Tag Archives: Hestia

Ode to Thirteen Goddesses

Lovely Persephone, ruling over the hosts of Hades
You bring solace, both above and below
Assuaging the barrenness of Winter, Death and Time

Indomitable Rhea, in the face of all adversity You smile
For You are the Lioness, whose prowess is known
In the hearts of those who labor on

Well-loved Columbia, Lady of sweet freedom
Whose strong arms enfold us in warmth
Glad are we by Your presence
And in Your absence left cold

Wild Artemis, running along rivers
Protectress and Huntress of beasts
We honor Your fierce glory
And stand awed by the might of Your Bow

Indelible Ariadne, Lover of Madness, Speaker of Truth
Your lessons are those we find within us
Of Will, and Wisdom, and love’s fickle moods

All-encompassing Gaea, O vastness of Earth
Who is at once Mother and Grandmother
Eternal Creatrix, we praise You
And embrace You at our end

Luminous Hekate, Light at the Crossroads
Tending the unwelcome spirits
Even these have purpose among Your retinue
As we hail them in passing

Compassionate Athena, Lady favoring strategy over brute force
We are the wheels You set in motion
And by our hands is the Divine Work done

Warlike Aphrodite, bane of hearts and Mistress of cruel Ares
You tempt even the strongest of mortals
And Yours is the triumph of procreation

Beloved Hestia, consumed in the flame of enlightenment
Yours is the way of the Unfettered Self
We are but fleeting in the face of Your truth

Illustrious Hera, Queen of Gods, tester of men
Your trials forge character and train resolve
For ego falls away, as Your gaze falls upon us

Resplendent Leto, She of Untamed Spirit
Woe be upon the boasters and fakers
Who with scornful tongues
Will know the peace of Your Offspring

Bountiful Demeter, by whose power Earth’s sustenance is grown
Thank you for the greatest bounty of all
Your Daughter, the Blossom of Spring

Blessed are the Goddesses!  Hail the Magnificent Thirteen!

Simple Pythaea Ritual

For my Sisters, and the benefit of any who were perhaps wanting to celebrate with us, I present one of my Pythaea rituals.  This modern funerary celebration of the power of Apollon as Pythios, the Rotting God, may be held in a variety of ways, however, I have decided to share the most traditionally inspired ritual I can stand.  I think this one is the most widely accessible version I’ve ever done, and so the most worthy of being shared.

Pythaea occurs on the twentieth day of Treasury Month Pytheion (V), which we are currently in, falling upon the Julian date of May 8, 2015.

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The Pythaea

A modern, though traditionally inspired, ritual to exalt Apollon Pythios, He who rules over Death, the Enlightener, who strips away the pretense of the flesh, revealing the untarnished truth, and sending souls forward on their evolutionary paths.

You may find Him in the cemetery, or the mortuary.  You may find Him standing over the roadkill you saw on your morning commute.  Pythios is the Rotting God who commanded the corpse of Python to fall into oblivion, and He is the God whose Temple lies before us, after death.

This is a funerary rite, in which we acknowledge the power of Death, and contemplate Apollon’s role in its implementation.  Death is not an end, but a first step on a journey we can not yet know, just as we may not yet know our enlightenment until we have received it.  But by this rite, may we shed a little of what holds us back.

This ritual is but one example of what might be done for the Pythaea.  Feel free to alter or fix the ritual to suit yourself, and your needs.

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Be washed and dressed in clean, comfortable, perhaps mournful clothing. Then begin by transferring flame from the sacred hearth/candle to a another candle which can be carried to the altar, while saying: “Hestia, who guards the holy fires of the Lord in Pytho, who holds the sacred task of keeping the ever-burning hearth, we/I ask that You bless this rite and consecrate all that is affected herein.”

Alternatively, if you do not keep a sacred flame burning all, most or some of the time, you may instead light and dedicate the flame to Hestia for this ritual specifically, by saying: “Blessed Hestia, keeper of the universal hearth, She who is the nurturer of all flame, everywhere, we/I ask that You bless this rite and consecrate all that is affected herein.”

Here is the procession toward the altar, where all participants gather before walking together, led by you (the facilitator), who carries the sacred flame. The burning candle should be placed on the altar at this time.

Now, you will take a large bay leaf (or a bundle of other preferred herbs) and light it with the newly consecrated flame.  Quickly plunge the flame into the previously prepared bowl of water, saying:  “This water is purified in the essence of Hestia, Virgin Most Holy.”  Khernips are now prepared.

Next, you will asperge (sprinkle with khernips) first the altar and all implements thereon, moving to each participant in turn, yourself included, while circling the altar.  All should hold a prayerful mindset throughout the purification.  A prayer to Apollon the Purifier may also be spoken aloud at this time, if you like.  Example: “Apollon, our Lord called Daphneios, hear the prayer of Your people.  Our Lord called Katharsios, cast out the impurities herein.”  The space is now ritually pure, and the leftover water should be placed outside of the ritual area, to be poured onto the ground later.

At this time, participants should place their offerings upon the altar, each saying a personal greeting to the Lord Apollon as they approach, or they may do so silently.  Offerings for this rite should include a few previously prepared “bodies for cremation” in the sacred fire, in Apollon’s name. These bodies need not be any more complex than paper cut-outs in vaguely human shapes.  Upon these bodies should be written labels of undesirable traits that are relevant to the person(s) present.

Now, you may call to Apollon in earnest, saying (something to the effect of): “Apollon Pythios, our Lord, and commander of the decaying flesh, we/I do call to You, Releaser of the spirit from physical bonds!  Dread Apollon, Most Equitable Pythios, hear us/me and arrive!”  Calls may continue until you feel the Lord’s presence.

Next comes the explanation of the ritual, the reason(s) why you have come and your intent, spoken thus, or similarly: “Apollon Pythios, Lord called Destroyer, He who waits at the brink of death, who rules the transition at the sacred cemetery, we/I have come here to know You, to exalt You, and to be released from our/my bonds, just as You release the pure souls of those lain to rest before Your holy feet.”

You will now hold each of the “bodies” out toward the image of Apollon upon the altar in turn, saying aloud the labels each were given.  Participants will at this time call out any other undesirable traits that they wish to have stripped away by the Rotting God. After all are finished, you will hold the “bodies”, one by one, over the sacred flame until they are consumed.  Any leftovers should be collected in a small bowl for burial later.  During this process, participants, including yourself, should pray intensely and silently to the Lord Apollon. They may also choose to meditate upon Him in this aspect of Pythios, and the lessons which may be learned from Him.

Afterward, you and participants may light incense from the sacred flame to be placed on the altar in offering and thanks to Apollon Pythios for His presence and purification.  Thanks may be verbalized at this time.  Example: “Apollon Pythios, Lord of the rot who wields the all-cleansing light, we/I thank You for Your presence at this rite, and in our/my lives/life. Thank You for the enlightenment You bring, and for the gift of death’s release.  If we/I have ever pleased You, and if You have ever seen fit to assist us/me in our/my turbulent lives/life, then remember us/me as we/I remember You.”

Next, comes the final offering, in the form of libations poured into a separate bowl.  I have determined that the most appropriate libations for this rite are water and wine, though you may use your own discretion in choosing for yourself.  As each libation is poured into the bowl, say something like: “May You receive this sustenance in exchange for Your presence and attention.  Blessed Apollon, we/I thank You.”

At this time, all participants should follow you outside to pour the libations onto the Earth, as well as to bury any leftovers from the “cremated bodies”, and to pour out the used khernips.  Thank Lord Apollon and Lady Hestia one last time to conclude the ritual.  Example: “Lord and Lady of Purest Flame, we/I thank You for the kindness You have shown us/me, and we/I humbly seek to remain worthy of Your Divine intervention.  If it pleases You, stay; if it pleases You go, and be welcome with us/me, always.”

Hail Apollon!  Hail Hestia!  Hail the Blessed, Deathless Gods!

Happy Deipnon!

…Or, How Not to Become Overwhelmed by Circumstance…

Let my opening words be these:  There is a solution for everything.  Don’t panic.

This tale begins Wednesday evening, as I knelt before my hearth, praying to Hestia, the Most Gracious, that She continue to bestow Her gifts upon my household.  As I held the next candle that was to carry Her blessed flame in my hands, I had a small thought that perhaps this candle would prove to be a problem.  It looked fine.  No outward signs of damage.  Looks, however, are deceiving.

I awoke Thursday morning (the Deipnon), probably a bit more chipper than normal, and went about my day.  Having tended to the morning prayers at the hearth, I again looked at the flame burning in the fireplace, and wondered if I ought to switch the candles.  The flame was raging in a way that indicated a there might be an imperfection, but still I ignored it, having so much to do.  I went back upstairs.

When I eventually came down again, I was met with the shock of the year. My hearth flame had gone out.  But I didn’t panic.  I didn’t panic because there is a solution to everything… and because I couldn’t really feel bad about the loss.

I know I’d planned to keep the flame going for at least a year, and yes, I am a bit disappointed about not being able to meet my goal, with the November year-marker right around the corner.  However, there is a very significant part of me that welcomed the end of that particular flame, and here’s why.

That flame came from a grill lighter.  Yep.  That was all I had available during the time I sparked my hearthflame.  I had always wanted it to be a tad more special than that, though.  But I wouldn’t dare snuff my own hearthflame, on purpose, just because I wasn’t satisfied with its origin.

But now, with the flame having consigned itself to a slow, drowning, waxy death, I was finally free to spark the flame I had always wanted.  It all couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time.  I saw the flame had gone out at 11:30 am, and I was out on the back porch by noon, with a new candle, a bundle of bamboo skewers wrapped with crafting wire to keep them together, one of those plastic page magnifiers that you can find at nearly any convenience store, some prayers to lofty Apollon, casting light upon the world, and to Hestia, Who keeps the flames.

When the prayers were completed, I positioned the skewers in a sunny spot on the concrete, then held the magnifier until there was a fine point of sunlight directed onto the skewers.  After a couple of minutes to get the positioning just right, the skewers burst into flames.  I then took another unbound skewer, lit it, and with it, lit the candle.  After another brief prayer, I took the flame inside and put it into its permanent place in the hearth.

There it remains, even now, glowing with an Otherworldly light.  This is not the same light which emanated from the fire sparked by the lighter, last year.  My eyes can perceive a purity from its radiance that just was not present in the other flame.  For this, I am most grateful, for I now have a hearth worthy of containing the pure flame of Hestia, the pure flame sparked from the Sun.

So, my point, is that when I saw my hearthflame had disappeared, I could have panicked.  I could have sobbed.  I could have blamed myself (although, I am to blame for negligence).  I could have taken any number of self-defeatist actions, but I didn’t.  Logic told me that this was an opportunity, and I decided to listen to logic.

When things go awry, don’t sink into denial by rejecting the reality of your circumstance.  Really live it.  Take it in, and let your logical mind uncover the solution that is waiting just outside the grasp of your emotions.  We may always control our reactions to the situations which confront us.  Becoming upset, or hysterical, will not rectify any situation.  Panicking only makes things worse.  So, please, just remember that you are in control of you.

Candles, and Sacred Flames

In mid November of 2012, I made a promise, and began a major commitment to Hestia, Apollon and the spirts of my oikos.  The day I recieved the keys to the new place, I prayed to Hestia while lighting the Hearthfire on a glass pillar candle that I keep inside the fireplace.  I am proud to say that I have, thus far, tended that original flame through countless changes of candles up to the present day.

Everyday, I pray before that flame, and (nearly) every fire that I have needed since lighting it originally, has come directly from that flame.  I seriously have only had to use a lighter once, and that was only because the little kids at my daughter’s birthday party couldn’t stand still long enough to wait for the cake to be lit that way.

This is one of the major perks of being a housewife, I’ve found.  I do not overlook how fortunate I am to be able to stay home and tend the Sacred Flame.  The peace it brings to my home and loved ones is the most wonderful prize of my efforts.  I do have to put effort into maintaining the flame, too.  Even though the candle burns on its own (unlike a traditional hearthfire where you must constantly apply more fuel) it still must be carefully watched, because you never really know if the candle will just suddenly flicker out.  And sometimes, the wick gets pressed up against the glass, weakening it and causing a fire hazard.  So, I have to be here to watch and tend the flame, and it is amazing.

Five months.  Five months, so far, and I hope to keep it up for as long as Hestia and Apollon will allow.  But it is my responsibility.  I must measure and estimate the amount of time each candle will last, which usually tends to be three to five days, depending upon the amount of wax, and any invisible defects.  It is I who must awaken at timed intervals to check the flame.  I must also follow the subtle hints that Hestia and Apollon give to me, like lighting a new candle when one has only burned half-way down, because the next day something falls out of the fireplace, snuffing the flame.  And I am so grateful for Their warnings, as well as Their favor, because I haven’t had very many instances wherein which losing the flame was a real possibility.  A few, but not many.

So, I guess I’m just basking in the gentle purity that radiates from my Hearthfire.  Hestia’s energy, and the quiet contemplation it induces are truly a sign that I am making progress with my efforts.  Of course, progress only fuels my desire to please Them more, so I will continue to be diligent in tending my Sacred Flame.

Tending Apollon’s Hearth

  Homeric Hymn #24: To Hestia

“Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollon, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise–  draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.”

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The goddess Hestia is the foremost deity of the home in Hellenic religion. The first to be born of Mother Rhea, and the last to be spat forth from the belly of Kronos, She is both the eldest and youngest of Their Children.  It was She Who spent the most time within the confines of Her divine Parents’ own Selves.  She alone Who reached the contemplative bliss that would prove necessary for Her reign over the hearth and home.

Now, I do not know Hestia very well yet, but as a Hellenic, I have an obligation to get to know Her… on Her terms.  This means, of course, that I will have to take domesticity seriously.  As a woman who grew up with high-minded Wiccan ideals in a matriarchal family situation, I’ve never really been too inclined toward the role I now fulfill.  And though I never thought I’d be a power-chick, I also never imagined I’d be a housewife.  (I think my actual aspirations were somewhere between secluded priestess and concert violinist.)  It isn’t something that comes naturally to me, hence why I needed to be passed along to our most gracious Lady Hestia.

If you recall, Apollon (along with Lord Poseidon), once courted our Lady for Her fair hand in marriage.  Hestia strikes me, firstly, as a very demure and reserved deity, so that bit of history between Them is none too surprising.  I know that my Lord is attracted to those qualities.  I also know that is precisely why I’ve been encouraged so strongly to strengthen my bonds with Her.

[I realize that since I don’t know Her very well right now, that I may not be seeing all of Her personality.  Forgive me if my understanding of the goddess is as yet a bit one-dimensional.]

The Prince wishes me to study under Her for a while, to gain the poise She exhibits, and the discipline.  He feels these are very specific lessons which I would benefit most from learning under Her care.  And I must agree.  If there is any god(dess) Who embodies the very ideals of demure and discipline, it is Hestia.  It takes a rigorously humbled individual to perform Her duties, day in and day out, on Olympos, and in each and every hearth-fire on the planet. She is our ultimate role-model in these matters, and the debt we owe Her is great, as attested by the simple fact that She receives the first and last portions of every offering.  Even before Zeus, our King, we honor Hestia.

She is that sacred flame, the spark of life which dwells at the heart of every oikos, including the Oikos of the gods.  And in this capacity, though highly limited, I find that I am most like Her.  The spark… the passion for service is where She and I find our common ground.  I simply need to embrace the domestic end just as readily as I embrace the more formally ritualized aspects. Service is service, after all, which is the true lesson of the Hearth Goddess’ tutelage.

Thanks in part to Hestia’s presence, I feel like I’ve finally been able to establish this home as Apollon’s home.  As the title of this post suggests, I now tend the hearth of Apollon.  Which, honestly, is just a fancy way of saying that my Prince has officially “moved in”.