On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.


Statistics:
PAT rituals for Pyanepsion:
  • 6 Pyanepsion - 24 September - Proerosia - agricultural festival for Demeter held at Eleusis
  • 7 Pyanepsion - 25 September - Pyanepsia - festival in honor of Apollon and Theseus
  • 8 Pyanepsion - 26 September - Oskhophoria - festival of the vintage (grapes)
  • 8 Pyanepsion - 26 September - Theseia - festival in honor of Theseus
  • 9 Pyanepsion - 27 September - Stenia - women's festival in honor of Demeter and Persephone
  • 11-13 Pyanepsion - 29 September - 1 October - Thesmophoria - festival in honor of Demeter
  • 14 Pyanepsion - 2 October - Sacrifice to The Heroines at Erkhia
  • 16 Pyanepsion - 4 October - Apatouria - paternity festival. The first day (Dorpia) was celebrated with a communal feast within the brotherhood, the second day ('Anarrhusis') sacrifice were made to Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria, and the third day ('Koureotis') young boys admitted to their father's brotherhood.
  • 30 Pyanepsion - 17 October - The Khalkeia - festival in honor of Athena and Hephaestus.

Anything else?
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

Would you like to support me? Buy me a coffee.

 The ancient Hellenes did not have a consensus on the Dodekatheon, or "The Twelve," or even "The Counsel of Twelve." 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.

Exactly 2,500 years after it first happened, the epic marathon swim by Hydna and her father Scyllis, in 480 BC, was replicated recently by three members of the Underwater Survey Team, representing the School of Rural and Surveying Engineering at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.


Kaitlyn Waters, who was one of the participants, along with Dr. Kimon Papadimitriou, Dimitris Giouzepas, retraced the route taken by the ancient Greek father and daughter on the eve of the Battle of Artemisium, which was fought between Greek and Persian naval forces ten years after the Battle of Marathon, during the same year of the Battle of Thermopylae.

The original 16-kilometer swim between the Pelion peninsula and the island of Evia, first recorded by the Greek geographer Pausanias, who wrote his accounts during the 2nd century AD, occurred on the eve of the Persian leader Xerxes’ naval campaign.

On that dark day, a menacing fleet of 1,207 of his ships was moored off the Pelion peninsula, facing the island of Evia, ready to take part in his renewed attacks in the effort to take over Greece — and thereby gain an important foothold on the European mainland.

The Greek forces were represented by a much smaller group of only 271 ships, according to the historian Herodotus.

At the same time, a man named Scyllis and his daughter Hydna had become so proficient at deep-sea diving that their services had been requisitioned by Xerxes as a means to plunder the many shipwrecks that were already under the waves at that time.

Unbeknownst to him, the daring Greek father and daughter duo had other plans. Taking advantage of a huge storm that blew up as the ships from both sides sat at their moorings the day before the battle, the anchors of the Persian fleet’s vessels were dragged away by Hydna and Scyllis, causing many of them to be destroyed in the maelstrom. As Pausanias wrote, in his work entitled Description of Greece, 

“When the fleet of Xerxes was attacked by a violent storm off Mount Pelion, father and daughter completed its destruction by dragging away under the sea the anchors and any other security the triremes had.”

As Kaitlyn Waters, one of the participants, writes of her experience in the epic swim, “Having used knives to cut the ropes of the anchors to destroy the ships and also being able to do so undetected by the multitude of soldiers from every corner is an impressive feat in and of itself.

“What Hydna and Scyllis did next — swimming, side by side, 10 miles to Evia Island to reunite with the Greeks and inform them of the Persian’s battle plans- was able to give the Greek forces a huge advantage in the battle.”

In a fascinating twist to the story, Waters related that the father and daughter became so famous for their feat that statues of them were even erected at Delphi, the beautiful religious sanctuary on the Greek mainland.

Tragically, however, the statues have been lost to time, Waters writes, as the Roman emperor Nero was known to have taken at least 500 statues from Delphi back to Rome. Pausanias noted at the time that one of these statues was indeed of Scyllis’ heroic daughter, Hydna.

On September 4 though 6, swimmers from Japan, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Bulgaria and Greece took to the waters of Pefki, Evia for the inaugural Authentic Marathon Swim commemorating this seminal event in history.

Covering a range of lengths to accommodate all swimmers regardless of age, the event, which saw the participants swimming over the wrecks at Artemisium, was a great success. The winner of the 10 km race was won by Bulgarian Olympic champion Peter Stoychev. Women’s Open Water swimming world champion Vicky Kouveli won first place in the female division.

There was also an 800-meter swimming race for children so that they could also take part in this important commemoration of the great Battle of Artemisium. If you would like to follow the Authentic Marathon Swim’s events in the future, please see the organization’s Facebook page, here.

Significant progress has been made in the restoration of the Archaic temple and the refectory of the Apollo Sanctuary on Despotikon, which are nearing their completion, with the monument having now regained a significant part of its original height and dominating the area. As early as November 2019, the scaffolding had been removed from the refectory’s colonnade after being completely restored. This year, work was done on the temple’s north and west walls, with an addition of new and ancient structures, on the wall of the doors of the temple chambers and the thresholds, on the temple and refectory pilasters and the temple and refectory column drums. Lastly, an important step was achieved by placing and adapting to the temple cornice five ancient triglyphs, two ancient and two new metopes.

Despite the difficult conditions, owing to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic,the systematic excavation of  the Apollo sanctuary on Despotikon and Tsimintiri was conducted again this year by the Cyclades Ephorate under Dr Yiannos Kouragios (Cyclades Ephorates), in collaboration with archaeologists Ilias Daifas and Alexandra Alexandridou (assistant professor at the University of Ioannina), and the participation of a small number of students from Ioannina University. The work lasted four weeks (June 22-July 17, 2020), while for one month (June 5-July 4, 2020) restoration works were also conducted in the temple and refectory of the Apollo Sanctuary.

A large rectangular building (8.65 x 8.50 m) was located on Despotikon, a short distance west of a sheepfold, in the southernmost part of the site explored to date. It had been severely damaged and the  walls on its interior had collapsed.

However, based on the surviving architectural remains, at least two architectural phases can be distinguished. In the earlier phase it had an almost square plan and was formed by four walls founded on natural rock. In the second phase, a Π shaped addition in portico style was constructed on the north side.

The strong construction of its walls with foundations as deep as 1.85 m, the discovery of mortar and a small amount of finds inside it are strong indications of this building being a cistern , which when abandoned was gradually “filled up” with stones, soil and other transportable materials.

Although the construction of the walls proves that the building was erected in Archaic times, the discovery of ceramics from different eras points to its use over a long period of time , perhaps as far back as Late Antiquity. Lastly, a strong wall was located in the eastern part of the site,11 m long, 0.60 m wide and 0.65 m high, which was not excavated due to lack of time. At a distance of 2.5 m, the marble base of a votive column was unearthed.

Most of the 2020 excavation period was centered on researching the islet of Tsimintiri, which in antiquity was joined to Despotikon by an isthmus and was part of the  extensive satellite installation for the cult of the Apollo Sanctuary. At the end of this year’s 2 weeks research, eight buildings had been located that take up the island’s south and east side and face the sheltered harbour and the sanctuary opposite.

The Building Ατ is the westernmost of all those located. It is elongated, built on a steep slope with a North-South orientation and comprises three spaces. A short distance from it, two more buildings were located but not excavated; Ht which comprises at least two spaces and Building Θτ.

Building Βτ is the largest ever to have been found and the first to be encountered when approaching the island from the south. It consists of at least five spaces, in one of which a large number of ceramic utensils and fragments of jars with relief decoration were discovered. The findings from the building, among which many fragments of archaic jars with engraved and embossed decoration, give a time horizon of its use from the 7th to the early 5th century.

Further north is the elongated Building Γτ divided into at least four spaces. A short distance to the west is the almost square Building Δτ. Next to this is the Building Ετ with a rectangular floor plan divided into three spaces.Research is being continued West of the Building Ετ as well as the cleaning of the Building Ζτ which has a circular floor plan with a 16.90 m diameter.

All the buildings on Tsimintiri have very large dimensions and are strongly constructed, while they all seem to be structurally related to each other, creating a high density of  buildings on the south side of the islet that in ancient times would have been the northeastern side of the sheltered harbour. These were probably public buildings related to the harbour’s operation.Moreover, Tsimintiri was essentially the isthmus that joined Antiparos with Despotikon, thus making access to the Sanctuary also possible via Antiparos.

For many more images, go here.

 We all know the Orphic Hymns; a collection of eighty-seven short religious poems composed in either the late Hellenistic or early Roman (first or second century AD) era. They are based on the beliefs of Orphism, a mystery cult or religious philosophy which claimed descent from the teachings of the mythical hero Orpheus. The Mysteries were mostly connected to Demeter, Persephone, life after death and reincarnation. From the Orphic Hymns also comes a list of which incenses to offer to which deity. For all Orphic Hymns, go here


Beyond the Orphic Hymns, there are the Orphic Fragments, poems and lines connected to the Orphic school of thought. Many of these are a true treasure-trove of information and religious material. As I'm taking the day off from everything computer related today, I am leaving you with one of these poems on queue.

"Zeus is the first. Zeus the thunderer, is the last.
Zeus is the head. Zeus is the middle, and by Zeus all things were fabricated.
Zeus is male, Immortal Zeus is female.
Zeus is the foundation of the earth and of the starry heaven.
Zeus is the breath of all things. Zeus is the rushing of indefatigable fire.
Zeus is the root of the sea: He is the Sun and Moon.
Zeus is the king; He is the author of universal life;
One Power, one Dæmon, the mighty prince of all things:
One kingly frame, in which this universe revolves,
Fire and water, earth and ether, night and day,
And Metis (Counsel) the primeval father, and all-delightful Eros (Love).
All these things are United in the vast body of Zeus.
Would you behold his head and his fair face,
It is the resplendent heaven, round which his golden locks
Of glittering stars are beautifully exalted in the air.
On each side are the two golden taurine horns,
The risings and settings, the tracks of the celestial gods;
His eyes the sun and the Opposing moon;
His unfallacious Mind the royal incorruptible Ether."

Hekate is extremely important to me in my household worship. Like some of the early ancient Hellenes, I view Hekate as Hesiod's Hekate, the single-faced Titan, who rules in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea. She is a Theia of childbirth--to both animals and humans--and it is She who bestows wealth on mortals, victory, wisdom, good luck to sailors and hunters, and prosperity to youth and to the flocks of cattle. Yet, if mortals do not deserve Her gifts, she can withhold them from them just as easily. After the Titanomachy, Zeus bestowed upon Her the highest of honors. This is the Goddess I honor daily during my nighttime rites, but I do integrate some later practices and thoughts about Her; including Her role as protector of the house and 'crossroad Goddess'.

Personally, when I hear 'crossroad Goddess', I think Supernatural's crossroad's demon. I think it's exactly this modern view of supernatural forces at crossroads that makes it difficult to understand Hekate's role as a Goddess of crossroads. I therefor don't use the tem 'crossroad Goddess', because it is somewhat deceiving; Her imagery would have stood at crossroads, and offerings were left there for safe travel, but the crossroads Hekate was most valued for protecting was the crossroads leading from the street to he home; a 'T'-shaped crossroads where Hekate ever vigilantly watches over the threshold. 

In this incarnation, She is a Goddess of purification, expiation, and protection, associated with thresholds and gates, both reaching back to the Underworld association. This view of Her dates back to about the fifth century BC, where Hesiod's views date back to about the seventh century BC. I wrote about the development of views on Hekate in this blog post about Her, and She has been worshipped in many ways throughout the ages.

As Cara Schulz so eloquently puts it in her talk about Hekate, Hekate guards the home from forces outside of it--both from natural and supernatural forces. Ancient Hellenic (especially Athenian) homes were walled off to create a courtyard; the only entrance to the home was a single door, and a single threshold. This was where Hekate's influence was felt. As such, Her influence is stationary; where Apollon and Hermes' protection extends to journeying and travels. Her worship is more domestic, at least for me.

There were statues of Hekate placed at three-way crossroads not leading to homes; these served the same purpose as 'threshold statuary', though; protection and purification. Much later, Christian, sources, warn followers away from 'placing devilish charms at springs or trees or crossroads' to alleviate illness. 

In modern household worship, Hekate's role is generally considered as an averter of evil; a protector who keeps misfortune, illness, danger, and bad luck away from the oikos. This is why She often shares shrine space with Hermes and Apollon, near the entrance to the home, or at the crossroads from the street to the driveway; a crossroads, indeed, but very different than some might imagine.

An extremely expressive terra-cotta mask, thought to represent Dionysos, was recently unearthed during excavations of the ancient Hellenic city of Daskyleion in Western Turkey. The newly-discovered treasure, which appears to represent a rather tipsy god, was located in the city’s acropolis, and is thought to have served as a votive offering of gratitude to Dionysos, according to archaeologists.


The site of the ancient city of Daskyleion, which was first inhabited during the Bronze Age, was discovered in 1952. Since then, it has routinely produced important finds from many different historical periods. Located in the ancient region of Lydia, Daskyleion received its name around 750 BC from the king Daskylos, father of Gyges, a figure found in both history and myth.

Archaeologist Kaan İren of Mugla Sitki Kocman University said the mask was unearthed in the city’s acropolis. “This is possibly a votive mask,” he explained. “More information will become available over time with more research.” Earlier this year, Iren’s team excavated a 2,700-year-old kitchen cellar in the acropolis. The researchers are now looking for seeds and other organic matter in the soil for clues to the city's cuisine.

Widely known as the God of wine and revelry, Dionysos is also the God of theater and of ritual madness — the term “bacchanal” comes from his Latin name, “Bacchus” — and he served an important role in the development of ancient Greek theatre. In myth, Dionysus is known to free his followers from social and cultural restraints through wine or ritual, most notably in Euripides’ tragic play “The Bacchae.”



Should you feel tempted to experience a breathtaking virtual reality revival of the major Bronze Age eruption of the volcano of Santorini, the siege of the ancient city of Rhodes in 304 B.C. or the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism in 1900, then your wish could be granted as early as in spring 2021. Noesis Science Centre and Technology Museum in Thessaloniki is in the process of developing a new and innovative virtual reality simulator platform and its accompanying films, which will empower users to step into the shoes of one of two distinct past-era characters in each story from the moment they put on their state-of-the-art VR headsets.


Powered by a generous half million euro funding by the EU through the Research-Create-Innovate state aid action, the Activator project, as it has been named, constitutes an ambitious effort to further develop experiential virtual reality with the aim of learning, acquainting the public with new technologies, disseminating knowledge, evolving research and also entertainment. Director of Noesis, Athanasios Kontonikolaou, states,

“This new technology that we are to introduce has nothing to do with the commercial virtual reality sets that you might have seen in entertainment venues. It will be far more upgraded and modern, and a real breakthrough once it becomes available.”

Supervised by the country’s General Secretariat for Research and Technology, the Museum has made a name for its ever-evolving informal education programs and exhibitions. Hence, the aforementioned scenarios of the first three films created for Activator are all relevant to the institution’s tradition of educating visitors on the technological and scientific achievements of the Ancient Greeks.

“In the first scenario, the viewer will be able to wander around the ancient Cycladean city of Santorini, and learn about all the technological innovations then in use at the site of Akrotiri. This was the oldest Greek, and possibly one of the first world civilizations to use structural elements of modern-day societies which were very advanced for that era, such as a sewage system and other innovations. Thanks to the motion simulator platform, users will be able to even feel the earthquake caused by the eruption of the volcano in 1613 B.C. that flattened out the city.”

Similarly, the film about the siege of Rhodes will allow visitors to familiarise themselves with the advanced war technology used in Greece around the end of the 4th century B.C..

On the other hand, the third scenario, the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism, was naturally picked up, given both the international fame of the artifact and also the specialist knowledge accumulated by several members of the Noesis Board of Directors and its researchers in extensive studies relating to this over the years.

As Kontonikolaou points out, the films created for Activator go above and beyond the customary VR gaming aesthetic: 

“Our graphics and animation are specialized and based on exceptional sensors so that we can really achieve an interlocking of view and motion in experiencing culture; one could only come across similar equipment in some of the most high-end temporary exhibitions abroad”.

The Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), which does all the digital app research for the project and shares nearly half the funding, is the partner responsible for ensuring that exact sensory interlocking when using the platform. In addition to enjoying a 3D projection of the VR film and being in control of the viewing angle, the user will receive complete physical feedback through the specialized motion simulation equipment, thus physically feel the experiences in which they participate.

“Asides from the VR headsets, which offer what we call fourth dimension, there are certain “degrees” of movement in any motion simulator platform, such as right and left movement, the ability to rotate, to lift, to sit down… At this moment, the 4D platform offers right and left and back and forth movement, but it does not offer the possibility of rotation or of attaching sensors on the user, which would offer them an even livelier and more realistic experience.”

There is, however, extremely far-fetching potential for adding to these possibilities at a later stage: 

“We might discover newer technologies which we are unaware of today, compatible with Activator. It could offer 5- or 9-dimensional experience, as the platform would continue to progress in line with the latest technological trends – although keeping the safety of users is our first priority. There is an ongoing international discussion about whether the user could feel dizziness or fear and insecurity while watching multi-dimensional VR films, and these questions need to be answered before VR technology moves to the next level. That is why all these VR films have a maximum duration of up to 5 minutes; so that we can ensure a pleasant experience for the user, not the contrary”.

Despite delays by suppliers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has slowed down the production process, Activator could be set up at Noesis by March 2021, operating on a pilot basis. The first visitors to use it will be asked for feedback through questionnaires to rate the experience so that it can be further perfected.

At the same time, the project managers will declare competitions for VR experts who could help in the further development of the content of the films for the platform or even advance the latter with additional levels of motion experience in the future.

If the pilot operation goes as expected, Kontonikolaou would aspire to see Activator marketed internationally by the commercial branch of Noesis in the summer of 2021. 

“As an independent exhibit, Activator could be either licensed or granted to respective research centers abroad, with royalties on tickets. Another thought is that it could be added as part of the IDEA temporary exhibition, which we produced with funding from the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation. It was presented in Athens and Slovenia and has contracts in place for touring in Cyrpus, Egypt and Canada.”

Since Noesis is self-funded to a level of 70-80% of its annual budget, any income generated from the commercialization of Activator would go towards the institution’s financial sustainability, but also be used for new investments on original educational and research programs that benefit society and take the community forward.

A recent study by a team based at the University of Bologna, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, has shed new light on the Minoan system of fractions, one of the outstanding enigmas tied to the ancient writing of numbers.

About 3,500 years ago, the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete developed a writing system composed of syllabic signs, called Linear A, which they sometimes used to inscribe offerings at sanctuaries and adorn their jewelry, but mainly assisted the administration of their palatial centers.

Today, this script remains largely undeciphered and includes a complex system of numerical notation with signs that indicated not only whole numbers, but also fractions (such as 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc.). While the whole numbers were deciphered decades ago, scholars have been debating on the exact mathematical values of the fractional signs.

Principal Investigator Silvia Ferrara, Professor of the Department of Classical Philology and Italian Studies of the University of Bologna, said: 

"We aimed to solve the problem through a lens combining different strands of research, very seldom tied together: close paleographical analysis of the signs and computational methods. In this way we realized that we could access information from a new perspective."

The members of the European Research Council project INSCRIBE (Invention of Scripts and their Beginnings), Michele Corazza, Barbara Montecchi, Miguel Valério, and Fabio Tamburini, led by Dr. Ferrara, applied a method that combines the analysis of the sign shapes and their use in the inscriptions together with statistical, computational and typological strategies to assign mathematical values to the Linear A signs for fractions.

The team first studied the rules that the signs followed on the clay tablets and other accounting documents. Two problems had so far complicated the decipherment of Linear A fractions. First, all documents containing sums of fractional values with a registered total were damaged or difficult to interpret, and second, they contradicted uses of certain signs, which suggest the system changed over time. Thus, the starting premise had to rely on documents concentrated to a specific period (ca. 1600-1450 BCE), when the numerical system was in coherent use across Crete.

To investigate the possible values of each fractional sign, the team excluded impossible outcomes with the aid of computational methods. Then all possible solutions - almost four million - were whittled down also comparing fractions that are common in the history of the world (e.g., typological data) and using statistical tests. Finally, the team applied other strategies that considered the completeness and coherence of the fractions as a system and in this way the best values were identified, with the least redundancies. The result, in this case, was a system whose lowest fraction is 1/60 and which shows the ability to represent most values of the type n/60.

The system of values suggested by the Bologna team has yielded further important implications.

The results explain how the Linear B script, adopted by the later Mycenaean Greek culture (ca. 1450-1200 BCE) from Linear A, reused some of these fractions to express units of measurement. The new results suggest that, for example, the Linear A sign for 1/10 was adapted to represent a capacity unit for measuring dry products which was, in turn, 1/10 of a larger unit. This explains a historical continuity of use from fractions to units of measurements across two different cultures.

This research aims to show that traditional methods and computational models, when used in synergy, can help us make remarkable progress into explaining some unresolved issues tied to ancient scripts that are still undeciphered.

Near the end of the month of Boedromion, there was a singular sacrifice organized in Erkhia, a deme of Attica. It was held in honor 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 15th 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.

The first stage of the excavations of a fortified Hellenistic site from the second to the first century BC, located on Cape Chiroza between the Kraimorie district and the fishing village of Chengene Skele in Bourgas Bay on Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast was completed in July 2020, Bourgas municipality said on August 19. The excavations are being done by a joint team from Bulgaria’s National History Museum and the Regional History Museum in Bourgas, and are funded by Bourgas municipality.

The fortification had an area of ​​800 square metres and was protected by a stone wall and a large moat with a depth of 1.3 metres and a width of nearly four metres. An indicator of the dating of the site is the ceramic material, the statement said.

In 260 processed ceramic fragments, 40 per cent are made of Thracian ceramics – vessels made by hand, with plastic decoration and a polished surface. The other fragments are from amphorae, bottoms and sides of local and imported cups, and red lacquer ceramics with embossed decoration. A reliable marker for dating the site are the handles, the bottoms of bone amphorae (from the island of Kos) and the ceramic fragments of presumed origin from the area of ​​ancient Pergamum, according to the statement.

The discovery of the moat and the tracing, albeit at the initial stage, of the stone wall, makes it possible to assume that another late Hellenistic fortified centre was built on Cape Chiroza, dating from about the same time as the already known ones near the town of Primorsko (Farmakida), with Sinemorets, Brodilovo and Izvor. It is possible, however, that the narrow wall and the moat marked the temenos (enclosure) of a seaside sanctuary.

Underwater archaeological work was done from June 30 to July 7 in the eastern and southeastern waters off Cape Chiroza. Structures and other finds over an area of 0.1 hectares were discovered and mapped. At the same time, geophysical surveys and bathymetric surveys of the seabed were carried out, thanks to the support of the Centre for Underwater Archaeology – Sozopol, the statement said.

The work led to a number of finds and preliminary conclusions. Several scatterings of stones were found on an underwater terrace east of Cape Chiroza at a depth of four metres. The diving team managed to photograph many processed stone blocks of different sizes and shapes. The discoveries include a large number of fragments of Greek building ceramic tiles, Roman tegulas and imbrexes (overlapping roof tiles used in ancient Greek and Roman architecture as a waterproof and durable roof covering), as well as some intact Late Antiquity tiles.

The work led to a number of finds and preliminary conclusions. Several scatterings of stones were found on an underwater terrace east of Cape Chiroza at a depth of four metres. The diving team managed to photograph many processed stone blocks of different sizes and shapes.

During the underwater inspections, the diving team managed to collect from the seabed about 100 ceramic fragments, half a stone Greek anchor rod, a stone battle ball and several relatively well-preserved amphorae.

At this stage of the underwater research, it is assumed that the site at the foot of Cape Chiroza covered an area of 2000 square metres, the statement said.

For many more images, go here.

Screenrant recently came out with a list of 10 Exciting Films About Ancient Greece. This list focusses on ancient Hellas and the way its legends and histories have been realized through the medium of film. From Disney to Zack Snyder and Franc Miller to Stanley Kubrick, these masterpieces bring to life some epic tales from long ago. Now, no one is going to accuse these movies of being historically accurate, but they're fun! And that is worth something too.


10 - Hercules (1997)
Disney’s Hercules was definitely enjoyable and entertaining, even though it tried being everything under the sun and to appeal to every kid imaginable, whether they liked superheroes, celebrity athletes, “The One” narratives, or ancient myths.

The young son of Zeus and Hera is kidnapped and turned mortal to grow up on earth. Years later, and at last aware of his godly origins, he embarks on a journey to become a true hero and earn his place on Olympus. Meanwhile, his evil uncle, Hades, is planning the demise of all the other Gods and only one man can stand on his way.

9 - Alexander (2004)
Beginning in 283 BC, this epic tale of kingship, conquest, betrayal, and passion follows Alexander, King of Macedonia (Colin Farrell), and the general who conquered Persia. From his childhood to his death, Alexander never wavered in his will, becoming beloved to some and hated by many.

He was undefeated in battle from his 20th year to his untimely death at 32 and his life influenced many peoples and civilizations. The film combines historical evidence with original ideas and certain non-confirmed legends and rumors from the depths of history to create the portrait of a fascinating and tumultuous life.

8 - Troy (2004)
Brad Pitt stars as Achilles, the legendary warrior, son of Goddess Thetis and mortal king Peleus, in his toils as the best warrior of the Greeks, but a man knowingly destined to die in battle and achieve eternal fame.

He and his Myrmidon warriors are part of Agamemnon’s expedition to conquer Troy, the City of the Sun. Achilles’s love for Briseis, a Trojan noblewoman, along with his own ego, will clash against his (already frail) loyalty to Agamemnon, in this film where worlds collide.

7 - Agora (2009)
Rachel Weisz stars as Hypatia, the famous female Greek philosopher, mathematician, and prominent member of the Neoplatonic school who teaches in the Platonic Academy in Alexandria during the 4th century AD. She is deeply devoted to science and rejects the advances of many a man that falls for her.

Meanwhile, she finds herself in the middle of civil unrest in the city and the violent clashes between Pagans and Christians, as the old and the new religion collide in moments that will define the rest of history.

6 - 300 (2006)
Based on the gritty graphic novel by Frank Miller, this film, by Zack Snyder, follows Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his 300 warriors as they march against all odds to fight off the Persian invaders and their King, Xerxes.

Leonidas has to lead his brave warriors in a battle that might as well be lost already in front of the vast numbers of the Persian armies, while back home in Sparta, betrayal and conspiracies are brewing. The film captures the ancient Spartan philosophy of unison and hardness, and their battle-oriented culture, while the noir and gory aesthetic elevate it to a whole new level.

5 - Spartacus (1960)
The legendary actors Kirk Douglas and Lawrence Olivier star in Stanley Kubrick’s epic tale of hardship, enslavement, and rebellion. Spartacus, a Greek (Thracian) slave to the Roman Republic, is sentenced to death due to insubordination, but spared because Lentulus Batiatus buys him, seeing a potential gladiator in him.

Spartacus falls in love with Varinia, a slave woman, and leads a rebellion that takes Rome and its prefectures by storm, freeing people and trying to find a way to lead them all to their homes. Unfortunately, in the midst of panic from the ever-growing army of freed slaves, Rome falls under tyranny and Spartacus’s rebellion is short-lived, however, on a hopeful note, he leaves a son behind: a free boy that will grow to tell his father’s story.

4 - Iphigenia (1977)
This film was part of Michael Cacoyannis’s “Greek Tragedy” trilogy, along with The Trojan Women (next on our list) and Electra. Agamemnon, King of Argos, had gathered a vast Greek expeditionary army on the coasts of Aulis that he intended to take to Troy in order to retrieve his brother's wife, but the opposing winds prevent the ships from sailing for a long time.

Agamemnon lets the restless men slay and eat sheep that belong to Artemis’s temple. In the subsequent havoc, Artemis' sacred deer is unintentionally killed. Calchas, the high priest of Artemis' temple, is enraged by the blasphemy and says that furious Artemis will calm the winds (letting the Greeks sail) on one condition: they must sacrifice the young daughter of Agamemnon, Iphigenia.

3 - The Trojan Women (1971)
Legends of cinema Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave star in this film by Cacoyannis that is based on the homonymous ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides.

The film follows the various noblewomen of Troy (Hecuba, Andromache, Cassandra, and Helen) after its sack, each one with her own personal tragedies and fears, all of them collectively worried about their future and the ultimate fate of Troy, as they are surrounded by death and ruins. This was the second in Cacoyannis’s “Greek Tragedy” trilogy.

2 - Jason And The Argonauts (1963)
The fabled Greek hero Jason guides a team of courageous voyagers in a dangerous search for the legendary Golden Fleece. Jason has been foretold to seize back the throne of Thessaly, as he is (unbeknownst to himself) the true heir.

When he keeps Pelias from dying, but does not identify him as the usurper of his father’s throne, Pelias rushes Jason to go to Colchis to find the Golden Fleece. Jason gathers a maritime crew of the best men in Greece (including Hercules) and they depart under the guard of Hera, queen of the Gods, as their expedition abounds with fights against harpies, the bronze giant Talos, a hydra, and many more obstacles.

1 - Ulysses (1954)
This Italian swords-and-sandals epic stars Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn and follows the adventures of Ulysses, king of Ithaca and one of the Greek generals at the Trojan War, as he desperately tries to return to his homeland (following the Odyssey quite faithfully).

During the sack of Troy, he and his men desecrated the temple of Poseidon and as punishment, he threw many obstacles on the path of their return. After many a tribulation, Ulysses finds himself an amnesiac on the island of Phaeacia and falls for princess Nausicaa. However, when his memory is stirred, he must find the courage to return home and face a wife and son he hasn’t seen in 20 years.

I love knowing how far Hellenic mythology and the Gods still reach and how they impact our lives without us even being aware of it. Today, I want to present you with a list of the Hellenic influence on the names of chemical elements--either through mythology or simply through language.



Argon (Ar) From the Greek word "argos" which means idle or lazy. Argon is one of the laziest, least reactive elements of all. There are also many mythological figures named "Argos", but those are not whom the element was named after.

Bromine (Br) - From the Greek word "bromos" which means stench. Bromine has an unpleasant smell.

Chlorine (Cl) From the Greek word "chloros" which means green. Chlorine is a green gas.

Helium (He) - Named after the God Helios. In 1868, during an eclipse of the Sun, scientists observed a spectral line caused by an unknown element. They named the element Helium. Twenty seven years later, in 1895, the element was discovered on Earth.

Hydrogen (H) - From the Greek words "hydro" and "genes" which mean water and forming. When hydrogen burns in the air, it forms water.

Iodine (I) - From the Greek word "iodos" which means violet. Iodine is a grey solid at room temperature. It gives off a violet colored vapor when warmed.

Niobium (Nb) - It is a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite. Its name comes from Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, the namesake of tantalum (see below). The name reflects the great similarity between the two elements in their physical and chemical properties, making them difficult to distinguish.

Oxygen (O) - From the Greek words "oxy" and "genes" meaning acid forming. Most non-metals burn in oxygen to form acids eg. sulphur.

Phosphorous (P) - From the Greek word "phosphorus" which means "light bearing". It was also the ancient name for the planet Venus, usually the brightest "star" in the night sky. Phosphorous glows in the dark and catches fire in the air to give a bright flame.

Tantalum (Ta) - Named after King Tantalos. It was discovered in 1802 and great difficulties were encountered in dissolving its oxide in acid to form salts, which is most likely how it got its name--King Tantalos was imprisoned in Tartaros for serving the son he murdered to the Gods when They came to dinner. Tantalos' punishment for his actions was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. 

Titanium (Ti) - Named after Titans, members of the second generation of divine beings, descending from the primordial deities and preceding the Olympian deities. They are giant deities of incredible strength. Titanium is an extremely strong metal which resists attack by acids.

 Acknowledging the current need for their widespread use, The Greek Ministry of Culture is now marketing fabric facemasks inspired by Ancient Greece so that citizens can stay protected from Covid-19 — while promoting Greek history.


According to an announcement by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, 

"The new data imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, they brought protective masks into our daily lives. No one can say for sure how much longer we will need to move around wearing them. However, it is not necessary for the mask to refer to a clinical picture. In the context of adapting its operation to the new conditions created by the outbreak of the pandemic and taking into account the fact that the use of the protective mask is now a necessity for citizens, as a basic means of individual and collective protection.

The masks, which are of high quality standards and aesthetics, are available from the TAP stores to the public who visit the Archaeological Sites and the Archaeological Museums of the country. The sale price is 5 euros, while from the first days that they started to be available from the TAP stores, the masks are one of the best-selling items."

The fashionable masks come in seven different high-quality fabrics, all inspired by objects found in Greece’s many archaeological museums or sites.


The designs depicted on the masks

Design inspired by animal-shaped figurines-votive offerings 8th-7th century BC. (Archaeological Museum of Olympia).

Design inspired by animal-shaped figurines-votive offerings 8th-7th century BC. (Archaeological Museum of Olympia).

Design inspired by the Disk of Phaistos 1700-1550 BC. (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion).

Design inspired by the Disk of Phaistos 1700-1550 BC. (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion).

Early Byzantine mosaic floor with ducks Early 6th century AD. (Archaeological Museum of Delphi).

Design inspired by Cycladic marble figurines 2700-2300 BC.

"Beehive" Minoan gold jewelry, 18th century BC. (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion).

Sooooo, who can I pay to get me some of these, hm? 

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 evening rites of sacrifices were held at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple in Athens to honor Asklepios, 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 Asklepios. Asklepios' worship almost always included a 'night watch'; a night time period of meditation and contemplation at a temple to Asklepios; 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 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.

The Epidauria took place as a preparatory intermezzo: afterwards, the initiates were cleaned and focused, 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 Athens, 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 night watch 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 the 6th of September this year. You can find this separate ritual here and join the community here.

Monuments at Greece's archaeological site of Mycenae have not been damaged by a wildfire that swept through the area, despite the blackening from smoke on the iconic entrance to the ancient citadel, Greece's culture minister said Monday. Four water-dropping planes and two helicopters helped dozens of firefighters contain the blaze Sunday after it reached the fringes of one of Greece's most important archaeological sites, 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Athens.


The Bronze Age fortified city, whose rulers were key figures in ancient Greek legend, including the Trojan War, flourished centuries before the major Acropolis temples were built in Athens and was a major center of Mediterranean civilization.

Smoke from the flames blackened the 3,250-year-old Lion Gate, named after the monumental relief sculpture of two heraldic lions flanking a pillar that crowns the entrance to the ancient citadel.

"The damage caused by yesterday's fire was the least possible," Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said during a visit to the site Monday, adding that none of the site's monuments or the Mycenae museum had suffered any damage. 

"Smoke blackened some walls. The problem is (only) aesthetic. The Fire Service acted swiftly ... and prevention measures worked: Dry vegetation had all been cleared away. That's what saved the monuments."

A spokesman for Greece's main political opposition, the left-wing Syriza party, questioned the speed of the response by the Fire Service, noting that the fire had entered the site. The party said it was carrying out a separate inspection Monday and called on the minister to apologize for downplaying the damage.

Mycenae has been closed to visitors but the Culture Ministry said it will reopen Tuesday.

The Greater Eleusinian Mysteries are upon us again, so it's time for the Masterpost to come back. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, the mysteries at Eleusis are assumed to be of great importance to a large portion of the ancient Hellenes. The cult itself likely has 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 (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) had festivals throughout the year, which were tied to agriculture through Demeter's refusal to perform her duties as an agricultural Theia 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. The Mysteries were mysteries for a reason and revealing information of these involved rituals carried the punishment of death (or at least, that is what the ancient sources say). We still have been able to piece together quite a bit of information however, and I would like to create a masterpost of sorts.



Mythological connections and sources of the Mysteries:
The Eleusinian Mysteries 
A short introduction to the Mysteries, which includes the mythological reason for the festival and the rewards for being initiated.
On Persephone and Spring 
A writer's perspective on the myth of Persephone's abduction. 
Iakkos 
The personification of the ritual cry of joy called ‘iakhe’ of the procession of the initiates. 
On 'Kore' versus 'Persephone' 
...and why They are not always the same.


Eleusinian festivals:
A summary of the festivals included in the cycle of the Mysteries. It also includes a description of the way the days of the Mysteries would have been spent--as well as we can gather about a mystery tradition, of course. The cycle consists of: the Greater Mysteries (13-23 Boedromion), Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), Haloa (26 Poseideon), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion), and the Skiraphoria (12 Skirophorion). These are placed in sequence of the Athenian year. Also linked to the Mysteries because they fall during either the Lesser of Greater Mysteries: the Diasia and the Epidauria.


Periferal points of interest connected to the Mysteries:
On attending women-only festivals as a male
Some of the eleusinian rites are women-only. Can you attend as a male?
On attending women-only festivals as non-binary
Some of the eleusinian rites are women-only. Can you attend if you identify as non-binary?
On maidens, the Stenia and the Thesmophoria 
On attending women-only festivals as an unmarried woman.
On the binding of hair 
As part of Eleusinian ritual.
Dadoukhoi: torch bearers 
On the importance of torches and torch bearers in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
The ancient tradition of Martes 
Martes were pieces of string, worn around the wrist. The innitiates of the Mysteries recieved yellow ones on the way to Eleusis.
On ending the Mysteries
On why the ending rites of the Mysteries matters.
On fasting for the Eleusinian Mysteries
Fasting is a part of the Greater Mysteries as well as the Thesmophoria. Here is how to do it safely.
On the forbidden foods of the Eleusinian Mysteries 
Some things not to eat during these days.
On the 'hiera' of the Eleusinian Mysteries
The heira are the 'sacred objects'.
On kykeon 
A barley beverage sacred to Demeter and used to break a sacred fast within the Eleusinian Mysteries as well as in preparatory rites for some of the most sacred--and secret--rites within Eleusis. 
Pelanoi, the cakes of the Athenians 
Athenian sacrifical cakes that were often used in the Lesser mysteries.
Snakes, the ancient Hellenes and the Eleusinian Mysteries 
Snakes were used in the Lesser Mystery rites. Why?

 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 acknowledge 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 3rd 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 6 September and consume nothing but water (or juice, if you need to!) until after the main rite that takes place after dusk on 7 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 3 / 15 Boedromion: starting ritual 
  • September 4 / 16 Boedromion: purification rite
  • September 5 / 17 & 18 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone / prayers to Asklepios for prophetic dreams and healing (nighttime)
  • September 6 / 18 Boedromion: Epidauria ritual
  • September 6 / 19 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter (nighttime) (fasting day)
  • September 7 / 20 Boedromion: initiation rite (nighttime) 
  • September 8 / 20 Boedromion: tipping out of water jugs to Demeter and Persephone
  • September 9 / 21 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone 
  • September 10 / 22 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone + personal sacrifices
  • September 11 / 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 all 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.