Writing for a new magazine The Starlit Path and in this issue I talk about the Purification of Autumn to coincide with the Southern Hemisphere and how my Greek roots connect to that with a ritual to Hestia.
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Preparing and cooking food is an act of magick itself, so for me, I like to have an altar in my kitchen. Back in the days of old, the kitchen hearth was a place of magick especially when it came to folk magick and it continues to this day since many of us practice the craft in our own homes.
Crafting in the kitchen can often evoke warm, safe and happy memories. Considering this is a place well known to most, it can be used to work magick through creating food and drink in a familiar loving surrounding. Food itself contains energy and the spark of life, therefore it is only understandable to honor this gift of the gods by creating an altar in your kitchen. Having a kitchen altar can increase the vibration of your home, especially if you consider that an altar is sacred space and can further empower the process of food crafting. This starts with the ingredients and tools used, to the methods employed to prepare and cook the food, all the way to the finished product.
Altars in the home have been around since ancient times as this was sometimes the only place an ordinary person could commune with the gods in sacred space. Since the kitchen was the main room where meals were prepared, which were often seen as gifts from the gods, it was often an ideal place to put a household shrine. Kitchen altars can be the power spot of the house where energies can be used to bring balance and harmony into the home and those who live there.
A simple kitchen altar can be placed in a niche, shelf mounted on a wall, in a cupboard, on the kitchen table or on a surface like a bench top. It can be elaborate which can bring attention to it or it can blend in with the décor of the kitchen and be overlooked by inquisitive guests.
What you place upon your kitchen altar is completely up to you and your own tastes. If you are following a specific path such as Wicca I suggest placing an image of a god or goddess of the hearth such as Hekate, Gaia, Hestia, Aradia, Ceres, Ida, Lakshimi, Vesta, Demeter and items which represent the four elements such as:
Earth: bread, salt, flowers, fruit, acorns, crystals;
Air: oil burner, leaves, tiny brooms, feathers;
Fire: a lighter, matches, oil lamp, candle;
Water: bowl/glass/bottle of water, witch bottle, shells.
These items including a witches blade, used for cutting up herbs, can be placed on the kitchen altar along with a mortar and pestle for grinding up salts, spices and herbs. Remember to keep the altar clean and free of clutter to further resonate this magickal energy into your home and your life.
When food crafting I find myself instantly drawn to the kitchen altar. Here I light a candle and offer up a little hymn to the goddess to imbue and bless my food with health, vitality and delicious flavor in her name as well as guarding and protecting my home and those who live within it. Here is a hymn I have written for Hekate whom is the patron of my home’s hearth which you can use:
Great Goddess of the hearth and household
Watch over and protect those within our fold
To your honour we feast and drink
Bless us with your eternal link
Filled with health and vitality
So I will it, so mote it be”
(c) T. Georgitsis 2010
Halloween is also celebrated as the witches new year and is the time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and therefore perfect for divination or contacting the dead. Hekate’s connection to witches can be traced back to classical Greece where they worked with her for various incantations, spells and called upon her for assistance and blessings.
Hekate, the virgin titaness who prefers solitude, goddess of the sea, earth and sky, light bearer and revealer to those who seek, keeper of the crossroads who roams the cemeteries for lost souls, queen of magic and the night, key bearer who has access to the otherworld and can commune with those who have passed between the veils, goddess of ghosts and necromancy, patron of travellers who guides them to their destination.
Goddess of witchcraft, magic and ghosts – Hekate in my opinion exudes the energy of Halloween. During Halloween Hekate, the embodiment of death roams the earth and is therefore one of the most suitable gods to honour during this time. Since Hekate is known as goddess of the dead, mistress of souls who can accompany the departed between the realm of the living and that of the dead, witches have naturally been drawn to call upon her during the festival of the dead: Halloween also known as Samhain. Hekate can be called upon as an intermediary to connect you to your ancestors especially since our dearly departed tend to visit us during Halloween. Also communing with the ancestors during this time can reveal future fate and Hekate can also be of assistance when divining.
Venerating the ancestors and Hekate during this time which also celebrates the last harvest ensures blessings and that fertility to the land is returned in spring. The ancient Greeks would often leave offerings to Hekate in order for their crops not to fail and for her storm aspect to be pacified. Considering winter is a time of storms and the earth lays dormant, getting Hekate on your good side with respects to these aspects is forward thinking.
I personally see that during Mabon (Autumn Equinox) is when Hekate, torches in hand, guides and protects Persephone as she descends into the underworld. At Halloween, Hekate has returned from the Underworld with news from the dead, as she is one of the few gods who can traverse between all the worlds.
Constructing a dumb supper for Hekate and your ancestors is a wonderful way to honour them both by placing a plate of food that Hekate and your ancestors would appreciate then leaving it on a Hekate or ancestor altar, on a crossroads or on your doorsteps ensures they will take on the essence of the food offered.
Offerings to your ancestors can include food they enjoyed during life and offerings to Hekate that compliments Halloween includes apples, pomegranates, garlic, onion, wine, mead and mugwort tea.
Here is a simple ritual for Hekate, Halloween and your ancestors I have composed and used successfully in the past:
Prepare a dumb supper and place in the NW of your circle or on the left of your altar.
Create sacred space.
Light some incense preferably dragons blood, frankincense or livani (which is found at Greek continental shops and I prefer the rose scented type).
Have a candle placed in the middle of your altar before an image of Hekate in red or black so your deceased loved ones can make their way to you whilst invoking a hymn to Hekate (I prefer the Orphic Hymn to Hekate).
Have a key (I prefer skeleton keys) and an image of a skull (I prefer to use crystal) on the left side of your alter.
Any forms of divination should be placed on your shrine which include, tarot cards, scrying bowl or mirror.
Begin the rite by lighting the spirit candle and evoke Hekate with the following Orphic hymn:
“Hekate Einodia, Trioditis, lovely dame, of earthly, watery, and celestial frame, sepulchral, in a saffron veil arrayed, pleased with dark ghosts that wander through the shade; Perseis, solitary goddess, hail! The world’s key-bearer, never doomed to fail; in stags rejoicing, huntress, nightly seen, and drawn by bulls, unconquerable queen; Leader, Nymphe, nurse, on mountains wandering, hear the suppliants who with holy rites thy power revere, and to the herdsman with a favouring mind draw near.”
Take the key and tap the top of the skull three times and repeat the following chant:
“Hekate we ask that you open the gates of Hades and allow our ancestors to traverse to us this night
Guide our loved ones who have passed over, to us with your wisdom and might
Bring our ancestors of old and new with you to share with us their gift of foresight
Great Goddess we seek to commune with them in the name of all that is light
Bless us for we pay homage to you and our departed ones in this very rite”
Commune with your ancestors and use your divination tools to see what the year has in store for you or ask any specific questions that you have.
Thank and farewell your ancestors and Hekate.
Close sacred space.
(C) T. Georgitsis 2010
On the 20th of October, the Hellenic Khalkeia festival is observed.
The Khalkeia is a festival celebrating and is devoted to Hephaistos, Athena Ergane and the Khalkeia (patrons of artisans).
This is an auspicious time to celebrate crafting and to make devotional crafts.
Offer meat and grain.
Here is a hymn to Hephaestus you can read out during your devotionals:
Sing, clear-voiced Muse, of Hephaestus famed for inventions.
With bright-eyed Athena he taught men glorious crafts throughout the world,
—men who before used to dwell in caves in the mountains like wild beasts.
But now that they have learned crafts through Hephaestus the famed worker,
easily they live a peaceful life in their own houses the whole year round.
Be gracious, Hephaestus, and grant me success and prosperity!
English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White
(C) T. Georgitsis 2017
On the 28th of September, the Hellenic Pyanepsia festival is observed.
The Pyanepsia is a festival celebrating and is devoted to Apollo, Theseus, Helios and the Horai (the goddesses of the seasons and time).
This is an auspicious time to celebrate the harvest festival whilst retelling the myths of Theseus. Make an eiresione (take a branch of olive, laurel or from a fruit tree and place around it strings of white or purple wool. Add fruits, pastries, cakes, acorns to decorate and place on the front door of the home to protect the hearth against ill will.
Avoid meat and offer honey, olive oil, figs, bread, panspermia, (the meal which was offered to Apollo for the safe travel from Delos to Attica by Theseus), fruit and pastries.
Here is a retelling of the Life of Plutarch you can read out during your devotionals:
(C) T. Georgitsis
On the 28th of September, the Hellenic Oskhophoria festival is observed.
The Oskhophoria is a festival celebrating the grape harvest and is devoted to Dionysus and Athena (Skira).
This is an auspicious time to work with protection, specifically of the hearth.
Offer grapes, vine leaves and wine.
Here is a poem you can use in your devotionals:
(C) T. Georgitsis