In ancient Hellas, people got sick just like we get sick now. With the poorer hygiene conditions and often heavy physical labor that was undertaken, epidemics one one illness or another must have been quite common, and accidents were prone to happen. As such, there were quite a number of deities who were especially prone to help humanity recover from diseases and injuries.

While all Gods and Goddesses were believed to be able to offer assistance with any request, especially welcoming to healing were and are Apollon, Asklēpiós, and Asklēpiós' children--mostly his daughters Hygeia and Panakeia. Asklēpiós was born to a human mother and a divine father: Apollon, a great healer Himself. Apollon, however, kills his mother when she commits adultery, and Asklēpiós is brought up by Kheiron, the Kentauros. Asklēpiós has at least eight children who help Him with healing humanity, three boys and five girtls, of whom he begets seven with his wife Korônis. The men are mortal, the women immortal, save for one of his sons.

Machaon (Μαχάων) and Podaleirios (Ποδαλείριος), His male children fought in the Trojan war on the side of the Hellens. Podaleirios survived the war. His illigitimate son Telesphoros (Τελεσφόρος), the dwarf God, who is the recovery from illness, is immortal. His daughters are Hygeia, Iaso, Akeso, Aiglê, and Panakeia, and They assist Asklēpiós in guarding over mankind.

Hygeia is the Theia of health, cleanliness, and sanitation, and a companion of the goddess Aphrodite. Iasô is the Theia of cures, remedies and modes of healing. Akeso is the Theia who oversees the healing of wounds and the curing of illness. She does not bring the cure itself, but oversees the process of healing. Aiglê is the Theia of the beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment that comes with good health. Panakeia is the Theia of cures and panaceas--healing aids in the form of medicines, salves and other curatives.

Health was, of course, important to the ancient Hellenes, under whose rule the knowledge about medicines and healing jumped forward. Not only were there hospitals as part of the temples of Asklēpiós, but there were doctors who made housecalls--including women. The ancient physicians might have gotten some things wrong, but they did get the ball rolling for further develpment down the road.

One of the most fascinating aspects about these healing cults is the offerings they got, either in thanks, or in prayer. As said before, a special type of votives were pinakes (πίνακες, singular: πίναξ). A pinax was a votive tablet of painted wood, terracotta, marble or bronze that was deposited in a sanctuary or placed within a burial chamber as a memorial. Most pinakes were gifted to the temple as votive offerings, and depicted scenes of libations, mythological scenes, scenes from daily life (like farming or household duties). Another type of scene was the depiction of body parts. These pinakes were gifted as a call for healing aid, and were most likely gifted before the actual healing took place, something unique to pinakes. Lokris (Λοκρίς), a region in ancient Hellas, is known for a remarkable archeological find of thousands of pinakes, most of them from sanctuaries of Persephone and Aphrodite, indicating They were approached for some form of healing as well. Large numbers of clay replicas of hands and feet, arms and legs, breasts and genitals, eyes and ears, and heads have been found in the ruins of temples of Asklēpiós, as depicted above.

Healing deities are important to a culture and religion--They are some of the Gods whose influence is felt directly; you either get better, or you do not, and both can be attributed to deity. I pray for good health daily, by including at least Asklēpiós and His daughters in my prayers. While I do get sick, I also get better, so I would say I have been quite blessed.

Pinakes are wonderful devotional tools, and they are still used today in certain parts of the world. I see no reason not to bring their use back into Hellenismos; they were traditional offerings, and as a Traditionalist, I greatly encourage you to offer to the theoi what They were offered prior as a boost in kharis.