|We are turning from barley to coffee.|
I continue to be amazed at how my practice of Hellenismos helps me be more rooted in more contemporary Pagan practices, such as the wheel of the year. The equinox is a time that I honor the turn of the seasons by shifting my offerings to Caffeina.
Let me take a step back, because Caffeina isn’t even a remotely Hellenic deity. Although I strive to honor the ancient practices of Hellas, or Greece, we only know about the tiniest sliver of them, mostly the things they did in Athens. Reconstruction is the way we bring that research forward, but I can’t, and won’t, limit myself to a portion of what Athenians did. We know that the Hellenes honored foreign gods, and adopted foreign practices; in this modern world, I have no problem with the fact that that process is accelerated.
My family had an altar to Caffeina before I was called by the gods of my Greek ancestors, and I honor her as an aspect of Hestia. Many Hellenic pagans pour a libation of coffee to Hestia, since it is traditional to honor her before all others, so it seemed natural to me to honor one as an epithet of the other, or perhaps as a syncretic goddess.
Stepping forward again: the equinox is one of the more popular times of the year to acknowledge the change of the seasons. There are others which make more sense when compared to the actual weather, perhaps, but it’s the one I like to use. So beginning on the equinox, my traditional first offering to Hestia shifts from barley to barley with ground coffee. (Ground coffee is distinct from coffee grounds; the former is roasted beans smashed to bits, while the latter have also been subjected to the brewing process.) I will offer this mix until the winter solstice, at which time I will abandon barley entirely until the spring equinox.
This is a nice visual of the changes in the world, and also mirrors the myth of Demeter, who does not allow the white barley to come forth from the earth while her daughter Persephone is in the underworld. That’s a deeply Hellenic tale which has been widely adopted in modern Paganism, so it serves to reinforce how the ancient ways are the ways for today. It also allows me to focus on Caffeina during a time when I am most need of extra energy and comfort.
Since we must make a more intentional effort to be in tune with the rhythms of the world beneath our feet, visual aids like this give us reminders that our ancestors didn’t need. Do you have visuals that you use to keep your Paganism on track?