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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The ringing of a bell begins the meeting. Then follows music and a stanza from Hávamál. The music is in the Hypodorian mode, which is associated with the moon.

***

8. A man is happy
if he finds praise and friendship
within himself.
You can never be sure
of where you stand
in someone else’s heart.

***

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 is the Homeric Hymn 12, to Hera.

***

I sing of golden-throned Hera whom Rhea bare.
Queen of the immortals is she, surpassing all in beauty:
she is the sister and the wife of loud-thundering Zeus,
—the glorious one whom all the blessed
throughout high Olympus reverence
and honor even as Zeus who delights in thunder.

***

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.

A bell is rung to initiate the reading.

Today’s reading is a Selection of the Various Sayings of Spartans to Fame Unknown, found in Plutarch’s Moralia.

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.

***

2. When a speaker extended his remarks to a great length, and then asked for answers to report to his citizens, they said, “Report that you found it hard to stop speaking and we to listen.”

*

3. In answer to the Thebans who were disputing with them over some matters, they said, “You should have less pride or more power.”

*

4. A Spartan, being asked why he wore his beard so very long, said, “So that I may see my grey hairs and do nothing unworthy of them.”

*

5. Another, in answer to the inquiry, “Why do you use short swords?” said, “So that we may get close to the enemy.”

*

6. When someone was praising the Argive warriors, a Spartan said, “Yes, at Troy!”

*

9. Someone on seeing a painting in which Spartans were depicted as slain by Athenians, kept repeating, “Brave, brave Athenians.” A Spartan cut in with, “Yes, in the picture!”

*

11. To a man who was being punished, and kept saying, “I did wrong unwillingly,” someone retorted, “Then take your punishment unwillingly.”

*

18. A man who was visiting Sparta stood for a long time upon one foot, and said to a Spartan, “I do not think that you, sir, could stand upon one foot as long as that”; and the other interrupting said, “No, but there is not a single goose that could not do it.”

*

19. When a man boasted greatly of his art in speaking, a Spartan said, “By Heaven, there is no art nor can there be an art without a firm hold on truth.”

*

25. When the Spartans had taken by storm a certain city, the Ephors said, “Gone is the wrestling-school of our young men; they no longer will have competitors.”

*

31. When a bad man brought in a very good idea, they accepted it; but they took it away from him and bestowed the right of proposing it upon another man who had lived a virtuous life.

*

32. When two brothers quarrelled with each other, the Spartans fined the father because he permitted his sons to quarrel.

*

37. A Spartan being asked what he knew, said, “How to be free.”

*

45. A lame man was going forth to war, and some persons followed after him laughing. He turned around and said, “You vile noddles! A man does not need to run away when he fights the enemy, but to stay where he is and hold his ground.”

*

46. Another, mortally wounded by an arrow, said, as his life was ebbing away, “I am not troubled because I must die, but because my death comes at the hands of a womanish archer, and before I have accomplished anything.”

*

48. In answer to the man who called Lampis of Aegina happy, because he seemed very rich in having many cargoes on the sea in ships, a Spartan said, “I do not pay much attention to happiness that hangs by ropes!”

*

53. When Philip of Macedon sent some orders to the Spartans by letter, they wrote in reply, “What you wrote about, ‘No.'” When he invaded the Spartans’ country, and all thought that they should be destroyed, he said to one of the Spartans, “What shall you do now, men of Sparta?” And the other said, “What else than die like men? For we alone of all the Greeks have learned to be free, and not to be subject to others.”

*

54. After the defeat of Agis, Antipater demanded fifty boys as hostages, but Eteocles, who was Ephor, said they would not give boys, lest the boys should turn out to be uneducated through missing the traditional discipline; and they would not be fitted for citizen­ship either. But the Spartans would give, if he so desired, either old men or women to double the number. And when Antipater made dire threats if he should not get the boys, the Spartans made answer with one consent, “If the orders you lay upon us are harsher than death, we shall find it easier to die.”

*

61. A Spartan, being asked what kind of a man Tyrtaeus the poet was, said, “A good man to sharpen the spirit of youth.”

*

69. Another, passing by a tomb at night, and imagining that he saw a ghost, ran at it with uplifted spear, and, as he thrust at it, he exclaimed, “Where are you fleeing from me, you soul that shall die twice?”

***

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.

A bell is rung to signal the end of the meeting.

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

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