I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.

"I have a very difficult time sorting out and keeping straight different variations of the mythos. I'm trying to learn about Chronos, Phanes, Aeon etc, the Primordial Gods, the Gods of Time, bu I'm struggleing to understand who is an equivalent to who, which is just another name, who was simply an idea more than a God, etc. Can you help?"

Ha! Oh... tall order! I can help you with specific Theoi and I can help you with a bit of background on why it's such a muddled mess. for the prior, I'd need you to contact me with a question about a specific Theoi and I will do the other now.

So, in general, this is what it comes down to: the Hellenic empire stretched out over hundreds of years, was influenced by hundreds of cultures and regional practices and was formed by the voices of thousands of people. What we have in written evidence of the ancient Hellenic views on the Theoi is, pretty much, what happens when all of these things come together: they make a muddled mess.

I tend to go with the idea that the Theoi know what happened and that what mankind recorded is greatly influenced by mankind. I use it as a foundation, not stone cold fact. Accept that Aphrodite may have been born from the castrated genitals of Ouranos in the sea's foam as Hesiod says, or of Zeus and Dione as per Homeros. Or that Ouranos was born either of the world egg formed by Khronos as per the Orphic Tradition or from Gaia with out a father, as per Hesiod. You won't ever find out which one is true--or neither, or both. This is why we have epithets.

An epithet is an attachment to the name of a God or Goddess, used to indicate either a specific domain of the Deity, a specific origin myth or region from which the Deity came, or an entirely different entity, through either domain or origin.  Epithets within polytheism pose a challenge; are all epithets different Gods or different faces of the same God(dess)? I belief Aphrodite Diôniaia (Daughter of Dione) and Aphrodite Anadyomenê (Risen from the Sea) are different Goddesses but the epithet Aphrodite Philommeides (Laughter-Loving) could be applied to both and is not a distinct Goddess. I have no set rule for this; it's a matter of feeling. 

All I can advice you is to read all interpretations and honour all version at the appropriate time. Embrace the practice of epithets, they will save you a monster headache. Worship the Theoi in a way that feels 'true' for you--at the end of the day, that is the best any of us can do.


"What do you know about the ancient Athenian calendar and the seasons? I am trying to figure out when to celebrate festivals we know little about, like the ones for Poseidon, and understanding how the Hellenes experienced the seasons would be quite instructive."

The Mediterranean climate is characterized by two seasons: the first dry and hot, from Mounichion to Metageitnion (April to September) when river beds tended to dry up, the second is humid and marked by often violent rain storms brought in by west winds, with mild, frost free temperatures.

The ancient Hellenes, however, destinguished three seasons: spring, summer and winter, and 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.

To date festivals we don't have a set date about, the focus needs to be on the why of the festival. Why was it held? When would this event take place now? Then you can look at things like sacred days for a deity, the stage of the moon and the presence of other festivals to make a better guestimation. But it will always remain a guestimation--this is not bad, obviously, but it is something to forever remain aware of.


"Can you worship Hellenic deities without practicing Hellenismos? Like can you still worship those deities without defining yourself with that religion?"

Yes, of course you can! The greater Pagan community--and especially the non-recon branches like Religious Witchcraft and Wicca--incorporate many of the ancient Gods in some way, either as separate Gods or as a conglomorated whole in The God and Goddess who are generally understood as the whole of all individual Gods (or the other way around: all individual Gods as part of Them). Personally, I consider most people who worship solely one (or a small handful of) God(s) or Goddess(es) out of the Hellenic pantheon non-Hellenistic as well, so that is also a possibility. Worship however and whoever you are called to!

"How did Greek soldiers worship the theoi while out at war? I am curious how it differed from when home. Is there any practice of them wearing pendants of the theoi as an image of a god or the gods to worship? Sorry I am new to this and curious, thank you!"

To be honest, it wasn't as different as at home. Probably the only difference was that they made an impromptu altar out of sand or rocks instead of using one especially made and installed at the oikos (house) or temple, or they simply used their campfires to get the job done. Let me quote you some Homeros:

"They rose, and scattered quickly among the ships, lit fires in the huts and ate their meal. And each made sacrifice to the immortal gods, to whichever god they chose, praying they might escape death in the tumult of war. Agamemnon, their leader, himself sacrificed a fat five-year old ox to almighty Zeus, inviting the elders, the chiefs of the Achaeans, to attend. Nestor, first, and King Idomeneus, then Ajax and his namesake, and Diomedes son of Tydeus, and Odysseus, sixth, Zeus’ equal in counsel. Menelaus of the loud war-cry had no need of summons, for he knew his brother’s thoughts in the matter. They stood around the victim, and took up the sacred barley, and Agamemnon prayed: ‘Sky-dwelling Zeus, great and glorious lord of the thunder clouds, let the sun not set nor darkness fall before I have razed Priam’s smoke-blackened halls, torching his gates with greedy fire, ripping Hector’s tunic from his breast with the shredding bronze, toppling a host of his comrades round him, headlong in the dust to bite the earth.’ So he prayed, but Zeus would not yet grant his wish; accepting the offering, but prolonging the toils of war.

When they had offered their petition and scattered grains of barley, they drew back the victims’ heads, slit their throats and flayed them. Then they cut slices from the thighs, wrapped them in layers of fat, and laid raw meat on top. These they burned on billets of wood stripped of leaves, then spitted the innards and held them over the Hephaestean flames. When the thighs were burnt and they had tasted the inner meat, they carved the rest in small pieces, skewered and roasted them through, then drew them from the spits. Their work done and the meal prepared, they feasted and enjoyed the shared banquet, and when they had quenched immediate hunger and thirst, Nestor of Gerenia spoke up, saying: ‘Agamemnon, leader of men, glorious son of Atreus, let us stay here no longer, nor delay the work the god directs us to. Come, let the heralds of the bronze-greaved Achaeans make their rounds of the ships and gather the men together, and let us as generals inspect the whole army, so as to swiftly rouse the spirit of Ares in them.’"[Iliad, Bk II:394-483]

The ancient Hellenes did not believe that representations of the Theoi were linked to the Theoi. They did not, for example, believe that the statues in temples were a 'home' for the Gods. They placed them there as a gift to the Theoi in hopes of gaining Their favour and a bit more of Their attention. And because everyone who mattered (Greek citizens) honoured the same pantheon of Gods, they also didn't have the need to display their religious preference. The custom of wearing jewellery 'to keep the Gods close' is very recent; the ancient Hellenes performed sacrifice the way they did exactly for this reason, they did not need representations of Them for worship. The Theoi would always find them once They hear their name called in the beautiful singing of hymns.


"We're (my family and I) going to be culling our chickens this spring, and I have permission from my grandmother and my dad to set aside as an offering. Our chickens are black, so am I right in assuming that they would only be an acceptable offering to chthonic Gods? (This is not a problem for me, considering I feel closest to the chthonic Gods, but I wanted to check.)"

Yes, Khthonic Theoi usually recieved the black offerings. That said, heroes also generally recieved black sacrifices and so did Gaea (and some other Earth deities, as They are all also considered Khthonic). Good luck with your sacrifice!