Heliogenna, which I have celebrated for a few years now, is my annual Winter Solstice celebration. It is a modern convention, not an ancient one, but there is evidence supporting the celebration of the Solstice, a time of year which has seen sacred elements attached to it in almost every known religion, modern and ancient, in the world.
I celebrate Heliogenna in three stages, and the vastest of these is a nine day festival, with a three day version, but there is no reason it cannot be further shortened to a single day on the Heliogenna itself, the Winter Solstice. This is easy to do because I broke down the festival into three segments right from the start.
Following the ancient convention of the day ending with the sunset, and thus a new day beginning if one thinks of the day as a 24 hour event, Heliogenna begins with the segment Sunset (ηλιοβασίλεμα - iliovasilema) and the Gods of the heavenly realms, especially those associated heavily with stars, sun, and moon are honored. Here the Gods are thanked and the year that has passed is remembered and one hopes, learned from. Thank the Gods for all they have given or allowed you, and be thankful for the people in your life who have given you so much.
The second segment, called Night (νύχτα - nichta) wherein the darker aspects of the Gods are commemorated.Although this can be seen as a somber element in the festival, try to remember that the darker aspects of the Gods are not about sadness and evil, they are abut facing truth, facing mortality, and remembering friends and family who have passed. Remember their smiles, their contributions to your life, the love and feeling they brought to you. This is, of course, a good thing. But also remember the heroes of our culture, the soldiers fighting in the fields of battle, and the men and women who face off with death every day and win, and those who do what they can but fail, all the more heroic for their struggle. At the center of Night is a day, or a time set aside, for silence. This is the 5th day of the nine day festival, or a few hours at the center of the second day of the three day festival, and this is a time set aside to commemorate the aspect of the sun as a dying god. Gods who share this aspect are to be remembered, but not prayed to or made offerings to. Take a moment or two to be silent, to hold your breath, as the Lord of Light makes his way through the underworld before emerging once again revived and new.
The third and final segment is call Sunrise (ανατολή - anatoly) and this is the great celebration. Song, dance, fire, incense, and, my favorite, prayers on burnable paper with prayers of hope and well wishes burned on the fire and sent forth for the Gods. This is like a New Years celebration, making promises, oaths, and looking forward.
This year my plan is to do an 8 Poems/Prayers in 9 days thing. The plan is to do them as follows done one a day.
- Day 1: To Helios, Selene, and Eos. A piece for thanks.
- Day 2: To The Olympian Gods in thanks for life, light, and all the things I have to be thankful for this year.
- Day 3: To The Primordial Gods, in thanks for the foundation of life they set forth.
- Day 4: To Helios and Dionysos. The light and the madness. Offering to Hades, the lord of death.
- Day 5: Day of Silence. No poem or prayer this day. This is the day of the Winter Solstice.
- Day 6: To Helios and Dionysos, the reborn Gods. Offering to Persephone, lady of hope in death.
- Day 7: To Hyperion the Titan, Eros the Lord of Attractions, and Hekate the traveller and protector.
- Day 8: To the Olympians and the Chthonoi, in hopes of a future bright with potential.
- Day 9: To Helios the Sun, watcher of the Earth, Bringer of new life and light.