Notes: This ritual was written as an option for a monthly devotional to Artemis. 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 6th day of the lunar month, but you could also worship her on the 6th 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 Artemis:
Recite/read first hymn:
“Hail, Lady of the deer hunt!
You who are both hunter and hunted,
You who wield the bow
And bring the prey to their knees,
You who are the doe
Who flees and eludes the pursuers,
Come to us and bless our hunt!
We too seek in the darkness,
We too flee through the darkness,
We too are both predator and prey.
Virgin of the crescent moon,
Who is called She Who Slays,
Fearless huntress, skilled tracker,
Shy deer who runs from our
Groping hands and clumsy feet,
Ray of moonlight that shows
Secrets beneath the forest leaves
That are glimpsed once and then
Never seen again in our lifetimes,
Archer with the fierce pack
Who hounds us through our weaknesses
And will not let us compromise,
Remind us that to shun compromise is to remain true
To something that we must keep alive or lose.”
[From: Invocation to Artemis:
[Pour first libation to Artemis]
Recite/read next hymn:
“Muse, sing of Artemis, sister of the Far-shooter, the virgin who delights in arrows, who was fostered with Apollo. She waters her horses from Meles deep in reeds, and swiftly drives her all-golden chariot through Smyrna to vine-clad Claros where Apollo, god of the silver bow, sits waiting for the far-shooting goddess who delights in arrows.”
[Excerpt from one of the Homeric Hymn to Artemis:
[Pour second libation to Artemis]
Recite/read next hymn:
“I sing of Artemis, whose shafts are of gold, who cheers on the hounds, the pure maiden, shooter of stags, who delights in archery, own sister to Apollo with the golden sword. Over the shadowy hills and windy peaks she draws her golden bow, rejoicing in the chase, and sends out grievous shafts. The tops of the high mountains tremble and the tangled wood echoes awesomely with the outcry of beasts: earthquakes and the sea also where fishes shoal. But the goddess with a bold heart turns every way destroying the race of wild beasts: and when she is satisfied and has cheered her heart, this huntress who delights in arrows slackens her supple bow and goes to the great house of her dear brother Phoebus Apollo, to the rich land of Delphi, there to order the lovely dance of the Muses and Graces. There she hangs up her curved bow and her arrows, and heads and leads the dances, gracefully arrayed, while all they utter their heavenly voice, singing how neat-ankled Leto bare children supreme among the immortals both in thought and in deed.”
[Excerpt from another Homeric Hymn to Artemis:
[Pour third libation to Artemis]
Recite/read next hymn:
“Hear me, O queen, Zeus’ daughter of many names,
Titanic and Bacchic, reverend, renowned archer,
torch-bearing goddess bringing light to all, Diktynna, helper at childbirth.
You aid women in labor, though you know not what labor is.
O frenzy-loving huntress, you loosen girdles and drive cares away;
swift, arrow-pouring, you love the outdoors and you roam in the night.
Fame-bringing, affable, redeeming, mannish,
Orthia, goddess of swift birth, nurturer of mortal youths.
Immortal and yet of this earth, you slay wild beasts, O blessed one,
and your realm is in the mountain forests. You hunt deer,
O august and might queen of all, fair blossoms, eternal,
sylvan, dog-loving, many-shaped lady of Kydonia.
Come, dear goddess, as savior, accessible to all
the initiates and bring earth’s fair fruits
and lovely Peace and well-tressed Health;
and do banish disease and pain to mountain peaks.”
[From the Orphic Hymn to Artemis (#36)
Translation by A. Athanassakis]
[Pour final libation to Artemis]
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 Artemis 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]