Komos: Celebrating Festivals in Contemporary Hellenic Polytheism by Sarah Kate Istra Winter
Festivals were one of the most important aspects of ancient Greek religion, and yet celebrating them – whether adaptations of historical rites or entirely new ones – can be difficult for contemporary Hellenic polytheists. We struggle to maintain an authentic connection to tradition while creating relevant practices which reflect our own relationships to the gods and spirits, as well as to the lands where we live now. Many of us are doing this alone or with only a few other people, unable to achieve the lavish processions, competitions or revels of times past. And yet our desire to honor the gods, explore themes such as purification, fertility and renewal, and mark the sacred progression of the year, remains as strong as ever.
Komos first explains the nature of ancient Greek festivals and the reasons they were observed, before moving forward to offer ways in which the same ideas and motivations can be expressed through modern celebrations. Special attention is given to crafting a localized and individualized practice that both fulfills religious obligations and results in personal enjoyment and spiritual connection. The lunar calendar is explained, along with other approaches to timing and selecting dates. All the significant elements of Hellenic festivals are discussed in detail with suggestions for how each can be included today. To educate and inspire the reader in the process of creating a complete festival calendar, many ancient examples are referenced, along with a few compatible modern folk festivals, and accounts of some of the author’s own experiences. Finally, advice is given for navigating issues such as budgetary restrictions, multi-tradition households, and what to do when things go wrong.
If you have been wanting to add festivals to your spiritual practice but weren’t sure where to begin, or if you just need some ideas to supplement your existing celebrations, this book can help. May you find within these pages the spark that lights your torches for many festivals to come.