The Treasury’s celebration of Thargelia 2016, falls upon April 14th.
Thargelia is one celebration of the birth of the Hellenic God, Apollon, who, under His epithets of Paian (Healer), Katharsios (Purifier) and Apotropaios (Averter), possesses the greatest healing, purificatory and banishing skills within the Hellenic Pantheon. It is a festival in which the first ripe fruits of springtime are offered to Him, for His favor, and in which He offers katharmos (purification) to the City and its inhabitance.
This purification comes in the form of a community feast, followed by the ritual exile of two pharmakoi (singular – pharmakos) or “scapegoats”, who in antiquity would have been persons, one male and one female, specially chosen for this task. In modern times, it is more efficient and humane to produce effigies to represent these scapegoats. The effigies can then be “driven out” by way of ritual fire or burial, thus ensuring effective purification.
During the Thargelia ritual, participants will energetically release their ills, and will also air their grievances against the City leaders and others of high position who fail to recognize the City’s needs, by speaking them (optional) and writing them (mandatory) with intent upon small bits of paper. These papers should then be stuffed into, or otherwise attached to, the pharmakoi effigies, which will be adorned with flowers by the facilitator and placed on the ends of the ritual feast table residing in front of the altar. Then, the pre-ritual khernips purification will begin, and all participants and viewers will rinse their faces and hands to prepare for entry into the ritual space.
Participants and viewers proceed with the procession, silently, toward the altar/feast table after all are purified with khernips. Barley is strewn across the altar while incense is lit to prepare for Apollon, then the facilitator recites a list of His relevant epithets, followed by the text fragment of the First Delphic Hymn, in honor of the God. At the altar/feast table, each person then sets their ripe fruits (or fresh flowers), or their prepared dishes neatly down, while more calls are made to Apollon by the facilitator. Personal calls are then made by each willing participant in turn.
Once it is determined that the God has arrived, all participants let out a cry of welcoming. Facilitator then recites the myth of Leto’s wandering, the God’s birth on Delos, His subsequent slaying of the Python four days later, and His eventual exile to His Mother’s land of Hyperborea. Facilitator then leads a prayer for the blessing of the food placed before the God, and all participants pray solemnly and silently.
Participants then observe as the facilitator doles out portions of the feast, first to Apollon, and then to the pharmakoi. Prayer for purification/healing continues by all for a period of time. Prayers may be personal, or inclusive of the City and others of concern to participants. After prayers, participants form a wreath of laurel before the icons of Apollon upon the altar, offering gratitude and sincere awe to the God who purifies all things.
Participants then serve themselves from the feast table (not from the plates set aside for Apollon or the pharmakoi) and commence solemn eating and visiting. When all have eaten their fill, the ritual takes an abrupt turn, wherein the pharmakoi are seized and “driven (carried) away” by all participants with shouts and curses.
At the conclusion, if no safe and proper way to burn/bury them exists at the ritual location, the pharmakoi are to be enclosed inside a box or other container, and placed in the trunk of a car. At that point, to increase and maximize the spiritual energy of the participants, the pharmakoi should be driven around the block and away from the ritual, thus ending it.
The car should then be discreetly parked nearby until information is exchanged between participants and viewers, goodbyes are said, and clean up is completed. Excess food/fruit (except for what was placed before Apollon and the pharmakoi, which will instead be set out at night for the wild animals at an appropriate spot, or ritually burned/buried at a later time) will be divided among participants and viewers.
In the ensuing days, it is encouraged that the ritual participants get together again for an informal discussion of the ritual itself, and any thoughts or feelings that it induced in them. This is a good time to work out any issues in the ritual, and to plan for the next year.
Hestia, who tends the holy house of the Lord Apollo, the far-shooter of Pytho, welcome to this house. May you, and may Zeus, the all-wise, draw near and bestow your blessings on this place and on all who enter in peace and goodwill.
The Temple at Delphi faced West, welcoming the coming night, the darkness of mystery and the freedom of letting go. That was the house of Dionysus then and this is the house of Dionysus now. We welcome him with an offering of wine.
Dionysos Lyaeus, hear our prayers,
Blessed is the son of Zeus and Semele
Who frees us from care, we offer this to you,
May we be blessed with your favor.
These past few months, we have celebrated the blessings of Dionysos, feasted and reveled in freedom and good company. We lit candles in the moonless nights of the darkest month, reflecting our own divine light and in hope for peace and freedom for all people.
The Temple at Delphi also faced East, welcoming the light of the rising sun, the light of insight and order, the light of reason that makes civilization possible. That was the house of Apollo then and this is the house of Apollo now. We welcome him by lighting a candle in the East.
In those days, the Pythia made and broke nations and kings with her words. She was blessed by Apollo, inspired through the pneuma that rose up from the Earth. The Temple is now broken and the pneuma no longer rises into her holy sanctuary, the adyton, but we offer this incense in thanks for that which Apollo will illuminate for us and in remembrance of the Oracle.
Phoebos Apollo, hear our prayers:
Blessed son of Leto, god of Prophets who sees afar
May I go forth this day with my eyes open,
To see each moment as it truly is
May all beings be well,
and may Apollo bring them to His light
And may we be blessed by all the Gods of Olympos
We have now come to the blessing of First Breakfast:
We give thanks to you, immortal Gods, for the bounty before us
To Hestia for blessing the hearth
To Zeus, who brings the rain
To Apollo, the ripener
To Demeter, for the fruits of the Earth
And her priest, Triptolemos, who taught us to farm
And to Dionysos, for the gift of grapes
May all the Gods and good spirits bless this meal and all who have gathered here!
So Say We All!
Here is the ritual format followed by many of the Treasury’s Sisters last year, shared for all who may wish to celebrate with us this time. The Aegletia begins October 1st, and ends October 9th.
Sunweaver’s Aegletia Ritual, with contributions by Columbine
Hestia, who tends the holy house of Lord Apollon, the Far-Shooter of Pytho, welcome to this house. May this place be made holy, as were the temples of old, with our work and your love.
Blessed are the Gods of Olympos, Immortal Twelve, who have brought us to this moment. May our joy sustain us through the coming season.
Blessed are You, Apollon, light of this world
May we be kept within Your reach
Always striving to seek what is right
And what is good among all life situations
Blessed are You, Apollon, gleaming in the distance
May Your trail illuminate the ways
That we may follow You
Even as the dark begins its reign
Blessed are You, Apollon, wolf of twilight
May we never run fearfully from Your howl
Which is the precursor to Your embrace
And a warning to the many who cross Your path
Blessed are You, Apollon, perched upon a high throne
May we bask in Your radiance, yearning to honor You
In action, as well as speech
For You are the arbiter of peace and righteousness
Blessed are You, Apollon, our Lord, our King
Riding on the winds, holding sway over the Seasons
May we know You as intimately as the soil knows the rain
And may we dance to the melody of Your lyre, in Winter, once again
[Host lights the candle(s)]
We have come to the First Illumination: Purification. This light, from which all others will be lit, represents the purity of the Son of Leto. We have made our home a temple and we await Apollo Aegletes, He who Illuminates.
We have come to the Second Illumination: Arrival. This light represents Apollon’s presence in our lives. Though we may not always see the flame, it still yet burns.
We have come to the Third Illumination: Artemis. This light represents the everlasting warmth between Leto’s children: a bond that will never be broken.
We have come to the Fourth Illumination: Leto. This light represents the indomitable Holy Mother from whom the blessed Twins inherited their fiery spirit.
We have come to the Fifth Illumination: Awareness. This light represents the world as it is and not as it is imagined to be. Apollo’s light is truth.
We have come to the Sixth Illumination: Beauty. This light represents the illuminated world, made brighter with art, music, theater, dance, and games.
We have come to the Seventh Illumination: Fellowship. This light represents those who worship Apollon who, though we may be distant from one another, are brought together by our mutual love of our Lord.
We have come to the Eighth Illumination: Quietude. This light represents the insights that will continue to grow as we cultivate a quiet mind, giving space within ourselves for Apollon’s gifts.
We have come to the Ninth Illumination: Farewell. This light represents all that we will carry with us through the winter’s dark and Apollon’s absence as he rests in Hyperborea. We say farewell in gladness and joy, for He has left us with many blessings.
Hail to Apollo Aegletes! So say we all!
So say we all!
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I have designed this ritual as one means for devotees of Apollon to assess their behavior and responses to that which they may not understand or appreciate throughout the course of a day. If you would like to alter some of your ingrained responses, this ritual may be able to help.
Firstly, you will conduct the ritual as more of a conversation with Apollon. Yes, there will be the usual propitiation and other traditional elements, but there will be a lot of just talking to Him about your day, as well.
To begin, set up the area in which you will speak with Apollon. This could be your shrine or altar to Him, or this could be the coffee table in front of your couch. Just make certain that the surface area is clean and dust-free.
Place an image of Apollon of your choosing upon this surface area, along with an appropriate incense holder, keeping in consideration the type and volume of incense to be burned, the accouterments for making khernips, and some blank paper with a pen. Have also an open bottle of wine and at least one glass– two if you’re planning on having any.
It is not necessary to bathe before this ritual, though you certainly may, but a simple washing of the face and hands will suffice.
As is typical, we will begin with a procession. Approach the designated ritual area solemnly. Sit before the image of Apollon (it is important that you make yourself comfortable) as you prepare the khernips. Proceed to purify yourself and the space.
Next, you will propitiate Him through whichever epithets of His that are personally relevant to you, while you light and offer incense. I like to use a bundle of stick incense– one stick for each epithet called.
Pour Him a glass of wine for listening, about half way in the glass. Pour yourself one, too, if you want.
Now is the time for you to greet Apollon, to let Him know the purpose of His visit, to obtain His cooperation through your preferred divination method, and finally, to go over the details of your day with Him. Be honest. Mention each time you had a hypercritical thought about someone or their choices, or any other negative/unnecessarily cruel (on your end) interactions with other people or beings. This is a confession, not to absolve you of past wrongdoing, but for you to acknowledge what was done, said or thought, in order to clear the path for change.
At this time, you will ask Apollon for purification, through the release of your anger, resentment, jealousy, desire to control, etc. To symbolize this purification, you will hand write one letter of apology to each individual wronged that day. Take this seriously, and remember that Apollon is watching and listening. This is your physical act of contrition, and you may or may not choose to actually deliver the letters. The important part for now is just to acknowledge that there are things about past interactions that you would like to change.
Next, you will set an affirmation– something attainable, such as “mindfulness toward compassion”, or “an open exploration of empathy”, etc. This will be your guidepost for interactions throughout the subsequent day.
Now, you will praise Apollon, truly and sincerely, in your own way, in your own words. During this praise, you will pour a libation to Him, of wine, finally filling His glass.
In closing, you will express gratitude to Apollon, for His presence and purification, and for His willingness to assist in your transformation.
The ritual is meant to be performed every day for a set amount (your choice) of days, preferably at the same time each day, for best results.
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Choose a veil that helps to convey the epithets, aspects or manifestations of Apollon that you wish to be associated with the veil. Its size, shape, colors and patterns should be selected to enhance your connection to Apollon, as well as to the specific intent and goal of prayer/workings while wearing the veil.
Next, select an appropriate anointing oil, the scent of which should evoke the feeling of your love and adoration toward Apollon.
This ritual is to be done in the nude, freshly bathed, and requires access to unobstructed sunlight, via an open window or door (or outside if you are willing/able). Dawn, or shortly after dawn is the best time for this ritual.
Begin by preparing khernips, and purifying the space and yourself.
Process toward/into the unobstructed sunlight with lit incense, and gain Apollon’s attention by propitiating Him through epithets which correspond to the intent of the ritual, along with something else tangible to please Him, such as a semi-precious stone that you associate with Him or His domain. A sweet offering like cake, or a libation of sweet red wine would also be appropriate, but are not entirely necessary.
Present the tangible gift while it is wrapped in the veil you have selected. Say: “O Lord of the apotropiac rituals, I present to You this (name of gift) that You might be inclined to direct your favor upon me! O Lord, be pleased by this gesture! I honor You, my Lord Apollon!”
Now, anoint yourself with the oil previously selected, on at least these five chakras, in this order: Sacral, Heart, Throat, Brow, and Crown. At each chakra, say: “I attune myself to You, my Lord, that I might flow with Your presence, and protective power! With You, I dwell in a state of love, knowing Your touch, embracing Your heat! Be pleased by my true devotion, O Venerable Lord Apollon!”
At this time, unwrap the selected veil, holding it open in the sunlight. Feel your emotions well up inside you. Think of the protective and clarifying aspects of Apollon’s power and domain that you wish to have woven into the fabric of the veil. Imagine Him penetrating the fabric with threads of golden sunlight. You may recite His relevant epithets, or otherwise pray for the transformation of this simple item into a powerful tool for protection, clarity, insight, or whatever other quality you deem necessary. Reinforce your vision, and imprint your desire with these words: “I present this tool for the furtherance of our connection, and to be a vessel for the light of Your presence! Apollon, my Prince wielding the Silver Bow, be poised to strike with wisdom all those who would enter into our shared space! Apollon, my Beloved wielding the Golden Sword, be ready to slice through all impure thoughts directed toward me, Your loving ward!”
Again, you may recite or chant His relevant epithets as you infuse your (and His) intent into the veil. When you feel the blessing is complete, slide the veil over your head and face, wrapping it around your body, if long/large enough. Feel His love and power seeping down through your Crown chakra, traveling along those previously anointed, ending with the Sacral chakra (or whichever chakra you started with). You may now bask in His presence for as long as desired.
Light more incense now as a final offering while you thank Apollon for His time and attention. Say: “My Lord Apollon, whom I do love and admire, I shall cherish this gift of Your own Divine Presence, woven into this fabric with protective intent! Lord called Destroyer, avert all potential harm and ill-will through the use of this tool, from the vicinity of this, Your loyal devotee/servant/priest(ess)/bride (name your relationship here)! I thank You, Beloved Apollon, for all You have done or will do in my defense, and I shall strive to receive clarity, while sharing Your wisdom through right speech and right action! Hail to You, Apollon, Prince of High Olympos! And may You be greatly honored by the many who know and seek for You!”
With the completion of this ritual, you now have a veil blessed with our Lord Apollon’s protective strength. Wear as needed or desired, in or outside of ritual or prayer.
For my Sisters, and the benefit of any who were perhaps wanting to celebrate with us, I present one of my Pythaea rituals. This modern funerary celebration of the power of Apollon as Pythios, the Rotting God, may be held in a variety of ways, however, I have decided to share the most traditionally inspired ritual I can stand. I think this one is the most widely accessible version I’ve ever done, and so the most worthy of being shared.
Pythaea occurs on the twentieth day of Treasury Month Pytheion (V), which we are currently in, falling upon the Julian date of May 8, 2015.
A modern, though traditionally inspired, ritual to exalt Apollon Pythios, He who rules over Death, the Enlightener, who strips away the pretense of the flesh, revealing the untarnished truth, and sending souls forward on their evolutionary paths.
You may find Him in the cemetery, or the mortuary. You may find Him standing over the roadkill you saw on your morning commute. Pythios is the Rotting God who commanded the corpse of Python to fall into oblivion, and He is the God whose Temple lies before us, after death.
This is a funerary rite, in which we acknowledge the power of Death, and contemplate Apollon’s role in its implementation. Death is not an end, but a first step on a journey we can not yet know, just as we may not yet know our enlightenment until we have received it. But by this rite, may we shed a little of what holds us back.
This ritual is but one example of what might be done for the Pythaea. Feel free to alter or fix the ritual to suit yourself, and your needs.
Be washed and dressed in clean, comfortable, perhaps mournful clothing. Then begin by transferring flame from the sacred hearth/candle to a another candle which can be carried to the altar, while saying: “Hestia, who guards the holy fires of the Lord in Pytho, who holds the sacred task of keeping the ever-burning hearth, we/I ask that You bless this rite and consecrate all that is affected herein.”
Alternatively, if you do not keep a sacred flame burning all, most or some of the time, you may instead light and dedicate the flame to Hestia for this ritual specifically, by saying: “Blessed Hestia, keeper of the universal hearth, She who is the nurturer of all flame, everywhere, we/I ask that You bless this rite and consecrate all that is affected herein.”
Here is the procession toward the altar, where all participants gather before walking together, led by you (the facilitator), who carries the sacred flame. The burning candle should be placed on the altar at this time.
Now, you will take a large bay leaf (or a bundle of other preferred herbs) and light it with the newly consecrated flame. Quickly plunge the flame into the previously prepared bowl of water, saying: “This water is purified in the essence of Hestia, Virgin Most Holy.” Khernips are now prepared.
Next, you will asperge (sprinkle with khernips) first the altar and all implements thereon, moving to each participant in turn, yourself included, while circling the altar. All should hold a prayerful mindset throughout the purification. A prayer to Apollon the Purifier may also be spoken aloud at this time, if you like. Example: “Apollon, our Lord called Daphneios, hear the prayer of Your people. Our Lord called Katharsios, cast out the impurities herein.” The space is now ritually pure, and the leftover water should be placed outside of the ritual area, to be poured onto the ground later.
At this time, participants should place their offerings upon the altar, each saying a personal greeting to the Lord Apollon as they approach, or they may do so silently. Offerings for this rite should include a few previously prepared “bodies for cremation” in the sacred fire, in Apollon’s name. These bodies need not be any more complex than paper cut-outs in vaguely human shapes. Upon these bodies should be written labels of undesirable traits that are relevant to the person(s) present.
Now, you may call to Apollon in earnest, saying (something to the effect of): “Apollon Pythios, our Lord, and commander of the decaying flesh, we/I do call to You, Releaser of the spirit from physical bonds! Dread Apollon, Most Equitable Pythios, hear us/me and arrive!” Calls may continue until you feel the Lord’s presence.
Next comes the explanation of the ritual, the reason(s) why you have come and your intent, spoken thus, or similarly: “Apollon Pythios, Lord called Destroyer, He who waits at the brink of death, who rules the transition at the sacred cemetery, we/I have come here to know You, to exalt You, and to be released from our/my bonds, just as You release the pure souls of those lain to rest before Your holy feet.”
You will now hold each of the “bodies” out toward the image of Apollon upon the altar in turn, saying aloud the labels each were given. Participants will at this time call out any other undesirable traits that they wish to have stripped away by the Rotting God. After all are finished, you will hold the “bodies”, one by one, over the sacred flame until they are consumed. Any leftovers should be collected in a small bowl for burial later. During this process, participants, including yourself, should pray intensely and silently to the Lord Apollon. They may also choose to meditate upon Him in this aspect of Pythios, and the lessons which may be learned from Him.
Afterward, you and participants may light incense from the sacred flame to be placed on the altar in offering and thanks to Apollon Pythios for His presence and purification. Thanks may be verbalized at this time. Example: “Apollon Pythios, Lord of the rot who wields the all-cleansing light, we/I thank You for Your presence at this rite, and in our/my lives/life. Thank You for the enlightenment You bring, and for the gift of death’s release. If we/I have ever pleased You, and if You have ever seen fit to assist us/me in our/my turbulent lives/life, then remember us/me as we/I remember You.”
Next, comes the final offering, in the form of libations poured into a separate bowl. I have determined that the most appropriate libations for this rite are water and wine, though you may use your own discretion in choosing for yourself. As each libation is poured into the bowl, say something like: “May You receive this sustenance in exchange for Your presence and attention. Blessed Apollon, we/I thank You.”
At this time, all participants should follow you outside to pour the libations onto the Earth, as well as to bury any leftovers from the “cremated bodies”, and to pour out the used khernips. Thank Lord Apollon and Lady Hestia one last time to conclude the ritual. Example: “Lord and Lady of Purest Flame, we/I thank You for the kindness You have shown us/me, and we/I humbly seek to remain worthy of Your Divine intervention. If it pleases You, stay; if it pleases You go, and be welcome with us/me, always.”
Hail Apollon! Hail Hestia! Hail the Blessed, Deathless Gods!