The Alternative Spirit (Issue 13): Regular Column – Ancient Medicine

In this issue of of The Alternative Spirit Magazine, I’m talking about one of my favorite subjects – medicine of the ancients!

You can purchase your copy here:

http://www.alternativespiritmagazine.com/

Athenian New Year

The 25th of June marks the Athenian New Year.

Although no official festivals occurred during this time in Ancient Greece, sacrifices were made to Athena and Zeus for protection for the coming of the new year.

This is an auspicious time to clean and revamp your shrines and finish up projects before the start of the new year

(C) T. Georgitsis

Prometheia Festival

On the 17th of June, the Prometheia festival is observed.

The Prometheia festival is a modern Hellenic festival in honor of the gift of fire given to mankind by Prometheus.

This is an auspicious time to light the flames of your hearth/shrine/altar.

(C) T. Georgitsis

 

Dipolieia/Bouphonia Festival

 

 

On the 9th of June, the Hellenic Dipolieia/Bouphonia festival is observed.

The Dipolieia/Bouphonia is a festival which is dedicated to  Zeus.

The clergy would ritualistically sacrifice an ox for the desecration of Zeus’s alter at the Acropolis.  Afterwards the ox would be eaten during a feast as part of the festivities.

This is an auspicious time to make an offering to Zeus to recognize him as the king of the Gods.

Here is a prayer you can use to honour Zeus on this day:

To the Son of Cronos, Most High
[1] I will sing of Zeus, chiefest among the gods and greatest, all-seeing, the lord of all,
the fulfiller who whispers words of wisdom to Themis as she sits leaning towards him.
Be gracious, all-seeing Son of Cronos, most excellent and great!”

The Homeric Hymns a Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White

(C) T. Georgitsis

 

Skiraphoria Festival

On the 7th of June, the Hellenic Skiraphoria festival is observed.

The Skiraphoria is a 3 day agricultural festival which is dedicated to Athena, Poseidon, Demeter and Kore.

The clergy at the time would ritualistically enact the fertilizing of the crops through three sacred plowing which included blessings and thanksgivings.

The women of Athens would gather in public during this time and would eat garlic to ensure they abstained from sexual interaction wfrom men which they withheld on this day.

On this day young men would race to Dionysos’s shrine carrying vibe branches and the champion would receive food and drink which Athena blessed on the day.

This is an auspicious time to start putting into action some of your project plans for the future.

Offer wine, honey, cheese, olive oil, fruits and grains.

(C) T. Georgitsis

 

Plynteria Festival

On the 22st of May, the Hellenic Plynteria festival is observed.

The Plynteria is a festival in which the statue of Athena Polias who guards Athens is cleansed.

Women of the household of the Praxiergidai (the Athenian family tasked with the care of the statue of Athena Polias)  would take the image and remove the robes, jewelry, then wrap it for a formal procession to the sea at Phaleron, where it was purified by sea water.  At sundown the statue was taken by a torch lit formal procession back to the temple and re-adorned with clean robes and jewelry.

This is considered an importune time and considered quite unlucky so Athena’s temple was closed and so its a good time to clean and revamp Athena’s shrines/altars/tools.

Offer figs or cakes containing figs to Athena.

(C) T. Georgitsis

 

Kallynteria Festival

On the 21st of May, the Hellenic Kallynteria festival is observed.

The Kallynteria is a festival in which the temple of Athena was swept out, her lamps refilled and lit by her Athenian priestesses.

This is an auspicious time to clean and reset up your shrines or working altars to the gods – specifically Athena.

Offer olive branches or olive oil.

(C) T. Georgitsis

Bendideia Festival

On the 16th of May 2017, the festival of Bendis is observed in the Hellenic calender.

The Bendideia is a festival honoring when the cult of Bendis was brought to Athens and the patron is the Thrakian goddess Bendis.

Identified with Artemis, Bendis shares several traits including that of huntress.

Historically the festival included a procession which began at daybreak in the Prytaneion and ended at the Peiraios sanctuary of Bendis, a torch held horse race and all night festival which included feasting also took place.

Offerings of wheat can be made to Bendis on this day.

(C) T. Georgitsis

Communicating with the Blessed Dead

Unknown to me at the time, I first started working with the blessed dead as a young child.  I call them the blessed dead because they have provided me with messages to aid the living, insight or knowledge applicable in life and guided me on my magickal and spiritual path.  The blessed dead is a term I use, as it’s a name used for our ancestors and deceased loved ones in the Kemetic tradition I am a follower of.

It all started in the middle of one night when I was woken up by a loud voice talking to me.  When I opened my eyes I was at first startled when I saw a tall middle aged man standing at the foot of my bed, but as I focused, I realised he was familiar to me and so I wasn’t afraid.  He was talking to me without moving his mouth, was slightly transparent and being so young I didn’t question this aspect.  I just accepted that he was there and didn’t want to hurt me as he just wanted me to pass on a message.

He was telling me that I needed to tell his brother that he was gone and that his brother needed to know he was ok and not to worry.  I got up and ran into my parents bedroom to tell them what this man had told me, but my mother thinking I had a bad dream, put me back into bed after bestowing upon me a blessing and protection prayer.  Some time later, I was woken again by this man who was adamant I pass on a message to his brother and that he wouldn’t leave until I’d done so.  Again I raced into my parents bedroom and this time when my mother tried to explain it was just a nightmare and everything was ok. I started to throw a tantrum because I wanted to be heard.  Whilst my mother was trying to calm me down I practically screamed out the message I had received which was that “John” was in my bedroom and wanted to tell his brother that he was dead but that he was ok and not to get sad.  My mother’s eye’s widened in a quizzical expression and she then asked what he looked like so I carefully described him.  When I was done my mother crossed herself and shot my father a worrying glance.  I started to cry in panic and she soothed me and put me back to bed whilst telling me everything was going to be fine and thanked me for passing on the message from John.

The next morning I found my father crying at the kitchen table and when I asked him why he was sad he told me that his brother John had died.  Uncle John was my father’s favourite brother and best friend who lived interstate and had suffered a stroke and died during the night.  I hugged my father and told him not to cry as Uncle John had visited and told me that he was ok. It did give my father comfort and solace.  Then in the following days when I attended the funeral with my parents I wasn’t shocked to see Uncle John lying in an open casket and was actually wondering why people gathered were upset since he told me himself, he was fine.  When I told this to my mother she explained to me that not everyone talked to people who had passed away and gently warned me not to repeat to anyone what had happened as they wouldn’t understand.  She also explained that some people in our family could talk to the dead in order to help those who were left behind with their grieving.  Since I had this gift she would teach me how to work with the blessed dead in a safe and helpful way.

That was the beginning of when I started working with the blessed dead and to this day I continue to work with them in one way or another.  I predominately work with my own blessed dead as they have guided me on my magical and spiritual path.  When I conduct healings and readings I receive messages for clients from their loved ones which I pass on.  I find that these messages along with descriptions of their loved ones are appreciated by the living as they help them to move on and accept they are no longer in physical form and we don’t need to worry about them.

Having lost both my parents before I turned 30, working with the blessed dead has allowed me to accept and let go of them with love in my heart as I am completely confident they are in a peaceful place.  I had been warned about both my parents passing before it occurred through dreams and other blessed dead who came to me to tell me and in both my parents cases it actually helped them move on.

Over the years I’ve delved deeper into Hellenic and Kemetic magickal and religious practices.  I have found this has added value not only to my personal life but also when dealing with the blessed dead.  My interest in Hellenic and Kemetic traditions stems from my ancestry and I was also drawn to it through the guidance of my spirit guide who happened to be an ancestor well versed in these traditions.

When I was introduced to the concept of Ancestor Veneration in the Kemetic tradition it felt very familiar.  This practice was something which I had always done in some way or another and it was refreshing to see others actively participating in the same practice in this day and age.  I came to learn that “Akhu” also known as the “Shining Ones” or “Blessed Dead” and are the spirits of our ancestors who became a star in the heavens in the body of Nuit.  Nuit is a sky goddess who is depicted as a naked woman covered in stars who arches over the earth.  She is also a goddess of death and swallowed and rebirth the stars and sun. As stars shine their light down upon us, they remind us that they are always with us and watching over us.  This brought me great comfort and resonated within me in a most profound way.

Venerating the Ancestors is a practice where you honour (instead of worship) your blessed dead so their Ka (soul) continues to be fed and therefore continuing to exist.  Through remembering and speaking their name and by leaving them offerings such as incense, water or things they enjoyed in life , it allows them to have the ability to intercede on our behalf and assist us in our lives.  Venerating the Ancestors shows how much you care for your blessed dead even though they are no longer in physical form in this earthly plain.  It allows us to thank them for being as our own existence is due to theirs.  When Venerating our Ancestors it allows them to bestow blessings and offer insight into our lives.  This is because it is believed that they stand in the Duat or underworld/land of the dead and can communicate to us or be go betweens to the Gods themselves if necessary.   All that is needed to Venerate the Ancestors is to acknowledge them in the form of prayers or offerings, this includes asking them for assistance and in return thanking them for their assistance when given.   Also it is worthy to note that you don’t have to be blood tied to your blessed dead as they can be a person you cared deeply for in life and want to remember them in death.

People in many cultures including Eastern, Native American, Greek and Egyptian have been known to Venerate their Ancestors for many thousands of years.  Originally it was part of everyday life for the common man to do this and in the modern day these practices have remained in one form or another.  This shows us that many acknowledge that honouring and/or working with the blessed dead gives them comfort or blessings and has a positive impact on us physically and psychologically.

I have an ancestor shrine which I maintain regularly and sits in a part of the house I frequently use to ensure my blessed dead are acknowledged as part of the family.  My shrine is an old desk I have covered with a star studded shrine cloth and I have placed various items on it which represent my ancestors and which symbolically feed their soul.  Some items on my ancestor shrine include personal possessions of my ancestors, photos of my ancestors, a book containing ancestor’s names and their stories, flowers, a libation bowl, a food offering plate, incense holder with incense and candles which are lit during the reciting of prayers.    It is important to note that food offerings are always disposed of in the garbage separately to the household trash and are not to be consumed.  Libations are left to evaporate or poured onto the earth outside.

((C) T. Georgitsis Akhu Shrine 2010)

 

I find an effective way to communicate with my blessed dead other than simply talking to them in shrine is by writing them a letter and reading it to them or leaving it on their shrine.  I have a personally amended a Kemetic prayer (A Hotep Di Nisut Prayer) with my own words at the end which has been framed and placed amongst photos of my blessed dead on my shrine which is recited frequently:

An offering which the King gives to Yinepu-Upon-His-Mountain and to Wesir, Lord of Abydos: a thousand of bread, a thousand of beer, a thousand of oil and alabaster and linen, a thousand of meat and fowl and all things good and pure that heaven gives, the earth produces and the inundation brings; for the ka of _______ ma’a heru.

Your names will live on forever, for you are the stars who watch over me “

If it wasn’t for my ancestors, my blessed dead, I wouldn’t be here and for that I am indebted.  I am a part of them and they will always be a part of me as I remind myself how much I love them through devotional veneration where I bestow offerings and prayers as a symbol of this love and remembrance.  In return they bless, assist me and remind me of where I came from.  Until I see my blessed dead when it is my time to cross over, I will continue to show them respect and be their messenger when needed.

By T. Georgitsis © 2011

This article was the opening piece from the book: Memento Mori – A Collection of Magickal and Mythological Perspectives on Death, Dying, Mortality & Beyond, Edited by Kim Huggens which can be purchased here:

Memento Mori Collection Mythological Perspectives

First and Last: A Devotional For Hestia

I have a hymn dedicated to Hestia in a new book released in her name!

Terence P Ward congrats on editing this great devotional.

To purchase your copy go here:

First and The Last: A Devotional For Hestia