As a Hellenic Recon, much of my practice, world view, and moral framework is based upon mythology. The rest is filled in with non-myth ancient sources, and a tiny bit of UPG. I'm not a new-age spiritualist, and if I were, I would most certainly be in the wrong religious field. I am religious: I believe in, worship, and have built my life around the Theoi. This means that a large part of my practice is making things not about me. As such, a new-age world vision and Reconstructionism do not really match.

Still, in my own way, I am very spiritual: I see the world as a place of wonder, a world influenced every day by the Theoi. Looking beyond myself in order to find the Gods has been a very spiritual journey. It's also a journey that I would not have been able to make without mythology.

Mythology not only teaches what kind of person you should strive to become, but tells us so much about the Gods. It speaks of Their likes and dislikes, Their spheres of influence, the way They relate to each other... and all give vital clues for worship. I look at the sun and see Hēlios' golden chariot. I know Eos had sped ahead before Him, and Apollon carries His bright rays down to us. I remember Hēlios' son, who would not listen to his father's advice and not only died for his hubris, but nearly killed many men with his recklessness. When I think of these events, I go over my own life to see where I am being as pigheaded as Phaëthon, and try to adjust my behavior. These myths make me a better person.

When I observe the cycle of the seasons, I see in it Persephone's cycle of Underworld visits. I can feel Demeter's grief. When I mourn the loss of Demeter during the Thesmophoria, I do not eat, as She did not eat. I do not make love to my partner, as Demeter refused to make the world fertile and pregnant with life. I do not do this, just as the women in ancient Hellas did not do this. They came together in a camp on the side of Pnyx, and they fasted, they wept, and they withheld sex. They recreated the time before Demeter taught humankind to cultivate the fields. It was a dark time, a time of hunger and pain. At the same time, this day was also used to remember the time when Demeter sought her daughter and neglected her duties as a harvest Goddess. This had also been a time of great hunger. They honor Demeter, and Persephone, and in return, the Goddess will look favorably upon them and grant them fertility of land and body once Persephone returns. This combination of myth and ancient sources makes me a better worshipper. I see the pattern that underlays the mythology, I perform the rites, and they bring me closer to the Theoi.

I could give you literally a hundred more examples of how mythology has influenced my religious life, my spirituality, my daily practice, and my life in general. It has shaped my person in such a way that I could not imagine ever living without them. I would not be able to practice my religion without investing in its mythological framework. 
On the 16th of Metageitnion, so on 10 am EDT on the 17th of August (so today!), we honor Kourotrophos (κουροτρόφος, child nurturer) and the two Goddesses who protect women and children, Hekate and Artemis with sacrifice. Elaion will be organizing another Practicing Apart Together ritual, which we would love to have you join.

The Kourotrophoi are (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. Offerings to them are known from the demos Erkhia, but duplicates similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens. Especially at Erkhia, it varied per sacrifice which Kourotrophoi was/were sacrificed to. In this ritual, we honor Kourotrophos Herself, a deity whose main function was to watch over nursing children and their mothers. We also honor Artemis and Hekate.

Artemis is named Kourotrophos by Diodorus Siculus, a Hellenic historian, in book five of his library:

"And Artemis, we are told, discovered how to effect the healing of young children and the foods which are suitable to the nature of babes, this being the reason why she is also called Kourotrophos." [5.73.5] 

You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
The Greek Ministry of Culture announced on Sunday that archaeologists have discovered two ancient, unlooted chamber tombs dating from the Late Mycenaean period, (1400 – 1200 BC), near Nemea in the Peloponnese.

The newly-found tombs at the Aidonia burial site include five full burials and the skeletons of fourteen individuals whose remains had been transferred there from other tombs. The finds will shed more light on the Mycenaean civilization, the Greek Culture Ministry announced.

Both chamber tombs provided an array clay pots and figurines to the discoverers, as well as other small objects. However, these findings are in rather sharp contrast with the burial sites from the early Mycenaean period (1600 – 1400 BC), which were excavated in Aidonia in previous years.

These burial chambers contained table and storage vessels, as well as weapons and other objects which would hav belonged to high-status individuals. Still, the two newly-discovered Mycenaean chamber tombs at Aidonia pave the way to a better understanding of the development of the ancient settlement and its ties to neighbouring villages.

Located next to the vineyards of Nemea, Aidonia was a key settlement in the Mycenaean civilisation, which enjoyed its greatest period of flourishing from the 17th to the 12th century BC, the press statement noted.

Excavation at the Aidonia burial site first began in the late 1970s, after the site containing tombs from 1700-1100 BC had already been extensively looted, most likely in 1976-77. The  Archaeological Service excavations which followed this, in 1978-1980, and 1986, under the direction of Kalliopi Krystalli-Votsi and Constantina Kaza, brought to light a total of twenty chamber tombs.

These consisted of gravesites carved into the rock, with three sections, including an access road (dromos), entrances and burial chambers. Few of the Aidonian chamber tombs were found unlooted during that dig, but one pit included a treasure trove of ancient jewellery.

The finds in a pit located inside one of these tombs even helped experts link them to a set of jewellery which was about to be sold in an auction house in New York in 1993 and was eventually repatriated, the ministry noted.

Ongoing archaeological activity in Aidonia has prompted the resumption of excavations to investigate tombs which were considered to be in danger of being looted.

The Ephorate of Antiquities of Corinth launched a new, systematic research program in 2016, under the direction of Konstantinos Kissa, the Assistant Professor of Archaeology at the Universities of Graz, Austria and Trier, Germany. Kim Shelton, Director of the Nemea Centre of Archaeology, and Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is also collaborating with Kissa in the research.
Their research has documented the existence of this additional cluster of tombs that had been missed in all the excavations carried out in previous years.

What follows is the writing of Lucian of Samosata (Λουκιανὸς ὁ Σαμοσατεύς), who lived from 125 to 180 AD. He was a Hellenic rhetorian and satirist. It is from his 'Dialogues of the Gods', which contains some of my favorite passages written by an ancient Hellenic author ever. This version of the text was translated by Fowler, H W and F G. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 1905. This is the dialogue of Hēphaistos and Apollon about young thieving Hermes. The text is copied--unedited--from

Have you seen Maia's baby, Apollo? such a pretty little thing, with a smile for everybody; you can see it is going to be a treasure.

That baby a treasure? well, in mischief, Iapetus is young beside it.

Why, what harm can it do, only just born?

Ask Posidon; it stole his trident. Ask Ares; he was surprised to find his sword gone out of the scabbard. Not to mention myself, disarmed of bow and arrows.

Never! that infant? he has hardly found his legs yet; he is not out of his baby-linen.

Ah, you will find out, Hephaestus, if he gets within reach of you.

He has been.

Well? all your tools safe? none missing?

Of course not.

I advise you to make sure.

Zeus! where are my pincers?

Ah, you will find them among the baby-linen.

So light-fingered? one would swear he had practised petty larceny in the womb.

Ah, and you don't know what a glib young chatterbox he is; and, if he has his way, he is to be our errand-boy! Yesterday he challenged Eros—tripped up his heels somehow, and had him on his back in a twinkling; before the applause was over, he had taken the opportunity of a congratulatory hug from Aphrodite to steal her girdle; Zeus had not done laughing before—the sceptre was gone. If the thunderbolt had not been too heavy, and very hot, he would have made away with that too.
The child has some spirit in him, by your account.

Spirit, yes—and some music, moreover, young as he is.

How can you tell that?

He picked up a dead tortoise somewhere or other, and contrived an instrument with it. He fitted horns to it, with a cross-bar, stuck in pegs, inserted a bridge, and played a sweet tuneful thing that made an old harper like me quite envious. Even at night, Maia was saying, he does not stay in Heaven; he goes down poking his nose into Hades—on a thieves' errand, no doubt. Then he has a pair of wings, and he has made himself a magic wand, which he uses for marshalling souls—convoying the dead to their place.

Ah, I gave him that, for a toy.

And by way of payment he stole—

Well thought on; I must go and get them; you may be right about the baby-linen.
New finds that complete the picture on the buildings' architecture around the Apollo temple on the uninhabited island of Despotiko, west of Antiparos island revealed excavations and restoration works that were held recently on the island.

The excavation focused on areas surrounding the temple and on buildings outside of it while very important were the finds of the short research on the islet Tsimintiri.

The surprise of this year's excavation was found on Tsimintiri. The islet is located between Antiparos and Despotiko and in the ancient years it was united with Despotiko and probably with Antiparos.

In 2011, four buildings were found and this year the search continued at the northeastern part of the islet. Under the dense vegetation and very close to the coast were located five big buildings.

The size, the construction and the position of the building indicate buildings probably connected with the operation of the port. The works were held between 3 May and 5 July.

The site of Mandra contains an extensive sanctuary complex dedicated to Apollo that reached its apex in the Late Archaic period, and the 6th century BC in particular.
A significant number of grave steles dated back to the Classical period, some of them carved in very high relief, were revealed during an excavation conducted by the University of Athens at a Classical era cemetery in Xobourgo on the Greek island of Tinos.

According to Culture Ministry's announcement, the cemetery is situated at the southeastern foothills of Xobourgo and was the main cemetery of ancient settlement that developed in the Classical era.
The settlement, founded just before 1,000 BC, was surrounded by huge walls and was initially used as "refuge settlement". Later, it developed into the most important settlement of Tinos which constituted the main economic and political centre of the island until its abandonment at the end of the 4th century BC.

The tombs discovered so far on the lower terrace are for the most part covered with tiles.Stone caskets and two sarcophagi (one clay and one stone), as well as several pots used for the burial of infants, were found in the cemetery.

Archaeologists discovered that there had also been funeral pyres between the actual graves. The dead were buried with few burial objects, but when these were found, they were usually vessels imported from Attica.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.