A Civic Ritual of Thanks for President-Elect Obama and Election Day 2008

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama Image via Wikipedia

This was my first entry as the Grammateus (Secretary) for the Valley of Heart’s Delight (he terpsimbrotos nape) proto-demos (local congregation) and for Hellenion at large.

I am honored to announce that our first group ritual was a spectacular success! It started (for me) on the morning of Election 2008 when I prayed to Zeus and Athena:

Hear me Zeus Apemios and Athena Polias!
If ever I have sacrificed to you,
If ever I have sung your praises,
If ever you have smiled upon me, Hear me!
May you hear my prayers;
as we go to the polls to choose our leader, may it be with wisdom!
Zeus Apemios and Athena Polias, bless my country.
Guide its people, show them the path to take, make their actions conform to the way of nature
Knit together the many peoples into one tribe;
unite us, make us a family, as indeed we are under your just gaze!
If you honor my prayer and guide my country to raise Barack Obama to President,
then I will sacrifice to you and sing your praises again!

I was inspired by A Book of Pagan Prayer By Ceisiwr Serith, and I proposed to the VHD that we gather to sacrifice in thanks if Obama won the presidency, and we quickly engaged in a flurry of emails that lasted two days. It was so encouraging to feel the group excitement as everyone invested in seeing the ritual take form.

And Behold! The Gods heard our prayers! In response, I prayed thus:

Hear me Athena huperdexia!
Hear me Zeus soter!
On Saturday, my demos will hold a thusia in your honor,
We will sacrifice to you,
We will burn you incense and pour you libation,
Zeus tropaie and Athena poluboula,
We will sing your praises!
May it please you!

We began with ritual sprinkling of spring water (from my blue decanter) with bay leaves upon the space and all present and cried out,

Let All That Is Profane Be Far From Here!

The hestia was then lit.

K had the honor of passing the barley for each member of the community to offer to the hestia. (I have always felt that children bring a special excitable energy that reminds us of how good it is to be young and enjoy simply being part of the community. In addition, I felt she symbolized posterity.) Z and I had the honor of mixing the Waters of Life for libation. As is custom, we offered Hestia the first and last libation.

As this was also the day Hellenion members make libation to Ares, E had the brilliant idea that we pray to Him to protect our new president from harm. This resolved some of our mixed feelings about praying to Ares when we desire peace in our country and in the world.

As Y and I share a special devotion to Athena, I felt a kinship with her when she devoted her newly devised hymn in Her honor and in memory of how She founded Athens and played her part in founding Thebe. As always, She is a just and wise counselor for the leaders of the State.

It was with greater awe that we gave thanks to Zeus for bring us out of ignorance and fear and prayed that he would guide us into a more perfect union. Y’s plea brought mist to my eyes and I felt how piety walks hand in hand with civic duty.

Before the feast, we all made personal devotions, thanks, and oaths to the gods. K offered barley and a hunk of bread she had coveted. Many of us offered cow-fat Y had brought from the butcher. Y joined E in his first sacrifice and oath that he would continue to sacrifice on the fourth of every month that our new President Obama might continue to be safe from harm. It seemed particularly significant that E gave the fire squares of chocolate – probably because I have a particular weakness for chocolate. In humble thanks for Their propitious answer to my prayers, I offered both cow fat and sips of the sacred water I brought down from the snows of Mt. Rainier eight years ago. I have taken this water with me from Oregon, to Michigan, and here to California, using it sparingly and only for cleansing. Z brought her favorite olive bread and offered it in grateful thanks.

For the full ritual see here: Presidential Election 2008

And so the Civic Ritual was held, and we prayed, and sacrificed, and it was good. For a slide of our pictures, with thanks to my Heathen husband for the photography, see the VHD home page.

Following our civic ritual, like the ancients of old, we ate some more and carried out our civic duty. On our way, K spotted a great beautiful spider set in the middle of her web, and Y interpreted this as a good sign from Athena that She was pleased. We walked to the local notary and Y, E, and I signed the demos application pledged that all contained in the Provisional Charter Request for the Foundation of a Hellenion Demos were true. If the Prutaneis  accepts, then we will be a full-fledged demos of Hellenion, with all of the rights and responsibilities therein. (The rest of the proto-demos remarked again and again with amusement that the notary and I shared a moment of awe of embossers. I rest my case, those who enjoy the virtues of all things paper also revel in all things that stamp it).

And there was much rejoicing, and much ice cream!

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