I’ve been fascinated with Athena ever since I learned about her in primary school. Here’s a simple, devotional ritual I created to honour her.
Preparing For A Ritual With Athena
Gather three bowls, preferably wooden. Collect olive leaves or bay laurel leaves and tie them in a bundle with string. Procure Greek olives or any green olives you can find. Buy (or make) the best olive oil you can—a small amount is perfect. Make or buy pita bread. Find a white, unscented tealight candle or a small, white, unscented glass-encased votive candle. Find golden fabric (yellow will do, but gold is best). Get a statue of Athena (wood is best, resin will do just fine). If you can’t get a statue of Athena, print off a picture. Better yet, find a piece of wood, perhaps a foot tall. Carve it with her name or some symbol that represents Athena for you.
Prepare yourself for ritual. This could mean taking a bath, changing clothes, or breathing deeply and intentionally for a few moments. Begin your ritual by lighting your olive leaf or bay leaf bundle. Let the smoke fill the room. If burning leaves is problematic for you because of your space or health, dip the bundle of leaves into fresh, clean water and sprinkle the water about the ritual space.
Building Your Temple For Athena
Clearing a central place, put out the items you’ve gathered. First lay out the golden fabric. Next fill three bowls, one with olives, another with olive oil, and the third with bread. Place the bowls on the golden fabric. Next, carefully drip olive oil onto the candle, taking care not to drown the wick. A few drops will do. Put the candle on the golden fabric, by the three bowls. Complete your temple to Athena by adding her image to the temple. Give it a central place. Perhaps you’ll find a way to have Athena raised above the olives, olive oil, bread, and candle.
A Devotional Ritual For Athena
Light the candle and say:
Athena Polias, Athena of the people. We come to honour you and make offerings in your name.Reach for the bowl of olives. Pass the olives quickly and carefully through the flame of the lit candle and place the bowl at the feet of Athena. Repeat with bowls of bread and olive oil. As you do, exclaim:
Athena, we make these offerings of bread, and olives, and oil in your name. We remember your sacred gifts from long ago. We honour you with them again today.
Dip your fingers in the olive oil, anoint the goddess Athena, and say:
Athena, we anoint you with olive oil as an act of devotion. We ask nothing in return. Athena, accept our gift.
Then sit with her. In the words of Doreen Valiente, author of The Charge of the Goddess, “assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me.” In this case the “me” is Athena herself. Continue to sit with her. If you know her stories, tell them. Find a book of mythology or any resource you have and find some tale of Athena. Read it aloud as a devotional prayer. Anoint Athena again and again.
When the time feels right, when just enough time has passed, eat an olive. Dip the bread in the olive oil. Savour every drop of oil, taste every morsel of bread, imagine picking the olive from an olive tree on the Acropolis.
Stay with Athena as long as it serves her today. Return to her temple throughout the day until it’s time to thank her for her presence and end the rite. To close the ritual, thank Athena. Snuff out the candle. Deconstruct your temple until it’s all put away. Say “this temple is now closed.”
Enjoy any remaining bread, olives, and oil.
This devotional ritual for Athena is excerpted from my book The Magick Of Food – Rituals, Offerings, & Why We Eat Together. It’s simple and sweet and for me, powerfully evocative.