Notes: This ritual was written as an option for a monthly devotional to Aphrodite. I noticed that on the ancient Athenian calendar the honored many of the gods monthly, but we do not have a lot of information about the rituals that they used. I wanted to create something simple and pretty casual for use monthly. You do not need to do it on a specific day. Ancient Athenians often worshiped her on the 4th day of the lunar month, but you could also worship her on the 4th day of the modern calendar, a day you arbitrarily pick that you like, or multiple days throughout the month. Make it your own!
Also, this is quite a long ritual and may not be suitable for the hectic lives many of us lead. Because of that, I have also created another version of the ritual that is much shorter that I will post in another link. Feel free to make any other changes that would better suit you as well.
This ritual is written for one person (since many of us are solitary practitioners), but should be able to be expanded quite easily to accommodate more if needed.
Begin your ritual by cleansing yourself of miasma: This can best be done by washing and dressing in clean clothing or simply just washing your hands and/or face. You may do the latter either by using khernips (or blessed water) or perhaps simply an herbal soap that has a scent that puts you in the frame of mind for ritual. The purpose of this is to help cleanse oneself of miasma before ritual out of respect for the gods. (More on miasma and ritual preparation can be found here: http://persephones.250free.com/preparation.html)
Process toward the altar: It doesn’t have to be fine, but it’s nice to approach the altar mindfully. If you do not have an altar, it is nice to set up a temporary altar-style space on a table or bookshelf where you can put either a statuette of the goddess, pictures of her, items that remind you of her, etc. Think of it as a place dedicated to the goddess for your ritual, sort of like setting up something for a special event.
Light the hearth fire: Once in front of the altar space, light the hearth fire (fireplace, grill, etc.) or a candle representing it. As you light the fire, recite the following excerpt from the Homeric Hymns:
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.
Purification: Next is the ritual purification. State aloud:
"Hekas, hekas, este bebeloi! Let the profane ones depart!"
(If you are nervous about the Greek words, just saying the English half is fine)
At this point, many people scatter barley over the altar to purify it. If you do not have barley on hand, it is my opinion that you may skip this step. YMMV. Some people will also sprinkle khernips on the altar as well. Again, YMMV.
Libation to Hestia: After the purification, prepare what you intend to libate for the ritual. Things such as wine, water, olive oil, and honey are often used for this, but there are many other options as well. This is when you would need to have them ready.
Note: For the libations themselves, if I am inside I will pour them into a designated bowl on the altar space and pour the offerings outside after a few hours on the altar or just after the ritual. If I am outside, I pour the libations onto the earth/ground.
First, pour a libation of your offering to Hestia while saying:
“For Hestia! Yours is always first and last!”
(It is traditional that the goddess Hestia gets the first and last portion or libation in every ritual.)
Libations to Aphrodite:
Recite/read first hymn:
“Ornate-throned immortal Aphrodite, wile-weaving daughter of Zeus, I
entreat you: do not overpower my heart, mistress, with ache and anguish,
but come here, if ever in the past you heard my voice from afar and
acquiesced and came, leaving your father's golden house, with chariot
yoked: beautiful swift sparrows whirring fast-beating wings brought you
above the dark earth down from heaven through the mid-air, and soon they
arrived: and you, blessed one, with a smile on your immortal face asked
what was the matter with me this time and why I was calling this time
and what in my maddened heart I most wished to happen for myself: 'Whom
am I to persuade this time to lead you back to her love? Who wrongs you,
Sappho? If she runs away, soon she shall pursue; if she does not accept
gifts, why, she shall give them instead; and if she does not love, soon
she shall love even against her will.' Come to me now again and deliver
me from oppressive anxieties; fulfill all that my heart longs to fulfill,
and you yourself be my fellow-fighter.”
[Sappho's Hymn to Aphrodite]
[Pour first libation to Aphrodite]
Recite/read next hymn:
"Aphrodite, you stir up sweet passion in the gods. You mated all the immortals with mortal women, making them all subject to your will. Stately Aphrodite, gold-crowned and beautiful, your dominion is the walled cities of all sea-set Cyprus. You are clothed with heavenly garments: on your head is a fine, well-wrought crown of gold, and in your pierced ears hang ornaments of precious gold, and golden necklaces about your soft neck. You give kindly gifts to mortals: smiles are ever on your lovely face, and lovely is the brightness that plays over it. As for us, let us live long and happily, seeing the light of the sun, and come to the threshold of old age, mortals prosperous among the people.”
[from the Hellenion Proto-Demos tes Hagnes Persephones, portions taken from the various Homeric Hymns to Aphrodite]
[Pour second libation to Aphrodite]
Recite/read next hymn:
Heavenly, smiling Aphrodite, praised in many hymns,
sea-born, revered goddess of generation, you like the nightlong revel
and you couple lovers at night, O scheming mother of Necessity.
Everything comes from you; you have yoked the world,
and you control all three realms. You give birth to all,
to everything in heaven, upon the fruitful earth
and in the depths of the sea, O venerable companion of Bacchos.
You delight in festivities, O bridelike mother of the Erotes,
O Persuasion whose joy is in the bed of love, secretive, giver of grace,
visible and invisible, lovely-tressed daughter of a noble father,
bridal feast companion of the gods, sceptered she-wolf,
beloved and man-loving giver of birth and of life,
with your maddening love-charms you yoke mortals
and the many races of beasts to unbridled passion.
Come, O goddess born in Cyprus, whether you are on Olympos,
O queen, exulting in the beauty of your face,
or you wander in Syria, country of fine frankincense,
or, yet, driving your golden chariot in the plain,
you lord it over Egypt’s fertile river bed.
Come, whether you ride your swan-drawn chariot over the sea’s billows,
joying in the creatures of the deep as they dance in circles,
or you delight in the company of the dark-faced nymphs on land,
(as, light-footed, they frisk over the sandy beaches).
Come, lady, even if you are in Cyprus that cherishes you,
where fair maidens and chaste nymphs throughout the year
sing of you, O blessed one, and of immortal, pure Adonis.
Come, O beautiful and comely goddess;
I summon you with holy words and pious soul.
[Orphic hymn, translation by A. Athanassakis]
[Pour third libation to Aphrodite]
Recite/read next hymn:
dearest goddess, most worthy of praise,
I thank you for your blessings.
For love and for passion,
for loss and for longing,
for desire and for fulfillment,
for these I thank you,
for these I adore you,
for these I honor you.
[From Book of Prayers, http://www.geocities.com/hellenicdevotions/aphrodite-p.html]
[Pour final libation to Aphrodite]
Other offerings/hymns: At this time, feel free to add any other personal poetry, hymns, songs, etc. that you would like to add. Make the ritual personal! I also find that this is a good time to just sit in the presence of Aphrodite and perhaps even communicate with her (prayers, requests, praises, etc.).
closing: Once all offerings are complete, to end the ritual, a final
offering is poured to Hestia and the following words are spoken:
“As long as hearth fires burn, the blessing of Hestia is upon us. Praise Hestia, for you always come first and last!”
[Pour libation to Hestia]