WEEKLY GROUP RITUAL

A new weekly ritual will be posted here each week, which we will use in our Sunday meetings. For more information on these meetings, see the Get Involved page.

Preparation:
It is recommended that you have two bowls: one with pure water, another empty. You will also need a glass with your offering to the Gods. Typical offerings are wine, milk, or water, but the offering can be specific to the deity you are addressing. It is also appropriate to have a candle and incense.

Wash your hands in the bowl of water to purify yourself before the gods.

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We will begin with music and three Delphic Maxims.

116. ἀπέχθειαν φεῦγε – shun hatred

117. πλούτει δικαίως – be justly wealthy

118. δόξαν μὴ λεῖπε – do not forsake glory

First, we worship our Gods,
pay reverence to the noble Heroes,
and greet the spirits of the Dead,
who dwell in otherworldly realms.
So let us offer this libation,
for the honour of their power
and communion with their souls.

Today’s libation text is Hymn 22 by Pletho. Pletho was a Greek philosopher of the Byzantine Empire who was renowned for his knowledge of Plato. He was instrumental in reintroducing Platonism to Western Europe (by inspiring Medici) and, because of that, was an important contributor to the genesis of the Renaissance. Upon his death, a manuscript of his Book of Laws was found which made it clear that he was deeply pagan and wished to re-paganize the Empire.

“Let me not cease, O Blissful Gods,
to owe You gratitude,
for all the good things I receive,
and for that which I have received in the past
under the patronage of Supreme Zeus.
Let me not neglect,
in accordance with my strength,
that which is good for my nation.
To serve willingly the common good,
and to consider that as a great benefit to myself.
Let me not be the cause for anything evil,
of the type which befall humans,
but rather of the good, as much as I am able,
so that I may become blissful,
in Your likeness.”

As you give to us, so we give back to you!

Pour some of your offering into the empty bowl.

Neither earth nor heaven were,
when chaos ruled the empty space.
But from the two that shape and form –
from light and darkness, sky and soil –
the world was forged and ordered.
So shall we be brought to order,
As we partake of this drink.

The remainder of the drink is consumed.

Today’s reading comes from Notebook 2 of the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

For newcomers:
Each person who chooses to read will read one paragraph from asterisk to asterisk. One person will read at a time. We will read in alphabetical order and repeat this order as many times as needed till the reading is complete.

***

At the start of the day tell yourself: I shall meet people who are officious, ungrateful, abusive, treacherous, malicious, and selfish. In every case, they’ve got like this because of their ignorance of good and bad. But I have seen goodness and badness for what they are, and I know that what is good is what is morally right, and what is bad is what is morally wrong; and I’ve seen the true nature of the wrongdoer himself and know that he’s related to me – not in the sense that we share blood and seed, but by virtue of the fact that we both partake of the same intelligence, and so of a portion of the divine. None of them can harm me, anyway, because none of them can infect me with immorality, nor can I become angry with someone who’s related to me, or hate him, because we were born to work together, like feet or hands or eyelids, like the rows of upper and lower teeth. To work against each other is therefore unnatural – and anger and rejection count as “working against.”

*

The gods’ works are filled with providence; the works of fortune aren’t independent of nature or of the interlacing and intertwining of things under the direction of providence. It is the source of everything, including necessity and the well-being of the universe, the whole of which you are a part. What is good for every part of nature is what is supplied by the nature of the whole and what preserves the whole; and what preserves the whole is the changing of the compounds no less than the changing of the physical elements. Be content with these doctrines; make them your constant guiding principles. Get over your thirst for books, so that you don’t die grumbling, but with true serenity and with heartfelt gratitude to the gods.

*

Remember how long you’ve been putting this off and how often the gods have given you due dates of which you’ve not taken advantage. It’s high time now for you to recognize what kind of universe you’re a part of, and what kind of universal directing power you’re an emanation of, and that a limit has been set on your time, and if you don’t use it to dispel the mists it will pass, and you will pass, and the opportunity won’t come again.

*

You must always consider, with Roman and masculine doggedness, how to tackle any matter that arises with scrupulous and unfeigned grace, affection for others, generosity, and justice, and how to spend no time over all other incoming impressions. That will happen if you treat every act as though it were the last of your life – which is to say, if you’re free from all stray thoughts and from any deviation, under the influence of passion, from the principles established by reason, and if you’re free from hypocrisy, self-love, and dissatisfaction with your lot. And look! There are only a few things that a person has to master in order to gain the ability to live a contented and god-fearing life. Even the gods will require nothing more from someone who adheres to these few principles.

***

This completes our reading. We will pause a moment for silent contemplation.

As we conclude our meeting –
in the honour of our Gods,
of our Ancestors, and the World,
which is an image of the Gods –
let us remember how to live
with justice, wisdom, temperance,
with holy thoughts and valiant deeds.

The offering can be left in the bowl for some time. Later, it can be poured outside into the earth.

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