O Muse, grant me the eloquence to explain what I feel, think, and decide in my journey. And grant others the ability to make sense of the rambling.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

PBP: N - Noumenia

Little late on the Pagan Blog Project but I'll just start from July.
More on Hekate's Deipnon at a later date.

A lot of pagan paths put emphasis on the full moon instead of new, especially in Wicca and though I know that the new moon is used to sweep out the old and welcome the new I've never thought in depth about its importance and here as the start of the month, it becomes the centre of monthly ritual. With the next new months upcoming this week, this will be my first Noumenia ritual, and I will probably blog about how it goes.

Hesiod (Works and Days 770) designated the Noumenia as the holiest of days, and it appears to have been among the oldest and most widespread of the Hellenic religious observances. Its antiquity is attested by the fact that Homer mentions it in the Odyssey(21.258) – a significant fact when we consider that he names only one other religious festival in his epics.

Generally, it was seen as a day to stay at home and celebrate with the family. Sacrifices were made to Apollon (protector), Selene (Moon), Hekate (roads and the unseen), Hermes (who protects the borders/thresholds), Hestia (hearth flame), Zeus Ktesios (food stores) and the household gods. The domestic shrines were cleaned and then wreathed with flower-garlands, and then incense, wine, and cakes were offered anew to the gods.

The Rite of the New Moon

Each Hellenic Month begins with the new moon. This particular date is known as the Noumenia, and there are a variety of traditions which have been reconstructed and added to the festivities upon this date.
The Noumenia honors all of the Gods, as well as specifically the Gods Selene (Goddess of the Moon), Apollon Noumenios (of the Noumenia), the Ancestors and the Agathos Daimon (Good Demon/Guardian Spirit). In ancient times the Ancestors were honored on the night before the Noumenia along with Hekate. The Agathos Daimon was honored on the second day of the month. These practices are still continued by modern Hellenes although some choose to also include the Ancestors and Agathos Daimon on the date of the Noumenia, as the new moon represents the end and beginnings of things.

The altar is set with images of Selene, Apollon, the Ancestors and the Agathos Daimon. Candles are placed in front of each of these images, or the candles can act as the images themselves. Altar cloths are usually black, although other colors can be used if a worshipper feels they are appropriate. Typically there are white, silver, gold or black candles, which are not lit until the sacrifice section, as the candles serve as offerings in and of themselves.

The traditional offering upon this date are three cakes. One cake is offered to Apollon, one is offered to all of the Gods, and the third is offered to the Ancestors and the Agathos Daimon. Wine is always a traditional offering and can go very well with the cakes. Honey and milk are also appropriate libations. The following is a ritual which could be performed to celebrate the Noumenia.

Oh Holy Gods,
Olympioi and Chthonioi alike,
I/We come before You bringing
Offerings and honorable sacrifices.
Holy Selene, I/We honor You,
As it is You who lights our way at night,
You who keeps us in tune with the cycle of the year,
You who, like Your brother Helios,
Watches us and helps us keep our Oaths.
Holy Apollon, I/We honor You,
As to You this day is sacred as well.
May Your prophesies and wisdom guide us
Through the coming months.
I/We honor the Olympians,
Numbered at twelve, but are not bound.
I/We honor the Great Gods of Earth,
The creators and keepers of our bodies.
I/We honor the Chthonioi,
Who care for our souls when we
Transcend to the beyond.
And I/We honor those that came before us,
My/Our ancestors and their keeper:
The Agathos Daimon;
The protectors of all things.
Holy Ones, Accept and Delight in our offerings!

Example from here.

Also, if a Kathiskos is in use Noumenia is the perfect time to refill it with new offerings to Zeus Ktesios.

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