This month, House of Zephyrus held a devotional to Hermes and Zeus inspired by the Pompaia Festival celebrated in Attica. Greek public festivals were rare in the winter, as they were held outside and were therefore difficult to conduct in cold and wet weather. The Pompaia, like the Maimakteria (another winter festival) was traditionally much smaller than typical community celebrations, usually limited to the priesthood and devout practitioners.
The coming winter months were treacherous for all, especially for travelers, the poor, and the homeless. The intent of the Pompaia and the Maimakteria was to appease Zeus and the forces of nature on the way during the winter months, and to request aid from him and Hermes for the community and those who travelled.
Members of our oikos discussed current treatment of our homeless compared to hospitality laws of other cultures. Rather than delve into on the complex (albeit important) dynamics of how individuals find themselves in positions of need in our community, we chose to focus on why people often choose not to give in support of other members of the community. We discussed the stigmas placed on those who need, and how much of that stigma is based on the assumption that the few who take advantage of community generosity represent the entire population. Some of our members shared stories of uncertain times in their lives, the people who turned them away, and those who helped them find some stability as they regained their footing.
From there, we began talking about our primary activity for the evening: filling Karma Boxes. Since our oikos has grown in membership and individual successes, we have decided to take a more active role in our local community. We’ve been hearing more and more about the Karma Box Project, a campaign initiated by an individual who was homeless and who now works to help others in that position. Looking into the campaign and the effect it has had on the community, we consider it to be in keeping with the virtue of xenia, hospitality to strangers, and we want to support the work the campaign is doing.
For our first step, we wanted to fill the Karma boxes around our community with supplies, especially with the cold weather coming in. Our members brought toiletries, chapstick, hats, gloves, scarves, and other items to package up and leave around at different boxes.
Rather than merely leave the items on their own, we wanted to share the feelings of family, security, community, and happiness that we have built within our oikos, and add other blessings of prosperity and health to share with members of our local community who need it most.
To that end, we filled the space where our offered supplies were resting by reading Hermes’ myths, acting out the stories with great feats of melodramatic pantomime. We laughed, we cried, we laughed so hard we cried, we made horrible puns, we accidentally broke things, we spilled wine, and had a really great time. And while that was happening, we filled out notecards for those who will be receiving the items in the boxes, offering love, hope, blessings, and other words of encouragement.
After focusing our final intent onto the items, we packaged up nearly twenty bags of smaller items along with the cards, and had many hats, scarves, gloves, socks, and clothing items to spare. After dispersing for the evening, we were able to stock seven of Reno’s boxes, and still have more items left to put out!
The oikos loved the whole thing so much that we’ve decided we want to look into building and maintaining our own Karma Box. We still need to coordinate the details, but stay tuned for updates!
The next House of Zephyrus event will be held alongside the TOGA Temple’s Yule Celebration! Please check our Facebook page or stop by the Reno Magick shop for more details.