"Hello, when you say that Hellenismos is clear in our status as 'humans' then what do you think of the orphic mysteries which were part of Hellenismos? Those mysteries say we have a divine essence, a part of Dionysus within us. You may not agree with that, but to neglect the fact that many ancient greeks believed that just to say that magic isn't traditional and it's hubris is not right."

Orphism is part of Hellenic esotherism. Yes, it existed--we have enough little references in ancient writings to say that with some form of certainty--but it obvious it was a cult at best; a group of people who went against the traditional practice or practiced Orphism alongside it as it was more of a philosophical choice than a religious one. They wore white, abstained from meat and strove for purity. Books featured heavily in their worship, unlike in mainstream religious practice. Like all things in ancient Hellas, Orphism linked back to the Gods, mostly by including Dionysos in the form of Bakkhos, the Twice-Born God, which confirmed the believes of the Orphics.

The Orphics believed in reincarnation and the possibility of liberation from another of their believes: the circle of life and death. Orpheus, the movement's legendary founder, is said to have taught that soul and body are locked together during life; the soul is divine, immortal and aspires to freedom, and during life, the body acts as a prison to the soul. Death releases the soul for a short while, but is then captured by another body until that, too, dies, and so the soul moves from body to body--both human and animal--until it can attain the highest good: liberation. In order to reach liberation, the Orphic way teaches to turn to God by ascetic piety of life and self-purification: the purer the life lived, the higher will be the next reincarnation, until the soul has completed the spiral ascent of destiny to live for ever as God from whom it comes.

Orphic ideas of the soul and afterlife are most often defined by explicit contrast with the Homeric view of the afterlife, which is taken as the standard view for ancient Hellenic culture. The Homeric afterlife is that of a grim, joyless and tedious existence in the Underworld. The Underworld of Homeros exists solely--at least for the now departed mortal--of the Asphodel meadows. The dead drink from the river Lethe and forget who they were. Sacrifical (animal) blood returns a sense of life to the shades and they recover their memories for a short time. In this tradition, life is lived while you are alive. Once you die, you are dead. You might cling to life, but you will never truly be part of it again.

Orphism most likely formed somewhere in the 6th or 5th century BC but most of the evidence we still have of it is much younger. The best known collection of texts associated with Orphism are the Orphic Hymns, a collection of 86 hymn to the Hellenic Gods. Some of them may date back to the time of the cult's founding but most were written much later, in the third or second century BC.

From the evidence that has survived, we know that Orphism was considered to be rather...fringe. Plato considered them and anyone claiming they possessed some sort of supernatural knowledge or skills as charlatans. Euripides in 'Hippolytus' (428 BC) has main character Theseus say:

"Come, show your face to your father, eye to eye, since in any case I have already involved myself in pollution. Are you, then, the companion of the gods, as a man beyond the common? Are you the chaste one, untouched by evil? I will never be persuaded by your vauntings, never be so unintelligent as to impute folly to the gods. Continue then your confident boasting, take up a diet of greens and play the showman with your food, make Orpheus your lord and engage in mystic rites, holding the vaporings of many books in honor. For you have been found out. To all I give the warning: avoid men like this. For they make you their prey with their high-holy-sounding words while they contrive deeds of shame."

I consider Orphism a very valid path. I think it's one impossible to reconstruct accurately based on the evidence we have, but I absolutely agree that there were Orphics in ancient Hellas. I'm quite sure I have never denied that. The fact that the Mystery Traditions existed (not just Orphism but the Eleusinian ones, Hermeticism, etc.) does not take away from my opinion that modern magical Traditions are not traditionally Hellenic and that they have no place in Traditional Hellenismos. I have said many times before there was a form of magic practiced in ancient Hellas, and it always included the divine; an alternate expression of the same religion, so to speak. Modern magical practice would have been unrecognizable to the ancient Hellenes.

Again, I want to stress that this concerns Traditional Hellenismos--as everything on this blog does. That is my practice, and it is what I understand best. If you want to practice magic; go for it. Who am I to tell you can or cannot do something? As far as I am aware, I have said no such thing as was sent to me, so please do not put words in my mouth.