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.

"What do you think of offering beer to the Theoi?"

Beer has been around for a very long time, at least six thousand years, although the art of beer-making could date back as far as fifteen thousand years ago. The ancient Hellenes certainly were not the ones who invented it. Most likely, it travelled to them by way of the Egypt, but the Egyptians could probably trace the art back to Mesopotamia. A four thousand year old seal to the Goddess Ninkasi--the Goddess of beer--has been found, which is as well a hymn to Her as a recipe for beer.

The beer that was drunk by the ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks--or anyone else, really--had very little to do with the beer we pick up at the grocery store today. They share the same base component--fermented barley--but that's about it. Ancient records ascribed to the following method of creating beer, which is somewhat similar to modern day practices, but vary greatly in execution:

According to Athenaeus Naucratis, a Hellenic rhetorician and grammarian, a grain, typically barley but also millet, rye and wheat, was malted. The grain was dampened with water and allowed to germinate. Nature took its course to converted some of the starches into fermentable sugars and the resulting malt was heated to dry it. The dried malt was often shaped into loafs which were then backed for a small amount of time. These loaves were crumbled, mixed with cereals, and then soaked overnight. To add flavor, spices, honey, dates or other types of sweeteners were used. After the mash had fermented, the liquid contained roughly six to twelve percent alcohol and was sucked out of large bowls with straws, because the gruel-like mash was left in.

Depending on the country or region of origin, the ancient Hellenes knew a wide variety of beers, all mixed slightly differently. Zythos (ζῦθος) came from Egypt. The beer or barley-wine of Crete was known as 'korma' (κόρμα) or 'kourmi' (κοῦρμι). A similar beverage was known in the north of Hellas and in Asia Minor under the name of 'βρῦτον', which simply means 'fermented' or 'something brewed', being made of barley by the Phrygians and Paeonians, of barley or of roots by the Thracians, while the Paeonians also made another mixture which they called 'παραβίας' or 'παραβίη' from millet and fleabane for which I have no translation.

The Roman Plinius reported of the popularity of beer in the Mediterranean area before wine took hold, but the Hellenes were much bigger fans of the fermented grape than fermented barley. Still, the ancient Hellenes associated beer with the Theoi. Dionysos was lauded for the drink, but the prime Theos of beer was (and is) Seilenos (Σειληνός), foster-father of Dionysos and son of Hermes. Please note that the preferred drink of Demeter, Kykeon, which is also made with barley, was not fermented and does not contain alcohol.

Within modern Hellenistic practice, beer is most likely not a suitable offering for the Theoi, and should not replace wine offerings. Even in ancient Hellas, beer was viewed as inferior and barbaric. Peasants drank it, as it was a lot cheaper than wine, but that's about it. On principle, I'm against offering anything sub-par to the Theoi, even if the modern process has made the drink a lot more palatable. Still, it's good to know the ancient Hellenes had options, although getting drunk was frowned upon even if you drank beer.


"Read on your blog that your Hellenistic has, in a way, freed you from certain aspects of witchcraft. I’m intrigued, can you explain? Of course its personal to you and wont apply to all, but I feel like you probably have interesting points to raise."

In my twenty-three years of practice, I have progressed at least four times; from Neo-Wicca to Technopaganism, from Technopaganism to Hedgewitchery, from Hedgewitchery to Eclectic Religious Witchcraft and from Eclectic Religious Witchcraft on to Hellenismos. Some were easy, some a good lot harder to reconcile with my heart and mind.
Progression is never easy as you do step away from a practice you have spent many years building. It takes a lot of guts to finally admit your current practice is not for you anymore. It’s a process. It’s generally not a sudden thing that happens (although for some, it might be).

All the times I’ve progressed, it has been a relief. I took all I had learned with me into my next step of religious evolution. I never looked for a new home, but every time I progressed, it was a new homecoming.

Religion is the process of finding personal truth. For me, it’s also a way to reconcile my many thoughts about Divinity with the experiences I have had with it. Which practices I use gives me a framework to do what I feel that needs to be done. I can still do Neo-Wiccan and Eclectic ritual; I have the tools, the knowledge and the faith in the God and Goddess but the Theoi are the Gods that bring me closer to myself and the world around me. That particular framework gives me everything I have ever wished my pervious practices were–and that is why it was natural for me to progress into it.

I practiced Eclectic Religious Witchcraft for about seven years. I was initiated into a coven and initiated others. I was a priestess with a specialization in the ancient Hellenic pantheon. I summoned the Theoi into circles, bastardized Their festivals to suite the Pagan way of practice and circle of the year, and did a lot of research. I have always liked research.

The last year or so of my practice, I behun to feel uneasy as I summoned the Theoi. I had begun to understand the ways of the ancient Hellenes and realized that I was not worhipping the Theoi, I was abusing them. This became my personal truth. I felt it down to my bones. Then I had a UPG experience–two actually. Both shook me to my very foundation. One was during a ritual to Dionysos, and He tapped me upside the head so hard that I was out of sorts for days. Dionysos takes no shit from anyone, and most certainly not a snot nosed kid like me who tried to summon Him into a circle. Then, two days after, I had a UPG experience with Hecate, during the new moon. I’m not going to go into details but let me suffice by saying she was kinder about it and gave me a mission: to build a temple. I thought she meant an actual temple, now, years later, I know she meant my personal practice in combination with the blog and the work I do for Elaion.

Progressing into Hellenismos at break-neck speed (I started Baring the Aegis about two or three days before actually progressing) has been the wildest ride of my life. The break with Eclectic Religious Witchcraft was painful. It meant leaving so much of myself behind. And yet, I am better for it, because the more I learned, the more I came to realize that Hellenismos was what I had been searching for my entire life. A religion with a set fromawerk that was not a modern invention but founded upon religious truths that carried across most ancient religion; an intricate web of trust and love between mortal and the divine.

Has progression freed me from anything? Yes, I suppose. My guilt and shame over the way I treated the Theoi, for one. It has given me a religious home and through it, I have met so many beautiful people, amongst which my best friend and spiritual and religious partner Robert Clark, co-founder of Elaion. I have been fortunate enough to fulfill much of the mission Hekate has put me on eleven years ago and I am proud and happy about that. But mostly… mostly progressing into Hellenismos was inevitable. It’s where I belong. It’s my home, and I doubt that will ever change.