Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pine Cone Ornaments

For those who may be interested in making pine cone ornaments for a Pan tree, here is how we did them at HTAZP this year.

First, decorate a bunch of pine cones, which we had done at Panaia:



Then, find some sort of decorative pipe cleaners.  Our hieros had found some that actually looked like pine branches and others that were gold.  Wrap a pipe cleaner around the top tier or so of one of your pine cones:



Then bring the two ends together and twist them to form a secure loop:





And there you have it: a pine cone you can hang on your Pan tree or wherever you wish.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Anthesteria

Anthesteria is a 3-day festival to Dionysos. The first day celebrates His birth, the second his wedding to Ariadne, and the third celebrates his descent to the underworld to retrieve His mother Semele, who had died during His birth. All of the dead are said to take advantage of this opportunity to venture out of Hades' realm, and so thanks is also offered to Hermes for guiding them back.

Anthesteria 2014

Anthesteria 2017


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rural Dionysia

The Rural Dionysia is a celebration of the several ways in which Dionysos has survived attempts to destroy Him.  In ancient times, part of this celebration involved a procession with a large phallus, representing the one part of Him that Athena saved from the Titans.  In modern times, there are many innovative ways to carry on the spirit of this tradition. 

Kheimonia

The Kheimonia is our celebration of the changing of seasons at the Winter Solstice.  As it is a time marked mainly by the position of the sun in the sky, Helios, and therefore also Selene, are honored.  At the Hellenic Temple of Apollon, Zeus, and Pan, we also honor the temple Patrons at this time. 

Over the years, this festival has grown to encompass Demeter's Haloa and the Rural Dionysia as well, and so cakes and candies representing life-giving organs are made, and a very Dionysian ring-toss (ahem) has become a traditional game.  In the interest of both including these elements and not excluding children of temple members, this has become a two-part festival, with the first half of the day being child-friendly and the latter half adult-oriented.

This is separate from the Pompaia, during which we ask for protection during the winter.  Instead, this is a celebration of the change of season and the return of lengthening days.

Kheimonia 2013

Kheimonia 2014

Kheimonia 2016

Dendraia

Because pine is Pan's sacred tree, some Pan children have seen it to be appropriate to decorate a tree in His honor, particularly during the time of year when the "polis" at large is also decorating pine trees.

HTAZP holds a festival and informal ritual on this date to celebrate this event. As the reason the pine is sacred to Pan relates to the nymph Pitys, she is also honored on this occasion.

Each participant brings an ornament for the tree, and libations of spring water are made to help keep it healthy if a live tree is used.  In 2011, we used pine cones that had been decorated and offered at Panaia as part of the decorations as well.  Suggestions for how to make such ornaments can be found here.  It is ideal for a potted tree to be used, however if this is impractical, a false tree or cut tree can be used, provided that the tree be thanked for its sacrifice.

Dendraia 2011

Dendraia 2012

Dendraia 2013

Dendraia 2014

Dendraia 2016 (part 1)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pompaia: Protecting the House

The ancient Pompaia was a procession around the city with a Dion Kodion, a sheepskin blessed to Zeus which absorbs miasma.  The modern observance may utilize a similarly blessed fleece or perhaps an item made of wool dedicated for that purpose.  Various other offerings are also made to Zeus asking Him to be gentle during the coming winter months.

Writings also suggest Hermes, or at least His staff, was also involved in this festival.

Pompaia 2011

Pompaia 2012

Pompaia 2014

Panaia: Pan's Birthday

The Panaia is a modern festival celebrating the birthday of Pan.  The actual date is Maimakterion 1 (following the ancient calendar) and therefore the exact date can change based on the lunar cycle.  The festival starts with a theoxenia to Pan with the main offering typically being lamb.  Pine cones may be decorated to be put on Pan's tree at the Dendraia, His next festival, and games may be played. A drum circle or other musical offering is often a part of the celebration as well.

Panaia 2011

Panaia 2012

Panaia 2013

Panaia 2015

Panaia 2016

Oskhophoria

The Oskhophoria is celebrated on 8 Pyanepsion and is a festival of Dionysos and the grape/wine harvest.  This is also the time when Dionysos comes to Delphi and Apollon leaves to go to Hyperborea. 

The traditional observance included a procession led by two young men who dressed as women to honor Dionysos' androgyny.  A modern observance could thus include dressing for ritual as the opposite of one's usual gender presentation. 

Wine offerings, common at many festivals, are particularly appropriate for this one.

Oskhophoria 2011

Oskhophoria 2012

Oskhophoria 2013

Puanepsia

On the 7th of Pyanepsion, the Athenians celebrated the Puanepsia in honor of Apollon and the harvest.  During this festival, a bay branch called the eiresioni was decorated and then brought around the city by children singing songs.  This branch (or branches) was placed upon people's doors for good luck throughout the year.  A stew of beans and grains called panspermia (similar to the thargeloi offered at Thargelia) was offered to Apollon.

In the modern celebration, the eiresioni is made by gluing bay leaves to a branch or wreath along with ribbon, yarn, cotton or wool pieces, and sometimes even dried or false fruits.  A theoxenia for Apollon is held where the main offering is a stew made from boiled vegetables, beans, and rice.  (A Greek lemon soup is very appropriate.)

Puanepsia 2011

Puanepsia 2012

Puanepsia 2013

Panagon: Games in Honor of Pan

Around this time in ancient Athens, the Athenians honored Pan with a torch race, thanking Him for His assistance at the Battle of Marathon.  The modern festival may include an actual torch race (if space permits) or a different game which is dedicated to Pan.  The winner of the game is given a prize to bring to his or her personal shrine and then a theoxenia is held in honor of Pan.

Panagon 2011

Panagon 2012

Panagon 2013

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Genesia

Genesia, sometimes spelled Genesios, is an Athenian festival of the dead.  On the Athenian calendar, it takes place on 5 Boedromion.  It has connotations of remembering those fallen in battle, so on the modern calendar in the US, it may make sense to observe it around Memorial Day or Veterans' Day.  Alternately, as Wicca, several other Pagan faiths as well as other non-Pagan faiths frequently observe remembrance of the dead at the end of October, it may make sense to observe the Genesia at this time.

At HTAZP, we've done a bit of all of the above.  We have held a ritual to Athena and Ares in honor of those fallen in battle near Memorial Day or Veterans' Day, and we have also held a more widely-focused ancestor ritual on the last Sunday of October.

May 2012

October 2012

November 2013

October 2016

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Founder's Festival

This festival is in honor of the founding of the Hellenic Temple of Apollon, Zeus and Pan. On this date, offerings are given to the temple patrons, and a theoxenia is held in their honor. Games and contests are also played. Later on in the day, the Neokoros spends personal time in the temple space with the Gods, in order to plan out the events of the coming year.

Founders Festival 2012

Founders Festival 2013

Founders Festival 2014

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pharmakhos

The pharmakhos (plural: pharmakoi) started out hisorically as a human scapegoat.  Today, those who practice this ritual as part of the Thargelia tend towards a more symbolic approach.  At HTAZP, this has taken the form over the years of dolls made of raffia or paper cutouts.  These can be imbued with the things participants wish to banish (bad habits, negative relationships, though never actual people) a number of ways, including writing those things down and placing them into or on the dolls.  The dolls, which are never named but simply referred to as the pharmakhoi, are then ritually burned.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bouphonia

The Bouphonia, sometimes spelled Buphonia, is a festival for Zeus that historically involved the slaying of an ox to purify the temple. Another name for the festival is the Dipolieia.

Bouphonia 2013

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hephaisteia

A festival of Hephaestos celebrated with a torch race (Parke, 1977, p. 171; Simon, 1983, p. 53) as well as choruses, processions, and offerings of cattle (Simon, 1983, p. 53).

References

Parke, H. (1986). Festivals of the Athenians. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Simon, E. (1983). Festivals of Attica: An archaeological commentary. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press.

Skiraphoria

This is a festival that has had much conflicting scholarship on its origins.  Some texts suggest it may have been a women-only festival while others suggest that the all-women's component was a concurrent but separate festival for Demeter and Kore.  The Skiraphoria is named for the Skiron, a large, white sun-shade, carried in procession to honor Athena, Poseidon, and the Sun.  A priest of Helios, a priest of Poseidon and a priestess of Athena led this procession.  This is believed to have symbolized the need to build shelter as this was considered a propitious time to build.  It is often considered a festival primarily to Athena, though Poseidon's inclusion due to His cult at the Acropolis, is unsurprising.  The inclusion of the Sun is puzzling (Parke, 1977, 156-169).

Another interpretation of the festival is that it was about reconciliation between Athena and Poseidon, with Helios as the one who witnesses all that happens under the light of the sun and bears witness to all oaths overseeing the day.  This interpretation gives some context to the footrace of men from Poseidon's temple to Athena's carrying olive branches.

Skiraphoria 2015


Reference

Parke, H. (1977). Festivals of the Athenians. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Elaphabolia

A festival to Artemis as Huntress.  Originally, offerings were of deer, but as they became more scarce, it became the custom to offer cakes in the shapes of deer.

Elaphabolia 2015









Reference
 
Minai, T. (2007). Dancing In Moonlight: Understanding Artemis Through Celebration. Hubbardston, MA: Asphodel Press.

Mounikia

The Mounikia arose from the following tale:  a bear that dwelt about Artemis' temple in Athens was killed.  Artemis was displeased and sent plagues among the people.  They consulted the Oracle at Delphi to learn what they had to do to placate Her, and they were told that someone must sacrifice their daughter.  Her father dressed a goat up to look like her, and offered it instead.  Artemis accepted the offering, and the town celebrated the removal of the plagues with dancing and cakes "shining all around" that were meant to look like full moons.  This lunar aspect of the festival relates to Artemis shining Her protection on the city of Salamis.


Mounikia 2015







Reference
 
Minai, T. (2007). Dancing In Moonlight: Understanding Artemis Through Celebration. Hubbardston, MA: Asphodel Press. 

Poimeia

A modern festival celebrating Pan as God of shepherds.  It is often celebrated as part of the modern Spring Festival, Eiarinia.

Poimeia 2015

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Aphrodisia

The Aphrodisia celebrates Aphrodite as the Goddess of Love, beauty, sensuality and romance. Participants may ask for Her blessings upon their relationships and special make up or jewelry may be consecrated at Her altar. Offerings of cookies, cakes, and other sweet desserts are made to Her along with roses and other flowers that She might like.

To go by the Ancient Athenian Festival Calendar, this would be celebrated on 4 Hekatombaon, generally falling in mid-to-late July on the modern Gregorian calendar.  At HTAZP, we celebrate the Aphrodisia around the time of Valentine's Day, as that is when the Polis at large (the society in which we live) is celebrating love, romance, and sensuality.

Aprhodisia 2012

Aphrodisia 2013

Aphrodisia 2014

Aphrodisia 2015

Aphrodisia 2016

Aphrodisia 2017


Gamelia

Also known as the Theogamia, this festival celebrates the marriage of Zeus and Hera.  At HTAZP, we celebrate by first bathing the statues of Zeus and Hera separately then adorning them with wedding finery.  They are then honored with thusia and theoxenia.  A sample ritual by Timotheos can be found here.

Appropriate offerings would include wedding-related items, such as rings, as well as things considered sacred to each Deity.

Gamelia 2012

Gamelia 2013

Gamelia 2014

Gamelia 2015

Gamelia 2017


Thusia

Thusia - sacrifice to the Gods, primarily the Olympians, in the context of ritual.  Sacrifice to the Kthonic Gods is referred to as enagisma. 

For a more in-depth discussion of the role of sacrifice in Hellenic Polytheism, see Notes on Hellenic Worship, excerpted from the book Old Stones, New Temples by Drew Campbell.

Diasia

The Diasia is a festival in honor of Zeus Meilikhios.  Meilikhios or "Easily Entreated" is the title for Zeus in His underworld aspect. Each year in Ancient Athens, sacrifices were made to placate Him so that a good harvest could be had. On this day we honor Zeus by offering Him cakes in the shape of bulls and snakes (Zeus' sacred animals).

In modern times, animal crackers are offered to Zeus, asking that He be kind to us through the rest of the winter and to relieve us of any guilt we have acquired. Following this is a theoxenia for Zeus where worshippers share in His fellowship. It is also customary on this date to give gifts to children as Zeus Meilikhios is considered to be the protector of children.  At HTAZP, this has traditionally included activities such as a teddy bear drive for the local children's hospital or Project Smile.

Another element of this festival is the making of kathiskos or ktesios jars to be used in the home for protection of stored foods from spoilage.  How often these are emptied and the contents changed varies from one household to the next, but creating and dedicating a new jar for usage throughout the year is often done at this time.

Diasia 2012

Diasia 2013

Diasia 2014

Diasia 2015

Diasia 2016

Diasia 2017

Diogennia

The Diogennia is the celebration of Zeus' birth.  The date is a bit hard to fix, as it was observed at different times in different regions.  There are, in fact, two main tales of His birth, the Cretan and the Arcadian, not to mention several variations on how He was raised thereafter and by whom. 

In modern times, specifically at the Hellenic Temple of Apollon, Zeus, and Pan, we tend to observe His birth not long after the Kheimonia or Winter Festival and before the Theogamia/Gamelia.

Appropriate offerings include amber incense (always good for any offering to Zeus), candles and/or golden bowls to recall the light in the cave on Crete where He was born in one of the primary myths, and crowns in honor of His position as King of the Gods.  Honey features prominently in food offerings, relating to the light in the cave as well.  If you are more drawn to honor the Arcadian myth, offerings related to wolves would be appropriate, as He was worshipped there as Zeus Lykaios.

Diogennia 2011

Diogennia 2012

Diogennia 2013

Diogennia 2014

Diogennia 2015

Diogennia 2017