Ethics are at the very core of Hellenismos, and they support the heart of human life: arête, the act of living up to one's full potential. When one lives the way of arête, they live their life ethically, consciously, and in happiness. That is the true potential of arête: a life of happiness.

Living up to arête is not easy: it challenges up to be our best mentally, physically, and spiritually. It means taking control of our life, to become an active participant in it. To place blame only on yourself when things go wrong, and to keep trying to reach your goals, no matter what setbacks you suffer. Arête should become a way of life, and in that way of life, an ethical framework is essential. Ethics give you the tools to create internal order and consistent action. Both are necessary for happiness. Ethics will remove doubt, fears and regrets from your life, as you know exactly what you should and should not do to become the best you can be.

The ancient Hellenes had many guidelines for this ethical framework. As such, Hellenismos is known for its highly developed ethical system, derived from ancient scripture like the Delphic Maxims. I'd like to talk about a Delphic Maxim today, namely "Be (religiously) silent" (Ευφημος ιοθι), because I have been thinking about it.

There are three parts to this Maxim; the first is to be silent. When you're silent, you allow yourself to listen. you open yourself up to the (proverbial) voice of the Gods, your own needs and even your own demons. When you're silent, you have nowhere to hide from all that we tend to run scared of. Being silent is a virtue. Too many people, myself sometimes included, talk because we need to talk. To not think, not hear, not acknowledge. There is honesty and purity in silence.

Being religiously silent is completely different. There are echoes in those words, whispering voices, secrets. Mystery religions, oaths sworn, experiences which can't be put into words. In my years of practice, I have experienced things I can not possibly put into words. Not because I'm not allowed to but because I simply can not adequately convey what I heard, felt, tasted, saw, and smelled.

Many ancient practices have been lost because those who partook in them practiced religious silence. There are days I wish they hadn't, but when I read this maxim, it reminds me that being religiously silent is an honor. It's a sign of respect towards the Gods; when They show Themselves to us, in whatever way, we acknowledge that They came to us--and only us--for a reason. We keep our mouth shut about these experiences and don't boast about them. We accept them as the gifts they are.

Words have power. They can hurt, flatter, curse, bless and a million other things. Words carry weight. Picking our words carefully when we do choose to speak is another thing this maxim reminds us of. Say only what you must, and think about every single word. So the next time you open your mouth to speak, consider your words. Look for the positive, avoid gossip, avoid lies, avoid revealing things that should not be revealed. Practice piety. Honor silence.