I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.

"Khaire Elani! I am a follower of your blog/youtube videos and just wanted to make my presence known. I was just going to ask you a quick question if you don't mind, will you be uploading any more videos on youtube? They've helped me so much as a Hellenic polytheist and I feel like you might have some more stuff to share with us newbies...it could be anything from ''how to decorate your altar'' to a quick basic ritual indoors (just a few tips) I hope you're doing just fine because you're my only media-like source on the internet about Hellenismos! :-)"

Thank you for your kind words. One of these days I will make new videos. I just need to find the right topics. I am of the opinion that a video needs to add something to the story, else I'd rather just write a blog post. Feel free to share more ideas and I will see what I can do and when. this goes for all readers, by the way, because I get comments like this fairly regularly.

"Do modern Hellenist sacrifice animals?"

Most don't. I know some who do, but these are mostly people who have a farm and would butcher the animal regardless. They use the opportunity to honour the Gods. There are a lot of ethical and legal issues interwoven with animal sacrifice now, and for many, it's simply not a possibility. On top of that, many would prefer not to kill an animal, even for religious reasons.

"Being polytheists, If one wanted to give worship to both the Olympians and the Aesir, albeit in their OWN distinct and separate ways so as to maintain a cultural integrity, is that possible. IE, though I would worship ODIN, I would never worship ZEUS with ODIN in the same rite. Vice versa for Hellenismos. What do you think of that kind of thing?"

On principle, I am not against syncretic worship. If you can stick with it and do both practices and all Gods justice, go right ahead. I know, though, that I would never be able to do it. Getting into a religion requires the adoption of a specific mindset; you have to live your life a certain way, practice religion a certain way, become a specific kind of person based on the ethics held in high regard in that religion. A lot of times, these ethics overlap, but in general, there will always be contradictions, forcing you to choose. On top of that, I barely have time to keep up with one religious practice, let alone two. If you can, though, more power to you!

"I had a question about your daily practice. When you strew the barley groats, is that a purification, an offering, or a mixture of both? Is the modern practice based upon the historical sprinkling of barley groats upon sacrificial animals, or was it more widespread in antiquity (i.e. performed before libations and offerings of incense) as well?"

How exactly household worship was handled in ancient Hellas is hard to say. The descriptions we have generally surround a specific event or festival. Still, almost all of the basic actions and the sequence in which they are handled match up throughout the accounts. I want to share a bit of the Odysseia with you, to show how the structure linked above was applied to household worship:

"Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Nestor left his couch and took his seat on the benches of white and polished marble that stood in front of his house. Here aforetime sat Neleus, peer of gods in counsel, but he was now dead, and had gone to the house of Hades; so Nestor sat in his seat, sceptre in hand, as guardian of the public weal. His sons as they left their rooms gathered round him, Echephron, Stratius, Perseus, Aretus, and Thrasymedes; the sixth son was Pisistratus, and when Telemachus joined them they made him sit with them. Nestor then addressed them.

"My sons," said he, "make haste to do as I shall bid you. I wish first and foremost to propitiate the great goddess Minerva, who manifested herself visibly to me during yesterday's festivities. Go, then, one or other of you to the plain, tell the stockman to look me out a heifer, and come on here with it at once. Another must go to Telemachus's ship, and invite all the crew, leaving two men only in charge of the vessel. Some one else will run and fetch Laerceus the goldsmith to gild the horns of the heifer. The rest, stay all of you where you are; tell the maids in the house to prepare an excellent dinner, and to fetch seats, and logs of wood for a burnt offering. Tell them also to bring me some clear spring water."

On this they hurried off on their several errands. The heifer was brought in from the plain, and Telemachus's crew came from the ship; the goldsmith brought the anvil, hammer, and tongs, with which he worked his gold, and Minerva herself came to the sacrifice. Nestor gave out the gold, and the smith gilded the horns of the heifer that the goddess might have pleasure in their beauty. Then Stratius and Echephron brought her in by the horns; Aretus fetched water from the house in a ewer that had a flower pattern on it, and in his other hand he held a basket of barley meal; sturdy Thrasymedes stood by with a sharp axe, ready to strike the heifer, while Perseus held a bucket. Then Nestor began with washing his hands and sprinkling the barley meal, and he offered many a prayer to Minerva as he threw a lock from the heifer's head upon the fire.

When they had done praying and sprinkling the barley meal Thrasymedes dealt his blow, and brought the heifer down with a stroke that cut through the tendons at the base of her neck, whereon the daughters and daughters-in-law of Nestor, and his venerable wife Eurydice (she was eldest daughter to Clymenus) screamed with delight. Then they lifted the heifer's head from off the ground, and Pisistratus cut her throat. When she had done bleeding and was quite dead, they cut her up. They cut out the thigh bones all in due course, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, and set some pieces of raw meat on the top of them; then Nestor laid them upon the wood fire and poured wine over them, while the young men stood near him with five-pronged spits in their hands. When the thighs were burned and they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest of the meat up small, put the pieces on the spits and toasted them over the fire."

In this piece, the barley has been written down/translated as 'meal', in other sources they call for groats. In Hómēros, Nestor started the sacrifice with the lustral water (called 'khernips') and the barley. In classical times barley seems to be employed somewhat parallel to the lustral water, as the barley was sprinkled or thrown on the altar and the victim during the prayer. In fact, the barley groats (or cakes, depending on translation) had become so prominent, that Herodotus noted their absence in Persian sacrifice.

"To these gods the Persians offer sacrifice in the following manner: they raise no altar, light no fire, pour no libations; there is no sound of the flute, no putting on of chaplets, no consecrated barley-cake; but the man who wishes to sacrifice brings his victim to a spot of ground which is pure from pollution, and there calls upon the name of the god to whom he intends to offer." [1.132]

Despite their prominence, though, the meaning of barley groats at rituals still remains obscure. We don't see them  described during libations at symposia, though, so they must have a purifying character for the animal sacrifice. As far as I can tell, every time the ancient Hellenes performed a full, sacrificial ritual, they strew barley. As such, I incorporate it as well. I hope this helps.