WEEKLY GROUP RITUAL

A new weekly ritual will be posted here each week, which we will use in our Saturday meetings. For more information on these Saturday meetings, see the Get Involved page.

Preparation:
It is recommended that you have two bowls: one with pure water, another empty. You will also need a glass with your offering to the Gods. Typical offerings are wine, milk, or water, but the offering can be specific to the deity you are addressing. It is also appropriate to have a candle and incense.

Wash your hands in the bowl of water to purify yourself before the gods.

We will begin with music and three Delphic Maxims.

  1. ἁμαρτάνων μετανόει – if you do wrong, change your mind
  2. ὀφθαλμοῦ κράτει – become master of your eye
  3. βουλεύου χρόνωι – deliberate in process of time

First we worship the Immortal Gods,
and revere our oaths.
Next we pay reverence to the noble Heroes,
full of goodness and light.
Likewise we honour the spirits of the dead,
who dwell in the otherworldly realm.
And we keep in mind our parents,
and those most nearly related to us.

Today’s libation text goes to Ares (Εἰς Ἄρεα, Homeric Hymn 8)

Ἆρες ὑπερμενέτα, βρισάρματε, χρυσεοπήληξ,
ὀβριμόθυμε, φέρασπι, πολισσόε, χαλκοκορυστά,
καρτερόχειρ, ἀμόγητε, δορυσθενές, ἕρκος Ὀλύμπου,
Νίκης εὐπολέμοιο πάτερ, συναρωγὲ Θέμιστος,
ἀντιβίοισι τύραννε, δικαιοτάτων ἀγὲ φωτῶν, 5
ἠνορέης σκηπτοῦχε, πυραυγέα κύκλον ἑλίσσων
αἰθέρος ἑπταπόροις ἐνὶ τείρεσιν ἔνθα σε πῶλοι
ζαφλεγέες τριτάτης ὑπὲρ ἄντυγος αἰὲν ἔχουσι·
κλῦθι βροτῶν ἐπίκουρε, δοτὴρ εὐθαλέος ἥβης,
πρηὺ καταστίλβων σέλας ὑψόθεν ἐς βιότητα 10
ἡμετέρην καὶ κάρτος ἀρήϊον, ὥς κε δυναίμην
σεύασθαι κακότητα πικρὴν ἀπ’ ἐμοῖο καρήνου,
καὶ ψυχῆς ἀπατηλὸν ὑπογνάμψαι φρεσὶν ὁρμὴν
θυμοῦ τ’ αὖ μένος ὀξὺ κατισχέμεν ὅς μ’ ἐρέθηισι
φυλόπιδος κρυερῆς ἐπιβαινέμεν· ἀλλὰ σὺ θάρσος 15
δὸς μάκαρ, εἰρήνης τε μένειν ἐν ἀπήμοσι θεσμοῖς
δυσμενέων προφυγόντα μόθον κῆράς τε βιαίους.

O Ares exceedingly mighty, chariot-driving, golden helmed,
mighty of spirit, shield-bearing, city-saver, bronze-armed,
strong-handed, untiring, mighty with the spear, bulwark of Olympus,
father of Nike succesful in war, helper of Themis,
ruler over the enemy, leader of the justest men,
scepter-bearer of manhood, wheeling your fiery-bright orb
among the seven-fold signs of heaven where the fiery colts
always drive you over the third orbit;
hear, defender of mortals, giver of flourishing youth,
and gently beam down light from above on my life
and martial strength, so that I can
drive away cowardice from my head,
and bend with my mind the deceitful impulse of my soul
and restrain the sharp might of my spirit which provokes me
to tread upon the way of the chilling battle-cry; Come now,
grant me the blessed courage, to remain in the painlesss order of peace
having avoided the battle-din of my enemies and violent death.

As you give to us, so we give back to you. Hail!

Pour some of your offering into the empty bowl.

“Neither was earth nor the air nor the heavens”,
First there was chaos and first there was chasm,
“Neither was being nor not-being then”,
But all came to be, from the two that create it:
Ice and fire, light and darkness,
Father Sky and Mother Earth.

“In the Gods’ first age, from nothing came being”.
A tree grew aloft and it covers the heavens,
“And nobody knows where his roots are meandring”.
The cosmos was ordered by numinous powers.
So shall we be brought to order,
As we parttake of this drink.

The remainder of the drink is consumed.

Today’s reading is from the Anthologiae (5.9 and 6.1) by Vettius Valens.

For newcomers:
Each person who chooses to read will read from the asterisk to the next asterisk. One person will read at a time. We will read in alphabetical order and repeat this order as many times as needed till the reading is complete.

*

(5.9) Fate has decreed for every human being the unalterable realization of his horoscope, fortifying it with many causes of good and bad things to come. Because of them, two self-begotten goddesses, Hope and Chance, act as the servants of Destiny. They rule our lives. By compulsion and deception they make us accept what has been decreed.

*

One of them [Chance] manifests herself to all through the outcome of the horoscope, showing herself sometimes as good and kind, sometimes as dark and cruel. Some she raises up in order to throw them down; others she flings into obscurity to lift them up in greater splendor. The other [Hope] is neither dark nor serene; she hides herself and goes around in disguise and smiles at everyone like a flatterer and points out to them many attractive prospects that are impossible to attain.

*

By such deceit she rules most people, and they, though tricked by her and dependent on pleasure, let themselves be pulled back to her, and full of hope they believe that their wishes will be fulfilled; and then they experience what they do not expect. Sometimes Hope offers firm expectations, but actually she has abandoned you already and is gone to others. She seems to be close to everyone, and yet she stays with no one.

*

Those who are not familiar with astrological forecasts and have no wish to study them are driven away and enslaved by the goddesses mentioned above; they undergo every kind of punishment and suffer gladly. Some find part of their expectations fulfilled, so they put up higher stakes and wait for a permanently favorable outcome, without realizing how unstable things are and how easily accidents can happen.

*

Some who have been disappointed in their expectations, not just occasionally but again and again, surrender body and soul to passion and live dishonored and disgraced, or else they exist as the slaves of fickle Chance and treacherous Hope and never are able to achieve anything in life.

*

But those who make truth and the forecasting of the future their profession acquire a soul that is free and not subject to slavery. They despise Chance, do not persist in hoping, are not afraid of death, and live unperturbed.

*

They have trained their souls to be brave and are not puffed up by prosperity nor depressed by adversity but accept contentedly what comes their way. Since they have renounced all kinds of pleasure and flattery, they have become good soldiers of Fate.

*

For it is impossible by prayers or sacrifice to overcome the foundation that was laid in the beginning and substitute another more to one’s liking. Whatever is in store for us will happen even if we do not pray for it; what is not fated will not happen, despite our prayers.

*

Like actors on the stage who change their masks according to the poet’s text and calmly play kings or robbers or farmers or common folk or gods, so, too, we must act the characters that Fate has assigned to us and adapt ourselves to what happens in any given situation, even if we do not agree. For if one refuses, ‘he will suffer anyway and get no credit.’

*

(6.1) I never got carried away by the various kinds of horse races or by the sharp crack of the whip, or by the rhythmic movements of dancers, nor did I enjoy the superficial charm of flutes and poetry and melodious songs or anything else that attracts an audience by a certain art or by jokes. I never took part in any harmful or useful occupations that were divided between pleasure and pain.

*

I had nothing to do with disgraceful and troublesome…. [Lacuna in the text here] But once I had experienced the divine and reverent contemplation of celestial phenomena, I wished to cleanse my character of every kind of vice and pollution and leave my soul immortal. I felt that I was communing with divine beings, and I acquired a sober mind for research.

*

This completes this week’s reading. We will pause for approximately half a minute for silent contemplation.

As we complete our meeting
in honour of our gods,
our ancestors, and the World,
which is an image of divinity,
we will remember that
‘piety consists of holy thoughts’
and that we are to be
courageous, just, temperate, and wise
in every aspect of our lives.

The offering can be left in the bowl for some time. Later, it can be poured outside into the earth.

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