Tag: Hekate

June Author Blog

An Excerpt from “Year of the Dark Goddess” by Lara Vesta

Journey to the Underworld

I want to clarify that this is a journey to the mythic Underworld, but not a journey into the ancient land of the dead. We will be traveling to the outer gates of a mythic vision for the land of the dead. According to the historical lore, it’s important that you don’t touch the wall or the gates of the land of the dead nor attempt to enter the land of the dead. Psychologically, it is important to adhere to these prohibitions.

It is traditional to make offerings in the mythic Underworld. I invite you to consider metaphorically what you have with you, what you can give as a gift. It can be something that you’re ready to give up and leave behind. And in fact, something traditional in the exchange of the Underworld is that we leave something there of significance to us; we allow something of ourselves to remain.

I also recommend grounding yourself into the here and now after the journey with some food and water and going outside, putting your bare hands and feet to the earth, breathing with the earth and just giving thanks for whatever it is that you receive. That’s going to help bring you back into your body.


Ensure you are in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Because this journey takes us deep into psychological space, you do not want to be jolted out of your travels. If you are playing a recording of the journey or having the journey read to you, you may choose to lie down in a dark room. If you are reading the journey aloud, you might wish to place a veil over your head. Choose one that allows you to see the text below you but blocks out surrounding light.

Center and ground yourself.

Journeys to the mythic Underworld all follow a formula in Old Norse sources:

First you must choose your transportation.

You may either ride on a borrowed horse, which will become the magical transporter for your journey, or you may encounter a woman whose arms are filled with hemlock greens, who greets you and wraps you in her mantle drawing you down beneath the earth.

Once you have decided on your transportation, begin to envision yourself in a protective circle. You might choose to visualize yourself in the web of life, connected above and below, encircling yourself in a web of light. Breathe into the web.

Or you might wish to imagine you are a tree, sending your own roots down into the earth and connecting deeply with the stones, the ancestral bones, even the magma from the earth’s center. Then allow your branches to extend up into the sky above you, while also dropping down into the earth to meet your roots so that you become a circuit of energy.

Breathe into your web or energetic tree. Release anything that is no longer serving you into the earth below.

Invite in any protectors—your helping and compassionate ancestors, guardians, and guides—to be present with you in this journey.

You are now in a sphere of protection and support.

And from within this sacred space, find yourself at the center. Feel your strength, the power of your container, your readiness for making this journey, and give thanks to yourself for being here, for showing up, for being willing.

Feel into your choice of transportation. Now either mount your borrowed horse or find yourself wrapped in the mantle or shawl of the woman bearing hemlocks. Either way from this place we begin with your guide, horse or woman.

And we are in the forest.

You see before you a large tree, maybe an ash, a yew, a redwood, a sequoia, or a great oak.

The tree is vast. Its branches reach up so high that they disappear into the mists above it, extending out, holding an entire forest within the circumference of the tree roots. And inside the tree is an aperture, a portal. Now with your transporter, woman or horse, make your way into the tree. Notice how in the trunk of the tree opens a wide road, the path pointing down and to the north. It is damp and slippery.

And as you become a part of the journey on the road, you can hear footsteps—your own or of the horse or of your guide—resounding on the road, echoing out into what seems like an endless chamber. You travel down and down and down for nine days and nine nights.

We move now down nine days and nine nights on the road. Day is felt, not seen, but sensed; night is luminous in the distance. A feeling of stars.

Nine days, nine nights.

Eight days, eight nights down and down.

Seven days, seven nights,

six days, six nights down and down.

Five days, five nights,

four days, four nights down and down.

Three days, three nights,

two days, two nights down and down.

This day, this night.

We stand now on the Earth Road.

And still the road leads down.

The way is full of mists and darkness. Feel the mists curling around you. As you walk, a sense of sovereignty and centeredness fills your every motion. Even though you can’t see where the road ends, you know where you’re going: you are going to the land of the dead.

You travel over deep, dark valleys, through more mists and more darkness. You find the road beneath you has become well-worn, and you notice that you are not alone. There’s a community with you now of travelers, richly clad and walking, all of them down and down.

You move with the travelers until you find yourself alone again in a sunny land. Now, light is coming from somewhere bright and glowing. The plants are growing fresh and green, beautiful all around you. Notice which plants you recognize, which ones you have seen before, or perhaps they call to you, tremble as you approach, or brush your hand.

And we travel on down and down.

There is no sound except for the footsteps and your own breath. And through the ever-present mist, a dog approaches, its breast bloodstained. And it barks at you urgently, but not threateningly.

And you travel on down and down. It becomes so dark that you see nothing at all. But you can hear the roar of a great river, the river whose name means “echoing, bellowing,” a swift and tumbling river of leaden waters, which contain weapons of all kinds. At the banks of the river there is a battle unending. Those who have died in war are fighting forever by the river that separates the living from the dead.

Over the river before you, there is a bridge. The bridge is also called Bellowing, and it is roofed in shining gold. Suddenly everything around you becomes luminous, bright with the gold of the bridge as you approach. And in the shadow of the roof, emerges the guardian.

Her name is Morgu∂, which is said to mean “courage in battle” in most translations, but it comes from roots that mean “heart” and “mother.” She greets you and says:

What is your name? What is your lineage?

Tell her now your name; tell her who your people are.

Morgu∂ says:

Why are you on the Earth Path?

And you answer:

[Whatever it is you are seeking in terms of support, answers, or guidance for your rite of passage, this is where you ask.]

Morgu∂ says:

What you seek has crossed the Bellowing Bridge and the Earth Path lies downward and to the north.

And again, we are on the move, crossing over the Bellowing bridge. Visible to the east is a glow. And shimmering before you is a mysterious wall, the gates of the ancient Land of the Dead.

Maybe you can see the outlines of apple trees and the orchard of this mythic Underworld, beautiful in mists and full of soft light. You must not touch the wall, but in ancient times, were you to pass through to the Land of the Dead, there would be a restoration, for when the time comes that is where the dead are restored.

Now you walk between the wall and the river following the Earth Path. It is smooth and worn from many visits. And you see a ring of fire in the distance, and there is something within the ring that calls you forward. Notice how you feel approaching the fire. It is not in the Land of the Dead, nor is it in the Land of the Living. It is on the borderline, the liminal space, the space of sleep, the space of forgetting.

You come to the fire, seeking to remember, re-member, to bring together something missing, something essential to you. Something that you have lost or forgotten in your rite of passage. Perhaps something was taken from you in this transition or something was put to sleep for reasons of protection or reasons beyond understanding.

As you approach the fire, feel what it is to be in that liminal space between the worlds.

Step forward to the fire.

If you carry fear from your rite of passage, this is where you leave it.

If you carry doubt from your rite of passage, this is where you leave it.

If you carry shame or pain from your rite of passage, this is where you leave it, shedding it like a skin and leaving it outside the wall of flame—emerging new and whole.

You enter the flame itself, and it does not burn.

You feel the sensation of the flame, the sacred fire that heals and anneals, that holds what is precious, but does not burn. Now, notice.

What is in the circle of the fire?

This symbol may represent support you need for your Dark Goddess Year. If you choose to bring the symbol back with you, you’ll have to leave something symbolic in its place, something of equal representational value. Even if it is something that you need to let go of, there may be some pain involved.

If you bring an object back with you, you will be responsible for it. You will have to tend it. It is an obligation. It is an honor that you are committing yourself to here in the sacred circle of fire.

When you make your decision, you may claim what is in the circle and leave something, honoring for this exchange. Say some words of blessing or thanks for this symbolic action.

Now say some words of blessing and gratitude for the mythic Underworld realm.

Bless yourself at the center of the sacred liminal fire.

Bless the fire.

As you turn, walk back to the path, exiting the fire and leaving behind your offerings of anything you do not wish to carry any longer.

Bless the river to one side of you.

Bless the path beneath your feet.

Bless your guides, either woman or horse, all those that have been with you on this journey.

Make your way to the bridge and bless it as you arrive to it again. Give your thanks to Morgu∂ as you pass from the depths of your unconscious.

And now you must return, leaving Morgu∂, over the bridge.

You move now to the south and up, the path resounding beneath you.

You bless the dog with the bloody breast who barks at you as you move up and to the south.

You enter again the realm where the plants are eternally fresh and green as you travel up and to the south.

You pass the well-dressed travelers on the path; you bless the dark valleys.

You bless the mists as the path arcs up again.

You bless the nine days and nine nights it takes to return, up, up, up and to the south.

This day and this night, second day and a second night,

a third day and a third night,

a fourth day and a fourth night,

a fifth day and a fifth night

a sixth day and a sixth night

a seventh day and a seventh night,

an eighth day and an eighth night,

On the ninth day you see the light above you.

And you return to the trunk of the tree, emerging into daylight.

As you come again into the realm of life, the realm of the living, bless your symbolic guide, woman or horse, and give gratitude in exchange for the accompaniment they have shown you on this journey.

Your guide or mount embraces you or nuzzles you.

And then they melt back into the earth becoming one with the chthonic dark below. You find yourself again on the path of the forest.

Begin to bless yourself.

Root into your physical body. Notice the taste in your mouth.

Notice the smell in your nose.

Notice what is touching your skin.

Notice any noises you hear and bring your hands to yourself, to the sacred center, and hold yourself close.

Feel again the web of life around you, or your energetic roots and branches, created by you in relationship to the place that you are now, to your ancestors, your guardians, your guides, and fill yourself with love for who you are right now at this time, this deep honoring on this sacred day. Continue loving yourself, loving your task, loving your transformation, loving the rite of passage that you are honoring.

Bless yourself; bless your life; bless your relationships, human and nonhuman. Bless the place where you live; even if it’s not the place that you think you should be, it’s where you are right now. It is feeding you and holding you, so offer it your blessing. Bless your ancestors, all of the lives and deaths that created you, that brought you here to this moment in time, human and nonhuman all. An infinitude of lives. An unbreakable matrix connecting you to all life.

And bless the mystery, the source of all life, that holds us in presence and joy and possibility.

Now, with a heart filled with compassion and empathy for the mythic Underworld, come back into your center. Open your eyes.

By this and every effort may the balance be regained.

—Lara Vesta, Part 1 The Dark Goddess Awaits: Journey to the Underworld, Copyright © 2024

April Author Blog

An Excerpt from “Secrets of Greek Mysticism” by George Lizos

Setting Up Altars to the Gods

An altar is a portal between the sacred and the profane. It is a bridge between the spiritual and earthly realms—a creation that aims to bring the gods into the physical realm so we can have an easier, deeper interaction with them. Therefore, setting up an altar opens up a portal to the spirit world and eventually transforms a secular space into one that is sacred.

Altars have been used by most indigenous traditions around the world, including the ancient Greeks. Since the beginning of time, humans have felt the need to communicate with the spirit world and have built physical altars with the aim of channeling and communicating with the nonphysical realm.


What to Include on the Altar

There are many schools of thought around setting up altars. In this section, I’ll share what we know about ancient Greek altars coupled with tips from my personal experience.


Although outdoor altars were common in classical times due to the layout of ancient houses, it may be more convenient to set up your household altar indoors. You can set up your altar on any surface in any room of the house. It could be on a side table in your bedroom, a shelf on your bookcase, a corner of your office desk, or simply a corner of the floor. However, I suggest that you set up your altar in a quiet space in a common area, especially if you plan on performing the rituals with the entire family.


Traditionally, Greek altars were rectangular. However, feel free to give your altar a shape that has meaning for you and for the god or goddess you’re working with. It could be a circle, square, pyramid, star, or any other shape you feel inspired to use.

Altar Cloth

Setting up your altar on a piece of cloth is a symbolic way to set its extent and boundaries. It’s also a simple way to transform a secular surface to something more sacred. Choose the colors and materials of your altar cloths mindfully so that they make sense for your chosen god or goddess.


Our modern lifestyle doesn’t always allow for a hearth to be permanently lit in the house, so the next best option is candles, an oil lamp, or even an electronic candle or lamp if you want to avoid fire completely. Always use natural substances, such as beeswax and soy wax candles or olive oil for the lamp.

Cleansing Water

Known as khernips, cleansing water is used specifically for cleansing and purifying our energy before we perform any kind of ritual. You can make it yourself by using either spring water or saltwater and setting the intention that it clears and purifies your energy. It’s important to avoid using tap or stagnant water, and always drain and clean the bowl following the ritual. You can learn more about creating cleansing water in my book Protect Your Light.


During rituals, the statues are more than just representations of the gods; they embody the gods’ essence and should be treated with the utmost respect. Although you can purchase statues for affordable prices from many online retailers, you can also use any sculpted or unworked natural materials as statues for the gods. For example, you can choose stones, crystals, and pieces of clay or wood. In fact, in the archaic period Greeks used xoana (singular xoanon) to honor the gods, which were often uncarved pieces of wood.

If you choose to purchase your statues, it’s important that you choose statues depicting the god’s or goddess’s whole body rather than their busts or replicas of vandalized statues depicting the gods with missing limbs and other damage (most of which were performed by the early Christians).

Although statues are helpful aids to connecting with the gods, they aren’t essential for your ceremonies, and you don’t need to include them if you don’t want to. Your intention to connect with the gods is the most important component of the ritual.

Ritual Dagger

Similar to the Wiccan athame, a ritual dagger is used symbolically to protect the altar from negative intentions, people, and energies. You can use any dagger for this purpose, but it’s best to choose something that looks and feels sacred to you and that you use only as part of your ceremonies.


Near your altar, you may dedicate an additional surface or storage space for the statues (if you choose to include them) and other ritual items. It’s important to have 200 Connecting with the Gods specific ritual items used solely for your ceremonies, and consecrate them using the practice in the next section.


The ancient Greeks used different incenses to honor each god, many of which you can find in the “Symbolism” section of each god’s chapter. Traditionally, they used a tripod burner to burn the incense and other offerings, but you can use any burner you prefer. Personally, I’ve handmade a ceramic tripod burner, as well as most of my ceremonial tools, in my pottery class. If you have the time and energy to make your own ritual items, it’s a great way to add your own personal essence to them and deepen your practice.


Although the ancient Greeks often sacrificed animals to the gods, this is no longer a common practice. Instead, we now offer grains, fruits, and flowers as a way of acknowledging, showing gratitude, and reaching out to the gods. For this purpose, have a tray or a bowl that you can use to make your offerings during the ritual and potentially leave on the altar table. I often arrange a selection of grains in a tray in a visually appealing way and leave it on my altar until the next ritual.


A libation is the ritual pouring of a liquid—usually red wine, olive oil, honey, milk, or water—in honor of gods, heroes, other minor deities, and the dead. For this purpose, have a large bowl to pour in your libations, and another vessel to store the liquid. When offering a libation to the Olympian gods, you should always use red wine, while for chthonic (subterranean) deities, minor gods such as the Muses and the Nymphs, heroes, and the dead, you should instead use milk mixed with honey, or water. Libations to chthonic gods and the ancestors (known as a choe) are poured directly into the earth rather than your altar libation bowl.

Additional Items

In addition to or in lieu of the traditional ritual items used by both ancient and contemporary Greek pagans, feel free to make the altar your own by arranging and decorating it in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing and feels right to you. Remember, you’re setting up a sacred space to help you commune with the gods. The more personal you make it, the easier it’ll be for you to connect.

A great way to bring life into your altar is to include natural items, which I like to call gifts from nature. Such items may include crystals, stones, soil, flowers, leaves, shells, sea glass, tree bark, fallen branches, or anything else you’re guided to collect from the natural world. Always be mindful not to dismantle any animal’s shelter or home. Walk softly upon the land and take only what you’re intuitively guided to, with love and respect in your heart. If you feel guided to collect flowers or plants, it’s important to intuitively ask them for permission before you cut them, and do so only if you get a yes.


Laying Out Your Altar

Setting up your altar is a ritual in and of itself. Once you have all the items and have spent some time planning how you want it to look, lay down your altar cloth, and with intention, prayer, and ceremony, place each item on the altar. Notice how you feel while setting up your altar, and include only items that inspire a sense of joy and upliftment. You’ll know when your altar is complete by the emotion you feel when it’s done! You’ll feel a sense of completeness or open-heartedness and joy along with reverence, as the items you’ve placed create the perfect energetic combination to bring in your chosen god’s energy.


Consecrating Your Altar

Consecrating your altar means to purify the energy of both the space the altar is set up in and the items you’ve included. Physical space and the items you’ve chosen all absorb vibratory frequencies from their surrounding environment as well as the people who have interacted with them (the ancient Greeks called this miasma, which means energetic pollution). Consecrating your altar resets the energy of everything so it can better align with the energy of the gods.

Follow these steps to consecrate your altar:

  1. Start by practicing the Meditation Prep Process from Chapter 8 and bring yourself into a meditative state.
  2. Choose your cleansing tool. There are many cleansing elements and tools you can use to cleanse your altar and ritual items. The most common cleansing aids used in ancient Greece were fire (in the form of sage and incense) and water (usually seawater or flowing water from springs and rivers), but you can also use sound (such as bells and gongs), essential oils, or your inner light channeled through your hands.
  3. Bring your chosen tool/s close to your heart. With eyes closed, call upon the oversoul of the tool to activate its power and support you in this process. Intuitively, you may feel your tool vibrating or lighting up in some way, signifying it’s ready to use.
  4. Use the tool to cleanse your altar space in an intentional, ceremonial way. For example, if you’re using lit sage, wave the smoke above, below, and around your altar with the intention that it’s cleansing all negative energy.
  5. After you’ve cleansed the altar, do the same for all the ritual items. Take each item one at a time and use your chosen tool to cleanse and purify it from all negative or residual energy.
  6. When you feel the space and your ritual items have been consecrated, place the tool close to your heart and thank it for its assistance.


Activating Your Altar

After you’ve consecrated your altar, the next step is to dedicate and activate it so it serves as a sacred space to strengthening communication between you and the gods you’re revering.

Follow these steps to activate your altar:

  1. Start by practicing the Meditation Prep Process from Chapter 8 and bring yourself into a meditative state.
  2. Place both of your hands on your chest and focus your attention in the center of your heart. Visualize a bright golden light extending from your heart outward and into your palms. This is your own inner light and life-force energy.
  3. Extend your hands outward to face the altar, visualizing the light washing over all the altar pieces and the surrounding space, instilling it with your loving energy and intention. Stay here for as long as it takes for your altar to feel elevated.
  4. Dedicate the altar to the gods you’re working with by saying and changing the call to the appropriate god: “I call upon [name of the gods] to enter this space and render it sacred, creating a clear portal of communication between the physical and spiritual realms. Thank you, and so it is.”
  5. When you’re done, place your hands on your chest to end the process and ground your energy into the Earth.


Animating the Statues

As I mentioned earlier, statues aren’t just representations of the gods, they act as gateways for the gods’ presence during the rituals. They embody the gods’ presence. Before they can take on this function, you need to animate them, meaning to invite the gods represented to bless and embody them.

Here’s the process to animate the statues:

  1. Having cleansed the statues, prepare a tray or bowl of a mix of grains, known as panspermia in Greek.
  2. With intention, circle the tray over each statue in a clockwise direction while reciting the god’s Orphic hymn (which you can find in the gods’ respective chapters) and pour the grains on the statue.
  3. While doing so, visualize the gods’ light entering and activating the statues, blessing them with their presence.
  4. Once you’re done, your statues are animated and ready to be used in your ceremonies.


Dismantling the Altar

Before you perform a new ritual, it’s important to dismantle your altar from the previous one, then consecrate and ground the energy of your altar space. The dismantling process should be carried out with the same sense of ceremony and reverence as setting up your altar, to show your gratitude for the work you’ve done with the gods.

Follow these steps to dismantle your altar:

  1. Start by practicing the Meditation Prep Process from Chapter 8 and bring yourself into a meditative state.
  2. Slowly and ceremonially, remove each item from the altar, holding it in front of your heart and silently thanking it for the role it played in your ritual.
  3. Having dismantled your altar, use one or more of the consecration tools you used previously to cleanse the altar pieces and space, preparing them for the next ritual.

Now that you know how to set up and dismantle your altars, in the next chapters I’ll share guidelines for performing your monthly festival rituals, as well as the new moon and full moon rituals.

—George Lizos, Chapter 23, Copyright © 2024