Dedicant Oath Rite & Reflection

I took my oath on July 16th, the night following the full moon.  I stood before my altar, which is pared down and simplified because we are in the process of moving, and I began ritual in the way I have become accustomed to using for important rites of passage that I want to have a Hellenic bent.  Throughout the opening of the ritual, I didn’t feel any different really than I do when I do morning devotionals.  The sense is “yes, I’m being listened to, but just in a kind of cursor sense.”  It was when I called out first to my patrons, and then to the Oath Keeping Gods to witness my oath that I felt a sudden, strong connection . It was almost like, “Oh, this is a really important occurance… perhaps we should pay close attention.”  I could tell the Muses were flowing through me.  I didn’t pre-write any of the invocations to my patrons, but I felt my words sweetened by the Muses as I spoke.  I didn’t stumble or trip over any of my words throughout the whole.

Calling out to Helios and to Zeus was really the moment I realized this was it, this was the oath I was taking and calling on two of the most powerful Gods of Oath-Keeping to witness it.  I asked them to see through me and into the truth in my heart, and that if I spoke falsely, or failed in my oath, that they should condemn me to the Erinyes.  Here is what I swore:

I come forth now, a Child of the Earth, to profess my love for the Old Ways.  I come forth now to commit to following my heart along this path, and that I shall strive to continue learning.  I have sought knowledge and inspiration, and now that I have taken the first steps, I pledge myself to this path.  Shining Ones, Nature Spritis, Ancestors, All, hear me now, as I offer up these sacrifices and swear:

I will uphold the Old Ways and live by the virtues given by tradition.  I will strive to keep the feasts and to learn about culturally specific holidays.  I will continue to study the lore so that I may learn the ways of the Ancients.

 

My Patrons, hear me now as I offer up these sacrifices and swear to you:

Artemis, I will stay wild and free in my heart.  I will strive to protect the environment and all growing things.  I will stand up for those who lack the means to do so for themselves.  Hold me to this oath.

Apollo, I will strive to keep the Delphic Maxims, and to continue my learning of omens and healing.  Hold me to this oath.

Dionysos, I will live, truly live, every day.  I will strive to seek transformation for the better.  Hold me to this oath.

Poseidon, I will ride out the storm and I will continue my journey along this path.  Grant me safe voyage as I swear to seek truth and right.  I will strive to control my temper when I need to, but also to lash out when the situation warrants.  I will seek help when I need it.  Hold me to this oath.

 

Thundering Zeus, Keeper of Oaths,

Helios, Bright Beacon of Truth,

Moirai, Mighty Spinners of Fate and Destiny,

Hold me to the oaths I have spoken this day.

Should I fail to adhere to what I have sworn

Send me to the Erinyes so that they may exact their vengeance.

  • I used the Greek Alphabet Oracle for the omen-taking.  I’ve learned to voice record my omens if I want to even come close to remembering them, so I’ve basically transcribed what I said.  The first of the questions I asked was “What should I continue to think on?”  I drew Kappa – To fight the waves is difficult; endure, friend.  I need to learn when to fight and when to endure.
  • “What work is still ahead of me?” I drew Mu – It is necessary to labor, but the change will be admirable.  I have a lot more work ahead of me.  It’s going to hard.  It’s going to be difficult.  And it’s going to be very, very worthwhile.  This is the first step on this path, and there are so many more to come on the journey.
  • “What messages from Artemis?” I drew Tau – You will have a parting from the companions now around you. We’ve had our parting, and we are meeting again on the new path.  And my work may take me places where others can’t follow me.
  • “What messages from Apollo?” I drew Alpha – The God Apollo says you will do everything successully. Thanks for the vote of confidence!
  • “What messages from Dionysus?” I drew Rho – You will go more easily if you wait a short time. Transformation is difficult, and sometimes you must wait until you are ready for it to begin the journey.
  • “What messages from Poseidon?” I drew Khi – Succeeding, friend, you will fulfill a golden oracle.  I have a destiny.  I have something that I’m working towards, and though I may not know it yet, I will get there.
  • I felt power vibrating in this ritual.  I got very shaky there when I was actually speaking my oath, and speaking of what would happen if I were to speak falsely or break the oath.  I’m also always amazed by how nervous I feel when I think about taking omens, but then how easily the words and meanings flow when I’m actually drawing them.  The pictures just appear in my head and the Muses and Apollo flow through me and set those pictures to words and help me to describe them.

 

Following is the full script for my Oath Rite:

 

 

  1. Pre-Ritual Purification
    1. Bathe, dress in clean, ritual clothes. Enter ritual space.
  2. Procession
  • Purification of the Sacred Space (Khernips)
    1. Wash face and hands in fresh, clean water outside of ritual space.
    2. Incense may also be included in the purification.
  1. Ritual Lighting of Sacred Fire
    1. Light the Sacred fire with the flame of Hestia.
  2. Tossing of Barley (kanoun)
    1. Barley is thrown into the fire, and scattered all about the ritual space for further purification of the space.
  3. Statement of Intent

I come to this sacred space today to declare myself a pagan and to dedicate myself to this path I choose.

 

  • Call to the Muses (“To the Muses” by Underflow):

http://underflow.livejournal.com/20975.html

 

Clio, mistress of history, holder of tales

old and new, you know of truths long lost to time.

In days of old lay wisdom, goddess, in the experience

of our elders lie lessons more precious than gold.

Through you do we gain understanding, through you

do we discover the legacy of the past.

Clio, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Euterpe, giver of delight, words of the heart

are yours, sonnets and ballads and poems of love.

Goddess, we see your hand in the songs of Sappho,

we hear you in the interplay of metre and rhyme.

By your art we hold open our souls to the world;

your touch gives voice to the truth within us.

Euterpe, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Thalia, joyous goddess, ivy-wreathed goddess,

in your works we find laughter, an excellent gift.

In wit there is wisdom, good cheer builds good will,

and a merry heart lightens the weight of the world.

O goddess of comedy, what in life surpasses

the delight we know in your mirth and merriment?

Thalia, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Melpomene, you sing of our sorrows, of hardship

and struggle, of perfect despair and savage fate.

So strange it is, that tales of melancholy

and ordeal should bring us pleasure, and yet it is so.

You teach us, muse, that each step and misstep we take,

unknown and unthought, directs our luck and our lot.

Melpomene, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Terpsichore, graceful one, in dance you take delight,

in swaying form and nimble step, in the heartbeat

of the drum. In the practiced pace of the rhythmic waltz,

in the wild, whirling joy of the maenad, we know you.

As the heart speaks, the body moves; as the body moves,

the mind transcends all and pauses in awe and reverence.

Terpsichore, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Erato, honey-tongued goddess, persuasive one,

beloved of lovers, wrapt in myrtle and roses,

companion of Eros, you know of longing

and devotion, of the flame that burns within us.

Yours are the words that warm our hearts and our loins,

that stir our desires, that turn us from thought to action.

Erato, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Polyhymnia, goddess who grants to the poet

the shining spark of divine inspiration,

whose gift guides us to speak of the mighty ones

with love and with reverence. With prayerful lips

we approach the gods, with words of praise and devotion

given us by you, O ever-mindful one.

Polyhymnia, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Urania, celestial goddess, reflective one,

cloaked in the shimmering stars, eyes cast toward the night sky,

yours are the seekers of reason and truth, yours are

those who struggle and strive for understanding,

who conceive the unseen, who argue the unknown;

your gift, a level head and a wandering mind.

Urania, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Calliope, elder muse, wise-hearted sister,

mother of silken-voiced Orpheus, friend of Homer

whose gift of mighty words for noble deeds inspired

verse enduring, tales undying, fame everlasting.

Granter of fine voice and fair speech, of a swift wit

and a ready tongue, of the skill to shape legends.

Calliope, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

  • Honoring Hestia

For Hestia, I pour these first libations,

First-Born, and Last-Born,

Keeper of the Sacred Flame,

Tender of the Hearth and Guardian of the Home.

I sing your praises.

 

  1. Centering with the Land, Sea, and Sky
    1. Land  (Gaea)

Gaea, Mother Earth, ground me in your soil.

Hold me in your arms, let my roots sink down

And be nourished by you.

 

  1. Sea  (Okeanos)

Okeanos, Mighty Ocean, flood around me

As I feel the ebb and flow of your waves.

Pull me to the watery depths, let me bob on the surface and

Let the tide lap around me as I come ashore.

 

  1. Sky (Ouranos)

Ouranos, Brilliant Sky, encircle me in your great dome

Let your breezes whisk by me, and as I breathe in

Fill me with endless infinity.

 

  1. Placing the Omphalos at Sacred Center & Creation of Sacred Space

 

*place omphalos and anoint with oil*

I place this omphalos at the center of worlds, just as it marked the center of the ancient world.  My hands, like two eagles, flying to meet in the middle and establish this as the sacred center of worlds.

 

*sprinkle water around the boundary*

Now let this area around me be purified sacred space where I go to meet the gods, and the gods descend down to meet with me.

 

*waft incense smoke around those gathered, or pour oil on fire*

Let the smoke from my sacred fire carry my voice to the heavens and be heard by the gods. 

 

  1. Orphic Hymn Honoring the Gods
    1. “Friend, Use it to Prosper” by RC Hogart (pg 40) with small adaptations by J. Krueger.

Hear this song.

Know a scared way.

 

Thundering Zeus,

Father of Gods,

Mother Earth, shining sun,

Splendid moon and starry night,

 

Poseidon, king of the poignant sea,

Shadow haired Earth belter;

Demeter of the grain harvest,

Delicate Kore, Dawn in dark,

We honor you.

 

Arrow pouring Artemis;

Blazing Apollo, sun beam archer

Whose joy sings songs of prophecy at Delphi;

Intoxicating Dionysos,

We honor you.

 

Impulsive Ares,

Quick to spill blood;

Hephaistos, lord of artistic fire;

Great Aphrodite, risen from foam to light

And dark Hades, lord of shadows,

We honor you.

 

Hebe, giver of youth;

Virile Herakles, master of work;

Artemis protector of birth,

Opened of the gates to Earth,

We honor you.

 

Dike, mother of justice,

The noble God Piety,

Brilliant Nymphs,

And musical Pan, lord of all,

We honor you.

 

Sacred Hera, queen of Gods,

Beautiful Memory and pure Muses,

Golden Leto, gentle Dione of Dodona,

Clanging Kouretes, domestic Korybantes

And all children of Zeus,

We honor you.

 

Idaean Gods, the sky angel,

Hermes, runner on winds,

Agathodaimon, poppy in hand,

Gentle spirit of good luck;

Themis of the prophetic eyes;

Primordial Day and Night.

Faith and Fortune forever entwined,

We honor you.

 

Kronos, eater of children;

Motherly Rhea; Thetis veiled

Deep blue,

We honor you.

 

Okeanos, nymphs of the brine,

Steady Atlas, shining Eternity

And endless Time, we honor you.

 

Splendid lake at the shore of death,

The Gods who rest beside it,

Spirits good and bad,

Irresistible Fate, we honor you.

 

Spirits of light and of fire,

Of water, earth and shadow,

We honor you.

 

Leukothea, bright Dawn at sea,

Amorous Semele,

Mothers of great Dionysos,

We honor you.

 

Honey tongued Nike, drunk with success;

Asklepios, skillful hunter who raised the dead;

Dread Athene, master of war

Who leaped full grown and armored

From the head of father Zeus,

We honor you.

 

Thunders and winds caged in mighty columns,

Roaring in furious fight for release.

Attis, father of spring and immortal Adonis,

Beginning and End, we honor you.

 

We honor you all

And invite you

To a feast of love.

 

  1. Offerings to the Theoi as a whole

I pour these libations now for all the Greek Gods,

Those dwelling on Mt. Olympus,

Those dwelling in the world of Men,

And those dwelling in the deep Underworld.

I sing your praises.

 

  1. Offerings to Patron Gods
    1. Artemis
    2. Apollo
  • Dionysus
  1. Poseidon

 

  • Calling on the Witnesses to the Oath

For the gods who witness the lives of men,

And for the gods who witness oaths

I pour out the next shares,

For it is under your auspices I come.

 

  1. The Moirai

For the Moirai, I pour this libation.

Mighty spinners of Fate and Destiny,

Binding the world together with fragile strands.

You work adamantine shuttles, weaving human threads

Artfully blending lives together. 

I sing your praises.

Of Klotho, she who spins, drew forth my thread on my birth.

Of Lakhesis, she who measures, follows my steps and directs the consequences of my actions with the counsel of the Gods.

Of Atropos, she who cannot be turned, will be waiting at the end to cut my thread.

I sing your praises.

 

  1. Helios

For Helios, I pour this libation.

Great, all seeing father of Supreme Justice,

You who witness the oaths and promises made by all man-kind.

Faithful defender, and the eye of right

You who are ancient, wise, and strong.

Let your brightness pierce my soul

And see in me what is true.

Hears my words and my thoughts,

And know that I speak honestly this day.

Helios, I sing your praises.

 

  1. Zeus

For Zeus, I pour this libation.

Father of Justice and Keeper of Oaths,

I call out to you to hear me this day

And to witness this Oath I take.

Let your thunder wash over me,

And the sky flash with your arrival.

Blind me and bind me in truths spoken.

Thundering Zeus, Oath-Keeper

I sing your praises.

 

 

  • Working: Oath

I come forth now, a Child of the Earth, to profess my love for the Old Ways.  I come forth now to commit to following my heart along this path, and that I shall strive to continue learning.  I have sought knowledge and inspiration, and now that I have taken the first steps, I pledge myself to this path.  Shining Ones, Nature Spritis, Ancestors, All, hear me now, as I offer up these sacrifices and swear:

I will uphold the Old Ways and live by the virtues given by tradition.  I will strive to keep the feasts and to learn about culturally specific holidays.  I will continue to study the lore so that I may learn the ways of the Ancients. 

 

My Patrons, hear me now as I offer up these sacrifices and swear to you:

Artemis, I will stay wild and free in my heart.  I will strive to protect the environment and all growing things.  I will stand up for those who lack the means to do so for themselves.  Hold me to this oath.

Apollo, I will strive to keep the Delphic Maxims, and to continue my learning of omens and healing.  Hold me to this oath.

Dionysos, I will live, truly live, every day.  I will strive to seek transformation for the better.  Hold me to this oath.

Poseidon, I will ride out the storm and I will continue my journey along this path.  Grant me safe voyage as I swear to seek truth and right.  I will strive to control my temper when I need to, but also to lash out when the situation warrants.  I will seek help when I need it.  Hold me to this oath.

 

Thundering Zeus, Keeper of Oaths,

Helios, Bright Beacon of Truth,

Moirai, Mighty Spinners of Fate and Destiny,

Hold me to the oaths I have spoken this day.

Should I fail to adhere to what I have sworn

Send me to the Erinyes so that they may exact their vengeance.

 

  • Omen

What should I continue to think on?

 

 

What work is still ahead of me?

 

 

Any special messages from my Patrons?

 

 

  1. Thanking the Witnesses of the Oath

 

  1. The Moirai

Klotho, Lakhesis, and  Atropos,

Mighty Weavers of Fate and Destiny.

Thank you for joining me today

And witnessing this oath.

 

  1. Helios

Helios, Bright and Shining Truth Seer.

Thank you for joining me today

And witnessing this oath.

 

  1. Zeus

Father Zeus, Keeper of Oaths.

Thank you for joining me today

And witnessing this oath.

 

  1. Patrons
    1. Artemis
    2. Apollo
  • Dionysus
  1. Poseidon

 

  • Return to the Ordinary

For all the Theoi I pour these final libations.

Mighty deities, we offer you many thanks for joining us today.

May the door always remain open,

The fire always burn,

And our voices always sing in harmony.

 

Removing the omphalos


For Hestia, I pour these last libations,

First-Born, and Last-Born,

Keeper of the Sacred Flame,

Tender of the Hearth and Guardian of the Home.

May you always keep my hearth-fire burning bright.

 

The 8 Neo-Pagan High Days

November 1 – First Cross Quarter

The first cross quarter, often called Samhain, is a time of remembrance for the dead.  It is thought of as the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, and thus it is a liminal time when we can more easily communicate with the Mighty Dead, the Ancient Wise.  It is the final of the harvest festivals, and is often celebrated with a great feast honoring those who have passed.

In our Grove we’ve celebrated Samhain by holding a “dumb supper.”  During this time we have a feast with the Grove members and create a plate of food specifically for the Ancestors.  Then one by one, while everyone is quiet, we go up the altar and tell a story or share a memory about our ancestors.  It is a time for community with each other and our ancestors.

In current culture it is linked to Halloween.  Children wear costumes (which stems from the folk wearing masks so the spirits wouldn’t recognize them) and candy and other treats are given out, hearkening back to a time of offering hospitality to travelers.

December 21 – Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice, often referred to as Yule, is the longest night of the year.  It is seen as a time of death and rebirth.  It is the darkest night, but from that point on the days will get longer each day, and so hope is renewed that the winter will not keep getting darker and it will end eventually.

Hellenic tradition celebrates Heliogenna at this time, as a rebirth of the Sun.  The honored deity is Helios, God of the Sun, and 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.  This is similar to the practice in current culture of making New Year’s Resolutions.

February 1 – Second Cross Quarter

The second cross quarter, often called Imbolc, is the time of year when the sheep begin lactating again, signaling that the winter is coming to a close and spring is just around the corner.  Imbolc celebrates the fire that burns within, and the hearth.  This is likely because the family stays together more and remains around the hearth more in the wintertime.

In current culture, Groundhog’s Day is celebrated on February 2nd, and is a time when people look to a groundhog leaving his borrow to see how much longer the winter will be.  So, in the same sense, winter is coming to an end, it will last just a bit longer, and spring is just around the corner.

March 21 – Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox, often called Ostara, is the time of year when winter is finally letting go of the world and the day and night are the same length.  It is a time for fertility, new life, and new beginnings.  Farmers can begin planting, and new livestock are born to sustain the herds.

In Hellenic culture the festival of Anthesteria takes place around this time.  It is a three day “Festival of Flowers” that celebrates the coming of spring, new wine (honoring Dionysos here), and the ancestors.  The first day, the Opening of Jars (Pithoigia), is where the new wine was opened and libations to Dionysos were poured.  The folk prayed that wine drunk mixed with water as Dionysos taught would be good for them.  The second day, the Day of Cups (Khoes), was a time for revelry and merrymaking.  The third day, the Day of Pots (Khytrai), honored the ancestors by leaving out traditional food for the dead (Orsini).

May 1 – Third Cross Quarter

The third cross quarter, often known as Beltane, is a time of revelry, and like Samhain, a time when the veil between the worlds is thin.  It is another liminal time, though in the case of pop culture associated more with fairies and magical beast than with the dead.  However, this is okay because it is seen as a time when the folk can communicate more easily with the Gods and with the Nature Spirits.

In our Grove we generally dance the Maypole, which is a derivative of Morris Dancing.  “Morris dancing, in fact, has been claimed to be a remnant of a pre-Christian Celtic, or Druidic, fertility dance” (Witcomb), though the historic evidence supporting this is questionable.  Despite this however, dancing the Maypole is an example of neo-pagan practices surround May Day, or Beltane.  It is considered a fertility dance that focuses on raising power.

June 21 – Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice, or Midsummer, is the longest day of the year.  It is a time to celebrate the glory and power of the sun, as well as the mighty Fire within.  During this celebration there often would have been many bonfires burning.

A modern Hellenic celebration is Prometheia, referencing Prometheus, the Greek Titan who gave fire as a gift to mankind.  It is a three day festival with the first day honoring the ancient philosophers and remembering the ancient Greek culture and traditions. On the second day the surviving parts of the Prometheia trilogy by Aeschylus are performed.  They relate the tragedy of Prometheus and how he was punished for giving fire to mankind.  The theater performance is followed by revelry late into the night.  On the third day purification, name giving, and marriage ceremonies take place (Prometheia).

August 1 – Fourth Cross Quarter

The fourth cross quarter, also known as Lughnassadh, is the first of the three harvest festivals.  The summer months where food is in short supply due to the heat are coming to an end and the bounty of the fall harvests is a time for celebration.  In Celtic tradition this festival honors Lugh and a variety of warrior games were held in honor of Lugh’s foster mother, Tailltiu.  In Hellenic tradition warrior games were also held at this time of year for several days following the main ritual.  During Panathenaia a 2-mile uphill torch race was held ending at the Acropolis.  “The first runner one to arrive with a torch still alight was the winner and his torch was used to light the fire to burn the sacrifices” (Panathenaia).

In addition to the competitions, Panathenaia was a celebration of Athena’s birthday, or the birthday of the city of Athens.   It is celebrated as a time when Gods and mortals feast together.  During the Greater Panathenaia the main workings for this festival were giving the statue of Athena a new peplos, or robe (Winter).

September 21 – Autumn Equinox

Autumn Equinox, or the neo-pagan festival of Mabon, is the second of the three harvest festivals.  It begins the dark half of the year, as it is the day when the day and night are the same length, but the nights will become longer from this day on.  It is a time for reflection on the joys of the summer months and the light half of the year, and a time for contemplation of the coming hardships of the dark half of the year.

In our grove we celebrate this festival as our Anniversary Rite, a time when our spiritual work really took off.  We have a Grove Poem that is read every year at this time, adding a new stanza each year.  The new stanza reflects our work from the past year, carrying on the theme of reflection and contemplation.