Hekate’s Deipnon

So, I’ve made a pretty epic decision regarding my journey through Hellenismos. Most Hellenes follow the standardized calendar put out by one of two agencies online which is based of the Athenian calendar and the dates and times the cycles happen in Athens. Now, this is both practical and impractical at the same time.

First of all, my lunar calendar is different based on my geographical location -at least I think that’s how it works, and so when it’s the new moon in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA it’s not quite the new moon in Athens, Greece. Second of all, while the start of the new month happens with the new moon over Athens both frequently cited online Athenian calendars are a bit off from one another and can’t totally agree when these new moon dates are. Thirdly, if during the Hellenic period, a Hellene was traveling a vast difference away, they probably weren’t deciding when the new moon was based on some paper calendar and static date counts. They probably look at the sky at night and kept track of where it was in its waning cycle.

So, I’m going to deviate from the published calendar online and base it on my region. It’s only off by a day or two. Yesterday was my Deipnon based on when the new moon was in my area of the world. It feels more right for me to do it that way, so that’s what I’m doing.

Hekate’s Deipnon, sometimes just call the Deipnon, is also known as Hekate’s Supper and occurs during the dark phase of the moon at the end of the lunar month and is the first of three monthly celebrations surrounding the new moon. It’s a time for cleansing and preparing for the next month.

On this day, as the name suggests, it is considered customary to offer a meal to Hekate -and only for Hekate, or offered to Hekate and the less fortunate. This is partially based on this text:

Aristophanes, Plutus 410 ff (trans. O’Neill) (Greek comedy C5th to 4th B.C.): “Ask Hekate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month [i.e. food placed inside her door-front shrines] and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served.”

Whether that’s encouraging one to feed the poor or not is uncertain and not everyone agrees on it. It may just mean that the poor are desperate enough to steal from the gods and not that Hektate was willing to share her meal with them. But since I am a realist, I realize that the gods don’t physically the food. They take the essence of it. If it disappears after being offered, that probably means a creature of some kind -human or animal, have taken it. I’m not advocating stealing offerings of any kind from a god or goddess, but just knowing that those who have little to nothing will do anything they can to survive.

Also, while most food offerings to the divine are shared in feasting, the one for Hekate is supposedly not done so. It is for her alone which some have said as a way to appease a ‘fairly scary goddess.’ Hogwash. That’s a mostly modern conception. Remember, the ancients did not believe in evil as we do. This falls into line with those Recons who say that a Hellene should never call Hades by his name and should only refer to Persephone as Kore, because using their right names is ‘inviting death into your life.’ Again, I call bullshit. Hades and Persephone were the leaders of the Underworld, but there is more to the Underworld than death. There were a good many and variety of divinities that lived down there, not least of all Philotes -the goddess of friendship and affection. And neither Hades or Persephone are gods of death. That goes to Thanatos, Makaria and the Keres. But, I digress.

Anyway, it’s customary to put out a plate on the nearest crossroads outside for Hekate (traditionally leeks, eggs and garlic) or to make a donation to a local food pantry or charity (usually in addition to the food offering). Since the husband and I are really financially tight this month (I was 26 hours short on a paycheck due to some considerable health troubles that had me off of work quite a bit), to the point where fresh produce wasn’t in the budget at all for us, let alone as a divine offering, so we are treating ourselves as the less fortunate and conserving what we do have.

This is also the time of the month to clean. Now, while it might seem a bit trivial, I’ve done three loads of laundry in the past few days and put most of it away. I’ve done dishes and washed the table, stove and counters. I’ve cleaned the refrigerator and finally replaced the burned out bulb in there (it’s been out for probably a year and now opening the fridge is almost magical as light pours out of it) and had my husband dump that which had spoiled down the disposal. I finished cleaning the incense and offering residue off my altars. And, I emptied and washed out my Kathiskos. In the previous days I’ve straightened and rearranged a great deal of things in the house and organized.

I’ve haven’t paid bills, which is also something to be done on this day to sort of close the books on the month, but that’s because I have about $15 at the moment until I get paid on Friday.

Now, there is some argument, as there always is among reconstructionists, as to the validity of some of these practices in regards to what was documented to have been done for Hekate in ancient times versus what many Hellenes do now. However, I am not interested in getting into that argument with anyone. I’m a very loose Hellene. This day is for Hekate and the displaced spirits. I don’t go outside on the night of the Deipnon if I can avoid it. I take care of the home and prepare for the new month ahead. When I have the means to give Hekate her supper at the crossroads, I don’t do it in a propitiatory manner. I have no fear of Hekate, I’ve done nothing to neglect or offend her. When I make the offerings on the Deipnon (which are never at my household altar), they are in honor of her and out of respect.

Today is the Noumenia in my neck of the woods -not in Athens. I’ll discuss that tomorrow.

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