30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 16 ~ Nymphai, Khthonoi, & The Dead

It’s kind of funny that I’m doing this one so close to Hekate’s Deipnon, when the Khthonoi are honoured. Taking a lead from net.acquaintances in the Hellenic community, I’ve expanded my observance to three days, which is when, locally, the moon at Her darkest. I sweep up, prepare a meal for Hekate, and take it to the alley behind the house (in lieu of a convenient crossroads where I won’t be in danger of being ticketed for littering) — amusingly, I find the alley behind the house “twice liminal” as it also is maybe a dozen yards from the sign for the city limit, you can quite easily see it from the back garden.

In the three-day ritual, Hades and Persephone are also honoured in a ritual at a home shrine in the basement, as is Thanatos, The Moirai, and Nyx. With an exception of the Moirai, I don’t see how my reverence of the Khthonoi falls outside the “Hellenic mainstream” in that I tend to give Them their due reverence, no more, no less. The Underworld is just as much a spiritual realm as Olympos, and deserves its own honour for its place as of residence for mortal dead and for the waning cycle of mortality that it represents in this realm. I admit that I find myself perplexed at self-defined Hellenes who absolutely fear the Khthonoi and those mortals who have been called to Their cult — these are the people who can essentially touch the dead without miasma, prepare passed loved ones for funerary rites with complete ritual purity, for it’s necessary for the rest of us that they take this on, and all the better for it to be a calling of the heart. Their necessity is just as needed now as it was in ancient times, and it’s rather sad that so few Hellenes, even considering our worldwide population, take that calling.

In fact, I’d wager that such people are even more necessary now than ever. In “the West”, especially North Amerika, people are so utterly divorced from death; preparing the dead for funerary rites revolves around making corpses look as not-dead as possible, tucking them into a box designed for comfort (as if a corpse really needs such a thing), and putting it underground — but not before pumping it full of embalming fluids, so it can continue to look as not-dead as possible for decades, perhaps even a century or more (as this photo of a girl who died in 1902, exhumed for observation in 1995, demonstrates), rather than loading it up on a pyre to be purified with flame and returned to Gaea. The modern funeral is not only a complete money-trap, but it offers almost nothing to those called to Hellenic traditions; in fact, I’d wager that funerary debt alone is enough to guarantee that the modern funeral is less about accepting death than ancient rites — correct me if I’m wrong, but the modern funeral doesn’t seem at all cathartic, it strikes me as the exact opposite.

“Nature spirits”, the nymphai are something that some people —usually those with preconceived notions of what urban spirituality is all about, especially when they get wind of the fact that though polytheist, I personally eschew the term “pagan” in self-identity— find it odd that I believe in, much less give any acknowledgement of. I’m one of those nuts who senses almost all organic material as having a nymphe attached to its life. Springs and wells and rivers and ponds and clouds; trees and flowers and even systems of fungi. Mountains have nymphai, the grassy plains have nymphai.

When I need to clear out weeds (which aren’t actually concretely defined beyond “unwanted plants in the garden”), I apologise to the relevant nymphe, and ask Her to let the desired plant life take over. It’s not much, but it hasn’t really done me any wrong, so far.

List behind cut:

0. Intro to meme
1. Beliefs – Why Hellenismos?
2. Beliefs – Cosmology
3. Beliefs – Deities
4. Beliefs – Birth, death and rebirth
5. Beliefs – Sacred sexuality
6. Beliefs – Divination, mysticism and various woo shit
7. Beliefs – The power of prayer/reciprocity
8. Beliefs – Festivals
9. Environmentalism
10. Patrons – Eros
11. Patrons – Apollon
12. Pantheon – Moisai
13. Pantheon – Adonis & the Flower Boys
14. Pantheon – Nyx & Kybele/Gaia
15. Pantheon – Every-One Else
16. Nymphai, Khthonoi, & The Dead
17. My ways of worship
18. Community
19. Hellenismos and my family/friends
20. Hellenismos and my love life
21. Other paths I’ve explored
22. Hellenismos and major life events
23. Ethics
24. Personal aesthetics and Hellenismos
25. Favoured ritual tools, and why
26. Any “secular” pastimes with religious significance, and why
27. How your faith has helped you in difficult times
28. One misconception about Hellenismos you’d like to clear up
29. The future of Hellenismos
30. Advice for seekers


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