Note: This is one of a projected set of rituals which are not part of our regular liturgical calendar. Simply put, Thiasos Olympikos grew rather than being planned and accomplished by intellectual fiat. The dromena of our liturgical calendar were added at particular times for particular reasons, not just because we wanted a busy calendar. We feel that our history is somewhat in accord with the history of the Ancients in this.
Nevertheless, on occasion we have need of a ritual which may be done once, or more times, but not regularly scheduled. Such is the case with this Dromena Ho Asklepios, which has been excerpted from our Socrates' Birthday Dromena. It was first done in this form at the Pantheacon in 2003 of the Common Era (2778 Apo Katagraphes Olympiadon), in San Jose, California, as a kind of outreach activity intelligible to the general NeoPagan community, and one which would demonstrate to that community the structure and technique of our particular tradition of Hellenic Reconstructionism, and therefore Hellenic Reconstructionism in general.
Having done this, we decided that it would be well to include in our website similar rituals in honor of those deities Who are not regularly honored with separate dromena in our liturgical year. (All the Twelve are honored at Theoxenia each year; some individually in one or more dromena during the year; and some, like Asklepios, who are not of the Twelve.)
In this way the searcher and seeker will be able to find performable Hellenic dromena for his or her use, downloadable and adaptable to circumstances.
It is our hope that during the coming year we will be able to provide rituals to the remaining deities of the Twelve, and possibly others, for the use of our fellow followers of Hellenismos.
12 March 2003
Dromena Ho Asklepios
A Ritual in Honor of Asklepios,
God of Health & Healing
The People should gather with the Sacra necessary for the ritual. The Barley, the Knife, the Fire, the Cup, the Water, the Wine, the Incense, and the Food. Also a Book or Scroll, if necessary, and, for this dromena, a flask of consecrated oil for annointing and a small device or substance (such colored pencils or henna) for marking the skin.
The Sacrifice is to Asklepios, so the appropriate flesh for the feast is a cock, or some other form of chicken. If the participants follow a more Pythagorean path, then fruits or vegetables are quite acceptable. There should also be canned goods or other non-perishables added to the Sacrifice as gifts for the poor and/or homeless; as in Ancient Times all were welcome to partake of the Sacrifice, and no doubt many of the poor thus survived to better their lives.
In the event that there is to be no genuine feast, then the gifts for the poor can serve as the Sacrificie proper. This technique is useful in a situation of demonstration. Simple cookies or candy bars will do quite nicely in such a case.
Requests for Healing or thanks for continued good health are appropriate, as are votive promises. It should be noted, however, that if you make a votive promise and you get what you want, then you must keep your promise to the God or risk consequences. Further, it is the custom that if the God attends to your healing, you are expected to make public testimony to what He has done.
If there is to be an actual Pompe (procession) then the Gathering may be a good place to teach the Hymnodos. It can be used as a processional chant as well as sung at the appropriate place in the ritual.
The Incense is lit, then, in the order dictated by the order of the Sacra, as listed above, the People are lead by the Priest or Priestess to the Temenos, or Sacred Precint, containing the altar of sacrifice. At the entrance to the Temenos each person performs the khernips, or hand-washing, then moves in a counterclockwise direction to form a circle around the bomos, or altar.
After the khernips everyone remains silent until the Priest or Priestess cried out:
"Hekas, oh hekas, este bebeloi!"
The People Reply:
"Let All That Is Profane Be Far From Here!"
The Priest or Priestess cries out:
"Paresmen time, sonta tas theas kai tous theous!"
The People Reply:
We Are Here To Honor the Gods and Goddesses!"
The Priest or Priestess then lights the fire on the altar, which should have been laid beforehand. Most properly this would be done with a pure flame brought from the Hearth of Hestia, but this may not always be practical; and there are specific rituals in which the fire should be lit otherwise.
(For indoor rituals or demonstrations where there is no hearth or possibility of a consuming flame, one may use a candle or an artificial flame: the point is to light some kind of fire on the altar. Between a candle and a full scale bomos, a small hibachi makes a good altar, provided you consecrate it to sacred use and don't use it for everyday.)
The Priest or Priestess take a small amount of Barley and tosses it upon the altar, then passes the container with the Barley counterclockwise. Each person takes some and tosses it upon the altar. When it returns whence it started, the Priest or Priestess takes a second small amount and tosses it upon the altar, completing thereby a circle.
(In the case where the ritual in being done without a real fire, as in a demonstration, or where the scattering of the barley may prove impractical, then each person may toss his or her portion of barley into a basin, preferably one in which there is some earth.)
The remaining Barley is placed nearbye, where latecomers may use it to join the ritual.
The Libation Bearers move to either side of the Priest or Priestess and the Wine and Water is mixed. In our practice it is usual for the wine to be carried by a female, the water by a male: but one works with what one has.
(A Note on the Mixing: if there is a krater ((a vessel in which the wine and water can be mixed, such as a large bowl)) then all the wine and water can be mixed at this point. If not, then the wine and water can be mixed in the cup for each libation. The rest of the following text assumes that one does not have a krater and inserts the mixing at appropriate points. If one does have some sort of krater, then the mixing part of the following libations is left out. Also, if there is a krater then some of the wine and water mixture must be ladled into the cup before the libations: if not, then the mixture will already be in the cup.)
The Priest or Priestess says:
"Theasthe ta hudata biou."
The People Reply:
"Behold the Waters of Life."
The First Libation
The Priest or Priestess says:
"Hestia, Thine is always the first and the last."
Some of the mixture in the cup is poured out on the altar, or on the ground, or into the basin with the barley. The Priest or Priestess then takes a sip and passes the cup counterclockwise. Each person takes a sip or touches a drop to his or her forhead in offering, and repeats the above formula of offering to Hestia, or simply says "Sponde!"; which means 'a drink offering.' In other words, Hellenic for libation.
The Priest or Priestess take the last sip and what is remaining is poured out on the altar, on the ground, or into the basin.
(This song may be sung several times, sung as a round, sung in octaves or at the fifth to form parallel organum. Sing it enough. You will know when you are finished and it dies out.)
The Second Libation
The Libation Bearers again mix water and wine. The Priest or Priestess holds up the cup and says:
"Hear, O Asklepie, Son of Apollon and Koronis, God of Health, God of Healing, Dotion, Thessalian, Blameless Physician, Sender of Medicinal Dreams: we call upon You with whatever name it pleases You to be called; for You can bring us the boundless blessing and prosperity of health and well-being, both in body and in mind, and the wisdom of good diet in the best way to conduct our lives. If ever we have made offering to You, or honored You in word or deed, grant us that Arete which is the goal of mortal life. Asklepie, hilathi!"
Some of the mixture in the cup is poured out on the altar, or on the ground, or into the basin with the barley. The Priest or Priestess then takes a sip and passes the cup counterclockwise. Each person takes a sip or touches a drop to his or her forhead in offering, and says:
"Asklepie, be propitious,"
When the cup returns to the Priest or Priestess, he or she takes a last sip and the remaining part is poured out on the altar, the ground, or into the basin.
The Sacred Victims (To Hierion) are brought forward. This should include all the food that is to be eaten at the feast (a small portion of which will be put into the flames is there is a genuine altar with real fire, or, if there is not, into the basin with the barley and the wine) as well as the items which are to be given to the poor and homeless. The ritual loaf of bread, which stands in usually in modern times for a live rooster, is the last item to be presented.
As each item is offered, the Priest or Priestess touches the item with the Sacrificial Knife. Each one who is making an offering may say, as it is offered:
"Lambane kai heydou anthema mou."
"Accept and Delight in My Offering."
Each one may also add any brief particulars he or she feels necessary, such as requests or thanksgivings.
When all these offerings have been made the loaf of bread is brought forth and the Priest or Priestess holds it up in one hand, the Sacrificial Knife in the other.
In Ancient Times we are told that at "The Blow:" that is, when the Sacrificial Knife struck the victim: the women ululated. This was called 'making the olologai.' The women do it by pitching the voice high and crying out "Olologai!" with the 'Ololololo' part lasting as long as the individual woman wants, and the 'gai' part descending and dying away. It has the effect of a kind of cheer, and will be recognized as the sound made by enthusiastic belly dancers, or more mundanely, by Xena, Warrior Princess. Be prepared!
Holding up the bread and knife, the Priest or Priestess cries out:
"Lambane kay heydou anathemata heymoun!"
--and plunges the knife into the bread as the women make the olologai.
When the olologai dies down, the People say:
'Accept and Delight in Our Offerings."
A piece of the ritual bread is put into the fire, or the basin if there is no actual fire. The bread is placed on the altar, but not in the fire, as is the knife. Or, the bread may be put with the food of the feast and the knife put away.
The Ritual Reply
The Priest or Priestess cries out:
The People Reply:
"We will stop up our mouths!"
The people then maintain silence through this second Hymnodos.
Here it is our usual practice to recite or sing the Homeric Hymn to Asklepios. We prefer the translation by Athanassakis because it comes forth as poetry more than any other we have found. However, some other appropriate hymn to Asklepious would also do well. Our thought here is to use something actual and ancient rather than a new piece; if only to connect us back to our Cultural Ancestors and help us to come into attunement with the mindset in which the ancients experienced the Gods.
The Priest or Priestess says:
"In Ancient Times those who needed healing went to the Temple of Asklepios, were counseled by the priesthood, made sacrifices, then slept in the sacred precinct. In sleep the God would come to them: send a dream in which would be revealed the manner in which healing might occur.
"In these times we must make our Temples where we can, and the time in which we seek the healing is compressed. Today I will annoint with an oil and a temporary mark those places on the body which are placed before me for healing. I will pronounce a charm as it is done.
"Your part in the healing will be to remember the dreams which the God will send you, and to act on them. Some of you no doubt keep journals of your dreams. For those it will be simple. For those who do not, it is an easy matter to put a pencil and paper next to the bed and, upon awakening, write down what you remember from sleep.
"You may get one dream or many. It may come immediately, or it may take a couple of weeks. The important thing is to watch for it, to be aware, and to act upon it when it comes.
"The price of the healing is very specific. When you have been healed, then you must give public testimony and thanks to Asklepios for what He has done. In Ancient Times people had testimonies carved in the marble of the Temple walls. They left crutches and braces in the Temple, much as people do today at Lourdes and Chimayo. As Asklepios today has no marble walls to carve, you will have to find your own means of giving testimony; but the God will expect you to do it.
"The essence of your eusebeia, your piety, is in how you honor the Gods.
"We will now begin the annointing. If you have some illness or injury, please bare the skin where I am to annoint, and speak aloud to the God what it is you want healed."
The Priest or Priestess now moves counterclockwise around the circle, annointing each infirmity offered. For each one, the Priest or Priestess says:
"Apollonos O Asklepie
en to some kai oneiro
didou tonto anthropo ton pharmakon
At the final words, toute noseme, which means this malady, the Priest or Priestess should draw a simple serpent symbol on the afflicted part. When everyone who desires it has been annointed the materials should be put away and everyone joins in the Sacral Feast.
The Sacral Feast
There was a time when Humans and Gods supped together. In making Sacrifice and in the exercises of the Agon we have called up the Deity to join us, not only in helping us and accepting our thanks, but in the feasting thus commemorated. When the Agon is done, the Sacral Feast is set and everyone eats. In particular, everyone must eat some of the the bread, but short of dietary concerns, everyone should also share the food brought and sacrificed.
The Sacral Feast can be something as simple as bread and wine, or as elabroate as a many course banquet. What makes it Sacred is that the eating is done in Sacred Space, not tacked on later when the ritual is over. Abstracting the Sacral Feast by eating a bite of the bread, then saving the rest of the food for after the ritual, is not only insulting to the Gods, and missing the point of a Sacral Feast; it is tacky.
It is important to remember that this is a communion not only between Mortal and Deity but between the Mortals who share the Feast as well. We are all joined in this communal Feast, in community, in koinonia, by the sharing of this food.
The Libation of Thanks
When everyone has finished eating, the Libation Bearers mix wine and water again. The Priest or Priestess leads the people in giving thanks to the God, letting individuals speak at will. then the Priest or Priestess says:
"O Asklepie, kharin ekhomen soi."
Some of the mixture in the cup is poured out ont he altar, then the cup is passed around counterclockwise, each pperson taking a sip in offering to Asklepios or touching a drop to his or her forehead in offering and saying:
"O Asklepie, Hilathi!"
(Asklepios, Be Propitious)
"O Asklepie, Sponde!"
(Asklepios, this Libation)
"Asklepios, I thank you."
The Priest or Priestess then takes a last sip, and the remaining part is poured out on the altar.
The Final Libation
The Libation Bearers mix wine and water one final time.
This Final Libation is offered to Hestia, with the words:
"Hestia, Thine is always the first
and the last.
It is offered in the same manner as the first, but when the Priest or Priestess pours out the last of it upon the altar, he or she cries out:
The response is:
"So be it!"
This is the End of the Ritual
Prepared from Previous Materials
28 April 2003
Thiasos Olympikos 13
In the Second Year of the 695th Olympiad
(Apo Katagraphes Olympiadon)