Friday, July 1, 2016

Days of Hekate III: Labrys Full Moon Ritual and Wildwood Workings

On Sunday, May 22nd, I attended a public ritual for the Full Moon hosted by Labrys on Philopappou Hill in downtown Athens (it’s a hill next to the Acropolis). It was a very beautiful ritual: we were gathered in a circle around the altar, the only light coming from the illuminated city around the hill, the torches held by some of the women participating and the various candles and oil lamps on and around the altar. 

One of the torchbearers invoked Hekate with a hymn I hadn’t heard before, although parts of it were familiar. I didn’t have the chance to ask afterwards but I think it was a hymn crafted personally by her and included pieces of other hymns as well. It was beautiful, wild, and moving to the point that I couldn’t recall the hymns to the other Goddesses afterwards. The whole ritual was exceptionally pleasing, aesthetically and energetically.

There was a bit of a problem though. It got really cold to the point that I couldn’t stop shivering. Unwilling to break circle to get my jacket or to interrupt the gorgeous ritual in any way, I silently called upon two of the Four Guardian Spirits: Mother Bear of the North and Brother Wolf of the South, two important spirit animals in the Wildwood Druidry. That actually helped a lot! Slowly, I began feeling a sense of warmth emanating from inside me (my “centre”, the point in my body I visualise as my core and centre during centering and meditations, located a little above the solar plexus) which extended to my entire body. It faded somewhat at times during the ritual because my focus was divided but, other than that, it worked better than I expected. 

After the ritual, we had a simple feast of sorts, sharing salty foods and red wine and having fun as a community (it looks a lot like an outdoors party, in fact!). As always, I only took a few sips and offered the rest as a libation. Even so, I felt a bit “tipsy” and unstable on my feet and I was positively buzzing with the energy of the ritual, despite being dead-tired from the hours of standing. When I got home, I was too charged up to rest so I performed an ecstatic rite for the Wildwood Spirits, a working that brings me in communion with them through the use of a veil, ecstatic dance, and “spirit-talk”*. I thanked them for their aid with the cold and then decided on the spot to use this as a chance to do something I had in mind for a while: request entrance to the Wildwood Realm under their auspices**. I uttered my request and, while still in trance, drew a card from the Wildwood Tarot deck to serve as the answer from the Spirits. It was an overwhelmingly positive and reassuring card, essentially the Spirits screaming “YES!” to me in regards to my request. Deeply moved, I thrice blessed and thanked the Spirits and slowly finished the rite.

Thus concluded the Three Days of Hekate, which began with Her Sacred Fires, continued with the Nomen Rite, and finished with a public Full Moon ritual and a private Wildwood rite. Those three days were filled with potent energies and presences, moving and powerful experiences, and a lot of hope and determination for the future.


*Spirit-talk: Speaking while in trance and communion with Gods or Spirits, with minimal control over my speech, allowing the inspiration of the Spirits and the words of my soul to come forth, unhindered by the conscious mind. It is essentially a type of oral automatic writing, as well as a type of channeling and mediumship. The Gods and Spirits don’t possess me or talk through me per se – rather, it is a way for me to open up to their guidance and inspiration completely as well as speak what is True and what comes directly from my soul (thus all speech during spirit-talk is Words of Power and can be considered the same as spell utterances and incantations). It is an important tool in my spirit-work as it allows me to remember what transpires but also to gain insight and gnosis that would otherwise be hidden from me. It also allows me to express my true will, intent and feelings without relying on scripted prayer or invocations or stumbling to find the proper words.

**Entering the Wildwood Realm: This is part of a bigger subject that I will discuss on this blog at some point. Long story short, it is part of a process for working with and experiencing the Wildwood Realm and all its Spirits, and it refers to getting the permission of specific Spirits before entering the Wildwood, for a host of reasons, such as protection and guidance. While it is entirely possible to enter the Wildwood without permission (it’s not a closed-off realm) and even experience it in different ways (“enter it from different gates”, if you will), requesting permission is a necessary step for entering the Wildwood in a specific manner and being able to fulfill specific conditions and workings in the future, as per Triskelion and Wildwood Druidry practice.

Days of Hekate II: The Nomen Rite

On Saturday 21st of May, I performed a rite for which I was preparing for months.  The reason behind such lengthy preparation was that the Nomen Rite was as important as my dedication to Hekate and, in some ways, even more binding and serious for me. It was a long, intricate ritual, lasting a bit more than 2 hours, making it one of the lengthiest rituals I have ever performed in 11+ years of practice. It was also rather taxing and demanding in terms of invocations, maintenance and work. Truly, it ought to have been a group ritual, with at least two more people to help but, alas, the Triskelion is a solitary path (for now?).

The Nomen Rite, as the name suggests to those familiar with Latin, was my naming ceremony. In this ritual, I took a special name – a “magical name” for the first time in my entire Pagan life – that was revealed to me by Hekate and the Wildwood Spirits, and one I had to take if I was to commit fully and truly to the Triskelion and open up all channels and gates for the road ahead. At first, I was only aware of one name I had to take but during the preparatory period, I was “told” that it had a supplementary name-title indicating “where my heart was born”. 

I’ve mentioned this before here, and now I can finally talk more about it. Specifically, divination and spirit communion explained that I can, now, reveal the Great Spirit that has been aiding me in this work as well as a good deal of the Rite itself and a part of my name: the supplementary name-title. I am under oath not to reveal my “core name”, sadly. I also cannot share details of the Nomen Rite such as the invocations used or my Naming Oath (although I can tell you roughly what I swore). The Spirit that has been aiding me is the Heron and my new name is Chelydoreus, taken after the name of the village where I’ve spent nearly every summer of my life, the place where my maternal grandmother was born and raised, the place I consider my true home: the village of Chelydori, between Mt. Evrostini and Mt. Chelydorea, where Hermes found the tortoise he used to fashion the lyre, according to myth.

The Rite itself was deeply potent. Here’s the outline of the ritual: 

1.       Preparation:
·         Self purification
·         Space purification
·         Gathering necessary tools, offerings, etc.
2.       Casting the Magic Circle.
3.       Invocation of Hekate:
·         Hekataion Hymn, Orphic Hymn
4.       Invocation of the Wildwood Court:
·         Invocation of the Four Guardian Spirits
·         Invocation of the Heron
·         Invocation of the Horned One and His Lady of the Moon and Forest
5.       Rite of Manifestation of Hekate's Seal
6.       Main Working:
·         Declaration of the ritual's intent
·         Naming Oath (Όρκος Ονομαστικός, Sacramentum Nominis)
7.       Offerings, libations, hymns and prayers of praise
8.       Red Meal*
9.       Closing.

*Red Meal: Yes, this is indeed like the Traditional Witchcraft practice. The name and way to perform it were revealed to me by the Wildwood Spirits and after researching it out of curiousity I was shocked to find that it is an already existing and established rite - I thought it was a unique request from the Spirits!

One of the peculiarities of the ritual was that, even though the presences of the Gods and Spirits invoked were stronger than usual, I got very little in terms of communication and practically nothing in terms of epiphanies or revealed gnosis, despite my continuous requests to be shown what comes after this and what I should do from now on. After a lot of effort and communion, Hekate finally had a message for me: “You know what it is that must be done following this and We have nothing more to impart at this time.” In other words, we’re not going to spoon-feed you everything, you’re way past that stage. Do your own dirty work. Duly noted!

The offerings were nothing spectacular, sadly, but both divination and my intuition pointed towards them being very well-received, which made me very glad. Feelings of insecurity and inadequacy are some of my biggest personal “demons” and being told that even the small things – the only things – I am able to offer are happily accepted is a much needed reassurance.

This whole Rite and the naming itself primarily served as a dedication, of sorts, to the Triskelion. I committed myself fully and formally to this path and system and to the Gods and Spirits that come along with it. No more excuses, no more feeling bad about “dry spells” or periods of inactivity, no more arm-chair occultism. Moreover, the days after the Rite I found myself more open and sensitive to the Otherworld and receiving a lot more revealed gnosis that before – or, at the very least, more detailed and complete gnosis as opposed to the bits and pieces I was getting before. Indeed, other workings and divination confirmed that many spiritual “gates” within me and in my path had been opened and certain aspects of my work are finally accessible to me. In many ways, the Nomen Rite was a kind of spiritual initiation akin to what I experienced during my dedication to Hekate and felt very much as the – somewhat overdue – next step from the dedication.

That was the Nomen Rite or, perhaps more accurately, the Nomen Experience. I have a lot of things to still share here, beyond this; my account of the Three Days of Hekate is still not complete. I also have many other writings and work to finish and post. Until next time:

I am CHELYDOREUS, devotee of Hekate, practitioner of the Triskelion, Polytheist, Witch, Pagan, a student of the Mysteries indulging in the Great Work.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Essay: Worshipping Virtuously

This phrase in ancient Greek is the result of my effort to find a description for “proper worship” in the Triskelion which would be succinct and multi-aspected. “Λατρεύειν ἐν ἀρετήν” (“latreuein en aretin” – lit. “worshipping in virtue” or “worshipping virtuously”) encapsulates my beliefs regarding proper, respectful, mindful, well-rounded, informed/educated, willing, and just worship and religious Work («ργον» -“ergon”). It speaks of religious responsibility, following the example of the Gods, and pursuing excellence in religious matters. “Λατρεύειν ἐν ἀρετήν” is about truly, faithfully, virtuously practicing the Triskelion.

It has other connotations as well. For instance, it refers to the ideal and desired/preferred mindset and mental-emotional state for entering and facilitating ritual. According to Triskelion standards, one should enter or perform ritual while in a state of purity. The obvious expression is physical cleanliness and ritual purifications. There is also a mental-emotional level though, and that is entering ritual space or beginning ritual “in virtue”. Specifically, this means entering ritual free – at least, temporarily – of negative and overly intense emotions and thoughts, such as anger, sorrow, hatred, sexual arousal and so on. The practitioner may very well exhibit any of these during ritual if the situation (Gods, Spirits, ritual energy and atmosphere) incite them or they may express them from the beginning if the working in question is a special case that warrants such emotions (e.g. malefica, sex magic, ecstatic worship, funerary rites etc.). However, most cases of ritual (“default rituals”) need to be experienced and performed in a balanced, pure, and energetically ideal state of mind and soul; that is “ἐν ἀρετήν” – virtuously.

Theologically, “λατρεύειν ἐν ἀρετήν” hinges upon the beliefs that: a) the Gods are the source of virtue(s) and of many other good and desirable qualities and attributes, b) that they impart those virtues and qualities/attributes to us, and c) that they have a vested interest in our improvement and thus guide and support us towards it*. Therefore, to worship virtuously is to act “godly”, to accept and utilise the aforementioned gifts granted to us by the Gods. This, too, is an act of worship and honour in its own right. Moreover, “λατρεύειν ἐν ἀρετήν” can be further defined as part of or similar to «εὐσέβεια» (“eusebeia” - “piety”), a central tenet of Hellenism. 

That said, none of these mean that failing to always follow and realise this idea and goal is condemnable. Effort counts (although success is always best) while perfection is impossible. Even if failure to comply to such standards occasionally causes displeasure to the Gods and, possibly, repercussions, these are neither punishments for some kind of “sin” nor transgressions eternally divorcing us from the Gods**. Rather, the displeasure and possible repercussions are reactions to specific actions or lack thereof (such as miasma or disrespect) and not a judgment of the practitioner and their effort in general. In this case, we’re talking about religious conduct and what is the best/ideal way to approach it, not moral-ethical consequences or trappings. 

In conclusion, it is important – in the Triskelion – to practice the religion in one’s best possible state and ability.  Λατρεύειν ἐν ἀρετήν” is a continuous effort towards improvement and quality religious practice.


*This does not mean all Gods or Spirits have such interest in humans, or that all of them are benevolent, or that such interest is permanent, or even that only naturally benevolent Gods and Spirits express it. This belief has its own prerequisite beliefs and conditions such as referring only to Gods or Spirits with whom the practitioner has forged relationships of reverence and devotion, or Gods and Spirits that have particular requests or reasons for involving themselves in the practitioner’s life. In general, however, in Hellenism and the Triskelion, we operate with the idea that most divinities (Gods & Spirits) we interact with are of the benevolent or, at the very least, of the amiable-towards-humans kind. In Hellenic belief, the “big Gods” tend to care for humanity, both in terms of feelings and in terms of actions (imparting virtues, blessings etc as mentioned in the essay) beyond their standard care for the world.

**Barring, of course, actual such transgressions, although none of those have anything to do with worshipping virtuously; when murder or desecration, for example, occur, the person in question has long since left the side and path of the Gods and virtue. This is not a case of “bad people aren’t really Pagans/polytheists/witches” but rather that said transgressions have such effects (energetically, spiritually) that those people practically cannot worship virtuously, despite their efforts. They may very well believe and self-identify as *insert Pagan/polytheist identity* but on a practical, energetic level, they are “powerless” (that is, devoid of many relationships and connections to Gods and spirits – not necessarily all, and it definitely depends on the case, but as a rule of thumb, grave crimes have grave consequences, religiously speaking).

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Days of Hekate I: Her Sacred Fires

Every year, during the days close to the Full Moon of May (usually the three days before and after it), an international event takes place in many shapes and forms. I’m talking about the Rite of Her Sacred Fires, a rite in honour of Hekate, and a really good example of devotional ceremony for this particular Goddess. I owe a great deal regarding my own relationship with Hekate to the anthology and Rite of Her Sacred Fires since they acted as the necessary catalyst for me to explore my patron Goddess further. She taught and continues to teach me many things through the experiences and wisdom of fellow devotees.

I have been performing the Rite for 5 years now, the past four as a solitary. This year, however, I was blessed with being invited by good friends – devotees and priestesses of Hekate themselves – to celebrate together. We were seven people participating in the rite in total, and we gathered at night. The energy was vibrant and everything just felt right. The ritual itself was potent. The leading priestess added some parts to the rite as instructed by Hekate Herself. Here’s a rough summary of what we did:

We began with the ritual opening used by Labrys, the community we are all familiar with (some of the people present at the Rite are long-standing members). Then, two women invoked the elements in the four directions and created a magical space for us to work in. Following that, the leading priestess, the women that performed the elemental invocations and another woman – who is dedicated to Artemis – invoked Hekate in a manner revealed by the Goddess Herself: the priestess stood in the middle of a triangle of sorts, with each of the other women standing on what would be its points. The three women drew the energies of Hekate Ourania, Chthonia, and Einalia, while the priestess invoked Her with the Orphic hymn. Afterwards, the priestess – with help from one of the women – led us in meditation to commune with Hekate. While we were in the meditation, she would bring each person individually in front of the altar and guide them through the actual Rite of Her Sacred Fires, which takes the form of a ceremonial pledge of devotion to the Goddess and Her mysteries. After that, one of the participants recited a prayer requesting protection and aid from Hekate for the refugees in Greece. We did the Labrys ritual closing, although the women decided to not bid farewell to the elements and to leave the ritual “open” for further work in the following days. The priestess passed the sacred flame to all of us one last time, we vibrated Hekate’s name three times and the ritual ended. We had a small feast/meal afterwards, made with foods sacred to Hekate.

There were a number of interesting experiences during all that. First, I perceived – with my eyes closed and while still in meditation – every person around me as possessing an inner flame that burned white, almost translucent in its lack of colour. Every individual that completed the actual Rite of Her Sacred Fires had their flame dyed a colour unique to them (I saw purple, red, light blue, and greenish blue before the demands of the ritual and the meditation made me lose focus of this vision). Second, I had the curious experience of perceiving the ritual in the physical realm and at the same time Hekate and the meditational space in the spiritual realm. While this didn’t have physical visual effects, I was simultaneously experiencing the Rite of Her Sacred Fires physically and Hekate’s private work with me spiritually/mentally. It was a bit disorienting but exceptionally powerful. I was also whispering all sorts of “mini” invocations and prayers throughout the whole ritual. Third, the pet dog of the leading priestess and her wife became agitated and active at select portions of the ritual, such as when the priestess described Hekate’s animal retinue during the meditation (especially when she mentioned the dogs) and when we vibrated Hekate’s name all together at the end of the ritual.

This ritual was important to me for a number of reasons. First of all, it was an additional confirmation that my getting involved with these wonderful people is right and guided by Hekate. Furthermore, it helped me open spiritual channels and prepare myself for the very intense and demanding work that awaited me the following day. Finally, it allowed me to experience the Goddess in a mystical way together with fellow devotees and celebrate Her wondrous gifts and presence.

I am deeply thankful to my friends for granting me all this and even more thankful to Hekate for bringing us all together. Here’s to more and greater work in the future!