"There is this video on youtube about a woman named Elizabeth Vandiver, who is a professor in mythology and she says, that the gods could care less about us humans, and what they truly want from us is sacrifices. Now, I wanted to know what you thought about this lecture (if you have the time to see it, it's about half an hour long and covers subjects such as Pandora and Prometheus) because I feel like, whenever I pray my prayers goes unheard, and this professor may have a point, even if it's moot. She's really convincing, because she knows her stuff, and that's why I'm pondering whether she's right or if this is just the view of someone outside Hellenismos. So if you have the time to see this, I would love to hear your response because you are a strong believer and you might just convince me otherwise."

In Hellenic mythology, when our pre-human ancestors no longer gave the Gods sacrifice, Zeus wiped them all off the face of the planet with a huge flood and started over. In the myth of Baukis and Philemon, every villager who had turned the disguised Gods Zeus and Hermes away were drowned by another flood. This, however, has to do with respect and the just order of things--which is wholly Zeus's domain.

I agree with Vandiver when she says that humans are useful to the Gods and that's basically the only reason They keep us around, but she doesn't go into the very important concept of kharis. Hellenic animal sacrifice was done for a multitude of reasons. It was an act of devotion, an act to establish hierarchy--the Theoi are higher than mankind, but mankind is higher than animals, who are equal to each other--a social bonding affair, a nutritious necessity and tradition. First and foremost, sacrifice of any kind was given out of piety, out of a desire to please or appease the Theoi. Any sacrifice establishes kharis.

When we, in Hellenismos, petition the Gods for aid, we always do so with an offering. This offering can be incense, a libation, a food offering or anything else. It must be something tangible. Good thoughts and intentions don't count. This offering is given freely, joyfully, with pleasure, out of respect and love for the Gods. We ask what we feel we need--sometimes that's a new job, sometimes just a vague sentiment like honor and prosperity to the household--and never expect to be granted this request. Petitions aren't bribery. We give to the Gods and should They feel inclined to grand us our request, we thank Them by offering to them again, to which the Gods might respond, to which we will sacrifice, and so on. This circular practice of voluntary giving is called kharis. As long as we show respect and establish kharis, we are useful to the Gods. Disrespect the Gods and you become expendable.

We tend to resist this view in modern times. I consider that an especially Christian influence: God should be/is a benevolent entity (Islam and Judaism are less firm on a benevolent God), as well as a sign of the times. The ancient Hellenes, nor any of their contemporaries, believed the Gods to be anything but feared, appeased, and respected. The reason for this is logical: they were hard times to live in. The ancient Hellenes were subject to natural influence much more than we are. When a harvest fails, it doesn't automatically mean famine anymore. When we travel by ship, the odds of dying on it are slim. Not so in ancient Hellas. It were exactly these natural influences that the Gods had (and have) domain over, ergo: the Gods became beings to fear. They still are.

In essence: regular and grandiose worship through sacrifice raises your status with the Gods from an easily squashed nobody to someone who is useful and perhaps worthy of some protection and aid.

Having an almost personal, loving, and safe relationship with the Gods is a modern invention. It came to a rise with the revival of Paganism in the form of Wicca and Witchcraft. It makes absolutely no sense in an Hellenistic context because it goes against the hierarchy: Gods, then humans, then animals. As humans, we tend to reason from ourselves outwards, which basically would make the hierarchy: humans, Gods/animals. That's hubris. That's the opposite of piety. Piety, in large part, is accepting that we, as humans, are not at the top of this chain and that the Gods look at us like we look at animals: cute, but expendable once their purpose is served. It's a hard truth to face, and I get a lot of backlash for putting it out there, but that's the way the ancient Hellenes viewed their Gods, and it's how I view Them as well.