This November, 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 12th day is for Hephaistos, and this lunar month it falls on the evening of the 30th of November and continues through the day of the 1st of December. I chose the 12th day for this ritual mostly from Hesiods Works and Days, which notes the 12th day as being good for hard work. Hephaistos is all about hard work and so I thought it was fitting. It is not the only day that is good for hard work according to Works and Days, but in this case divination decided on the 12th.
My worship of Hephaistos is fairly impersonal, we have no real personal relationship or connection, we haven’t ever spoken or communicated in any way. Instead the connection is purely regional and based on the fact that I live at the bottom of a volcano, which is of course sacred to Hephaistos. I have a small festival every February in honour of Volcanic Hephaistos, so this monthly ritual observance is for Hephaistos in general, not just His volcanic aspect.
Hephaistos is one of the main twelve Olympians and is the smith of the Gods. He is also somewhat outcast because of a deformity that makes Him lame – this deformity may have come from an incident after birth when He was thrown from Mt Olympus. He once trapped Hera on a throne, and as payment for releasing Her He was given Aphrodite as His wife. He trapped Aphrodite and Ares under a thin web of chain so that the Gods could make fun of the two of Them having sex. His was the fire that Prometheus stole to give to humans.
Hephaistos is a fire God and connected to all forms of craftmanship, not just blacksmithing. He bears the epithets Polytechnes, “Of Many Crafts” and Polyphron, “Ingenious, Inventive” and in the Homeric Hymn 20 He is stated as being famed for His inventions. Because of this Hephaistos is generally seen today as being the God of technology, which would not just include design technology, but also digital technology. Essentially, Hephaistos is the God of electronics including the computer and even one of the Gods of the internet (though not all modern Pagans or Hellenes agree with this view). As some put it, we are surrounded by the gifts of Hephaistos, even if we don’t recognise it.
The Hephaistos Ritual
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 say the hymn to Hephaistos and pour His libation, give His offerings. We end with another libation to Hestia.
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 Hephaistos, master craftsman and divine smith,
Creator of weapons, the heroes killed monsters with,
Lame of leg, strong of arms, mighty bearer of flame,
Volcanic lord, fire and lava you can temper and tame,
Or release with explosive force, to destroy all in its path,
Mighty lord, all men should be fearful of your wrath,
And grateful for all the amazing things that you invent,
Accept this offering in thanks for all creativeness you have sent.
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.
Drink whatever remains of the libation offering (if it is potable) and eat what is left of the offerings, it’s good to share a meal or drink with the Gods. Spend some time in after ritual practice, for Hephaistos, good activities might include anything crafty or creative – drawing, knitting, painting, building, DIY works etc.
My 12th Day Ritual
As mentioned near the start of this post, my relationship with Hephaistos is impersonal and more about regional landmarks than anything else. This means my rituals are also generally less personal feeling than the others often are. Where in many of my other rituals I can acutely feel the presence of the deity I am worshipping, with Hephaistos it is generally more of a remote presence that I feel – if I feel anything at all. Divination suggests that my rituals are well received though, so I am not too concerned about this impersonal feel to it all. That is simply not the nature of our relationship and that’s okay.