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!

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