This November and December, 2017, is the first time I will be trying to observe every single ritual that I have added into my personalised Men Kata Theion, or Sacred Month.
The second to last day is for Hades; depending on the lunar month, this may fall on the 28th, 29th or even 30th of the lunar month. But the numbering is mostly irrelevant, it simply falls on the day before the dark moon (astronomical new moon). This month it falls on the evening of the 17th of December and on through the day of the 18th.
Hades is the God of the underworld, ruler of Hades, the Elysian Fields, Tartarus, Asphodel Meadows, the Blessed Isles. He is the God of death and the dead and ruler over the lands of the dead and the lands of the dread and dark Gods. He rules over funeral rites and the right of the dead to have a proper burial. He is also the God of necromancy and ghosts. Hades is brother to Zeus and Poseidon, and husband to Persephone.
The most well known myth about Hades is certainly the rape of Persephone. Hades, desiring Kore, the daughter of Demeter, contrived to kidnap Her and keep Her in the underworld. While there She ate some pomegranate seeds, trapping Her there forever. Demeter went a bit mad and was only appeased after a deal was struck to let Kore/Persephone spend part of each year in the underworld and part with Her mother on earth. There are many variants of this myth, and some modern Pagans prefer to believe that Hades was no real kidnapper or rapist, but actually an eloper with Persephones very willing hand.
Hades is also seen as a giver of wealth and plenty, under the name of Plouton. Along with this He rules over metals and mining – which stands to reason as the God of the depths of the world, and He also rules over dreams.
He is generally depicted as dark bearded and often holding the sceptre of Hades. He bears the helm of invisibility, which was put to great use during the war with the Titans. He is often shown with Cerberus, the three headed hound of the underworld.
Though He is a God of the underworld, and thus considered a dread God, for the most part Hades is shown to be a fairly reasonable and somewhat caring deity. This is most evidenced by two myths. The first about Orpheus, where Hades gives Orpheus the chance to recover his wife from the underworld. The second about Herakles, who is tasked to capture Cerberus and Hades actually allows this to happen. There are stories of Hades wrath of course, so it is best to not be deceived by these acts of kindness.
We begin with the usual Hellenic ritual forms, preparation, procession and cleansing with Khernips. This is followed by the lighting of a ritual fire or candle/s, and the tossing of barley if you happen to do that. Then we call on the Gods to attend the ritual. Our first hymn and libation are to Hestia, then we offer a hymn and libation to Hades, followed with incense and other offerings. We finish with another libation to Hestia.Hades is an underworld God and is best given underworld appropriate offerings. Unlike Melinoe though, there is a lot of information around about Hades so it is a bit easier to find offering and libation ideas that are more specific to Him. Mint is sacred to Him, having once been a nymph He loved, so mint offerings, libation or incense are all good (if you happen to do a ritual to Persephone with Hades, I would omit the mint though). Cypress is also sacred to Him, so is a good incense to use. Pomegranate is probably a good one to use since it was used to keep Persephone with Hades. Otherwise, milk or wine is always a good libation to the chthonic Gods.
I call on the Gods of the Hellenes,
Deathless Ones, most glorious,
Chthonic, Oceanic, Ouranic,
Protogenoi, Titanic and Olympian.
Attend this rite and bear witness
Hail to Hestia, First and Last
Hearth Keeper, Guardian of the Home,
Accept this our first libation. Pour libation.
I call on Hades Plouton, ruler of the dead,
God of the underworld, Lord most dread,
Caring for ghosts and demanding funeral rites,
For all who come to an end and into your sights,
Husband of Persephone, the lovely maiden Kore,
Who brings out your kindness, caring and more,
Bringer of peace to all who come to meet thee,
After paying Charon the small but necessary fee,
Bringer of riches and plenty, hail great Plouton,
Attend this rite and accept this sweet libation.
Pour libation. Light incense. Say any prayers you have, and give any offerings.
Glory to the Theoi, I offer my thanks to you. Pour libation.
And to Hestia, first and last. Pour libation.
This is a chthonic ritual, which means it should be holocaust and all food and drink prepared for the rite should be offered to the Gods and not eaten or drunk by humans. Spend some time in after ritual practice, for Hades I would suggest working with the dead, making offerings and the like.
My 29th Day Ritual
I don’t have a big connection with Hades so this ritual went about as expected, remote and basic – nothing special. But nothing went wrong so I take that as a good sign! I am really happy to be doing some Chthonic rituals though, I never realised how much I prefer the Chthonic ones before this month, after doing so many Ouranic ones in a row. It’s nice to get back to what feels more normal.