In the daylight hours of the 9th of October, on 6 Pyanepsion, we will celebrate and host a ritual for the Proerosia which, in Attica, honoured Demeter and Apollon first and foremost as Goddess of the harvest and oracular deity who insured bountiful harvest. It seems that in Myrrhinus, the primary recipient of worship during the Proerosia was Zeus. Will you join us on the 9th of October, at 10 AM EDT?


The Proerosia (Προηροσία) was a festival for Demeter’s blessings in preparation for the ploughing and sowing at the beginning of the agricultural season. In ancient times it was held at Eleusis. The name serves to convey the essence of the rites: 'sacrifice before ploughing'.

The myth goes that the whole of Hellas was suffering from a terrible famine or plague, and the oracle of Delphi was visited to ask how to stop this terrible affair. The Delphic Oracle said that Apollo ordered a tithe to Demeter of the first harvest on behalf of all Hellenes. Except for disruptions during the Peloponnesian War, offerings arrived annually at Eleusis from all over Hellas. While Athens wasn't a big contributor to the rites--perhaps because they already made their own offerings of grain and first fruits to Demeter--most other city-states contributed generously, and the Athenians were welcome during the rites. For His help, Pythian Apollon also received an offering during the Proerosia.

There is some confusion over the dating of the festival. Many modern sources date the festival on the fifth of Pyanpesion, but new research shows that, because of the placement of the Pyanepsia festival, in honour of Apollon and Theseus, the Proerosia could only have been celebrated in the daylight hours of the sixth.

The festival can be celebrated with first fruit-offerings, any offering related to grains (like bread, cakes, or pancakes), or a kykeon libation. The kykeon was made of barley, water, herbs, and ground goat cheese. Sometimes honey was added. Herbs that are described as part of the kykeon are mint, pennyroyal and thyme, although it seems any herb that was found to flavor the drink, was acceptable.

You can join our community for the event here, and find the ritual here.
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. Also: this is question collections post number sixty. Sixty! With an average of four answers per posts, that is at least 240 questions answered--say 250 because I like whole numbers. 250 answers. Quite the achievement. Here is to at least 250 more!


"Do you think it would be appropriate to replace Greek words in prayer with the closest equivalent English words? I have a lot of trouble with Greek pronunciation, and I worry that this focus on language ends up distracting me from prayer, and by extension from the Theoi."

A good while back, I wrote a post about the importance of language in ritual a while back. Mostly that was me waxing poetically about an issue I had not yet resolved. I still haven't. I don't speak Greek, let alone ancient Greek. I do promounce the names of the Theoi in Greek as much as possible--which ususally is not quite a huge difference from the English.

Upon reading your question I contemplated how problematic this fact is to me. Upon the aforementioned contemplation, I can say that I don't rightly mind the fact that my worship is practiced in a mixture of Dutch, English and the odd word of Greek. Language is a human thing anyway; I can't imagine the Theoi are hindered in understanding my hymns and prayers because of the language I use.

Practicing in ancient Greek is probably more Traditional--and if I spoke it, I would use it. Perhaps I will learn enough ancient Greek one day to practice in it--who knows--but even in that case, the meaning of the words is more important to me than the words themselves.

I can understand how distraction by language might worry you. You know, at the end of the day, we do the best we can. If (currently) the best you can do is using the English pronounciation of the names of the Theoi, then do that. Just honour Them. Give Them Their proper due. Nothing matters above that.

~~~

"I have lately been having trouble getting myself to do rituals, and this causes me to feel very guilty - I feel sometimes that Hellenismos isn't for me. But - I want it and feel connected to it. What should I do? Thanks."

Some things I can't answer for an individual. Wether Hellenismos is the right religion for them or not is one of them, sadly. There are so many variables at play here--why are you having trouble getting yourself to do rituals, for example? Is it a matter of time? Effort? Money? Embarresment? Devotion? Are there ways to go about it that would alleviate these reasons? Doing it once a day? Doing only festival rituals?

If you have contacted me to alleviate your guilt and get a pass on rituals, well, I am not your priestess. This is not Christianity; there is no pardon for behavior that runs counter to the religion's practice. In Hellenismos, you are responsible for your own behavior and by acting, you accept the subsequent reaction. I can't tell you in the Theoi mind that you do not actively practice or do so only rarely or reluctantly. I would never presume to interpret the minds of the Theoi that way. I also cannot tell you if your issues with active practice mean Hellenismos is for you or not.

My advice to you would be to look inside yourself and try to pinpoint why, exactly, you are feeling this reluctance. I fear that that is the only way you might find an answer to the other question. Best of luck to you!

~~~

"I am looking for the "ancient writers" who used the terms Khryseoi and Agryreoi and gave the description below.

'According to some ancient writers, the spirits of the Silver Age also became daímones: the daímones agryreoi. They were described as earth-dwelling fertility spirits who proferred mankind with rich harvests. They were inferior to the Daimones Khryseoi. The former resided within the earth, while the latter occupied the air.'"

That quote is from this post of the Beginner's Guide to Hellenismos. The ancient writer is Hesiod, in his Works and Days:

"First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympos made a Golden (khryseoi, Ἁγνοι) Race of mortal men who lived in the time of Kronos when he was reigning in heaven. " [109 ff (trans. Evelyn-White)]

"They [the gods] who dwell on Olympos made a second generation [of men after the Golden Race] which was of Silver (Argyreoi, Αργυρεοι) and less noble by far. It was like the golden race neither in body nor in spirit." [121 ff (trans. Evelyn-White)]

~~~

"When emptying the kathiskos each month, what do you do with the contents? I know better than to throw them away because they are offerings and are marked as sacred, but do you bury it in a flowerbed or...?"

I used to add the contents of my kathiskos to our compost pile, now I have moved and we have not yet installed a compost heap, they get buried (deep) in the yard to basically fulfil the same purpose. It seems only right to do something with it that will provide life.
A bit of Hellenic mythology today, to foster more understanding of the pantheon. Have you heard of the enforcers of Zeus? They are four winged deities who stand at attendance at Zeus' throne on Olympos. They are four siblings who are the children of Styx and Pallas.

We all know about the Titanomachy, the war for dominance Zeus waged with his father Kronos. At the start of that war, Zeus gathered His allies about Him. Styx chose His side and She brought Her four children into His service. These four are Nike, Zelos, Kratos, and Bia.

Nike (Νικη)
Nike is most often portrayed as a young woman with a billowy dress and beautiful wings attached to Her back. She is the personification of victory and therefor a very valuabel allie of Zeus. Her precense by His side was--literally--what granted Him victory.

Zelos (Ζῆλος)
Zelos is the personified spirit of rivalry, emulation, eagerness, jealousy, envy and zeal. They sound like negative traits but they can be put to good use; they are motivational. Zelos is the spark that puts people into motion--the spark that helps them strive for more, for better.

Kratos (Κράτος)
Kratos is the personification of strength, might, power and sovereign rule. He is the very personification of authority--something that Zeus obviously cannot be without. With Kratos by His side, no one has more authority than He.

Bia (Βία)
Bia is the Goddess of force, power, might, bodily strength and compulsion. It is Her who allows Zeus His supreme rule--she is His enforcer, his bodyguard so to speak. The traits She provides Him with allow him to hold on to His power and rule forever, dominantly, over the other Olympians.
An aryballos (ἀρύβαλλος) was a small spherical or globular flask with a narrow neck used in Ancient Hellas to contain perfume or oil. They are often depicted in vase paintings where they are used by athletes during bathing. In these depictions, the vessel is at times attached by a strap to the athlete's wrist, or hung by a strap from a peg on the wall. The original shape of them is a bit boring. Over the years, though, the ancient Hellenes thought of something novel: animal shaped ones! I spent at least an hour yesterday googling as many as I could find an I'd like to spare you the search. So here are some of the cutest aryballoi in ancient Hellenic history.

Oh--point of interest: hedgehogs are among the most common forms of faience oil flasks. The center of production of these vases has traditionally been identified as Naukratis, a Hellenic trading colony on the Nile Delta, in Egypt. Faience, by the way, is the conventional name in English for fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate pale buff earthenware body, originally associated by French speakers with wares exported from Faenza in northern Italy. The term 'faience' has been extended to include finely glazed ceramic beads, figures and other small objects found in Egypt as early as 4000 BC and elsewhere in the Ancient Near East, the Indus Valley Civilization and Europe. However this material is not pottery at all, containing no clay, but a vitreous frit, either self-glazing or glazed.

600 BC, East Greek, Hedgehog
 
600-500 BC, East Greek, Hedgehog
 
630 BC, Corinthian, Owl
 
620–590 BC, Corinthian, Bird
 
600-500 BC, Rhodian, Rooster
 
600-500 BC, East Greek, Fish
  
600 - 550 BC, Corinthian, Hare
You know what? Sometimes things just do not work out. Sometimes you have a string of days that do not work out. I'm on the tail end of a string of bad days and I won't lie, it got me down a little. I'm only human, right? I try t pracice Arete every day but some days you just have to curl up into a ball and wait it out. Now I'm recovering from my epic curl-up fest, I turn to the ancients for some words of wisdom. That's always soothing to me.

Today's words of wisdom will come from Plato and Plutarch. The subject? Lot. Sometimes things happen because they just happen. There is nothing to be done against it. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to it. Thanks Plato, thanks Plutarch. that is what I'll do today.


Plato, Republic 604c-d)
 
“The best way to deliberate about what has happened is just as we might in the fall of dice: to order our affairs in reference to how the dice have fallen where reason dictates the best place would be, and not to stumble forward like children shocked at the outcome wasting time with crying. Instead, we should always prepare our mind towards addressing what has happened as quickly as possible and to redress what has fallen and what ails, erasing lament with treatment (or 'therapy').”
 
Plutarch, De Tranquilitate Animi 467b
 
“Plato likened life to a dice-game in which we need both to throw what is advantageous and to use the dice well after we’ve thrown them. And when we are subject to chance, if we take good advice, this is our task: though we cannot control the toss, we can accept the outcome luck gives us properly and allot to each event a place in which what is good for us helps the most and what was unplanned aggrieves the least.”
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.


"Do you think that, everytime people with Hellenic blogs reblog an aeshetic/moodboard of a certain deity or reblog a hymn, then that counts as a form of devotion? Kinda like an indirect prayer? Or maybe even buying new crystals for altars or something small like that? I like to think that when I reblog a post for my gods it's a way of showing my devotion without actually praying or pouring libations."

The traditional manner of prayer is accompanied by physical sacrifice and is performed in a ritual context. A sacrifice to the Gods is a way of bonding, of kharis. It's a way of showing our devotion to the Gods and bringing Them, actively, into our homes and lives. It's a way of acknowledging Their greatness and recognizing our loyalty to Them.

Traditionally, dedicating activity is not a way to honour the Gods. After all, it does not relate to Them directly, does not strengthen our bond with Them and They get nothing out of it. The energy is directed at other people, not upwards to the Gods. A small portion of that energy might 'bleed' up to Them but it's not going to establish kharis in the same way as sacrifice does.

Being actively engaged with your worship through blogging, shopping, prettying and cleaning shrines and even talking about Them with others, in my opinion, is something you do for you, not for the Theoi, but it does have value. It keeps the Theoi at the forefront of your mind and helps you practice arete, the act of living up to one's full potential.

If you are actively engaged with the Theoi on a day to day basis, you'll have an easier time motivating and reminding yourself of your actual practice. Daily sacrifices become easier to integrate, the Theoi become a priority much more easily than when you are not actively engaged with Them, and you'll simply feel more... Hellenistic. It helps. But I do feel like you do it for you; the Theoi get nothing out of it directly. They do, however, end up with a more engaged worshipper and that most certainly has its own (great) value!

~~~

"I frequently hear the list of Olympians ending in "either Hestia or Hermes (or Dionysus)" and this kind of confuses me. I know it doesn't matter that specifically if I worship all 12 (or 14 it seems) of the small part of the pantheon that compiles the Olympians, but personally I'd like to and I'm unsure how this roster is decided I guess?"

The ancient Hellenes did not have a consensus on the Dodekatheon; what mattered was that there was a council of twelve, the Dodekatheon, at all. Who resided on the golden thrones atop Snowy Olympos was subject to debate and varied per location.

The most canonical version of the Dodekatheon is represented in a relief currently located at the Walters Art Museum. The relief dates back to the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD and depicts the Twelve Olympians carrying their attributes in procession: from left to right, Hestia (scepter), Hermes (winged cap and staff), Aphrodite (veiled), Ares (helmet and spear), Demeter (scepter and wheat sheaf), Hēphaistos (staff), Hera (scepter), Poseidon (trident), Athena (owl and helmet), Zeus (thunderbolt and staff), Artemis (bow and quiver), and Apollon (cithara). No mention of Dionysos.

There is a story floating about the internet and even some modern texts on Hellenic mythology, that Hestia gave up Her throne to Dionysos. Apparently, this is an ancient myth, and the ancient Hellenes would have believed this as well. It's a story so frequently told, one that is so common-knowledge, that very few people bother to check the source. Well, the source is Robert Graves' 'The Greek Myths', written in 1955. From that book (27.12):

"Finally, having established his worship throughout the world, Dionysus ascended into Heaven, and now sits at the right hand of Zeus as one of the Twelve Great Gods. The self-effacing goddess Hestia resigned her seat at the high table in his favour; glad of any excuse to escape the jealous wranglings of her family, and knowing that she could always count on a quiet welcome in any Greek city which it might please her to visit."

Graves provides two sources for this story: Apollodoros’ Bibliotheka 3.5.3, and and Pausanias’ Hellados Periegesis 2.31.2. As you can read for yourself, there is no mention what so ever of Hestia giving up Her throne. In fact, the sources only address the part of Graves' text that follows afterwards, about Dionysos bringing His mother Semele up to Olympos as well.
 
So, did Graves lie? Well, yes and no. Graves is a storyteller; he spun stories based on facts he could find. If he could not find a fact, he made it up to fit the story. Because of this, his books are a great read but they are not reliable as far as ancient mythology goes.
 
Obviously, Theoi who were held in high regard in a certain city-state would have held the thrones, according to the people who lived in that city-state. This means that it's quite likely there were people in ancient Hellas who firmly believed that Dionysos occupied one of the thrones of the Dodekatheon. Most likely, there were also people who believed Hestia did not occupy one of the thrones. It's entirely possible that some people--perhaps even the same people who believed Dionysos was part of the Dodekatheon, but not Hestia--believed that Hestia gave up Her seat to Dionysos. The problem is that there are no ancient sources to support this, and there was most certainly not a wide-spread myth to this effect that held sway in ancient Hellas.

In my personal practice, who hold the thrones of the Dodekatheon is nearly irrelevant. I follow the festival calendar and have my daily ritual practice. through that, all 'major' Theoi are honoured and many of the 'lesser' as well. The pantheon, after all, is much larger than just the children of Kronos and Rhea.

~~~

"I wanted to ask you, if you could make a post about the Underworld and how the judges judge exactly. Because I cannot find anything about it."

I actually did write about that twice, both in a long post about the Hellenic Underworld and in a post specifically dedicated to the Judges of the Underworld. I did not go into detail, however, about how judgement is passed. Mostly because we don't know exactly how and what we do know, well, except for being naked pretty much matches the (ancient Hellenic) court proceedings.

Naked? Yep! You are judged in your birthday suit. Why? Let Plato, in his Gorgias, enlighten you:

"The cases [of the dead] are now indeed judged ill and it is because they who are on trial are tried in their clothing, for they are tried alive. Now many,' said he, `who have wicked souls are clad in fair bodies and ancestry and wealth, and at their judgment appear many witnesses to testify that their lives have been just. Now, the judges are confounded not only by their evidence but at the same time by being clothed themselves while they sit in judgment, having their own soul muffled in the veil of eyes and ears and the whole body. Thus all these are a hindrance to them, their own habiliments no less than those of the judged.
 
Well, first of all,' he said, 'we must put a stop to their foreknowledge of their death; for this they at present foreknow. However, Prometheus has already been given the word to stop this in them. Next they must be stripped bare of all those things before they are tried; for they must stand their trial dead. Their judge also must be naked, dead, beholding with very soul the very soul of each immediately upon his death, bereft of all his kin and having left behind on earth all that fine array, to the end that the judgment may be just.
 
Now I, knowing all this before you, have appointed sons of my own to be judges; two from Asia, Minos and Rhadamanthus, and one from Europe, Aiakos. These, when their life is ended, shall give judgment in the meadow at the dividing of the road, whence are the two ways leading, one to the Isles of the Blest, and the other to Tartaros. And those who come from Asia shall Rhadamanthys try, and those from Europe, Aiakos; and to Minos I will give the privilege of the final decision, if the other two be in any doubt; that the judgment upon this journey of mankind may be supremely just." 
 
It seems the dead were allowed to plead their case, explaining why they felt they had lived as good people. If the judges agreed, they judged favourably. If not, well...
News of the Antikythera shipwreck is not an unfamiliar sight on this blog. The Antikythera mechanism and the subsequent finds on the wreck are spellbinding and have held my interest for years. So of course I am going to report on this too, because my Gods! Researchers from the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts have found a human skeleton at the bottom of the sea floor in the wreck where the famed Antikythera Mechanism was also found.


The recently found remains were pulled from the ship on August 31st. The team first uncovered a skull complete with a jaw and teeth, followed by arms, legs, and ribs. Some parts of the skeleton still remain underwater, but they were left behind and will taken to the surface at a later time.

Now, this is not the first time divers have found skeletons at the site. In 1976, Jacques-Yves Cousteau visited the wreck with his team and uncovered more than 300 artifacts, which included a number of skeletons. The find of human remains marks the first time since the beginning of DNA studies, however, that such an ancient skeleton has been identified aboard a ship and remains preserved. This means scientists have their first real hope of sequencing DNA from a victim of an ancient shipwreck.

Brendan Foley at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who is exploring the wreck site with archaeologists from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities explained how Nikolas Giannoulakis, a team member, tapped him on the shoulder while out on a dive:

"Talking through his rebreather in muffled excitement, said: 'We found bones! We found a skeleton!' There was no doubt in any of our minds that what were were looking at were extensive human remains. This is the most exciting scientific discovery we’ve made here. We think he was trapped in the ship when it went down and he must have been buried very rapidly or the bones would have gone by now.”

Hannes Schroeder, an ancient DNA expert at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, will recieve samples from the remains for full analysis after the Greek authorities give permission.

“Against all odds, the bones survived over 2,000 years at the bottom of the sea and they appear to be in fairly good condition, which is incredible.” 

If a sufficient amount of DNA is recovered from the bones, researchers could learn a lot, including about the skeleton’s geographic and ethnic origins. Though the bones have been underwater for thousands of years, the bones are largely intact. That quality, combined with recent advances in DNA, should help experts in their analysis.

DNA tests are expected to provide information on the drowned person's age and gender which, if female, would add to evidence that such ships carried passengers as well as cargo, said Ageliki G. Simosi, director of the ministry's department of Underwater Antiquities. Simosi said the latest excavation, conducted 52 metres (170 feet) below the surface by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the culture ministry, had a lot more still to reveal.

"The area is difficult to approach and the conditions are tough. This shipwreck continuously reveals treasures and I believe that this is only the beginning."
Near the end of the month of Boedromion, there was a singular sacrifice organised in Erkhia, a deme of Attica. It was held in honour of the river God Achelous, his intended wife ('alochos') Deianeira, the Nymphs, Hermes, and Gaea. We will be holding a PAT ritual for this sacrifice on the 29th of September, at 10 AM EDT.


In Hellenic mythology, Achelous (Ἀχελῷος Achelōios) is the patron deity of the 'silver-swirling' Achelous River, which is the largest river of Greece, and thus the chief of all river deities. His name is pre-Hellenic, its meaning unknown. His parents are generally believed to be Tethys and Okeanos. Very few of the river Gods have mythology about Them, but Achelous was featured heavily in the legends surrounding the hero Hēraklēs. In fact, we believe the origins for this sacrifice lie exactly there. The myth goes as follows:

Achelous, God of the most powerfully flowing river in Hellas, fell in love with the daughter of the king who ruled the land along the river. Deianeira, daughter of Oeneus king of Calydon came to age as the most beautiful woman in the land. For her hand, her father announced a contest: the strongest of her suitors would win her. Achelous, as a God, was by far the strongest in the region and was sure He would win her. But Hēraklēs had also heard of her beauty so in the end it came down to the two of them.

Hēraklēs was the strongest mortal in the world, but Achelous, being a God, had some advantages over him. He could change his shape at will. He could become a snake that curved like the winding river. He could become a bull that roared like the roaring river. And when He was a bull He could tear the very earth with His massive horns, just as the river carved away the land when it overflowed its banks. Even in the shape of a man, He had the horns of the bull on His head.

The fight was terrible. Achelous thrashed and fought Hēraklēs in all his shapes. When Hēraklēs pinned him, he became a snake and slithered loose. But Hēraklēs gripped him again and this time Achelous tried to shake free by changing into a bull. He bucked and raged, but Hēraklēs drove his horns into the Earth and with a mighty heave, he tore one off. Achelous howled and was forced to submit. As such, Hēraklēs won the match and won Deianeira's hand in marriage. And the people of Calydon won as well as the Nymphs hollowed out the horn and good Earth fills it with all the fruits and vegetables of the harvest. It became the Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty.

This sacrifice, timed well with the reaping of the final fruits of the Earth before winter, includes all involved with the myth: Gaea's inclusion, as the source of all the fruits of harvest, speaks for Herself, Achelous (as the largest, life giving, river) was included because of His waters and the myth of the Cornucopia. That myth included his intended wife Deianeira and the manifestations of Achelous as the sacred bull, the serpent and the Minotaur--all creatures associated with Gaea. Because of their close connection to water, a fertilizing element, and the creation of the Cornucopia itself, the Nymphs were worshiped as daimons of fertility and vegetation. Hermes, as the Bringer of All that is Good helped bridge the divide between myth and humanity.

We hope you join us for this event on Facebook, and the ritual can be found here.
Thousands upon thousands of people participated in the Mysteries every year. And like any large scale events, there were people in charge of the proceedings. One group of people who took up that responsibility were the many priests and priestesses of the Mysteries. Today, I would like to take a look at the priests and priestess of which there was only one at a time at the mysteries--men and women who often traced their lines back far into the Eleusian mythology.

The Hierophant
The most important priest of the Eleusinian Mysteries was the Hierophant (Ἱεροφάντης). The Hierophant was nominated for life from the Eleusinian descendants of Eumolpos. Perhaps because of this first criterium, he was generally an elderly man. Once chosen, he became bound to a life of strict chastity. There was only one Hierophant at a time and his name was never mentioned in Hellenic times. He simply became the Hierophant. The title 'Hierophant' was constructed from the combination of ta hiera ('the holy') and phainein ('to show'). As such, his principal duty was, as his name indicates, to show and explain the sacred symbols and figures--perhaps in a kind of chant or recitative, as he was required to have a good voice.

The Dadoukhoi
I have written about the Dadoukhoi before. The Daduchos (δᾳδοῦχος), or torch-bearer, was below the Hierophant in terms of power and of equal rank to the Keryx below. Originally, he was descended from the Eleusinian Triptolemos but about 380 BC. The lineage died out and the Lykomidai (Λυκομίδαι) took over. The Lykomidai celebrated a local worship of Demeter at Phlyae full of Orphic doctrines and ceremonies. As with the Hierophant, there was only one. His main duty was to hold the torch at the sacrifices but he also recited portions of the ritual and took part in certain purification rituals.

The Keryx
The Keryx (Κῆρυξ) or Hierokeryx (Ἱεροκῆρυξ) traced their origin back to Keryx, a younger son of Eumolpos; but they themselves considered their ancestors to be Hermes and one of the daughters of Kekrops—Aglauros according to Pausanias, Pandrosos according to Pollux. His duties were chiefly to proclaim silence at the sacrifices. No family laid especial claim to this priesthood.

The Hierophantis
There was originally only one Hierophantis (Ἱερόφαντις). She belonged to Demeter and her name was sacred. In Roman times, there were first two, then even more. They lived a life of perfect chastity during their tenure of office, though they might have been married previously. It was lost to what family the original Hierophantis of Demeter belonged. The duties of the Hierophantis corresponded to those of the Hierophant.
The Archaeological News Network reports something that caught my interest: the remnants of a small jungle with hyenes, rhinos, giraffes, gazelles, antelopes, apes and also sabre toothed tigers that lived 7 million years ago in the mountainous region of Kerasia on northern Euboia, Greece, has been discovered by a team of scientists headed by professor of Paleontology Georgios Theodorou.


"We have already found parts of Acerhorinus neleus, namely the skull and the lower jawbone of a rhino which are displayed at the Mammals Fossil Museum in Kerasia. It is a new species for science and the most important exhibit of the museum. It is a 'holotype' the first and only specimen in the world which is used as the basis for the original description of a species. Our team will seek skulls, jawbones and bones from giraffes, gazelles, apes, birds and turtles not discovered yet and have a special importance for paleontology."

Theodorou's vision and dream is the establishment of a modern local museum which will display the finds of the fossils as well as an exhibition on the petrified forest of Kerasia. An exhibition that will give the opportunity to the visitors to observe the spectacular changes of the geomorphology and enviroment that took place in the last 7 million years, when the Aegean Sea was not sea but land. The excavations, Theodorou said to ANA, are expected to resume in April 2017.

Of course, this is not necessarily of interest to us Hellenisist, but it triggered a memory. Way back in 2013, I already wrote a post on a theory I have and that certain achaeologists have as well: that ancient fossils may have been the source for mythological creatures like griffins, the cyclopses and giants. From that point of view, this find definitely holds interest.

There is no question that hyenes, rhinos, giraffes, gazelles, antelopes, apes and also sabre toothed tigers have very interesting skeletal structures and skulls. Take, for example, the catoblepas (καταβλέπω, katablépō). Pliny the Elder (Natural History, 8.77) described the catoblepas as a mid-sized creature, sluggish, with a heavy head and a face always turned to the ground. It is said to have the body of a buffalo and the head of a wild boar. Its back has scales that protect the beast. Call me crazy, but a rhino (or hippo) would fit the bill. The Ophiotauros was a creature that was part bull and part serpent. The description could maybe be applied to the (skeletal remains of a giraffe.

Now, of course, I am leaping at conclusions. It is interesting to me, though, and I hope it's a thought someone with an archaeological study will come up with as well so there can be a bit more research done on local myth in conjunction with the skeletons found. In conclusion: I am leaving this here for your consideration. Don't call me nuts!
The Labrys Religious Community aims to preserve, promote and practice the Hellenic polytheistic religious tradition through public rituals, lectures, publications, theatrical and musical events, and other forms of action. Their vision is to restore the Hellenic religious tradition and by extension the Hellenic Kosmotheasis and lifestyle to its rightful place, as a respected, acknowledged and fully functional spiritual path. Labrys posts videos of the many rituals it organizes and I tend to share them. I haven't done so in a while and they have posted some beautiful videos of their City (or Greater) Dionysia celebration.

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.

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.



 



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.


"As I am in a budget, is it possible to offer the Theoi incense sticks instead of raw?"

Hellenismos knows a lot of incense types, all of them raw; the Orphic tradition made use of three types of resins and a lot of burnable plant materials known as aromatics. There are also some specialty aromatics found listed with the surviving hymns. I've made a list of all the incenses and the Gods they were burned for. Now, orphism hardly is the be all, end all, of incese use, but it's good to know, regardless.

Generalizing, there are three types incenses: stick and spiral incense, cone incense, and raw resins and gums. Stick incense direct-burning, meaning you only need to light it once, and the glowing coal at the end helps burn the rest of the incense. Stick incense  is made from a moldable substrate of fragrant finely ground (or liquid) incense materials and odourless binder, pressed onto a holder. In other words, it is ground up resin (or gum), to which a binder is added, which covers a piece of bamboo. Some kinds of stick incense do not have a burnable center but are pressed into sticks without a core. Spiral incense only differs from stick incense in that rather than being a slender stick, it will curl. Cone incense only differs from stick incense in form, and it never has a burnable center.

Raw resins and gums are indirect-burning, meaning they require a separate heat source in order to stay lit. They are also generally unprocessed, are not prepared in any particular way, or encouraged into any particular form. In general, the tears came off of the trees they come from, are sometimes cleaned a bit, and then sold. They can also be bought in powdered from or a paste. In general, powder burns more intense but less long than tears. Paste incense is made from powdered or granulated incense material which is then mixed with an--incumbustible--binder such as honey or a softer type of resin and then formed into balls.

So can you use sticks, cones, spirals or even a paste? Yes, of course! Is it traditional? Not really, but that's not a bad thing. I prefer raw over processed because it is purer and I like offering the purest possible things to the Theoi. But stick incense does exactly what it is supposed to do, just like its raw brethren: carry the scent of sacrifice up to the Theoi in whisps of smoke. If stick incense is what you have or can afford then go for it! Definitely better with than without!

~~~

"I feel really terrible for saying this but as a Hellenist, can I be science-y and believe that evolution is definitely real and thing? Also like the big bang theory and such?"

Religion has the reputation of being un-scientific. By its definition, religion--the believe in something one can't prove--seems the polar opposite of science. So what of Hellenismos? Is that incomaptible with science like most major world religions? No. What I love about Hellenic mythology and philosophy is that it works with science--and the ancient philosophers agreed.

I have explained before how I differentiate between mythology and philosophy, where I feel myth was inspired by the Theoi Themselves, while philosophy was created by humans who saw society and drew conclusions from it. These conclusions often included a religious aspect because society was religious (even though the ancient Hellenes didn't have a word for 'religion'), but at its core, they deal not with religious matters. They deal with the influence of religion on humanity and society.

An example: the ancient Hellenic philosophers and mythographers were pretty much in agreement that the Gods, indeed, created the universe--or are the universe itself. The most famous account of how everything came to be comes from Hesiod. His 'Theogogy' is a complete recounting of the story, starting with Khaos:

"Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all  the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros, fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them. From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, whom she conceived and bare from union in love with Erebus. And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought forth long Hills, graceful haunts of the goddess-Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills. She bare also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love. But afterwards she lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire." [ll. 116-138]

He goes on to list a great many deities, cutting out a rough shape of the cosmos while doing so. There are many variations of this family tree and in the ancient writings, there are also creation stories that range beyond this basic framework. Many of them match very well with science, though.

I believe in the theory of the Big Bang, where the universe was in an extremely hot and dense state and began expanding rapidly. After the initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow energy to be converted into various subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons, and electrons. Giant clouds of these primordial elements later coalesced through gravity to form stars and galaxies, and the heavier elements were synthesized either within stars or during supernovae (courtesy of Wikipedia, because of ease). I see no issue in overlaying this theory with Hesiod's cosmology. The Big Bang theory does sound like first there was Khaos, and from that, matter came into being to eventually form the Earth as it is now. So as far as the creation of the universe and the Gods goes, I will go with Hesiod and his explanation, although a variation of his work is also fine by me.

As for how we came to be, I believe in evolution. I don't think we were put on the Earth ready-made by the Gods. That said, the proposal that one type of animal could descend from an animal of another type goes back to some of the first pre-Socratic Hellenic philosophers, such as Anaximander and Empedocles, so it's not an odd frame of mind to have for a Hellenist; even the ancient Hellenes flirted with the idea that at least animal species evolved from one another. I love the myth of Prometheus, but no, that is not how I think we came to be, although I won't rule out that the Gods had a hand in our formation through evolution.

All in all, I think Hellenismos and science go together very well. Most (if not all) scientific breakthroughs either work with Hellenic mythology or don't detract from it. Hellenic scientific research and philosophy often forms the base of our modern understanding of the world around us. The ancient Hellenes made great contributions to the field of 'science'. So yes, Hellenismos is 100% compatible with science and evolution, and that is something I find very appealing.

~~~

"How do you feel about Wiccans using Hellenic deities as their God and Goddess and using the to cast spells?"

I practiced Eclectic Religious Witchcraft for about seven years, longer than anything else in my life. I was initiated into a coven and initiated others. I was a priestess with a specialization in the ancient Hellenic pantheon. I summoned the Theoi into circles, bastardized Their festivals to suite the Pagan way of practice and circle of the year, and did a lot of research. I have always liked research. The last year or so of my practice, I begun to feel uneasy as I summoned the Theoi. I had begun to understand the ways of the ancient Hellenes and realized that I was not worshipping the Theoi, I was abusing them. This became my personal truth. I felt it down to my bones.

Religion is the process of finding personal truth. For me, it’s also a way to reconcile my many thoughts about Divinity with the experiences I have had with it. Which practices I use gives me a framework to do what I feel that needs to be done. What I felt that was needed to be done was to start worshipping the Theoi through the ways of the ancient Hellenes. That is why it was natural for me to progress into it.

My personal truth is exactly that: personal. Others will not feel that way. Others will feel drawn to casting circles and spells and summoning the Theoi for them. Honestly, it's not up to me to have an opinion on it. If the Theoi have an issue with it, They will make it known to that person like They did with me--or They will just ignore them. Who knows, maybe they like it--prefer it even! I will never presume to know what the Theoi like and do not like. All I (can) do is focus on my practice and leave everyone else to theirs.

Welcoem to the Eleusinian Mysteries! the PAT rituals have started so the coming days you will get a few Eleusinian-themed posts. For those interested, I did an Eleusinian Masterpost a while ago. You can find a lot of information on the Mysteries there. Today I would like to talk a bit about the semi non-mythical origins of the Mysteries. Why do I say semi non-mythical? Well, because we are talking about something that happened a long, long time ago and

Mythologically, the foundations of the Eleusinian Mysteries can be found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Within the hymn, Demeter travels the globe in her grief over losing Her daughter. She eventually settles at the home of Keleus. Demeter plans to make one of his sons immortal in return for his hospitality but She is interrupted. Instead, she tells Keleus to build Her a temple and altar so she can teach human beings the knowledge they need to have a good life.

That is the most told story of the origin of the Mysteries. How the Mysteries came to be Athenian, however, has its foundations in another story, which concerns the union of Eleusis with Athens. For this, you must know of Erichthonios (Erechtheus, Ἐριχθόνιος). He was the child of Hēphaistos and Athena, through Gaea, who was half man, half snake, and left in a basket by Athena, to be cared for by three of Her young attendants at the Acropolis, with clear instructions not to open the basket. They did, of course, and were scared so by the sight of either a snake in the basket, or Erichthonios' deformities, they cast themselves off of the Acropolis in terror. Yet, despite his deformities, Erichthonios became king of Athens and ruled it long and well.

Erichthonios was at war with the Eleusinians, who were helped by one Eumolpos. Eumolpos was a legendary Thracian king who established the city of Eumolpias (also called Eumolpiada) around 1200 BC (or 1350 BC, depending on the source). Needless to say, he named it after himself. He was the son of Poseidon and Khione. Khione, daughter of Boreas and Oreithyia, pregnant with Eumolpos by Poseidon, was frightened of her father's reaction so she threw the baby into the ocean. Poseidon looked after him and brought him to shore in Ethiopia where Benthesikyme, a daughter of Poseidon and Amphitrite, raised the child, who then married one of Benthesikyme's two daughters by her Ethiopian husband. Eumolpos, however, loved a different daughter and was banished because of this. He went with his son Ismaros to Thrace. There, he was discovered in a plot to overthrow King Tegyrios and fled to Eleusis.

Under Erichthonios' guidance, Eleusis was conquered and its political leadership fell to Athens. Eumolpos and his family, however, became some of the first priests of Demeter and Eumolpos became one of the founders of the Eleusinian Mysteries. He was also the person who initiated Herakles into the Mysteries. The other family which held a priesthood in the mysteries, the Kerykes, were said to have been descended from Keryx, the son of Eumolpos; though the family itself considered its ancestors to have been Hermes and Aglauros, daughter of Erechtheus, and so genuine Athenians.

Now, this is the distilled version. There are a few variations: it might be that Eumolpos' son was not called Eumolpos but Immarados and that he was killed by King Erichthonios in the war. This could also be a secon son. In some sources, Erichthonios also killed Eumolpos, and Poseidon asked Zeus to avenge His son's death. Zeus killed Erichthonios with a lightning bolt or Poseidon made the earth open up and swallow Erichthonios. As I said: semi non-mythical. Remember these names, though, they will make a reappearance in the days to come.
Two Roman marble statues representing Aphrodite/Venus were found recently at Petra, an ancient desert city in Jordan. The statues, which date to the second century A.D., are nearly intact and are remarkably well preserved, retaining traces of the paint applied to them centuries ago. They were discovered by archaeologists and graduate students from the U.S. working in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. This reports Live Science.


Petra is a sprawling city covering 102 square miles (264 square kilometers) in southern Jordan; it's partly freestanding and partly carved into the surrounding desert bedrock. Two thousand years ago, it was the Nabataean capital, serving as an important stopping point along major caravan routes. Archaeologists have been investigating Petra's ruins since the late 1920s, but there is still much to discover. Archaeologist and history professor at North Carolina State University Tom Parker, co-director of the excavation team that found the statues, focused on Petra's North Ridge during their three year project. The North Ridge is located in a previously unexplored area where the city's less privileged residents lived and were buried.

The archaeology team originally suspected that the building where the statues were discovered would be a humble domestic structure that would provide clues about the city's lower classes. But instead, it proved to be an upscale urban villa, complete with a bath complex that only elite residents of Petra would have had. According to Parker, the building, which the archaeologists dated to the first century A.D., is thought to have been abandoned by the turn of the second century and used as storage for debris and damaged structures following an earthquake that struck Petra in A.D. 363.

"The statues were packed in pretty tight — I think that's what preserved them in such extraordinary condition."

The statues were found to be nearly complete, with the heads and most of the bodies recovered, and archaeologists identified the standing figures as the goddess Aphrodite. She was also known to the Romans as Venus, but was more commonly identified by her Greek name in the eastern half of the empire where Petra was, Parker explained. The statues were carved in a distinctly Roman style, however, and hint at ways in which Rome influenced local culture in Petra, following its annexation of Nabataea--the Arabic kingdom that included Petra--in A.D. 106.

One of the two sculptures, complete from the waist down, was still attached to its base, upon which a knee-high Cupid also stood, gazing up at the goddess. Though the statues were in several pieces, the damage and wear to their surfaces were surprisingly light.

"Greek and Roman statues were decorated with paint, but that rarely survives. [We] have traces of paint surviving on both of these Aphrodites."

Coins and pottery shards found nearby helped the team determine when the second-century statues had been placed in the building — likely late in the fourth century. Numerous other artifacts have also emerged from North Ridge excavations over the past three years, hinting at details of daily life among Petra's nonelite members. This archaeological evidence can also provide valuable clues about the present, Parker suggested.

"We're the end product of millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of historical development. This region of the world — the cradle of Western civilization — shaped who we are. We still feel their influence in a very powerful way today."
The Epidauria was a festival of Asklēpiós placed smack in the middle of the Mysteries--exactly six months after the other major festival of Asklēpiós in Athens: the one during the Greater Dionysia. The day was named after Asklēpiós' healing centre to the south at Epidauros. It was said that on this day, the cult of Asklepios and Hygeia joined the Eleusinian Mysteries rites in Athens.


What, exactly, happened during the Epidauria is unclear as discussing the rites that took place at Eleusis carried a death sentence, but I think we can safely say that the rites at Eleusis involving Asklēpiós were most likely similar to the rites to Asklēpiós that took place at other places--including Epidauros. What we do know is that the evening rites of sacrifices were held at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple in Athens to honour Asklēpiós, His daughter Hygeia, and Demeter and Persephone, who also were revered as healing deities. Special blessings were invoked for doctors and healers, and perhaps healing practices were offered at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple.

Then started the part that we have to guestimate by way of other practices involving Asklēpiós. Asklēpiós' worship almost always included a 'night watch'; a night time period of meditation and contemplation at a temple to Asklēpiós; the Asklepion. During the Mysteries, the initiates would most likely sit, contemplate, and cleanse themselves of ailments, distress, and anything that might distract them form the proceedings to follow. The temple of Asklēpiós was built near the enclosure of a sacred spring in a small cave and it included an abaton, a sleeping hall sacred to Asklēpiós where initiates could sleep while watched over by priests of Asklēpiós who prayed to Asklēpiós to visit these initiates in their sleep and give them messages intended to heal and cleanse. The following morning, initiates would tell their dream to a priest of Asklēpiós or Hygeia, called 'therapeutes'. The initiate would then be encouraged to put the advice he or she had gotten into practice.

The Epidauria took place as a preparatory intermezzo: afterwards, the initiates were cleaned and focussed, ready to be drawn further into the Mysteries. As these proceedings took place late at night, a certain lack of sleep might also occur, leaving the initiates more susceptible to the coming proceedings. Whatever the case, the initiates would soon be enveloped in the hectic but highly ritualized proceedings of the Mysteries, and likely feel far more ready--and worthy--to face them.

In Athenes, a separate ritual took place. The night of the 18th may have been spent by the very devout in sleeping in the Temple of Aesculapius, southwest of the Acropolis, or in the Iaccheum, also called the Temple of Demeter. It was just where the road from the Piraeus entered Athens. The early morning of that day till about 9 a.m. was devoted to ordinary business, as we find decrees issued bearing that date. After this hour the Epidauria was celebrated in the Temple of Demeter or Iacchus and in the Temple of Aesculapius.

For those who have decided to join the Eleusinian Mysteries, both a nightwatch and the daytime ritual are included in the rituals provided. For those not participating, a separate ritual will be held on the 18th of Boedromion, which is on 20 September this year. You can find this separate ritual here and join the community here.
As a basic viewpoint, Elaion believes that the Mysteries need not be pursued; they are not a spiritual ‘formula’ that experimentation will eventually rediscover. That said, we also acknowedge that it's a festival many have been drawn to--both then and now--and we want to give our members a chance to celebrate it in a way that is as Recon as possible once you accept that we know far too little about it to ever accurately be so. Since the proceedings of the Eleusinian Mysteries were kept secret in fear of the punishment of death, we will never be able to restore these rites. But we do know a few basics and we have formulated our celebration accordingly. Please read through all information as well as the rituals before deciding to join.


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 Goddess while her daughter Persephone is with Hades, and to the afterlife and Underworld through Persephone's return to the surface of the earth after Her mandatory stay with Hades has ended. Initiation ceremonies were held every year at Eleusis. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, the mysteries at Eleusis were assumed to be of great importance to a large portion of the ancient Hellenes. The cult itself likely had 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 consist mostly of two festivals, but the worship of Demeter and Persephone consist of a cycle of seven festivals: the Greater Mysteries (13-23 Boedromion), the Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), the Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), the Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), the Haloa (26 Poseideon), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion), and the Skiraphoria (12 Skirophorion). These are placed in sequence of the Athenian year.

Mythologically, the foundations of the Eleusinian Mysteries can be found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Within the hymn, Demeter travels the globe in her grief over losing Her daughter. She eventually settles at the home of Keleus. Demeter plans to make one of his sons immortal in return for his hospitality but She is interrupted. Instead, she tells Keleus to build Her a temple and altar so she can teach human beings the knowledge they need to have a good life.

The Mysteries were obviously celebrated to honor Demeter--Demeter Eleusinia, specifically. Through the honoring of Demeter, the ancient Hellenes prayed for a good harvest, and through the worship of Persephone--Kore--those who were initiated in the Mysteries assured they would be looked upon favorably in the Afterlife.

For those who wish to join us, the Eleusinian Mysteries will be a ten day event, starting on September 17th with a rite meant to emulate the walk to Eleusis from Athens that all initiates eventually undertook. The procession would have started from the shine of Iakkhos, and Iakkhos was invited to come along to Eleusis by those in the procession. The mystai would sacrifice at all shrines along the way. The mystai would arrive in darkness, or at least guided by torchlight, as Demeter searched for Her daughter with a torch in hand. Upon arrival, sacrifices were made to Demeter. After undertaking this rite, we encourage everyone articipating to put on a króki. Króki were pieces of string (wool), worn around the wrist. The initiates of the Mysteries recieved yellow ones on the way to Eleusis.

For the continuation of the days, you can make daily sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone, as laid out in the rituals provided. All have a different character and different steps to undertake so reading through them ahead of time is quite important. While not mandatory, we also encourage those who join to potentially limit or cut out their intake of pomegranates, apples, eggs, fowls, and fish as the ancient Hellenes would have done for the duration of the Mysteries.

Then, we have prepared a rite for the Epidauria. The Epidauria was a festival of Asklepios placed smack in the middle of the Mysteries--exactly six months after the other major festival of Asklepios in Athens: the one during the Greater Dionysia. The day was named after Asklepios healing centre to the south at Epidauros. It was said that on this day, the cult of Asklepios and Hygeia joined the Eleusinian Mysteries rites in Athens.

What, exactly, happened during the Epidauria is unclear as discussing the rites that took place at Eleusis carried a death sentence, but I think we can safely say that the rites at Eleusis involving Asklepios were most likely similar to the rites to Asklepios that took place at other places--including Epidauros. What we do know is that the rites of sacrifices were held at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple in Athens to honour Asklepios, His daughter Hygeia, and Demeter and Persephone, who also were revered as healing deities.

Asklepios' worship almost always included a 'night watch'; a night time period of meditation and contemplation at a temple to Asklepios; the Asklepion. the initiates would most likely sit, contemplate, and cleanse themselves of ailments, distress, and anything that might distract them form the proceedings to follow. The temple of Asklepios was built near the enclosure of a sacred spring in a small cave and it included an abaton, a sleeping hall sacred to Asklepios where initiates could sleep while watched over by priests of Asklepios who prayed to Asklepios to visit these initiates in their sleep and give them messages intended to heal and cleanse. The following morning, initiates would tell their dream to a priest of Asklepios or Hygeia, called 'therapeutes'. The initiate would then be encouraged to put the advice he or she had gotten into practice. We ask you to take part in this night time practice and follow it up with sacrifices to Asklepios and His daughter the day after.

The day after the epidauria was the day the initiates would have traveled to Eleusis. We moved this to the start as a way to introduce you to the Mysteries themselves, but for the ancient Hellenes, this was a walk that ended in darkness, with a torch lit procession to the shrine of Demeter and an offering that was not burned but buried. In the case of the ancient Hellenes, this was most likely a pig but we leave it to you what you want to offer to the Goddess.

We can say with a relative degree of certainty, that the day before the actual initiation was a day on which the initiates fasted in preparation of the main initiatory rite that took place in the nighttime hours of the next day. If you wish to join us for that fast, we would encourage you to stop eating at dusk on 1 October and consume nothing but water (or juice, if you need to!) until after the main rite that takes place in after dusk on 21 September, once it's completely dark out.

While the Eleusinian Mysteries were held largely out of gratitude for the agricultural knowledge provided to us by Demeter, the ancient Hellenes became initiates for an entirely different reason: to be looked more favourably upon by the Theoi in death. Through the worship of Demeter and Persephone, participants hoped that Persephone would talk to Her Husband and the Judges of the dead. It is this focus that all rituals have: the rites of being initiated into the Mysteries in order to be well taken care of after death.

After the main initiatory right, the festival winded down. It's quite possible the initiated didn't sleep throughout the night of their initiation and the attested sacrifice to Demeter and Persephone the next day, we feel, was most likely done at dusk. Feel free to hold it at the standard PAT ritual time of 10 AM EDT, though. the focus of this sacrifice was the complete tipping out of two jugs of water onto the eath by the initiated, one to Demeter and one to Persephone, most likely in gratitude of the experience and knowledge gleamed the previous night.

The following day, we are unsure of what happened, exactly, but we take it to be a resting day and have prepared a simple rite to the Theoi for it. Day nine is another, general, rite, but we encourage you--as the initiated were--to add prayers and hymns to the Theoi you feel closest to to it with the goal of reestablishing the connection with Them after being so immersed in rites with a Kthonic character.

On the final day, we have prepared a closing rite which thanks the Theoi for guiding you on this journey and has you take off the króki you tied around your wrist on the first day. This will signal the end of the Mysteries.

To make things easier, we have laid out a time table:
  • September 17 / 15 boedromion: starting ritual 
  • September 18 / 16 boedromion: purification rite
  • September 19 / 17 & 18 boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone / prayers to Asklepios for prophetic dreams and healing (nighttime)
  • September 20 / 18 boedromion: Epidauria ritual
  • September 20 / 19 boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter (nighttime) (fasting day)
  • September 21 / 20 boedromion: initiation rite (nighttime) 
  • September 22 / 20 boedromion: tipping out of water jugs to Demeter and Persephone
  • September 23 / 21 boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone 
  • September 24 / 22 boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone + personal sacrifices
  • September 25 / 23 boedromion: closing rite

  • We truly hope you will join us for this event. You can share your experience with the community here and all rituals can be found here. Note, these are ALL rituals, eleven of them in total. One for every day, plus one extra. Read the explanation above and see the schedule for clarification. It is highly encouraged you read through them before the Mysteries start! We are very excited about the opportunity of offering this experience to you and we hope you will find a glimmer of what the ancient Hellenes might have experienced during the most anticipated days of the year.
    We're doing a bit of a 101 post today, namely on Hellenic architectural orders. Why? Because they give you clues about the age and location of temples and other buildings, help you build timelines within architecture and knowing about these makes you look way cool at a museum which houses ancient art. Not unimportant, I would say!


    All in all, there are five classical architectural orders: three ancient orders of architecture—the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian—which originated in Greece and two more—the Tuscan and the Composite—added by the Roman. I'm not going to teach you about the Roman ones so just remember that the Tuscan is simpler than Doric and the Composite is more ornamental than the Corinthian. The Romans also had their own versions of the Hellenic orders, but we won't go into those either.

    The basics on architectural orders: an order in architecture is a certain assemblage of parts subject to uniform established proportions, regulated by the office that each part has to perform. The architectural orders are the ancient styles of classical architecture, each distinguished by its proportions and characteristic profiles and details, and most readily recognizable by the type of column employed.

    Each style has distinctive capitals at the top of columns and horizontal entablatures which it supports, while the rest of the building does not in itself vary between the orders. The column shaft and base also varies with the order. The capital rests on the shaft. It has a load-bearing function, which concentrates the weight of the entablature on the supportive column, but it primarily serves an aesthetic purpose. The necking is the continuation of the shaft, but is visually separated by one or many grooves. The echinus lies atop the necking. It is a circular block that bulges outwards towards the top to support the abacus, which is a square or shaped block that in turn supports the entablature. The entablature consists of three horizontal layers, all of which are visually separated from each other using moldings or bands. Those are a lot fo terms, I know. Click on the image above for a visual representation within the three styles.

    The Doric order is sometimes considered the earliest order, but there is no evidence to support this. Rather, the Doric and Ionic orders seem to have appeared at around the same time, the Ionic in eastern Greece and the Doric in the west and mainland. Both the Doric and the Ionic order appear to have originated in wood.

    The Doric Order
    The Doric order is characterized by a plain, unadorned column capital and a column that rests directly on the stylobate of the temple without a base. The Doric entablature includes a frieze composed of trigylphs—vertical plaques with three divisions—and metopes—square spaces for either painted or sculpted decoration. The columns are fluted and are of sturdy, if not stocky, proportions. An example is the temple of the Delians on Delos, pictured to the side.

    The Doric order emerged on the Hellenic mainland during the course of the late seventh century BC. It remained the predominant order for Hellenic temple construction through the early fifth century BC, although notable buildings built later in the the Classical period—especially the canonical Parthenon in Athens—still employed it.

    The Ionic order
    The Ionic order originated in Ionia, a coastal region of central Anatolia (what is now known as Turkey) where a number of ancient Hellenic settlements were located. It is distinguished by slender, fluted pillars with a large base and two opposed volutes (also called scrolls) in the echinus of the capital. The echinus itself is decorated with an egg-and-dart motif. The Ionic shaft comes with four more flutes than the Doric counterpart (totalling 24). The Ionic base has two convex moldings called tori which are separated by a scotia. The Ionic order is also marked by an entasis, a curved tapering in the column shaft. A column of the ionic order is nine times its lower diameter. The shaft itself is eight diameters high. The architrave of the entablature commonly consists of three stepped bands (fasciae). The frieze comes without the Doric triglyph and metope butsometimes comes with a continuous ornament such as carved figures instead.
    The Ionic order developed during the mid-sixth century BC and had been transmitted to mainland Greece by the fifth century BC. The basic structure of the Ionic order can be found in the Temple of Athena Nike at the Acropolis of Athens.

    The Corinthian order
    The Corinthian order is both the latest and the most elaborate of the Classical orders of architecture. As the name suggests, the origins of the order were connected in antiquity with the Hellenic city-state of Corinth, where, according to the architectural writer Vitruvius, the sculptor Callimachus drew a set of acanthus leaves surrounding a votive basket. The defining element of the Corinthian order is its elaborate, carved capital, which incorporates even more vegetal elements than the Ionic order does. The stylized, carved leaves of an acanthus plant grow around the capital, generally terminating just below the abacus.

    The oldest known building built according to this order is the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, constructed from 335 to 334 BC. Perhaps the best known Corinthian capital comes from the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae and dates to c. 427 BC.
    Have you heard of the 'Greece is...' magazine? It was inaugurated in the summer of 2015, with its first issue dedicated to Santorini, one of the world’s most beloved and coveted travel destinations. The second issue, 'Greece Is Athens - Summer Edition', is a treasure trove of information on Athens from past to present, distributed exclusively at the Acropolis Museum. The third was about the Peloponnese and the fourth issue, 'Greece Is Democracy', was on the occasion of the 3D Athens Democracy Forum, celebrates and relates to the birth, reality and influence of Athenian democracy, through a compilation of original articles by esteemed Greek and international academics, authors and journalists. If you have not read them yet, you might want to invest the time!

    About two weeks ago, I posted four more magazines, on the Greek city Thessaloniki, the Greek city of Athens, the Greek island Mykonos and the last was on The Olympics. There are four more out and I'd like to share them today. They are on Athens again, on wine, on the peninsula and regional unit of Greece named Halkidiki and finally on democracy. Enjoy!




    Today is your lucky day: you are getting not one but two posts! Yep! This one and the one below. Why are you getting two posts? Because I kinda need your help. My girl's brother has his own gaming company, Alterego Games. Together with their partners from Digital forest, they are currently in the midst of a pretty awesome project: Woven.


    Woven a puzzle adventure game in which you explore a seemingly safe world that is made of wool, where curious and cute stuffed animals live. In Woven, you play Stuffy, a rather clumsy but kind elephant shaped stuffed animal and Glitch a mysterious metal firefly. Stuffy will face lots of obstacles, and sometimes heavy elephant feet or clumsy arms simply won't be able to help you. You will have to find blueprints of different animal types, scan them, and reknit Stuffy into different shapes so that he may overcome the various hurdles the game presents you. Elephant legs may be strong, but rabbit legs would allow you to jump! Finding and combining the right blueprints is a major part of gameplay in Woven. Woven has a fully voiced narrator who guides the player through the story and introduces the hidden danger to the woolen world.  

    Woven is lacking one critical thing right now and that is funding. It's an ambitious project and they need a lot of cash. In order to get it, they have started a Kickstarter. Right now, there are 25 days left to get to their €85,000 goal. You can support them with as little as one euro and for 9 euros, you get the game itself once it's done (else it's 25 euros). Do you want a stuffed Stuffy? 75 euros. Check out all of their perks, though: they are awesome!

    If you don't have cash to spare, then PR will do as well! They are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Like and share their posts, get the word out and get all your friends to play the game. Oh, did I not mention that yet? You can play a demo of the game! It's on Steam, free to play, and I would love for you to give it a try. Just the download will boost the game and get them more attention. I would be very grateful for all you can do!

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/504690
    Oh my, look at that beauty--both the Goddess and the statue itself. News broke that an estimated 2,100-year-old rare marble statue of Cybele, the mother goddess of Anatolia, has been unearthed in excavations in northwestern Ordu province located on the Black Sea coast. The historic sculpture of Cybele sitting on her throne weighs a whopping 200 kilograms and is about 110 centimeters tall. The statue is also the first marble statue found in Turkey in its original place.


    Cybele (or Kybele) is originally a primal nature Goddess worshipped in the mountains of central and western Anatolia. Ancient Hellenes who settled in those regions identified her most often with Rhea but also with Gaia, Demeter, Artemis and even Hekate. Her original cult was too barbaric for the ancient Hellenes to adopt whole. As such, I do not usually include Her in my worship; I honour Rhea, Demeter, Artemis and Hekate Themselves instead. Still, I know many who include Her in their worship and rightly so!

    The ancient artifact was unearthed in excavations launched by a team of 25 archeologists led by the head of the Department of Archeology in Gazi University, Prof. Dr. Süleyman Yücel Şenyurt, in the 2,300-year-old Kurul Kalesi, or the Council Fortress. He stated:

    "We are continuing our work non-stop. Two days ago we found an extraordinary artifact. According to our research, the statue remained intact after the walls of the entrance of the fortress of Kurul collapsed during an invasion by Roman soldiers. This statue has also shown us that the fortress of Kurul in Ordu was a very important settlement [in ancient times]."

    Saying that it was an incredibly rare find, the professor said that they were proud to unearth such an artifact in Turkey. He also said that the priceless statue would be later on transferred to the archeology museum in Ordu. The professor also said that the first attempts to conduct excavations in the area were made ​​about 6 years ago, but had been postponed for various reasons.

    Mayor Enver Yılmaz pledged to provide TL 500,000 in funds to all excavations in the fortress of Kurul. He also said that the fortress will be turned into an open air museum in the near future and hopes the excavations will contribute to tourism in the region as well as in Turkey.
    Porphyry of Tyre (Πορφύριος, Porphyrios) lived from 234 to 305 AD. He was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre, in the Roman Empire. He wrote many works on a wide variety of topics. Amongst his writing was a letter to his wife Marcella, concerning the life of Philosophy and the ascent to the Gods. It was intended to convince his wife to continue the study of philosophy while he travelled. In that letter, Porphyry talks about the Gods and having faith. He speaks of those who do not have faith and of what good comes to those who do. I would like to share that with you today.

    A note: Porphyry talks about 'God', and Neoplatonism was inherently henotheistic, as the Neoplatonists considered the Gods and the material universe to be emanations from the One, which emanates first 'Nous' or consciousness and then the World Soul, followed by human souls and finally matter. It is important to understand that with 'God', Porphyry does not mean 'the Gods' and he also does not refer to the Abrahamic God. Henotheism is not identical with monism. Hentheism, essentially, is polytheistic monism and it was an accepted and valid form of the worship of the Theoi in ancient Hellas and Rome.


    There are four first principles that must be upheld concerning God—faith, truth, love, hope. We must have faith that our only salvation is in turning to God. And having faith, we must strive with all our might to know the truth about God. And when we know this, we must love Him we do know. And when we love Him we must nourish our souls on good hopes for our life, for it is by their good hopes good men are superior to bad ones. Let then these four principles be firmly held.
     
    Next let these three laws be distinguished. First, the law of God; second, the law of human nature; third, that which is laid down for nations and states. The law of nature fixes the limits of bodily needs, and shows what is necessary to these, and condemns all striving after what is needless and superfluous. That which is established and laid down for states regulates by fixed agreements the common relations of men, by their mutual observance of the covenants laid down. But the divine law is implanted by the supreme mind, for their salvation, in the thoughts of reasoning souls, and it is found truthfully inscribed therein. The law of nature is transgressed by him who through folly disregards it, owing to his excessive love for the |46 pleasures of the body. And it is broken and despised by those who, even for the body's sake, strive to master the body. The conventional law is subject to expediency, and is differently laid down at different times according to the arbitrary will of the prevailing government. It punishes him who transgresses it, but it cannot reach a man's secret thoughts and intentions.
     
    The divine law is unknown to the soul that folly and intemperance have rendered impure, but it shines forth in self-control and wisdom. It is impossible to transgress this, for there is nothing in man that can transcend it. Nor can it be despised, for it cannot shine forth in a man who will despise it. Nor is it moved by chances of fortune, because it is always superior to chance and stronger than any form of violence. Mind alone knows it, and diligently pursues the search thereafter, and finds it imprinted in itself, and supplies from it food to the soul as to its own body. We must regard the rational soul as the body of the mind, which the mind nourishes by bringing into recognition, through the light that is in it, the thoughts within, which mind imprinted and engraved in the soul in accordance with the truth of the divine law. Thus mind is become teacher and saviour, nurse, guardian and leader, speaking the truth in silence, unfolding and giving forth the divine law; and looking on the impressions thereof in itself it beholds them implanted in the soul from all eternity.
     
    Thou must therefore first understand the law of nature, and then proceed to the divine law, by which also the natural law hath been prescribed. And if thou make these thy starting-point thou shalt never fear the written law. For written laws are made for the benefit of good men, not that they may do no wrong, but that they may not suffer it. Natural wealth is limited, and it is easy to attain. But the wealth desired of vain opinions has no limits, and is hard to attain. The true philosopher therefore, following nature and not vain opinions, is self-sufficing in all things; for in the light of the requirements of nature every possession is some wealth, but in the light of unlimited desires even the greatest wealth is but poverty. It is no uncommon thing to find a man who is rich if tried by the standard at which nature aims, but poor by the standard of vain opinions. No fool is satisfied with what he possesses; he rather mourns for what he has not. Just as men in a fever are always thirsty through the grievous nature of their malady, and desire things quite opposed to one another, so men whose souls are ill-regulated are ever in want of all things, and experience ever-varying desires through their greed.
     
    Wherefore the gods too have commanded us |48 to purify ourselves by abstaining from food and from love, bringing those who follow after piety within the law of that nature which they themselves have formed, since everything which transgresses this law is impure and deadly. The multitude, however, fearing simplicity in their mode of life, because of this fear, turn to the pursuits that can best procure riches. And many have attained wealth, and yet not found release from their troubles, but have exchanged them for greater ones. Wherefore philosophers say that nothing is so necessary as to know thoroughly what is unnecessary, and moreover that to be self-sufficing is the greatest of all wealth, and that it is honourable not to ask anything of any man. Wherefore too they exhort us to strive, not to acquire some necessary thing, but rather to remain of good cheer if we have not acquired it.
    29. Neither let us accuse our flesh as the cause of great evils, nor attribute our troubles to outward things. Rather let us seek the cause of these things in our souls, and casting away every vain striving and hope for fleeting joys, become completely masters of ourselves. For a man is unhappy either through fear or through unlimited and empty desire. Yet if he bridle these, he can attain to a happy mind.