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!
Concentration is everything in ritual. If, like many Thiasos members, you are practicing rituals on your own, it can be difficult to juggle the right words, the right actions, and the right mindset. Trying a new ritual only adds to that juggling act.
On Wednesday, I celebrated the Hekatesia in a manner similar to the one Narkaios described in his earlier post. But I noticed, fairly early in the ritual, that my concentration was lacking. I was so focused on getting everything right that getting the feeling right, doing the ritual with intention, slid off by the wayside. I did not feel my fears entering the egg, although I had marked the egg carefully with my own fears. I did not feel holiness in the air as I walked to the crossroads, even though I had everything for my offering with me.
And when I had left the offering at the crossroads–I looked back.
What’s wrong with looking back? Ask Orpheus. Looking back shows a lack of confidence in our own offerings; disrespect to the Gods who will be partaking of the offering (and do not enjoy being disturbed in their meal); lack of concentration. It negates the solemnity with which we offer to chthonic deities, both in the Thiasos and in traditional Hellenic polytheism.
So, uh, oops.
Tonight, I will be atoning for the mistake. And this time, I will intend everything about this sacrifice.
I don’t have a prayer to leave you, tonight; leaving words here sort of negates my message. Tonight’s post is not about words.
It’s a reminder that no words can replace the intent with which you pray, the feeling, the knowledge that your concentration is vital in showing our Gods that you are devoted to Them.
When you pray tonight, or tomorrow morning, or whenever next you do so, really examine the words you are saying. Examine your actions. Examine the mindset with which you pray. Concentrate on the moment and on what it is you’re offering to your Gods, be it words, incense, drink, or something else.
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).