Monday, July 28, 2014

Magic in Hellenismos?

This blog is very lite on talk of magic, and that is for good reason: I am of the rather strong opinion that modern witchcraft has no place in Hellenismos--especially when that witchcraft is defined as acts which allow humanity influence over their lives and those of others, outside of the realm of the Gods. I call anything else 'praying', and if you need tools for that, than I take no issue besides the fact that it's non-Traditional--save for when it is. Recently I was asked about magic, though, so I've collected some existing words from this blog into a more cohesive blogpost on the subject. The question was:

"Did the ancient Hellenes practice magick? Is it ok to practice magick as a Hellenic polytheist? If so, is it then better to keep the Theoi out of the practice even though it involves their relms for example Poseidon and sea magic or Demeter and earth magic. Why is this a taboo subject in Hellenismos but not in Asatru for example. The Nordic people saw their Gods as the source of magic. Is this opposed to our ideas of the nature of the Theoi? Yet again we can never know their true nature."

Something I often hear about the ancient Hellenic religion, and prescribed about its modern equivalent, is that there was no magic in ancient Hellas. This is true. It's also a lie. It all depends on your definition of magic, and for the purpose of this reply, we are going to see magic as a form of prayer and ritual, conducted outside of the usual ritual steps. The Theoi were always invoked, but for magic, the sacrifices were usually to the khthonic, or Underworld Gods. When reading this post about a very specific subset of this type of magic, try to disassociate it with the modern use of the word: the same goes for 'spells', 'cursing', and 'binding'.

The ancient Hellenes were a competitive people, and struggled with many of the issues we do today: the urge to perform well, the desire for justice to be served, and a need for love. Prayers for these things were made often, usually in their normal ritualized form at the house altar. If these requests were made against, or at the expense of another person, however, they were generally taken out of the realm of regular worship and kharis, and into the realm of the khthonic. The preferred form were katadesmoi.

Katadesmoi are relatively small tablets, inscribed with a desire asked of the Theoi to fulfil. The Katadesmoi that have survived were generally made out of very thin sheets of lead, which were then rolled, folded or pierced with nails. Wax, papyrus, stone, precious metals, and precious minerals would also have been used as a medium. Some katadesmoi were accompanied by a small doll representing the intended victim or even a lock of their hair, especially in the case of love spells. In general, the katadesmoi always included the name of the intended victim and the name(s) of the appropriated Gods--most often Hades, Kharon, Hekate, and Persephone. Exceptions have been found, of course.

There have been around 1600 katadesmoi found around the whole of Hellas, and the practice was wide-spread. In fact, for the Olympic Games, competitors had to vow to Olympian Zeus that they would not cheat, and curse their opponents. Divine retribution would befall those competitors who did. A large percentage of the katadesmoi found contained love spells ("I want [name] to love me beyond all others"), or legal desires ("May [name] stumble on his words in defence of himself"), but many other ill wishes have been found.

Katadesmoi were usually deposited where they would be closest to the Underworld: in chasms, pools of water, wells, caves, temples to the deity in question, buried underground, or placed in graves. The latter was usually a special form, however, and the katadesmoi placed with the dead were usually requests to avenge the death of the deceased.

In general, katadesmoi were used out of desperation: regular channels had been exhausted, human courts would never convict the perpetrator of a crime, or the murderer could no be found. Pleading with the Gods--who knew more, saw more, ad had a much farther reach--was considered the only alternative to get justice. This was even the case in many love spells. Katadesmoi were not made willy-nilly: there needed to be a strong incentive to make one.

One other such incentive was the fear that a katadesmos curse had been placed upon you. In this case, the subject of the curse could make their own, and ask that the perpetrator of the katadesmos may suffer for it, and that his or her katadesmos may have no effect at all, except maybe to backfire on them. In this case, the katadesmos acts as a binding curse.

There is magic in the Classics as well; the most famous witch in Hellenic mythology is undoubtedly Kirkê (Κιρκη)--better known by her Roman name, Circe. She is the woman whom Odysseus comes upon on the island Aiaia, who turns his men into pigs, and keeps Odysseus with her--and in her bed, no less--for a year before she helps him get back to his quest to return home. The account of Kirkê is one of the founding myths for the modern witch stereotypes: she is the evil temptress, free with her sexuality, and freer with the magic that women possess by nature. She seduces Odysseus while beguiling his men, transforming them into docile animals--de-humanizing them, and stripping them of their masculinity. In the end, Odysseus overcomes her, and leaves, outside of her grasp forever. At least, that is the modern interpretation of her character.

Kirkê, in the time of Hómēros was not evil at all, yet she was dangerous. Kirkê, when looked at through the lens of ancient Hellenic society, is Odysseus' superior by far. It may seem a bit off-topic to go into this, but I must to make my point. Kirkê is the daughter of the Sun God Helios--which makes her a Goddess in her own right, but a more accurate term would be 'Nymph', putting her in control of nature. Her pedigree--by default--means that Odysseus can never master her, as Odysseus may be the favourite of the Gods, but he is not divine himself.

So, what of her magic? Kirkê is a Goddess whose powers manifest through herbs; what she does to men is not much different as many other--more powerful--Gods do unto humans as well with just a thought; Hellenic mythology is full of humans who get turned into animals (or plants) for their protection, or for the protection of the God in question. It's important to note that in the Odysseia, Kirkê's 'victims' are happy and domesticated; they are friendly and curious to visitors and Kirkê alike.

Kirkê's status over Odysseus takes her away from being a witch in the modern sense; she is a Goddess, and as someone lower in standing, Odysseus' wishes are something she can take into advisement but only needs to agree upon out of a sense of honour, not because her magical hold over him has broken. She never controls Odysseus--the moly potion/herb Odysseus is given establishes that--and they work out an agreement where they are on roughly equal footing, with Kirkê forever having the upper hand, but bound by her personal honour and oath to Odysseus. Her magic--her divinity--is made a moot point between them.

The Odysseia gives plenty of reasons why the words 'witch' and 'witchcraft' are dangerous for modern interpretation. These powers--and those that use them--are established as divine, taking these powers fully outside of the realm of humanity. Yes, there was 'magic' and 'witchcraft' in ancient Hellas and its mythology, but not in the way we know it now; this was divine magic; a manifestation of a trait major Gods manifest with a thought. These lesser deities require a medium to manifest their powers--especially in the case of Kirkê--but their powers are still the powers of a God. This is exactly why I feel we, as Hellenists, should pray to the Gods for any aid we might require, and blessings we would wish upon our lives; to practice magic ourselves would be to equate ourselves with the (minor) Gods, and Hellenismos is clear upon the status of humans: we are human, not divine. To practice magic is to practice hubris, and that is decidedly dangerous in a Hellenistic context.

Again, I want to stress that this concerns Traditional Hellenismos--as everything on this blog does. That is my practice, and it is what I understand best. If you want to practice magic; go for it. Who am I to tell you can or cannot do something? As for Asatru; it's hard--and in my opinion useless--to compare ancient cultures like this. The people were different, the thoughts about the divine were different, and unless you are a soft polytheist who conflates all Gods and Goddesses, lumping them and their culture together is detrimental to all Gods in question. Again, my opinion. Magic is a touchy subject in Hellenismos because it borders on hubris, and as a Traditional Hellenist I find myself shying away from everything that could possibly induce hubris and damage my kharis with the Gods. I gave up my magical practice--as sporadic as it was--once I progressed into Hellenismos. It's a personal choice, but one that was very clear for me. How you decide is up to you.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Petition to help YSEE

You may recall that a long while ago, a petition made the rounds to help πατο Συμβούλιο των Ελλήνων Εθνικών, the 'Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes', become a governmentally recognised institution. The organisation, also called 'YSEE', is in modern Greece, and if you have ever looked through the YSEE website, you are well aware that its members have a pretty rough time in their homeland, trying to re-establish the ancient religion.

Modern Greece is a very Christian country, and any attempt to practice a different religion--let alone reconstruct an ancient one--is met not only with resistance, but violence, property damage, and a great deal of threats. On top of that, the Greek government refuses to recognize Hellenismos as a valid religion, making it hard to receive funding for temples and celebrations, protection of its members and facilities, and opportunities to worship at the ancient sites. To help aid the Hellenist practicing in Greece, Stylianos K. created an on-line petition for those who supported this cause to sign. His plea:

"Please Help the ethnic Hellenes in Greece to get their native tradition recognized as a Statutory corporation and having equal rights, just as every other native tradition should have in the EU. Help the native hellenic tradition and religion, because it is the tradition which gave us democracy, liberty of speech and Humanism."

The use of these online petitions is debatable, but a new round of petition signing has commenced and if your name is not on there yet, now is the time to do it. The goal is to get to two thousand signatures, and the petition is well underway. Take a moment out of your day and sign your name here. It might not help but it certainly won't hurt.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Religious or spiritual, or both?

Recently I was asked if I define as religious or spiritual, or both, and I found myself with an easy answer but a lack of words to explain why. As such, I decided to make a post out of it (because that is what you do when you are a blogger--you fill the page with your ramblings). Anyway, I'm religious. Always have been; that's what got me into Paganism: the belief (or desire to believe) in the Gods and to worship Them to the best of my ability. I am also of the firm belief you can't be both but that you can practice both, regardless. This depends on your definition, though, which means I should give that a go.

The definition of 'religious' that resounds most with me is 'believing in a God or a group of Gods and following a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects'. In general, this means you accept the worldview laid out before your by those who designed or furthered the religion; you can be critical of this world view and tinker with it a little to fit your own views, but in general, you will accept the beliefs of the group.

'Spiritual' is the hard one; the definition of the term that resonates most with me is 'the personal, subjective, dimension of religion'. A spiritual person, in my opinion, defines their own religious boundaries, creating their own worldview and definition of the divine. A spiritual person has made the conscious decision not to be attached to a specific set of religious rules, allowing them greater freedom to define rules of their own. They may find inspiration in existing religious worldviews but feel uncomfortable adopting the whole of it because it conflicts with their own views or simply does not feel truthful to their reality.

I think the conscious choice we make between religious or spiritual defines our viewpoint and the label we adopt. You can be religious and follow a specific religious framework, be religious and not follow a specific framework for whatever reason, be spiritual but practice a religious framework, or spiritual and practice a spiritual framework. You identify as one or the other, though.

When I was just starting out with religion, I didn't have a specific framework in which to pour my religious views; many religions resonated with me and I had many views of the divine that refused to be bound into a specific school of thought. I wanted to be religious, though. I wanted that framework. That is why I never labelled myself as spiritual, and I still don't. I am now a religious person who practices a religious framework, but I was religious to start with.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Remains of the temple of Aphrodite in Thessaloniki still in danger

A year and a half (!) ago, I spoke of the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite in Thessaloniki which were then in danger of being covered by a new city block. There was a petition which over 3000 people signed, and a passionate plea, which included the video below. It seems the work done was for naught though... because the Archaeology News Network reports that the site is still in danger, much to the anger of local residents.

The initial decision of the Central Archaeological Council, shortly after the excavation of the monument, was to expropriate the land and proceed with the excavation of the temple. Later, the decision was revised and the Council decided to keep the basement of the apartment building under construction. Two years ago the fate of the temple was discussed again at the CAC (Central Archeological Council) and was given positive votes for the expropriation of land, since this time the issue has been 'frozen'. If the expropriation is rejected and the opposition accepted, the temple will remain buried and a national treasure will be left unseen.
According to the school of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Antigonidon square can be reformed in two levels, so that the temple would be rebuilt and become visible in its entirety--and that is still a worthy struggle. There is a new petition people can sign. It's in Greek, but follows the basic format so everyone should be able to find their way around. Let's come together, spread the word, and get some names on that petition; this beautiful temple needs saving.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thank you

Yesterday I published my 800th blog post. That is more than I had ever thought I would publish. When I started this blog, I wasn't sure how long I would keep up this blog, nor how frequently I would be posting. I was at the start of my Hellenistic journey when I started, and we are now a little over two years in. Some of you have been with me since the beginning, and that is amazing to me.

Depending on the blog post, it takes me anywhere from half an hour to three or four to get done--every day. Say it takes me an hour, that means I have spent 800 hours on this blog, which--for the math inclined--is a little over 33 days of non-stop blogging. This does not include the reading I do, the rituals I perform, or the talks I have with people. It's a major investment and I invest my time happily. 800 blog posts; I wish Blogger had a way to count words. I think it would be staggering.

Especially in the last half year or so, you guys have been more vocal, asking me questions, letting me know you read and appreciate the blog, and more notes along those lines. I love this. I love hearing that my blog is your first stop in the morning, or that my words have helped you form your practice. Baring the Aegis has well over 200.000 views; nothing major, but well-appreciated.

This is a post to say thank you, for coming here, for sticking with me, for being friendly, respectful, and understanding. I am very blessed, and very aware of that. I hope you will continue to come back and read what I write. I am always open to receiving questions on my email or Tumblr or Facebook. It might take a while for me to get to it, but I will--eventually.

Once more, thank you. May the Theoi bless you and yours, and may you honour Them with love and kindness--and while having a lot of fun.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

15 destinations for a Hellenistic vacation

It's the holiday season, and that means vacationing! For those who are visiting Greece this year--or who are planning to visit it in the future--I would like to give you my top fifteen of sites to visit, things to do, and thing to see as a Hellenist visiting this beautiful country. Let's start the countdown and happy holidays!

15. Klaros
This was an ancient Hellenic sanctuary on the coast of Ionia, an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey. It contained a temple and oracle of Apollon, honoured here as Apollo Klarios, and was considered a very important centre of prophecy as in Delphi and Didyma. It may have dated back to the sixth or seventh century BC, and is perhaps even older. It was also the site of ancient games, held every five years.

14. Aristotle's Trail
Aristotle is one of the most famous Greek philosophers and scientists. He was born in Northern Greece in a town called Stagira, in 384 BC. He founded the Peripatetic School (Wandering School), an informal institution where members tried to answer difficult scientific and mostly philosophical questions. After Aristotle’s death, a legend travelled around Greece that he used to walk while teaching, mainly around Stagira. There are various paths for visitors to choose from, depending on difficulty and length, and there are paths for mountain biking also. In addition to the trail, the local community recently opened an Aristotle theme park.

13. 'The Woman of Zakynthos' performed at twenty-five ancient sites
The Athens Festival institution, in collaboration with the Diazoma association, have taken the initiative of opening 25 ancient Greek theatres and archaeological sites to the public in order to promote the country’s cultural heritage. Most are ancient Hellenic theatres will host various theatrical productions during the summer. For an overview of the sites, go here.

12. Samothrake
Samothrake is a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea. It was the home of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, site of important Hellenic and pre-Hellenic religious ceremonies. In ancient times, the site served as a worship area to Axieros, a deity related to Cybele and Demeter, Kadmilos, an ithyfallic deity identified with Hermes, and the Cabeiri, ithyfallic demons identified with the Dioskouroi. It was also the site of a Mystery Cult. Currently, the site houses some fo the treasures found at the site, in both a storehouses and a museum.

11. Naxos
Naxos is a Greek island, the largest island in the Cyclades island group in the Aegean. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture. According to Hellenic mythology, young Zeus was raised in a cave on Mount Zas ('Zas' meaning 'Zeus'). It boasts ruins of a temple of Apollon, as well as one of Demeter, and it also has many beaches that draw heaps of tourists.

10. The temple of Zeus at Nemea
Built c. 330 BC over the remains of an earlier temple, the Temple of Zeus lies in the centre of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea. The 9,240 square foot Temple played a significant role in the Nemea Games, one of the original Pan-Hellenic Games of Ancient Greece. It was before this Temple that, prior to the Nemea Games, the athletes would pay homage to the father of their gods, Zeus. The Temple’s construction included three Greek architectural forms, the Doric, the Corinthian, and the Ionic. 32 limestone columns each standing 42 feet tall, and composed of 13 cylindrical stones, called “drums”, each weighing approximately, 2.5 tons, surrounded the Temple of Zeus.

9. Ancient Messeni
This is a local community within the regional unit of Messenia, and is located in the far south of modern Greece. Most of the area of Ancient Messene contains the ruins of the large classical city-state of Messene refounded by Epaminondas in 369 BC, after the battle of Leuctra and the first Theban invasion of the Peloponnese. The ancient city can be visited and is a major tourist attraction. In ancient times, it was founded by helots (Spartan slaves) running from Sparta. The defensive wall they built around the city to keep them out still exists in some places. The most important monuments of the archaeological site are the Asklepieion (see 7), the Temple of Poseidon, the Sanctuary of Demeter and the Dioskouroi, the stadium and gymnasium of Heroon where sons of noble families were trained, as well as the Theatre of Messeni, which has recently been cleared for a make-over.

8. The palace of Knossos
The palace of king Minos at Knossos is legendary because it was home to the minotaur who roamed the maze beneath it. In the myth, Theseus--a young, brave, hero--lets himself be amongst those who will be sacrificed to it, and with the help of Ariadne's string, is able to kill the minotaur and leave the maze again, unharmed. It's one of the myths that everyone knows. The palace in which the myth takes place, however, is less well known but equally impressive. It is an architectural marvel, which was incredibly ahead of its time. Even the ruins are impressive. Knossos was undeniably the capital of Minoan Crete. The ruins of the palace are located about twenty minutes south of the modern port town of Iraklio.

7. Epidaurus
Worship places of Asklēpiós were called 'asklepieia'. An asklepieion served as a temple, a hospital, and as a training-institute of the healing arts. The most famous of all the asklepieia was located at Epidaurus, and large parts of it are preserved. The site is open to visitors. In ancient Hellas, the sick would come to an asklepieion and offer a sacrifice to Asklēpiós--amongst the recorded sacrifices are black goats or sheep, gold, silver, or marble sculptures of the body part that required healing, and coins--in hopes of healing. They would then settle into the abaton or enkoimeterion, a restricted sleeping hall, which was occupied by the sick alone, or sometimes by a group of them, as well as a good few snakes.

Epidaurus also boasts a famous theatre. It's was--and is--a huge theatre, seating 15.000 people. The theatre was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC. In the time of the Hellens, the theatre had thirty-four rows. Another twenty-two were added in the time of the Romans. While there were many theatres in ancient Hellas, the theatre of Epidaurus is famous for its perfect acoustics. Even today, you can hear a match being struck on the stage from any point in the theatre. For a limestone construction that's 2400 years old, that's pretty impressive.

6. Olympia
A sanctuary located in Elis, known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times. The sanctuary consists of an unordered arrangement of various buildings including the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Zeus, the Pelopion (the alleged tomb of Pelops) and the area of the altar where the sacrifices were made. The hippodrome (a stadium for horse racing and chariot racing) and later stadium were also nearby. The Prytaneion (the building where the officials and winners of the Olympic games mets) and the Philippeion (an Ionic circular memorial) are located to the north of the sanctuary, as well as the array of treasuries representing the various city states. In Ancient Hellas, Olympia was sacred ground to the Greeks.

5. Kórinthos
Kórinthos, or Corinth, is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. It is located about 78 kilometres (48 miles) southwest of Athens. Ancient Kórinthos was a city-state (polis) on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta. The modern town of Corinth is located approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) northeast of the ancient ruins. Ancient Corinth was one of the largest and most important cities of Greece, with a population of 90,000 in 400 BC. After the Romans built a new city in its place and made it the provincial capital of Greece in 44 BC, the city population was between 100,000 to 700,000 according to different sources. It boasts many museums filled to the brim with findings from various ancient sites, and boasts the 'Acrocorinthis', the acropolis of ancient Corinth, two ports, a converted a temple to Aphrodite, a temple of Apollon, and many, many, other site to visit.

4. Delos
The island of Delos near Mykonos, near the centre of the Cyclades archipelago, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece. Investigation of ancient stone huts found on the island indicate that it has been inhabited since the 3rd century BC. By the time of the Odyssey the island was already famous as the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis. Between 900 BC and AD 100, sacred Delos was a major cult centre where Dionysus is also in evidence as well as the Titaness Leto, mother of the divine twins. Eventually acquiring Panhellenic religious significance, Delos was initially a religious pilgrimage for the Ionians. The island houses the Temple of the Delians (Apollon and Artemis), the famous Terrace of the Lions, several market squares, the Temple of Hera, the House of Dionysus', and much, much, more.

3. Eleusis
The temple complex at Eleusis was one of the most elaborate and widely used sanctuaries around in ancient Hellas. It was the home of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and thus served as the cult's sanctuary. The Mysteries had festivals throughout the year, which were tied to agriculture through Demeter'srefusal to perform her duties as an agricultural Theia while her daughter Persephone is with Hades, and to the afterlife and Underworld through Persephone's return to the surface of the earth after Her mandatory stay with Hades has ended. Initiation ceremonies were held every year at Eleusis. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, the mysteries at Eleusis are assumed to be of great importance to a large portion of the ancient Hellens. The cult itself likely has origins dating back to the Mycenean period of around 1600 to 1100 BC, and it is believed that the cult of Demeter Herself was established in 1500 BC.

2. Athens
Athens is a sprawling city established among seven historic hills and surrounded by remarkable mountains. Inhabited for more than 3,000 years, Athens is widely known as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. As the largest and capital city of Greece, Athens is also the political, commercial, financial and cultural centre of Greece. It boasts a great variety of sites for the Hellenistic tourist to visit, from the Acropolis, to the New Acropolis Museum, to the National Archaeological Museum, to the temple of Olympian Zeus, to Aristotle’s lyceum,and much, much, more. The Acropolis boasts the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike, and the The 'Lyceum' was a gymnasium and before that a public meeting place in a grove of trees in Classical Athens. It was named in honour of Apollo Lyceus. Though best known for its connection with Aristotle, the Lyceum was in existence long before his founding the school there in 334 / 335 BCE, providing a teaching ground for long list of philosophers and sophists, including Prodicus of Ceos, Protagoras, Isocrates, Plato, and Socrates.

1. Delphi
The number one always had to be Delphi. The Delphi complex held the temple of Apollon, the Amphictyonic Council (a council of representatives from six Greek tribes that controlled Delphi and also the sports events), various treasuries where the votive offerings to Apollon and/or the oracle were stored, the altar of the Chians (the main altar, located in front of the temple of Apollon, funded by the people of Chios, the stoa of the Athenians (A series of seven futed columns, used to house Athenian war trophies and collect the stories of freed slaves), Sibyl rock (the rock where the prophet Sibyl sat to deliver her prophecies), a theatre, the Tholos (the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia), a gymnasium, a stadium, the Hippodrome (where the running events took place), the Polygonal wall, the Castalian spring, and a large variety of athletic statues. The complex was also the site of one of the Panhellenic Games.

The site was at the epicenter of important travel routes; the road leading from northeastern and eastern Hellas to the plain of Amfissa--where it met the road joining northern Hellas with Naupactus--passed through Delphi. From the beach of Itea, it was easy to pass to nearby Peloponnesus. This not only made Delphi an important religious site, but a commercial one, and it was one of the major keys to its success.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Introducing: Eirênê

In my introduction series, I try to put a spotlight on Gods and Goddesses who may be easy to overlook, but who hold posts very important to our lives. Recently I was asked to write a little about Eirênê (Ειρηνη), Goddess of Peace, and representative of the season of spring.

"I've been searching for prayers/rituals to Eirene, but I haven't been able to find much, besides new-age/wicca stuff which is not what I'm interested in. If you have anything on Eirene, would you post something about her on your blog?"

The ancient Hellenes were aware of only three seasons: Spring, Summer and Winter, and only these had deities presiding over them--the Hôrai: Eunomia (Good Order, Good Pasture), Eirene (Peace, Spring), and Dike (Justice). They were originally the personifications of nature in its different seasonal aspects, but in later times they were regarded as Goddesses of order in general and natural justice, because these were required for farming prosperity. The association of agriculture with law and order can also be found in the divinities of Zeus and Demeter, for example. She had three more sisters: the Moirai, the Goddesses of fate. Their names are Kloto (Κλωθώ, spinner), Atropos (Ἄτροπος, unturnable), and Lakhesis (Λάχεσις, Alotter).

Eirênê and Her sisters are old Goddesses, being born of Themis and Zeus. Themis is the Titan goddess of divine law and order--the traditional rules of conduct first established by the Gods. She was an early bride of Zeus and his first counsellor and was often represented seated beside His throne advising Him on the precepts of divine law and the rules of fate. Zeus hardly requires an introduction, does he? According to Hesiod in his 'Theogony':

"Next he married bright Themis who bare the Horae (Hours), and Eunomia (Order), Dike (Justice), and blooming Eirene (Peace), who mind the works of mortal men, and the Moerae (Fates) to whom wise Zeus gave the greatest honour, Clotho, and Lachesis, and Atropos who give mortal men evil and good to have." [ll. 901-906]

The Horai, Eirênê, Eunomia, and Dikē

Eirênê was born to Zeus and Themis in a coupling before He took Hera as his wife and queen. Her family tree would look as follows:
  Chaos ------------ Gaea
             |                |
      Ouranos   ---   |
              Themis -- Kronos --- Rhea 
                 |              |
                      |            Zeus
                  |     ---     |

Eirênê was particularly well regarded by the citizens of Athens. After a naval victory over Sparta in 375 BC, the Athenians established a cult, erecting altars to her. They held an annual state sacrifice to her after 371 BC to commemorate the Common Peace of that year and set up a votive statue in her honour in the Agora of Athens.

As for prayers to her; there are actually hymns to her, and a few beautiful prayers that have survived to now. The Orphic Hymn to her is well known and prescribes fumigation from Aromatics.

"Daughters of Jove [Zeus] and Themis, seasons bright, Justice [Dike], and blessed Peace [Eirene], and lawful Right [Eunomia], Vernal and grassy, vivid, holy pow'rs, whose balmy breath exhales in lovely flow'rs. All-colour'd seasons, rich increase your care, circling, for ever flourishing and fair: Invested with a veil of shining dew, a flow'ry veil delightful to the view: Attending Proserpine [Persephone], when back from night, the Fates [Moirai] and Graces [Kharites] lead her up to light; When in a band-harmonious they advance, and joyful round her, form the solemn dance: With Ceres [Meter] triumphing, and Jove [Zeus] divine; propitious come, and on our incense shine; Give earth a blameless store of fruits to bear, and make a novel mystic's life your care."

Another one of my favourites is from Euripides, from his play 'The Suppliant Women' (or 'The Suppliants'):

"How far peace outweighs war in benefits to man; Eirene, the chief friend and cherisher of the Mousai; Eirene, the enemy of revenge, lover of families and children, patroness of wealth. Yet these blessings we viciously neglect, embrace wars; man with man, city with city fights, the strong enslaves the weak." [484]

In Hómēros' Epigrams we find another line which always moves me:

"Open of yourselves, you doors, for mightly Ploutos (Plutus, Wealth) will enter in, and with Ploutos comes jolly Euphrosyne (Mirth) and gentle Eirene (Irene, Peace). May all the corn-bins be full and the mass of dough always overflow the kneading-trough." [XV]

The link between Eirênê and Ploutos (Πλουτος, 'Wealth') was well-established, and the image to the side depicts both. Ploutos is a son of Demeter, the Goddess of agriculture, who bore him after lying with the hero Iasion in a thrice-ploughed field. He was blinded by Zeus so he would distribute wealth indiscriminately and without favour towards the good or the virtuous. He was almost always depicted as a boy or baby, and was often carried by either Eirênê or Tykhe, the Goddess of fortune. Ploutos was identified with Plouton, the God Haides (Hades) in His role as the deity of the earth's hidden stores of wealth.
In art, She was depicted as a beautiful young woman carrying a cornucopia, the staff of Hermes and a torch or rhyton--a container from which fluids were intended to be drunk or to be poured in some ceremony such as libation.

I hope this is enough to satisfy your curiosity about Her, dear reader, and give you a good start to Her worship.