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An altar is one of those basic necessities within Hellenismos, and it differs from a shrine. Where an altar is a 'work space', dedicated not so much to a specific deity, but used to do the bulk of the (daily) rituals, a shrine is a devotional area where an altar might be located. In ancient Hellas, the shrine was usually a temple, the altar an actual altar, standing outside of it. Household worship took place at a multitude of shrines.

Labeling something a shrine, does not mean you can't sacrifice at these spots in your home; every Hene Kai Nea and Noumenia, I offer libations of mixed wine and incense at my shrine to Apollon, Hermes and Hekate, every Noumenia, I offer mixed wine and incense to Zeus Kthesios at His shrine in my kitchen, and ever Agathós Daímōn, I make a libation of unmixed wine at His shrine. As explained previously, I don't have an outdoor altar; I have one indoors, and it also houses my continual flame to Hestia. It's at this shrine I do the bulk of my worship--it's my hearth. It has my offering bowl, and is very deity-neutral, just to make sure everyone I give sacrifice to might feel at home at it. It's located in my bedroom shrine--the actual space, decorated and kept clean for the Theoi.

My altar is not the altar the ancient Hellens would have used. For one, it's not outside--something I'm grateful for as it's snowing outside at the moment--and for another, it's not made of stone. I don't make a fire on top of it--a good thing, seeing as it's made of wood--but have to use a bowl to do so. In ancient Hellas, an altar was called a 'bômos' (βωμός)--properly signifying any elevation--with an 'epipuron' (ἐπίπυρον)--a movable pan or brazier--used on top of the bômos so it could serve as an altar for burnt-offerings. The household hearth was used to make sacrifices as well, and thus served as an altar of sorts. It was named after the Theia of the home and hearth: 'hestía' (ἑστία). Some state-owned altars--especially when they were simply large fires--were named 'hestía' as well.

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When you adopt Hellenismos as a religion, you suddenly have a lot of extra festivals on the calendar. Funnily enough, that's the thing people are most shocked about. In addition to the fancy festivals, however, the Hellenistic base of worship is the monthly lunar calendar (the 'Mên kata Theion', 'sacred month'). Today, I'll present the basic, Hellenistic, monthly calendar. It's constructed from various ancient sources, and is recognized by many Hellenists today. Note, that this schedule was conglomerated with Hesiod's auspicious days, so--for example--the thirteenth of the month is sacred to Artemis, and a bad day for sowing.

First Decad - Waxing Moon - Mên Histámenos
1. Noumenia - Selene, Apollo Noumenios, Zeus Herkios and Ktesios, Hestia, and the other Theoi of the Household
2. Agathós Daímōn - Agathós Daímōn
3. Tritomênís - Athena
4. Tetrás - Aphrodite, Eros, Herakles, Poseidon, and Apollo
5. The Erinyes, Eris, and Horkos
6. Artemis
7. Apollo
8. Poseidon, Asklēpiós and Theseus
9. General holy day to honour the Theoi; special day to the Muses, Helios, and Rhea
10.

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One of the most important and confusing of the many Hellenic festivals is the three-day transition from month to month. Although unlinked, the Deipnon, the Noumenia and Agathós Daímōn are held on consecutive days, around the new moon. Especially the placement of the days is hard to get right; at least, it was for me.

The Deipnon (Hene kai Nea)--or Hekate's Deipnon--is celebrated any time before the first sliver of the new moon is visible. In practice, this is the day after the new moon. The Noumenia is held the day after that, when the moon has become visible again, and Agathós Daímōn the day after that. It is important to note that the ancient Hellens started a new day at sundown the day before. Instead of starting a new day at midnight--or in the morning--like we do today, they started it at sundown of the previous day. This means that--when applied to modern practice--the Deipnon starts on the day of the suspected new moon, and the rest follows after, to the total of four days. Confused yet? How about a schematic.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's been a while, but I'm back again, lovely readers! I'm currently hard at work on my second book (amongst other projects, as you'll see below), but I will certainly continue to post here as and when I can. Comments and topic requests always welcome.


At this time of year, it's easy to understand why our ancestors (both actual and spiritual), those wise women and cunning men, were considered remote, unusual, untouchable, even fearsome.

As Autumn moves into Winter here in the UK, we feel our natural, animal pull to dig in, hibernate, take time within the darkness to assess the previous year and anticipate the time to come - but I doubt any busy society has ever really allowed that to happen, except when they have no choice. Stoke up the fire, head to the pub or communal house, light and laughter against the outside world.

(Photo - 'Autumn in the New Forest', from Glastonbury Goddess Temple)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Alright, there is good news, and bad news. The good news is that I figured out how to kill the weird zoom thing the camera did. The bad news is that I only discovered this on the second day of shooting this video. Also, the first day, it was this sunny-but-cloudy day, so the camera had a bit of trouble with the light. Therefor, the first minute is a bit rough but after that, it gets lots and lots better. Next time will be perfect (and also better lit).

Alright, so on to the video tutorial. In the spirit of the Deipnon and Noumenia we have just celebrated, I am going to show you what to do with, and how to prepare, a kathiskos. As I will explain in the video, the kathiskos is a small jar filled with foodstuffs which is stored from the Noumenia (first day of the lunar month) until the Deipnon (last day of the lunar month) in a shrine to Zeus Kthesios. It's purpose is to protect the pantry.
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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Why do ritual as a Naturalistic Pagan?

One of the most common sources of confuzzlement about naturalism is ritual.  If you don't believe deities are literally real, then what's the point of ritual?  Isn't it just empty play-acting?

Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Laurel
    Laurel says #
    Thank you, that's exactly what I was looking for!
  • Laurel
    Laurel says #
    I myself would like to do rituals as a new Naturalistic Pagan, however I'm having trouble adapting typical Pagan rituals to suit m
  • B. T. Newberg
    B. T. Newberg says #
    Nice to meet you, Laurel. Yes, there are many naturalistic rituals available online. The most comprehensive compilation I'm aware

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I talked in my first post about the importance of integrating our spiritual beliefs as Pagans with our everyday mundane lives. Most of the Witches and Pagans I know strive to do just that. I also think most of us struggle to find the time and energy to do so, when we are already overwhelmed by our busy, hectic existence and our obligations to others. Certainly I wrestle with this dilemma: how do I find the space and time to practice my Craft when I barely have time to eat and sleep? (And forget having a social life or taking a vacation. Vaca-what?)

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  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    That's what I do on a daily basis, and it works really well. I think it's not a bad idea, whatever your spiritual beliefs.

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