The Homeward Path tradition is a homegrown, family tradition. It has evolved over many years of personal and group practice incorporating aspects of Hellenismos, traditional Witchcraft and Druidry along with a great deal of personal gnosis achieved during journey and conversations with Gods (particularly Eos, Hermes and Aphrodite). It came into being when a couple of traditional Witches, a Druids, a Shaman and a Hellenic Reconstructionist decided that since there weren't enough of "our own sort" within driving distance that we'd have to form a Circle of our own. We started by taking turns hosting each of us doing rituals the way we knew and we all learned from each other. Eventually a tradition came into being that wasn't exactly what any of us had started with but instead was something altogether new and satisfying to all. Some people left the Circle, (and the state) some new people came into the Circle. As more new children arrived the Circle became more child friendly. As the kids got older, became teenagers and lost interest our rituals became less kid-friendly again. Meanwhile, the Sacred Hearth cosmology which has over the years cemented into a distinct tradition though we still practice as traditional witches, Druids, Neo-Shamans and Hellenic polytheists in our own homes, the Sacred Hearth tradition colors even that.

Finally, I moved away and had to make my way on my own, no longer a Hellenic Reconstructionist (I now refer to myself as a Neo-Hellenic Polytheist) but still a Witch, though perhaps with a little more Hedge in my Kitchen than before. My path was forever changed by the spiritual exchange I had with the others who came and went from our little group. Yet it continued to grow and evolve as I continued to study and seek guidance from my Gods and the spirits of the land and as I began to teach and learn from my students.

The Homeward Path is more than a collection of path neutral family-friendly rituals. It is an understanding of the Universe (as we know it) and our place in it as well as a close relationship with our Gods and the Planet. I include this section not to recruit followers to this path, which I (of course) consider superior to any other and perfectly right for me and mine, but to give you an idea of where we're coming from with these rituals.

The Annular Ritual Cycle my family observes goes like this:

February Eve
February Eve may be celebrated the first weekend of February, but technically it begins the first new moon of the lunar year. It corresponds to Imbolc in the Wiccan calendar but we are Neo-Hellenic rather than Neo-Celtic so we've changed it up a bit. For us it is the beginning of preparation for the coming of Persephone. To this end we have the Rite of Awakening. This is followed by a month of fasting and purification, including spring cleaning culminating at the full moon with a house blessing ritual. We also use this time to dispose of those things we no longer need and so make many trips to the Salvation Army and perform the Cross Burning Rite. The Cross here represents anything that is dragging us down or is that we want to leave behind and is not meant to insult Christians, though the metaphor is certainly rooted in Christian lore. We are in essence casting away those crosses we don't want to bear. This was originally adapted from a Celtic Feast of Brigid celebration that I learned from my Druid friends.

Spring Equinox
The Spring Equinox is a time of new beginnings and these are represented by the Dawn. So I celebrate (alone generally because nobody gets up that early) with a Vernal Equinox Devotion To Eos. We also have egg hunts with the kids later in the day and then settle down to paint eggs and plant seeds.

The Feast of May
We want to call this the Feast of May to differentiate it from Beltane, but it gets called Beltane anyway. It corresponds to Beltane and we have a May Pole, because, but we honor Aphrodite and I tell the Hellenic story of creation and invoke Aphrodite who offers Her blessings to the assembled. And then we eat.

At Midsummer we celebrate the marriage of Zeus and Hera. Their statues are taken down, cleaned (separately) and then brought out to the garden altar. We have a big BBQ. Theoretically. Actually Midsummer is my birthday and I usually spend the weekend going to weddings and graduation parties and bitching about how I have to go to other peoples' weddings and graduation parties on not only a Pagan holiday but my birthday and promising that I am going to leave in my will that I want to have my funeral on either Easter or Christmas day just to get even. Instead we honor Zeus and Hera on our anniversary (the same as we did at our wedding) which is in August.

First Harvest
This is when we do our Feast of Sacrifice and sometimes the Stone Soup ritual. We like to have a camp out and games of skill… like noodle jousting and getting marbles out of tubs of water with our toes. It marks a short break in our gardening as we are just about to replant our Autumn garden.

Autumn Equinox
This is a quiet festival. We generally get together and have a pot luck and bake bread. One loaf is offered to Demeter and the rest is shared with our families.

It's Halloween and we do what we've always done. Dress up, go trick-or-treating, go to haunted houses, scare ourselves silly and eat ourselves sick.

The Feast of the Dead or Samhain
We set up an altar to Persephone and Hades. Hecate and Hermes are also present. Our guests all come bringing items representing their beloved dead and they write their names on a sheet of paper. Then we gather and call upon the psychopomps to guide those who have passed in the past year safely to the other side. We read the names of everyone we know who died as well as influential people who died. This can be quite long. Then we call upon Persephone and Hades to treat them well in the underworld and help them to prepare for rebirth. We give them offerings. Then we call all of our beloved dead and invite them to join our feast. We set up a place for them at the table. Then we all eat.

Afterward we gather around the bonfire and roast marshmallows and tell the story of Persephone's descent as well as any other story that comes to mind.

And the next day we butcher any animals we don't intend to keep for breeders through the winter and put them in the freezer.

This is a family holiday for me. I honor Hestia and bless my hearth that it should always be welcoming and that my family should always have harmony. We exchange gifts in the traditional Christmasy manner, have a tree, bake cookies, etc.

The Three Sacred Hearths
I wrote this article as part of this year's Pagan Values Project, in 2012: