The first day of the lunar cycle, the astrological new moon, is observed as a time to express devotion and gratitude to Hekate.
The Deipnon: Honoring Hekate on the Dark Moon
The Deipnon is a time for expressing devotion to Hekate. This is a special day when I express gratitude to Hekate for Her many blessings. It can also be a day to welcome Hekate if you are a new devotee.
As I devotee, I typically make offerings on the day of the lunar cycle when the moon is dark. This modern day is rooted in the ancient practices of honoring Hekate through offerings and activities on the first day of the month, particularly with what’s referred to as Hekate’s Supper. There are many ways to honor Hekate on this day within Modern Hekatean Witchcraft.
The Ancient Deipnon
Some practitioners follow a more traditional approach based on ancient writings, especially those from the Hellenic period in Greece. The Hellenic calendar was based on the lunar cycle. Different deities were honored on specific days in conjunction with this cycle. The Deipnon was a time when houses were rigorously cleansed and then a ritual offering was made to Hekate. If you are interested in learning more about the traditional Hellenic Deipnon approach, read this excellent article.
The Contemporary Deipnon
Contemporary devotees of Hekate usually make offerings and perform rituals on the dark moon that may be based on ancient approaches or by applying the underlying ideas of the traditions in ways that are meaningful today. In addition, we can merge together different practices associated with Hekate from the past with other pagan practices, our own beliefs, and the context of everyday life.
Epithets and the Deipnon
Many choose to honor a specific epithet (or more than one) with which they feel a special connection. This can be a general sort of thing where a practitioner is close to one of Hekate’s aspects as part of their devotion and witchery. It could also be a specific epithet that is representative of the time of year. In addition, you could select an epithet that represents an area in your devotion, witchery, or personal development work that you wish to draw into your life. However, honoring Hekate in general is perfectly fine. Approach using the epithets as you feel led.
Preparing for the Deipnon involves several aspects. There are the things to be done, like assembling the offerings. You also need to prepare yourself psychologically and spiritually. If you are writing a prayer or creating a ritual, it’s best to start well in advance. All these activities are means of getting ready to enter into communion with Hekate.
Deipnon Ritual Timing
While preparing for the Deipnon can take several days, doing things on the actual day also requires some planning. In antiquity, the day began at sundown. So, when you look at your local date/time for the astrological new moon, start the day at sundown if you want to be precise. For example, if the time of the new moon is at 8:17 pm in the winter, then you would celebrate Deipnon beginning at sundown that same day.
Here’s where I find it a bit confusing. But, if it’s summer and the sun hasn’t gone down by 8:17 pm, then the exact ancient time for the ritual would be the night before. Got it? This is because the actual Deipnon ritual should be conducted in the dark if possible. However, we’re all busy. My general operating principle is to do the ritual within 24 hours before or after the actual time of the new moon.
Now that we’ve sorted out the timing of Deipnon, there’s a few other aspects of preparation that I want to discuss. Part of getting ready for the Deipnon includes cleansing as a way of physical, psychological and spiritual preparation. The ancient practice was to clean the house and to purify it from nasty spirits. Many of us do our own interpretation of this purification today. Ritual cleansing of the body using various techniques is also commonly done.
For example, taking a ritual bath prior to doing the Deipnon ritual is a powerful method of psychological and spiritual preparation. There’s lots of ways to take such a bath, but it’s typical to put in the water substances and objects that are representative of Hekatean energy. The intention for such a bath is usually to free yourself of everyday worries and to open up to divine connection. If you’re looking for an idea, check out this exceptionally cool beer bath.
Before jumping in the tub, you can have your offerings placed in a sacred space. That way they are consecrated and ready to use when you are done cleansing your body, mind, and spirit. The sacred space you created to prepare your offerings should be extended to include the locations you’ll use in the actual ritual.
Locations of Offerings
The locations of offerings are a central part of any Deipnon ritual. Modern offerings can be placed on an altar, left at a crossroads or buried. When offerings are set upon an altar, they are typically left in proximity to a physical representation of Hekate, such as a statue or print.
Placing offerings at a crossroads – especially a tripartite one – are a common practice. The meeting of three roads is of particular importance in Modern Hekatean Witchcraft. This is the application of an ancient practice of leaving offerings in such locations. Fortunately, many of us have a three-way crossroads of sorts readily available right at the end of our driveways. Crossroads besides tripartite ones are perfectly acceptable locations for offerings.
There are some devotees who bury their offerings. I think this is appropriate when the offering shouldn’t be consumed by local wildlife. For example, if you are using poisonous plants in your cake, don’t leave it somewhere an animal is likely to consume it. Unless, of course, you are trying to kill the animal. Other offerings that are probably best under ground include things you’re presenting to Hekate as representative of underworld energy. You might be giving Her your painful memories symbolically written on paper. Bury those things.
Types of Offerings
Giving up things to Hekate as acts of worship are highly appropriate on the Deipnon, whether it’s painful memories that you’re clinging to or a bad habit. Other types of offerings include edibles, objects, acts, thoughts, and emotions.
Edible OfferingsCommon edible offerings include cakes, eggs, leeks, garlic, and pomegranate seeds. These can be combined into the traditional offering of Hekate’s Supper. Food offerings left at a crossroads should be appropriate for the local animals to consume. For example, I live near deer (an animal associated with Hekate) and leave out blueberries for them, especially in the winter. The deer can’t open the freezer and pull out a bag like I can. I’ve also left out pomegranate seeds for the pesky pheasant who lives on my land. If I leave out meat, I know that the raccoons, coyotes, and a feral cat named “Big Orange” will have a feast.
In addition, devotees can adopt the ancient practice of offering unusable food, like rotting meat. In antiquity, household sweepings were offered to Hekate. However, their sweepings probably contained items that more closely resembled our modern definition of garbage or compost. In any case, it is highly appropriate to offer rotting things to Hekate on the Deipnon, or anytime. These tokens are especially relevant if you are working with Hekate as The Dark Mother or one of Her epithets that fall within the umbrella of underworld energy.
I like to think that the things we make ourselves are of special value as offerings, whether it’s an actual supper or something we craft, like a new statue or talisman. A lot of devotees make things as offerings. The time spent on creative endeavors is also an act of devotion. When it comes to using food, objects, made or even found things, none of it has to be high cost.
Some practitioners of Modern Hekatean Witchcraft make behavioral offerings, such as volunteering time with a marginalized group like at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or spending time helping unfortunate canines (dogs are a symbol of Hekate). Another example of a behavioral act of devotion is making a pilgrimage while reciting sacred verses like the Orphic Hymn to Hekate, modern prayers, or your own words.
Unwanted Things as Offerings
There are many ways of offering up thoughts and emotions as signs of devotion. In particular, we can offer Hekate things we wish to have taken from us. Hekate doesn’t mind being regifted something that no longer serves us. Symbolically, the energy of this offering can be viewed as being returned to the underworld where it will be reborn into something new.
Emotions and Thoughts as Offerings
When it comes to offering our thoughts and emotions as symbols of worship to Hekate, there are things that we may hesitate to relinquish in Her name. For example, we can offer up fear based emotions like inappropriate anger or to Hekate and make a commitment to being more loving. In terms of thoughts, we could gift Hekate maladaptive thought patterns like negatively judging others and then actively work to change how we see people.
Some of the things we give up to Hekate are an actual sacrifice. Relinquishing familiar yet maladaptive ways of being in the world takes sacrifice. There are other forms of sacrifice that we can make as an act of devotion. I decided to give up a beloved coffee drink as part of this month’s Deipnon. Trust me, it’s a sacrifice! I want to explore the feeling of giving up something important to me as a means of devotional practice. The things I usually offer up to Hekate on Deipna (plural) don’t really exact any personal toll. Leaving berries, helping the less fortunate or giving her my bad habits aren’t actually sacrifices. This month, I wanted to change it up a bit.
My Deep Deipnon Dive
I decided to change it up a lot. I’ve been contemplating what it is I am most grateful for in my life. In my belief system, Hekate is the symbolic source of all things – good, bad, and worse. Setting aside the time on the Deipnon to express gratitude is a vital part of my interpretation of Modern Hekatean Witchcraft. However, I often get so busy preparing things that the actual ritual can seem a bit shallow. Kind of like saying, “thanks” to someone whose done me a big favor. This time, I wanted to explain to Her why I was grateful. I wanted to get specific.
The Gift of Love
Hekate’s gift of emotions, specifically love, is the thing I am currently very grateful for. Let me explain this a bit. One of my major challenges has been to feel love or accept it. I’ve got lots of underworld fear-based emotions, but the Hekate Soteira higher energy one of love typically eludes me. If you read this blog regularly, you already know that I’m on a mission to walk in the daylight. Part of this journey has been to really feel love – within myself and from others. I love being able to feel love. It’s a revolution!
Another aspect of personal development that I’ve been working on is leaning into things. By this I mean a rejection of resistance – just go with the flow. Sometimes acceptance requires diving deep into things. I thought this would be a good mindset to try out when doing my Deipnon ritual expressing gratitude for love. What if I just let go? I often perceive a barrier between myself and Hekate. It’s like She’s there but I keep a few steps back. I think I do this as an expression of reverence. I decided to lean into Her presence this time. To dive deep.
For the ritual, I used a representation of myself emerged into the primordial energy of love. My intention was to dive deep into that energy current, so I could truly express my gratitude forward to Hekate. I fashioned a gold snake around my symbolic self indicating the connection to the Great Mother that is Hekate. There is no stronger love than that of a Mother. I used nine candles, each one representing a different feature of love: acceptance, compassion, confidence, contentment, devotion, joy, kindness, peace, and wisdom. As I lit each candle, I expressed my gratitude for each of these constructs.
I do some movements during ritual that I’ll have to talk about in a future blog. For now, just envision that I do things that involve threes. As I was doing these movements, I concentrated on my gratitude and leaned into the current of love energy that emanates from Hekate. It was profoundly energizing. The rest I’ll keep to myself. At least for now.
Make Your Deipnon Personal
I’m sharing this story of my highly personal Deipnon ritual as a means of showing you that how your express your devotion to Hekate on this day (or any other) is up to you. Use the ancient writings and modern interpretations as you feel led, but go ahead and make it special to you. If you’re up for it, lean into the day and all that it means. Don’t be afraid to dive deep into the Deipnon.