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.

"Hi I have been led to believe that animal sacrifice particular of rams was fairly important in ancient Greek worship and I was wondering how this was handled in your practice."

The principal kind of Greek sacrifice was called 'thysia' and consisted of the killing of a domestic animal, usually cattle, sheep, goats or pigs. It was followed by the division of the meat between the divine recipient and the human participants. This practice was most definitely the cornerstone of the ancient Hellenic faith. It included animals for a reason: the act of killing, of taking the life of an animal, is a difficult one. It brings us closer to our own mortality. Sacrifice was the highlight of ancient Hellenic ritual.

I don't sacrifice animals in my practice. That said, I would be open to bringing animal sacrifice back if we could do it properly: if the sacrifice could be made with enough people to use all of the animal and to make the sacrifice count. If we had temples, a Hellenic village square, or another open and accepting environment to conduct these rites, then yes, I would 100% join in and I have been saying for years I would rather be butchering my own meat for consumption and of course, I would sacrifice the animal to the Theoi.

That said, I live in an urban area with neighbors who would very much disagree with the killing of an animal on their lawn. I live hours away from the nearest Hellenist. I am not licensed to butcher an animal, nor do I possess the skill to do so.

Personally, I think we are not ready to revive the practice of animal sacrifice. We are small, scattered, and divided on many things. We have no set or standardized practice--and we even differ on the opinion if we need one. I think we have quite a lot of other things to sort out before we can form a united front that can declare--unambiguously--why we need to perform animal sacrifices to fully practice our religion, and set up rules, guidelines, and classes to make these a reality in a legal, responsible manner.

I think we can and should bring back the practice, but not now. Not yet. Perhaps in ten years or so, maybe twenty. Once we are secure, once we are more recognized, once we are done chipping away at ourselves from the inside out. Perhaps then we will be able to bring back something so very important to the ancient Hellenes and the Gods we love so much.


"To your knowledge, is Hermes, as messenger of the gods, have any associations with bees? I know that bees were considered to be the messengers of the gods in the Ancient Near East contemporaneously, and that extends back to Hittite mythology centuries earlier. So, given how close Greek mythology is to Anatolian mythology at times, it would be interesting if that in particular carried over. "

I...know of a tiny connection, but I'm not sure it's entirely what you are looking for. Your question reminded me of the Thriai, three prophetic nymphs of Mount Parnassos in Phokis (central Greece). They are Goddesses of the art of divinitation by pebbles and of the birds of omen which were gifted to Hermes by Apollon. They were apparently envisaged as nymphs with the heads of women and the bodies of bees. They are referred to in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (IV):

"There are certain holy ones, sisters born--three virgins gifted with wings : their heads are besprinkled with white meal, and they dwell under a ridge of Parnassos. These are teachers of divination apart from me, the art which I practised while yet a boy following herds, though my father paid no heed to it. From their home they fly now here, now there, feeding on honey-comb and bringing all things to pass. And when they are inspired through eating yellow honey, they are willing to speak the truth; but if they be deprived of the gods' sweet food, then they speak falsely, as they swarm in and out together. These, then, I give you; enquire of them strictly and delight you heart: and if you should teach any mortal so to do often will he hear your response--if he have good fortune.

Take these, Son of Maia...so he spake. And from heaven father Zeus himself gave confirmation to his words, and commanded that glorious Hermes should be lord over all birds of omen . . . and also that he only should be the appointed messenger to Aides (Hades), who, though he takes no gift, shall give him no mean prize."

In a way, divination is communication from the Gods to humans, but I have to say I find the connection with Hermes...tenuous at best.


"I want to start making and using khernips, but due to various mental illnesses, I don't always have the energy to make it. I know there are some concerns with the shelf life of the water, but I was considering buying purification tablets to keep the water safe enough to have for long periods of time. Is it okay to use one 'batch' of khernips multiple times, or is making a new one each time required?"

Khernips, or lustral water, was exactly that--water. Khernips is created by dropping smoldering incense or herb leaves into (fresh and/or salt) water (preferably sacred spring water or sea water). When throwing in the lit item, one can utter ‘xerniptosai’ (pronounced 'zer-nip-TOS-aye-ee') which translates as ‘be purified’. Both hands and face are washed with khernips. The vessel holding the khernips is called a khernibeionas (Χερνῐβεῖον).  Khernips are the traditional way to cleanse yourself from miasma, ritual pollution.

When preparing Khernips entirely in advance and then storing it, I have noticed that the chemicals produced when setting something on fire actually impact water and if left out long enough--even when covered or contained, micro-organisms naturally in the water and added to it by the fire eventually start to multiply, causing the water to pollute. Maybe purification tablets would counteract this (a bit), but it wouldn't be my preferred option.

Do I think storing khernips ahead of time is possible? Yes. Is it the most desirable option? No. For me, preparing khernips before my ritual is as much a part of the ritual as tossing barley groats, singing the praise of the Gods and sacrificing with them. Ffollowing the same ritual steps ever day is a wonderful way to get in a ritual mood; repetition literaly deminishes miasma. If only because of that, I am in favor of preparing khernips fresh every ritual or at least every day.

As with anything concerning miasma, most books on ancient Hellas and/or Hellenic religion don't mention khernips at all, or under a synonym. As with miasma, I am going to assume this is because the evidence of its existence is so flimsy besides a resounding 'it was used and important'. My rather vast collection of scholarly material is silent on any details beyond the basic information already provided. As such, I am forced to speculate based upon what I know.

Personally, I tend to mix tap water with sea water into a large vessel from which I take a measure every evening to use throughout the day. I drop the smoldering firebrand (a match when traveling, a bit of burning wood or herbs when home) into the measure poured our, not the vessel itself. So, in short, I prepare the base in advance but the actual mixture on the spot. I only use one measure one day, after that, I dip it out onto the earth and replace it with a fresh batch before my evening rituals. Personally, I would advise this if you want to prepare things in advance.  Even the worry of cleaning yourself with polluted water would negate the use of khernips, after all, would it not?


"Hi! Will you ever upload more videos on YouTube? I really enjoy the content you have already shared but I (and I'm sure at least a few others) would love to see more! :) I apologize if this sounds rude, I don't intend to be. Theoi bless :)"

I would like to, yes, but I’m pretty much out of inspiration! I have one planned on a specific form of division practiced in ancient Hellas and recently worked out the barebones of one on the difference in practice between ouranic and kthonic sacrifice. If you guys have ideas, let me know! The core rule is as follows: the topic has to benefit from the visual element! If I can explain it better in writing or it would just be me sitting in front of a camera and talking, it’s out ;-)