Celebrating Heliogenna

Heliogenna is a modern Hellenic Neopagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, created by Hector Lugo.  (there is a lot of controversy in the hellenic recon community and modern hellenismos community about whether this should be celebrated at all. Do lots of reading, and make a decision that is meaningful for you) This collection of thoughts and liturgy expands on his original presentation of the celebration. Here is a link to more information and additional liturgy from Hellenion: https://www.hellenion.org/rituals-and-practices/heliogenna-festival/

Heliogenna is a time of rebirth and renewal, honoring Helios, God of the Sun.  It is a time for the folk to reflect back on what they did the past year and to wipe their slate clean of that which they don’t want to take into the coming year, similar both to Thanksgiving and New Year’s resolutions.

Heliogenna is divided into three sections, and can be celebrated either in one, two, three, or a full nine days.  The three sections are Sunset, Night, and Sunrise, and if one were to celebrate the festival in one day, this would line up to allow for an all-night vigil to watch the rebirth of the Sun happen on the solstice.

Sunset

Sunset is spent honoring the Celestial Gods who watch over us, the Earthly Gods who provide for us, and our Ancestors who have taught us much.  It is a time of thanks and remembrance.

Day 1: The Olympians and the Ancestors

The Olympian Gods, as well as any other Deities of the Household, are honored during this time.  It is a time to give thanks for their blessings and aid throughout the year.  Burnt offerings are especially appropriate for this festival, since it is their celestial aspects that are being honored.  The Ancestors are also remembered and honored during this time with stories and offerings of praise for the knowledge and gifts they gave us.

Day 2: The Celestial Family (Helios, Selene, Eos specifically)

The Gods and Goddess who watch over us from their celestial homes and light are way are honored during this day.  Helios, as the God of the Sun is honored; Selene, as the one who brings light int he darkness is honored; and Eos, as the one who opens the gates of darkness so the sun can rise again is honored.  This is also a time to honor the celestial aspects that any patron deities of tho household might have.  Thank those who watch over us.

Day 3: The Chthonic and Earthly Gods (Gaea, Demeter, Hekate)

The Gods and Goddesses who dwell in the middle or lower realm are honored during this time as the bountiful givers of life and abundance.  They lay the foundation for all other life to exist.  Gaea for her role as Earth Mother; Demeter for her role as grain-giver; Dionysos for his role in giving the fruits of the vine; and Rhea as the mother of the Gods.  Offerings today are mostly libations, traditionally oil, water, or wine.

Night

Night is the somber part of the festival, where the darker aspects of the Gods are honored.  It is a time for reflection and truth, often spent in meditation.  The depth of Night is a time set aside for silence to remember those who have passes, and to reflect on the aspects of Helios as a dying god.

Day 4: The Protogonoi – The First Ones (Gaea, Nyx, Ouranos, and Eros specifically) and the Heroes

The first day of night is when the focus begins to shift from thanks for the abundance we’ve been given, to the never ending cycle of life and death.  Helios is sinking into the earth, on his way towards rebirth.  Today, the Protogonoi, or the First Ones are honored for their role in setting our world into motion.  The Hereos, both mythological and current cultural, are also honored for how they have helped to change the world.

Appropriate activities today are prayers and poems celebrating death, and the sadness that surrounds it, as well as meditations and reflections not he cycle of life and death.

Day 5: The Day of Silence

Today symbolizes the dead of night.  It is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  Hades and Persephone are honored today for their dominion over the Underworld.  The day should be spent as a fasting day, with simple food and water, and in quiet reflection and meditation.  Remember those who have passed and the joy they brought us, and honor Hades and Persephone for their role in welcoming those who have passed.

Day 6: The Mothers: Gaea and Demeter

This is a day of hope.  The darkness is lightening and the mother goddess are honored as they prepare to bring new life into the world.  Gaea is honored and asked for her continued protection through the winter.  Demeter is honored and asked to provide for your family through the cold, barren months ahead.  Spend your day basking in the power of the mothers and preparing for the coming day when the sun will rise.

Sunrise

Sunrise is a time for great celebration as the world reawakens and hope is restored.  It is much like a New Year’s celebration, and spent in fellowship with friends and family.  It is a time when troubles of the past are forgotten, new oaths are made, and hope is kindled for the future.

Day 7: The Reborn Gods (Helios and Dionysos) and Eos

The first day of sunrise is a time of hope and celebration.  Eos as honored for her role in opening the way for new life to spring forth.  Helios and Dionysos are honored as the Reborn Gods.  Helios has arisen once again to watch over the earth.  Celebrate with dancing, fireworks or sparklers, laughter, and fellowship.

Day 8: Dionysos and Apollo

During the Lesser Dionysia, which falls during this time of year, Apollo leaves his temple in Delphi for three months, leaving it in the care of Dionysos.  Celebrate with song and dance, feasting and drinking.  Dionysos gives the gift of pure, unadulterated inspiration.  With this changing of the guard at Delphi, think on how your new year can be infused with your own passions.

Day 9: Helios the Sun

On the final day of Heliogenna, Helios is once again in the sky serving as the Bringer of Light and Watcher of Earth.  Spend the day in fellowship with those you care for, and make amends and grant forgiveness to those who have wronged you in the past year.  In addition to making offerings of incense and other bright things, and libations of sweet drinks, take some time to write on pieces of paper those things that you wish to burn away and leave behind so you can have a clean slate for the coming year.  Alternatively, or in addition, you could write your hope and wishes for the future and send them as smoke up to the gods.  Burn these papers in the fire.  Celebrate the glory of the sun and and all the new opportunities that await you.

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