HELLENIC ZODIACAL CALENDAR

ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΟΝ ΖῼΔΙΑΚΟΝ ΗΜΕΡΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ

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But inasmuch as the sun wards off the evils of the earth, they called him Heracles (from his clashing against the air) in passing from east to west. And they invented fables of his performing twelve labours, as the symbol of the division of the signs of the zodiac in heaven; and they arrayed him with a club and a lion's skin, the one as an indication of his uneven motion, and the other representative of his strength in "Leo" the sign of the zodiac
(Porphýrios [Porphyry; Gr. Πορφύριος] On Images, Fragment 8, excerpt, translated by Edwin Hamilton Gifford)


The Hellenic Zodiacal Calendar 

The Orphic calendar incorporates the kozmological Zohdiakós (Zodiacus; Gr. ζῳδιακός). Zohdiakós is the ancient Greek word for the Zodiac. Sometimes it is called Zohdiakós Kýklos (Zodiacus Cyclus; Gr. ζῳδιακὸς Κύκλος). Kýklos means "circle" and Zohdiakós means "little animals." This refers to the common iconographical representation of the Zodiac depicting many of the months with animals, and since the months are in a repeating pattern, we have a kýklos or circle. The Zodiac is an ancient tool to help us to understand and work with the repeating patterns from year to year and how they relate to kozmological and divine principles.

It is important to understand that the use of the zodiacal system in Ællinismós (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, bears only superficial similarity to the ordinary use of the zodiac in telling fortunes. The Zohdiakós of the Mystíria (Mysteries; Gr. Μυστήρια) is an expression of the phenomenal world. It is no coincidence that the two solstices and the two equinoxes mark the beginnings of zodiacal months. The zodiac was created by farming societies, conceived at a time when humankind was much more intimately connected with the natural world. It would be correct to see the months of the zodiac as marking the changing seasons and, from a religious point of view, it sees the year as a gigantic repeating ritual.


The Twelve Íki or Zóhdia

Like the Roman calendar we use every day, the Orphic zodiacal calendar divides the year into twelve months, but these months do not coincide with January, February, etc. The Orphic months are called Houses or Íki (Oikoi; Gr. Οἶκοι. Singular is Íkos [Oikos; Gr. Οἶκος]). In popular astrology, there are different ways of using the word House. Here we are using it in the sense of a zodiacal month. Therefore, there are twelve Íki and each Íkos is a zodiacal month.

The Íki are also called Signs or in ancient Greek, the twelve Zóhdia (Zodia; Gr. ζῴδια. Singular: Zóhdion; Gr. ζῴδιον). When we speak of the twelve Íki or Houses, we mean the twelve Zóhdia or Signs of the Zohdiakós, as they move through the year. In popular astrology, the first sign is usually said to be Aries, but in the Orphic Mystical Zohdiakós, the first sign is not Aries, but rather Libra. Therefore, we count the zodiacal houses beginning with Libra. Numbering the signs, using their common Roman names, they are as follows: 1. Libra, 2. Scorpio, 3. Sagittarius, 4. Capricorn, 5. Aquarius, 6. Pisces, 7. Aries, 8. Taurus, 9. Gemini, 10. Cancer, 11. Leo, and 12. Spica or Virgo. Further on in this essay we will learn their ancient Greek names.


The Zohdiakós Kýklos in Iconography

As discussed above, the Zodiac is called a kýklos or circle. We can use a circle to depict the signs moving counter-clockwise as if on a wheel. This is the usual way that the Zodiac is depicted in iconography. Since there are twelve signs or Zóhdia, it is useful to think of them as the numbers on a clock, with Libra beginning at 3 o'clock. Now that this has been established, we can say that Libra begins at three o'clock, Scorpio begins at two-o'clock, Sagittarius begins at one o'clock, etc. This method of talking about the signs is useful when discussing how to construct the Orphic altar.


The Twelve Zohdiokrátoræs

The Hellenic Zodiacal Calendar (Gr. Ἑλληνικὸν Ζῳδιακὸν Ἡμερολόγιον) shows the periods of time in the year when each Olympian deity has most influence and exercises sovereignty. When one of the Olympians is discussed in this way, this deity is called the Zohdiokrátohr (Zodiocrator; Gr. Ζῳδιοκράτωρ, singular) [1], the presiding zodiacal deity, of that sign. Krátohr (Gr. κράτωρ) means "ruler" or "potentate." Another ancient Greek word with the same meaning is Zohdiárkhis (Gr. Ζῳδιάρχης) [1]. Άrkhon (archon; Gr. ἄρχων) means "ruler" or "lord." The Olympian Gods are known collectively, therefore, as the Zohdiokrátoræs (Zodiocratores; Gr. ζῳδιοκράτορες, plural); they are the deities who have dominion over the twelve signs of the zodiac. And each deity can be called the Zohdiokrátohr or Zohdiárkhis of the sign over which he or she has dominion.


The Olympian Deities and the Orphic Months

Each of the zodiacal months is ruled by one of the Twelve Olympian Gods, each of whom also has dominion over one of the Twelve Natural Laws

1
Zygós
 (Gr. Ζυγός) Libra (beginning on Sept.21) ruled by Æstía  (Hestia; Gr. ἙστίαGreat Energizing (Ǽntoni ÆnæryitikótisGr. Ἔντονη Ἐνεργητικότης). The Goddess Æstía presides over the Equinox at the commencement of her month. 
Æstía has dominion over Movement (Kínisis; Gr. Κίνησις).

2) Skorpiós (Gr. Σκορπιός) Scorpio (Oct.21) ruled by Áris (Ares; Gr. Ἄρης
Stability (Stathærótis; Gr. Σταθερότης). The astrological symbol for Skorpiós represents the soul, pulsing with Life (Zoï; Gr. Ζωή), commencing on its journey.

3) Toxótis (Gr. Τοξότης) Sagittarius (Nov.21) ruled by Ártæmis (Artemis; Gr. Ἄρτεμις)
Changing (MætavolíGr. Μεταβολή). The astrological symbol for Toxótis or Sagittarius is the arrow pointing upward as the soul, filled with Energy (ÆnǽryeiaGr. Ἐνέργειαprogresses forward.

4) Aigokǽrohs (Gr. Αἰγοκέρως) Capricorn or Brumalis (Dec. 21) ruled by Íphaistos (Hephaestus; Gr. Ἥφαιστος)
Great Energizing. Mighty Íphaistos presides over the Solstice at the commencement of his month.
Í
phaistos, with his creative forge, creates Form (MorphíGr. Μορφή). The beauty of the form created by Íphaistos is perfected at the eighth level, that of Aphrodíti, which is why Íphaistos is connected with her in mythology. It is on the fifth of Capricorn (the 25th of December, the 24th at dusk) during the first dækanós (ten days; Gr. δεκανός) of the month in which we celebrate the first appearance of Diónysos (Dionysus; Gr. Διόνυσος).

5) Ydrokhóös (Gr. Υδροχόος) Aquarius (Jan.21) ruled by Íra (Hera; Gr.Ἥρα)
Stability. Íra uses the great power of Attraction (Ǽrohs; Gr. Ἔρως) to bring together divinity and the soul.

6) Ikhthýs (Gr. ἸχθῦςPisces (Feb.21) ruled by Poseidóhn (Poseidon; Gr. Ποσειδῶν)
Changing.  Poseidóhn causes the soul to Progress (PróödosGr. Πρόοδος), as the legs move us forward.

7) Kriós (Gr. Κριός) Aries (March 21) ruled by Athiná (Athena; Gr. ἈθηνᾶGreat Energizing. The Goddess Athiná presides over the Equinox at the commencement of her month.
A
thiná rules the law of Co-Influence (AllilæpídrasisGr. Ἀλληλεπίδρασις), which binds the centers.

8) Távros (Gr. Ταύρος) Taurus (April 21) ruled by Aphrodíti (Aphrodite; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη)
Stability.  After the great struggles which the soul requires in order to grow, struggles brought on by Áris, Aphrodíti then brings Harmony (ArmoníaGr. Ἁρμονία).

9) Dídymi (Gr. ΔίδυμοιGemini (May 21) ruled by Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων)
Changing.  The Harmony brought about by Aphrodíti creates the environment in which Apóllohn can bring Freedom (ÆlefthæríaGr. Ἐλευθερία).

10) Karkínos (Gr. ΚαρκίνοςCancer (June 21) ruled by Ærmís (Hermes; Gr. ἙρμῆςGreat Energizing. Mighty Ærmís presides over the Solstice at the commencement of his month.
A
póllohn has given the great staff of the two solar serpents to Ærmís; the law of Movement (Kínisis; Gr. Κίνησις) begins here, but now in the Divine world.

11) Lǽohn (Gr. Λέων) Leo (July 21) ruled by Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς)
Stability. Zefs has dominion over the law of Life (Zoï; Gr. Ζωή) in the Divine world.

12) Stákhys (meaning Wheat-Ear; Gr. Στάχυς; in Latin it is SpicaWheat-EarWheat-Ear [2] (Aug.21) ruled by Dimítir (Demeter; Gr. Δημήτηρ)
Changing.
 Dimítir has dominion over the Law of Energy (Ænǽryeia; Gr. Ἐνέργεια) in the Divine World.

Thus, it can be said that Æstía is the Zohdiokrátohr (presiding Zodiacal deity) of Zygós (Libra), Áris is the Zohdiokrátohr of Skorpiós (Scorpio), and so forth.


The Astrological Sign Quadruplicities

It can seen in the above list that the twelve Orphic months can be grouped into three sectors which are called in western astrology the Sign Quadruplicities, because each sector consists of four different months:

1. Cardinal: Great Energizing (Ǽntoni ÆnæryitikótisGr. Ἔντονη Ἐνεργητικότης) 

Zygós (Libra)
Aigokǽrohs (Capricorn)
Kriós (Aries)
Karkínos (Cancer)

2. Fixed: Stability (Stathærótis; Gr. Σταθερότης): 

Skorpiós (Scorpio)
Ydrokhóös (Aquarius)
Távros (Taurus)
Lǽohn (Leo)

3. Mutable: Changing (MætavolíGr. Μεταβολή): 

Toxótis (Sagittarius)
Ikhthýs (Pisces)
Dídymi (Gemini)
Stákhys (Virgo or Spica)  


R
itual and the Zohdiakós

In its most practical understanding, we use the zodiacal calendar to construe how to set up ritual on any particular day. As in all Hellenic traditions, ritual begins with the hymn to Æstía (Hestia; Gr. Ἑστία), just as the Mystical calendar begins with her month. And there are many other conventions reflecting the Zohdiakós which determine how we set up the altar and the order of hymns we recite, but too much is not permitted to be said.



The Commencement of the Orphic Mystical Calendar and The Gates of Divinity 

Ællinismós (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἐλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, regards the Solstices and Equinoxes as significant. Most obviously, they are natural phenomena of the world, part of Nature. Our religion must reflect the natural world...because there is no other world, and we celebrate major signposts of nature such as these, but there are other reasons why they are important as well.

The two Equinoxes, spring and autumn, are called Ismæríai (Equinoxes; Gr. Ἰσημερίαι, plural). Isimæría (Gr. Ἰσημερία) is singular. 

The Goddess Æstía presides over the Equinox at the commencement of Zygós, September 21. 
The Goddess Athiná presides over the Equinox at the commencement of Kriós, March 21. 

The two Solstices, summer and winter, are called Tropai (Solstices; Gr. Τροπαί, plural). Tropí (Gr. Τροπή) is singular.
 
Mighty Íphaistos presides over the Solstice at the commencement of Aigokǽrohs, December 21. 
Mighty Ærmís presides over the Solstice at the commencement of Karkínos, June 21.

Every year there are four times when it is said that the Gates to Divinity are particularly open: the Summer and Winter Tropai and the Spring and Autumn Ismæríai. It is also said that at the full moon, the Aithír (Ether or Aether; Gr. Αἰθήρ) is "swollen."

Each Íkos begins on the 21st day of every Roman calendar month. The yearly cycle of zodiacal Mystery months begins on September 21stThis is the equinox and it is particularly important; it is the New Year, the commencement of Zygós (Libra; Gr. Ζυγός), the month of Æstía. As we always honor Æstía first with every ritual, we also recognize her month as the beginning of the year. [3]  

The Isimæría on September 21 is the commencement of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, where it is called the Phthinopohriní Isimæría (Fthinoporini  Isimeria; Gr. Φθινοπωρινὴ σημερία), the autumn equinox. However, September 21st is the beginning of spring in the Southern Hemisphere where the festival is called the Æariní Isimæría (Eariní Isimeria; Gr. Ἐαρινὴ Ἰσημερία), the spring or vernal equinox. Regardless of which hemisphere you live in, the Mystic year begins on September 21, whether it is Spring or Autumn.




CALENDAR FOR THE CURRENT YEAR

In years past we have published a calendar specific to this site.  It has always been based on the calendar developed by Hellenion. In the ancient Hellenic world, there were many calendars associated with different city-states. The Hellenion calendar is based, to the best of their ability, on the ancient Athenian calendar. This author has found that, although there is often disputation about the details, their calendar seems to agree with teachers living in Greece. The Hellenion calendar has all the major festivals, many more than this author has ritual for. I recommend printing out the calendar and marking the beginnings of all the Orphic zodiacal months. As far as the dates of festivals, I recommend not to be too fussy about most dates. It is preferable to wait until you have enough time to do the ritual with love and care. You can wait until a weekend, or even delay the ritual for longer, if necessary. Here is a link to download the current Hellenion calendar:



GLOSSARY OF ZODIACAL TERMS


Ællinikón Zohdiakón Imærolóyion - (Gr. λληνικν Ζδιακν μερολγιον) Hellenic Zodiacal Calendar.


Íkos - (Oikos; Gr. Οἶκος. Plural is Íki [Oikoi; Gr. Οἶκοι].) Íkos is a house but Íki (plural) is used here to refer to the houses or signs of the Zodiac.

Iliostásia - See Iliostásio.

Iliostásio (Gr. Ηλιοστάσιο, singular. Ηλιοστάσια, plural)  An Iliostásio is a Solstice. Cf. Tropí.

Isimæría (Gr. σημερία, singular) the EquinoxIsimæríai (Gr. σημερίαι, plural) the Equinoxes.


Krataiós iyæmónæs - (crataius hegemones; Gr. κραταιός ἡγεμόνες, ΚΡΑΤΑΙΟΣ ΗΓΕΜΟΝΕΣ) Lexicon entry: κρᾰταιός, ά, όν, poet. form of κρατερός, strong, mightythe Mighty Ones, lamb.Myst.8.4, Dam. Pr.351: Astrol., κ. ἡγεμόνες, divinities presiding over certain periods of the month. (L&S p. 990, right column, within the entries beginning with κρᾰταιβάτης, edited for simplicity.)


Stikheion - (stoicheion; Gr. στοιχεῖον, ΣΤΟΙΧΕΙΟΝ. Plural is στοιχεῖα.Stikheion is the word for element, such as the classical elements (στοιχεῖα plural). The word stikheion can also be used to mean astrological sign.

- Lexicon entry: στοιχεῖον, τό: 5. ἄστρων στοιχεῖα the stars; esp. planets; esp. a sign of the Zodiac. (L&S p. 1647, beginning left column but look for definition 5., edited for simplicity.)


Tropai - See Tropí. 

Tropí (Gr. Τροπή, singular. Τροπαί, plural) a turning2. Solstice. A Tropí is a Solstice. Cf. Iliostásio.

Zohdiakós - (Zodiakos; Gr. ζῳδιᾰκός, ΖΩΔΙΑΚΟΣ) the ZodiacDam. Pr.131, 351.  (L&S p. 758, right column)

Zohdiakós Kýklos (Zodiacus Cyclus; Gr. ζδιακς Κύκλος) the Zodiac, the circle of the Zodiac.

Zohdiárkhis - (Gr. Ζῳδιάρχης. Ety. ζῳδιακός [the zodiac] + ἄρχων [ruler or lord]) = Zohdiokrátohr.

Zohdiokrátohr - (Zodiocrator; Gr. Ζῳδιοκράτωρ. Plural: Zohdiokrátoræs; Gr. ζῳδιοκράτορες. Etymology: ζῳδιακός [the zodiac] + κράτωρ [ruler or potentate]) Zohdiokrátohr is a divinity presiding over the zodiac. (L&S p. 758, right column).

Zóhdion - (Zodion; Gr. ζῴδιον. Plural is Zóhdia [Zodia; Gr. ζῴδια].) Zóhdion means astrological sign. Zóhdion is the diminution of ζῷον, a word meaning animal or statue. In iconography, most of the astrological signs are depicted as little animals, hence, the zodiac is sometimes called the Zohdiakós Kýklos (Zodiacus Cyclus; Gr. ζῳδιακὸς Κύκλος), the "circle of little animals," κύκλος meaning "circle."
-
 Lexicon entry: ζῴδιοντό, Dim. of ζῷονsmall figure, painted or carvedstatuetteII. Astron., sign of the Zodiac:— also ζωΐδιοντό. (L&S p. 758, right column, edited for simplicity.)


NOTES: 

[1] Damaskios Pr. 131, 351. L&S p. 758, right column.

[2] The month of Wheat-Ear is more commonly known as Virgo (Latin for virgin) or in the Greek Parthænos (Parthenos; Gr. Παρθένος), which also has the meaning of "virgin" in English.  We avoid these words as they are too easily misinterpreted.  The concept of virginity here is a type of purity that has nothing to do with mortal sex at all.

[3]  Plátohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) on the custom that the Goddess Æstia (Hestia) is always honored first: 

Sohkr

á

tis (Socrates; Gr. 

Σωκράτης

): "What may we suppose him to have meant who gave the name Hestia (ed. 

Æst
í
a)


?.......that which we term οὐσία (ed. ous

í

a) is by some called ἐσ

ί

α (ed. 

æsía

), and by others again ὠσ

ί

α (ed. 

ohsía

). Now that the essence of things should be called ἑστία (ed. 

æstía

), which is akin to the first of these (ἐσ

ί

α ἑστ

ί

α), is rational enough. And there is reason in the Athenians calling that ἑστ

ί

α which participates in οὐσ

ί

α. For in ancient times we too seem to have said ἐσ

ί

α for οὐσ

ί

α, and this you may note to have been the idea of those who appointed that sacrifices should be first offered to Ἑστ

ί

α (ed. 

Æ

st

í

a), which was natural enough if they meant that ἑστ

ί

α was the essence of things. Those again who read ὠσ

ί

α seem to have inclined to the opinion of Heracleitus (ed. 

Irákleitos

Gr. 

Ἡράκλειτος)

, that all things flow and nothing stands; with them the pushing principle (ὠθον; ed. ohthoun) is the cause and ruling power of all things, and is therefore rightly called ὠσία."  (

Plátohn

 

Kratýlos

 [Cratylus; Gr. 

Κρατύλος] 

401, trans. Benjamin Jowett, 1892; found here in the 1937 Random House edition of The Dialogues of Plato, Vol. 1, Random House, New York NY USA, p. 191)




The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The 
Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the 
lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς).



PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

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