Creating an eikon requires infusing synthemata— the material, the intermediate, and the intelligible—all into a statue harmoniously. The statue then participates in the divine’s essence, being a locus of the God’s forces in all three realms. The statue becomes, in essence, a line drawn through the realms, touching on the nature of the God at all levels; and that line behaves like a phone cord that connects directly to the divine.
Step 1: Select a deity with whom you wish to have a closer relation with
If you have been contemplating the Gods, you may already have a particular in mind as a potential patron. If uncertain, liminal Gods such as Janus are quite literally a helpful place to start, and solar or lunar deities such as King Helios are also a great place to begin.
Step 2: Research the deity of interest
Dig through academia and myths to find information on particular deities. Your goal is to find the material synthemata of that God, which may come as:
Example: Serapis is associated with bulls, snakes, various minerals such as diorite, and traditional theurgic correspondences that link Him to the land of the dead, fertility and abundance (Such as his Modius crown, a basket/grain-measure that is associated with all of these) and all of their relevant correspondences. He also has a traditional association as the patron God of Alexandria and of the Serapeum, where His statue is believed to have been made of an abundance of minerals, being filled with gold, silver, lead, and tin with fragments of sapphire, hematite, emerald, and topaz; all of which gave the statue a blue darkish hue colour. Serapis being a God of the earth’s riches, all of these minerals provide a good association with Him directly, too.
Step 3: Gather whatever synthemata you’re able to
It’s ideal to at have at minimum something which is herbal, and something which is mineral.
Further, if animal parts are used they should be collected respectfully (both to you, the animal, and the Gods) and legally. It is paramount to make sure that the the gathering of animal parts isn’t disgusting and impious before the God after you have taken apart one of their sacred animals (After all, it’d be very unwise if you kill a peacock just so you can present a feather to Hera, and would do more to disrupt any relation with Her than bring you closer).
Example: As I wish to create a statue to Serapis, I gather herbs sacred to Him from His myths, particularly some mint. I could use many minerals, such as diorite, as a sacred stone, and a strip of bull leather or a bone from a snake can be gathered respectfully and legally to be used.
Step 4: Construct (or acquire) the eikon
It’s okay if your creation is lacks refine; you don’t need to be particularly artistic. Such statues, called xoanon, were frequently used, with prime example being the cult statue of Artemis of Ephesus. If you have the particular blessings of the Muses and fine yourself as being skilled artistically, you could sculpt your statue out of clay material (Simple oven-baked polymer clays will work quite well, but you can be more extravegent if you wish).
You can alternatively paint or draw the eikon if you desire, or even simply purchase the image if you desire any particular one.
Example: Since I’m interested in Serapis, I acquire a replica statue in his image.
Step 5: Paint the statue
Something done to truly give statues life is to paint them. These colours can vary widely, but must be done well and tastefully. It should be researched what colours are typically associated with a God before painting an eikon.
Example: Red can be associated with Ares for blood lust, but it is also associated with Zeus-Helios for royalty, along with purple. Purple can also be associated with Aphrodite as a sensuous color. In this case for Serapis, he can be painted a dark blue hue, as his cult statue in the Serapeum was.
Step 6: Create a receptacle somewhere on the image for the material synthemata
You can create a small hole in the back or the bottom of the base. If you sculpted the image yourself, you can create a hole as part of the process of sculpting. A rotary tool is handy for creating holes in purchased statues. Do this slow and easy for store-bought statues, especially those that were made using stone instead of resin.
Step 7: Fill the receptable with the material synthemata
At a time appropriate to the deity, if possible, fill the receptacle with the objects and attach them in some way. You can use clay to seal over the hole.
Example: Since Serapis is a chthonic deity and Lord over souls, it is best to do this at night, when chthonic rituals are done.
Step 8: Dress, decorate or drape
If you wish to you may dress, decorate, or drape the statue in appropriate materials.
Example: I could tie a thin thong cut from the bull leather around the shoulders of my statue.
You are free to use the eikon in your worship. Treat it with respect, as it is now a representative– a divine image– of a God. Keep it clean and out of the hands of roommates and children.
Merely interacting with the eikon as a representative of the God is enough to start the process of actually animating it, because the God’s essence is already present in the synthemata used in constructing the eikon.
Addey, Crystal. Divination and theurgy in neoplatonism: oracles of the gods. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014.
Dunn, Patrick. The practical art of divine magic: contemporary & ancient techniques of Theurgy. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd, 2015.
Kupperman, Jeffrey S. Living theurgy: a course in Iamblichus philosophy, theology and theurgy. London: Avalonia, 2014.
Opsopaus, John. The oracles of Apollo: practical ancient Greek divination for today. Woodbury: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd, 2017.