Friday, April 9, 2010

Hellenic Hearthcraft (Part 2)

A little later than I wanted but here it is: the second and final part of Hellenic Hearthcraft. In this post I'll share the methods I use (since I am unaware of what others do), what spirits I work with specifically and how as well as what goals this craft helps to reach.

METHODS: My Hearthcraft is not the average household workings that most Hellenists would delve into. I deeply entangle Witchcraft with it to the point that working Magic with the household Gods is the core of my Hearthcraft. Since this "turn" of my practice is pretty recent I haven't expanded on to it much. Therefore, most of the methods listed here are "to be tested/tried out" and as such I might change them should they not work. I use and/or plan to try out the following methods: spells, working with the household deities and other spirits, putting up what I cannot call by anything else than beacons or transmitters/receivers (I intend to use some sort of item that will draw to itself and pass to the home whatever I design it to draw - like positive energy, protective spirits, prosperity, health or anything else - as well as the opposite - items that will channel/weed out anything negative depending on what I intend them to weed out), blessings of various types, wards, doing chores in a certain mindset and possibly other methods I have not yet thought of.

Spells: I intend using spells for prosperity and familial well being (such as to promote communication, positive feelings etc) to make residing with each other more easy and fruitful. I won't use spells for other reasons since I believe they could hinder and be hindered by the other methods that will have the same goals.

Working with Deities and Other Spirits: I intend working with the household deities and various other spirits to promote the well-being of the household in all fields. I want to work with them both in terms of Magic (aiding me in spells, rituals etc) and in terms of spiritual relationships. I do not wish to make use of theurgy or shrinecraft because I want to try and approach both the Gods and the other spirits in a more friendly manner. I'd much prefer them helping me out willingly (such as warding the house) than being forced into that.

Specifically I will and already work with the household deities: Hestia, Zeus Ktesios and Erkeios, Hekate, Hermes and Apollon Agyieus. I also want to build relationships and work with the following spirits: Agathos Daemon (of our household) and the nymphs Daphne, Platanis and Chloris which are the nymphs of the predominant plants and trees in front and in our house (despite the fact that the names would denote specific mythological figures, I use them as the names of the nymphs of each type of tree/plant - thus, Daphne for laurel, Platanis for plane tree and Chloris for all the small plants and flowers in our balcony and in front of our house).

Beacons, Transmitters/Receivers: This is an idea I had and I am unsure whether it is actually plausible/effective. I plan on trying it out as soon as possible. I want to use a physical representation of what I envision as a transmitter and/or a receiver of sorts that will "filter" the energies that circulate and and out of the house. I want these receivers to draw in and imbue the household with positive energy and attributes that will promote its overall well-being as well as the transmitters to draw out and dispose of negative energies and harmful tendencies (such as anger, frustration, lack of communication and patience) that hinder the household's overall well-being. I'll elaborate more on what I will do once I get down and design something.

Blessings: This encompasses more than "blessing the house". I plan to not only perform a ritual blessing for the house but also to make blessing-offerings: like a small portion of my food in honour of Hestia, libations for the other Gods and spirits etc.

Wards: I want to place wards so as to effectively protect the house from threats and negativity. I plan to "tie" them to Zeus Erkeios, Hekate, Hermes and Apollon Agyieus since they are the protector deities of the household. Additionally, I will use physical representations for the wards (either pebbles or something more 'permanent' like the existing trees). If I do use the three plane trees in the front of the block of flats we live in, I will also employ the help of the Platanides Nymphs of these trees so as to guard and supervise the wards. This also means caring for those trees to ensure the well-being of the Platanides.

Doing Chores with a specific Mindset: This means doing whatever chores are to be done (within but also outside of the house) while being conscious of which deities are honoured by them (Hestia and Zeus Ktesios) and that they actively help the household. That way the energy raised will effectively aid the household as opposed to the grumpy attitude of "why do I have to do THAT?" which in reality is counter-productive.

GOALS: Hearthcraft helps aiding the household in a spiritual/energy manner in addition to physical labour. It promotes things such as health, communication, familial well-being, financial well-being, improved living (the house feels more like a true home than simply a place where you are staying), safety.

This is the end of the Hellenic Hearthcraft posts. The following posts will be on Greek (folk) Magic.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hellenic Hearthcraft (Part 1)

Since I finished with definitions, I'll start addressing each aspect/field of my path and practice individually. I figured it's better than providing both an explanatory notes post AND an individual post, since a) that would make everything too long and detailed and b) it's confusing.

This is a post on Hellenic Hearthcraft specifically. I realized that I cannot really give extensive explanations and notes on what it is because it is a tremendously localized and personal practice. Meaning, my Hearthcraft will be very different from someone else's even if he/she were Greek (similarities would be in some of the deities involved, certain core practices etc). Therefore, I'll provide some general info and explanations on its various sections and then explain and share my own version and how I perform this craft. I'll break it down to sections (such as deities and other spirits, methods, goals etc), provide examples where possible as well as include what I intend to do in the future.

Deities: In Hearthcraft one works with the following deities (some are aspects of deities): Hestia, Zeus Ktesios and Zeus Erkeios, Apollon Agyieus, Hekate and Hermes. As far as other spirits are concerned one works with the Agathos Daemon of their household as well as their ancestors. Personally, I work with the aforementioned deities, recently started working with the Agathos Daemon of our house and I also plan to build relationships and bonds with the loca, nearby spirits (namely the nymphs of the trees and greenery in front and in my house, specifically the plants in the pots in our balcony) soon enough. I have not yet approached my ancestors although I also intend doing so.

Hestia: the Goddess of the Hearth, herself. The most significant and central of the household deities, she presides over the household thoroughly. She is the first and the last to be hailed, welcomed and bidded farewell. Traditionally, the first and last pieces of food from a meal are to her honour.
Moreover, it is traditional to have a fire always lit in her praise. However, I cannot keep anything, even a candle lit always (and the fire hazard is not the only reason). In order to compensate for the lack of lit fire, I keep a piece of rock (lava actually) from the volcano of Santorini, in a high and visible place.

Zeus: Zeus as Ktesios and Erkeios is one of the household Gods, second to importance only to Hestia. As Ktesios he is "he who protects the prosperity of the household". As Erkeios he is "he who protects the safety of the household" since 'erkos' (where Erkeios comes from) means 'fence'.

A traditional offering and symbol of Zeus Ktesios is the Kathiskos. The Kathiskos is a jar (or other type of bucket/item that can store) filled with goods that represent the household's prosperity (e.g. fruits, olive oil, sweets, bread etc). It is sealed and kept hidden/stored away. Zeus Ktesios can also be associated and depicted as a snake - the house serpent, which is a protector of the prosperity of the household too. This is also a popular depiction and association of the Agathos Daemon.

A small altar on Zeus Erkeios is usually placed outside (since the fence is outside of the house and he protects it's safety from outside 'invasions'). Little is known about his worship. If the outdoors altar is not possible (e.g. in the case of an apartment with no garden), he can be included in the central altar alongside Estia and Ktesios.

Hermes, Hekate and Apollon Agyieus: Their role as household Gods is one that demands for their aspects as Gods of the roads. Alongside Apollon Agyieus ('of the streets'), they are deities that protect from outside threats coming 'from the roads'. Idols (as in physical depitctions, figures and symbols like statues) of Hekate and Hermes may be placed outside usually in a special enclave or other structure (like a shelf) next to or otherwise very close to the main entrance of the house. Hekate, as a ruler of the crossroads, Hermes as a God of boundaries and Apollon as a God of roads receive simple food offerings in common days and there are no special acts needed in their worship in this case.

Other spirits: the worship and honouring of other spirits occurs in Hearthcraft as well: the Agathos Daemon of each household as well as the ancestors of the family. In some cases, other deities to which the family may have a connection (e.g. a family of scholars may have a deeper relationship to Athena and as such include her in their Hearthcraft and worship) are included in the workings.

Agathos Daemon: The Agathos Daemon (meaning 'good spirit') is a spirit of the home and hearth, protector of the prosperity of the household and of the family. He is often portrayed as a serpent (snake) or less often as a young or short man carrying symbols of prosperity and abundance (cornucopia, bowl, ear of grain, poppy etc). He is closely associated (in his serpent form mostly) with Zeus Ktesios although they are not the same. He is revered and offerings left at the threshold. Often, especially in rural areas, a lone snake living within the household (or the owned territory in general) was protected and fed, thought of as the representator/follower/messenger of the Agathos Daemon.

Ancestors: this is largely a personal matter and one of the points where Hearthcraft differs from family to family. In general, the ancestors of a family are revered and honoured, offerings left at the altar and/or crossroads and libations poured for them in the house's hearth or altar. They are thought to aid the safety, wealth, power and general well-being of the family.

Since this proved too long, I'll continue it in one or more additional parts.

Definitions

I feel I can't quite start sharing stuff and theories before I explain to you how I define key words and terms. So, in this post I'll attempt to accumulate all possible terms and words I'll be using in my future (and past) posts. I know I'll miss some of them but hopefully this will be a rare sight. If you find any concept I have not explained, please ask in a comment and I'll reply. ;)

PAGANISM - Paganism is the whole of those religions, spiritual paths and faiths that are a) inspired, b) influenced, c) based on and/or d) revivals/reconstructions of old and ancient religions and systems of belief and worship of the Old World (Europe, Mediterranean lands and Mesopotamia), which are simultaneously NOT parts of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam and all their "heresies" and related faiths).

Paganism is divided into: a) Paleo-Paganism, b) Meso-Paganism and c) Neo-Paganism.

Paleo-Paganism includes the ancient religions and systems that resided within the borders of the Old World (e.g. ancient greek religion, anglo-saxon/norse faiths, sumerian religion etc).
Meso-Paganism refers to the various revivals (mostly short-termed and with little numbers in followers) of the ancient religions and faiths during the Middle-Ages, hence the "meso" prefic, meaning "middle". An example of this is Georgius Gemistus Plethon, who lived during the later Byzantine times and advocated a return to the Olympian Gods. He followed a neoplatonic, archaic-esque, eclectic one could say form of the Hellenic religion.
Neo-Paganism is the term referring to the whole of those religions and belief systems baring the characteristics mentioned in the above, first definition of Paganism and which are followed AFTER the 18th century (aka in the modern times).

MAGIC - I define Magic as the utilization of energy through the use of Will to bring about a desired effect. Through this basic definition, every consious act upon a solid thought is Magic. I also use the term Magic to refer to the occult practice which includes literally hundreds upon hundreds of ways, methods, customs and formulae. Generally, I add to it a term to specify the field (i.e. candle magic refers to the field of magical practice utilizing candles as a tool). Magic is also divided in: wishful thinking, prayer and active workings. These are by no means universal facts, just my own views and theories on Magic. Also, the latter three "forms" of Magic are mostly 'catch-all' categories that include many alternative and similar concepts.

GODS or DEITIES - I use the terms deities and Gods interchangeably because that is my understanding and use of the Greek equivalents.
Deities for me are sentient, sapient, conscious energy entities that are also distinct, individual but co-operating beings. I believe they have their own Will and that they fuel and maintain the natural laws. I believe deities are also the caretakers of the rest of Nature.
Additionally, I define the Divine as: not a supreme being or anything of that sort but merely the name of the "species", of the whole of Gods. All deities together are the Divine, just like all humans together are humanity.

CRAFT - Witchcraft, the Craft of the Wise, the Art, the Craft and by many other names. Witchcraft for me is the magical system utilizing Low Magic (sometimes with a touch of ceremonial/High Magic) usually in the form of folk Magic. It differs depending on the cultural version used. This means the Witchcraft of the British Isles is different yet under the same category (umbrella term 'Witchcraft') as Greek Witchcraft. It may or may not be religious in nature and may or may not be theistic. It is first and foremost a system of practices, methods, ways and customs utilizing Magic.

TOOLS - This will be a little long. The tools I use (or at least would LIKE to use - I am quite limited in what I can use and what I can't - the ones with * are the tools I can't but want to use) are the following: athame, boline, chalice, pentacle, candles, *incense, Book of Shadows, notebook, pendulum, deck of cards, bell and various temporal items (such as rocks, feathers, tree leaves etc).

Athame: a double-edged, dull knife used to direct energy in workings. It has an aggresive quality. It's also called 'a Witch's weapon'. This is my main tool and represents Fire in my mind.
Boline: a knife used for cutting in the physical plane (as opposed to the athame which is strictly for spiritual use). My boline is a swiss army-like knife.
Chalice: a cup with blessed water. It represents Water and I use it in ritual settings mostly. Due to the lack of resources and privacy I use a small, common cup.
Pentacle: a disc with an engraved, encircled pentagram. Represents Earth. Don't laugh but due to being unable to find or make one, I made one out of hard paper. At least it works haha.
Candles: I generally use candles regardless of colour (the already often mentioned of inability to gather supplies) and when I have enough privacy to light them (I feel REALLY uncomfortable and cannot work without privacy, something largely lacking in my home). I also blow out the candle flame because that for me signifies the end and sealing of the working.
Incense: Additionally to the lack of privacy I cannot use incense out of my mother's intolerance of it (weird how a smoker cannot stand other scents eh?). I'd much like to use incense but eh, life's hard hehe. I use a feather in its place as a symbol for Air.
Book of Shadows: A Book for Shadows for me is a journal type of book with blank pages, used for writing down info, spells and rituals, one's progress etc. I have two in a sense: a large notebook with blank pages which I call "my unofficial BoS" and is where I write everything as well as make changes and corrections and a leather-covered, hard-cover book with blank pages I got in London. This will be my "official BoS" and it will be where I will record spells, rituals, specific info, hymns etc carefully and after having reviewed them.
Notebook: I use a small notebook for quick recording of info and designing a working (sketchily so).
Pendulum: A divinatory tool. It is used for yes-or-no type of answers and is one of the simplest divinatory tools. My pendulum was made by me using a string and an old key (from our old apartment). I consecrated them and I now have an efficient pendulum.
Deck of cards: Another divinatory tool but for more complex answers. My deck is not Tarot but an eastern-ish deck called Deste. It was popularized here in Greece by a writer and practicing witch (although she calls herself things such as "tzan", "wise woman" etc) whom I consider a little full of hot air (although I don't doubt her experiences and workings). It has worked wonders so far (at least from the moment I ditched the manual and used my intuition for the meanings).
Bell: The bell is used to singify various parts of a ritual or working (like the beginning and the end etc) as well as to banish negative entities and welcome positive ones (its chime acting both as sort of an 'alarm' and a beacon).
Various items: Rocks, feathers, herbs (rarely so), leaves, dirt (as in soil), seeds and many more are used depending on the working at hand and mainly for their symbolic connotations (e.g. seeds for symbolizing fertility, beginnings etc). The items used vary greatly.

THE ONE: I view as the One the singularity of energy that existed before the Big Bang. The One for me is also called The All, The En and Existence. I believe that after the Big Bang (the Great Division) the singularity, the Monad that is the One became Many. I call the Divided One, the Plurality, Nature and Existence. Everything is part of the One and everything has a "spark" of the One. The One is not Divine for it exceeds Gods. Gods are part of the One as everything else though they are the greatest in power and most perfect of Its parts, that's why I liken them to Its "Soul" or "Mind".

SPIRIT and SOUL: A spirit for me is any energy entity. Spirits with a physical form (body) that is also living (living organisms) are called souls.

LOW MAGIC - Low Magic is Magic used for physical matters. Its fields cover concepts such as health, wealth, protection, love, spirits of this plane (i.e. nymphs) et al (and their counterparts as well). Some Low Magic practices are spells, charms, enchantments, wards, divination etc.

HIGH MAGIC - High Magic is Magic used for spiritual matters. Its fields cover concepts such as deities, spirits of different planes (i.e. demons or angels), unity with the whole etc. Some High Magic practices are invocation, evocation, channeling, meditation, rituals etc.

I believe this is enough for the basic definitions and that I have covered everything. The next post (which I'll create shortly to maintain the feeling of unity between these posts) will be the explanatory notes and details on the aspects of my practice discussed in the 'What I Do' post. Specifically, they will refer to exactly what it is I practice and perform of those things mentioned as the axis of my path.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What I Do

Since I covered the "Who I Am" part I thought I'd also post the "What I Do" shortly after so as to maintain a connected feeling (that and I am in a metaphorical writer's heat hahaha).

In the end of the previous post, I said that in this one I'll discuss my path and practice as these are right now. In order to do so, I have to list the fields my path and practice focus and touch upon. I'll include a small definition/brief description but further explanations will be given in the upcoming post(s) on definitions and explanatory notes. Also, note that some of those listed are still in the theoritical state (meaning I still research/study and have not practically tried/used them). This leads to me providing with less info/practical experiences. I hope you won't mind that too much, since I am still a newbiew of sorts (especially since this form of my path is quite recent, though a major, here-to-stay, change).

The fields I explore are:

Hellenic Hearthcraft - This field deals with worshipping and working with household related deities (e.g. Hestia, Zeus Ktisios, Zeus Erkeios and others), Magic dealing with the thriving, prosperity and general well-being of the home and hearth (in Greek the word 'οίκος' [oikos] is used which didn't only mean "house" as it does today, but referred to the building, the hearth [εστία - hestia named after the Goddess or vice-versa] and the surrounding area [usually the owned 'territory']) etc.

Greek (folk) Magic - This field include but is not limited to Magic worked by the Greeks both ancient and modern. Ancient Greek Magic includes but is not limited to: the use of effigies (called "Κολοσσοί" - Kolossoi), curse tablets/binding spells (Latin 'defixio' - Greek 'katadesmoi' - both meaning 'bindings'), charms, love-related spells, protection (mostly against witchcraft) etc. Greek folk Magic refers to the later antiquity (aka medieval) and modern practices of the Greeks. It includes but is not limited to: herbal lore, spells (for love, protection, health, wealth etc) as well as curses, customary/lay/folklore methods and formulae (meaning, specific seemingly superstitious actions with symbolic and magical meanings - example: putting some lavender under one's pillow to make wishes come true) etc.

Working with Daemones - This field refers to the interaction, communication and co-operation or even manipulation of those spirits known to the ancient Greeks as "daemones" (a daemon was any spirit greater than a human/non-human up to minor, mostly rustic, cthonic and agricultural deities - example: a nymph, a river God and the cthonians: Hekate, Persephone, an aspect of Zeus, an aspect of Demeter and others, could be called daemons - a Titan or an Olympian would never be called a daemon unless referring to a cthonian aspect they possess [as is the case with Demeter and Zeus]).

Minor Ceremonial Influence - My practice has somewhat "simplified" and is not as ceremonial as it used to be. However, I don't and won't completely drop the ceremonial aspects as I deem them helpful and necessary in certain cases. This field deals with rituals both magical and religious.

Spellcraft - I list this individually, because when I cast spells, I often do so without adhering to the liturgy of, let's say, Greek or ceremonial Magic. This fields has to do with the various magical formulae (excuse the latin plural but I like it better) used by me: spells, charms, curses (only one haha though planning on a second ugh) etc.

Finally, I'd like to mention a field I aspire to research and study, which is also kind of tricky and shady: Greek shamanistic practices. I am aware of two: necromancy and iatromancy. The first oughts to be known to you, my readers, but for those ignorant of what it really is: it's the communication and use of spirits of the deceased mainly for divinatory reasons (but not only). The second, iatromancy, is less known: it's a meditative, healing practice which makes use mostly of incubation. You might have seen it mentioned in ancient Greek myths related to Asclepius. It's the "healing sleep" the patients had in his temple during which they saw visions of Asclepius and later were healed (or at least their recovery was aided). Those inducing the state of incubation to the patients were the iatromancers, those priests/seers versed in guided meditation for healing purposes. Iatromancy, as the name suggests, also includes divination (through various means, though once again, mostly through incubation) concerning medical problems.

I hope this was interesting and somewhat informative. The next post(s) will be on definitions as well as explanatory notes and expanding on the practices mentioned and briefly discussed here. Then will follow posts dedicated to each practice (and possibly subcategories of each field) individually.

Who I Am

OK, introductions time! As I already said most, if not all of you know me well enough but I think this is needed.

My chosen nickname is Alorer. I am 19 years old (soon to be on April 19th) and a Greek. I live in Athens. I've been involved with Paganism and the Occult for about 5 years now.

Here's my spiritual and religious progress: baptised as a toddler like the vast majority of Greeks, I grew up as a Greek Orthodox Christian. However, my mother being atheist and my father (although his influence was miniscule since my parents divorced when I was still 9-10 years old) believing in some sort of higher power as well as the fact that my family is largely secular and non-religious save for my devout grandma (who mind this, never pushed her religion on us - the family and relationships in Greece differ greatly from the US and other countries - here most parents won't mind if their mothers/mothers-in-law take their kids to church or whatever) made it so I was never very religious. My familial environment was (and still is) also highly paranormal-friendly (I really can't call it in any other way), meaning things such as energy, spirits, "psychic abilities" and such were not only accepted but embraced. My mother frequently commented and still does so, on how sensitive I always was. So, I got into Paganism and the Occult (especially the Occult) with already established "foundations".

At the age of 12, I started questioning and doubting much of Christianity (note that in Greece all schools are obliged to teach a religious course, which for nearly all years of school, primary and high, deals with Christianity and specifically Orthodox Christianity almost exclusively). This resulted in my rejection and "departure" from its midst (not that my family or I were much involved, again with the exception of my grandma). For a few months I was "wandering" since I didn't feel drawn to anything I knew religious-wise. While trying to find a fitting path, I contemplated on what I believe in and decided I do believe in a higher power of sorts but I do not have a name or figure for it. Later on, I learnt that was called "agnosticism".

Around the age of 13, I finally found a footing, something I could use and research for: the ancient Greek religion. Frustrated by the complete lack of any sort of details in school books and curriculum as well as in my own books, I turned to the Internet. Pretty quickly I found info on Gods and celebrations far more detailed than the sketchy, fairytale-like descriptions in school books. That lead to me finding Greek Reconstructionism and although I never considered myself a Recon, I did approach the Pantheon of my ancestors. Additionally, I approached some of the Egyptian deities in their hellenized forms (e.g. Thoth as opposed to Tehuti).

As time went by, I ended up disappointed and disheartened by the attitude, behaviour and some of the views of the Greek Recons I was reading and researched about. That led to me leaving Hellenic Polytheism as well, at least as far as naming and identification went. I maintained a relationship with my Gods (mostly Athena, Apollo and Artemis - the relationships in this point were quite impersonal and "professional"-only).

Now comes the "juicy" part (hehe). This might make you laugh or drop your jaw in surprise but it's true and it's the reason I am here writing this today, no matter how silly it sounds. I thought about researching this "Wicca" thing I heard mentioned in Charmed a couple of times as well as whether Magic truly exists (as I said I already had foundations in paranormal/occult beliefs and fields such as energy, what it is, how some use it, spirits etc). I have to say I never really doubted the old cunning folk (well, as far as the Greek equivalent can be called that based on the similarities and linguistic approach) and I always thought people could "do stuff". So, research got me more than I bargained or ever hoped for. It fit so utterly that I was dazed. I researched more and more deeply and began studying.

And this takes us to my mid-fifteens. After taking up the label of Eclectic Wiccan and joining a little community called "WiccanTogether", I considered that my path truly started unfolding. As time passed, I dropped the Wiccan aspect (mostly thanks to the education provided by the discussions with my beloved Trad Wiccans - you know who you are, little Elders :P ) and began identifying as an Eclectic Pagan Witch. This is the name for my path I go by for a little more than 2 years now.

And with reaching this crucial point in my little story, I'll end this post. In the next one, I'll discuss my path itself as it is now.

Welcome or rather Khairete!

Welcome to my totally new blogspot! It will be a place for me to post stuff regarding my practice as well as a method to keep me motivated (since I have the issue of leaving things in the middle, unfinished). Since it's my very first time with a blog, I ask that you bare with me and my... mediocre results!

I intend to include things such as: the deities I work with (info on them, perhaps some of the hymns I made/will make for them - as soon as I translate them that is - etc), sketchy descriptions and sharings of rituals, spells and other formulas I use (I won't be handing out details so don't even ask), my "calendar" (the sacred days) and of course, the aspects and fields my path focuses and touches upon. Additionally, I will include my own conclusions, theories and beliefs, definitions and terminology and many other things.

I'll start with definitions and fundamental beliefs so that you'll know where I come from and what is the base for my practice/actions and things I'll be saying in the future. The first actual post will be a summary of my path (what I believe in, how I call my path and its aspects, what I do etc) and a little about me (although most, if not all of you reading this will know me). Next I'll make a post with definitions (and explanatory notes) and then expand on each of my path's aspects.

Hope you'll find this somewhat interesting!