For those not “in the know,” noumenia is the first day of the lunar month of the Hellenic calendar. For more information on ancient and modern practices, there are many bona-fide experts; all I plan on writing about is my experiences leading up to and during my most recent celebration of this day.
First, a bit of context: Hellenic practitioners largely agree that following a ritual calendar is a good thing. The exact nature of that calendar varies: some follow the Attic calendar of Athens, because it’s the only one we still have in full; others adapt from that to correspond to their specific locality, deity relationships, or research; there are also zodiac-based calendars in use.
Noumenia is celebrated the first day of the lunar month, so I count myself among those who have adapted the Attic calendar for my own use. I have been adding to my ritual obligations slowly, and I don’t hold a festival for each day on that calendar; in fact, although I conduct some kind of ritual every day, it’s mostly focused on household deities, which is a different part of the religion than the big, public festivals we see in this ancient calendar.
However, I do take time each month to divine which god, if any, wishes to take a special interest in me for that cycle of the moon. Two months ago, I determined Demeter was that deity, which seemed auspicious for springtime and the plantings I did at that time. Last month, Hermes came to the fore, and he upped the ante: I was asked to pour him a libation each day. Usually I honor Hermes on the fourth day of the week and the month, so this was a bigger commitment.
This month, however, I didn’t need to use my burgeoning skills in divination at all, so plain the signs were for me to see. It began this past Saturday, when a member of a Hellenic polytheist group on Facebook asked why Zeus would harm people or animals with lightning. I had the discussion buzzing around in my mind, perhaps, when I attended Quaker meeting the following morning, because thoughts of the king of the gods danced in my head.
(Side note: I have to come up with two “Q” topics for this dastardly alphabetical blog project, so please forgive me if I don’t discuss my relationship with the Quakers in more depth right now. A blogger’s got to do what a blogger’s got to do.)
After the meeting for worship, a member of that community approached me and told me, “your name came up in committee meeting today.” The prisons committee was seeking people to visit individual prisoners, something that, as volunteers who worship with groups of prisoners, the committee members themselves are not permitted to do according to the byzantine correctional facility rules.
It struck me as interesting that I was being asked to do work relating to justice, over which Zeus has purview.
|That’s about as close as I saw it.
Later that day, I visited a friend just a few minutes’ drive away, and we heard a majestic cry. We looked up to see a bald eagle circling lazily in the bright sky. My heart leaped — I’ve never seen one in real life, and sightings in my area are anything but common. I muttered to myself, “Okay, I get it,” and dismissed from my mind any doubts about whether or not Zeus which to takes a more active role in my life right now. I knew I wouldn’t bother doing any divination around deities for the coming month, because some gods apparently prefer to remove all doubt.
I am continually wonderstruck by the willingness of the gods to take me by the hand and walk with me awhile, now that I have committed to the path of Hellenismos. I am more aware, more sensitive to the unseen messages all around me. I’m sure this is true of anyone, once they find the path which is the right fit for them. I’ve seen my Wiccan friends reach this point from afar, but I wasn’t able to quite make the same connection using that system. I tried mightily to make any form of Christianity work, but none of them were my answer, either.
I feel particularly blessed, but I don’t believe that others will necessarily get the same results from the same formula. I’d love to find others to worship the theoi with me, but I’m content simply surrounding myself with people who are so rooted in their beliefs that my own path doesn’t make them feel threatened on theirs.
This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project, a yearlong exploration of spirituality. This specific post is brought to you by the letter N.