As always, there is lots going on!
I missed this year's Diasia, but the altar to Zeus Melikhios is still up. Between one thing and another, we didn't manage to pull together a teddy bear/stuffed animal drive for the festival as has been our tradition, but it's something we hope to return to next year.
Today, we had the Eiarinia/Spring Festival, in which we honor all the Gods and Goddesses who have festivals in the Spring, such as Apollon, Artemis, Demeter, Gaia, Persephone/Kore, Dionysos, Pan, and Zeus. As you can see, we included a hyacinth plant to honor Apollon's love for Hyakinthos, something we tend to include in whichever Spring festival falls when hyacinths are accessible.
I can't seem to quite make that go in a straight line, but that is, essentially, the left-to-right of the main altar space, which was placed for the first time in the hearth outdoors. It was a bit chilly to stay outdoors for the feasting, but it was a great experience being able to hold ritual outside.
We also had a new area set up to honor Hades and Persephone, which is where Persephone started out before bringing Her to Her mother in the main space. This is the opposite of what we had done at the Fall Festival, when She left Demeter to join Hades.
Basic Ritual Structure
We had a guest today, from the Druidic tradition, which was an excellent reminder of how different our rituals are from those of other Pagan groups, as she observed with some amusement that this was the first time she'd ever thrown barley at Deity statues. With that in mind, I'm including some reference info for those who may be wondering what to expect when attending a Hellenic ritual.
Our temple rituals have evolved over the years while keeping some core Hellenic traditions: Procession, purification, thusia, and theoxenia.
- First, we gather outside the ritual space and process in with someone bearing a basket that holds the ritual tools and some of the offerings, someone bearing a torch to light the way, someone bearing incense, and everyone else bearing various offerings of food, drink, etc.
- We process around the working altar (unlike in some traditions, direction does not matter other than how the space best seems to work).
- We purify ourselves, each person pouring khernips over the hands of the next.
- We light Hestia's hearth, which (and this is very much an HTAZP-specific approach) is done in two rounds. First we each light a candle representing bringing our fires from our home hearths to the temple hearth. Next, we light candles for those who would wish to be present but cannot, ending with the hieros (priest) lighting a candle for any others in the Hellenic community and the larger Pagan community who might wish to be included but have not been named.
- The hieros invokes the Deities of the festival, and we offer Them barley which is thrown or strewn on the altar before Them.
- Any food, libations, and other offerings are presented.
- Then we feast in the Gods' presence, maybe play games or watch a movie, as feasting, games, and drama were part of many festivals.
- When it comes time to disperse, we close with a final libation to Hestia and the Agathos Daimon.
Not all Hellenics do things quite the same way, so here are some other sites to check out if you are interested.
Do you have any thoughts or ritual ideas you'd like to share? Please do so in the comments!
Our schedule has been shifted around a bit due to circumstances in various people's lives, and so the next festival, Delphinia, is likely to be towards the end of April. Our first group of students in training for priesthood continue with their work, and there is another naming coming up soon as well. Also, it's early, but people are already making plans for this year's Rhode Island Pagan Pride.
That's it for now.