Friday, October 28, 2011

A Hellenic Samhain Unity Working

The Elysium Fields

“Into the West” is a common phrase heard among those of Celtic Hearth when referring to a journey to the Summerlands, the green fields of the afterlife, but this is not only a Celtic concept. Homer describes a plain where life is easiest for men, for there is no snow or heavy storm, and Okeanus blesses them with the West Wind that it may be cooling to those who live there. Hesiod refers to an Isle of the Blessed on the Western Edge of the Earth where admission is given to those chosen by the Gods, the righteous and heroic among the folk who would live a blessed and happy life, indulging in those things that brought them joy in their years on Earth. These Isles in the West, these Isles of the Blest, these Plains of paradise, are known as the Elysium Fields, and it is here that all Hellenes look to call their eternal home. Here, where the soft precipitate wind falls upon rich soils, continually supporting fruits, vegetables and grains beyond measure. Here, where long, lazy days are followed by cool, comfortable nights. Here, where the tales and songs of the Bards fill halls of fellowship and mirth for all time.

Our hearts’ desire is for our loved ones to be in just such a place, and as we honor them tonight, this time when the veil thins enough for our voices to freely echo through their Halls, let us call out the names of our clans, our tribes, our families. Let us remember the threads that connect us and weave them together as one folk honoring one mighty Kindred: The Ancestors.

We have blessed this Water and infused it with the gifts of the Kindreds, drawing down their blessings that we may be infused with their love in return for our gifts. As we offer this Water to the Fruit of the Vine, we share these Blessings with Those who have gone before us in Unity, in honor and with love. (Pour Waters of Life into Bowl of Wine, preferably red)

And now, Children of Earth, raise your voices with ours and sing your memories into these Waters. Lift your song from your heart that we, too, may add of our essence to these Waters gifted from the Kindreds. (Tone into the Unity Waters)

With reverence and passion, let us invite our houses to accept these gifts as a part of the Community Family of Three Cranes Grove and The Folk of Central Ohio.

(Beginning with a couple well-placed grove members, have each participant give the last names from their family tree, pouring a libation from the bowl over the Omphalos for each person. Single Drumbeat plays throughout. Offer final amount to the collective Ancestors of the Community)

Sing: Mothers and Fathers of Old

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Haides, an Essay and Prayer

Guest Writer: AG Vanidottir

Many would view Haides as a stern, fierce and unyielding god. Shown as dark and gloomy, the majesty of his appearance is often tainted. The judgement of men's souls is not an easy task and is often thankless. False notions about the power of this god make people unduly afraid of him. Perhaps this is stems from the idea that once dead we remain in his realm for ever, and that with the crossing of the River Styx the soul goes to him without the covering of the body and thus loses its humanity. I am hear to tell you that this is not so.

In the beginning of the Age of the Olympians, three brothers divided the realms of Earth. Zeus drew the lot of the skies and heavens and thus rules from Olympus. Poseidon drew that of the realms of seas and waters and with this rules from the depths of the world's Oceans. The third brother, Haides, drew the lot of mists, secrets and the deep darkness that the Earth's fertility comes from. It is to this realm that all must return when their days have run their course.

Haides rules the depths below Earth's surface and beyond the river Styx. There the mists from her waters part and the souls of our beloved ancestors walk freely to the rewards of a life well lived. Within the gates of the Elysian fields walks the defender of the rights of the dead, king of the under realms, lover and husband to Persephone, guardian of the hidden wealth of the earth. There those that have earned a place within these sacred grounds are at peace, hearing the love and prayers from the upper world by the grace of Haides. The dead, upon receiving this gift from their protector, smile and make ready for the time that their descendents join them. Love and sympathy course through the fruits of this world and here the dark and gloom do not dare invade.

Haides, in Elis your temple was only opened once a year; not unlike our own ancestor box. You hold the keys to the other realm and fiercely watch those in your charge with Cerberus by your side. Though you sit in judgement of men's souls and often must pass a harsh sentence, you are not without compassion. It is from the darkness of your realm that seeds gather their strength to be brought forth in the Spring. By your hand the wealth of the land is brought forth. Your gift to man is the promise of a safe harbor upon the crossing of the river. Your gift to the other gods is to care for those that they have favored in life with peace and joy beyond the confines of their flesh.

Haides, gathered before you now are the children of the Earth. The living call to you to recognize and honor you for your sacred duty. Haides, part the mists that stand between your realm and ours that we may make offering in thanks for your careful hand and watchful eye. Turn the keys within the gates and allow the mothers and fathers of old to hear the words of our hearts. The words of our own souls that sing in praise of you and yours.

"Zeus Khthonios (of the Underworld) [Haides], thy sacred ear incline, and pleased accept these sacred rites divine. Earth’s keys to thee, illustrious king, belong, its secret gates unlocking, deep and strong. ‘Tis thine abundant annual fruits to bear, for needy mortals are thy constant care. To thee, great king, all sovereign earth assigned, the seat of gods and basis of mankind."

Haides,
Lord of the Underworld,
Husband to Persephone,
Brother to Zeus and Poseidon,
Son of Kronos and Rhea,
Keeper of the mists,
Guardian of the dead
Haides, the children of the earth call out to you
Join us at our sacred fire and accept all that we offer to you.
Haides, we honor you!

Sources include: www.theoi.com, the Orphic Hymns and Plato