titan, whom with constant round
Thy orient beams recall from night profound:
Labour of every kind to lead is thine,
Of mortal life the minister divine.
Mankind in Thee eternally delight,
And none presumes to shun Thy beauteous sight
Soon as Thy splendours break the bands of rest,
And eyes unclose with pleasing sleep oppress’d;
Men, reptiles, birds, and beasts, with general voice,
And all the nations of the deep, rejoice;
For all the culture of our life is Thine.
Come blessed power! And to these rites incline:
Thy holy light increase, and unconfined
Diffuse its radiance on Thy Mystics mind.
Hold both arms outstretched and recite or sing “Ie Paean, Ie Paean, Ie Paean” (Hail Great Healer)
Hear Golden Titan, whose eternal eye with broad survey, illumines all the sky,
Self-born, unwearied in diffusing light, and to all eyes the mirror of delight:
Lord of the seasons, with Thy fiery car and leaping coursers beaming from afar:
With Thy right hand the source of morning light, and with Thy left the father of the night.
Agile and vigorous, venerable Sun, fiery and bright, around the heavens you run.
Foe to the wicked, but the good man’s guide, o’er all his steps, propitious you preside:
With various founding, golden lyre, ’tis Thine to fill the world with harmony divine.
Father of ages, guide of prosperous deeds, the worlds commander, borne by lucid steeds,
Immortal Zefs, all-searching, bearing light, source of existence, pure and fiery bright.
Bearer of fruit, almighty God of years, agile and warm, whom every power reveres.
Great eye of Nature, and the Starry Skies, doomed with immortal flames to set and rise
Dispensing justice, lover of the stream, the world’s great despot, and o’er all supreme.
Faithful defender, and the eye of night, of steeds the ruler, and of life the light:
With founding whip four fiery steeds you guide, when in the car of day you glorious ride.
Propitious on these mystic labours shine, and bless Thy suppliants with a life divine.
Hold both arms outstretched and recite or sing “Ie Paean, Ie Paean, Ie Paean” (Hail Great Healer).
Bring hands together at base of sternum/solar plexus, and bow head in reverence.
Sit in silence for a few minutes, observing your thoughts. Sit with back straight and eyes closed or half closed. Quietly observe your thoughts without becoming involved in them or becoming attached to them. Acknowledge each thought, and let it go. Don’t try and force thoughts out or to forcefully empt the mind, just be a passive observer. If you find yourself getting lost in your thoughts and wondering off, just remind yourself to gently let those thought go, and to carry on observing your mind. Adopt a position of detachment from the thoughts and the feelings behind them. Let thoughts and feelings rise, and let them go. Continue with this practice for 5 or 10 minutes, or as long as you have available.
Following the observation of thoughts, begin a breathing meditation. breath in to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 4, and exhale to the count of 4. Then breath in to the count of 4 again (don’t hold the breath on the exhale). Continue this rhythmic breathing. Visualise a bright light surrounding you and purifying the space around you. As you breathe in, breathe in this white light. As you hold the in-breath, feel the white light filing and purifying you. As you breathe out, breathe out all impurities within you as a thick black smoke. Continue this breathing in white light and breathing out black smoke, until the black smoke becomes less and less dense, and eventually you are breathing out white light as well as breathing it in. Rest in the white light and feeling of peace and energy.
End by saying
“Hail Dionysos, Lord of the Mysteries, who gives the Aethir of Wine,
Hail Ira, Mother of Life, Hail Zefs King Divine
Let me have energy and vigour where ‘ere I go
Yaenito, Yaenito, Yaenito, Yaenito”
I’ve always liked the Hymn Jerusalem, by William Blake, with music by Hubert Parry. The tune is lovely, its upbeat and powerful, and there is some powerful imagery in the words, but the actual sentiments are not really something I can relate to. I’ve been trying to come up with a spiritually acceptable version of it for quite some time, but have been drawing blanks, then it occurred to me, to adapt an Orphic Hymn to fit the tune, rather than trying to de-Christianise the song. There are a few lines within the original which have always made me think of Apollohn (Bring me my bow of burning gold.. etc), so I thought the Orphic Hymn to Apollohn would be the best one to fit, as I could keep and adapt some of Blake’s lines, though the rest would be the Orphc Hymn. So here it is:
Orphic Hymn to Apollohn/Jerusalem mash-up
O Blessed Paean, come to my prayer
Illustrious Power whom we revere.
Slayer of Titys, God of health
Lyconean Phoebus, source of wealth,
Come with Thy countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills
Beyond the darkness, starry-eyed
Earth’s root is fixed firm by Thy will
With golden lyre, the fields from Thee
Receive their rich fertility
Bearer of light, the Muses head
Noble and lovely, with arrows dread
O Delian King, who’s illumined eye
Views all within, and beneath the sky,
Who’s locks are gold, and oracles sure,
Who’s omens good and precepts pure.
Hear me entreat for human kind
Hear, be present with benign mind
For Thou surveyest the boundless all
And every part of this earthly ball
Abundant blessed, thy piercing sight
Extends beneath the gloomy night
Tis Thine all nature to inspire
With music of Thy harmonizing lyre
All strings now tuned to sweet accord
Divinely reverberate each chord
Immortal lyre, touched by Thee
Yields a Dorian melody
All nature’s tribes, their difference owe
And changing seasons from Thee flow.
Hence mixed by Thee in equal parts
Summer and Winter in alternate dance
Come with Thy bow of burning gold
Come with Thy arrows of desire
Come with Thy lyre, O clouds unfold
Come with Thy chariot of fire
O two-horned God, the winds Thou send
The seal of the cosmos, Thine to tend
Hear me blest Lord, in these rites rejoice
Save Thy mystics with a suppliant voice
ORPHIC CIRCLE/PENTAGRAM RITE
This is not a traditional Orphic practice, but something I came up with as a formulaic ritual which can be performed without the need for any equipment or paraphernalia, and can be used to strengthen one’s connection with the Gods, as a learning and memory exercise, to cleanse and purify a space, for protection, healing, banishing negative energies and thoughts, and all the things the Ritual Magick Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram can be used for. In my past Craft and Ritual Magick training, I used to use the LBRP as a quick banishing/cleansing rite, which was easy to perform wherever I was – a standard formula, which once learned needed no preparation or equipment. However, the LBRP is firmly based in a Hebrew Monotheistic theology, using names of God and the archangels, which doesn’t really fit in with my beliefs or practices, and I have tried in the past replacing the Hebrew names with various Hellenic Gods, but it never really seemed to fit. I did some research and found a few different versions of the Pentagram ritual calling on the Hellenic Gods – one by Israel Regardie in his book The Middle Pillar, and another by John Opsopaus, The Olympic Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, as well as others focussing on particular Hellenic Deities. But none of them really seems to fit with Orphic practice, and I decided that something different was needed. Then, whilst performing my daily practice one evening, as I was lighting the 12 candles dedicated to the 12 Olympians, and dedicating each candle, reciting the names, powers and zodiacal correspondence of each, it occurred to me that this could be used as the basis of an Orphic Circle/Pentagram ritual, rather than trying to fit the Gods into the four quarters, as adaptations of the LBRP do. In some ways this rite is more akin to the Runic Circle created by Freya Aswynn, another formulaic rite which I learned and practiced during a time that I was exploring the Northern Tradition. I wanted to make it less ceremonial, and more Orphic. Less about commanding the forces, and more about connecting with the Gods, and the purity, healing and wholeness that brings. I have kept the use of the Pentagrams in the ritual, because the Pentagram is a Greek symbol of wholeness, health and blessings. It should be noted that this rite is not designed to replace traditional Orphic ritual, offerings, prayer and devotional practice, which should I believe take priority. It is designed as an additional, formulaic rite for use when needed.
The Pythagorean Pentacle
Some notes Extracted from: (http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/PP/index.html)
The Pentagram and Hexagram were both used for protection in ancient Greece. The Pythagoreans used it as a sign of recognition, and called the pentagram Υγιεια (Hugeieia or Hygeia), which is usually translated as “Health”, but also means something like “soundness” or “wholeness”, or can be used to signify “Divine blessing”. See the following link for a pronounciation guide http://atticgreek.org/pronunc/practiceUnit6.html The word is associated with the Latin words Vegetus (lively, vigorous) and Vegeo (to quicken). The Pythagoreans also used the greeting “Be sound/whole/blessed!” (Υγιαινε, Hugiaine!) (see Scholia in Aristoph., Nubes 609; Lucian, Pro lapsu 5). Hugeieia (Hygeia) is also the Goddess of Health, (Salus is the Roman equivalent).
The Pythagoreans apparently labeled the points on the Pentagram with the Greek letters ΥΓΙΕΙΑ, arranged counterclockwise from the top point (Allman, 1889, Greek Geometry from Thales to Euclid), arranged thus: Υ-Γ-Ι-ΕΙ-Α, but sometimes the letter Θ replaced the ΕΙ, perhaps because when handwritten, the letters epsilon and iota (ΕΙ) could resemble a theta (Θ). Examples are also found where the letters are placed clockwise round the pentagram.
The letters labeling the points of the Pentagram are the first letters of Greek words for the Elements:
Υ (U) Υδωρ (Hudor) Water (same as in Welsh!)
Γ (G) Γαια (Gaia) Earth
Ι (I) Ιδεα (Idea) Form/Idea or Ιερον (Hieron) a Divine, holy thing
ΕΙ (EI) Ειλη (Heile) Sun’s warmth or Θ (Th) Θερμα (Therma) Heat
Α (A) Αηρ (Aer) Air
Aristotle described Four Qualities or Powers: Wet, Hot, Dry and Cold, which produce the properties of the Elements
Fire = Hot+Dry. The Four Qualities comprise two dualities: Hot/Cold (Active) and Dry/Wet (Passive)
As the Qualities are shared by pairs of elements, they fall on four lines of the Pythagorean Pentacle. E.g. Wet corresponds to the line connecting Water and Air, Hot connects Air and Fire, Cold connects Water and Earth. Dry connects Fire to Earth (cutting out Idea or Spirit, which remains separate to the “mundane” elements).
The above referenced article goes into lots more correspondences of the Pentagram, with life stages, planets, the Functions of the Self, Colours, Directions etc. This is overly complicated, and unnecessary for the purpose of this rite. The main point is that the Pentagram is a Greek symbol of wholeness, health, soundness and Divine Blessing, containing and balancing all the Elements and the Qualities or Powers. The correspondences of the points of the Penagram are different to those used in modern Ritual Magick or Craft, but it is not necessary for the purpose of this ritual to worry about the correspondences of the different points, just to be aware of the overall symbolism of the Pentagram, and why it is used.
Mentally prepare – take 3 deep breaths and breath out stresses.
Stand with right palm held above Crown centre
Greet the Gods of Creation (Divine Kings and Queens):
Hail Phanes, Hail Nyx, Hail Ouranus, Hail Gaia, Hail Kronos, Hail Rhea, Hail Zefs, Hail Ira, Hail Elefthereus Dionysos!
Greet the Olympians:
Hail Aestia! Hail Ares! Hail Artemis! Hail Iphaistos! Hail Ira! Hail Poseidon! Hail Athena! Hail Aphrodite! Hail Apollohn! Hail Aermis! Hail Zefs! Hail Dimitir!
Hail Mighty Pan who is Nature, Hail AEkati, Advocate of the Virtuous!
Hail AErohs, who flows between Gods and Mortals!
Hail to All the Blessed Gods, too numerous to name, who adorn and bless our world and lives!
Pour a libation or make an offering if you have one available, or make a personal dedication.
Face East, with two fingers of right hand draw down light from heaven, moving hand from above head to touch two fingers to forehead, intoning:
Bring light to ground, lowering hand to base chakra level, intoning
Touch right shoulder, visualizing beam of light coming from distance in the right and passing through your right shoulder, intoning
Touch left shoulder, visualizing light passing through your body and out through left shoulder and beyond, intoning
Clasp hands in prayer position over heart, intoning
Facing East inscribe a banishing pentagram in the air, beginning at bottom left point and moving clockwise, up to top point, then down to bottom right, finishing at bottom left again. Then inscribe a circle around the Pentagram, anticlockwise from top, intoning
Visualise a pillar of fire beyond the Pentagram (if feeling particularly visual, see the image of Aestia within the pillar of fire). Hold hands palms forward in greeting and intone
AESTIA, KINESIS, ZYGOS
Turn slightly anticlockwise to North East East (NEE). Repeat pentagram and circle with intonation of HUGEIA
Visualise pillar of fire (may visualize Ares within it). Hold hands palms forward in greeting and intone
ARIS, ZOI, SKORPIOS
Turn to NNE, repeat pentagram and circle and intonation of HUGEIA, gestures and visualization of pillar of fire (visualize Artemis) and intone
ARTEMIS, AENAERYEIA, TOXOTIS
Follow same procedure around the circle with intonations as follows:
N: IPHAISTOS, MORPHI, AIGOKAEROHS
NNW: IRA, AEROHS, YDROKHOOS
NWW: POSEIDOHN, PROODOS, IKHTHEIS
W: ATHINA, ALLILAEPIDRASIS, KRIOS
SWW: APHRODITE, ARMONIA, TAVROS
SSW: APOLLOHN, AELFTHAERIA, DIDYMI
S: AERMIS, KINESIS THEOS, KARKINOS
SSE: ZEFS, ZOI THEOS, LAEOHN
SEE: DIMITIR, AENAERYEIA THEOS, STAKHYS
Stand Facing East and repeat the Orphic Cross.
End by reciting:
O Blessed Gods about me, bright Thou art,
Thy power and glory burns within my heart
This place be cleansed and free from ill intent
O purifying fire from heaven sent
All about is clear and all is pure
Shine on Thy mystic, with countenance demure
For I am a child of Earth and Starry Sky
And of the race of Gods am I!
Hellenismos refers to the native religions of Ancient Greece, whereas the term Hellenism refers to a love of or study of anything Greek. Orphism is a mystical tradition or traditions within Hellenismos, based on the teachings of Orpheus, the famous musician who was said to have calmed wild beasts with his music, even lulling Cerberus the guardian of Hades, and charming stern Queen Persephone and mighty Plouton, the Goddess and God of the Underworld. Orpheus may or may not have existed, we have no actual proof of his existence, but a number of myths and legends, and writings, texts and philosophies which are considered to be Orphic. Orpheus is said to have reformed Greek religion, and to have put an end to human sacrifice. He may well have tried to put an end to animal sacrifice too, but this was far too ingrained in Greek culture and he was unsuccessful, though many texts refer to the followers of Orpheus as being vegetarians, and Orpheus is often depicted surrounded by animals, suggesting his love for and care of animals. If Orpheus existed, it is likely that he lived around 2,000 BCE or earlier, and may have been of Thracian origin. In images he is generally portrayed wearing a Thracian hat. Some scholars believe that Orphism was a precursor not only to the Classical Greek religions and the great philosophical traditions of Ancient Greece, but also gave rise to the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions (see Ralph Abraham, Orphism: The Ancient Roots of Green Buddhism at ralph-abraham.org). Theosophists (and some Buddhists) believe that Orpheus was a previous incarnation of the Buddha, teaching a philosophy of peace and benevolence. https://orphismosuk.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/orpheu-ceb5surydice.jpg?w=300 So what are the teachings of Orphism? Orphism and Hellenismos have survived and developed through the works of the great philosophers, from ancient times, throughout the ages to the present day, particularly Pythagorus, Socrates, Plato, and the Neoplatonists. The Greeks are a nation who have always been proud of their past, their philosophers, myths, temples, architecture, sculpture, and all those largely Pagan things which Greece is famous for. Paganism/polytheism was therefore never entirely stamped out by Christianity in Greece, but carried on in the art and philosophy, the retelling of myths, and in folk practices. Paganism just went more underground. The Neoplatonist philosophers during the Christian era had to at least be nominally Christian, though evidence exists that pagan practices and beliefs carried on in secret. The C14th CE philosopher Georgius Gemistus Plethon, for example, a Greek scholar of Neoplatonic philosophy during the heavily Christian Byzantine era, and Chief Magistrate of Theodore II, founded a Mystery School in which he taught polytheism, and his students prayed to the Olympic Gods. After his death, manuscripts were found which he had not made public, due to their what would be considered then, heretical nature. His Nomon Singrafi, or Nomoi (Book of Laws) detailed his esoteric beliefs, and discussed daemons, astrology and the transmigration of the soul. He recommended religious rites and hymns to petition the Classical Gods, such as Zeus, whom he saw as universal principles and powers. The document was unfortunately destroyed due to its “heretical” nature. Plethon’s friend Marsilio Ficino, an Italian scholar and Catholic Priest, was one of the most influential humanist scholars of the early Italian Renaissance, reviver of Neoplatonism, and the first person to translate the Orphic Hymns, as well as the writings of Plato, into Latin. Although there are some fundamental differences between Neoplatonist philosophy and that of Orphism, Neoplatonism does preserve some Orphic ideas, and it is likely that just as the Neoplatonist philosophers may have been outwardly Christian, but practiced their pagan religion in secret, that so did other less well known Greeks, and that Orphismos and Hellenismos survived through family traditions passed down in secret through the generations. The Orphic/Hellenic tradition presented here is one which has been practiced by families in Greece, and up until recently has been little known outside Greece, but passed on from individual to individual. It is not a reconstructionist religion, and does not aim to re-create the past, or to do things exactly the way they were done in the past, but has developed through time. There are secrets and mysteries which can only be taught on a person to person basis, and will not be presented here, but I aim to present a summary of the basic philosophy on these pages. This site will also contain some of my own thoughts, ideas and syncretic practices, and I will distinguish between what is part of the tradition, and what is my own, or syncretic. So, what is Orphismos all about? Lots of information about Orphismos/Hellenismos may be found at http://www.hellenicgods.org
A good place to start is to understand the basic foundations of Hellensimos. The following is a brief summary of the page from http://www.hellenicgods.org regarding The Four Pillars of Hellenismos:
THE FOUR PILLARS OF HELLENISMOS
1. AKOI(Ah-koh-ee) “Things heard”. This relates to the traditions, stories of the Gods, the myths, rituals, practices and philosophical viewpoints. We accept these things as heritage and are enriched by their beauty, but they must come under the eye of Philosophia. Belief (Pistis) is subjective, and not genuine knowledge. AEpistimi is knowledge.
2. Theurgy. This is communication with Deity through ritual. We are attracted to the Gods as something of great beauty. Communion with the Gods in a formal setting is called Thaeorgia.
3. Philosophia. This is the love of wisdom, and refers to intellectual work which endeavours to discover genuine truth and wisdom, and to challenge our own ideas. This is not self-justifying philosophy aimed at justifying our ideas, but the raw philosophy of Socrates. We attempt to expose the ego, that which takes sides and skews arguments in favour of the defines of preconceptions, rather than the actual perception of reality as it is. So, on the one hand there is what we are taught, the tradition, AKOI, and actual experience of reality on the other, how well we understand the Kosmos, and function within it. Religion without this raw philosophy is belief-based and insubstantial, and Hellenismos without philosophy is a religion of favours and propitiation. If our perception of reality is skewed and incorrect, then our actions follow, and we act badly. If our perception is accurate, we are able to act with more effect.
4. Araeti, Virtue. This is not “the pursuit of glory” as many understand the word, nor is it the Aristotelian list of various excellences, nor is it the Latin “virtis” which is more virility and strength. Areti is the source from which all virtues are generated. Plato said that virtue is a type of harmony of the soul, a type of consent between one’s emotions and one’s reason. Plato also described four principle manifestations of Areti: i. Courage or fortitude (Andreia or Thrasos) ii. Temperance or Moderation (Sohphrosyni) iii. Wisdom (Phronisis) iv. Justice (Dikaiosyni). These are the Four Cardinal Virtues of Classical Antiquity. The achievement of Areti is putting one’s own ambitions aside in favour of what reflects the Natural Laws. It involves the development of perspective in relation to one’s place in the Kosmos, and putting that realisation into action, developing the human conscience, and progress of the soul. The gift of the achievement of Areti is the most pleasing gift we can give to the Gods, all other offerings, such as incense, flowers, wine, are all just symbolic. Areti is exceptional because its effects are significant and far-reaching. The Gods desire us to achieve Areti, and endeavour to help us. So, we discover our religion, and by AKOI we enter the tradition. By Thaeorgia we develop relationship with Deity and strengthen out resonance with the Natural Laws. We apply Philosophia to attempt to become rational and develop wisdom (Sophia). We integrate these into our lives to develop Areti.