Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility, and I am here for it. While I'm a cis-woman, I know some awesome transgendered or otherwise genderqueer individuals, and I want to celebrate their awesomeness today! In true Baring the Aegis style, I'll do this by sharing the myths of some intersexed, gender-shifting, gender-merging or otherwise genderqueer individuals.

I must, of course, start with Hermaphroditos (Ἑρμαφρόδιτος), who is the child of Aphrodite and Hermes. He became a minor deity of bisexuality and effeminacy, and was portrayed as a female figure with male genitals. In the myth told by the Roman poet Ovid, Hermaphroditos was born fully male. As a young man, he wandered the lands and encountered a nymph, Salmacis (Σαλμακίς), in her pool. Salmacis fell for the boy right away, tried to seduce him. Hermaphroditos rebuked her, but she still jumped him when undressed for a bath in her pool. As he tried to fight her off, Salmacis cried out for the Theoi to let them stay forever merged--upon which the Theoi agreed: the two fused together, becoming the first hermaphrodite.

I've mentioned before that Ovid's myths aren't reflective of ancient Hellenic mythology--and in Hellenic myth, Hermaphroditos was either born with both male and female part, or he was simply very feminine in that he had pale skin and was very delicate, while still possessing the strength of a male. Especially in the latter case, there is a beautiful gender duality in Hermaphroditos that I much appreciate.

Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' is the source for a few other Hellenic-inspired Roman myth: the myth about the immensely strong warrior Kaineus (Καινεύς), for example, who was born as a woman named Kainis, and asked to be transformed into a male after being raped by Poseidon (or Hermes). Poseidon agrees, and makes Kaineus impervious to mortal weapons to boot, making him a capable warrior. Kaineus is mentioned in ancient classics like the Illiad, but without the gender-shift. In the Illiad, he is one of the earlies heroic, and extraordinary, warriors.

Another of Ovid's metamorphoses happens to Teiresias (Τειρεσίας), the blind prophet from Thebes. There is more Hellenic support for this myth, however. As the story goes, Teiresias was out one day, and came upon a pair of snakes, who were mating in the bush. He swiftly hit them over the head with a stick and killed both of them. Hera witnessed his actions and was not pleased: she transformed Teiresias into a woman. After recovering from the shock, Teiresias accepted her fate and married. She also became a priestess of Hera to make up for her crime. Eventually, Teiresias had children and a decent life. Yet, when he came upon another pair of mating snakes seven years later, he either clubbed them to death again, or left them alone. Either action let to another change of sex: Teiresias was male again. How his husband dealt with this is unclear. In a later myth, Hera blinds the prophet when he is asked to settle a dispute between her and Zeus: who enjoys sex more, male or female. Teiresias, who has experienced both, must side with Zeus: women most definitely enjoy sex more.

A myth of which only fragments have survived is the story of Siproites of Krete, who saw Artemis bathing in the woods one day, and was changed by her into a woman. Why this exact punishment was placed upon Siproites is unclear.

The last myth I'll retell today is the one about Leucippus (Λεύκιππος), who was born female to Lamprus and Galatea. Lamprus had warned Galatea that he would only accept a male child, so when Leucippus turned out to be female, Galatea hid the gender of the child from her husband and raised Leucippus as male. Of course, once Leucippus reached adolescence, her gender became hard to hide. In some versions of the myth, Leucippus fell for the girl next door, making it even more prudent that Leucippus became the male she wanted to be. And so, Galatea went to the temple of Leto and prayed to turn her daughter into the son she had promised her husband. Leto, moved by the mother's plea, did as she was asked. The people of Phaistos, there the myth took place, honored Leto by her epithet 'Phytia' (to grow, φύω), in reference to Leucippus' newly grown penis. The people of Phaistos also founded a feast called the 'Ekdysia' (undressing, ἑκδύω), because Leucippus was no longer forced to wear women's clothes. It also became custom for the women of Phaestus to lie next to the statue of Leucippus before their wedding.

I doubt the ancient Hellens had any concept of the term 'transgendered', or even related to it--I think the societal gender roles were too strict too even question if your sex matched your gender. Yet, gender and sex were definitely themes in mythology. There are many more examples. To my readers I would ask to become trans* allies--if you are not already--to speak out against injustice, to stand up against hate. Too many people are killed, beaten up, sexually or verbally abused over trans* issues. It's time for the hate to stop, and to remember those who have already lost their lives while living the life they were meant to live. Stop violence, end ignorance, fight hate. Remember, and most of all, celebrate!
These are trying times for all and most of us could use a bit of divine help when it comes to our mental well-being, on top of our physical well-being. I'd like to share the names of some of the Gods and Goddesses especially willing to assist when you are dealing with a low level of mental health spoons. I'm sure it won't surprise you that many of Them also take care of the body--the two are intrinsically linked, after all.

Asklēpiós and Hygeia
The most obvious deities associated with any form of health are Asklēpiós and His daughter Hygeia. the ancient Hellenes didn't really distinguish between mental and physical health, and so both came to be petitioned for both, although Hygeia seemed especially receptive to lending aid in the mental department.

Apollon
Apollon is a healing God, and the father of Asklēpiós. By extension alone, He can also be petitioned for mental health aid, and UPG-wise, it makes sense to me; as a God of Light, that tends to be exactly what is missing in my head when I trigger; light. Hope. All I can see is what happened over and over again, and I get sad, and guilty, and dark. Apollon can burn that darkness away and offer relief to an aching head and heart.

Dionysos
Dionysos can bring madness, and take it away as well. He is a God whose main influence is felt on the mind, and His influence can be both positive and negative. Let me tell you a story; sometimes I can feel the darkness coming on. It used to happen a lot when I was still a teen and in my early twenties, although it's been blissfully stable the last few years. Whenever I would feel that, I would dance to the loudest music I could find--uplifting music that I put on high volume on my speakers or headphones, and then I would just dance. I'd dance until I was out of breath and my feet hurt, and my back hurt, and I would pray to Dionysos to lift my burdens from me all the while. I'd dance until I collapsed, and I would always, always, feel better. That is the kind of relief Dionysos offers--the one you need to work for, the one that hurts, but also the one that is so very rewarding in the end.

Stay strong, everyone. This too shall pass.
Epictetus (Ἐπίκτητος) was a Hellenic Stoic philosopher. He was born around 55 AD as a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey). Philosophy, Epictetus taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses. 'The Golden Sayings' collect much of his teachings, and today I would like to share the fragments, which are one-sentence rules to live by, for sure.


I - A life entangled with Fortune is like a torrent. It is turbulent and muddy; hard to pass and masterful of mood: noisy and of brief continuance.
II - The soul that companies with Virtue is like an ever-flowing source. It is a pure, clear, and wholesome draught; sweet, rich, and generous of its store; that injures not, neither destroys.
III - It is a shame that one who sweetens his drink with the gifts of the bee, should embitter God's gift Reason with vice.
IV - Crows pick out the eyes of the dead, when the dead have no longer need of them; but flatterers mar the soul of the living, and her eyes they blind.
V - Keep neither a blunt knife nor an ill-disciplined looseness of tongue.
VI - Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.
VII - Do not give sentence in another tribunal till you have been yourself judged in the tribunal of Justice.
VIII - If is shameful for a Judge to be judged by others.
IX - Give me by all means the shorter and nobler life, instead of one that is longer but of less account!
X - Freedom is the name of virtue: Slavery, of vice. . . . None is a slave whose acts are free.
XI - Of pleasures, those which occur most rarely give the most delight.
XII - Exceed due measure, and the most delightful things become the least delightful.
XIII - The anger of an ape--the threat of a flatterer:--these deserve equal regard.
XIV - Chastise thy passions that they avenge not themselves upon thee.
XV - No man is free who is not master of himself.
XVI - A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope.
XVII - Fortify thyself with contentment: that is an impregnable stronghold.
XVIII - No man who is a lover of money, of pleasure, of glory, is likewise a lover of Men; but only he that is a lover of whatsoever things are fair and good.
XIX - Think of God more often than thou breathest.
XX - Choose the life that is noblest, for custom can make it sweet to thee.
XXI - Let thy speech of God be renewed day by day, aye, rather than thy meat and drink.
XXII - Even as the Sun doth not wait for prayers and incantations to rise, but shines forth and is welcomed by all: so thou also wait not for clapping of hands and shouts and praise to do thy duty; nay, do good of thine own accord, and thou wilt be loved like the Sun.
XXIII - Let no man think that he is loved by any who loveth none.
XXIV - If thou rememberest that God standeth by to behold and visit all that thou doest; whether in the body or in the soul, thou surely wilt not err in any prayer or deed; and thou shalt have God to dwell with thee.
Isaac Newton was a student at Cambridge when the Great Plague of London hit. His university cancelled classes and, just like many of us today, he was forced to stay at home. Fortunately for us all, he used that time wisely. It was during his self-quarantine that he developed the foundations for calculus, optics and gravity. So, too can we make good use of this time, if we are willing and able, to learn, to read, to philosophize.


Classical Wisdom, would like to help during these trying times, whether it’s a way to stay sane in insane times or just continue the pursuit of knowledge. As such, Classical Wisdom will be offering their ancient Greek history video course, The Essential Greeks, completely FREE to everyone staying in. Founder and Director, Anya Leonard explains:

"From the comfort and safety of your own home, you can sign up and begin classes – including 40 videos covering the most important Greeks from Homer to Aristotle, original texts, e-books, biographies and quizzes. The Essential Greeks course has begun Sunday March 22nd, but you will have full access to the materials as soon as you sign up.

Sign up yourself, your friends, family members, or anyone you think would enjoy the journey and appreciate an educational distraction. After all, it is at times of crisis when we need the classics the most, for the perspective and wisdom they can provide…”

Sign up for the Essential Greeks Video Course Completely FREE here.
On Mounuchion 6, the Athenian festival of the Delphinia (Δελφίνια) starts in honor of Apollon and Artemis. To celebrate this festival, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual at 10 am EDT on March 31. Will you be joining us?


The Delphinia is a festival to ask for the protection of all ships and sailors, to ask for guidance for young boys and girls transitioning into adulthood and--as a festival of purification--the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle.

What is known about this festival is that virgin girls walked to the Delphinion (Δελφίνιον) atop the Acropolis in procession, carrying olive branches bound with wool (known as 'iketiria') and baked cakes known as Popana, made of soft cheese and flower. There is overwhelming evidence that the festival was held on the sixth of the month of Mounukhion, most notably from Plutarch, but the seventh of same month is also considered a possible date, quite possibly because the festivities could have taken place in the daylight hours of the sixth day, which is the same day as the start of the seventh of the month, as dusk rained in a new day.

Plutarch connects the sixth of the month Mounukhion to Apollon and Theseus--most importantly to Theseus' quest for the Minotaur--in his 'Life of Theseus'. Theseus vows to look over those the lots choose to be offered to the Minotaur in the maze on Krete. Roughly in the month of Mounukhion, the seafaring season started. It's therefor not odd that lots would have been cast about this time, for the youths--and everyone else with business across the sea--would set sail as soon as the weather allowed. The rising of the Pleiades, located in the constellation of Taurus, around late April, the beginning of May, was a signal for the boldest of sea-goers that the treacherous sea was at least moderately accessible. Still, it would be at least several months before the favoured seafaring season started, so anyone braving the sea, could probably use some protection. Somewhere shortly after the Delphinia would have been Theseus' first opportunity to sail to Krete, but it would place his return almost five months later; quite some time for a three day journey (one way) in favourable conditions.

During the Delphinia, young maidens presented Apollon Delphinion, and perhaps Artemis Delphinia, with the iketiria Theseus had presented them with as well, in the hopes of receiving for the Athenians the same guidance and protection at sea as the Kretan colonists, as well as Theseus and the youths, had gotten.

A connection can also be made with Theseus visiting the shrine of Apollon Delphinios as an opportunity for purification before his great quest, as the young supplicants who prepared for their personal collective journeys into adulthood would desire purification of their own, and Apollon in many of his epithets is a purifier. Also, in a little less than a month, the Thargelia took place in Delos, an event where the births of Artemis, and especially Apollon were celebrated. The rites at the Delphinia might have been part of the purification processes for those who were to go to Delos (with thanks to Daphne Lykeia for this interpretation).

As a festival of purification, the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle. A divine purification of miasma might allow you to focus better on these issues, and receive guidance from the Theoi more easily--like Theseus, who purified himself  at the Delphinion and prayed for the guidance of Aphrodite directly thereafter. Aphrodite made Ariadne fall for him, saving his life and those of the young men and women in the process.

One can celebrate this day by offering both Apollon and Artemis hymns, libations, and Popana cakes, and presenting Artemis with an iketiria, an olive branch wrapped with white wool, if you are a young female looking for aid. An iketiria was primarily used in rites of supplication.

The popana (or popanon) should be a flat cake with a single 'knob' in the center. We don't have a surviving recipe, but Cato's recipes for 'libum' seems to hold many of the same ingredients. It goes as follows:

"'Make libum by this method. Break up two pounds of cheese well in a mortar. When they will have been well broken up, put in a pound of wheat flour or, if you wish it to be more delicate, half a pound of fine flour and mix it well together with the cheese. Add one egg ...and mix together well. Then make into bread, places leaves beneath, and cook slowly on a hot hearth under an earthen pot."

That's a lot of Popana. Make this if you're with a large group, else the recipe would look something like this for something the size of a good loaf of bread or its equivalent in smaller portions:

- 14 ounces good ricotta or any fresh cheese, preferably unpasteurized (ricotta should always be drained overnight in a colander)
- 4 ounces (approx) flour, preferably farro
- 1 large egg
- a pinch of salt
- several bay leaves, preferably fresh
- olive oil, for the pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

You can either make large cakes or small ones. If you're making large ones, line a baking pan or sheet with bay leaves and brush them lightly with olive oil. If you don't have enough leaves to cover the surface, distribute the leaves as best you can. If you are going to make smaller cakes, brush one leaf with oil for each cake you are going to make.

Knead all the ingredients (except the bay leaves) until well blended. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Shape the dough into a single, or several smaller cakes. Place either the large cake on top of the bay leaves, or put each little one on top of one. Then put it in a baking pan and into the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes for a large cake, or (much) less long for smaller cakes. Just watch them until they are firm and light golden brown. Don't forget to enjoy it yourself!

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community 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.

Statistics:
PAT rituals for Mounukhion:
  • Mounukhion 4 - March 29 - Sacrifice to the Herakleidai at Erkhia
  • Mounukhion 6 - March 31 - Delphinia - in honor of Artemis, and perhaps Apollon and Theseus
  • Mounukhion16n - April 9 - Mounikhia - festival in honor of Artemis as the moon Goddess and Mistress of the animals
  • Mounukhion 19 - April 14 - Olympieia - festival in honor of Olympian Zeus
  • Mounukhion 20 - April 14 - Sacrifice to Leukaspis at Erkhia
  • Mounukhion 21 - April 15 - Sacrifice to Tritopatores at Erkhia

Anything else?
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

Would you like to support me? Buy me a coffee.
In the world of video gaming, using Ancient Hellas for a backdrop is trending more than ever. But that shouldn’t be surprising, considering that ancient Hellas has everything to offer as the ultimate setting — from beauty, magic and powerful Gods, to the ruins (intact back in ancient times!), islands and culture.

Everyone recognizes that ancient Hellas played a major role in western civilization, and everyone must be curious about what it would have been like to live there. Check out these 12 video games while you're self-isolating--and you ARE self-isolating, right?

1. Odyssey – Assassin’s Creed


Throughout the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, players deal with an array of political and scientific themes such as democracy vs. tyranny, myth vs. science and order vs. chaos. The game takes place in ancient Hellas during the Peloponnesian War.

Ubisoft Quebec, the studio behind the popular Assassin’s Creed syndicate, truly went the extra mile to ensure the authenticity of ancient Hellas in their new Odyssey game by depicting ancient Athens as a colorful, vibrant, multi-faceted city with many districts to explore.

2. God of War


God of War is a bloody, battle-filled adventure and strategy game also set in ancient Hellas. Developed by Santa Monica Studios, it revolves around Kratos, the protagonist, who encounters all of the most well-known Hellenic Gods of Hellenic mythology. The graphics are quite detailed, as Kratos completes his “quests” while taking players through ancient landscapes.

3. 300: March to Glory


Most modern theatergoers know the recent movie “300”. Similarly, in the “300: March To Glory” game, the player is also Leonidas, the ruler of Sparta, before the time of the famous battle of Thermopylae.

Inspired by the movie and comic book which were very popular at the time of its creation, the game was developed by Collision Studios and published by Warner Bros. Games. “300: March to Glory” gives the player the chance to re-write history… and who wouldn’t want to be able to do that?

4. Age of Mythology


This game features heavy elements from Hellenic mythology, along with Egyptian and Norse mythology. It is a real-time strategy game, developed by Ensemble Studios, which later went on to develop the popular Age of Empire series. Here you will find all of the buildings and cityscapes of ancient Hellas.

5. Wrath of the Gods



This adventure game is all about ancient Hellas. The player’s background story alone is right out of Hellenic mythology! The player begins the adventure as a young royal child who has been abandoned in the high mountains of ancient Hellas.

He and is soon found by a centaur by the name of Chiron, who raises the child. The player soon sets off to reclaim their Kingdom — no matter what it takes. The game was developed and published by Luminaria.

6. Zeus: Master Of Olympus


When it comes to city-building game series, this is one of the best which features ancient Hellas. You as the player are thrown into the ancient land during a time of great intrigue and adventure — where Hellenic Gods, mythology and legends all played a crucial role in society.

The game has several options for players, including a story mode, missions mode, and a sandbox mode. This is the fifth stand-alone game in the series by Impressions Games’ City Building.

7. Okhlos


This game was developed by the Argentina-based studio Coffee Powered Machine and published by Devolver Digital. It is also based in ancient Hellas and, of course, this means that the law of the land is that of the Hellenic Gods!

Okhlos is an action-packed game where the player is a scholar who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the Hellenic Gods, and sets out on a mission to destroy them.

8. Spartan: Total Warrior


Brought to you by Creative Assembly, in this “hack-and-slash” video game you are a Spartan warrior who is under the tutelage of none other than Aris, the Hellenic God of war! This game is all about defending ancient Hellas from the invading Roman empire.

9. Spartan Wars: Blood And Fire


This strategy-based video game has 155,000 five-star reviews out of a total of 220,000 reviews! It is a real-time mobile/tablet game, using beautifully-rendered animation, which lets you build your own ancient Hellenic city.

It also allows you to assemble your own army to defend your land in the (unlikely!) event of “server vs. server wars”. The game is brought to you by developed by Tap4Fun Corp. Ltd.

10. Hegemony Gold: Wars Of Ancient Greece


This real-time strategy video game is all about ancient Hellas, and in particular, the military campaign of Phillip the Second of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. This game is all about battles and strategy, all of which you map out before the actual battle begins. It was developed and published by Longbow Digital Arts Inc.

11. NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits


If all you want to do is see what it would be like to be a Hellenic God, in this video game, developed by the Spanish developers Over The Top Games, you can do exactly that! You can play as two protagonists, known as Icarus and Nyx, who are given special powers by the Hellenic Gods Zeus and Eolus, as they go on adventures and conquer the land.

12. 0 A.D.


Developed by Wildfire games, this game is quite accurate when it comes to historical facts regarding Hellenic civilization from 500 B.C. to 1 B.C. There is even an updated scenario that focuses from 1 A.D. to 500 A.D. This is a free, open-source, real-time strategy video game which will take you through the best and worst of times in the history of Hellenic civilization!

Try out some of these fun and colorful games to “get your Greek on” and discover a bit of what it may have been like to live back in ancient Hellas!