Especially for those of us not living in Greece or the United States, finding other Hellenists can be a mighty challenge. I'm sad to report that I'm still pretty sure I'm the only Hellenist living in The Netherlands. Remind me to ask the Young Flemish Hellenist exactly where in Belgium he lives, because he might very well be the closest Hellenist to me. Of course, with modern technology, nothing is preventing us from overcoming this distance with a little help. Today, I want to discuss some possibilities of starting an e-thiasos and Practicing Apart Together (like a LAT relationship but for religion).

The internet--and especially e-mail, Yahoo groups, and social media--have made it possible to connect to anyone, anywhere, anytime. There are forums, groups, and lists aplenty where one can find modern practitioners. Elaion, for example, or Facebook groups like the Hellenic polytheistic Community. Yet, talking with someone is not the same as worshipping with someone, even if the discussions you are having are very in-depth and religious. Religious discussion is--or should be, in my opinion--part of communal worship, communal worship needs something more: shared ritual. That is the basic foundation of group worship, and also of PAT.

There are, of course, various ways to go about this. The simplest way is to find people you connect with and decide on a date, a time, a purpose and a deity to honor in your own way. Hellenion, for example, does this with its monthly libation schedule where--at 12 PM local time--everyone pours a libation to the deity that is honored in that month. It is also possible to match time tables so all participants are executing the libation or ritual at the exact same time.

A step slightly more involved than that is to write the ritual with the group, or taking turns writing the ritual. This ritual can then be performed individually. This requires a bit more shared practice--who receives libations besides the Theoi for whom you are performing the ritual? How do you perform a ritual? What basic steps are observed?--but also gives a greater sense of community. Logistically, you will all be doing the same thing after the same starting time, but it's still impossible to line the worship up exactly, or to take up a specific role in the ritual, although opinions may vary on that.

Beyond this option, there is the option of shared audio/video ritual. Anyone with a laptop, tablet, smart phone or even a PC with a webcam and microphone can start a Google Hangout or other type of video sharing session and point the camera at what they're doing. This interaction will allow roles to be integrated into the ritual; one of the members of the e-thiasos recites the hymn to Hestia, another prays to Apollon, and a third sacrifices honey cakes to Him afterwards, while libations are poured by all. It's not exactly traditional, but it sure helps you to feel included in a group. You might want to announce to the Theoi who, exactly, is taking part in this ritual, and practice a couple of times to get the weight of technology off of you, but for many of us, this kind of elaborate set-up might be the only way in which we can take part in regular group worship. I would suggest sticking to a single continent, though, when forming these Thiasoi, simply because it might be harder to plan daytime or night time specific rituals if the time zones are too far apart.

With such a distinct lack of people to worship with in my neck of the woods, I would love the opportunity of being part of an e-theisos, and I would love to try out a shared video ritual. I've been part of the other three, and it was very satisfying to do. Hellenismos is not a solitary religion, it was never intended as such. For the festivals, especially, I feel a great longing to practice with others. Perhaps the internet will one day allow me to do so.