Part one here.

So, good news; it's the next day, I made it through without falling asleep (although there was that touch-and-go moment around 4 am), it felt incredibly good to do and save for one minor incident, the whole affair went off without a hitch.

Now, I'm not one for major religious revelations and big, flashy sentences about deep, meaningful conversations with the Gods. Religion doesn't work like that for me. For me, religion is serving the Gods and hoping to get a little bit in return, if the Gods see fit to do so. This means that instead of making it more than it was, I will tell you what my wake will have looked like to anyone else: long periods of a woman in her late twenties all done up in a black Hellenic-style gown and her hair up, lying on the couch, under a blanket, with a cat curled up at her feet, reading Hómēros, intercut with hourly libations at the shrine set up in her remodeled living room, candle making, divination through Tarot and munching on offerings.

It was awesome.

I will now tell you why I'm a bit of a bad blogger but, in my opinion, a good supplicant; I did not take pictures of the set-up. This was a conscious decision and it is based on the same thought train as why I suck at journaling. In short; I think it takes away from the experience and makes the memory stand out too much. I want my experiences to blend so I can learn from them a bit better. That said, I will describe, in as much detail as I am comfortable with, what I did and what it did to me. I do this, not for me, but for the other (fledgeling) Hellenics reading this blog and looking for answers from a community which is spread out around the globe and not very forthcoming with information or guidance. 

I held my wake from ten PM to six AM; eight solid hours, from sun down to sun set. I set up my shrine in the living room--instead of the bedroom where it usually is--so my girlfriend could get some rest. To accommodate me, she lovingly moved to the bedroom around 9.30 PM, leaving me alone as much as I wanted to be. Much of the shrine set-up was the same as it always is and the basic ritual was the same as my daily ritual, only now I poured libations as well as give offerings to not only Hestia but also Athena. For Athena, I used Homeric Hymn 11: to Athena, because I was sure enough I would remember the words of that hymn even when I got tired. Around 4 AM, I was very, very glad I had not gone with the much longer Homeric Hymn 28. 

To make a long description of my preparations short, I vacuumed and mopped the room, moved everything out of the way that I could without making a mess of the room, set up my shrine, laying out everything I needed to cleanse myself with, my offers to the Gods, everything I needed to burn and pour offerings, my books, a bed on the couch should I need it and everything I needed to turn the left over bits of Hestia's candles into new candles for Her. I also set out a vase with dirt into which I could place my torch after the procession and some wool from which I would make a makeshift garment for Athena later on. I also laid out my Tarot cards (for those interested; I use the Olympus Tarot) and the Homeric and Orphic hymns, should my tired brain forget the words and for the other hymns I wanted to say. That done, I brushed my teeth and ended my preparations with a shower.

This description of my preparations should also tell you most of what I did but I will create a schedule so you have a slightly better idea.
  • 09.30 PM - 10.00 PM: Final preparations, brushing my teeth a shower, dressing, putting my hair up
  • 10.00 PM - 11.00 PM: Torch procession (lit with Hestia's flame) from outside the living room to the shrine, cleansing (called katharmos), hymns to Hestia (Homeric Hymn 24), to Nyx (Orphic Hymn 3), to Selene (OH 9), to the Stars (OH 7), to Sleep (OH 85), to Dream (OH 86), to Zeus (OH 15) and finally to Athena (HH 11), libations of olive oil to Hestia and Athena with a repeating of their respective hymns, making a cloak for Athena
  • 11.00 PM - 12.00 PM: katharmos, libations of red wine to Hestia and Athena after proclaiming their hymns, offering of chocolate to both Goddesses, hanging the garment on Athena's statue, reading the Odysseia by Hómēros
  • 12.00 PM - 01.00 AM: katharmos, libations of milk to Hestia and Athena after proclaiming their hymns, reading the Odysseia, preparing the candle making
  • 01.00 AM - 02.00 AM: katharmos, libations of honey to Hestia and Athena after proclaiming their hymns, candle making
  • 02.00 AM - 03.00 AM: katharmos, offerings of barley to Hestia and offerings of beef to Athena after proclaiming their hymns, divination session, reading the Odysseia
  • 03.00 AM - 04.00 AM: katharmos, libations of honey to Hestia and Athena after proclaiming their hymns, reading about the history of Hellas and Athens
  • 04.00 AM - 05.00 AM: katharmos, libations of milk to Hestia and Athena after proclaiming their hymns, reading about the history of Hellas and Athens, fifteen minutes of simply lying on my makeshift bed
  • 05.00 AM - 06.00 AM: katharmos, libations of red wine to Hestia and Athena after proclaiming their hymns, reading the Odysseia, finalizing the candles, finding something to eat
  • 06.00 AM - 06.30 AM: katharmos, libations of olive oil to Hestia and Athena after proclaiming their hymns, reading the Odysseia, cleaning up the space, changing into my PJ's, feeding the cat, off to bed
Of course, this tells you nothing about my experiences. It doesn't describe the atmosphere, the tranquility that hung about a room bathed in candlelight and devotion. It doesn't tell you how I felt, standing in front of the shrine, palms up to praise the Gods. All I can tell you of that is that it was an experience I am so, so glad I have had. I'm terrible at all-nighters but it was well worth feeling a bit tired today. In fact, I'm much less tired as I thought I would be. My body is tired but my mind is full of inspiration and energy. I slept a couple of hours this morning and I kept dreaming in Hómēros' language. I woke up with a smile, and cleaned up the living room first thing. Hestia doesn't like things out of place, after all. 

I might share more about my actual experiences in the blogs to come; I'm still sorting it all out myself, after all. For now, I hope to have given you an idea of my Panathenaia ta Mikra celebration. If you celebrated it, how did you do it?