SCARF, SHAWL, or OUTER VESTMENT:
II. FOOD FOR OFFERINGS AND FOR THE FEAST:
Try to eat foods typical of the region. You actually have a lot of latitude here, since the Mediterranean climate, naturally, extends from Spain and Morocco, through Southern France, Algeria, Italy, Egypt, Greece, parts of Turkey, to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and even Persia. It also includes places like California and Mexico.
Unfortunately, we don't have any recipes from the ancient Levant. There are, however, three culinary tablets that have been discovered so far, all written in Akkadian. Although they were found together, and are all dated to southern Babylonia around 1600 BCE (the middle of the Old Babylonian period - and close in time to the heyday of Ugarit), they differ from each other in general physical appearance and script. All three are in the Yale University Babylonian Collection.
They have been translated and analyzed by Jean Bottéro, the most scholarly version in French, Textes culinaires Mésopotamiens (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1995), and another version translated into English, The Oldest Cuisine in the World: Cooking in Mesopotamia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004). Note that these ancient recipes are quite unlike modern recipes (which format was only developed in the mid-19th century and even now not universally adopted around the world), not always giving quantities and only sketchily outlining the cooking techniques involved.
I think it's great fun to experiment with old historical recipes, and you might find it fun as well. If you are more timid, there are some worked-out ancient Mesopotamian recipes on the Internet.
Below i list some common types of offerings, sometimes noting ancient vs. modern foods. Naturally, as a modern celebrant, you can include any you prefer or can easily find.
FRUITS OF THE EARTH:
The offerings don't have to be as they come straight from nature. Nut and seed cookies (called "cakes" in older literature), nut and seed butters, etc. are delicious, as is hummos bi-tahini, a dip made of sesame butter and mashed chick peas, seasoned with mint and garlic, and in modern times with red pepper (unknown in the region until the 18th century CE) and lemon juice (unknown in the region until around the 8th or 9th century CE - in older times sour grape juice, aka verjus, was used).
FAT OF THE LAND:
FRUIT OF THE VINE & OTHER BEVERAGES:
The alcoholic grain-based brews of the old days had rather more body than those of today: they were often not light clear drinks, but contained a bit of the grain and were less alcoholic than what we purchase today. Wines were a speciality of the Phoenicians. The Egyptians at that time frequently imported wine from the Levant. Even the Greeks couldn't offer vintages to compare with the Phoenicians until much later.
At the table, most folks drank their wine mixed with water, quite frequently half and half. So the opportunity to drink pure wine at a ritual could be a special occasion. This is one reason why getting drunk was so special. The state of inebriation was originally considered a spiritual state, in which deities could talk or act through the person in that condition. Many scholars believe that Dionysos was originally from the Middle East, home of wine and ecstatic worship.
I am not suggesting that one must get drunk at rituals. More important are your health and safety.
We have conducted rituals in which prients and priestesses have achieved trance states without the use of additional substances.
III. MUSIC AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Percussion is Number One for getting people in the mood to celebrate. Various sorts are appropriate: cymbals, tingshah (small Tibetan cymbals), zils (aka finger cymbals), sistra (you can find directions for making a sistrum on the Internet), tambourines, frame drums, doumbek/ darabouka (hour-glass drums), etc.
If you are musically gifted, you could include lyres (harp, psaltery, lute, even guitar, mandolin, or banjo), flutes (recorders, pennywhistles, pan-pipes), reeds (zurna/sharunai/shenai - now often replaced by the clarinet), even small bagpipes (Irish, Bulgarian, Moroccan, etc.), and horns (the Jewish ram's-horn shofar is perfect, but I use a small metal Nepali horn).
See my music page for some recording suggestions
A number of altars are traditional in the temple setting, although they are not all necessary for small home-based ritual work. Set up your main altar and adjust any others according to the space available.
To the Temple Directory for links to other pages.
Comments? Questions? Answers? !
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