Aegletia begins October 1st, and ends October 9th
A couple years back, I wrote a short ritual for the Aegletia and felt that it was time to add a little bit to it. One thing I’ve always wanted to have as part of our tradition is some shared foodways. Given that we have many different backgrounds, that’s not easy, but the concepts surrounding the Aegletia give us the opportunity to develop some common culinary practices. I’ve outlined some ideas and will be testing them out this year, but I would also like to invite all of you to share your thoughts and maybe even recipes. The great thing about this is that you can do as much or as little of this as you want to and you should be able to accommodate these ideas, even with a tight budget. I’ve been there myself and I tried to write these guidelines with a mind toward compassion for those of us with smaller budgets or who may not have access to a wide variety of ingredients. First, I offer a blessing for food, which I like to say before a sacred meal. There’s a long-ish list of blessings, but you are meant to choose from those that are relevant to your particular meal. If you don’t have beans, for example, you can leave out the one to Kyamites.
Blessing the Meal
We give thanks to you, Immortal Gods, for the bounty before us.
May you bless our meal, so that from it we might gain strength, health, and long life.
We give thanks to Hestia, for blessing our hearth.
We give thanks to Zeus, for bringing the rain.
We give thanks to Apollon, for healthy crops and herds.
We give thanks to Dionysos, for the gift of wine.
We give thanks to Demeter, for the fruits of the Earth.
We give thanks to Athene, for the gift of olives.
We give thanks to Triptolemos, who taught us to farm.
We give thanks to Aristaeos, who taught us to make cheese, keep bees, and tend animals.
We give thanks to Kyamites, who taught us to grow beans.
Guidelines for eating during the Aegletia
First Night: Purification
Drink nothing but water today and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Meals should be high in fiber and plant-based. If you have any sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance, avoid those foods especially today. Avoid added and refined sugars, where possible, as well as highly processed foods.
There are a lot of “detox” foods and drinks floating around, but the science behind them is dubious, at best. Nutritionally speaking, water and fiber are your two best weapons against toxins in the body. Our bodies are usually very good at expelling toxins, but need water and fiber as the vehicle with which to do that.
Example: Seasoned chick peas, herbed barley, roasted peaches with cinnamon, and fresh salad.
Second Night: Arrival
Include dates, which Mother Leto ate upon Lord Apollon’s arrival. Include imported foods to remind us that Delos is barren and produces no food for herself. For our purposes, any food not produced locally or regionally is sufficient to consider “imported.” I live in the American South, for example, so anything produced west of the Mississippi river and north of Kentucky would be considered outside my region and, therefore, “imported,” even if it’s not necessarily from another country. The distinction isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but rather one you can make for yourself based on what you would consider “regional.”
Apollon’s arrival may be cause to have a somewhat bigger, nicer, “Sunday Dinner” sort of meal, since we are inviting our Bright Lord on this day.
Example: Baked chicken with dried Mediterranean apricots, tropical fruit salad, brown rice or barley, steamed broccoli, and whole dates.
Third Night: Artemis
Food that has been caught from the wild or hunted would be appropriate for the third night, but availability and expense of something like venison or wild-caught fish might prevent this option from being a practical one. Instead, if you live in a household with children, it is their day to choose their favorite meal. Otherwise, a favorite meal from your own childhood, one that inspires fond remembrances, would also be appropriate. If you have pets, this is a good day to give them a special treat.
Example: Hot dogs, sweet potato fries, and baked beans with finely chopped onions and apples. For the dog: a small serving of unseasoned sweet potato, thoroughly cooked and skinned.
Fourth Night: Leto
Once again, this is a good night to serve dates, for the same reason as we did in the second night. This night, it is the mother’s night to choose what’s for dinner. If you are not yourself a mother or no mothers live in the household, you might choose something that reminds you fondly of a motherly figure in your life. This does not necessarily need to be your own mother, just someone who nurtured you as Mother Leto nurtures Her own children and those devoted to Her. Drink only water today and kindly offer water to others when you can. The people of Lycia denied water to Mother Leto, but water is for everyone and should be shared freely.
Example: Chopped dates with roasted nuts, ratatouille, barley with herbed pesto and flax seed.
Fifth Night: Awareness
There are some foods that are supposedly good for your brain and may help you be more alert and aware. The scholarship on this may change over time and we can always make adjustments if that happens. A modest amount of caffeine is appropriate today and foods like flax seed, almonds, eggs, beets, fatty fish (such as salmon), walnuts, fresh fruit, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, broccoli, carrots, winter squash, and dark chocolate are purported to be good for concentration, focus, and memory.
Example: Spinach/tomato omelettes, whole wheat carrot nut muffins, orange juice
Sixth Night: Beauty
For the sixth night, it doesn’t matter what you decide to make as long as you put some effort forth into making it look nice. Make food with lots of bright, natural colors, make use of a little garnish, arrange the food nicely on the plate, tidy up the kitchen table, put out the good china. Even if you’re having chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, put a sprig of parsley on top of that mac and cheese; make it look a little bit fancy.
Example: Purple cabbage with onions (sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper); steamed carrots tossed in honey and butter, baked herb chicken, parsley garnish.
Seventh Night: Fellowship
This is a good night to invite a friend to dinner or have a potluck with friends. You could even share food with friends and neighbors. There’s a lot of room for creativity and opportunity for strengthening friendships on this day.
Example: Chili and cornbread, but with friends.
Eighth Night: Quietude
For the eighth night, you will want to avoid caffeine and have foods that are calming in nature. Again, like the fifth night, our ideas about what foods are meant to have a calming effect on the body and brain might change over time and we can adjust accordingly when we have new information. As of now, however, you might consider asparagus (which tends to be expensive this time of year), avocados, berries, oranges, foods containing zinc (oysters are suggested, but I find them repulsive), walnuts, almonds, salmon, spinach, turkey, and oatmeal.
Example: (For breakfast) Oatmeal with dried berries and walnuts, sweetened with a little honey. (For dinner) Spinach salad topped with sliced almonds, mandarin oranges, avocado, slices of grilled or baked turkey, with a raspberry walnut dressing.
Ninth Night: Farewell
Hera gave an apple tree to Zeus as a wedding gift and it grows in Hyperborea under the heavy guard of the daughters of Atlas, the Hesperides, and the dragon Ladon. Not even Herakles could go and get any apples himself (having had to ask Atlas to do so), and even if we could, we would have to return them. We do, however, have delicious mortal realm apple trees, so thank the Gods for that! We can eat “golden,” yellow, or green apples on this day to remind us of the probably way more amazing ones that grow in Hyperborea.
This is also a good night for simple comfort foods, since we will soon be parted with our Bright Lord, the Discerning One. This may mean different things to different people, depending on your upbringing, but warm soups and stews or any sort of fare that reminds you of the comforts of home will do nicely. This is not a day for fancy food that takes hours to prepare.
Example: Grilled cheese and tomato soup with baked cinnamon apples.
The familial lineage of Apollon can tell us much about Him, and about His sphere of influence. Today, we will take a look at Apollon’s Grandparents, Phoebe and Koios, Their domains and the legacy They have left to Apollon, and to Their other Grandchildren.
Koios is the Titan of the Axis of the Heavens, who is traditionally and commonly today seen as governing over the point of the North, in which He personified the pillar of the North, which, along with His Brothers, the Titans Krios (South), Iapetos (East), and Hyperion (West), held up the body of the Heavens (Ouranos).
It is surmised that, as Koios presided over the Axis of the Heavens, the point at which the constellations of the Heavens revolved, He may also have been a God who presided over Heavenly oracles. This could provide further meaning to His name, meaning “the inquiring”, in that an inquiring mind seeks to understand the movement of the body of the Heavens, through such noble pursuits as study and observation (Astronomy/Astrology), as well as seeking the word of the Divine through an oracular vehicle when the information sought is of a more spiritual bent. Also, as His domain is of the North, it is feasible to speculate that the seat of His domain may have been the legendary Hyperborea, the land of eternal summer, which lies further North than the gates of Boreas, or, beyond the North Wind.
Phoebe, on the other hand, was the Titaness who governed and ruled over the Axis of the Earth, Delphi, also called the Navel of the World. She received Delphi from Themis, who in turn received the prophetic seat from Gaea, Earth Herself, the oracular tradition at Delphi already having been long established by the time of Phoebe’s ascent. Phoebe’s name means “radiant prophesy, or purity”, and may give a clue as to Her function at the oracle.
For one to dispense the infallible word of the Theoi, one must be pure and ready to receive the radiance of the Theoi into oneself. Phoebe may have acted as a kind of Divine bridge from which the sybils learned how to properly treat themselves before and during the oracular possession. Before Her, Themis ruled the oracle, and Hers is the domain of Divine Law, Justice and Morality. She would likely have been concerned more with the absorbtion of decrees handed down to the people (through the sybils) by the Gods, rather than the giving of specific and personal advice. Once Phoebe had been established as the head of the oracular seat, by Her very nature the focus of the oracle would have changed to suit a more open and receptive dynamic between Goddess and sybil.
Furthermore, we can see that the joining of Koios and Phoebe would produce a specific set of traits, handed down in fact to Their Daughters, Leto and Asteria, which would have seamlessly married the domain of the Heavens with that of not only Earth, but with the bright radiance of illumination in all forms.
Leto, whose name may mean “the unseen”, is the Mother of Apollon and Artemis by Zeus. She is the Goddess of the light between night and day, of the twilight, and as such is often veiled, obscuring the truth of her full potency from those who may not yet be ready to look upon such things. With Her Sister, Asteria, Mother of Hekate by Perses, She arrived in the lands held by the Olympians, having come from the North. Specifically, Hyperborea, which later Apollon would come to rule for half the year. Asteria, whose name means “falling stars”, may have been seen as a Goddess of the signs and portends of the night sky (Astrology), as well as of the Divine inspirations of Oneiromancy.
Leto passes down Her radiance to Apollon and Artemis both, who in later times were said to be representative of the Sun and Moon. Although, it should be noted that the idea that They have somehow usurped the domains of Helios and Selene are entirely false. Apollon and Artemis are torch-bearing Gods who deal in the illumination of truth– both the truth of the mind and logic (Apollon), and the truth of one’s nature and the natural world (Artemis). Naturally, light becomes a metaphor for these truths, thus the Twins are seen to govern the properties of light. This perceived governance in no way detracts from the domains of Helios or Selene, who are the physical bodies of the Sun and Moon, respectively.
Apollon becomes the light which purifies and casts away all evil– and of course, that which burns if we look upon it for too long a time; and Artemis becomes the subtle light that aids in the darkness, the light by which the farmers may still gather their crop after nightfall. These are all the Divine radiance of Phoebe, inherited by the Twins through Their Mother, Leto.
Asteria, who walks often in the company of Nyx, is however, typically seen to represent the shadow, the dark which obscures the truth before illumination, or the dreamscape which reveals hidden messages. As dreams, and thus sleep, are often thought of in tandem with death, the final sleep, Asteria passes down these Mysteries to Her Daughter, Hekate.
Hekate, whose name means “worker from afar”, is another torch-bearing God, this time illuminating the way of the Dead into the Underworld. Along with Her deep associations with necromancy and other forms of magic, this may help to explain the truth of Her name. The restless dead which Hekate escorts are of a nature long considered miasmic. Hekate purifies the living by removing the dead from in and around living spaces. Wandering spirits, and spirits who cling to their loved ones in their dwelling places, are gathered up into Her retinue, where they either remain with Her, or are taken into Hades to complete their journey. She gathers the souls of living folk, as well, if they are unfortunate enough to cross Her path, especially during the Dark Moon.
Perhaps this is why She is the worker from afar. Her domain takes Her, and thus those dedicated to Her, into realms far removed from the works of the everyday man or woman. She lives within the company of the Dead, and so one may communicate with the Dead, through Her. The oracular power of Hekate comes from the Khthonic realm, deep within Earth (Gaea), the first source of the oracular gift.
However, we must not forget that Hekate holds equal dominion over Earth, Sky and Sea, a vast domain inherited from Her Titan Parents, much as Apollon and Artemis both hold sway over vast arrays of the natural and civilized worlds. Indeed, the Twins and Their Cousin hold Their torches high to illuminate all spaces of the fathomable world. Their power runs deep, poured out from the Heavens, and welled up from the Earth. They are the nexus at which the Ouranic and Khthonic converge. They are the legacy of Koios and Phoebe.
Sources: Various Theoi.com pages used for reference, but mostly my own insights.
Well, where to begin? Apollon has begun His tour of the world before He inevitably retires to Hyperborea for the Winter. Persephone has begun Her decent into the Underworld. Winter is on its way, and I have felt the stirrings of the veil between the worlds. The Departed Ones will soon join us once more, in our Autumn celebrations.
What does this season mean to you? In years past, even last year, I met this season with anxiety and foreboding. I was, and am prone to be, stretched too thinly in my attentions at this time of year. But this time around, I have resolved to be less, fervent, shall we say, and instead more present in my life and in the festivals that I celebrate, as they come.
So, the Aegletia this year will be less performative, and more contemplative. It will be for me a family celebration, as it was always meant to be. This is my son’s second Aegletia, and he is at a point of forming memories of our time together with Apollon, so this is very important for our household. It is time for us to be in the spirit of the season, and not outwardly focused.
And I have another reason to feel intensely the turning as it unfolds. It has been five years since Apollon and I exchanged our marriage vows. When we did, He did not tell me for how long we were to be joined, but only that I should enjoy each day as it comes, and welcome Him into the whole of my life. And I have. Earlier this year, however, He told me it was time to renew our vows, this time for another seven years. I knew this was probably coming; for a least a year I had anticipated it. And yet, when I was given the news and the time frame, I just sort of… retreated into myself. I have been putting it off for the better part of the year. Apollon, patient and understanding that He is, only asked me to find myself before making this commitment. To be certain that this is what I want for the next seven years. It’s taken time, but I believe I have worked through my apprehension and that I am now ready for the new commitment.
So, on the second day of Aegletia, when the Treasury welcomes our Lord into our hearths and hearts for the duration of the festival, Apollon and I will once again exchange our vows. New vows this time. Clearer vows. Deeper, more meaningful vows. I won’t lie and say that I am not nervous still, but I am definitely no longer stuck, unable to move forward.
And I’m happy. I usually spend so much time worrying about things– how will I organize the festival, how will I balance my time online with my time with the children, how will I deal with the sheer agony of being separated from Apollon when He has finally left? Not this time. Not this year. This year, I will let myself just be in the season, and in the turning.
Noumenia of Treasury Month Aegletion (XI) – (09/21/2017)
**** Mu, Psi, Beta ****
“What is beautiful is divine, and what is divine in human nature is always striven for through toil and hard work. To release the intrinsic divinity within, you must sweat away what is base and human. This will bring you closer to the Gods, as the Gods have spoken on numerous occasions. There is no shortcut, there is only the trial and the pursuit of excellence. And in this pursuit, you are well looked-after. So have said the Gods, and thus have I brought you this message.”