A Complete Thargelia Ritual

Next Thargelia isn’t until May 17-19, 2021. In 2020, I used a ritual outline, and I’m uploading it today so it has enough time for Google’s crawlers to find it in time for people frantically searching for a ritual outline next year.

Some Background

As I said in a previous post, my ritual outlines tend to be very minimalist. This is an exception. I knew that I wanted to share this, so I added some physical blocking and instructions. However, I didn’t want to share it without actually doing it. The outcome? You may need more transition steps and pauses if you use this ritual. If you drink wine, I imagine that you will choose to use that instead of the chilled tulsi that I use in rituals.

And remember: this is Hellenic Polytheistic Syncretism (HeSP).

Some of the resources I used for hymns and structure include Labrys’ Hellenic Household Ritual, Furley & Bremer’s Greek Hymns Volume 1: The Texts in Translation, Athanassakis’ second edition of the Orphic Hymns, and R. M. van den Berg’s Proclus’ Hymns. I also used two poems from my poetry book Acts of Speech, which is coming out on October 29, 2020.

(If you want to view any of these poems in their original context, I highly recommend acquiring one or more of the books above, especially the Orphic Hymns. My fair use analysis has led me to believe that this use is transformative, but similar to a home cook trying out a recipe or three from a new cookbook and posting to a blog, this should give you a hunger for the rest of those books.)

This ritual is designed to be done in its entirety after the morning household ritual, which means that Apollon will have received preliminary prayers earlier. Thus, some amount of purification has already taken place.

It is designed to be done on a single day, whereas the ritual in antiquity took place over two days. The first and second half of the ritual could easily be divided between the 6th and 7th of Thargelion, with the prayer to Hestia and the closing prayer duplicated. The prayer for the 6th day would end after the first prayer to Apollon.

The tisane libations are either holy basil or hibiscus.

Supplies

  • Incense to be offered to Leto, Artemis, and Apollon (fragrant mixed herbs/floral)
  • Frankincense oil
  • Incense to be offered to Demeter (patchouli)
  • Libation liquid for Hestia, the Horai, and Helios
  • A piece of paper
  • Hymns queued for Leto, Artemis, and Apollon
  • Poetry queued for the Horai and Helios
  • Hymn queued for Demeter
  • Optionally, a tambourine or other noisemaker to strike during readings
  • In advance of the ritual, write down what one wants to banish from one’s home and life. This will be shredded up.

It is assumed that one also has khernips pre-prepared. This will be sprinkled at a specific point during the ritual. Prepare this in advance of the ritual if required.

Ritual

Prayer to Hestia (Aristonoos of Corinth’s poem to Hestia from Greek Hymns Volume 1: The Texts in Translation, Furley & Bremer)
Offering of frankincense oil

Holy Queen of Sanctity,
we hymn you, Hestia, whose abiding realm
is Olympus and the middle point of earth
and the Delphic laurel tree!

You dance around Apollon’s towering temple
rejoicing both in the tripod’s mantic voices
and when Apollon sounds the seven strings
of his golden phorminx and, with you,
sings the praises of the feasting gods.

We salute you, daughter of Kronos
and Rhea, who alone brings firelight
to the sacred altars of the Gods;
Hestia, reward our prayer, grant
wealth obtained in honesty: then we shall always
dance around your glistening throne.

Prayer to Artemis (Orphic Hymn 36, trans. Athanassakis)
Offering of frankincense oil | Offering of floral incense

Hear me, O queen, Zeus’ daughter of many names,
Titanic and Bacchic, revered, renowned archer,
torch-bearing goddess bringing light to all, Diktynna, helper at childbirth,
you help women in labor, though you know not what labor is.

O frenzy-loving huntress, you loosen girdles and drive distress away;
swift arrow-pouring goddess of the outdoors, you roam in the night.
Fame-bringing and affable, redeeming and masculine in appearance,
Orthia, goddess of swift birth, you are a nurturer of mortal youths,
immortal and yet of this earth, you slay wild beasts, O blessed one,
your realm is in the mountain forest, you hunt deer.

O revered and mighty queen of all, fair-blossomed, eternal,
sylvan, dog-loving, many-shaped lady of Kydonia,
come, dear goddess, as savior to all the initiates,
accessible to all, bringing forth the beautiful fruit of the earth,
lovely peace, and fair-tressed health.
May you dispatch diseases and pain to the peaks of the mountains.

Prayer to Leto (Orphic Hymn 35)
Offering of frankincense oil | Offering of floral incense

Dark-veiled Leto, revered goddess, mother of twins,
great-souled daughter of Koios, queen to whom many pray,
to your lot fell the birth pains for Zeus’ fair children,
you bore Phoibos and arrow-pouring Artemis,
her on Ortygia, him on rocky Delos.
Hear, lady goddess, come with favor in your heart
to bring a sweet end to this all-holy rite.

First Prayer to Apollon (“Catharsis,” Kaye Boesme, 2019)
Offering of bay oil | Offering of floral incense

Before the prayer, pause to take the sheet of paper with what is written on it. Breathe and concentrate on what is on the page. Ask Apollon for purification and catharsis in an unscripted manner, as that will usually be the most sincere. The first part of the prayer should be done kneeling.

For the first part,
I make an image —
myself not my self —
all I once wanted
unformed, malformed,
shaped from thought
lingering like gravel
grit and sooty snow.
From the air, I catch
echoes of words
ill-spoken, anxieties
I wove tight and fast,
a heritage acquired
from blood, the price
of being here at this
inflection point.

Shred the paper into fine pieces in one’s hands and let the pieces fall to the ground when one is done with them. Say, “êkas, êkas, ostis alitros” (be gone, be gone, all that is wicked; this phrase is used by Labrys in its purification ritual). Clap your hands together when it is done.

For the second, I fill
it with nothing
until it inflates out
enough like life to fool
those who do not see
breath or still minds.
It is time to lay this
all to rest in earth
where the structures
will uncoil themselves,
rotting into harmless
impressions of what was.
Pythios, take this, let
it fall away like the
one you slew at the navel.

Visualize the things written on the paper being purified by rays of light and by the healing arrows of Apollon. Sprinkle the paper with khernips using the rosemary sprig or other herbal fragment used to make the khernips. Sweep them aside to be cleaned up after the ritual.

For the final section,
I declare the foundations
into being, grounded firm,
open to light through which
stars fall like pinpricks,
seeing reduced to nothing
as if I am beyond this
tumultuous embrace of air.

Stand. Visualize being purified by the God Apollon, eyes closed.

Illuminated, so strange
to think the images
we made can still harm,
still bear stains that seep —
relentless — to weigh us down
saturated, even with no
share of deep-peaked
permanence that carries
up with the smoke,
up with the sound,
out and beyond,
circling and encircled
like twin stars dancing,
binary geometries
marking out the empty
fullness at their center,
your harmonies coloratura
pulsations that cleanse
even watching from afar.

Open the eyes, looking into the eyes of the agalma of Apollon. Do twenty-one breaths of fire and hold on the inhale. Stand in silence for a few moments. Say, “I am ritually pure.”

Second Prayer to Apollon (Aristonoos of Corinth’s poem to Apollon from Greek Hymns Volume 1: The Texts in Translation, Furley & Bremer, with slight modifications for divine names and because this is spoken, not sung.)
Another offering of floral incense.
An offering of some kind of prepared food, like rice, bread, or elsewise.

Permanent occupant of the holy
Pythian oracle, founded by gods
on the mountain flanking Delphi,
I salute you, O Apollon,
call you paian, pride and joy
of Leto, Koios’ daughter,
and by the will of Zeus, supreme
among the gods, O Paian.

There from your prophetic seat,
waving fresh-cut laurel sprigs,
you pursue the art of prophecy,
O paian, O Apollon,
from the awesome inner temple:
the sacred course of the future
with oracles and melodious chords
on the lyre, O Apollon.

Purged in the Vale of Tempe
by the will of Zeus on high,
helped by Pallas on your way
to Pytho, O Apollon,
you talked Gaia, the flower-nurse,
and Themis of the lovely hair,
into giving you the perfumed
seat of power, O Apollon.

So, as gods know gratitude,
you grant Athena pride of place
at the threshold of your holy
temple, O Apollon:
you thank her for her kindness,
the kindness she showed long ago
you remember always: sumptuous
is her honour, O Apollon.

The gods make generous donations:
Poseidon a most religious site,
the Nymphs a grotto called
Korykian, O Apollon,
Dionysos torch-lit mountain revels.
Stern Artemis patrols the land
with her well-trained pack
of guard-dogs, O Apollon.

So you who beautify your body
in the gushing waters of Kastalia
from the slopes of Mt. Parnassos,
I beseech you, O Apollon,
receive with grace the hymn we utter,
grant us wealth with decency
forever, protect us with your
presence, O Apollon.

Prayer to Demeter (Orphic Hymn 41)
Offering of patchouli incense | Libation of some kind of tisane

Queen Antaia, goddess and many-named mother
of immortal gods and of mortal men,
weary from searching, weary from wandering far and wide,
you once ended your fast in the valley of Eleusis,
you came to Hades for noble Persephone.
Your guide was the innocent child of Dysaules,
who brought the news of pure Chthonic Zeus’ holy union;
you bore divine Euboulos by yielding to human need.
O goddess, O queen to whom many pray, I beseech you
to come graciously to your pious initiate.

Ask Demeter for her blessings in the season of growth to come: “Goddess, may the grain grow tall and may it shake like rattles on the fields like a procession, giving us a bountiful harvest. May the green growth be nurtured in the soil. May the fruits swell and drip from the trees, may the onions swell sweet, may the vegetables grow well. In purity, may we make good foundations for the harvest season to come.”

Prayer to the Horai (from Kaye Boesme, Acts of Speech)
Offering of floral incense | Libation of some kind of tisane

Daughters of Themis, you who flow,
Goddesses who dance on the mountainsides
on your rocky path to the shadowy cave
where your sisters count out fate’s measure,
offspring of Zeus, the sovereign who
ordered this paradigm into being,
you who follow Helios, hear these words:

Goddesses, you are the patrons of goodness.
You set human souls into flourishing,
fertilized by divine roots that run so deep.
Hear my prayer, easy-living ones, for people —
we are buffeted on all sides by these winter
storms, as if Eris has plunged her knife down,
two millennia of inertia, curses, and strife.

Eunomia, you who has brought the sense
within our hearts of right and wrong,
the balance of conformity and individuality
that sets the bounds of the fertile fields
of our souls so all may grow in our turns,
please sow community within us,
reverting all to proper balance under you.

Dikê, firm-hearted Goddess whose justice
penetrates all things, companion of Athene,
yours is not a will that bends under pressure.
As a child, you played with the Erinyes;
you developed respect for their venom.
Please bring us into conformity with
fair judgments and laws, ever watchful.

Eirênê, sower of peace, you who carries
the fruits of hard-won labor forward,
who gives out all in due accord with effort,
you pacify Ares with your words’ kindness.
To you belongs the season of risks, when
strategy is most dear; please grant us favor,
let soothing words in the agora pacify all.

Prayer to Helios (written by Proclus and translated by van den Berg in Proclus’ Hymns)
Offering of frankincense incense | Libation of some kind of tisane

Hearken, king of noeric fire, Titan holding the golden bridle,
hearken, dispenser of light, you, O lord, who hold yourself
the key to the life-supporting source and channel off from above
a rich stream of harmony into the material worlds.

Hearken: for you, being above the middlemost seat of aether
and in possession of the very brilliant disk, the heart of the cosmos,
have filled everything with your intellect-awakening providence.
The planets, girded with your ever-blooming torches,
through unceasing and untiring dances,
always send life-producing drops down for earthlings.

Under the influence of your chariot’s returning courses
everything that is born has sprouted up according to the ordinance of the Seasons.
The din of the elements clashing with each other
stopped once you appeared from your unspeakable begetter.
For you the unshakeable choir of the Moirai has yielded.
Back again they wind the thread of compelling destiny,
when you wish it. For all around you dominate, all around you rule by force.

From your chain the king of the song that obeys the divine,
Phoibos, sprung forth. Singing inspired songs to the accompaniment of the kithara,
he calms the great wave of deep-roaring becoming.
From your evil-averting band that imparts pleasant gifts
Paieon sprouted, and he imposed his health
by filling the wide cosmos with harmony wholly devoid of harm.
People honour you in hymns as the famous father of Dionysus.

And again some praise you in songs as Euios Attis in the extreme
depths of matter, whereas others praise you as pretty Adonis.
The threat of your swift whip holds fears for
the wild-tempered daemons, noxious to men,
who prepare evil for our miserable souls,
in order that forever, in the gulf of heavy-resounding life,
they suffer once they have fallen under the yoke of the body
with the result that they forget the bright-shining court of the lofty Father.

But, you the best of gods, crowned with fire, blest daemon,
image of the all-creating god, uplifter of souls,
hearken and always purify me of every fault;
receive my tearful supplication, pull me out of baneful
defilement and keep me far from the punishing deities
while mollifying the swift eye of justice that sees all.

May you always through your evil-averting help
give holy light rich with blessings to my soul,
once you have scattered the man-destroying poisonous mist,
and to my body fitness and gift-bestowing health;
bring me to glory, that in accord with the traditions of my forefathers
I may cultivate the gifts of the Muses with pretty locks.

Give me, if you wish so, lord, unshakeable bliss
as a reward for lovely piety. You perfect all things
easily, for you have the power and infinite might.
And if some ill comes my way through the threads moved by the stars
from the spindles of destiny that revolve in helices,
ward it off yourself with your mighty radiance.

Prayer to Artemis, Apollon, and Leto (Euripides’ hymn to Artemis, Apollon, and Leto from Greek Hymns Volume 1: The Texts in Translation, Furley & Bremer)

Take up this torch, girls,
sacred to the earth-goddesses
and dance out my cry
with liberated country.

Which god are we dancing for?
Name him — for I am willing
to sing divinities’ praise.

I want you to honour in song
the Archer with the golden bow,
Phoibos, who built the walls
in the country round Simois.

Hear us, Phoibos, bearer
of the sacred prize for heavenly song
in musical celebration.

Sing also Artemis the Huntress,
virgin of the oak-forested mountains.

Willingly I salute
Her Majesty, child of Leto,
Artemis who refuses marriage.

And Leto and the off-beat, on-beat
Oriental dance-steps to the rhythm
of Phrygian melodies.

I worship Leto, the queen,
and the kithara, mother of hymns,
with their resonant masculine ring.

Through it light came flashing
to the eyes of the gods, and also by our sudden voice.

For all this, exalt Lord Phoibos.
Hail, glorious son of Leto!

Closing Prayer

We thank the Gods for witnessing this Thargelia:
Hestia, first and last,
Great Leto with the trim ankles,
holy Artemis who pours forth arrows in the mountains,
and the harmonizing Apollon, healer, protector, and averter,
Demeter whose bounty is without measure,
Helios who shines forth your holy light,
the dancing Horai, Eunomia, Dikê, and Eirênê.

(the following words come from Labrys’ ritual closing and should wholly be credited to them)

Khaire, O Blessed Gods.
Be with us always.
Never leave.
Cease all illness.
Drive away all sorrow.

GENOITO.
It is done.

Make a libation of tisane.

3 thoughts on “A Complete Thargelia Ritual

  1. i LOVE this, thanks for providing it. the only thing i’d add in the preparations would be what to write on the paper- i presume it’s things one wants purged and cleansed?

    Liked by 2 people

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