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.

————

We will begin with music and three Delphic Maxims.

  1. γυναικὸς ἄρχε – rule your woman
  2. σεαυτὸν εὖ ποίει – benefit yourself
  3. εὐπροσήγορος γίνου – be courteous

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 Euripides Trojan Women 884 – 888.

“ὦ γῆς ὄχημα κἀπὶ γῆς ἔχων ἕδραν,
ὅστις ποτ’ εἶ σύ, δυστόπαστος εἰδέναι,
Ζεύς, εἴτ’ ἀνάγκη φύσεος εἴτε νοῦς βροτῶν,
προσηυξάμην σε, πάντα γὰρ δι’ ἀψόφου
βαίνων κελεύθου κατὰ δίκην τὰ θνήτ’ ἄγεις.

O you that support the earth and have your seat upon it,
whoever you are, for you are hard to know by conjecture,
Zeus, whether the necessity of nature or the mind of mortals,
I address you in prayer, for you, proceeding on a silent path,
direct all mortal affairs in accordance with justice.”

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 is Bacchylides 5.1-55 – a Victory Ode for Hieron of Syracuse on the occasion of his victory at Olympia (476 B.C.) in the single horse race.

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.

***

Fortunate in your fate, commander of the Syracusans, riders of whirling horses: you, if any man on earth today, will rightly understand this honor, sweet gift of the violet-garlanded Muses.

*

Now, calm your righteous mind; rest it from cares, and consider: a hymn, woven with the help of the deep-waisted Graces, is sent from the holy island to your glorious city by your guest-friend, the brilliant servant of Ourania with her golden headband.

*

He wants to pour forth his voice from his heart to praise Hieron. High above, slicing the deep air with his swift golden wings, the eagle, messenger of loud-thundering, wide-ruling Zeus, trusts boldly in his powerful strength, and thin-voiced birds crouch in fear. The peaks of the great earth do not restrain him, nor the rough, choppy waves of the untiring sea. In the everlasting void he shifts his delicate wings, riding the gusts of the west wind, a conspicuous sight for men.

*

So now for me there are countless paths of song leading in every direction, thanks to dark-haired Nike and Ares with his bronze breastplate, to sing of your excellence, noble sons of Deinomenes. May the god not tire of doing good.

*

Beside the wide-whirling Alpheus, golden-armed Dawn saw the victory of the chestnut horse Pherenicus, a runner swift as a wind-storm, and she saw him win in very holy Pytho. Laying my hand on the earth, I make this declaration: never in any contest has he been fouled by the dust of faster horses as he strained toward the finish-line.

*

In force he is like Boreas; obeying his rider, he speeds a new victory and new applause to hospitable Hieron. Prosperous is he to whom a god has given a share of fine things, and a rich life to live out with enviable luck. For no man on earth was born to be fortunate in everything.

***

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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