A Hellenic Incubation ritual to Asclepius based on historic source.
One of the most well-known examples of healing magic or trance in Hellenic culture is those which were performed at the sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus. Asclepius is the Hellenic god of medicine and healing. He is the son of the Olympian god Apollo and a mortal princess of Koronis, Trikkaian. The tale of this life leans great intrigue to his providence over healing. “His mother died in labour and was laid out on the pyre to be consumed, but his father rescued the child, cutting him from her womb. From this he received the name Asklepios “to cut open”” (Atsma). He was raised and taught by the centaur Kheiron, becoming so skilled he was able to restore the dead to life. Often Asclepius is depicted as a gentle bearded man holding a staff which is entwined with a serpent.
Epidaurus was a small city-state which seems to have been built up around the temple. Attached to the temple was a special dormitory where those seeking healing slept when they came to Epidaurus. The method of healing was called “incubation” in which patients spent the night in the dormitory to receive a vision of Asclepius. In this vision the god of healing asked about their condition, symptoms, and then would prescript the necessary therapy for healing. During this “incubation” other answers could be revealed to questions not related to the healing of the individual. (Luck 185-186). According to Luck, incubation was “dreaming under controlled conditions,” and involved some sort of magical procedure or ritual performed by a priest to ensure that the incubation occurred. Though most of the details are not known, it is said that the patient had to pray, fast, and perhaps even sacrifice an animal then sleep in its hide. The cures prescribed by the god were usually written upon the walls of the temple ranging from special diets, exercise, baths, or sacrifices to aid in curing the patient.
As I have dealt with what is termed as a terminal illness for 25 years, I am very acquainted with the god Asclepius. He has a special shrine dedicated solely to him in my home and holds a very special place in my heart. It was common for those who were treated successfully by the visions of Asclepius to give public credit to his divine work, I wish to share with my fellow Druids the devotional ritual I perform when seeking healing and advice on furthering the fight of my illness.
[Lay out a pallet of several blankets and comfortable pillow before the Asclepius shrine. Have offerings ready around the shrine and pallet area. This is to include offerings of libation, olive oil, incense of lemon grass & Frankincense, and a small clay votive snake. Be sure to have a small self-drying clay tablet ready to inscribe your vision of healing and thanks upon to honor those that have sought the healing powers of Asclepius throughout time. Be sure to fast all the day before the ritual, at least only taking part in fresh vegetables. Take a purifying bath just before beginning. Note this rite can be performed for someone other than you. Just be sure you are taking the role of the Priest as far as performing the standard ritual, invocation, the Omen, and ending the rite. The main sacrifice and prayer should be performed by the person being healed.]
Perform standard ADF Hellenic Styled Ritual (Crawford)
Invocation to Asclepius
Oh blessed son of Apollo, far shooter,
Student of the great Kheiron, Healer of the sick,
I call to you.
Blessed mortal son of Koronis,
Life giver of the dead,
I call to you.
Glorious Asclepius, you who were set among the stars,
Who was raised from death itself to the life of a god,
I call to you.
Accept these humble offerings of oil and incense,
Accept these offerings and be near to me!
[Pour out oil and incense on to the Fire before his statue. Take a moment to inhale the smoke and feel the Lord of Healing come to you]
Glorious Asclepius, patron of Healers,
Whose sacred temple laid in Epidaurus,
I come before you now, humbled by your power and skill.
Accept these offerings of libation, gifts to honour and soothe:
To you that have come, to that has heard my call I give you these gifts;
White milk, sweet to drink from the animal sacred Hermes, the cow;
Golden honey, the distillation of the bees that work on sweet Persephone’s blossoms;
Holy water brought from the source a pure spring domain of the Nymphs;
This refreshing, unmixed drink from the ancient vine, its mother Demeter the Goddess of all growing things, the gift to human kind from Beloved Dionysus;
And the fragrant fruit of the pale green olive that lives its abundant life among the leaves and light of Helios, the gift of Athena to her people;
(Pour Olive Oil)
These gifts I give to you in love and in respect, in friendship and kinship.
[Place clay votive snake before the statue]
Great Lord, I give to you this votive,
Crafted by my hand, formed with love and admiration,
This symbol of your knowledge, of your skill, of your craft.
Be with me as I dream, grant to me vision, grant to me sight,
Lay upon me your shining might.
Guide me in the way to heal this blight!
Blessed Asclepius accept my offerings!
Omen – [perform Omen with Greek Oracle Alphabet to ensure the gods aid.]
[Once the Waters of Life have been given and accepted place more incense upon the Fire then lay before the shrine on the pallet. Sleep here to receive the visions of healing from Asclepius. Upon waking inscribe your vision and thanks to the great Lord upon the clay tablet. Be sure to follow through with what you are shown for the healing.]
End of Ritual – [close out the ADF Hellenic Styled Ritual as normal.]
- Atsma, Aaron J. 2001. HTML – http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Asklepios.html. 8 12 2014.
- Crawford, David. “General Hellenic ADF Styled Ritual.” 23 8 2012. The World Through a Druid’s Point of View. HTML – http://adruidsviewpoint.blogspot.com/2012/08/general-hellenic-adf-style-ritual.html. 8 12 2014.
- Luck, Georg. Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds – A Collection of Ancient Texts. 10: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. Paperback.