Today I celebrated part 2 of my autumn equinox ritual…the departure of Apollon to Hyperborea and the transference of power to Dionysos for the winter season. I know alot of people prefer to celebrate this during the Pyanepsia, but while Apollon is honored during this festival it is not really a festival for Apollon. It is a festival of Theseus in which Apollon is not a real participant aside from a thanksgiving in the part of the hero. In fact Pyanepsia is so closely enjoined with the myth of Dionysos and Ariadne that Apollon often appears barely visible at all in the festival aside from what basically is honorable mention for the assistance that was given. It is as the equinox itself that Apollon leaves, and Dionysos gains Delphi before he departs to the underworld (recalling that his grave was at Delphi) before arising, reborn, in the winter. I truly wish I had some image of Dionysos to make this festival truly feel complete, but that will have to be on my wishlist in time for the spring return of Apollon so I can have some company there for the Apollon statue. Of course I would love to get one sometime before winter..maybe a gift to myself for the holidays…for the manywinter festivals of Dionysos!
In any case the autumn equinox is a pivital time of the year, the transference from summer into winter…a seasonal transference from which Apollon is inseperable if you closely regard the Orphic hymn to Apollon. Therefore I feel it is an important festival to not neglect in common with the festival for Persephone.. The very atmosphere of the ritual was quite static…as in I was tingly all over, especially on my hand as I saluted to the gods in my prayer. the feeling was quite different the more fuzzy feeling from the earlier festival, instead of being bittersweet it was charged with the movement of change. I especially felt this as I chimed the cymbals (small finger cymbals…I don’t have large cymbals and don’t think I would want to use those indoors, finger cymbals work perfectly for mypurposes) 12 times to greet Dionysos as I made my prayers to Apollon.
Finally I sat the small iron statue of Apollon that was a gift while I had the occassion to visit Delphi, strung all around him the Baltic amber beads representing those tears which he had once shed according to myth in his first exile to the land of his mother, and this I placed upon a blue glass swan towards the end of the ritual as I bid him good journey. After this weekend his altar candle shall be encased in a lamp to represent his light shining from afar.
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I celebrated the “kidnapping”/marriage of Persephone as the first part of my Autumn Equinox ritual (part 2 to be carried out this afternoon with a ritual for the transference between Apollon and Dionysos/Departure of Apollon for Hyperborea). This is one of my favorite rituals of the year just because of the feeling of tranquility that comes with it, there is something appropriately subdued and bittersweet with the ritual as we acknowledge that Persephone has departed from the company of the gods to dwell at the side of her husband. That it is bittersweet is not abnormal, that is the sort of feeling that accompanies any sense of marriage if you think of it…the girl, now a wife, departs from the home of her father and mother to make a home elsewhere of her own. Back in the day, before the advent of internet, this provided the potential that the parents would not see their daughter again, especially if they moved far away. this is almost the opposite of the high festivity with the marriage of Zeus and Hera. It is still a large celebration but the spirit of it is different with the inconsoluable mother, the virgin bride swept away from her home not entirely willing (*cough* arranged marriage *cough*) and the accompanying transformation in life as we see the change of the seasons.
This ritual is something of a big affair in my home. Firstly because there are alot of gods that I pray to in the context of the ritual so that means alot of hymns. Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Zeus, Persephone, Dionysos, Hermes, Poseidon, Artemis and Apollon, Helios, Hekate, and Cthonic Hermes. This is far more than what is typical in most of my rituals. I also broke out my recorder for this ritual as I did for Karneia and played on it, all low sweet notes rather than the higher cheerful ones in memory of Demeter’s pain. All during this ritual I felt a sense of settled within, or a sense of the self seated firmly at the core of my heart. It is difficult to explain in any other words…but this is what contributed to the calming effect of the ritual…just the internalization involved…a strong connection to the true self within. It is just a powerful experience.
I always enjoy the equinox rituals, and I use plural here for a reason because equinox is a two day event for me with different focuses. The first day (the day before proper equinox–or calendric equinox) is reserved for celebrating the departure of Persephone. I know some folks celebrate it earlier depending on when the moon falls (so sometimes it can be closer to the equinox and sometimes—like this year—quite some time before). Sadly I got my calendar turned around and missed Boedromia this year *sigh* I really need to remember to actually write out my calendar so nothing gets accidentally forgotten…I was just so caught up in Karneia that it skipped my mind. But for the departure of Persephone I always celebrate it on the first day prior to the first day of autumn. So for this year that will be September 22. On the 23rd, the first day of autumn I celebrate the transference of power from Apollon to Dionysos as Apollon retreats to Hyperborea.
Though I do not feel a strong sense of absence or seperation from Apollon, and in a sense “follow” him spiritually which means that I continue to do things afterwards, there is a a more noticeable hike in my interaction with Dionysos. For the most part I don’t do much in the way of devotional things during the majority of the year, except for the period between fall and spring. So this ritual is a big deal though not quite as big of a deal as the Spring equinox Theoxenia 🙂 I really cut loose for that LOL. What is great is that I have the day off for the equinox this year. Amusingly though the altar for Apollon is the day after my ritual, but I can decorate in mind of Apollon’s retreat to Hyperborea and include some information at the altar about Hyperborea and the fairwell of Apollon until spring 🙂 so it is all good since it is still close enough to the equinox to be more or less and extension of my own festival the day before. So it shall be a busy week indeed! And of course I look forward to Panoleptos’ race to Demeter which mimicks Pan’s search for Demeter. It shall be a lovely component of the beginning of the autumn season 🙂