The Proerosia

The festival took place at Eleusis, site of the Great Mysteries and setting of much of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. The explanation for the rite was that a plague had afflicted the whole of Greece, and the Delphic Oracle said that Apollo ordered a tithe to Demeter of the first harvest on behalf of all Greeks. Thereafter, except for disruptions during the Peloponnesian War, offerings arrived annually from all over the Greek world for the Goddesses’ blessings before plowing and seeding. At Eleusis on this day, sacrifice was made to Pythian Apollo, which is construed by modern scholars as a show of gratitude to the Delphic oracle for the foundation of the Proerosia.
The Ritual
The Pompe, or Procession
The Priestess lights the fire on the altar, which should have been laid out beforehand.
The Incense is lit, then, in the order dictated by the order of the Sacra, the People
are lead by the Priest or Priestess to the Temenos, or Sacred Precinct, containing the altar.
At the entrance to the Temenos, each person is sprinkled with pure spring water (khernips) then
moves in a counterclockwise direction to form a circle around the bomos/altar.
After the khernips, everyone remains silent until the Priest or Priestess cries out:
“Hekas, o hekas, este bebeloi!”
The People Reply:
“Let All That Is Profane Be Far From Here!”
Y.R.:
Welcome to the rites of Proerosia!
We are here to prepare the sacred field,
To bless the Earth in the name of Demeter,
Zeus Epakrios we will also invoke,
Bringer of thunder and rain from on high,
That He may bless the coming season.
The Lighting
The Priestess cries out:
“Paresmen time, sonta tas theas kai tous theous.”
The People Reply:
“We Are Here To Honor the Gods and Goddesses.”
The Scattering
Priestess walks the barley counterclockwise and each person takes some and tosses it upon the altar.
The remaining barley is placed nearby.
“with this scattering, we are joined as community”
The Mixing
The Libation Bearers move to either side of the Priest or Priestess and the Wine and Water is mixed.
The Priest or Priestess says:
“Theasthe ta hudata biou.”
The People Reply:
“Behold the Waters of Life.”
The First Libation
The Priestess says:
“Hestia, Thine is always the first and the last.”
Some of the water/wine in the cup is poured out on the altar fire, then the cup is passed around counterclockwise, each person taking a sip in offering to Hestia, or touching a drop to his or her
forehead in offering, and repeating the above formula of offering to Hestia. The Priestess takes a last
sip, and the remaining part is poured out on the altar.
As it’s being passed around…
Hestia,
Goddess of hearth and temple fire,
Of the spiritual center of our world,
And of all sacred places.
Hestia, beloved Goddess of the spiritual flame,
Come be honored at this place.
Bring to us the peace and sureness
Of that place which is home and hearth.
Please bring your purity and beauty to us,
As we honor you
Who are the center of the spiritual flame.
Hymnodia
The Priestess cries out:
“Koimeson stoma!”
The People Reply:
“We will be silent!”
(The People then maintain silence through the Hymn.)
Demeter Panagia
Pure and Holy mother of Creation,
Goddess of the Blessed Seed and of the Greater Mysteries,
We sing of you,
Beloved Mother of the Earth, fertile and full of power,
With reverence we ask for your blessing on this day
O Verdant and Fruitful one
Release the Earth from its dry bondage of summer
And in this new planting season,
Let the seedlings rise young and green.
Sustain them until the flowering, and from flowering
To the gold fruit of harvesttime.
O Mother of Life
As we have given you praises and libations,
Bless our labors here.
To you
We offer gifts of the heart
Of love, beauty, and reverence,
O grant us the season’s bright benedictions
As we honor the Great Mother of the land.
The Second Libation
The Libation Bearer fills the cup with milk. The Priestess offers up the cup and says:
“Hear, Oh Demeter,
First Mate of Father Zeus,
Goddess of the Barley and the Wheat:
You Who preside over the growing of all crops,
You in Whose care is all that lives upon Gaea, the Earth;
without Whom the seed does not sprout
nor the blossom blow nor the fruit mature and fall from the tree.
Mother Who brings forth, and Mother Who defends;
Mother Who Destroys if aught assault Her Offspring;
You before Whom the very throne of Olympus must give homage, lest we poor
mortals utterly fail and fall.
Goddess of the Biosphere: we call upon You with whatever name it pleases You
to be called! If ever we have made offering to You, or honored You in word or deed,
grant us that sustenance without which mortal life cannot go on.”
The Priestess pours some of the Milk on the altar, then passes the cup counterclockwise. When
the libation returns to the Priestess she takes a last sip, and the remaining part is poured out on the
altar.
We plant seed at this point.
Hymnodia
The Priestess cries out:
“Koimeson stoma!”
The People Reply:
“We will be silent!”
(The People then maintain silence through the Hymn)
Great Zeus, Son of Kronos,
Most High, Father of Gods and Men,
Protector of Strangers, Good Counselor
Hear my prayer, and bestow your blessings

Zeus Kataibates, Cloud Gatherer,
You descended upon Danae as a shower of golden rain.
Rain now upon your parched children, Ombrios,
Water more precious than gold.

Our dry lips praise you, Great Zeus,
In thanks for this blessed moisture.
The Libation Bearers again mix water and wine. The Priest offers up the cup and says:
“Zeus, this Libation is for You”
Cup is passed.
Zeus Epakrios, great father of the thundering skies,
Your blessed rains have begun again to fall upon the fertile earth.
Oh benevolent one
Gather your darkening clouds and let fall
The potent and gentle rain.
The Sacrifice/Offerings
The feast portions are brought to the fire.
The Sacral Feast
Everybody eats.
In making Sacrifice and in the exercises of the Agon we have called upon the Deity to join us.
When the Agon is done, the Sacral Feast is set and everyone eats. This can be something as
simple as bread and milk, or as elaborate as a many course banquet. For Demeter, the Bounty
of the Harvest should figure prominently in the Feasting. The important thing to remember is
that this is a communion not only between mortal and Deity but between the mortals who share
the feast as well. We are all joined in communion, in community, by the sharing of the Sacral
Feast.
The Libation of Thanks
The Libation Bearer pours milk again. The Priestess leads the people in giving thanks to the
Goddess, letting individuals speak at will. Then the Priestess offers up the cup, saying:
“Demeter Charin echomen soi.”
Some of the milk in the cup is poured out on the altar, then the cup is passed around counterclockwise,
each person taking a sip in offering to Demeter, or touching a drop to his or her forehead in offering,
and saying:
“Demeter, Hilathi!” (Demeter Be Propitious!)
or
“Demeter, Sponde!”
or simply
“Demeter, we thank You.”
The Libation Bearer pours wine again…..
“Zeus, Hilathi!” (Zeus Be Propitious!)
or
“Zeus, Sponde!”
or simply
“Zeus, we thank You.”
The Final Libation
The Libation Bearer pours wine one final time. The Final Libation is offered to Hestia, with the words:
“Hestia, Thine is always the first and the last.”
It is offered in the same manner as the first, but when the Priestess pours out the last of it upon
the altar, she cries out:
“Houtos heksoi!”
The Response is:
“Houtos heksoi,”
or simply: ” So Be It!”
This is the End of the Ritual.

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