One early afternoon I went out for lunch to run some errands and a co-worker asked me how the weather was upon my return. I informed her it was sunny and humid but that it would most probably rain in an hour or so because of the natural signs I was seeing. This co-worker asked me how I knew and I shared that my mother had taught me how to read the signs of nature. This was done through various signs perceived through things such as smells, sunset/sunrise colours, clouds, sounds of insects/animals (just to name a few) in order to predict the weather. Due to my mother coming from a farming family in a small rural village, this was second nature to her and her family, which helped them to be in tune with the seasons. This co-worker nodded in agreement with me and shared that she had experienced something similar through her family and within an hour and a half, it did indeed rain.
When my mother was teaching me magick as part of my normal everyday life, I didn’t realise how much impact it had on me as an individual and how much it would shape my practice. I have vivid memories of the two of us sitting on a beach watching the sunset where she would explain how that particular sunset was signalling the next day’s weather – which always came out the way she predicted. A lot of the magick she taught me was in this vein, like when I had my first headache as a child where she took me into the garden and showed me what herbs to pick and how to brew a tea to drink in order to get rid of it. We’d be outside watching the full moon and she’d teach me how to sing to it which in hindsight turned out to be a spell/affirmation and although I was always an observant child who dutifully obeyed my mother because we were very close – I just went along with it as I just thought it was normal. I never knew her connection to nature as well as the deep love and practice of spirituality and magick and sharing it with me wasn’t the standard for everyone else . Therefore when I gregariously announced that I was going to be a witch when I grew up at the age of 5 after reading “Meg and Mog” I couldn’t comprehend the laughter from the other children around me. Suffice to say I did learn the lesson of keeping silent and not speaking about what I learned publicly afterwards unless I was with like-minded people.
I feel when we are more connected to nature and the cycle of things we are more in tune with the magick around us. I’ve seen more magick performed by locals at a small rural Greek village seasonal festival than in some huge elaborate staged festivals and I ascribe that to the fact that the former was more in tune with nature and the cycle of the seasons. The one seasonal celebration still held in my maternal grandmother’s village in autumn is my favourite as it involves jumping over three fires in a row as a way to cleanse the body and soul and bring in health, prosperity and success. It’s also a way to mark the end of summer and rid oneself of any evil. After the last harvest occurs in the village, everyone goes down to the fields and collects the stalks of wheat straw and place bundles of them upon the road before their homes, schools, town buildings and even churches. They build three bundles of straw in succession of each other and as the sun sets they are lit and jumped, sung and danced over. Everyone participates and if you take a walk through the streets you can see these fires set up every so often and the best and biggest is always in the town square – the central focal point of the village and where many celebrations occur throughout the year. Some of the boys and men build huge roaring fires and have competitions to see who can jump the highest. The winner of this competition is deemed to have the best luck for the rest of the year. This practice amongst a few others are still happening to this day even if the village population is dwindling – their devotion to the old traditions isn’t.
This practice held during autumn could possibly have connections to the Hellenic festival of Anastenaria or Nestinarstvo which originated in Northern Greece and Southern Bulgaria where participants walked barefoot through fire (over coals) as part of a celebration in honour of St Helen and Constantine. This tradition is believed to be a mixture of orthodox Christianity mixed with the local pagan celebrations as was the custom for locals to adapt their celebrations to preserve them.
Here in Melbourne, Australia, I can always tell the changes of the season by observing my garden and the creatures who frequent it. The smell of the season has changed and certain pollens are in abundance therefore certain tree/herbs/flowers are blossoming. Observing the land around me, the earth is beginning to slowly withdraw its greenery in favour of the rich brown colours of the earth. The sun is winding down its effect as we are brought close to the darkness of winter. To celebrate this time of year whilst still honouring my Hellenic roots I have developed my own Hellenic purification ritual which can be performed before a fireplace, fire-pit, oil lamp or even a candle to symbolise cleansing and purification.
As Hekate’s priestess and devotee I have updated the ritual I first wrote in honour of Hestia and re-adapted it to Hekate who also is considered a deity of hearth and home. Also with the continuing issue of Coronavirus sweeping the world currently, I have also added and emphasised the purification aspect of the ritual for heightened protection.
Purification Ritual to Hekate – (C) Setjataset 2020
Purify body by showering or washing head, hands and feet.
Set up shrine with water, wine/juice, salt, bread/crackers, olive oil, incense, barley and an oil lamp/candle before an image of Hekate.
Wash your hands in Khernips before assembling your ritual items, whilst saying:
“Αφήστε όλα αυτά που είναι βλαβερά να φύγουν!” (Let all that is profane be gone!)
Throw a few seeds of barley onto the shrine whilst saying:
“Xerniptosai!” (be purified!)
Light the oil lamp/candle and repeat the following hymn to Hekate:
“I make the offer of light to you
Great and Blessed Hekate
Goddess of hearth and home
I offer my shrine for purification
I offer my home for purification
I offer myself for purification
Be welcome with me
Bless me with your love”
Pour libation of wine/juice in Hekate’s name.
Make offering of bread/crackers and olive oil and light the incense in Hekate’s name pushing the smoke towards you three times.
Mix some salt with the water and sprinkle the mixture three times upon the shrine and on yourself and state:
“Come Come Come
Great Goddess Hekate
Burn Burn Burn
Away all that is miasma
Move Move Move
It far away from me, my loved ones and my home”
Spend some time in quiet contemplation and visualise yourself, your home and your loved ones being purified. You can also think of what you need to purify in your life – are there any obstacles which you need to remove or let go or habits you need to move past? Focus on these and make some changes in your life by actively working on them.
Thank Hekate and farewell her.
You may keep the shrine and refresh offerings as required, remembering to keep it clean.
*Miasma = aura of uncleanliness which lingers with respects to a person and their surroundings.
(C) T. Georgitsis 2018, Updated 2020