Despite not being in a living situation that permits me to go all out with sacrifices of frankincense on hot coals, or the feast I would have imagined, nor the grand ritual with singing and especially dancing involved, I am still so please Theoxenia is here. In ancient times at Delphi (where the name of this festival is from), the Herois would have already passed with the arrival of the purified boy with the sacred laurel boughs from the Tempe valley and now is the occassion of the feast of Apollon, the Theoxenia, which in my opinion, derived from my research, marks his official arrival in Delphi. This festival, set during the month Theoxenion (or was it Theoxenios? I can’t recall if Delphi differed from Athens in this ending hmmmm)…which corresponded with the Athenian month Elaphebolion was the celebration by feast of Apollon, by which Apollon was the host to his dinner party to which all the gods were invited, and most especially Dionysos (which makes sense since Dionysos is also very important in the autumnal transference of the oracle too), and Leto was also a noted divine presence who was described by Arthur Fairbanks in his book regarding the Paian, was honored on this occassion as a pregnant goddess and there was something he mentioned about a guest receiving an onion during the festivities was believed to be given a blessed token. I am not sure how true all that is since when I tried to find the information again I could not remember where in the book it was and so was unable to find his references, but it is rather intriguing.
But in any case, I would believe all too well, that Leto, a Hyperborean goddess herself according to myth (as was Eleithyia too in some versions) would be present and rejoicing in her sons return. In Delos (who received Apollon from his 6 months at his oracle at Lycia) also seemed to hold with the Hyperborean mythos too as a vase that came from there, that is on display in France from what I recall, depicts Apollon returning on a horse drawn chariot with two Hyperborean maidens with him and being greeted by his sister Artemis. So logically we may assume that Artemis and Leto, who were likewise honored at Delphi, played an important part in the Delphic Theoxenia.
In my own constructing of the Theoxenia ritual, I shall say what I had planned before my plans went haywire and I had to content myself with a hymn and libation. I mingle the celebration of Delos and Delphi, since they contain the same main pertinent ideas and therefore incorporate elements of both celebrations for the return of Apollon. Foremost I tend to cook a festive meal, or a feast as it tends to be a rather big meal like what we tend to experience at major holidays. I tend to stay away from pork to steer away from the chthonic imagery associated with Apollon’s departure and time away, and seafood too which is associated with the liminal boundaries into the beyond. Instead I prefer to cook chicken, as the cock is typically associated with light, particularly that of the sun. I imagine that a person could likewise eat other birds as birds themselves are migratory animals returning when the weather warms and the days grow longer. So this seems like an entirely appropriate meal to me, withother side dishes that tends to vary. On hearing the onion story I did start cooking a small pearl onion and mixing it with the stuffing (ie the promise of the golden grains that Apollon brings back with him from Hyperboreia) so that whoever finds it on their plate might have good fortune to them from receiving the pregnant bulb.
Whether or not I do the ritual before or after the feast usually depends on how my schedule is working out for the day. I prefer to have it before whenever possible so that the deity has already been sacrificed too and is for all intensive purposes, present. During the ritual I play my lyre and makeup diddys about the myths of his return regarding the Hyperborean maidens and the old man of Lycia as I stomp my feet to the songs, thinking of the earth being awakened and massaged with each stamp in celebrating Apollon’s return. The hymn to Apollon by Kallimachus is one I prefer to read because the very scene that is being described is, in my opinion, that of the return of the god who bursts open through the doors of his temple making all things shake.
When perceeding with the meal it also makes it easier to then take the statues from the altar and set them about the table for the meal in a kind of Symposium where the festive dining can be shared by all. There were some other ideas I had that I talked of in my book but I don’t recall them offhand at the moment. Still this here is the minimal of what I had planned, and I am sad that I cannot partake in it this year as I would have liked. All the same I offer all my heart to Apollon in joyous celebration (however lowkey it has to be this year) to his return. Hail Apollon of the luminscent bow and glowing dart!