I want to begin by saying that this is just the way I worship Lord Ares. This is the way I do things and if you feel called to do something different by all means go right on ahead. I do not claim to be anything but a devotee of Lord Ares. I want to share a little of how I practice because when I first started I could not find anything informative or positive on how to pray and worship Ares. My hope is that maybe something I do may help or inspire you in YOUR own path.
I saw on yahoo answers one time someone asking on how to pray to Ares. The response went something like this, “Why would you want to do that? Pray to Dionysus, so you can drink and party!” Now, with all due respect to Dionysus, I think he is more than just the “drink and party God.” I have a very healthy amount of respect for Dionysus and I think it is very disrespectful to just consider him in such a limited capacity. It is very disappointing to see such ignorance and hubris among people who claim to worship the Gods.
If you are a reconstructionist or follow a more traditional route the way to pray, from my understanding, would be as follows:
1. Wash your hands and face, at a minimum your hands
2. Approach your shrine or altar and light your candle.
3. Some say you need to say something along the lines of “All profane things depart” but I do not feel it is necessary for me. I know I am clean and what I think is more practical is just make sure you have a quiet space. Turn off the TV, radio, IPOD and maybe shut the door. Let other people in your house know that you can not be disturbed so they can go to another part of your house or room.
4. Address the deity by name and all other names and titles of the deity. One way to accomplish this would be to say, “Ares and all other names you wish to be known by.” I never say this personally but I have heard some people may wish to use some variation of this in the beginning. Some people say the name of the deity and only add the title that relates to the particular request they are making of that deity. In my own personal practice I do not feel the need to say all of Ares’ titles and names when praying or making offerings to him. In the beginning, I did say “Ares, God of War, Courage, etc…” but I do not do that anymore. For me, I simply call him Lord Ares or Lord Father Ares because he is very much a divine father figure and mentor to me. I do not find Ares to be picky on huge introductions but do what you feel is right. I would recommend to be polite. You do not “demand” Ares to come to you. Inviting Lord Ares respectfully and humbly, in my opinion is the right thing to do. Saying “please” and “thank you” is also good to remember.
5. The next part, you can say a hymn or words of praise or adoration. In the beginning I would say a hymn every single time. I do not do that anymore because I am finding hymns to be a little repetitive. I always wonder is he going to get bored with me saying the same things over and over again. I do love adorations and still utilize them because to me they seem more action oriented. To me, saying the words “I adore you” has a very strong and powerful meaning. I have not said a hymn in a long time, but I still think it can be used as a starting point or as a regular part of your practice if you so choose. Most of the other Hellenic deities I still use hymns because being devoted to Ares and now adding Apollon, takes quite a bit of time.
6. Present and give your offering. I think different people do this at different times. My personal preference is to do this at the very beginning as a way to invite him. Some people like to do sports or martial arts as an offering to Lord Ares. I think dance is something that could also be an offering.
Traditionally his incense would be frankencense but I have offered him other incenses. I can not remember the name of one brand of incense but it comes in a blue box. I think it is called nag champa. I think he likes the stronger scents but that is just me. If he does not like a particular brand of incense I am sure he will let you know! I also offer him a floral incense like rose incense because to me it seems a tradition to give flowers to warriors and soldiers before they head off to battle. I also think given his close relationship with Aphrodite that he would appreciate rose incense or actual roses or flowers. I have not received any objections from him regarding the rose incense.
I have also given him traditional offerings such as barley or olive oil. For libations I have given water, fresh squeezed lemonade, dr pepper, sweet iced tea, honey and salsa(I am from Texas, we love our salsa! lol). As you can see some offerings are traditional and some not so much. I have not really given too many food offerings but I might offer more of them in the future. I think non-traditional offerings are fine as long as it is something you really like and something you feel the deity would appreciate. I think it is also important that your intentions are pure and genuine.
7. Say your prayer and/or request. I think it should also be noted that it might be best to build up some kind of bond with him before you make a request. It can be as simple. You do not have to do a big huge formal thing every day or even every week. I just do not think he would appreciate it if the only time you ever speak to him is when you want something.
One part of my own practice that I love about Ares, is what I think could best be termed as a kind of “sacred silence.” Sometimes my thoughts are a complete mess and people that get close to me soon find out my life can be chaotic. I always seem to have multiple conflicts and situations going on that have to be resolved. Sometimes there is so much I want to say that it just becomes one big blob and nothing can come out of my mouth. Lord Ares, lets me sit in silence before him and somehow he can make sense out of all it. After this time of silence, maybe 15 minutes or maybe much longer, I just immediately know what to do. I am able to get back on track and not feel so overwhelmed or lost. It is hard to explain but I hope I have explained it clearly enough.
8. If you follow the traditional route some say to remind the deity of things of offerings and deeds you have done for that deity in the past. I personally do not do this but Ares is also a very strong part of my daily practice. He hears and receives offerings from me every day. I greet him every morning and at night before I go to bed. Maybe if your own worship of him is not as regular you might want to consider reminding him of things you have done for him but I would strongly suggest you be respectful.
9. Closing. Some people mention about give the deity a time frame for the request, if you made a request. I am not really comfortable doing this myself so it is not a part of my practice but some people find it helpful. I think to close you could say, “Hail Ares.” You can also be more elaborate but I think simplicity is nice.
I will probably say this a million times in this blog, but I think the key to any successful interaction with the divine is to have an open mind and heart. I do not think any of the deities can just be classified into one category or put into one box. Just as Dionysus is more than the “drink and party God”, there is more to Lord Ares than most people realize.