Through the years serving as some sort of “proxy-priest” for my family, I’ve experimented on several prayer routines, and despite being a devotional pagan for almost half of my life now, I’ve only been performing daily rituals for about 3 years. Before that, I would only hold rituals on special occasions or on days that I “felt” like it. In short, I wasn’t as “religiously religious” as I had hoped.
Things changed immensely after my father made his final journey West as I took the household rites a little more seriously with daily devotions offered to the ancestors and our gods, and regular sacrifices and libations, too. To me, it felt like I needed to take on bigger responsibilities as the paterfamilias [of ritual matters].
Our annual kathiskos jar and representations of our Lares, Penates, and Ancestors
I started out by establishing a steady routine with bi-daily prayers on behalf of the family to our Lares
Soon after, I began involving our tutelary gods as a whole, then each of them (sometimes in pairs or triads) on different days of the month.
My current prayer calendar repeats on a monthly basis, based largely on traditional Athenian customs, but also on certain Roman and other traditions, as well. (You might also want to check out Jonathan’s and Elani’s, too, for a more strictly Hellenic approach.)
Needless to say, every prayer starts with an invocation to Hestia–first born and last–and Hermês (“Nothing without Hermês!”). I find the hymns of Homer, 24th and 29th, to be perfect for this.
Mother Hêra and Father Zeus with Auntie Hestia in the middle, flanked by Brother Hermês as the Holy Child of Atocha and the elephant-headed Ganesh
- New Moon (also called Noumênia or Kalends): The first of every lunar month–or when the first sliver of the crescent is visible–belongs to the Moon and Apollon Noumênios (Apollôn of the new month), and also Hêra and Hermês-Thoth (following the Roman tradition of the first day of the month being sacred to Iuno Regina and Ianus); first offerings of fruit, grain, and/or drink are presented to the pantheon and are stored in the kathiskos jar by the lararium.
- Traditionally reckoned as dies atri or a “dark day” for Romans, the day after the new moon is regarded as auspicious by the Hellenes, and is dedicated to Zeus Ktêsios (Zeus of the pantry), the Agathos Daimôn (good spirit or Lar familiaris) of our house, and fair-hearted Harmonia.
- The third day is dedicated to the gods who look after human civilisation: Athêna as Protector of cities and Goddess of many skills, and Hêphaistos the Divine Craftsman.
- The fourth day is to Hermês-Ganapathi, Aphroditê Pandemos, and Erôs (and sometimes, also Hermaphroditos as child of Hermês and Aphroditê).
- Fifths are dies atri in my calendar as per Hesiod: “Avoid fifth days: they are unkindly and terrible. On a fifth day, they say, the Erinyes assisted at the birth of Horkos whom Eris bare to trouble the forsworn”.
- The sixth celebrates Lêto’s daughter, Artemis.
- The seventh belongs to Lêto’s son, Apollôn and his son, Asklêpios, first of physicians (who would otherwise be celebrated by Athenians on the next day).
- The eighth sings of Poseidôn, Lord of waters, and the Dioskouroi.
- The ninth (nones or énatos) is for the Mother of the Gods (often Rhea-Cybele, but also sometimes Athirat or Durga)
- The day after nones is dies atri.
- The eleventh is given to the family guardians and the individual daimôn (genus/juno) of all living members of the family, but especially of the head of the household.
- The twelfth celebrates our universal parents, Heaven and Earth, as well as Ptah the Maker of worlds.
- The thirteenth (AKA ‘Phallus Day’ and ‘Imported God Day’) is for the thirteenth Olympian, Dionysos, and Ingwaz.
- The fourteenth–if not already the full moon–is given to the Sun.
- The day of the full moon (Dikhomênia or Ides) belongs to the King of the Gods (Zeus-Ammon) as per Ovid: “The worship of Juno claims our Italy’s Kalends, while a larger white ewe-lamb falls to Jupiter on the Ides…”
- The day after the full moon is dies atri.
- The seventeenth sings of Hathor and Sekhmet.
- The eighteenth is dedicated to purification and apotropaic rites; Sobek and Seth are given honours.
- The nineteenth is given to Arês and Hêraklês; purification and apotropaic rites continue.
- The twentieth belongs to Isis of Ten Thousand Names.
- The twenty-first or the waning tenth–which belongs to Apollôn in much of Hellas–is given to Horus in my calendar.
- The waning ninth is given to Anath and Astartê, protector-goddesses of Lebanon (which is my paternal ancestral homeland along with Greece).
- The waning eighth belongs to the mother-daughter duo, Dêmêtêr and Korê-Persephonê (sometimes, also Plouto as Lord of the underground).
- The waning seventh reflects the waxing seventh, but focuses on Apollôn as Apotrópaios (Warder of evil).
- The waning sixth also mirrors the waxing sixth and is given to Artemis Potnia Thêrôn (Mistress of animals) and Bast.
- The waning fifth reflects the waxing fifth when most of the gods are not named in prayer and major sacrifices are withheld.
- The waning fourth, considered an “impure” day (along with the next three days), is given to Hermês Propýlaios as Guardian of the gates, standing between worlds (can also be for Hekatê Propýlaia or as Hermêkatê).
- The waning third is given to the Heroes.
- The waning second is given to the Ancestors and Hermanubis (Anoubis + Hermês Psykhopompós).
- The last day of the month or the Dark Moon (Hena kai Nea or “the Old and the New”) belongs to Hekatê, so she may bridge the old and the new months; to cut the old and worn from the new and budding. The contents of the kathiskos jar are emptied and cleaned for her.
If that sounds like a mouthful, take note that these prayers only take around 15-30 minutes a day in total. Aside from the days of the new, full, and dark moon, all other days are really very simple: you wake up, wash up, and open the day; in the evening, you wash up, close the evening, and sleep. I don’t like very lavish or complicated rituals unless it’s actually a very special occasion or a feast-day that only repeats once a year.
I’m still getting used to all of it, though, and I’m, by no means, done experimenting. I especially need getting used to the waning days as I’m a little paranoid over too much exposure to the “darker” (but undoubtedly necessary) sides of certain gods. You can never be too careful when proxy-praying for an entire household.
I’ve written something about my yearly rituals, too, but I’ll save that for another time. Does anybody else have an established prayer schedule that repeats every month? or every week, perhaps? Do share if you do.