And so after a time, when you’ve read nearly every recommended book there is on Greek religion and even discovering ones which AREN’T on the list (and if so, feel free to email me your findings), you’re probably wondering the big question:
“Ok, that’s great, but how in the world do I put all of these ancient practices into the every modern world and life that I have?”
Good question! The answer is relatively simple: you don’t have to have elaborate practices, rich in ritual and take hours long to perform. We don’t have hours in our day. Typically, we’re 9-5 or even 8-5 folk. We get home, we’re tired, we go out with our friends, we have families–how do we fit in all of these practices into such a schedule?
Start out simply. Stuck in traffic? Meditate on Hermes and maybe ask the swift god to move the traffic a little more swiftly–minus any accidents along the way, of course. Need to find your soulmate? Pray to Hera for a mate as passionate and devoted as she is to her husband Zeus. The passion of the marriage bed is all in Hera’s hands–Aphrodite is a goddess of love and passion, but not necessarily for long-term relationships or one for marriage potential. When in doubt, pray to them both! Also, if you or someone you know is sick, you can pray to Apollo or his son Asclepius for healing. Burn incense every once in a while. Burn a candle. Or just simply meditate on each of the gods and what they mean to you.
Morning and evening prayers can be as simple as “Kalimera/Good morning (insert deity name here)” or “Kalinixta/Good night”. I can elaborate further on these little ritual practices in the rituals section of this site, but really in the beginning establishing mindfullness about how the gods fit into your every day life is all that is needed.
If you’re a college student and can’t have candles or burn incense, having a simple shrine on a desk with a decorative lamp or a picture of your patron deity or deities will do.
For offering prayers and devotions while not at home, there’s the option of a travel altar. Recently I made myself one, and got to use it on a trip. Should you be unable to obtain small statues of the gods, get the following items:
- Granules of frankincense
- A small charcoal burner
- Small pieces of charcoal
- A tiny bowl or dish for water
Instructions for use:
- Wash your hands
- Light the tealight and ask for Hestia’s blessing upon it. This is the home hearth fire away from home.
- Sprinkle the water from the bowl onto the area where the items from the travel altar are (see my notes on purification from the rituals section if you are lost as to why this is done)
- Light the charcoal using the tealight.
- Drop three pieces of frankincense onto the charcoal for offerings. First and last, as you may recall, always belongs to Hestia.
- Say a prayer to the gods. Example: “Hail all the gods, I give to you all this offering. May you be honored no matter where I am.” See my section on prayer for additional help.
If you are able to libate wine at that point, you can do so. Otherwise, you can libate water, or give another offering of frankincense as thanks.
The gods appreciate the little things. It doesn’t have to be big, elaborate, or expensive. Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting in a cramped lotus position and chanting. It just means simple, quiet reflection from anywhere between a minute and thirty minutes–or even longer or shorter–on any given subject.
Additional links of information:
- Personal Hellenic practice, including how to pray
- Greek rituals, and their reconstructions for both festivals and single person worship.
Additional resources elsewhere:
- Living Hellenism by Den of Kerberos