The Mounukhia festival honors Artemis as her titles Potnia Theron (the Mistress of Beasts) and Artemis Fosforos (Artemis the Light-Bringer). It begins with a pompe in which the people carry round cakes in which small torches, or dadia, are stuck. These cakes are called amphiphontes (round-shining). They are offered to Artemis in thanks for the lives of beasts that were killed during the hunt, and for the light of the moon. Cupcakes studded with birthday candles make a simple and thoughtful substitute. Glaux Nest
Mounukhia is an ancient Greek festival dedicated to Artemis. It falls between late April and early May in the month of Mounukhion in the ancient Greek calendar. At this festival, Artemis is celebrated in her titles as Potnia Theron (the Mistress of Animals) and Artemis Fosforos (Artemis the Light-Bringer).
As with all Greek rituals, the participants are to be cleansed of miasma (negative energy) by first washing their hands and asperging themselves with water.
An offering of thanks is given to Artemis for the lives of beasts that were killed during the hunt, and for the light of the moon, in the form of a meat offering and cakes called amphiphontes. Amphiphonton (the singular) means “shining-all-around” because the cakes are ringed with lit candles to symbolize the light of the moon. The meat that was offered to her was generally a stag or some type of wild game, though modern reconstructionists have been known to sacrifice meat from the market, or even small cakes in the shape of stags.
Ritual Outline: Honoring Artemis Potnia Theron (Mistress of Beasts) & Fosforos (Light-Bringer)
- Wash hands and face with lustral water (khernips).
- Process to the altar or shrine in a respectful manner.
- Light incense. Frankincense is generally applicable.
- Read or recite a hymn.
- [Homer] IX. TO ARTEMIS Mousa, sing of Artemis, sister of Hekatos (the far-shooter), Parthenos Iokheaira (the virgin who delights in arrows), who was fostered with Apollon. She waters her horses from Meles [a river in Lydia] deep in reeds, and swiftly drives her all-golden chariot through Smyrna to vine-clad Klaros where Apollon Argyrotoxos (god of the silver bow), sits waiting for Hekatobolon Iokheaira (far-shooting delighter in arrows). And so hail to you, Artemis, in my song and to all goddesses as well. Of you first I sing and with you I begin; now that I have begun with you, I will turn to another song.
- [Orpheus] XXXV. TO PALLAS [ATHENE]A Hymn. Hear me Zeus’ daughter, celebrated queen, Bacchian [Bromia] and Titan, of a noble mien:
In darts rejoicing and on all to shine, torch-bearing Goddess, Dictynna divine;
O’er births presiding, and thyself a maid, to labour-pangs imparting ready aid:
Dissolver of the zone and wrinkl’d care, fierce huntress, glorying in the Sylvan war:
Swift in the course, in dreadful arrows skill’d, wandering by night, rejoicing in the field:
Of many form, erect, of bounteous mind, illustrious daemon, nurse of human kind:
Immortal, earthly, bane of monsters fell, ‘tis thine’ blest maid, on woody hills to dwell:
Foe of the stag, whom woods and dogs delight, in endless youth who flourish fair and bright.
O, universal queen, august, divine, a various form, Cydonian pow’r, is thine:
Dread guardian Goddess, with benignant mind auspicious, come to mystic rites inclin’d
Give earth a store of beauteous fruits to bear, send gentle Peace, and Health with lovely hair,
And to the mountains drive Disease and Care.
- Plunge a burning twig (of rue if possible) from the hearth (hestia) into the clean water. Sprinkle this water (khernips) over the offerings.
- Place offerings (meat and amphiphontes [shining-all-around] – these are round cakes ringed with lit small torches[dadia] to symbolize the light of the moon; cupcakes studded with birthday candles will suffice) before the statue or other sacred symbol.
- Stand erect with palms up and make your own prayers.
- Call upon the deity to listen to you, evoking as many epithets as are applicable.
- Pour libation (sponde) into a cup or bowl and place on the altar.
- Wine (best mixed with water)
- Milk and Honey
- Olive Oil (especially appropriate)
- Process away from the altar.
- Place offerings in the hearth fire or else outside in a sheltered place by the door or fence.
i. Agro’tera: (surname) Huntress
ii. Basileis: Princess, Royal
iii. De’lia: (surname) Born on Delos
iv. Fosforos: Light-Bringer
v. Potnia Theron: Mistress of Beasts
I confess. I am rather late to be honoring Artemis for Mounukhia. The due dates for my weekly class projects fall on Mondays and Tuesdays and I have been behind in my coursework. I prioritized those projects above celebrating Mounukhia on time (concurrent with Beltane on May 1st). I did bake cakes for the ritual, but didn’t get to do the ritual or get out to celebrate with other pagans. However, my very young cousins had a birthday party on Sunday and I made a small offering to Her to watch over them.
You are welcome to use this ritual, or modify it, as you like.
If you are a follower of Artemis, what do you think of this ritual outline? Have you adopted or modified it? Please feel free to use this outline.
If you are not a polytheist, what do you think about people practicing the old religions? What do you think of the reverence for the ancient Greek gods, whether literally or as abstract concepts? Why were you looking for an image of Artemis or information on her?
- Temple of Artemis at Didyma? (rogueclassicism.com)