Everyday Prayers: The Hekatesia

This series, which I hope to publish every Friday, will focus on specific prayers for the Thiasos of the Starry Bull. These prayers may be original creations, chants, translations of ancient prayers, or analyses of modern ones, but all will be useful for members of the Thiasos. That said, let’s get started!

There’s been a slight change in setup this week.  Normally, I post a short prayer that we can use in everyday situations; this time, I’m going to be a bit more specific.  Also, as you will see, I will not exactly be posting a prayer.

This coming Wednesday, 13 August, will mark the first Hekatesia the Thiasos of the Starry Bull has celebrated together.  It is not a day traditionally given to Hekate, and we–as a group–have a blank slate upon which to create our own ritual.

In our most recent Starry Bull Chat, we developed that ritual outline; I present it here to you.  Adapt it as you see fit!

  1. In the next few months–August, September, October–we will be celebrating several festivals that tie to the Dead, particularly restless and/or angry dead.  This can be difficult to do with fear holding us back.  Take some time and think about what you are truly afraid of–the big fears, the ones that keep you from fully enjoying your life.  You can start thinking about this now, or right at the time of your Hekatesia ritual; up to you.
  2. Got those fears in mind?  Good.  Find an object that represents them.  Create an object, if you would like.  Imbue that object with your fear.  Cast your fear into it; let it slip from you like the last glass of water poured from a pitcher.
  3. On the night of August 13, gather together some offering materials: the object described in Step 2; a candle (tealight will do) in a holder that is not easily tipped over; food and drink to offer to Hekate.
  4. Light the candle and carry it, along with your offerings and the fear-object, to a nearby crossroads with an oak growing at it.  (If you don’t have oaks in your area, a cypress will do; if you have none of these, try to find one that has a tree, or one that feels somehow powerful.
  5. Place the candle and the food- and drink-offerings at the crossroads.  Place the object alongside them, and pray to Hekate.  Offer Her the food and drink, and the light of the candle.
  6. Offer Her the object.  Give your fear to Her.  She is the Mistress of all things lost and missing; She can help you recover the parts of you, of your life, that have been hidden or kept at bay by this fear.  Ask Her for Her guidance in removing that fear and reclaiming your most authentic self.
  7. If you wish, stay and pray or meditate for a while.  When you feel you are done, turn and leave; leave everything there at the crossroads.  As you leave, do not look back; to do so shows disrespect to the Goddess and the chthonic entities in Her train.

Emily Kamp is a Hellenic polytheist, devoted in particular to Hestia, Hermes, and Dionysos the Starry Bull. When not teaching high-school Latin or making horrendous puns, she is the moderator of an online shrine to Hestia (which doubles as a daily devotional for polytheists of all stripes).

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5 comments

    1. Ah, THAT’S why I kept remembering that date. I had seen the dies natalis Dianae pop up on the Ekklesia’s calendar, but I hadn’t remembered it. Fascinating, especially since the Thiasos draws in part on the religious traditions of Magna Graecia.

      As far as I know, though, there wasn’t any Diana connection intended when Sannion set the date (see his recent entry on the House of Vines). I doubt that it’s mere coincidence, though.

      Sounds like divination’s in order–if I can get my head into the space for it.

  1. According to my own understanding August 13th is a traditional holy day for Hekate, although I don’t have primary sources to draw on at the moment. I have been told that she was honored at this time of year particularly as a Goddess of Storms because this would be the beginning of the rainy season? (It’s amazing what you hear and don’t question until you have to drum up the primary source materials…)

    Also it was the Nemoralia in Rome in honor of Diana, which PSVL already mentioned…

    My own justifications for not looking back at sacrifices like this to Hekate and chthonic beings is the psychological implications of allowing myself to look back. If I look back I give into the desire to bring part of that thing that I gave up back with me, which is self-sabotage. If I am not ready to walk away without looking back I am not yet ready to give it as an offering for a destroyer-God to take away and consume.

    1. That’s a beautiful way to phrase the implications of looking back at a chthonic sacrifice. I’d never seen it that way before, and I like it a lot.

      As for the date, I’ve not researched Hekate in great detail, so I am wholly unfamiliar with dates of Her festivals. I do know that Athens had no such festivals to a Hekate of Storms–but that’s just Athens. It would be a bit narrow-minded of me to apply that to all of the Hellenic world.

      (I will say, though, that storms in the Mediterranean were associated with winter–the months of November to March, generally speaking–and in fact, the Greek word “kheimôn” meant both “storm” and “winter,” and other periods of rain were associated with spring-time, so I’m not sure if an August storm sacrament would have taken place in the Mediterranean.)

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