Ancient Greek Gods

Noumenia Ritual

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    Brandie
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    History
    The Noumenia was the first day of the lunar month and also a religious observance in ancient Athens and much of Greece. The Noumenia was marked when the first sliver of moon was visible and was held in honor of Selene, Apollon Noumenios, Hestia and the other Hellenic household Gods.
    As celebrated in Athens
    The Noumenia was considered, in the words of Plutarch, “the holiest of days” and no other religious festivals were allowed on this day, nor were any governmental meetings scheduled to take place on the Noumenia. It was a day of relaxation and feasting for Athenian citizens, at home, or for males, with religious fraternities. Wrestling matches also took place at the palaestra.
    It was celebrated by a public ritual on the Acropolis with small offerings to gods and goddesses seen as protectors of Athens, such as Athena Polias and Poseidon, but the most important was made to the guardian snake of the city.The snake was believed to be the living spirit of King Cecrops and was also supplicated by private offerings of frankincense, flower garlands, wine, and barley cakes placed on home altars and household shrines to Hekate and Hermes, which had been freshly cleaned the day before as part of the Deipnon.
    According to Herodotus, in Sparta, meat, barley meal and wine were distributed to the citizens by the Kings on the Noumenia.
    Modern practices
    Offerings such as frankincense or honey cakes to Selene, Apollon, Hestia, and their household Gods are made at the family altar. Other ways to mark the day include decorating their home or home altar with fresh flowers, eating a special family meal, making honey cakes, and replacing the ingredients in the kathiskos with fresh water, oil, and fruit, and bits of food.

    A Ritual Outline
    Procession:
    This is represented by a solemn and serious contemplative journey from the profane to your sacred space. It may be a journey of several steps, or just one or two, regardless of distance traveled, the agenda is to prepare and quiet your mind to approach the divine.
    Purification of the Sacred Space
    Khernips, the scared water used to purify the temple space, traditionally was from a pure natural source. It is kept in a special vessel, the perieranteria. Pour the water over the hands, washing them before entering the ritual area and anoint your crown and forehead to be seen as pure for communion with the Gods. The remaining water would then be used to sprinkle the edges of your sacred precinct and the altar.

    Ritual Lighting of Sacred Fire
    Originally this flame was taken from the Public Hearth of the Polis, sacred to Hestia. For those who have an altar to Hestia in their homes, it would be appropriate to light the ritual flame from that flame, and then carry it during the Pomp to light the candle, lamp or bonfire for your ritual.

    Tossing of Barley
    A special ritual basket (called a kanoun) is brought to the sacred precinct or altar and is filled with barley groats. This barley is used to scatter around the ritual space, including the altar, in order to further purify it and define the boundaries of sacred space dedicated to the gods.

    Invocation
    We first call to the gods to hear and attend our ritual. There are many ancient invocations available to use, or feel free to address them in your own words and songs. When preforming an invocation address to the Olympians, it is proper to lift your hands to the sky with your palms lifted upward to assist your words on their climb to the ears of the Gods.

    Libations (spondai)
    The first libation is to Hestia as it is traditional to offer Hestia the first and last portion of any offering, according to Homer. The libations are addressed to the gods who preside over the Noumenia, including Apollo Noumenios, Selene, and Agathos Daimon, and the God(s) you personally revere in your household. There is often then a common libation for all the gods.

    Offerings
    At this point, individual worshipers would bring forward any offerings they have for the gods and present them to the altar.
    Incense is considered one of the most important offerings for this particular ritual, specifically, copious amounts of frankincense.
    Personal prayers, songs or other events may be added here.
    Final Libations / Last Libation for Hestia:
    (pour libation to all the gods into libation bowl with personal words of thanks)
    And for Hestia, as yours is always the first and last.
    (pour libation to Hestia into libation bowl with personal words of thanks).

    You may be inclined to close the ritual with a moment of meditation and contemplation.

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