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.

"Quick question, what is the greek name of the process in which barley groats are scattered around the temple/shrine area in order to not only acknowledge this area as sacred space, but also to purify? Would ground barley groats be used, crushed or whole form?"

I am actually not sure about the ancient Greek term. What is the words for 'strewing', or even 'sowing'? Do any of my readers know the correct term in ancient Greek? That is what they were doing, by the way by strewing barley groats. It was a part of purification (katharmos), but more importantly, it was the start of the process of kharis, where the strewing of barley groats on and around the altar of the Theoi was like a spiritual sowing to reap the benefits of later (asked for through prayer later on in the rite). As such, the barley that was used was whole form, just like it would be for actual sowing of the crop.

"I'm worried about the credibility of the scholarly books that were released during the 19th and early 20th century. I've tried to read a few, but the scholars seem to perceive Ancient Greek religion through the lens of their Judeo-Christian beliefs. What's your opinion on the older scholarly books?"

I think that it depends an awful lot on the book. To be honest, beyond Grote's 'History of Greece', I don't have any books from that period. Most of the books I refer to regularly date from about 1970 to now. Even those sometimes have the 'Christian problem' you refer to, but the good scholars either acknowledge their bias or simply present facts.

Now, it's important to remember that every scholar writes with the knowledge they have available to them at the time of writing. And with that knowledge comes an understanding that is limited by the information available. We have made huge leaps in information and knowledge, in understanding, ancient Hellas and the ancient Hellenic religion over the last few decades. As such, I research ancient Hellas in the older books, and I find much valuable information, but I do check if there is no new(er) information available on the subject, as published in new scholarly work. In discussions, I tend to defer to the newest information available, if presented in a way that makes sense in the picture that has been painted by scholars along the years.

As for dealing with biases in scholarly work (there are more than Judeo-Christian ones, including sexist ones, cultural ones, and even sensationalism): read anything you can get your hands on, check sources against each other and if you have more than three who say the same thing, try to understand why it says this, try to built up the world frame and if you don't understand how this new information fits in, you research more, you talk to other people, until you figure it out. Don't accept information just because it's in a book. Always think for yourself.

"Do you have to be ethnically Greek to worship the Greek gods? Does this belief have any precedent in Ancient Greece? My ancestry is Germanic, so it was suggested to me that I look into Ásatrú. I have no problem with Ásatrú, but I don't believe that the religion is right for me. I desire a close and intimate relationship with the gods, and their gods feel distant to me."

No, I don't think you have to be ethnically Greek to worship the Hellenic Gods. It might give you a bit of an advantage when it comes to the language and finding people to practice with, but that is about it. The Theoi call on whom they call. I'm not ethnically Greek, and it does not hold me back from worshipping the Hellenic Gods at all.

You know, I have the same feeling about the Norse Gods, although my Ásatrú friends tell me that is complete BS ;-) We all have religions we feel at home in and neither skin colour, nor ethnicity, not gender, nor sexuality, nor anything else can change that.