Many people--myself included--sometimes forget how extensive the ancient Hellenic empire was. It wasn't just what is now modern Greece. It extended all the way down to, for example, Spain. Today: Emporion.


'Emporion' (Ἐμπόριον) is ancient Greek for 'trading place', which is exactly what it was. In ancient Greek, 'Emporion' referred both to the various Hellenic and Phoenician city-states and trading posts in Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Britain, and the Arabian Peninsula. Included in this term were cities like Avaris and Syene in Lower Egypt, Thebes in Upper Egypt and the Red Sea ports of Elim and Elat. For the Hittites, it included Kanesh and Kadesh. For Phoenicia, it included Gadges, Carthage, Leptis Magna, and Cyrene, among others (although Cyrene was originally founded by Greeks). It was a place which the traders of one nation had reserved to their business interests within the territory of another nation.

Emporion was a town on the Mediterranean coast of the Catalan comarca of Alt Empordà in Catalonia, Spain. It was founded in 575 BC by Hellenic colonists from Phocaea and was later occupied by the Romans. In Catalan, the name for the city is 'Empúries', formerly named 'Ampurias' in Spanish.

Phocaea, or Phokaia (Φώκαια, modern-day Foça in Turkey) was an ancient Ionian Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia. Hellenic colonists from Phocaea founded the colony of Massalia (modern day Marseille, in France) in 600 BC, Emporion in 575 BC and Elea (modern day Velia, in Campania, Italy) in 540 BC.

The settlement was developped in two phases: first the Paliapolis, the ancient city, later the Neopolis, the new city. Little remainings from the ancient city, Paliopolis, as much was build over it at later times. It was supposed to hold a temple of Ephesian Artemis, a distinctive form of the Goddess. It is the form with globules around her chest that were first said to represent breasts but which are now interpreted as sacrificial bull testicles. The remains of the temple are now believed to be located under the medieval church of San Martí.

More remains of the Neopolis. Several walls and towers still stand. Temples that have been identified at sacred area of the town are a temple to Asklepios at which a statue of the God was found. Also located there was the 'Serapis Temple', devoted to Zeus Serapis, to Isis and to her son Harpocrates. It is well preserved. Its creator, we know, was Numas, an egyptian architect brought to Emporiom. Therefore, worshiped divinities have an egyptian origin. Apart from the temples, many civil and public houses remain identifiable, ranging from hosues to angorae, to markets and shops. 
It is generally accepted that Emporion became a true Hellenic polis, a city-state, perhaps in the 5th century BC. It is one of the few Hellenic emporia to do so. As a trading and harbour town, it prospered and when the Romans overtook the Hellenic empire, it eventually became a major military base and trading center for the expansion of the Roman empire. Most of the polis was eventually destroyed in medieval times.

For some truly stunning images of the ruins of the city, go here.
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 Hellenes. 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. The Eleusinian mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) had festivals throughout the year, which were tied to agriculture through Demeter's refusal 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. The Mysteries were mysteries for a reason and revealing information of these involved rituals carried the punishment of death (or at least, that is what the ancient sources say). We still have been able to piece together quite a bit of information however, and I would like to create a masterpost of sorts.


Mythological connections and sources of the Mysteries:
- The Eleusinian Mysteries
A short introduction to the Mysteries, which includes the mythological reason for the festival and the rewards for being initiated.
- On Persephone and Spring
A writer's perspective on the myth of Persephone's abduction.
- Iakkos
The personification of the ritual cry of joy called ‘iakhe’ of the procession of the initiates.
- On 'Kore' versus 'Persephone'
...and why They are not always the same.


Eleusinian festivals:
A summary of the festivals included in the cycle of the Mysteries. It also includes a description of the way the days of the Mysteries would have been spent--as well as we can gather about a mystery tradition, of course. The cycle consists of: the Greater Mysteries (13-23 Boedromion), Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), Haloa (26 Poseideon), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion), and the Skiraphoria (12 Skirophorion). These are placed in sequence of the Athenian year. Also linked to the Mysteries because they fall during either the Lesser of Greater Mysteries: the Diasia and the Epidauria.


Periferal points of interest connected to the Mysteries:
- On attending women-only festivals as a male
Some of the eleusinian rites are women-only. Can you attend as a male?
- On attending women-only festivals as non-binary
Some of the eleusinian rites are women-only. Can you attend if you identify as non-binary?
- On maidens, the Stenia and the Thesmophoria
On attending women-only festivals as an unmarried woman.
- On the binding of hair
As part of Eleusinian ritual.
- Dadoukhoi: torch bearers
On the importance of torches and torch bearers in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
- The ancient tradition of Martes
Martes were pieces of string, worn around the wrist. The innitiates of the Mysteries recieved yellow ones on the way to Eleusis.
- On ending the Mysteries
On why the ending rites of the Mysteries matters.
- On fasting for the Eleusinian Mysteries
Fasting is a part of the Greater Mysteries as well as the Thesmophoria. Here is how to do it safely.
- On the forbidden foods of the Eleusinian Mysteries
Some things not to eat during these days.
- On the 'hiera' of the Eleusinian Mysteries
The heira are the 'sacred objects'.
- On kykeon
A barley beverage sacred to Demeter and used to break a sacred fast within the Eleusinian Mysteries as well as in preparatory rites for some of the most sacred--and secret--rites within Eleusis.
- Pelanoi, the cakes of the Athenians
Athenian sacrifical cakes that were often used in the Lesser mysteries.
- Snakes, the ancient Hellenes and the Eleusinian Mysteries
Snakes were used in the Lesser Mystery rites. Why?
Ancient Origins recently posted a lovely piece on the Parthenon of Athens, entitled 'The Parthenon of Athens: An Epic Monument, Or a Mystery in Measurements?'. The point of the article: contemporary scientists have admitted—despite the Parthenon being the most imitated building in history—that even with modern technology and contemporary architectural techniques, it's virtually impossible to rebuild the exact same building in all its detail because the ancient Hellenes were entitely ahead of their time on the math.


The article give us a good many questions and myseries to ponder over that I would like to leave you with today. These are all examples of the brilliance of the ancient Hellenes an a tue testament of their surviving legacy.

-  The Parthenon would need decades to be restored in modern times, but the Athenian citizens mysteriously built it inside of a decade, between 447 and 438 BC.
- An Attic foot is equivalent to 0.30803 meters, or 1/2F (φ), where F (φ) = 1.61803, also known as the Golden Ratio. In aesthetic science the Golden Ratio is considered the most accurate standard for the expression of perfection. At the time the Parthenon was built, ancient writets assure us he Golden Ratio had not yet been discovered.
- Also present in the construction of the Parthenon: the Fibonacci Sequence, which in mathematics describes the phenomenon of a number being equal to the sum of the previous two: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc. Strangely, the Fibonacci Sequance was first officially recorded in 1202, almost 1,700 years after the Parthenon was constructed.
- Additionally, inside the temple can also be found the number for Pi (π), 3.1416, which appears in the mathematical relation 2F2/10, but more impressively, we find the number e = 2.72, which is the most important mathematical constant and is the base of the natural logarithm.
- We can assume the Parthenon was lighted somehow, but there were no windows and no traces of soot have been found, which excludes the use of torches or even oil lamps.
- During a sunny day, the drop shadows created around the temple always appear to point to other specific destination points in Greece although no one knows how or why.

Despite all the scientific, paranormal and mythical mysteries surrounding its legend, the Parthenon remains the cradle of Western civilization—and undoubtedly one of the most significant monuments of humankind as a whole—that continues to attract millions of curious visitors every year. The only sure thing is that we can only learn and benefit from the iconic monument, its unlocked codes and artistic features, which hopefully will be answered in the near future. Please read the full article for further details on all these points.
The ancient Hellenic writers were dedicated historians, but they often neglected to mention the achievements of ancient Hellenic women. Now it so happens that I am a woman and I quite like having a few female heroes to look up to, so I want to introduce you to them. Today: Gorgo, queen of Sparta.


I think pretty much all of you know who Gorgo was. In 2007, she was famously represented by Lena Headey (of Game of Thrones fame) in the Frank Miller classic '300'. Headey reprised her role in the 2014 sequel, '300: Rise of an Empire'. Needless to say, the movie got a few details incorrect.

Gorgo (Γοργώ) was the daughter and the only known child of Cleomenes I, King of Sparta (520 – 490 BC) during the 6th and 5th centuries BC. She was the wife of King Leonidas I, Cleomenes' half-brother, who fought and died in the Battle of Thermopylae. Gorgo is noted as one of the few female historical figures actually named by Herodotus, and was known for her political judgement and wisdom. She is notable for being the daughter of a king of Sparta, the wife of another, and the mother of a third. Her birth date is uncertain, but is most likely to have been between 518 and 508 BC, based on Herodotus' dating in his 'Histories' (5.51).

As a Spartan girl of nobility, Gorgo would have been brought up at court trained in singing, dancing, literature, and, especially, physical education. According to Herodotus's Histories, at about the age of eight to nine years old, she advised her father Cleomenes not to trust Aristagoras of Miletus, a foreign diplomat trying to induce Cleomenes to support an Ionian revolt against Persians. Cleomenes followed her advice. Interestingly, Herodotus reports, Gorgo was present in the room with her father when Aristagoras arrived and, when Aristagoras asked the king to send the child away so they could talk privately, Cleomenes refused and told him to speak freely in front of her.

Scholars have suggested that Herodotus intentionally reduced Gorgo's age at the time of this incident to make her father look particularly foolish. More likely, Herodotus underestimated her age simply because in other Hellenic cities girls were married at age twelve or thirteen and so rarely in their father's household as teenagers or adults. It is more probable, that Gorgo was closer to eighteen or nineteen at the time of this incident.

In no other Hellenic city but Sparta would a female of any age have been allowed to be present, much less heard and heeded, at a meeting between heads of state. Gorgo's advice was all the more remarkable because it was good. It was Athenian aid for the Ionian revolt that brought the wrath of Persia down on mainland Greece, leading some people to quip that it was easier to bamboozle thirty thousand Athenian men than one Spartan girl.

In 490 BC, Cleomenes died and left no male heir to the throne. His half-brother Leonidas became king. Leonidas and Gorgo were already married by that time and so she became the queen of Sparta. It is during this period that Herodotus' other tale concerning her takes place (and which was the foundation of the movie 300). The Persians, under King Darius I, tried to invade Hellas in retaliation for Athens' aid to the Ionian Greeks in 490 BCE but were defeated at the Battle of Marathon.

When Darius died, his son Xerxes the Great swore to complete the work his father had begun and assembled the largest army ever put into the field up to that time. When Xerxes was preparing his war machine, a man named Demartus was living in the Persian city of Susa. Demartus had been co-ruler with Cleomenes until 491 BCE when Cleomenes had forced him into exile after a political dispute. Demartus became aware of Xerxes' plans for the military campaign to Hellas and wanted to warn the Spartans, but he did not know how. Susa was deep in the Persian Empire and any message being sent toward Hellas would most likely be apprehended by Persian officials before it reached the border. The only way he could find to get the message to them was to take a folding writing-tablet, scrape off the wax, and write about the king's decision on the bare wood of the tablet. Then he covered the message up again with melted wax so that during its journey the tablet would not arouse the suspicions of the guards on the route.

When the tablet reached Sparta and was brought to the king, no one knew what to do with it. While they were puzzling over why Demartus would have sent them a blank writing tablet and what it could possibly mean, Gorgo deduced that it was probably a message sent encoded. She suggested that they scrape off the wax and, when they did, they found his message about the Persian invasion. They then sent word to Athens and the other city-states, which enabled the Hellenes to prepare for war. It is also to Leonidas' credit, and that of the Spartan court, that they were not foolish enough to ignore a suggestion simply because it came from a woman.

When Leonidas marched out to die at Thermopylae (like in the movie), Gorgo asked him for instructions. His answer was a final compliment to her. He said: 'Marry a good man and have good children'. Not sons, children. Leonidas wanted Gorgo not to mourn him but to be happy, and he valued daughters as much as sons--hopefully because he had learned from Gorgo the importance of clever and loyal women.
We are not sure what happened to Gorgo after the battle at Thermopylae. She had at least one son by Leonidas I, Pleistarchus, co-King of Sparta from 480 BC to his death in 458 BC. Her son was a minor at his father's death so his uncle Cleombrotus (died 480 BC) and then his first cousin and heir Pausanias (480-479 BC) acted as his regent. Pleistarchus ruled with the other king of Sparta, Leotychidas II (and then his grandson Archidamus) until his death 459/458 BC.
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 really want to start doing daily rituals but I just don't know how to start or who to worship. Can you help me?"

Daily worship can be a very rewarding practice, but it is hard to get into. In ancient Hellas, the courtyard of the home often held a bômos, a free standing, raised, altar where the majority of household worship took place. Some houses also had a wall niche, an indoor worship area, either in a room especially designated for worship, or in the main family room. These altars were used to worship the Ephestioi (Εφεστιοι), the most personal of the household Theoi. These almost always included: Hestia, Zeus Ephestios (Overseer of the Hearth), Zeus Kthesios, and Agathós Daímōn. Worship of these deities was highly personal and many other Theoi could be added to this worship list.
 
If you wish to get into the routine of daily worship, these Theoi can be used as a base for ritual. Add to this short list any Theoi you feel drawn to or whose influence you feel you need in your life. My list can be found here. Pro tip: start with a short list and build up once you feel comfortable and you have found your rhythm.
 
~~~
 
"How should I celebrate the Noumenia?"

The goal of the Noumenia is to start fresh and to honor the household deities. It is a day of family, family meals, and the celebration of the new month. Part of that celebration can be to prepare for the new month by planning out important events--religious or secular--and writing them down, preferably with the whole family present. Offer sacrifices of honey cakes to Apollon Noumenios, Hestia,Hermes and Zeus Kthesios and refill your kathiskos.
 
~~~
 
"Some tragic events occurred and ever since I have felt odd working with Hermes or any gods. What would be a way I could find out if Hermes still wants to work with me, and if so what things would you suggest doing to work with him (altar suggestions, etc)? Thank you."

One thing that is generally hard for people to understand is that the attention the Theoi pay us does not waver and They do not pick favourites. They accept any and all worship and They are always there. What wavers is the level of attention we pay Them or the amount of time and brainpower we have to spare for Their worship. This is miasma, this is the disconnect between the Theoi and us. Think of it as a radio signal where the Theoi are the broadcasting party: They are always on but depending on the amount of interference and obstacles on our receiving end, the reception is clear or muddled. The ancient Hellenes understood this and that is why they were adamant about a daily practice and regular, state funded, festivals. Hermes is there. He is always there. I dislike the term ‘work with’ but if you wish to honour Him, then do so by any way you have already done. Give libations and sacrifices at your household shrine, read His mythology, meditate. He will be receptive.

~~~
 
"Were Elves or Faeries worshiped by the Ancient Hellenes? We know that there was influence from the Celts and maybe even the Nordics in ancient Hellas. Hence the Hyperboreas."

That's a complicated question to answer. And an easy one. No, Tolkien's Elves are not found in Hellenic mythology and neither was Tinkerbell. So, the question is: how do you define 'Elves' and how do you define 'Faeries'?

An elf, mythologically speaking, is a type of supernatural being in Germanic mythology and folklore. Back then mention of them was very uncommon and served as a race to offset the Giants. An elf in classical Eddaic poetry was male and prominently associated with sexual threats, seducing people and causing them harm. Needless to say, the image has changed since then.

The concept of 'fairy' in the narrow sense is unique to English folklore, conflating Germanic elves with influences from Celtic and Romance (French) folklores, and later made 'diminutive' according to the tastes of Victorian era fairy tales for children. These Celtic roots stem mostly from the The Tuatha Dé Danann, a race of supernaturally-gifted people in Irish mythology. They are thought to represent the main deities of pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland. Many of the Irish tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann refer to these beings as fairies, though in more ancient times they were regarded as Goddesses and Gods.

The ancient Hellenic empire was pretty large but Gaul (France and Belgium), Hispania (Spain) and Britannia (Britain) were reached mostly during the Roman occupation of these regions or provinces. Their influence did not carry over to ancient Hellas. That said, ancient Hellenic mythology does have its Dryads and Nymphs, so there are nature spirits that received worship, but no, no elves and no fairies.

~~~
 
"Do you use the Orphic Hymns in your practice?"

I do! I use as many ancient sources as I can, so that includes the Orphic hymns, the Homeric ones and any ohers I can find. I borrow from plays and philosophical texts as well. If it's ancient and about the Theoi, I'll use it in my rites.
Ancient Hellas is one of the oldest and most important wine-producing civilizations, with evidence of production dating back 6,500 years. Because of the climate, soil and the native vine stocks of the Hellenic islands, ancient Hellenic wine was of great quality. It was a major trade good throughout Europe, and was grown throughout the Hellenic nation--in what is now modern day Italy, Iberia, Sicily, and the south of France. People as far away as modern-day Austria and Russia, as well as many other ancient societies--like the Etruscans, the Phoenicians, the Celts, the Scythians and the Romans--were influenced to some extent by the ancient Hellenic wine making business and culture. But what sort of wines did they drink and how was it made?



The ancient Hellenes called the cultivated vine 'hemeris' (ἡμερίς), after their adjective for 'tame' (ἥμερος), differentiating it from its wild form. They practiced an early form of pigeage when grapes were ready for crushing: wicker baskets filled with grapes were placed inside wooden or earthenware vats with a rope or plank above. Vineyard workers grasped the rope for balance to crush the grapes with their feet, occasionally to the accompaniment of a flute played in a festive manner. After crushing, the grapes were placed in large pithoi, jars where fermentation took place.

Both Hesiod's writings and Homer's Odyssey include some of the earliest mentions of straw wine production: laying out freshly harvested grapes on mats to dry nearly to raisins before pressing. A wine made on Lesbos known as 'protropon' was among the first known to be made exclusively from free-run juice, drawn from grape clusters expressing their contents under their own weight. Other Hellenic innovations include the harvest of deliberately unripe grapes in producing a more acidic wine for blending. The boiling of grape must was discovered as another means of adding sweetness to the wine.

The Ancient Hellenes believed wine could also be improved by adding resin, herbs, spice, seawater, brine, oil and perfume.Ancient Hellenic wine was sweet and aromatic. One form--called Retsina--includes pine resin and has a very special, although acquired, taste. In ancient Hellas, the resin was only added to the wine because the lid of the amphorae were sealed with it, but modern Retsina has the resin added to it directly. The range of ancient Hellenic wine was broad; from inky black to dark red, red, light red, or white. It was never drunk undiluted; the ancient Hellens considered the drinking of undiluted wine to be barbaric.

In addition to its significance as a trade commodity, wine also served important religious, social and medical purposes in ancient Hellenic society. Wine, wine making and wine drinking was, almost needless to say the domain of the Theos of Wine Himself: Dionysos. The medicinal use of wine was frequently studied by the ancient Hellenes, including Hippocrates, who did extensive research on the topic. He used wine as a cure for fevers, to ease convalescence and as an antiseptic. He also studied the effect of wine on his patients' stool. Various types of wine were prescribed by ancient Hellenic doctors for use as an analgesic, diuretic, tonic and digestive aid. They were also aware of some negative health effects, especially those arising from the consumption of wine beyond moderation.
The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus is a major theatre in Athens. It's located at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis and was dedicated to Dionysos. The theatre could seat as many as 17,000 people and was the ideal location for ancient Athens' biggest theatrical celebration, the Dionysia. It was the first stone theatre ever build and was cut into the southern cliff face of the Acropolis. It was also the birthplace of Hellenic tragedy. The site has been used as a theatre since the sixth century BC, although the existing structure dates back to the fourth century BC and shows the remnants of later remodellings.


Development on the site began with the creation of the orchestra, a circular floor of earth 60 feet in diameter with an altar at the centre. Placed adjacent to the theatre were temples to Gaia and Dionysos. During the 5th century bc, the theatre served as the locus of the contests in which the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes were first performed. At the time, the auditorium, perhaps with wooden benches, was set into the hillside, and the skene, or building serving as the background of the play, was built on the opposite side of the orchestra.

In the mid-4th century bc, raked tiers of stone seats capable of accommodating as many as 17,000 spectators were constructed, as well as an enhanced stone skene. Major revisions, probably including the introduction of a raised stage, were carried out in 61 AD under the Roman emperor Nero. After the 4th century the theatre fell into disuse and decay. It was rediscovered in 1765, and major archaeological restoration was undertaken in the late 1800s under archaeologist and Greek architectural authority Wilhelm Dörpfeld.

'Eleuthereus' (Ελευθερευς) as an epithet of Dionysos but also of Zeus, derived either from the Boeotian town of Eleutherae or--and this is most likely--was given to him to describe His roll as the deliverer of man from care and sorrow. During the plays, the audience would get so caught up in the world that was created on stage that they would forget all about their worries and cares for the duration of it. They would be liberated.
In honour of Dionysos and the performance arts He is so invested in, I would like to share this very interesting (abide somewhat slow) video series on the development of ancient Hellenic theater. The tradition has been around for thousands of years and through it all, Dionysos has been its patron. Hail Dionysos!

History of Theatre 1 - From Ritual to Theatre
 
History of Theatre 2 - Development of Classical Greek Tragedy
 
History of Theatre 3 - From Satyr Play to Comedy
 
 

History of Theatre 4 - From Greek to Roman Theatre (architecture)  
On 26 March, at the usual 10 am EDT, Elaion wil host a PAT ritual for the Pandia. This is an ancient state festival attested as having been held annually at Athens as early as the time of Demosthenes--namely the 4th century BC. Very little is known about it, but seeing as we know it was wedged in between a meeting to evaluate the misconduct during the Dionysia on the eitheenth of Elaphebolion and the Dionysia itself, we can at least say with relative accuracy that it was held on the 17th of the month, although the 14th is also mentioned for its connection to the full moon (see below).


What the Pandia celebrate or commemorated is unclear; it's origin story is lost to us and the only records we have of the festival taking place date from much later than its foundation. To the ancient Hellenes who attested to the festival, it was merely a fossilized event that had remained from times past, and they celebrated it in the same way every year--a way obviously not interesting enough to write down. It seems that even they weren't exactly sure about what the festival celebrated.

Pandia (πάνδια) was said to have been a Goddess of the moon, either as an epithet of Selene or as a Goddess onto herself--the daughter of Zeus and Selene. As such, there may have been a connection to the moon for the festival, and either to Pandia, Selene, or Zeus. Another explination would be that the festival is derived from the Attic king Pandion I (Πανδίων Α'), who was said to have lived from 1437 - 1397 BC. Like his father Erichthonius, Pandion married a naiad, Zeuxippe, and they had five children, Erechtheus, Butes, Procne, Philomela, and Cecrops II. According to Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheca, it was during Pandion I's reign that Demeter and Dionysos came to the city-state of Athens. Before his death, he gave the rule of Athens to Erechtheus, but the priesthoods of Poseidon and Athena to Butes.

A third possibility is that the festival is connected to the Attic tribe Dias, so that the Pandia would have been in the same relation to this tribe as the Panathenaea to Athens. A fourth is that the name of the festival is linked to the tribe, but also the name of Zeus--Dias, Διός--which would make it a festival of Zeus Himself.

The most accepted theory comes from Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker, a German classical philologist and archaeologist, who concluded that the festival was most likely a festival of Zeus celebrated by all the Attic tribes, analogous to the Panathenaea. It was a much smaller festival, however.

If you intend to look up Pandia, you are helped greatly by knowing the name which she was better known as in ancient Hellas: Pandeia (Πανδεια). The Homeric Hymn to Selene mentions Zeus, Selene and Pandia so we have added that hymn to the ritual:

"And next, sweet voiced Muses, daughters of Zeus, well-skilled in song, tell of the long-winged Moon. From her immortal head a radiance is shown from heaven and embraces earth; and great is the beauty that ariseth from her shining light. The air, unlit before, glows with the light of her golden crown, and her rays beam clear, whensoever bright Selene having bathed her lovely body in the waters of Ocean, and donned her far-gleaming, shining team, drives on her long-maned horses at full speed, at eventime in the mid-month: then her great orbit is full and then her beams shine brightest as she increases. So she is a sure token and a sign to mortal men. Once the Son of Cronos was joined with her in love; and she conceived and bare a daughter Pandia, exceeding lovely amongst the deathless gods. Hail, white-armed goddess, bright Selene, mild, bright-tressed queen! And now I will leave you and sing the glories of men half-divine, whose deeds minstrels, the servants of the Muses, celebrate with lovely lips." [XXXII]

The ritual for the event can be found here and the community page on Facebook is here.
Anyone reading the ancient hymns will come across something interesting: many of the hymns to Dionysos are either directed at 'Bakkhos' instead of 'Dionysos'. This can be somewhat confusing, so today I want to address these two most frequently used names of the same God.

Technically, 'Bakkhos' is an epithet of Dionysos. 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. Within ritual, epithets are used out of respect, devotion, and out of practicality. It's seen as respectful to address the Gods by Their various names. Within poetry, epithets are used out of respect, as clarification and to add some flair to the poetry written. An epithet is usually placed before ('Pallas Athena') or after ('Zeus Ombrios') the name of the deity in question.

Some epithets become synonyms in addition to being epithets. Bakkhos, for example, was originally an epithet but became another name for Dionysos. In fact, it is the name for Dionysos that was eventually adopted by the Romans. 'Bakkhos' refers to Dionysos' role as the noisy or riotous God. It was named after the frenzy He induces: bakkheia (Βακχεία). 'Dionysos', by the way, comes from the Greek 'Dios (Διος) meaning 'of Zeus' combined with 'Nysa', the name of the region where young Dionysos was said to have been raised.

The ecstatic cult of Dionysus is considered indigenous, predating Hellenic civilization. Assuming the Dionysus cult arrived in Hellas with the importation of wine, it probably first emerged about 6000 BC in one of two places: the Zagros Mountains and borderlands of Mesopotamia and Persia (with a rich wine culture via Asia Minor), or from wild vines on the mountain slopes of Libya and other regions in North Africa. The latter provided wine to ancient Egypt wine from about 2500 BC and was home to ecstatic rites involving animal possession. In any case, Minoan Krete was the next link in the chain, importing wine from the Egyptians, Thracians and Phoenicians and exporting it to colonies such as Hellas. The Mysteries probably took shape in Minoan Krete from about 3000 to 1000 BC, since the name 'Dionysos' exists nowhere other than Krete and Hellas.

Both names refer to the same God, unless you are speaking of the Roman version of Dionysos. Just like Zeus and Jupiter and Ares and Mars, the two are separate deities (in my opinion). As with all epithets, 'Dionysos' refers to the whole of the Gods--all His domains, all of His mythology, all of His person. 'Bakkhos', however, refers to a more specific part of Him, the part that engages in frenzied nocturnal rites and takes in copious amounts of wine (and sex).
On Thursday, 24 March, at 10 AM EDT, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for the Galaxia. This rather obscure festival was held in many places in ancient Hellas, but most notably at Olympia. The Galaxia was closely linked to the vernal equinox, which was used to date it and was (amongst others) in honor of Kronos and Rhea.


The Galaxia is a festival held in honour of the Mother (of the Gods), who in Hellenic mythology is Rhea, although the title is also strongly associated with Gaia and Kybele, who have similar functions. She was worshipped as the mother of Zeus and the Galaxia celebrated His birth just as much as Her giving birth to him. Kronos--as Her consort and His father--was most likely also sacrificed to, along with Hera, who as Zeus' wife deserved honour alongside Him. In our ritual, we have included Helios and the Horai as well, as the Galaxia was associated so closely with the Spring Equinox.

The Galaxia had a special beverage attached to it--well, a special food item: a milk and barley porridge that may have been sacrificed to the Mother, but which was at least consumed at the festival. Pliny the Elder names the porridge a 'puls', which seems to have been a more general term which included pastes made from lentils and beans as well as from grain. On barley-based porridge, he has the following to say in his 'Natural History':

"There are several ways of making barley porridge: the Greeks soak some barley in water and then leave it for a night to dry, and next day dry it by the fire and then grind it in a mill. Some after roasting it more thoroughly sprinkle it again with a small amount of water and dry it before milling; others however shake the young barley out of the ears while green, clean it and while it is wet pound it in a mortar, and wash it of husk in baskets and then dry it in the sun and again pound it, clean it and grind it. But whatever kind of barley is used, when it has been got ready, in the mill they mix in three pounds of flax seed, half a pound of coriander seed, and an eighth of a pint of salt, previously roasting them all. Those who want to keep it for some time in store put it away in new earthenware jars with fine flour and its own bran. Italians bake it without steeping it in water and grind it into fine meal, with the addition of the same ingredients and millet as well." [XVIII-XIV]

Sources which mention the festival speak only of a milk and barley beverage that can be poured. Fundamentally, porridge is made by mixing oats with a fluid (normally water and or milk) and then heating it. Combine barley, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring continuously. Turn the heat to low and steam until grains are soft and all the liquid is absorbed. Add the milk once the water level drops below the level of the barley. Cooking time depends on the form of barley used. Use one cup dry barley on three cups of water.

- Hulled barley is unprocessed and takes the longest to boil, about an hour and 15 minutes before it's soft.
- Pearl Barley or Pearled Barley is the most common form of barley available and is sold in most supermarkets. Because the outer hulls including the bran have been removed, the grains have a pearly white color. Cooking time: 50-60 minutes.
- Quick Barley, or instant barley is pearl barley that is pre-steamed then dried, shortening the cooking time considerably, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Barley Grits are processed similar to bulghur wheat. The grain is cracked, and toasted or parboiled, then dried, making it a quick-cooking product--about 2-3 minutes. As such, add a little less water or milk.
- Barley Flakes, Pressed Barley, or Rolled Barley have the appearance of rolled oats and are often included in muesli-type cereals. The cooking time is about 30 minutes.
- Barley Flour is hulled barley that is finely ground and has a lightness and delicate sweetness. It can be stirred into milk until the right consistency is reached.
To get a consistency where the puls can be poured, add milk or water to thin the porridge. If you want to sweeten the porridge a little, add warmed honey to the mixture.

We hope you will join us on Thursday. The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.
As we are currently celebrating the City Dionysia, I thought it would be fitting to have at least a few Dionysos/theatrically themed blog posts this week Today, I would like to start with the surviving plays that competed or won in the City Dionysia over the years.


To the ancient Hellenes, theater was a form of entertainment taken very seriously. People would come from all across the Hellenic world to attend the popular theaters held in open air amphitheaters. In their glory days, some amphitheaters could hold crowds of up to 15,000 people, and some were so acoustically precise that a coin dropped at the center of the performance circle could be heard perfectly in the back row. The theater was a place where politics, religion, the human condition, popular figures, and legends were all discussed and performed with great enthusiasm. The origin of the dramatic arts in Greece would come in the 6th century BC, when the tyrant Pisistratus, who, at the time, ruled the city of Athens, established a series of public festivals. In the 6th century B.C. a priest of Dionysos, named Thespis, introduced a new element that is considered to be the birth of theater.

The (Greater) City Dionysia was and is a true theatric festival of Dionysos. It was and is held on the 10th to 17th days of Elaphebolion and is thought to have been founded, or at least revived, by the tyrant Pisistratus (around 530 BC). It was most famously held in Athens, when the city was once again full of visitors after the winter. The festival honours Dionysos Eleuthereus (Διονυσος Ελευθερευς), who was said to have been introduced into Athens from the village of Eleuterae (Ελευθέραι). The festival focuses on the performance of tragedies, but has included the performing of comedies since 487 BC. We know of a lot of winners (and even some runner up's), but very few of the plays have survived. Here is a complete overview of the winners whose plays have survived.

472 BC – Aeschylus - The Persians
467 BC – Aeschylus - Seven Against Thebes
463 BC – Aeschylus - The Suppliants
458 BC – Aeschylus - The Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Choephori, Eumenides)
447 BC – Sophocles - Antigone
428 BC – Euripides - Hippolytus
409 BC – Sophocles - Philoctetes
405 BC – Euripides - The Bacchae, Iphigenia in Aulis
401 BC - Sophocles - Oedipus at Colonus (posthumous award)

Happy reading! Hail Dionysos!
The Dionysia ta en Astei (Διονύσια τὰ ἐν Ἄστει), Dionysia ta Megala (Διονύσια τὰ Μεγάλα), Great(er) Dionysia, or City Dionysia, was and is a true theatric festival of Dionysos. The City Dionysia is held on the 10th to 17th days of Elaphebolion and this year, for the first time, Elaion will host an eight day festival for it, from 19 - 26 March, 2016, at the usual 10 am EDT.


The City Dionysia is thought to have been founded, or at least revived, by the tyrant Pisistratus (around 530 BC), and was held in Athens, when the city was once again full of visitors after the winter. The festival honors Dionysos Eleuthereus (Διονυσος Ελευθερευς), who was said to have been introduced into Athens from the village of Eleuterae (Ελευθέραι). The festival focuses on the performance of tragedies, but has included the performing of comedies since 487 BC. It was the second-most important festival after the Panathenaia.

According to myth, the festival was established after Eleutherae, a border-town between Attica and Boeotia, chose to become part of Attica. The Eleuthereans had an established festival of Dionysos--which then became the rural Dionysia--and celebrated to occasion by bringing a statue of Dionysos to Athens. The Athenians, by then not big on the worship of Dionysos, initially rejected the statue, but Dionysos punished the Athenians with a plague affecting the male genitalia. The Athenians, rightfully spooked, accepted the statue and honor of Dionysos, and the plague was cured. These events were recalled each year by two processions, the first, carrying the statue of Dionysos from His temple outside of the city of Athens into the city, and the second where various groups proceeded through the city to the theater, arrayed in groups distinguishable by color or other articles of dress.

Dionysos was a métoikos in a city of Athens, a resident alien, and on the first two days of the festival, the métoikoi of the city got to wear brightly colored festival clothes--mostly purple--and carried trays of offerings in the processions, something métoikoi never got to do otherwise. The Athenian citizens, on the other hand, wore their day-to-day clothes and carried wine and bread with them, or herded the bulls which would be sacrificed. At the end of the processions, the statue of Dionysos was placed in His temple in the theater district, and sacrifices were made to Him. Flute players and poets held contests, and were eager to outdo each other. After all of this, the festival most likely became very Dionysian, indeed.

Singing and dancing had always been a big part of the City Dionysia, but after a while, the structure of the eight day festival became more apparent. Instead of random singing and dancing, from the third day onward, everyone flocked to the theaters to view the plays, whose names and creators had been announced the day prior. The next three days of the festival were devoted to the tragic plays. The three chosen playwrights performed three tragedies and one satyr play each, one set of plays per day. Famous playwrights include Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. They were judged by judges (agonothetai) chosen on the second day.

On the seventh day of the festival, five comedies by famous playwrights like Philemon, Chionides, and Aristophanes were performed. Comedies were of secondary importance at the Dionysia--the Lenaia was far more important for those--but winning the comedic prize at the Dionysia was still regarded a great honor. It seems that, from the fifth century BC onwards, plays could be recycled, and the audience seemed to have appreciated it. These plays were fan favorites, and were not rushed to completion.

Another procession and celebration was held on the final day and the winners of the competitions were declared. The winning playwrights won a wreath of ivy or a goat, and when old plays were performed, the producer was awarded the prize rather than the long-dead playwright.

For the city Dionysia, we will be reading 'The Bacchae', a play by Euripides. It premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included 'Iphigeneia at Aulis' and 'Alcmaeon in Corinth', and which Euripides' son or nephew probably directed. It won first prize in the City Dionysia festival competition.

The Dionysus in Euripides' tale is a young God, angry that his mortal family, the royal house of Cadmus, has denied him a place of honor as a deity. His mortal mother, Semele, was a mistress of Zeus; while pregnant she was killed, through trickery, by Hera, who was jealous of her husband's affair. When Semele died, her sisters said it was Zeus' will and accused her of lying; they also accused their father, Cadmus, of using Zeus as a coverup. Most of Semele's family refuse to believe Dionysus is the son of Zeus, and the young God is spurned in his home. He has traveled throughout Asia and other foreign lands, gathering a cult of female worshipers (Maenads or Bacchantes).

At the play's start he has returned, disguised as a stranger, to take revenge on the house of Cadmus. He has also driven the women of Thebes, including his aunts, into an ecstatic frenzy, sending them dancing and hunting on Mount Cithaeron, much to the horror of their families. Complicating matters, his cousin, the young king Pentheus, has declared a ban on the worship of Dionysus throughout Thebes. The Bacchae is considered to be not only Euripides' greatest tragedy, but one of the greatest ever written, modern or ancient. You can find links to several versions of the play in the rituals document.

You can find the rituals for the event here and join the community here. We hope you will join us in honouring Dionysos in his many, many forms.
You know what? Turning on the news has never been a pleasant experience but lately...? What the hell are were doing to the world? To each other? What depravity and sense of entitlement is in the hearts of humans that we can do these horrible things and think we are in the right? How can we vote for lunatics to enter office? How can we turn a blind eye to refugees pouring out of warzones? How do we pass judgement on people coming to our countries in search of shelter? I practice xenia, I practice the ancient laws of hospitality. It pains me so, so greatly, to see all of this happening. So, today I am going to leave you with some ancient words of wisdom and seeth.

Apollodorus of Karystos (Ἀπολλόδωρος ὁ Καρύστιος) in Euboea was one of the most important writers of the Attic New Comedy, who flourished in Athens between 300 and 260 BC. He is to be distinguished from the older Apollodorus of Gela (342—290), also a writer of comedy, a contemporary of Menander. He wrote 47 comedies and obtained the prize five times. We have no full plays of him that have survived, but there are fragments. This is one, from Grammateidiopoios ('Maker of Writing Tablets').


Humans, all of you—why do you dismiss living happily
And work so hard at living badly
By waging war against each other? Dear gods!
Has some savage type of Fortune taken control
Of our lives, who knows nothing of education at all,
and is completely ignorant of anything
good or evil and just jerks us around
in whatever direction chance governs?
I think so. For how could a Fortune that was truly Greek
Prefer to watch them torn apart by themselves
And falling down among the corpses,
When it were possible for them to be happy, playing,
Getting drunk and listening to music. Tell me, sweetest one—
Rebuke our Fortune as the savage she is!”
 
Does not a life, like this deserve the name
Of godlike?—Think how far more pleasant all
Affairs would be in our communities
Than now they are, if we were but to change
Our fashions, and our habits, and our principles
One little bit. Why should we not proclaim,
"Every Athenian of less than thirty years of age,
Let him come forth and drink. Let all the cavalry
Go to a feast at Corinth, for ten days,
Crowned with chaplets, and perfumed most sweetly.
Let the Megarians sell and boil their cabbages.
Bid all the allies now hasten to the bath,
And mix in cups the rich Euboean wine."
Sure this is real luxury and life,
But we are slaves to a most clownish fortune.


Source of translation for verse one, source of translation for verse two.
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.


"The only real question I have is the meaning behind 'khaire'. I looked everywhere for a solid definition but no one can seem to agree."

'Khaire' and its plural cousin 'Khairete' are greetings. They were used by the likes of Homeros in their writings. They both have the literal meaning 'rejoice,' 'fare well,' and 'hail.' As such they can be used both as a greeting or as a goodbye. This is some interesting reading on the words and their use.
~~~

"Should I construct an Altar to the Gods I want to worship?"

Some definitions you will need: an altar is one of those basic necessities within Hellenismos, and it differs from a shrine. Where an altar is a 'work space', dedicated not so much to a specific deity, but used to do the bulk of the (daily) rituals, a shrine is a devotional area where an altar might be located. In ancient Hellas, the shrine was usually a temple, the altar an actual altar, standing outside of it. Household worship took place at a multitude of shrines. You need an altar for Hellenic sacrifice, and you could build a shrine to the Gods you wish to honour, if you so desire.

~~~

"I want to celebrate the Galaxia, but would Kronos not be offended if I offer to another God?"

The ancient Hellenes (and modern Hellenisist with them) felt strongly all the Gods are connected in some way. Thus you will only very rarely--if ever--sacrifice to just one God. Sacrificing to the Gods in the periphery of the main God you wish to worship establishes kharis and is simply good form. The Gods care about Their family just as we do, so honouring Their mothers, daughters, sons and brothers is very important.

~~~
 
"I would like to adopt the custom of having a kathiskos, but I'm really worried about all of that decomposition and decay that is tied into it all. Would you have any advice for me?"

A kathiskos is an offer jar of foodstuffs used to protect the household's food storage. Typically, it has olive oil and water. The rest is up to the household. The Kathiskos is dedicated to Zeus Ktesios, guardian of the household. The jar is typically emptied into the compost bin or garden and refilled with fresh foodstuffs every month. In generl, kathiskoi have a lid--a lid that tightly screws on. If you have that, then you really need to worry about anything like decomposition and decay.

Below is a picture of an example kathiskos that has not been changed for a little over a year (!) now. It still looks pretty fresh, doesn't it? And this one has fruit! Of course, if I were to open this one know, it would smell foul. My kathiskos always smells foul. That's the point. Think of it like this: all the rotting and fermentation that took place in your kathiskos did not happen to your other foodstuffs. The worse the smell and the worse the status of your content, the better.


~~~

"My sister recently gave birth to a baby girl and I said a prayer of thanks to Hera and Artemis. Now she has two other children, 2 boys, and I was wondering, should I say prayers on their behalf to Artemis as well, or to some other deity?"

Congratulations on your niece (and nephews, of course). Artemis is the protectress of all children, as a Kourotrophos The Kourotrophos are (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. They also watched over young boys and were offered to to keep them safe. Zeus, Athena and Hēraklēs were also prayed to by young boys in order to grow big and strong, and these Theoi were also prayed to to guide and protect the boy.
On the eighth day of Elaphebolion, the Asklepieia (Ἀσκληπίεια) was held in honor of Asklēpiós, who was honored monthly on the eighth. The Asklepieia is linked to the Epidausia, celebrated six months later, as both were special days where those in the medical profession--as well as those seeking medical counsel--made sacrifices to Asklēpiós.


In 242 BC, during the Mercenary War, the sanctuary at Epidaurus was granted immunity from war, and the Asklepieia Megala was established as a festival of athletic and musical competitions, held every four years, for a nine day period. Theater performances were also a huge part of the festival, and the famous theater of Epidaurus still stands today, one of the seven wonders of ancient Hellas.

The first of the festival days was spent preparing for the actual festival. The second day, religious exercises were undertaken. All temples and shrines were richly decorated and sacrifices were made to Apollon, Asklēpiós, Artemis, and Leto. Perhaps and the children of Asklēpiós--Hygieia (health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (recuperation from illness), Aceso (the healing process), Aglaea (beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment), and Panakea (universal remedy)--also received sacrifice. Apollon received the first offering along with Asklēpiós: a cock, the fowl associated with Asklēpiós. They also received barley meal, wheat, and wine. Asklēpiós was then gifted a bull, a second bull was sacrificed to His male associates, and a cow to His female associates.

On the eve of the third day, a statue of Asklēpiós was driven through the precinct, and followed by torch-bearers and priests, who sung hymns to Him. The priests sang and spoke the praise of the Theos. There were vigils throughout the night, and during the daylight hours of the third day, there were feasts. The succeeding days were given up to athletic contests in the stadium, races, wrestling contests, singing contests and theater performances.

The Asklepieia Megala was only held at Epidaurus; all other asklepieia--as well as at Epidausus the other three years--held only a small ceremony for the Theos. The festival did not include athletic games outside of the Asklepieia Megala, but there might have been a focus on singing, and there might have been large banquets, held after sacrifices were made to the Theos.
 
On the 17th of March, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for the Asklepieia, at the usual 10 AM EDT. You can find the ritual here, and we really hope you will join us for this one, too!
A Geometric period tomb was found in the western Greek island of Lesbos, this reports the Archaeological News Network. The tomb, dating to the late 8th century BC, was discovered during sewerage works at the village of Ippeios. The tomb was found near the village’s central area and at a depth of 1.50m.


According to the Lesbos Ephorate of Antiquities, the tomb consists of a unique and rare funerary ensemble; being the first tomb of this period excavated, it is important for the study of the island’s early history and archaeology. It is a cist grave, its built parts made of schist, bearing the undisturbed burial of probably a young woman found in supine position, dating to around 750-700 BC.
The deceased was accompanied by five grey ware drinking vessels, probably of a Lesbian workshop, such as a cup (miniature krater), a deep and shallow bowl, two jugs, as well as gold and bronze jewellery (found around the pelvic area and head), and a pin made of bone.
The gold jewellery included two earrings made of thin gold leaf and displaying the use of granulation, a large biconical bead and a bronze bead, probably from a necklace. A chest built of schist and containing a grey ware amphora still sealed with its lid (made of stone) and a shallow ceramic bowl, was found north to the burial. According to the Lesbos Ephorate of Antiquities, the jewels are excellent examples of Early Geometric (8th century BC) gold workmanship.
On the sixth of the month of Elaphebolion, the people of Athens and Phocis (Φωκίδα), and perhaps other cities and city-states, held a modest ritual that gave its name to the month: the Elaphebolia (Έλαφηβόλια). It appears that the festival was a major festival in honor of Artemis Elaphêbolos (Αρτεμις Ελαφηβολος) down to the time of Plutarch. It was mainly observed at Hyampolis, to commemorate a Phocian victory over the Thessalians. Afterwards, it seems to have lost its grander, most likely in the face of the Greater Dionysia which was held only a few days later, starting on the tenth of the month, and the Asklepia, held on the eighth.


Artemis Elaphêbolos is the stag-killer, the shooter of deer, the huntress who relishes the chase. She's the slayer of prey, both animal and human, and in ancient Hellas, she guarded Hyampolis and the surrounding cities from the horrors of war.

The festival was most likely quite grand right after the war, but slowly became a festival which consisted almost entirely of a single offering. In the early days, the offering was always a stag, one per family, most likely. As the years went on, however, and the expansion of cities drove the stag far into the Athenian hills, only the city's elite was able to offer a stag to the Theia. Everyone else made due with cakes in the shape of stags. It seems these stag cakes--called 'elaphos' (ἔλαφος)--were made out of the basic dough mixture with honey, and sesame seeds.

The Elaphebolia was an important festival of Artemis. The 2016 festival day starts at dusk on the 14th of March, and will continue until dusk the day after. As Artemis Elaphêbolos is Ouranic, the sacrifice should be made during the daylight hours, so Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for the Elapebolia on the 15th of March, at the usual 10 AM EDT. You can find the ritual here, and we really hope you will join us again.
I get a lot of questions about practicing modern Witchcraft and Hellenismos at the same time. I, well, I'm not for that. In that link, you will find my generalized reasons why, based on the ancient ways, but I want to show you why it doesn't work (in my opinion, of course) from a modern standpoint.

Here is a disclaimer first: I am not an authority on anything but I have been a practicioner and teacher of Hellenismos for nearly five years now and before that, I practiced and taught as an Eclectic Religious Witch. I was initiated in a long running line here in The Netherlands and practiced in a coven. I taught 'meditation' and 'history of witchcraft' classes and was quite active both online and in my local community, organising rituals for the eight yearly feasts. The point is: I know both sides of the coin.

I came across a Tumblr post a while ago. It read the following and shows exactly where the rub is with combining the two, because this is actually very accurate in terms of modern Witchcraft:

"Tips for writing spells:

If you want to keep something close, bury it in your back yard.
 If you want to attract something, bury it under the front door step
 If you want to destroy its influence, burn it.
 If you want it to move away and sink, throw it in running water
 If you want to disperse it to a distance, throw it into a crossroads
 If you want to fix its influence, inter it in a five-spot pattern
 If you want it to work by means of spirits, bury it in a graveyard
 If you want to hide its point of origin, conceal it in a tree
 If you want it to work in secret, give it in food or drink
 If you want it to work by stealth, hide it in clothing or on objects
 If you want its influence to begin or strengthen, throw it East
 If you want its influence to end or weaken, throw it West
 If you want its influence to rise and fall cyclicly, float it in a tidal estuary"

Now let me make the Hellenic version for you, which won't get you spells but the religious and mythological 'rules' of our religion:

"If you want remove something from your life and household, bury it in your back yard.
 Don't ever bury anything under the front door step, it'll keep miasma trapped
 If you want to sacrifice something to the Theoi, burn it.
 Don't polute any body of water, this is where the Naiad house
Sacrifice to Hekate at a crossroads for fortune and purification for your family
 A five-spot pattern means nothing in Hellenismos
 Graveyards are miasmic. Spirits need to be appeased but never 'worked with' to prevent miasma
 Don't polute any tree or woodland, this is where the Dryads house
 Giving anything in food or drink might give you a belly ache if it's not to be consumed
 Hiding anything in clothing or on objects will do absolutely nothing
 East is the territory of Euros and considered unlucky
 West is the territory of Zephyros, the gentlest of the winds, the fructifying wind and the messenger of spring
 The ancient Hellenes were sailors and knew that if it ended up in the sea, it stayed in the sea. If it was alive before, it died"

So, literally every single point of truth in modern Witchcraft has the reverse truth in Hellenismos. This is why, in my opinion, it simply does not work to practice the two simultaniously. It can't be done in good concience. Even if you practice the two without overlap, it would two entirely different mindsets that you would have to switch between any time you practice one of the two. I believe--I practice--Hellenismos as a way of life. It's soaked into everything. Because of that, I had to get out of Witchcraft once I progressed into Hellenismos. I hope this clarifies my views some.
We all know of the places where a great part of ancient Hellenic history and mythology unfolded, but sometimes it is difficult to locate these places at the present. A new application was designed to help us and locate these places to their present position on the map, reports Protothema. It's called 'ToposText', after the Greek 'topos', which mean 'place'.


ToposText is a new interface that links readers and travelers to Europe's most ancient literary culture and to the Greek landscape that inspired it. It presents 5000 places relevant to the ancient Hellenic world--mostly ancient cities and shrines, medieval castles and towers, modern museums and excavation sites--primarily in Greece but including major places from Spain to the Caucasus. It links those places to the ancient authors who wrote about them in Greek or Latin.

The application was inspired and designed by Brady Kiesling, senior associate member of the American School of Classical Studies, who having spent two decades exploring Greece by car, foot or bicycle, he realized that it would be really handy if he had the written accounts of historians, travelers or geographers at his fingertips to provide historical and cultural meaning to the places he was visiting around Greece.

Then, Athens-based software company Pavla S.A implemented his idea as an application, with the support of non-profit organizationt Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, as Greek News Agenda mentions. ToposText is available for iPad free at Apple’s app store and soon it will become available for the iPhone and for Android devices.
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.


"What is the difference between hellenic recon, hellenic reform, and hellenic revival? I haven't really been able to find good explanations of these terms in relation to their differences."
 
In general, I consider 'Revival' and 'Reformed' the same thing. Others probably don't, but I'll explain the difference between 'Recon' (which we call 'Traditional') and 'Reformed' Hellenismos. To start, there is no hard line—not in as far as can be defined beforehand; the distinction between 'Traditional' and 'Reformed' is a matter of intent.

The ancient Hellenes worshipped their Gods in a way they did not even have to think about. They were taught by their parents how a ritual was supposed to be conducted and what a festival looked like. Kids learned how to act in temples, and they played their parts in the sacrifice. The ancient religion varied from place to place and when details of a festival or rite changed, they changed because the polis wanted them to. The ancient Hellenic religion(s) were greatly tied to the ancient Hellenic culture(s). Yet, there were overarching ideals and ritual acts that a man traveling from Athens to Kos would recognize if he walked in on a festival there. In fact, it's likely he would have recognized the festival and could share in its intent. Perhaps not its execution, and perhaps not all the time (because of local mythology and deities), but most of the time, and in most of its execution.
 
'Traditional' thus means to practice Hellenismos in the spirit of the ancients. I keep in mind that man from ancient Athens and with everything I do, we wonder if he would recognize what I am doing as the worship of the Gods he worships at home. That does not mean you need a big altar out in your garden (although I do encourage it), and this doesn't mean you need to hold daily ritual (although I do encourage it), and it doesn't mean that you always have to worship in a group or with your family (but I do encourage it) in order to be Traditional. It means that whatever you do, you keep that man in mind and wonder if he would recognize what you are doing as an adapted and modernized version of his faith.
 
'Traditional', as such, has nothing to do with practices that link back directly to ancient Hellas; no one is claiming to trace a lineage back or to in any other way have a direct line into the ancient Hellenic religion. We take what we know from scholarly and original work and make a generalized framework that can be built off of and adapt that to modern culture. Then we flesh out our practice with ancient practices and ancient ways of thought that resonate with us.
 
'Reformed', then, is the incorporation of practices that are either completely new or were derived from ancient Hellas with so many steps in-between that it's become completely unrecognizable. The incorporation of modern witchcraft, for example, or patron Gods as defined by modern Paganism. Wiccan elements are also part of Reformed Hellenismos.
 
To get back to the intent I mentioned earlier; your practice is Traditional to the typical Hellenist if you adhere to the above: ancient practices in a modern context where the bare bones are as close to the generalized ancient religion as we can make them. If you wilfully bring in modern elements from other religions or traditions, we consider those parts of your practice Reformed, and there is no value judgement in that. One is not better than the other. they both have vlue. It's a personal choice.
  
I hope this makes the distinction between the two clearer, and that it gives substance and context to the terms. For me, the value in using these terms lies in more easily finding likeminded people to share worship with. Using these terms prevents a lot of hassle and aggravation, but in the end, they are just words. It's your practice that matters and in the end, we all worship the Theoi.

~~~

"I read your articles on the Kronia. Can you please tell me, what day it falls this year. Has anything been discovered that would need me to worship differently from your article. And how should I pay homage to the Kronos this year?"

As far as I am aware, the article is still accurate. The Kronia will be held from dusk on July 27 to dusk on July 28 in 2016. you can find last year's ritual for the event here.

If you are interested in honouring Kronos, next month, from dusk on March 23 to March 24, the Galaxia takes place. This rather obscure festival was held in many places in ancient Hellas, but most notably at Olympia. It was closely linked to the vernal equinox, which was used to date it. The Galaxia is a festival held in honour of the Mother (of the Gods), who in Hellenic mythology is Rhea, although the title is also strongly associated with Gaia and Kybele, who have similar functions. She was worshipped as the mother of Zeus and the Galaxia celebrated His birth just as much as Her giving birth to him. Kronos--as Her consort and His father--was most likely also sacrificed to, along with Hera, who as Zeus' wife deserved honour alongside Him. Our ritual for that can be found here.

~~~

"As I have been ordered by my doctor to lose a great deal of weight, I was wondering if you had any suggestions for which Gods or Goddesses I should pray to (I assume Heracles would be one of these) or which Hymn's of Homer I should recite. If you could get back to me, I would greatly appreciate your input."

Herakles would be a great hero to pray to, as would any Gods and Goddesses connected to battle, struggle and physical health. Ares and Athena come to mind, along with Asklepios and even Niké. Especially Ares is a God I pray a lot to when it comes to working out and getting in shape, Demeter might also be a good option to help make healthy food choices.

~~~

"I see that you have ideas about honoring certain gods, which can include their families..ie, Apollo, Artemis, Leto, and zeus , etc. Do you have any ideas of honoring Hera, daily and just to do something special for her, offerings or a devotional."

Do you do daily ritual now? Hera is included in mine. If you only wish to honour Hera, however, you can with a simple ritual.

- Set out a bowl of water
- Set out a bowl of wine and dilute it with water
 - Light a candle to Hestia with a match
- Drop the match into the bowl of water and use it as khernips to cleanse
- Wash your hands and face and flick the access water off over your shrine to cleanse it.
-  Recite the Homeric Hymn 24 to Hestia:
 
"Blessed Goddess Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise—draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song."
 
- Pour some wine out to Hestia
- Light an incense burner with aromatic herbs like bay-leaf, chamomile, chrysanthemum, jasmine flowers, laurel, lavender, myrtle,  rose, sandalwood, verbana, etc. or add it to a sacrificial fire
- Recite a hymn to Hera, like Homeric Hymn 12 to Hera:
 
"I sing of golden-throned Hera whom Rhea bare. Queen of the Immortals is she, surpassing all in beauty: she is the sister and wife of loud-thundering Zeus,--the glorious one whom all the blessed throughout high Olympos reverence and honour even as Zeus who delights in thunder."
 
- Pour some wine out to Hera
- Say your prayers
- Blow out the candle and clean up

 ~~~

"Do you know any artist that does drawing or paintings or even statuary. Commissioned pieces. I have been looking for a long time now and figured to ask because I have been meaning to commission some pieces of Hera or other gods as I become more financially able."

About commissioning pieces... I only know of Lykeia. Any readers interested....? Leave your contact info in the comments!
Elaion is proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have raised $ 90,- for our two causes, Dominick Lawniczak Evans and Ashley Guillory.As always, you have all given generously, and in the spirit of the Gods! Thank you! Both causes will recieve $ 45,-



Dominick Lawniczak Evans
Dominick's full story can be found here, but in short, Dominick has two huge problems that are creating impenetrable barriers to his independence. First, his hoyer lift (the lift that gets him from the bed to his wheelchair) is old and unsafe. The second problem is his wheelchair. A highly documented mess from day one, Dominick's wheelchair is about three years old and has been fixed well over 20 times and has had the base replaced at least once. Dominick is fighting with his insurance company to get a new wheelchair, but it's a slow going process and until he gets one, he spends most of his time in bed. Now with the addition of the lift problems, he spends all of his time in bed.



Ashley Guillory
Ashley Guillory is 33 years old, married, and has a daughter and step-son. Ten years ago, she had a brain tumor removed and with a recent trip to Houston Ashley and her family found out she will need another brain surgery to remove a cyst in the middle of her brain. The neurologist found an area of concern in her cerebellum. Now, brain surgery is invasive and very expensive. The family is looking for help to cover these excessive costs and you can help with any and all amounts. Every little bit will help.


From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving. Thank you for your generosity!
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
Statistics:
PAT rituals for Elaphebolion:
  • 15/03 - Elaphebolion 6 - Elaphebolia - festival in honor of Artemis
  • 17/03 - Elaphebolion 8 - Asklepieia - in honor of Asklēpiós
  • 19/03 - 26/03 - Elaphebolion 10-17 - Greater (City) Dionysia in honor of Dionysus
  • 24/03 - Elaphebolion 15 - Galaxia - in honor of the Mother of the Gods (Rhea), Kronos, Zeus and Hera
  • 26/03 - Elaphebolion 17 - Pandia - festival in honor of Zeus, following the Greater Dionysia
Anything else?
This month Pandora's Kharis will raise funds for two causes, two people: Dominick Lawniczak Evans and Ashley Guillory. Dominick's full story can be found here, but in short, Dominick has two huge problems that are creating impenetrable barriers to his independence. First, his hoyer lift (the lift that gets him from the bed to his wheelchair) is old and unsafe. The second problem is his wheelchair. Ashley Guillory had a brain tumor removed ten years ago and with a recent trip to Houston, Ashley and her family found out she will need another brain surgery to remove a cyst in the middle of her brain.

The deadline to donate is March 8, 2016. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance! Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!
 
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
Our seas and oceans are home to a tremendous amount of archaeological sites and artefacts. These invaluable witnesses to history are often difficult to locate, and even then experts are still faced with the question of whether to conserve them in situ or bring them to the surface. The SASMAP project has developed tools and technologies that will help solve both conundrums, this reports Phys.com in an interview with Dr. David Gregory, coordinator of SASMAP.

SASMAP stands for 'survey, assess, stabilise, monitor and preserve' in reference to underwater archaeological sites. UNESCO currently estimates that, over 3 million wrecks are spread across ocean floors around the planet. This figure does not include the numerous submerged landscapes (and archaeological sites therein), found around Europe as a result of postglacial sea level change. The SASMAP project sets out to help archaeologists to better map and protect these hidden treasures.

The SASMAP concept was born from two main observations. The first one is that the huge potential of underwater cultural heritage is in contrast with how it is undervalued. The second one, and the most important, is that excavation is not always the most realistic and preferable option.  Sometimes bringing such cultural heritage back to the surface can also damage it beyond repair. The project's tools and technologies will help archaeologists in their quest to locate and analyse heritage sites, but also to decide on the best conservation option.

According to Gregory, locating sites is generally difficult as sites are underwater and this makes diver-based searches far more labour-intensive and expensive. These operations are often hampered by poor visibility and arduous working conditions. Furthermore, even though one often has the picture of a shipwreck sitting on the seabed, prehistoric remains and landscapes are often buried, and so are more ancient shipwrecks. This has been solved with an increased use of acoustic survey techniques that can very accurately predict, record and model what is lying on the seabed and within the seabed. A new type of acoustic device that can look into the seabed in 3D has also been developed within the project and is already being taken up by other marine researchers, not just archaeologists but also geologists, etc.

Now in terms of conservation, there are two aspects to consider—one is what is called in situ preservation, that is to say locating, documenting, protecting and monitoring sites where they lie on the seabed. This approach is very much the current ethos within maritime archaeology both at a European level and internationally—there are several treaties which argue for this approach. However, sometimes in situ preservation is not appropriate as sites are at risk of being damaged by natural processes. Wherever possible, it would be best to excavate the items, bring them safely to the surface and conserve them for storage and display in e.g. Museums. The SASMAP project looks at both aspects of conservation.

The idea of SASMAP was to develop various tools to locate sites using desk-based models. This was tested on two sites, one in Denmark where submerged prehistoric remains can be found and one in Greece, for submerged classical remains. Gregory and his team established where the sites may be located before sending divers to verify their findings and started to make an appropriate plan for the management of these sites.

The main question was, if we want to leave a site where it is, which depends on what the likely natural threats to it are. The project partners developed tools that could assess the open seawater environment and burial environment in order to classify whether the site environment was conducive to preservation or not. These tools included a remote data logging device which could collect water quality parameters such as salinity, temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen and current strength; and three diver-held devices: a data logger measuring various parameters within sediments, another that was developed to take sediment samples from the seabed for further analysis in lab conditions, and a third one that was used to assess the state of deterioration of wood underwater, in situ.

Even when kept in situ the sites often need to be protected. One way this was investigated was the development and use of artificial sea grass, which helps stop underwater currents from removing sediments. If it is decided to excavate artefacts, they are often very fragile and can easily be broken on the way to the surface and during transport back to the laboratory. Methods were developed to consolidate sediments around artefacts. This was achieved by using environmentally-friendly polymers that effectively turn the water in the sand into a thick gel which can be easily removed once in the laboratory. Another method entailed what is termed 'block lifting', that is to say artefacts encapsulated in thick sediments, such as clay, are lifted as a block and can then be excavated back in the laboratory under safe, controlled conditions.

The SASMAP project also looks at the possibility of improving legislation. According to Gregory,  in Europe the majority of underwater archaeological investigations and excavations are carried out as a result of subsea development. That is to say when a pipeline, wind farm, cable or any other structure is to be placed on the seabed. The team hoped to improve legislation by creating two generic guidelines which explain the process of what is called developer-lead archaeology and how the various stakeholders can approach this. Very often project managers working on such projects may not be archaeologists or geologists so they wanted to simply show how this can be done. A second contribution was to provide case studies and examples of how this can be achieved practically by drawing from the results of SASMAP.

The tests that the team ran were very succesful. The two main sites were in Denmark and Greece but various tools were also tested in Italy. The open water data logger was tested in the Netherlands and was superb at assessing the strength of currents over a wreck which was being protected using the artificial sea grass mats developed in the project. In Denmark the sediment/seabed logger, sediment coring device and wood tester were all tested and proved very successful at assessing the various environments and materials. The 3D sub bottom profiler, which can look into the seabed, was validated in Denmark, Greece and the Netherlands but was most successfully used outside of the project by Belgian geologists who were very interested in the development of the equipment and used it to help locate the remains of Roman and medieval fish traps.

It is certainly hoped that the underwater cultural heritage community will adopt both the general and holistic approach developed within SASMAP. The market potential reaches far beyond archaeology and can impact marine sciences and ocean exploration in general. Several of the products are already on the market and others are close to that, which is a fantastic achievement.