We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for The United Hellenismos Association! Together, they have raised $ 80,- to help support this very worthy cause. Thank you very much!

The United Hellenismos Association is a Non-Profit Organization whose main purposes are education, orthopraxy, and keeping the Hellenic spirit and virtues alive throughout the world. It has just recently hit its one year mark and it continues to grow and develop communities throughout the US, and slowly the world. The UHA supports the training of a well educated priest/priestess program as well as will sponsor pagan chaplains for qualified individuals.

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community. Please pitch your cause before August 3rd. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
Very few heroes in ancient Hellas had quite the impact of Herakles. Both mythologically speaking and as a practical part of the religion, Herakles has a special place and he is honored during the Herakleia. Will you honor him with us on July 26th at the usual 10 am EDT?

Herakles was conceived by Zeus upon Alkmene, as He disguised Himself as her husband, returning early from war. Alkmene accepted Him in her bed gladly, as she was happy to see her husband again. When the real Amphitryon did return later that night, Alkmene realized what had happened, and told her husband. Amphitryon accepted her in his bed, regardless, and so she became pregnant with twins, one fathered by Zeus, and one by her mortal husband.

Hera, hearing of the affair, took an instant disliking to the unborn child. When it became time for Alkmene to give birth, Hera made Zeus swear a vow that a child born in the line of Perseus on this day would become King. Zeus agreed, and Hera hurried off to delay the birth of Herakles and Iphikles, and hurry along the birth of Eurystheus (Εὐρυσθεύς), grandson of Perseus. The two had unknowingly become part of a contest of wills between Zeus and Hera, to decide who would be the hero to drive off the last of the great monsters and pave the way for the Olympians.

Eventually, Hera was tricked into allowing the children born, as She would have postponed their delivery indefinitely. Alkmene, aware of the divine spark in one of her sons, took her distance from him, but the young Herakles was taken up by Athena and taken to Hera, who did no recognize the newborn nemesis of Her candidate, and took pity on him. She fed him from Her breast, but when he suckled so hard that he caused Her pain, She realized who he was, and cast him off. Athena rescued the infant and took him back to his mortal parents. Alkmene took him back and raised him with her husband.

Herakles was a strong child, so strong, in fact, that he inadvertently killed his music teacher Linos (Λῖνος) with a lyre, for which he was tried and found not guilty. He was still made to leave the city, however. Herakles set out to perform feats of strength, starting by defeating the lion of Kithairon, which had been a bane to his stepfather for far too long. Thespios, King of Thespiae, housed Herakles for fifty days as he hunted for the lion, and every night Thespios placed one of his fifty daughters in his bed, although Herakles thought he was only sleeping with one. Herakles eventually vanquished the lion. He dressed himself in the skin, and wore the scalp as a helmet. The Gods lavished him with gifts: a sword from Hermes, bow and arrows from Apollon, a golden breastplate from Hephaistos, and a robe from Athena. His famous club he made himself at Nemea.
Next, Herakles was drawn into a war between the Thebans and the Minyans. He happened upon heralds from King Klymenos, who had won a previous battle with Thebes and now demanded tribute from them. Herakles, who had been living in Thebes, cut the ears, noses and hands off of all but one of the heralds and told the last remaining one to take them back to his king as tribute. In the battle that followed, Herakles fought bravely with the king's army, and his side eventually won, earning him his wife Megara, eldest daughter of King Kreon of Thebes.
Due to Hera's jealousy, he was stricken mad and killed the five sons he had by his wife. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings. First, he visited the oracle at Delphi, who, unbeknownst to him, was whispered to by Hera. The Oracle told Herakles to serve the king of Tiryns, Eurystheus, for ten years and do everything Eurystheus told him to do. Eurystheus gladly provided Herakles with these labors--ten of them, one for each year--and eventually ended up adding two more, resulting in the Twelve Labors of Herakles.

The Herakleia (Ἡράκλεια ἐν Κυνοσάργει, Herakleia en Kynosargei) were ancient festivals commemorating the death of Herakles. In Athens, the celebration was held just outside the city walls, in a sanctuary dedicated to Herakles. His priests were drawn from the list of boys who were not full Athenian citizens (nothoi, illegitimate children, like him) and were named 'parasitoi'. The Attic cults of Herakles were often closely connected with youth: at several of his cult sites there was a gymnasion attached, and there was a mythological tradition (perhaps originating in Boeotia) that after Herakles died he was taken up to Olympus, where he married Hebe, the personification of youth. Because of this, Herakles is sometimes worshipped as a God and sometimes as a dead hero.

In Thebes, the center of the cult of Herakles, the festivities lasted a number of days and consisted of various athletic and musical contests (agones), as well as sacrifices. They were celebrated in the gymnasium of Iolaus, the nephew and eromenos of Herakles, and were known as the Iolaeia. The winners were awarded brass tripods.

Will you join us in honoring Herakles on this day? You can join the community here and find the ritual here.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
  • Absolutely no pressure (I don't even drink coffee, after all), but do you see that little link at the top of the page? That takes you to my brand new Ko-fi page. Once there, you can make a little donation--which would be nice, but Baring The Aegis is (and will always be) free! I would have liked to make it possible to donate a single dollar, but three dollars is the only option. Thank you in advance, if you are willing, and Gods bless!
  • A massive thank you to the people who've already bought me a coffee! Gods bless, truly!
PAT rituals for Hekatombaion:

Anything else?
The United Hellenismos Association has become Pandora's Kharis' Hekatombaion 2017 cause. The United Hellenismos Association is a Non-Profit Organization whose main purposes are education, orthopraxy, and keeping the Hellenic spirit and virtues alive throughout the world. It has just recently hit its one year mark and it continues to grow and develop communities throughout the US, and slowly the world. The UHA supports the training of a well educated priest/priestess program as well as will sponsor pagan chaplains for qualified individuals.

The deadline to donate is today, July 24, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
I get a lot of questions from people coming into Hellenismos from a Neo-Pagan path. Very often, they are looking to honor the ancient Hellenic Gods in a more Traditional manner, and I applaud that! I recently receive another one such question, about Hekate specifically, but it contains many things I come across often, so I've decided to post the full reply on my blog today, with the parts I usually leave out, to maybe help other seekers along.

"Hello, I hope you are well. I have a question about Ækáti. I've know of Her for years, and She has tried to garner my attention many, many times. I'm in a place now where I am ready to approach Her, and I'm planning on following the traditional Hellenic ritual style, but I am new to the idea of Hellenismos. I'm wondering what I should expect, if anything, when approaching a deity of Ancient Hellas, especially a Titaness like Ækáti. Her reputation is definitely intense, and while I have worked with a figure of similar nature from European folklore, that figure was not a titan, nor so immense as Ækáti seems to be. There are plenty of people in the witchcraft tags who claim a relationship with Ækáti, but I want to know the perspective of someone who practices Hellenismos. I know Her cultus was fairly infamous in Ancient Hellas, and that she was and is most revered and favored by Zeus, all of which has me wanting to make sure I am respectful in approaching her. I've begun crafting up an incense for Her comprised of Frankincense, Myrrh, Benzoin, Laurel leaves, Henbane, and Mandrake as offering, and have the translation of the Orphic Hymn to Her (not the Taylor version, but the one closer to the word for word translation) to recite at the opening the rite. In your opinion, would this be a good way to begin?"

Khaire and welcome to Hellenismos and the worship of Hekate! I'm going to get to your questions, but let me start off by getting a few misconceptions out of the way. For one, I see you've found hellenicgods.org. "Ækáti" is a name for Her I have literally only seen from Callimachos and I have no explanation for why he chooses to use it. His approach to Hellenismos is entirely Orphic, so perhaps that's part of it, but I'd feel a whole lot better if you would either use the Greek Ἑκάτη or the English Hekate. It's up to you, of course, but since the request was for information about a Traditional approach to Her worship I wanted to put it out there.

I have another tiny personal pet-peeve to advise you on, if you don't mind: Taylor. Unlike Callimachos, I don't have a problem with his translations and I don't find them to be inferior at all. They convey the spirit of the hymn just as well as the version Callimachos preaches, and which I think he translated himself. It's a beautiful version, so don't be afraid to use it, but Hellenismos and the worship of the Gods in general is a matter of the heart, not the mind, and if the heart connects more with the Taylor (or any other) version over the literal translation, then go with that. A hymn should be recited--called out, shouted, proclaimed--with power and love: it's a call to the Gods that says: "I am here and I love you! Come to me, please, to accept Your offerings and listen to my pleas!". Find the translation that you connect with to your bones and you will be able to do that. Which translation that is, does not matter. Remember: worship of the Gods is about Them, not you.

...which brings me to something else I hear a lot from people who come to Hellenismos from a more general neo-Pagan worship: the dreaded "working with". If you want to practice Hellenismos in a Traditional manner, those two words together should be the first to get scrapped from your vocabulary.

Within Hellenismos, the Gods rule supreme. We are here to serve and honor Them, and in return, They provide us with what we need to survive. This practice is called "kharis" (loosely translated as ritual reciprocity) is one of the pillars of Hellenismos. Not complying with the will of the Gods is called "hubris". Hubris, in dictionary terms, means excessive pride or arrogance and comes from the Greek (hýbris, ὕβρις). For me, hubris is not an adjective but a verb. It describes the act of willful or ignorant refusal to comply by the will of the Gods.

Human kind is said to be a step above animals because we have the ability to think about our actions and predict their consequences, but we are below the Gods, because we are mortal. Unlike the Gods, we do not plan centuries ahead; we have only a limited amount of time to live, and our actions reflect that. We are encouraged to use our ability to think logically about our actions and choose wisely. It's not wise to put yourself on the same level as the Gods--they are Gods, not our co-workers. You work with co-workers, not with Gods. You honor, worship, and subject yourself to Gods.

Okay, with all of that out of the way, I'll get to what you were actually asking about: Hekate. You might want to read this post in its entirety, but I'll summarize the bits that matter the most. Hekate's (Ἑκατη) worship was most likely imported from Thrace or Anatolia, where--especially at the latter--records were found of children being named after Her. This version of Her is single-faced, rules in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea, is a Theia of childbirth--to both animals and humans--and it is She who bestows wealth on mortals, victory, wisdom, good luck to sailors and hunters, and prosperity to youth and to the flocks of cattle. Yet, if mortals do not deserve Her gifts, she can withhold them from them just as easily. After the Titanomachy, Zeus bestowed upon Her the highest of honors. This is the Hekate found in Hesiod's Theogony, written around 700 BC.

It's is speculated that Hesiod hailed from a region where Hekate was heavily worshipped, and as such, his views upon Her power and stature were not reflected in the rest of Hellas, where other--Olympian--divinities took up her role--Artemis as the protector of animals, Nemesis as the administrator of justice, Selene as Theia of the moon, etc. As such, it was only logical that her power was dwindled down some--or, more accurately, focused--into darker territories like the night, the (new) moon, spirits, the underworld, and sorcery when her cult spread throughout Hellas.

The Homeric Hymn to Demeter--composed somewhere in the late seventh century BC or the sixth century BC--sets this in motion, making Her an Underworld Goddess, and giving Her a Khthonius character. She becomes linked to caves, to torches, to night, and the Underworld itself. This transitional Hekate--still a protector of youth, and a bringer of plenty, but a more mysterious Goddess, linked to both the upper- and lower world--aids Persephone by being a torchbearer to Her mother, and by watching over Persephone when She is in the Underworld. When it is time for Persephone to leave, it is Hekate who guides Her out. It is this Hekate that is linked to the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Hellenic tragedians felt drawn to the Khthonic side of Hekate, and slowly Hekate transformed into a Titan Goddess of the night, the moon, and (protection against) witchcraft, ghosts and necromancy. In this period, roughly around the fifth century BC, She also became the Goddess associated with crossroads. It is this Hekate that is appeased with the Deipnon, at the new moon: the last day of the month. These days, when the nights kept getting darker and darker, were some of the scariest days of the month, and were considered impure. The night when the moon completely disappeared was sacred to Hekate, as Hekate was able to placate the souls in Her wake, and could purify the household of miasma (spiritual pollution, you could say) accumulated during the month. Removing this miasma allowed the members of the household to call on Hekate during the following month in times of need and be more likely to have Her look favorably upon the supplicant.

As you can see, even much later in ancient Hellenic times, Hekate was not a Goddess who was "infamous", she was a much-honored household deity who protected the home and everything in it from outside and internal harm. She is kourotrophos (a protector of children) born into each and every single household, and helped Demeter get her daughter Kore (Persephone) back after Her abduction. She is a Goddess who brings luck and good fortune to households who honor Her faithfully and Her importance in Hellenismos cannot be overstated. It's because of this that I struggle a lot with this continual pigeonholing of Her as a Goddess of witchcraft. Literally her only link to witchcraft was that the ancient Hellenes feared it and they prayed to Hekate to protect their homes against it. That's it. To me it's vitally important that you know who Hekate was to the ancient Hellenes and that you understand how much her "image" has changed in the centuries that followed. If you want to honor Her Traditionally, you'll invest time in the "Hesiodic" version of her, which was the version of Her honored above all. The dark version of Her Callimachos describes on his website was not a version of Her that was honored in a widespread manner.

Now, as for worshipping Her: I describe the pantheon of Hellenic Gods like a tapestry. The major displays woven into it are undoubtedly the Olympians, but the fringes of the tapestry are just as colorful as the main display. They hold the “minor” Gods and Goddesses and the Gods who ruled before the Olympians. Without these, the tapestry would not only be plain, it would be threadbare. It’s my firm belief that it’s impossible to practice Hellenismos and only worship one or a handful of Gods. One must invest in at least the pursuit of knowledge about every single God or Goddess in our pantheon to fully grasp the parts you thought you already understood. Without the details of the tapestry, its full beauty can’t be appreciated, after all.

If you want to honor Hekate, honor Her parents as well, honor Zeus, whom She is very close to. Honor Demeter and Kore, honor Hermes whom is close to Her in Her khthonic persona, and if you honor Her in a specific aspect (kouroptrophos, for example), honor the other Goddesses and Gods who guarded over that aspect as well. What makes Hellenismos, Hellenismos, is that only very, very rarely (and I can't even think of one example) a deity is honored alone during a rite.

Your incense sounds lovely! Most, if not all the ingredients would be available to the ancient Hellenes, which is always good. Note that mandrake is slightly psychoactive, so don't use too much in your mixture to be safe. We don't have an incense recipe from ancient times with which Hekate was honored, so your guess is as good as mine!

I hope this helps you form and enjoy your worship of Her, and pray you may build kharis with Her and others steadily!
New buildings have come to light during excavation and restoration works conducted from May 30 to July 7, 2017 at the Sanctuary of Apollo on the uninhabited Greek island of Despotiko (Mantra site), on the west of Antiparos. This reports the Archaeological News Network, and they have many more pictures up on their website.

Systematic excavations at Despotiko have begun in 1997 and have brought to light one of the most significant archaeological sites of the Cyclades. The excavations are headed by archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades Yannis Kouragios. As in previous years, the 2017 dig was carried out thanks to kind financial support. ​The results of this excavation season are being considered extremely important for the topography of the sanctuary. Among this year’s findings, the fragment of a marble Kore figurine, dating back to the early Archaic period, part of the block with the foot of an archaic Kouros and a fragment of the leg of a Kouros stand out.

Investigations focused on the excavation of the building complex, which had been partially surveyed in 2016 (in particular, the area south of the Archaic sanctuary). This year, eight new rooms came to light, on the south and west side of this complex, although its boundaries have not been located yet.
The complex consists of 12 rooms and its total visible space is 180 square meters. The dimensions of the densely built-up rooms vary, but they all have the same orientation, with their entrances on the south. Some of them were most likely open-air spaces, such as courtyards or vestibules.

Based on the findings (an abundance of Archaic and Classical pottery) and some architectural elements, the excavator believes that the complex had functioned as a storage and accommodation space, demonstrating the fact that the sanctuary attracted many visitors and that it need to be expanded in order to accommodate the large numbers of worshippers up to the 4th c. BC.

Excavation work has also been conducted in the buildings which do not belong to the sanctuary. The investigation of Building B, already excavated in 2007 and 2013, has been completed. All its rooms were revealed, as well as its usage phases, dating back to the 7th c. BC, the first half of the 6th c. BC (the main usage phase of the building) and the late 6th c. BC.

On the northeastern end of the peninsula, close to the shore, another building (4.40×4.30 m) was located and excavated. Only its foundations are preserved. Its location and its ground plan suggest that it must have been an observatory or a tower.

The excavation findings were rich and various. Among them there are more than black-gazed lamps and 30 inscribed pottery fragments, shards of “Melian” amphorae and black-glazed kylikes, fragments of red-figure kraters with depictions of naked young men, vessels for everyday use, such as strainers, lekanes, jugs, salt containers, bowls etc., many metal objects (nails, bolts, hooks etc.).

The restoration works lasted 4 weeks. Two columns of the restaurant and their capitals have been put in place and preliminary work for the placement of a third column has been carried out. Also, the restoration of the walling in Buildings A and B has been completed.

Apart from the members of the scientific group, many students and archaeologists from universities in Greece and abroad have taken part in the investigations.

This post ties in with many more finds over the years, namely: Dig sheds light on Despotiko sanctuary, Skeleton of worker from 550 BC found on Cycladic island of Despotiko, Topography of Archaic sanctuary at Despotiko comes to light, and Despotiko excavation reveals more of the sanctuary of Apollon.
Last year, I made a post on aesthetics of the Hellenic Gods, taken from Tumblr. Because I don't repost artwork (and I will always link!), many of those are now missing, as you can see. So, time for an update! These are almost all from ars-aesthetica.

I have a very important deadline in eight days and my time to spend on anything but that is very limited. As such, I want t point you to a resource you might not know about. It's called Forgotten Books. Forgotten Books is a London-based book publisher specializing in the restoration of old books, both fiction and non-fiction. They have over 730.000 books available to read online, download as ebooks, or purchase in print, and many of those are related to ancient Hellas in some way.

Finding anything on Forgotten books can be a bit of a hassle, but I've got you covered. The easiest way to go through the books is to select a category and scroll from there. The ones of obvious interest are: Greco-Roman Philosophy, Mythology, and Art History.

Then there are the obvious searches that get you much closer to the content you're looking for right away: Greek Mythology, Greek Hymns, Greek Civilization, Greek Music, Greek Plays, and Greek Culture.

If that doesn't lead you to awesomeness right away, here are a few of my favorites: A Study of the Greek Paean (Arthur Fairbanks), The Religion of Ancient Greece & Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (Jane Ellen Harrison), and The Ancient Use of the Greek Accents in Reading and Chanting (G. T. Carruthers).

Enjoy your reading time!