Archeology experts are excitedly examining an array of ancient coins recently rescued from a criminal gang.


Security services have announced approximately 480 historical coins have been apprehended following a major police operation. An anti-smuggling operation in Turkey’s capital Istanbul has resulted in the seizure of many rare coins, with some believed to date back thousands of years.

A source involved close to the operation revealed the suspect, identified by the initials A.Ş, was detained by gendarmerie forces in Istanbul’s Gaziosmanpaşa district.

During the operation, gendarmerie forces stopped the suspect's vehicle and seized the 479 coins.

The bronze, lead, and copper vintage tender reportedly dates back to the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras.

The coins were then handed over to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

Wonder Woman is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, a TV-series, and recently, two feature length films. But the Amazons of Greek mythology and the real-life warrior women that led to this iconic modern-day Wonder Woman might, in fact, have roots in ancient Persia – modern-day Iran.

Adrienne Mayor, scholar at Stanford University and author of The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World, tells BBC Culture:

"There have always been stories of Amazons and Amazon-like women; sometimes they have circulated hidden under the surface and other times, like today, they break through into popular culture. It is no longer possible to deny the reality behind the myths of Amazons."

While the story of a race of warrior women first appeared in Greek mythology, excavations across the north and east of the Black Sea region have revealed that warrior women like the Amazons existed in real life. In December 2019, the graves of four female warriors from the 4th Century BC Sarmatian region were found in the village of Devitsa, in what is now Western Russia. The Sarmatians were a people of Iranian heritage, with men and women skilled in horsemanship and battle. Excavations within the modern borders of Iran have revealed the existence of female warriors. In the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, 109 warrior graves were unearthed. Archeologist Alireza Hejebri-Nobari confirmed in a 2004 interview that the DNA found in one belonged to a woman. DNA testing was due to take place on other warrior graves, 38 of which are still intact, but according to Mayor's contacts in Iran, that DNA research was halted in August 2020 due to a lack of resources.

The great rivalries of the ancient Greeks and Persians are well documented in Greek art, history and mythology, so much so that historians of Ancient Persia rely on the Greek interpretation of the region to unlock its history. Experts have identified depictions of the women in battle with Greek men on vases and other ceramics as dressed in Persian-style clothing: the Kandys cloak, the Anaxyrides trousers, the Persikay shoes. By the 470s, the Greeks began to refer to portrayals of the Persians as the Amazons, turning their real-life adversaries into mythological folklore. Even the word "Amazon", meaning "warrior", is likely rooted in the Iranian language.

According to Herodotus, a 5th-Century Greek writer and geographer often credited with being the first historian, the Amazons maintained an idyllic all-female existence in modern-day Turkey. They pillaged the Persian Empire and procreated with neighbouring tribes, keeping the baby girls to raise as the next generation of warriors. They would meet their ultimate fate at an encounter with the Greeks in the battle of Thermodon. Sent out to sea, The Amazons eventually entered Scythia near the Black Sea. The Amazons and Scythians, slated to fight one another, would instead join forces, whose descendants are the Sarmatians. Both the Scythians and Sarmatians are connected to modern-day Iran.

 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 Gamelion:
  • Gamelion 7 - January 21 - Sacrifice to the Kourotrophos and Apollon Delphios
  • Gamelion 7 - January 21 - Sacrifice to Apollon Lykeios
  • Gamelion 8 - January 22 - Sacrifice to Apollon Apotropaius, Apollon Nymphegetes, & the Nymphs at Erkhia
  • Gamelion 9 - January 23 - Sacrifice to Athena at Erkhia
  • Gamelion 12-15 - January 25 - 29 - Lenaia - festival in honor of Dionysus in the Attic deme of Limnai
  • Gamelion 27 - February 10 - Theogamia/Gamelia - celebrating the sacred marriage of Zeus Teleios and Hera Telei
  • Gamelion 27 - February 10 - Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus Teleius, and Poseidon at Erkhia

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 sixth and the last archaeology season has been scheduled to possibly unearth the main structure of Laodicea Temple, Nahavand’s tourism chief Mohsen Khanjan announced on Sunday. A budget of three billion rials (some $71,000 at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) has been allocated to the mission which will commence in the month of Esfand (starting Feb. 19).

Regarding the achievements of the last five archaeological seasons, the official noted: 

"In addition to a Greek inscription, other significant objects such as bronze statues of Greek gods, a stone altar, column head, column shaft, column base and pottery pieces had been discovered in Dokhaharan neighborhood [of Nahavand]. Regarding those findings, we concluded that the history of the city of Nahavand goes far back in prehistoric times, on the contrary to what previously believed it only dates back to the Seleucid period. The outcome of previous excavations determined that a Seleucid city was established on remains of a prehistoric settlement… and the sixth season aims to discover the main structure of Laodicea Temple."

In the fifth season of excavation, 12 trenches were dug tightly based on speculations and discoveries made during the four previous seasons… the season, however, yielded some new clues on the ancient sanctuary, Khanjan explained.

The archaeological project also aims at solving the problems of the residents of the districts near the site, who haven’t been allowed to construct buildings for over 50 years.

In 1943, archaeologists discovered an 85x36 centimeter ancient inscription of 30 lines written in Greek calling on the people of Nahavand to obey the laws of the government. The inscription indicated the existence of the Laodicea Temple, which had been built by the Seleucid king who ruled Asia Minor, Antiochus III the Great (223-187 BC), for his wife Queen Laodicea.

Two of the inscriptions as well as four bronze statuettes, unearthed at the site, are on display in the National Museum of Iran in downtown Tehran. And, column capitals and bases are currently being used as decorations in Nahavand’s Hajian Bazaar and several other parts of the city.

Antiochus was the most distinguished of the Seleucids. Having made vassal states out of Parthia in present-day northeastern Iran and Bactria (an ancient country in Central Asia), he warred successfully against the Egyptian king Ptolemy V and in 198 BC obtained possession of all of Palestine and Lebanon.

He later became involved in a conflict with the Romans, who defeated him at Thermopylae in 191 BC and Magnesia (now Manisa, Turkey) in 190 BC. As the price of peace, he was forced to surrender all his dominions west of the Taurus Mountains and to pay costly tribute. Antiochus, who early in his reign had restored the Seleucid Empire, finally forfeited its influence in the eastern Mediterranean by his failure to recognize the rising power of Rome.

The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty which existed from 312 BC to 63 BC; Seleucus I Nicator founded it following the division of the Macedonian Empire vastly expanded by Alexander the Great. Seleucus received Babylonia (321 BC) and from there expanded his dominions to include much of Alexander's near-eastern territories. At the height of its power, the Empire included central Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and what is now Kuwait, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan and Turkmenistan.

 "I'm confused... is Baring the Aegis part of Elaion? What are you in all of this? I'm not trying to be rude, I am just confused. Sorry."


No need to be sorry! Okay, let's see. Elaion has been around for a lot longer than I am a Hellenist, but I did join it almost a year ago. Since then I have become a core member and help Robert Clark--my very, very good friend and religious partner--with the day to day of running Elaion. By and large, he is responsible for the Yahoo groups and the mentoring program, and I have set up and take care of the Elaion Facebook Page. I hope it makes better sense now.


"In your post Of Stains and Devotion there are pictures of your gorgeous ritual tools, cups, and so on. Where do you buy it? I really want to buy especially a kylix and a khernibeion, but I don't know where! I have googled but come up empty-handed :("

When I joined Paganism in 2000, I decided I would get my ritual tools from thrift stores and other such places only. I was not allowed to go out and hunt for them, or order them anywhere; I had to walk into them in unlikely places. I let go of a bit of that philosophy once I got into Hellenism, but all the ritual tools I have were either bought myself at thrift stores or given to me by friends who came across them in thrift stores. Only my books and the hand towels I use were bought new.

As for where to buy these items if you were looking for them; my khernibion is simply a bowl; try any cooking shop or fancy home deco store. Same goes for the mortar I use to burn my offerings in. As for the kylix; perhaps one of my readers knows somewhere to order them cheap? I'd be much obliged!


"Where does Neo-Platonism fall in regard to [multideism]"

This question was asked in regards to the 'rules' of Multideism--specifically rule one: 'the gods are many, separate and distinct. Any attempt to reduce the multitude of divinities to a single source or being is not multideism, but monotheism.'

To be honest, I don't know. I was going to answer this question on that blog post itself, but I could use your help. I am not a Neo-Platonist, and I believe strongly that philosophy and religion are not one and the same, although they can influence each other greatly. From what I understand of Neo-Platonism, the One is not so much an entity, but simply a source. It's panentheism, if anything, and while it alludes to one source, this source does not, in fact, stand alone. There are many Gods (etc.) in the Neo-Platonic divine hierarchy so I would classify it as Multideistic, but if you feel uncomfortable with that, a case for monotheism can also be made. As always, that is the problem with labels; there will always be cases where the lines blur.


"I'm curious as to what your take is on polyamory and a modern day Hellenic practice."

While I answered this one a while ago, I wanted to include it today, simply because I was thinking back then that I really should do something with my answer--as others might find it interesting as well--but couldn't figure out how. As such, I'm posting my answer as I gave it for everyone to take from what they wish.

When we look at ancient Hellenic practices, I'd say it depends on your definition [of polyamory]. In general--especially in Attica, etc.--marriage was between one woman and one man, where the man was allowed mistresses. Do you count the relationship with the mistress as a poly relationship? Personally, I don't, because in the hierarchy, the mistress is lower than the wife. For a true polyamorous relationship, the three of them should be equal (or at least the women should be, in this case). 

In a more modern context, I don't think the Gods care much--if at all--about our sexual preference and subsequent sexual behaviour. Marriage vows matter, as does family, but for a poly relationship to work, all parties involved must agree and function well together as a family unit. This leaves the core values of the faith intact--and probably more honest than some non-poly relationships; there is a level of honesty required in poly relationships that goes beyond any requirement in a two person relationship (although it would help!).

The fifth constellation Ptolemy made famous was the constellation Aries: the ram. Obviously, this constellation is still recognized by modern astronomers. For the story of the constellation Aries, we have to go back to the Argo Navis: the ran the constellation resembles was the very same ram that carried the young king Phrixos to the palace of Helios before he could be killed in a plot by his step-mother.



The myth of the ram with the golden wool is part of the myth of Iásōn. Phrixos (Φρίξος) was the son of Athamas, king of Boiotia, and Nephele (a goddess of clouds). His twin sister Helle and he were hated by their stepmother, Ino. So hated, in fact, that Ino burned the local crops and asked for an oracular message to see if the Theoi were angry at her husband's people. She bribed the messengers to tell her husband that the Theoi were, indeed, angry at him. To appease Them, Phrixos and Helle had to be sacrificed. Pious Athamas did as he was told, but just before they could be killed, a ram with golden wool appeared by order of Nephele, and carried the children off.

The ram flew over the ocean and Helle looked down. Spooked by the height, she fell off of the back of the ram, leading to her death. The stretch of water she fell into was called the Hellespontos (Ἑλλήσποντος), literally 'Sea of Helle', a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It was later renamed Dardanellia (Δαρδανέλλια).

The ram, unfortunately did not get to live a long, healthy life. As soon as the ram delivered Phrixos to the palace of King Aeëtes--the son of the sun god Helios--on Colchis, it was sacrificed to Zeus. It's golden fleece was hung from a tree in a sacred grove of Ares, guarded night and day by a dragon that never slept. Iásōn eventually slew the dragon with Mēdeia's help and took the fleece back to Iolkos. The ram, after being sacrificed, was placed into the sky by Zeus.

The constellation Aries is visible at latitudes between +90° and −60° and is best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of December.

The last few days have been....rough. Not so much for me personally, but looking at the world and seeing dividedness, anger, and fear. It can't have escaped anyone's notice that America has been having a rough go at it, so let me post up some words of Hesiod to ponder.

"And now I will tell a fable for princes who themselves understand. Thus said the hawk to the nightingale with speckled neck, while he carried her high up among the clouds, gripped fast in his talons, and she, pierced by his crooked talons, cried pitifully. To her he spoke disdainfully: `Miserable thing, why do you cry out? One far stronger than you now holds you fast, and you must go wherever I take you, songstress as you are. And if I please I will make my meal of you, or let you go. He is a fool who tries to withstand the stronger, for he does not get the mastery and suffers pain besides his shame.' So said the swiftly flying hawk, the long- winged bird.

But you, Perses, listen to right and do not foster violence; for violence is bad for a poor man. Even the prosperous cannot easily bear its burden, but is weighed down under it when he has fallen into delusion. The better path is to go by on the other side towards justice; for Justice beats Outrage when she comes at length to the end of the race. 

But only when he has suffered does the fool learn this. For Oath keeps pace with wrong judgements. There is a noise when Justice is being dragged in the way where those who devour bribes and give sentence with crooked judgements, take her. And she, wrapped in mist, follows to the city and haunts of the people, weeping, and bringing mischief to men, even to such as have driven her forth in that they did not deal straightly with her. 

But they who give straight judgements to strangers and to the men of the land, and go not aside from what is just, their city flourishes, and the people prosper in it: Peace, the nurse of children, is abroad in their land, and all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them. Neither famine nor disaster ever haunt men who do true justice; but light-heartedly they tend the fields which are all their care. The earth bears them victual in plenty, and on the mountains the oak bears acorns upon the top and bees in the midst. Their woolly sheep are laden with fleeces; their women bear children like their parents. They flourish continually with good things, and do not travel on ships, for the grain-giving earth bears them fruit.

But for those who practise violence and cruel deeds far-seeing Zeus, the son of Kronos, ordains a punishment. Often even a whole city suffers for a bad man who sins and devises presumptuous deeds, and the son of Kronos lays great trouble upon the people, famine and plague together, so that the men perish away, and their women do not bear children, and their houses become few, through the contriving of Olympian Zeus. And again, at another time, the son of Kronos either destroys their wide army, or their walls, or else makes an end of their ships on the sea.

You princes, mark well this punishment you also; for the deathless Gods are near among men and mark all those who oppress their fellows with crooked judgements, and reck not the anger of the Gods. For upon the bounteous earth Zeus has thrice ten thousand spirits, watchers of mortal men, and these keep watch on judgements and deeds of wrong as they roam, clothed in mist, all over the earth. And there is virgin Justice, the daughter of Zeus, who is honoured and reverenced among the Gods who dwell on Olympus, and whenever anyone hurts her with lying slander, she sits beside her father, Zeus the son of Kronos, and tells him of men's wicked heart, until the people pay for the mad folly of their princes who, evilly minded, pervert judgement and give sentence crookedly. Keep watch against this, you princes, and make straight your judgements, you who devour bribes; put crooked judgements altogether from your thoughts.

He does mischief to himself who does mischief to another, and evil planned harms the plotter most." 

[Works and Days, 202 - 266]

The National Theatre of Greece is inaugurating its Research Theatre of Classical Drama with a live-streaming of Euripides’ Medea directed by Martha Frintzila on Sunday (Jan. 10). The main aim of the newly created Research Theatre is to study ancient Greek drama by examining its conventions, investigating modern ways of approaching it, and highlighting its potential in terms of stage practice and performance. 

The 2021 season opens with Medea, performed in a new translation by Nikoletta Frintzila, with English subtitles available. It will be preceded by a short speech from the Artistic Director of the National Theatre, Dimitris Lignadis, inaugurating the Research Theatre of Classical Drama. Afterwards, there will be a live discussion with the actors and creative team, where questions can be asked by text message.

Shaped by passion and revenge, Medea - one of Euripides’ most paradoxical tragic heroines - is an unfathomable dramatic riddle, as she survives her own destruction by committing the unthinkable: the murder of her children.

A complex, impenetrable personality, she hovers between human maternal feelings and the heroic imperatives of honour and justice. In a foreign land, betrayed and faced with unexpected disappointment, the archetype of female strength kills what is dearest to her and becomes the protagonist of the pain caused by her own horrific act.

The livestream will be available at livestream.n-t.gr with the purchase of an electronic ticket (password required).

Price of ticket: €8 Time: 7 p.m.

A digital program, which includes the production text, can be purchased from the National Theatre of Greece website www.n-t.gr or from www.ticketservices.gr.

Poseideon is the sixth month of the Hellenic calendar . It was the month that would have been repeated should the ancient calendar not line up with the phases of the moon (which it didn't, after a while). We're in that repeat month now. You can read more about the process here as it is beyond the scope of this post. What I would like to talk to you about today is the divine triad that oversaw Poseideon (the quartet, actually, but we'll get to that) and its significance. 

Poseideon was ruled by Poseidon (honoured during the Poseideia), Zeus (during the Plerosia and a seperate sacrifice to Zeus Horios) and Dionysos (during the Lesser Dionysia and secondarily during the Haloa). Poseideon is the first true winter month; the first harvest was over, seafaring had ceased and thus war had come to an end. The focus was on the home and preparation for true, deep winter: the weather turned and the crops needed protecting. Because of this, it was also a month of threat; if the crops failed, if the seas became too rough when a daring fisherman was out on it, or if a river went out of bounds and flooded a well populated area there would be death.

I get on my soapbox a lot on my blog. One of my main points is that everything is connected in the ancient Hellenic religion. That everything was constructed the way it was for a reason; the pantheon, the calendar, the festivals, the way festivals were celebrated--if you spend time to sort out the why, you will discover it's all part of an intricate web that formed an entire civilization. Nothing--absolutely nothing--in our religion and in the ancient civilization it was formed in ended up in it by accident. We have lost a lot of knowledge and understanding of this society but we can try to piece things together if we put in the effort. So today I will put in a little effort to explain why Poseideon was ruled by Poseidon, Zeus and Dionysos. And why it mattered that it were Them.

During the Poseideia, Poseidon as savior of ships, protector of those who voyage in ships, and God of the lapping waters both salt and fresh important for agriculture, is thanked for the many gifts that came from faraway places that were likely given at that time. The immense trade and distribution was nearly all through shipping, relatively little overland, whether it be perfume from Cyprus or pottery from Corinth. One of Poseidon’s epithets is prosklystios, 'of the lapping water'. He is also invoked as Poseidon phytalmios which implies natural fertility and human procreation. 

The Plerosia is a harvest festival of sorts. It was held to honour Zeus but presumably als Demeter. Poseideon marks the time to return home, take stock, and stay warm. It's a time to thank the Theoi for all that has been recieved and all that will get us through the winter. The word ‘plerosis’ means fulfillment, satiated, filled. Important note: the Plerosia seems to have been a women-only festival, perhaps because now that winter is upon us, we turn to the domain of the women: the house(hold). As such, it is her prerogative to thank the Gods for the food she can feed her family with.

The lesser Dionysia, a vintage festival, was celebrated in the various demes of Attica in the month of Poseideon. It was probably a very ancient festival, perhaps not originally associated with Dionysos. The Dionysia was a time when classes came together in order to celebrate their shared origins in the natural world; it was a vintage festifal for all.

The Haloa was held in honor of Demeter, Dionysos and a little bit in honor of Persephone. Like all festivals of Demeter and Persephone's 'Kore' persona, women were the only ones who were allowed to handle the religious and sacrificial side of it. The Haloa is assumed to be a celebration of the pruning of the vines and the tasting of the wine after its first fermentation, or it may be to encourage the growth of corn from the seed.

A few links between Poseidon, Zeus and Dionysos are clear instantly from the descriptions of these festivals. Poseidon and Dionysos are linked through water--moisture, actually. Plutarch already noted that Dionysos was a God of moisture--in particular the moisture associated with life and vigour as can be seen in plants and trees and most telling in the wine produced from the fruits of the vine. Poseidon is all but the personification of water of all kinds. Furthermore, one of the epithets of Dionysos is Dendrites, ‘of the trees’, connects him to branching life. The tree was similarly a metaphor for rivers whose branching nature was morphologically similar. This links Dionysos to Poseidon even more.

And what of Poseidon and Zeus? Poseidon is the brother of Zeus and Hades, and together they form a triumvirate who represents the dominion of the sea, the sky and the underworld respectively. In Hellenic mythology, the underworld is seen as an exact mirror and equally valid version of the ‘celestial’ world. In other words: Zeus is Hades inverted and Poseidon is the synthesis of both. Dionysos therefore unifieds these god-themes and manifested them in the mundane world.

This brings us to Hades, the fourth member of this triad. He is worshipped too, just not directly--never directly. the ancient Hellenes very rarely honoured Hades, not even Plouton, His ouranic epithet. But Hades' influence was most definitely felt; he's the third of the triumvirate, He is prevalent in the threat of death that hangs over the month and He is appeased though a medium who is perhaps unlikely: Demeter. 

Mythological and epithological links exist between Demeter and Hades. Hades was celebrated as an important divine figure in the Eleusinian Mysteries. The seasonal drama of nature was said to depend on her annual passage into the underworld in the depths of winter when fruitfulness and vegetation dies back. Through Kore (Persephone) Hades and Demeter rule over the harvest. Hades takes and Demeter gives--or more accurately: Hades causes Demeter to take instead of give. In praying for fruitfulness of the earth to Demeter, it is also Hades who is spoen to and appeased, which makes Him an unofficial member of the triad (this is likewise true for Demeter and even Kore/Persephone).

To compelete the circle, Dionysos and Demeter are worshipped together during the Haloa, which drives home the agricultural ties all these five deities have  and the way they link to the mundane issues of this time of year; Demeter and Hades (Plouton) through the fruitful earth (underworld), Zeus through mild weather (sky) and Poseidon and Dionysos through sweet water (the intermediate). Because of Their links and domains, it can be only these deities that govern Poseideon.

At dusk on January 10th, the Haloa (῾Αλῶα) starts. This ancient Hellenic festival was held in honor of Demeter, Dionysos and a little bit in honor of Persephone. Like all festivals of Demeter and Persephone's 'Kore' persona, women were the only ones who were allowed to handle the religious and sacrificial side of it. Women, will you join me in celebrating freedom and fertility come 10 am EST?


The Haloa is part of the Mysteries, and thus linked to the festivals of Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion), Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), Skirophoria (12 Skirophorion) and the Greater Mysteries themselves, which were held 13-23 Boedromion. It was a rural festival, meaning it wasn't state-organized and widely spread, so most details are incredibly fuzzy. Here's what we do know about it:

The Haloa is assumed to be a celebration of the pruning of the vines and the tasting of the wine after its first fermentation, or it may be to encourage the growth of corn from the seed. It is named after the hálōs (ἅλως), which means both threshing floor and garden. Since the first sense of the word would be inapplicable to a festival celebrated in January, scholars--including Nilsson in his 'Greek Popular Religion'--insist it must have been a gardening festival.

Some time during the festival, the entire population was invited by the priests of Dionysos and the priestesses of Demeter and Kore to give sacrifice to these Theos; to Demeter and Kore for the fertility of the earth in which the grapevines grew, and to Dionysos in remembrance of Ikários, who was such a fine winemaker that he could produce wine so strong, those who drank it appeared to be poisoned. His skill turned out to be his undoing; Íkaros was killed by those who drank his wine, thinking the wine maker was out to kill them. This sense of being poisoned might have come from permanent erections brought on by the wine; they only went away when an oracle told the men to put out clay phallus-shaped objects. When they did so, their limpness returned. This event was celebrated at home, by the men, but the women traveled to Eleusis.

In the earliest times the religious part of the festival might have been restricted to married women, but after the fourth century BCE its celebration may have been limited to hetairai (ἑταῖραι, female companions, a term used non-sexually for women, about women, but used by men to indicate a woman hired for entertainment, often leading to sex), or they were simply also allowed to hold their own symposium during the Haloa, either at home or at Eleusis. The Haloa would have been the day on which they were initiated into the Mysteries. The Eleusinian Arkhontes (Ἄρχοντες, male magistrates of the Mysteries) prepared a huge banquet on this day, with a huge variety, including phallus- and vagina-shaped cakes, but not foods forbidden in the Mysteries: pomegranates, apples, eggs, fowls, some types of fish were out. Animal sacrifice was also disallowed on this day: Demeter received offerings of fresh fruit.

After preparing the food, the Arkhontes left, leaving the women to eat, to drink lots and lots of wine, and to celebrate being a woman and fertile (or the wish to be fertile). The Arkhontes went to the men who were waiting outside of Eleusis for their part in the Mysteries, and told them the story of Eleusis, and how the Eleusinians had discovered nourishment for the entire human race. A giant phallus is often assumed to have been set up on the hálōs, and the women would dance around it carrying clay models of phalli and vaginas, but it is more likely the phallus was never there, but depicted on artwork abbot the Haloa to indicate the fertility aspects of the festival and the dances that occurred there. As part of the festivities, the women engaged in sexualized conversation with each other. As part of the sacrifice, the women carried kernoi (κέρνοι, offering dishes) on their heads, containing incense, grains or other offerings, which they tipped onto the giant phallus or, and this is probably far more accurate, onto the altar.

After the feast and sacrifice, the men who had been waiting were admitted to the grounds, and the women were encouraged by each other--including the priestesses--to take secret lovers for the night. A priest and priestess--with torches representing Demeter and Persephone--apparently sat watch on chests as they presided over the fertility celebration.

The Haloa is the perfect time to organize an adult 'girl's night' with your closest female friends. Watch a movie with erotic tones, drink wine together, gorge yourselves on chocolate and gossip about your partners. If you have an agreement about it with your partner, you could find a lover for the night. If not, go home to him or her and spend the night together in your own 'fertility rite'. If you're single and have no one to fill your bed... well... a girl can get creative, can't she?

For the men, the Haloa might have had an extra ritual part as well; honoring Poseidon as an agricultural Theos. There is evidence that the men built a huge bonfire and had their own conversations around it. Afterwards, they joined the women, when possible (and desired). Single men; I'm sure you can be as creative as the single women reading this.

So, ladies, will you join me on January 10th, at 10 am EST? The community page can be found here and the ritual here. Enjoy your Haloa celebration! Be safe, happy, and sated! 

I've had this blog for eight and a half years now, and along the way, I've posted well over 3000 blogs. Among them are Question Collection posts. These are posts built around questions I've been asked to which the answer was short or otherwise didn't warrant a solo post on the blog. The first was from somewhere in 2014, and many new readers never drilled down to there, so I'd like to revive them, scattering them in along the way. Enjoy!


"I was reading your blog posts about libations, and I noticed you said that a sponde to Hestia and the Agathos Daimon only- the kind that is like a toast- is always wine. This is a slight problem for me, as I have a liver problem and cannot drink alcohol. So if I offer wine, I will not be able to drink the remainder. It's generally best for me to not have alcohol around the house at all, so I'm in a situation where I'd need to substitute another liquid. Would that be appropriate?"

Wine is the traditional libation liquid; as drinking water was often stagnant, wine was used to purify it, and mask the taste. All men, women and children drank water which had some wine added to it. Wine was believed to be a healer--and it is--so everyone drank it, sometimes more when they were sick. Now, that is the Traditional side of it; what you do as a modern Hellenist is allowed to differ due to the complications of our current society. One part of that is finding substitutes. As wine pretty much was the ancient Hellenic equivalent of water, water is a good replacement. That said, it may feel a little to plain and personally I enjoy the fact that I libate wine because it has ties to the grape vine and Dionysos. So, as a replacement, I would suggest plain grape juice--as pure and sugarless as you can find it. It still has the same ties to the Gods, but without the alcohol.

"What would you suggest using [as khernips] if you don't have access to sea water?"

Regular tap water will do just fine, possibly with added (sea) salt. It's the water that counts (preferably clean), and the firebrand you add to it that makes it khernips.

"Elani how should a young Hellenist cope with teen anger I ask you cause my family is in disarray of bullshit right now and no one shows any love to each other."

Oh boy... that is a good question. I grew up in a pretty crappy household myself, so I think I can at least somewhat relate. As I have said before, I think there is a clear distinction between philosophy and religion; while Hellenism can incorporate both, it's important to keep track of the difference; if it has to do with the Gods, it's religion, if it has to do with human emotion (especially about the divine) it's philosophy. How we deal with the struggles in our lives in typically philosophical; we turn to Plato or to the Stoics--to name two--and we find a way to deal with the world around us. That said, there is nothing wrong with asking for a bit of help from the Gods on occasion and this sounds like a prime example. 

Personally, I would make sacrifices to Hestia, Hera, and Harmonia--all three reside over the household, family relations, and in some way, they are connected to making family units work. Harmonia especially--who was born the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite--understands the duality in love, and might be willing to help. I would also turn to Hermes with the plea to promote communication. Good luck!

"Would you like to say a few words as to how you decided on what to include [in your daily rituals] (prayers and actions) and in which order? Do you have a single or multiple sources? UPG? (and I DON'T mean that in any way as "second best"). Once again, thank you for all you do! I know I've said that before, and I'll say it again, please the Gods! Khaire!"

My daily rituals are my interpretation of what household rituals could have looked like. After all, we have no idea. To start off, I make use of the basic ritual lay-out: procession, purification, prayers and hymns, sacrifice/offerings, prayers of supplication and thanks, usually followed by a feast, where the 'feast' is partaking in the sacrifice given. There are records that at least in some parts of ancient Hellas, Hestia was always sacrificed to first and last in state festivals, and I have adopted that for my household worship as well; many modern Hellenists have. 

As for the deities I include; that is UPG. I strongly feel that your daily rites should be to the Gods who impact your life most, the ones you are drawn to. This is my personal opinion, but I don't see the need to sacrifice to the whole of the pantheon--or even The Twelve--every single day. I follow the Mên kata Theion and the festival calendar for that. So, for me, the household Gods speak for themselves. I include Athena because She has been with me for as long as I can remember. Asklēpiós and His daughters, I have added to ask for good health for me and my family, Zeus and Hera--as King and Queen of the pantheon--are only logical to me, and I include a lot of the Titans linked to the natural part of our world because I am always so aware of them; They influence my life a lot. With all I include, I have a wish to built kharis with. I hope this answers your question.

"[W]hy is it that you use "Hellenic" and not "Greek"?"

I have actually answered this question before. In the beginning of this blog, I used 'Greek' quite a bit. That's what I thought was the proper term for the country, even in olden days. It's not. There is a big pride issue surrounding the word 'Hellas', or 'Hellenic Republic'. It's the preferred term by the Greeks, and the official name of the country. That is why I use it. 'Greek', to me, also sounds like a description of modern day Greece/Hellas. 'Greek Recon' would then be Orthodox Christianity, as that is the major religion in Greece today. The same goes for 'The Hellenic Religion'. Obviously, that is not my religion. That said, I do use 'Greek' and 'Greece' on occasion: when referring to language, and sometimes to indicate I'm talking about the modern country, not the one in antiquity. 

"I have a question for you, that I hope you can answer :) A lot of reconstructionists say that they don't feel apart of the pagan community; that they no longer attend the Pagan Pride day, and I've kind of felt a tension between pagans and recons. I don't really participate in forum chats about paganism, so I don't know when and how this came to be, but maybe you know?"

That is a long and sordid tale, I fear. I think the biggest rub lies in the fact that 'Pagan' has become synonymous with soft polytheism and duotheism, with Wicca and Witchcraft. While these two are perfectly valid ways to explore religion and spirituality, they have very little in common with Reconstructionism and multideism. It can get frustrating really fast to attend a Pagan event and hear your Gods summoned into a circle along with every other God and their brother 'because they are all aspects of the Horned God'. Many of us--and yes, I count myself amongst them out of respect for the Gods--don't deal with that very well. Their method is not wrong, just like ours is not right, but the methods are different and we don't feel comfortable in each other's ritual structures.

That's the core of it, I think. Now comes the moronic part: people, in general, have the ability to turn into disrespectful asshats on a dime, especially in internet forums. Instead of letting others find their own religious and/or spiritual truth, some would rather laugh at, ridicule, and degrade other for not believing the same thing as they do; for 'doing it wrong'. That is bullying, and I have very little patience for it. To calm the waters, many Recons and hard polytheists have distanced themselves from the Pagan community over the years an have begun looking for labels that describe them. Most of us stick with our brand of Recon. Personally, I have found it's easier to just steer clear of situations where I feel religiously uncomfortable in, and there are many who do the same. 

A 2,500-year-old Aphrodite temple was recently unearthed by a team of Turkish archaeologists in the Urla-Cesme peninsula in western Turkey.

The ancient Greek temple to the Goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, was located just outside of the city of Izmir, or Smyrna.

The first remnants of this temple were discovered in 2016 after archaeologists began to conduct extensive searches over a large area of 1,600 square meters (17,220 square feet) in the province.

Throughout their work surveying the plot, archaeologists have found a wealth of artifacts left by the region’s ancient residents.

In total, remnants from 35 settlements from the prehistoric period, 16 of which are from the Late Neolithic period, have been unearthed in the province of western Turkey.

Professor Elif Koparal from Mimar Sinan University leader of the excavations, spoke to Andalou Agency about the remarkable finds archaeologists have discovered in the region.

“During our screening of the surface, we detected the Aphrodite temple from the sixth century B.C. Aphrodite was a commonly worshiped figure back then. It is a fascinating and impressive discovery.” 

Koparal added that archaeologists have found evidence of an extensive ancient social and economic network in the province.

As the looting of artifacts is widespread and prevalent in the country, Koparal worked to gain the trust of local residents, creating a network of people who protected the priceless finds from thieves.

Welcome to another installment of the constellation series. As the fourth constellation, I have for you Argos Navis, a collection of constellations which together form the ship Argo, on which the Argonauts (Argonautai, Ἀργοναῦται) sailed to find the Golden Fleece.



The Argo Navis was an ancient constellation which has since been disband. It was a huge constellation, the largest in existence.  In 1752, the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille subdivided it into Carina (the keel of the ship), Puppis (the stern), and Vela (the sails). Back in ancient Hellas, it was still one, large, constellation and it represented the ship on which one of Hellas' greatest heroic journeys was undertaken: Iásōn's (Ἰάσων, Jason) quest for the Golden Fleece.

The Argo (Ἀργώ), meaning 'swift', was built by the shipwright Argus. He was a member of the Argive royal house, and his fmily was favored by Hera. Becasue of this, anyone who sailed on the Argo, would have Her aid. Argus was aided in the planning and construction of the Argo by Athena, and possessed in its prow, a magical piece of wood from the sacred forest of Dodona, which could speak and render prophecies.

The tale of the Argonautai is long, and complicated. As so many kings in ancient Hellas, Pelias (Πελίας) unrightfully laid claim to his half-brother's throne. He became the king of Iolkos in Thessaly, and fell in disfavor of the Theoi because of his actions. It was prophesied that a member of the rightfully royal bloodline would one day punish him, and he was likewise warned to watch out for a man with only one sandal.

Pelias didn't believe in half measures and murdered every prominent descendant of Aeolus he could, but spared his mother Tyro's youngest son, Aeson. Instead, he imprisoned him and forced him to renounce his claim to the throne. Aeson complied, and eventually was set free. He married  Alcimede, who bore him a son named Diomedes. Alcimede successfully saved her son from certain death by having her nursemaids keen as if the boy had been stillborn. She secretly packed him off to Mount Pelion, where he was raised by the kéntauros Kheiron (Χείρων), who changed the boy's name to Iásōn.

From Kheiron, Iásōn learned the arts of combat, sports, medicine and music. When he reached adulthood, he was send back to Iolkos with proof of his royal birth. On the way there, he had to cross a river and found an old woman on the bank of it, who begged everyone who passed by to carry her through the water. All but Iásōn ignored her. He took her onto his back and he helped her across, although he found the journey tougher than he had ever thought possible. He also lost one of his sandals in the mud. As he put down the old woman, she turned into the magnificent Hera, of whom he would continue to receive support now he had passed her test.

As soon as Pelias laid eyes on the youth with one sandal, he knew what would happen now. And thus, he devised a plot to get rid of Iásōn. As Iásōn presented him with an offer to keep some farms and cattle, while Iásōn claimed his rightful place on the throne, Pelias happily accepted, but warned Iásōn that one task had to be completed first: the proper burial of king Phrixos.

Phrixos, thus told Pelias, Iásōn, had been saved from being sacrificed to the Theoi by a ram with golden wool. The Theoi had not demanded this sacrifice, but his step-mother Ino had paid off messengers from the oracle of Delphi to demand so of her husband out of hatred for the boy. The ram had carried him off to Helios' palace, where he was accepted into the household. The ram was sacrificed to Zeus, and the fleece was hung from a tree in a sacred grove of Ares, guarded night and day by a dragon that never slept. Pelias was haunted by Phrixos, and swore to Iásōn Phrixos would not rest until his ghost was taken back to Iokos, along with the Golden Fleece. If Iásōn did this, he swore by Zeus, to relinquish his throne to him.

Iásōn jumped at the chance. Kheiron had taught him well, and a chance to prove himself was all he desired. And so, he hired Argus to build him a ship, and send out messages to the various royal families to send them their young heroes for this voyage. Many jumped at the chance, although it's unclear how many, exactly. Argus may have undertaken the journey himself, as did Atalanta, Bellerophon, Kastor and Polideukes, Hēraklēs, Nestor, Orpheus, Perseus and Theseus. The number of Argonautai lay somewhere between forty and fifty.

The journey would take the brave Argonautai to many dangerous places. The first was Lemnos, where the women had been struck with madness by Aphrodite for failing to properly honor her. they had killed all men on the island, and all slave women as well. When the Argonautai reached the island, Aphrodite enchanted the women to seduce them, and thus halt their journey. Hēraklēs was the only one who did not go off of the ship, so he was able to convince the others to ship out after a long, long wait.

The next challenge came in the form of the Gegeines; Earthborn giants with six arms. The Argo sailed to Doliones where king Cyzicus ruled. In search of supplies, he allowed then to look for supplies on Bear Mountain, but failed to warn the crew of its inhabitants. When most of the crew left for the mountains, the Gegeines attempted to raid the ship, but Hēraklēs, along with a few others, held them off long enough for Iásōn and his men to return. They set sail int he dead of night but got turned about. They ended up on the same shore where the Argonautai and the people of king Cyzicus failed to recognize each other and many of them were killed, the king amongst them. When morning came, the Argonautai were shocked and ashamed, and organized a burial for the dead king. Hēraklēs took his leave here, as his tasks were not yet completed.

For twelve, long, days, the weather was so bad that the Argo could not set sail. The crew waited and grew hungry and thirsty. Mopsos, a bird auger, eventually deduced that the men should sacrifice to Rhea, mother of the Theoi. They did, and food and drink came to them by way of animals and low hanging fruit. The wind also died down, and the expedition was saved.

Next, they reached Bebryken, where they were challenged to a fist fight by king Amykos. He was so strong, he killed every opponent with one hit, and tossed those who refused to fight into the sea to die there. It was Pollux, son of Zeus, who accepted the challenge. He managed to win his fight gloriously, but the followers of the king were furious and wanted revenge. They fought the Argonautai, but were no match.

Soon they reached the court of Phineus of Salmydessus in Thrace. The king had been blessed with the gift of prophecy, but had shared too much of Zeus' secrets. For that, Zeus send Harpies to his door every day to take his food. The starving king begged the Argonautai for help, and received it. The Harpies were killed (or, in some versions of the myth, chased off) and the expedition continued.

The only way to reach their destination was to sail through the Symplegades, or Clashing Rocks. These huge rock cliffs came together and crushed anything that traveled between them. Phineas told the crew to release a dove when they approached these islands, and if the dove made it through, to row with all their might. If the dove was crushed, he was doomed to fail. Iásōn released the dove as advised, which made it through, losing only a few tail feathers. They went for it and, with the aid of Athena, made it through with only minor damage to the stern of the Argo. The clashing rocks were forever joined, leaving the way free for others to travel.

Before reaching Kolchis, their destination, the Argonautai would halt twice more. Once in the land of the Mariandyn, where they lost their navigator to illness, and Hera just barely saved the expedition by making Ankaios speak winged words of confidence that he could steer the ship. And he did. The second wait came in the form of a terrible storm for which the Argo needed to be protected. When the storm died down, they found the shipwrecked nephews of Iásōn, who had been on their way back from Kolchis, and were accepted into the Argonautai right away.

Once the Argonautai reached Kolchis, their struggle wasn't over. King Aeetes was unwilling to part with the Fleece, as it had brought great prosperity to his lands. He devised three tasks for Iásōn: to plow a field with fire-breathing oxen, to sow the teeth of a dragon into the field, and to overcome the sleepless dragon guarding the Fleece. Aided by Mēdeia (Μήδεια)--who was made to fall in love with Iásōn by Athena and Hera, who convinced Aphrodite to convince Eros to shoot his arrow--Iásōn completed his tasks and fled with Mēdeia and her younger brother Absyrtus, aboard the Argus.

As king Aeetes' war fleet hunted them down, Mēdeia did the unthinkable: she killed her brother and, in some versions of the myth, dismembered him, throwing his body parts into the sea one by one. His father made sure all parts were recovered and the Argo was able to get away. In all versions of the myth, Iásōn is shocked by this act, as well as the magick she implored to aide him in his other quests, but in some, he takes Mēdeia onto dry land to allowed her to cleanse herself of the miasma incurred by the murder she had committed.

After this, the Argo makes it home safely, after first passing by the Sirens who are so well known from the Odysseia--harmless because of Orpheus' louder and more beautiful music--and the boulder throwing Taltos, a bronze man with one blood vessel which ran from his neck to his toe. The blood vessel was held closed by a single nail. Mēdeia practiced her magick again, and put the giant to sleep. Then, she removed the nail, and Taltos bled to death.

Again, it was Mēdeia who saved the expedition, as Pelias refused to give in. Yet, he had become an old man in the time Jason had been gone, and when Mēdeia offered to make him young again, his daughters jumped at the chance. Mēdeia told the women that they should kill and cut up their father and put them in her cooking pot. This way, she would be able to perform her magick and the king would be reborn in his prime. The girls did as told but Mēdeia did not add the magickal herbs needed to complete the spell, and Pelias remained quite dead. Iásōn and Mēdeia were exiled for their crime by Pelias' son.

Yet the story of the Argo is not quite over. According to playwright Euripides, Iásōn betrayed Mēdeia, and wedded Kreousa (Κρέουσα), daughter of king Kreon of Korinth, instead of her. Mēdeia recounted all the help she had given him, and reminded him of his vow to marry her, but he told her that she should not be angry at him, but at Aphrodite, who had made her fall in love with him. Angered and ashamed, Mēdeia enchanted the dress Kreousa would wear for her wedding, and it caught fire as soon as she put it on. The fire killed both her and her father. Out of fear for retaliation, or out of a desire to hurt Iásōn even further, Mēdeia killed the two sons she had with Iásōn and fled.

Iásōn was punished for his treachery: Hera abandoned him and the mast of the Argo squashed him as he lay sleeping on the Argo one night late into his lonely and tortured life. The Argo was consecrated to Poseidon in the Isthmus, and was later placed into the sky and turned into the constellation of Argo Navis. The constellation has fallen apart over the years. Carina is visible at latitudes between +20° and −90°. It is best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of March. Puppis is visible at latitudes between +40° and −90°, and is best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of February. Vela is visible at latitudes between +30° and −90° and is best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of March.

The Acropolis Museum enters dynamically into the world of digital technology and opens new channels of communication with the public. The programme “Creation of the Digital Acropolis Museum” which was just completed showcases the multiple aspects of its exhibits, offers unique experiences in its galleries and creates a new, exciting world for kids and grownups alike.

The new website www.theacropolismuseum.gr, created within the framework of the programme is a sophisticated online portal that brings before the public all the necessary information on the Museum and its galleries, provides information about your visit, its temporary exhibitions, its activities and events, the school and family programmes as well as its research and conservation projects.

Moreover, it is the first website of a Greek Museum to present all the artefacts included in its permanent exhibition making them accessible to the global community. Our digital collections include 2,156 artefacts with extensive descriptions, interactive glossary, bibliography, photographs, draws and in many cases videos. Artefacts kept in the Museum’s storerooms will be added gradually.

The website, available in both Greek and English, is linked to the social media and provides information on planning a visit to the Museum in four additional languages. It also offers multiple search tools and has a responsive design that makes it adaptable to all devices. Furthermore it ensures access to colour-blind visitors and is user-friendly to visually impaired people.

The Acropolis Museum created a website especially for its little friends on www.acropolismuseumkids.gr. The “Acropolis Museum Kids” has been designed for children between six and twelve years old. It invites them to become acquainted with the fascinating world of the Museum while having fun. Inspiring games, amusing videos as well as a series of inventive activities prompt children to think, discover, play, experiment and make their own creations.

The development of 23 multimedia applications and videos within the framework of the programme has significantly enhanced the double process of education and enjoyment not only within the Museum premises but also on its website. Created in accordance with the Museum’s general philosophy and museological approach, these applications function complementary to the exhibits and improve our understanding of them, appeal to different age groups as they take into consideration the diversity of visitors, promote communication and interaction among visitors and offer advanced knowledge based on first-hand experience and interactive methods.

The equipment that was acquired within the framework of the project provided the opportunity to create two new spaces in the Museum’s second floor. Visitors, through the touch screens in the Multimedia Centre, learn about the adventures some of the most important exhibits in the Museum faced, as well as their dispersion in different museums around the world. In the Kids Corner, our young friends have fun with digital games and pleasant videos, which bring to life ancient myths, narrate exciting stories and unfold aspects of the daily life of the ancient Athenians.

Significant tasks of the project such as data entry, digitization, photography and 3D scanning, ensure the long-term preservation of valuable archival material and offer new potentials in its management, its export on the internet, as well as its utilization for the curation of exhibitions, the production of interactive material and games, and the publications. 27.755 digital files on 10.557 objects, were inserted into the Museum Collections Database (MuseumPlus). 496 handwritten excavation logs were digitized as well as 110.000 photographs, 18.410 index cards, and 7.500 conservation reports of portable finds. Finally, 500 Museum exhibits were photographed from all angles and 60 of them were scanned with the use of digital photogrammetry.

The programme “Creation of the Digital Acropolis Museum” has been integrated into the R.O.P. “Attica 2014-2020” with MIS: 5010606 and total budget 1.330.240,63 € excluding 24% VAT. Project Owner is the Acropolis Museum, contracting body is the Information Society S.A. and contractor OTE S.A. For more information visit www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/digital-museum

 It can't have escaped your notice that yesterday, the secular new year came to an end. Interestingly enough, I recognize many themes of the Deipnon within these festivities. Purification of the house and person, tying up loose ends of the old year, setting goals for a set period ahead. It makes me more comfortable to indulge in good food and friendship to recognize these very familiar efforts.

I've never really observed new year's as something special, mostly because I have celebrated it around Samhain since I was thirteen and in my Hellenistic tradition, new year's is still half a year away. The Athenians and the other Ionian peoples began their year with the first new moon after the summer solstice, the Dorians with the first new moon after the autumnal equinox, the Boeotians and other Aeolians with the new moon after the winter solstice. Still, it's a fun evening and night to spend with family, friends and other loved ones. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

As a bit of a tradition, let me share the top ten search results that brought you here, my dear readers, just to show how awesome you guys are and how completely on topic!

- baring the aegis
- Hellenismos
- atlantis
- Elani Temperance
- aegis
- baring the aegis Persephone and Hades
- modern hellenism festival head covering
- ancient greek warriors
- ancient greek art about afterlife
- ancient greek honey cakes recipe

 I wish you all the absolute best in the secular new year!