Purification ritual

The content from this is from Drew Campbell’s book Old Stones, New Temples and Walter Burkert’s Greek Religion, particularly pages 77-79.

First the candle and incense burner is prayered over, and Hestia is asked to bless them both. I borrowed one of the hymns for this (Homeric Hymn to Hestia #24):

“Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise — draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.”

Afterwards comes the purification:

“Hekas, hekas, este bebeloi! Let the profane ones depart!”

This is pronounced hehKAHS, hehKAHS, ehSTAY bayBAYloy.

Then take a sage bundle or incense stick, light it from the already blessed candle, and put it into the water, saying:

“Kherniptomai! Let this water be purified by the sacred fire!”

That perhaps difficult-looking Greek word is pronounced kayr-NEEP-toe-may. You may recognize the word “khernips” from it, which is what lustral water is called in Greek.

Circumambulate around the altar, stopping at the front of the altar. Then you sprinkle the altar, the offerings, and the people with khernips. As you sprinkle the water, say:

“O theoi genoisthe apotropoi kakon! O gods, turn away evils!”

The bowl is set away from the altar outside of the room, as it now ritually impure. The used water should be poured directly onto the earth outside the temenos after the ritual.

The opening is taken from the Eleusinian Mysteries. Essentially, it means that if you don’t belong there, get the hell out!

The sage bundle or incense stick replaces what was in ancient times a piece of wood that came in contact with the water, making the water into holy water. The source for this type of purification I got from reading Burkert’s Greek Religion. I’ve also seen cork wood used, like the kind from wine bottles. I like the sage bundle because I can both use it to burn and add the fire to the water, and use it as an asperger. Whatever works for you! If you want to get real traditional, use a branch with leaves on it from a tree–a reasonably sized one, no bigger than say your hand.

As for getting the fire from the candle you just blessed to Hestia, you’re purifying the water with fire that has been made sacred.

As for the circumambulation, that was also done during rituals in Greek times. See Greek Religion p. 56 in describing the circling around the altar with the water and barley basket.

It has been argued by someone I know that sprinkling the offerings after the circumambulation is like blessing everything with the “dirty water” which has already collected the impurities from the room. The next festival I lead, I will try doing the sprinkling BEFORE the circumambulation and see what effect that has. I may also consider a divination to see what works best in the gods’ eyes. Or, better yet, consult the books of wisdom on my already expansive bookshelves.

Some people may want to say something during the circumambulation so that there is the lack of silence. Others may like the silence. During that time, you could say a prayer to Apollo, god of purification.

Another method of purification minus fire (especially if you can’t due to college dorm rules) s to obtain water from a spring, a lake, a pond, a stream–any natural body of water–or even collect rain water to use during rituals. You can do the same ritual minus the fire from above using this type of water.

Congrats. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve read and learned an esoteric ritual using entirely reconstructed methods from ancient Greece. It’s–GASP!–reconstructionist mysticism!! You can use this for the purification opener of festivals, a stand-alone to consecrate a living space for sacred work, a means of “banishing” when you move into a new home, anything like that.

Enjoy. đŸ˜‰

Greek polytheism 101